West Hollywood City in the U.S. Approves Delivery Robots

Chris Albrecht wrote . . . . . . . . .

In addition to random celebrity sightings, residents of West Hollywood, CA will soon be spotting autonomous delivery robots in their neighborhood. Last night the West Hollywood city council approved the use of delivery robots on its city streets (hat tip to WeHoVille).

A trial of the program will start next month with Postmates’ Serve robot and run for 90 days. Serve is a cooler-sized robot that scurries around on four wheels, and while it can run autonomously using sensors and cameras to avoid people and obstacles, the city council is requiring a human chaperone during the trial. Additionally, only three robots can be in operation at once, they can only run during the day, and they aren’t allowed on sidewalks deemed substandard.

Serve has already been making deliveries in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles since the tail end of last year, and the West Hollywood expansion illustrates how cautious local regulators are being when it comes to robots.

Across the country from West Hollywood, state lawmakers in Missouri introduced their own bill to regulate sidewalk delivery robots. The proposed legislation would limit a robot’s weight to 200 lbs, have autonomous driving capabilities, and require an insurance policy of $100,000 to cover any damages.

State and local governments across the country are grappling with rapid innovation like sidewalk robots essentially in real time. Lawmakers have to weigh the convenience of something like an autonomous sidewalk robot with the costs. Sidewalk robots could help reduce traffic congestion by getting delivery cars off the road, but then you have fleets of ‘bots crowding sidewalks. Robots could make meal delivery more affordable, but you have to make sure they are distributed in an equitable fashion. Then there are questions around liability and privacy when running robots on public streets, and more fundamental questions like where robots can recharge.

The point is, autonomous robot delivery technology is available and ready, now we just to wait and see how it will be integrated into our everyday lives.

Source: The Spoon

Shrimp in Bread Shells


1 lb. fresh small shrimp
4 (1-1/2-inch thick) slices French bread
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sherry
1 cup half and half cream
1 tsp finely chopped parsley
1/4 tsp salt
ground white pepper to taste

Broth for Boiling Shrimp

4 cups water
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp hot sauce
5 peppercorns
1/4 lemon, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaves
1/2 small onion, halved
1/2 piece of celery with leaves


  1. To cook the shrimp by boiling, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a pot, then add the remaining broth ingredients. Boil for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the shrimp, then bring to a slow boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and cover. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain in colander, then cool. Peel and devein. Set aside.
  4. Trim the crust from the bread slices, then cut a circle about 3/4 inch deep and 1/4 inch in from side of bread. Pull out center gently to make a shell.
  5. Combine the egg and milk in a shallow bowl and beat lightly.

  6. Dip both sides of the bread shells quickly into the egg mixture and deep-fat fry in hot oil until brown on both sides.
  7. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.
  8. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler, then add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth. Stir in the sherry slowly, then the cream. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth.
  9. Fill the shells with shrimp, then ladle the sauce over the shrimp or serve the sauce on the side.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Creative Cooking Course

More Information Doesn’t Necessarily Help People Make Better Decisions

Making everyday decisions seems easy enough. People know basic information about health and finances that they can use to inform their decision making. But new research from Stevens Institute of Technology suggests that too much knowledge can lead people to make worse decisions, pointing to a critical gap in our understanding of how new information interacts with prior knowledge and beliefs.

The work, led by Samantha Kleinberg, associate professor of computer science at Stevens, is helping reframe the idea of how we use the mountain of data extracted from artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms and how healthcare professionals and financial advisors present this new information to their patients and clients.

“Being accurate is not enough for information to be useful,” said Kleinberg. “It’s assumed that AI and machine learning will uncover great information, we’ll give it to people and they’ll make good decisions. However, the basic point of the paper is that there is a step missing: we need to help people build upon what they already know and understand how they will use the new information.”

For example: when doctors communicate information to patients, such as recommending blood pressure medication or explaining risk factors for diabetes, people may be thinking about the cost of medication or alternative ways to reach the same goal. “So, if you don’t understand all these other beliefs, it’s really hard to treat them in an effective way,” said Kleinberg, whose work is reported in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.

Kleinberg and colleagues asked 4,000 participants a series of questions about topics with which they would have varying degrees of familiarity. Some participants were asked to make decisions on scenarios they could not possibly be familiar with i.e. how to get a group of mind-reading aliens to accomplish a task. Other participants were asked about more familiar topics i.e. choosing how to reduce risk in a retirement portfolio or deciding between specific meals and activities to manage bodyweight.

For some participants, scenarios had a causal structure, meaning that participants could make the correct decision based on the causal relationship laid out either in text or as a diagram . The team was then able to compare whether people did better or worse with new information or just using what they already knew.

Kleinberg and her team, including former Stevens graduate student Min Zheng and cognitive scientist Jessecae Marsh from Lehigh University, found that when people make decisions in novel scenarios, such as those including mind-reading aliens, they do very well on that problem. “People are just focusing on what’s in the problem,” said Kleinberg. “They are not adding in all this extra stuff.”

However, when that problem, with the same causal structure, was replaced with information about finances and retirement, for example, people became less confident in their choices and made worse decisions, suggesting that their prior knowledge got in the way of choosing the best outcome.

Kleinberg found the same to be true when she posed a problem about health and exercise, as it relates to diabetes. When people without diabetes read the problem, they treated the new information at face value, believed it and used it successfully. People with diabetes, however, started second-guessing what they knew and as in the previous example, did much worse.

