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Conflict resolution has both positive and negative outcomes

Friday, May 13th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — paradox: individual health goes down while societal health improves ]
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reverse arrow conflict individual & group

I knew this “reverse arrows” graphic would find a multitude of uses.

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Here’s the news report:

Post-conflict reconciliation led to societal healing, but worsened psychological health.

Key paras:

Civil wars divide nations along social, economic, and political lines, often pitting neighbors against each other. In the aftermath of civil wars, many countries undertake truth and reconciliation efforts to restore social cohesion, but little has been known about whether these programs reach their intended goals.

A new study published in Science suggests reconciliation programs promote societal healing, but that these gains come at the cost of reduced psychological health, worsening depression, anxiety, and trauma.

“Our research suggests that talking about war atrocities can prove psychologically traumatic for people affected by war. Invoking war memories appears to re-open old war wounds,” said Oeindrila Dube, assistant professor of politics and economics at New York University and one of the authors of the study. “At the same time, the reconciliation program we examined was also shown to improve social relations in communities divided by the war.”

¶ ¶ ¶

The study took place across 200 villages, 100 of which were randomly chosen to be offered the reconciliation program. The research team tracked 2,383 people in both sets of villages, recording their attitudes towards former combatants, their mental health, and the strength of their social ties nine and 31 months after the program.

The study was made in Sierra Leone a decade after the civil war ended. Assuming the methodology is good and the results are as described, there’s a very interesting paradox here. And hey, a decent paradox really gets my mental feet a-tapping. It will be instructive to see whether similar results are found elsewhere.

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The study is J. Cilliers, O. Dube, B. Siddiqi. Reconciling after civil conflict increases social capital but decreases individual well-being. Science, 2016; 352 (6287): 787 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad9682 — to which I have no access, and which would very likely prove beyond my comprehension in any case.

A Tale of Two Physicians

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — Aleppo, Médecins Sans Frontières, Bashar al-Assad, Mohammad Wassim Mo’az ]
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SPEC DQ Tale of Two Physicians

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It may be that one less (dictatorial) physician in Syria would help — retire him to a yacht, perhaps. While not forgetting that the situation in Syria is multi-factorial.

Sources:

  • The Guardian, Aleppo mourns Syrian paediatrician killed in hospital airstrike
  • The Atlantic, The Last Pediatrician in Aleppo
  • From the Atlantic piece, honoring pediatrician Mohammad Wassim Mo’az:

    One colleague described the 36-year-old Mo’az as a devoted doctor who by day worked at Aleppo’s Children’s Hospital and by night attended to emergencies at al-Quds Hospital, where he was killed. Several recalled the jokes Mo’az would tell patients and staff. He was “waiting for this bloody war to stop to be married,” one surgeon in Aleppo told the BBC. “He had to stay close to those babies. Who would treat those babies if everybody left?” Footage from security cameras in the hospital last Wednesday shows Mo’az leaving an intensive-care unit and heading toward the emergency room. He could have been in Turkey with his family. He could have taken the night off. Instead, he was walking briskly through the hospital’s dingy hallways in bright green scrubs. At one point in the video, he turns a corner and disappears from view. Moments later, the explosion comes.

    Sunday surprise: what’s your health tipple?

    Sunday, October 25th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — cheers! ]
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    Here’s our topic statement:

    beer wine

    **

    Okay. I thought you might like to know:

    Exercise training (ET) improves endurance capacity by increasing both skeletal muscle mitochondrial number and function, as well as contributing to favourable cardiac remodelling. Interestingly, some of the benefits of regular exercise can also be mimicked by the naturally occurring polyphenol, resveratrol (RESV). However, it is not known whether RESV enhances physiological adaptations to ET. To investigate this, male Wistar rats were randomly assigned to a control chow diet or a chow diet that contained RESV (4 g kg-1 of diet) and subsequently subjected to a programme of progressive treadmill running for 12 weeks. ET-induced improvements in exercise performance were enhanced by 21% (P < 0.001) by the addition of RESV to the diet. In soleus muscle, ET + RESV increased both the twitch (1.8-fold; P < 0.05) and tetanic (1.2-fold; P < 0.05) forces generated during isometric contraction, compared to ET alone. In vivo echocardiography demonstrated that ET + RESV also increased the resting left ventricular ejection fraction by 10% (P < 0.05), and reduced left ventricular wall stress compared to ET alone. These functional changes were accompanied by increased cardiac fatty acid oxidation (1.2-fold; P < 0.05) and favourable changes in cardiac gene expression and signal transduction pathways that optimized the utilization of fatty acids in ET + RESV compared to ET alone. Overall, our findings provide evidence that the capacity for fatty acid oxidation is augmented by the addition of RESV to the diet during ET, and that this may contribute to the improved physical performance of rats following ET.

  • Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Xanthohumol, a Polyphenol Chalcone Present in Hops, Activating Nrf2 Enzymes To Confer Protection against Oxidative Damage in PC12 Cells
  • and:

    Xanthohumol (2?,4?,4-trihydroxy-6?-methoxy-3?-prenylchalcone, Xn), a polyphenol chalcone from hops (Humulus lupulus), has received increasing attention due to its multiple pharmacological activities. As an active component in beers, its presence has been suggested to be linked to the epidemiological observation of the beneficial effect of regular beer drinking. In this work, we synthesized Xn with a total yield of 5.0% in seven steps and studied its neuroprotective function against oxidative-stress-induced neuronal cell damage in the neuronlike rat pheochromocytoma cell line PC12. Xn displays moderate free-radical-scavenging capacity in vitro. More importantly, pretreatment of PC12 cells with Xn at submicromolar concentrations significantly upregulates a panel of phase II cytoprotective genes as well as the corresponding gene products, such as glutathione, heme oxygenase, NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase, thioredoxin, and thioredoxin reductase. A mechanistic study indicates that the ?,?-unsaturated ketone structure in Xn and activation of the transcription factor Nrf2 are key determinants for the cytoprotection of Xn. Targeting the Nrf2 by Xn discloses a previously unrecognized mechanism underlying the biological action of Xn. Our results demonstrate that Xn is a novel small-molecule activator of Nrf2 in neuronal cells and suggest that Xn might be a potential candidate for the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.

  • The Journal of Physiology, Improvements in skeletal muscle strength and cardiac function induced by resveratrol during exercise training contribute to enhanced exercise performance in rats
  • I know, I know, I should credit authors and give DOI numbers — but so many Style Manuals, so little patience.

    **

    Or to put the point less demandingly:

    SPEC tipple

    So — how much got lost in translation?

    Sources:

  • HuffPo, A Glass Of Red Wine Is The Equivalent To An Hour At The Gym, Says New Study
  • IBT, Drinking Beer Slows Down Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s Disease
  • Of related interest:

  • HuffPo, Drinking Red Wine May Help Regulate Blood Sugar
  • **

    Or is it blonde vs brunette?

    SPEC DQ blonde brunette

    extrovert vs introvert?

    or just another skirmish in the class wars, perhaps?

    Drinking water, holy water

    Saturday, September 26th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — an archetypal theme, somewhat incongruous in Congress and the Washington Post ]
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    reminds me of:

    But then again, I’ve written about “Saliva and the sacred” before now [1, 2], and quoted this description of Saint Columban from Sean Kelly and Rosemary RogersSaints Preserve Us!: Everything You Need to Know About Every Saint You’ll Ever Need:

    He was known to everyone, and cut a distinctive figure — he shaved the front of his shoulder-length hair into a half-tonsure, squirrels nested in his cowl, and he wandered around brandishing his staff and downing oak trees with his fist While in France, Columban and his monks followed the Irish tradition, often criticized by many as being too severe: a monk who cut his finger badly while reaping had the wound cleaned by Our Saint’s saliva and was ordered back to work.

    **

    Whether he knew it or not, Congressman Brady was following in an ancient and hallowed tradition — very strange to the contemporary western mind, maybe, but with precedents from religious traditions around the world.

    Pilgrim visas, the Hajj, and MERS-CoV

    Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — it’s all a matter of concentric circles and the integration of the vertical — ibn Arabi ]
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    The concentric circles around the Kaaba ripple out across our world. This means we should be watchful at the intersection of three overlapping regions in a Venn diagram: pilgrim visas, MERS-CoV epidemiology, and pilgrim dispersal.

    John Burgess of Crossroads Arabia is the only one I know focusing on the conjunction, see his Saudis Restrict Pilgrim Visas.

    The point I’d like to be hinting at here is that whereas MERS-CoV epidemiology is a scientific monitoring and interpretive matter using Science Rules, and visa issues are mostly matters of bureaucracy, the Hajj itself is a matter of the most passionate devotional concern, and a “purely rational” understanding will hardly scratch its surface.

    **

    Those with a mixture of poetry and scholarship in their souls may wish to read Love Letters to the Ka’ba: a presentation of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Tâj al-Rasâ’il to glimpse the Kaaba as seen by the al-Sheikh al-Akbar, Muhyiddin ibn Arabi:

    Charles-Andre Gilis has pointed out that in the Islamic tradition the Ka’ba symbolises the centre of every state of Being, as is demonstrated by the tradition recorded by Ibn ‘Abbas according to which there exists a Ka’ba, similar to the one belonging to our world, in each of the seven heavens and seven earths (cf. La Doctrine Initiatique du Pélerinage, Paris, 1982, pp. 45-6). In the introduction to the Tâj, Ibn ‘Arabi refers to the Visited House (al-bayt al-ma’mûr), situated in the seventh heaven, the celestial prototype of the Ka’ba (p. 557).

    As Gilis also observes, the Ka’ba is perceived by Ibn ‘Arabi as a manifestation of the divine Essence (Tâjallî dhâtî). However, he situates it, due to its mineral nature, in the lowest level of Being. But it is precisely the inferior character of its external aspect that allows it to sustain the ladder of beings and to identify itself on each level. It is thus described as “celestial constitution, angelic reality, young girl with formed breasts, level of the perceptible realm, and Meccan dignity (at the same time this constitutes an excellent example of the assonances of his rhymed prose: nash’a falakiyya wa haqîqa malakiyya wa jâriya falkiyya wa martaba mulkiyya wa rutba makkiyya) (p. 555).” Ibn ‘Arabi himself is astonished at the number of contradictory aspects that this being is able to bring together: “Oh marvel: divine constitution, simil (mithliyya), angelic, human, superior and inferior in which we find validity and deficiency, multiplicity and scarcity.” (p. 556)

    The devotional aspect of the Hajj is orthogonal to the realism of bureaucracies and epidemiology — but not on that account any the less powerful!


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