Sunday, October 28, 2012

How Much Running is Too Much Running

I ran a Halloween race today. This guy captures the
spirit of the event. Source
I ran a 5K today, and after the race I met an old guy who ran 80 races this year so far, and plans to do two more this week. There was a woman there who does more than he does.

I have always thought of running as healthy, in part because I feel it should help me lose weight, but sadly the data does not always support that. One has to exercise a lot to receive weight loss from exercising -- 6-7 hours a week.

I keep looking for data that shows a graph of miles run against life expectancy, and I am certain nothing like that exists. It seems that very long races can weaken the heart, and the heart adapts by changing shape: enlarging here, thickening there.  On the other hand, running clearly helps; it is just that too much running stops helping -- and there may be a best point.

Too much exercise can be damaging to the heart as well as the joints, and it can lead to atrial fibrillation, something that I am worried about. Atrial fibrillation is five times higher in endurance athletes.

Thus site discusses the changes in endurance athlete's hearts after an event -- for example a professional cycling race. The athlete's right ventricle function decreased, but it self-corrected after a week. This may reinforce the benefit of rest to prevent permanent scarring.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spoilt Corks and Smell Wine

Trichloroanisole is found produced by fungus, often on
Ever bought a bottle of over-price old wine and found that the bottle was spoiled? The fungus growing on the cork produces trichloro-anisole which wine-jocks say smells like wet dog or damp basement.

This brings up several issues: why arn't the corks sterilized? And where does the chlorine come from to make the trichloro-anisole? And most importantly, how poisonous is trichloro-anisole?

Why are natural corks sterilized? I am sure people try but cork is even worse than wood for sterilization. Cork might be quant, but it isn't a very good material, and probably should not regarded as food grade. Old fashioned traditionalists need to grow up.

Some say that the source is chlorine-containing air pollutants on the trees that grow the cork. It is more likely that it is due to the wood preservative trichloro-phenol that is used with wood barrels. Another source of chlorine is from the use of bleach and related oxidizers as cleaning agents.

Chlorine bleach reacts with wine residue and living microbes to make chlorinated byproducts -- some of which may be carcinogenic. You need to rinse a lot after using bleach, and dirt that reacts with bleach may be hard to see -- but still could contain chlorinated compounds that are harmful. Trichloro-anisole is not carcinogenic however -- so don't worry.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is Violence Decreasing?

It is an article of faith among some that modern society is a perversion, and that we need to return to the simple pastoral existence where life was pure and good. This romantic idea has roots in the Industrial Revolution when the changes in society prompted a backlash.

Psychologist Steve Pinker did a history of violence called The Better Angels of our Nature. A good summary of the book is here and here.  It is in my queue to read this 862 page book -- I'll let you know when I finish it.

I like the optimism, and the rational reason for being optimistic. It shows that a combination of cohesion by kings and governments, combined with a higher-standard of living and greater communication has been good for people collectively. While modern society has problems, other societies had problems too.