“In situations where people do not have background knowledge, they become more confident with the new information and make better decisions,” said Kleinberg. “So there’s a big difference in how we interpret the information we are given and how it affects our decision making when it relates to things we already know vs. when it’s in a new or unfamiliar setting.”

Kleinberg cautions that the point of the paper is not that information is bad. She argues only that in order to help people make better decisions, we need to better understand what people already know and tailor information based on that mental model. The National Science Foundation recently awarded Kleinberg, in collaboration with Marsh, a grant entitled, “Uniting Causal and Mental Models For Shared Decision-making in Diabetes,” to address this very issue.

“People hold a certain set of beliefs about disease and treatment, finances and retirement,” said Kleinberg. “So more information, even with explicit causal relationships, may not be enough to steer people to make the best decisions. It’s how we tailor that information to this existing set of beliefs that will yield the best results – and that’s what we want to figure out.”

Source: Stevens Institute of Technology

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Low Folate Levels Raise Heart Risks

Low folate levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease death in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a new study suggests.

People with RA have a 60% increased risk of dying from heart disease, but the reasons have been unclear.

“Our study is the first to show an association between serum folate and increased cardiovascular mortality in patients with rheumatoid arthritis,” lead author Kalyani Sonawane said in a University of Texas news release. She is an assistant professor at UTHealth’s School of Public Health.

This study included 683 RA patients who were divided into three groups based on their blood levels of folate, a B vitamin also known as folic acid.

One group had levels below 4.3 nanograms per milliliter, the second group had levels between 4.3 and 8.2 nanograms per milliliter, and the third group had levels greater than 8.2 nanograms per milliliter.

Over 17 years, 258 of the participants died of heart disease. A folate level below 4.3 nanograms per milliliter was associated with 50% higher risk of death from heart disease, according to the study.

“Our findings suggest that serum folate level might be a useful indicator to assess [the] cardiovascular mortality risk of a rheumatoid arthritis patient in clinical practice,” said study senior author Dr. Maria Suarez-Almazor, a professor in the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. But the study did not prove that low folate levels cause heart risks to rise.

“If future clinical studies validate a causal link, taking folate supplements could be an affordable way to reduce this risk in patients with rheumatoid arthritis,” Suarez-Almazor said in the release.

Folate is essential in the creation of new cells and lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid found in blood. High homocysteine levels have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Many people with RA have elevated homocysteine levels. This may be due to medications prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, such as methotrexate, which decrease folate levels, the researchers explained.

“It’s particularly important for patients taking disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to understand this increased risk,” Sonawane noted.

Folic acid is found in many foods such as eggs, broccoli, citrus fruits and leafy greens. Supplements can also be taken to boost folate levels.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Source: HealthDay

Could this Toothpaste Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke?

Gisele Galoustian wrote . . . . . . . . .

For decades, researchers have suggested a link between oral health and inflammatory diseases affecting the entire body — in particular, heart attacks and strokes. Inflammation is intimately involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and is accurately measured by high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a sensitive marker for future risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, collaborated on a randomized trial titled, “Correlation between Oral Health and Systemic Inflammation” (COHESION), to further explore whether Plaque HD®, a plaque identifying toothpaste, reduces hs-CRP.

Results of the randomized pilot trial, published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Medicine , showed that Plaque HD® produced a statistically significant reduction in hs-CRP among those with elevations at baseline. Plaque HD® is the first toothpaste that identifies plaque so that it can be removed with directed brushing. In addition, the product’s proprietary formulation contains unique combinations and concentrations of cleaning agents that weaken the core of the plaque structure to help the subject visualize and more effectively remove the plaque.

In this trial, all randomized subjects were given the same brushing protocol and received a 30-day supply of toothpaste containing either Plaque HD® or an identical non-plaque identifying placebo toothpaste. To assess hs-CRP, levels were measured by Quest Diagnostics using an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay.

“The current findings are similar to those from our previous pilot trial,” said Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior author, first Sir Richard Doll Professor, and senior academic advisor in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine. “Whether this plaque-identifying toothpaste decreases heart attacks or strokes requires a large-scale randomized trial of sufficient size and duration. These results provide a stronger rationale to conduct such trials. If positive, the results of these trials would have significant potential clinical and public health implications.”

Based on these findings, Hennekens and colleagues at FAU and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health are drafting an investigator-initiated research grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Their proposed randomized trial will test whether Plaque HD® reduces progression of atherosclerosis in the coronary and carotid arteries, for which systemic inflammation is an important precursor.

A report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 47.2 percent of American adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease, a pathological inflammatory condition of the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth. Periodontal disease increases with age affecting more than 70 percent of adults 65 years and older. Prior research has suggested that periodontal disease may be connected to a variety of other diseases, including heart disease and stroke and other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation throughout the body may be a crucial link between periodontal and other systemic diseases.

Further, two years ago, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine ranked the original manuscript published in 1997 by Hennekens and colleagues on aspirin, inflammation and cardiovascular disease, as their most influential original report of the last 20 years. Those randomized data derived from the landmark Physician’s Health Study, in which Hennekens was the founding principal investigator, and suggested that hs-CRP predicted future heart attacks and strokes.

Source: Florida Atlantic University

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