Chuckles of the Day

Jacques was dining with his fiancée.

“Before we get married,” he purred, “I want to confess some affairs I’ve had in the past.”

“But you told me all about those a couple of weeks age,” replied the girl.

“Yes, ma chérie,: he explained, “but that was a couple of weeks ago.”

* * * * * * *

Dennis and Agatha were arguing in their bedroom. “Take off my dress!” she said.

“Now take off my bra! Now take off my pantyhose! Now take off my girdle!”

Then she said, “Don’t ever let me catch you wearing my clothes again!”

* * * * * * *

Rick and Corrine met at a deserted California nude beach.

They were strolling near the water’s edge when Rick said, “Don’t look now, but I think I’m falling in love with you.”

A New COVID Delta Descendant Is Rising in the UK

Tara John wrote . . . . . . . . .

British and international authorities are closely monitoring a subtype of the Delta variant that is causing a growing number of infections in the United Kingdom.

This descendant of the Delta variant, known as AY.4.2, accounted for an estimated 6% of cases in the week of September 27 — the last week with complete sequencing data — and is “on an increasing trajectory,” a report by the UK Health Security Agency said.

Little is known about AY.4.2. Some experts have suggested it could be slightly more transmissible than the original Delta variant, though that has not yet been confirmed. While it accounts for a growing number of infections, it is not yet classified in the UK as a “variant of concern.” It currently remains rare beyond Britain, with a small number of cases being recorded in Denmark and the US, expert Francois Balloux told the Science Media Center (SMC) on Tuesday.

“As AY.4.2 is still at fairly low frequency, a 10% increase its transmissibility could have caused only a small number of additional cases. As such it hasn’t been driving the recent increase in case numbers in the UK,” Balloux, Professor of Computational Systems Biology and Director at the UCL Genetics Institute, told the SMC.

While new variants have repeatedly overtaken one another to become the dominant strain globally in the past year, experts say it is too soon to know whether AY.4.2 will become significant. In the UK, “Delta very rapidly in a matter of weeks” outpaced the Alpha variant by the summer, Deepti Gurdasani, a senior epidemiology lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, told CNN. “That’s not what we’re seeing here, we’re seeing sort of a slow increase in proportion that suggests that it’s not hugely more transmissible, it might be slightly more transmissible.

Balloux agreed, telling SMC that “this [is] not a situation comparable to the emergence of Alpha and Delta that were far more transmissible (50% or more) than any strain in circulation at the time. Here we are dealing with a potential small increase in transmissibility that would not have a comparable impact on the pandemic.”

Source: CNN

Hearing Loss and the Link to Dementia

Laura Williamson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Hearing loss is a natural part of aging nobody likes to admit is happening. But happen it does – and ignoring it comes with a cost. It could put you at risk for another feared consequence of aging: dementia.

“The greater your hearing loss, the more likely you are to develop dementia,” said Dr. Alexander Chern, an ear, nose and throat doctor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

By age 70, research shows 2 in 3 U.S. adults have lost some hearing. Yet the vast majority – more than 80% – fail to seek treatment. Age-related hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor for dementia, according to a 2020 report from the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention and care. Hearing loss in midlife accounts for an estimated 8.2% of all dementia cases.

But why that is remains unclear.

Just as there are many causes for dementia, there also are many potential mechanisms linking hearing loss to a decline in brain health, experts say. And as with dementia, it’s possible more than one is operating at the same time, said Timothy Griffiths, a professor of cognitive neurology at Newcastle University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.

One possibility is that the same disease process causing hearing to deteriorate is likewise harming cognition, said Griffiths, who co-authored a 2020 study in the journal Neuron reviewing evidence linking the two. For example, the small strokes that cause vascular dementia could be affecting the inner ear, he said. Another possibility is that hearing loss decreases activity in key regions of the brain responsible for thinking, leading to an increase in neurodegeneration.

“It could be there’s a boosting effect on the brain from being able to hear, which allows you to better process auditory signals and experience speech and communication and emotional communication,” he said. “Impoverished input leads to impoverished brain reserve, so that leads to a higher risk for dementia.”

A third possibility is that hearing loss forces a person to drain other cognitive resources, Griffiths said. “A large number of studies suggest listening under difficult conditions makes it harder to carry out other tasks that require attention. You have to use a lot more brain effort to listen to things, and that brain effort is taking away from the amount of resource you might devote to other activities.”

Or, it could be that increased activity in the part of the brain responsible for listening under difficult conditions triggers acceleration of the disease process in the area of the brain responsible for cognitive function, he said.

Whether treating hearing loss would slow or stop the progression to dementia remains unclear.

“We cannot definitively say that yet,” said Chern, who co-authored a 2021 review published in The Laryngoscope about research on the effectiveness of hearing aids for lowering dementia risk. There is some evidence hearing aids may protect people with hearing loss and mild cognitive impairment from further decline, he said. “But the data is mixed.”

Chern’s review article nonetheless concluded hearing aid use should be encouraged, because it can only help, not harm, those with hearing loss. The Lancet Commission report also encourages the use of hearing aids to lower dementia risk.

Part of the reason for the mixed results, Griffiths said, could be that so many potential pathways are involved.

“If you restore hearing, you are no longer listening under difficult conditions, so if that’s the problem, the dementia risk might be removed,” he said. But, if difficult listening is triggering the disease process responsible for dementia, “it could already be too late.”

Though researchers are still unclear why it happens or how to reduce it, they say there’s strong evidence of the link between hearing loss and dementia.

Longitudinal studies have shown “hearing loss comes first,” Chern said. And others have concluded “the greater the severity of hearing loss, the greater the risk of dementia.”

Hearing loss also can make it harder for people to socialize – and social isolation has been shown to raise the risk for dementia by roughly 50%.

Wearing a hearing aid can reduce social isolation, but people resist doing so because “there is a lot of perceived stigma. They think they will be seen as old or disabled,” Chern said.

“But in reality, people are more likely to think you’re old if you can’t hear them.”

Source: American Heart Association

Duck with Olives and Sherry


1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and sliced
1 (5-pound) duck, as much fat removed as possible
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine or sherry
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Soak the olives in warm water in a small bowl.
  3. Season the duck inside and out with salt and pepper.
  4. Truss the duck with kitchen string. Place in a roasting pan and prick all over with a fork. Roast for 1 hour.
  5. Sauté the onion, carrots, and garlic in the oil in a casserole over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Carve the duck into pieces, discarding the backbone and rib cage. Transfer to the casserole.
  7. Pour off the fat in the roasting pan and deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits. Strain the liquid into the casserole.
  8. Drain the olives and stir into the casserole with the wine, thyme, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and bake in the oven until tender and cooked through, about 1 hour.
  9. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Modern Mediterranean

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