Chuckles of the Day

Bagpiper for the Homeless

As a bagpiper, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a grave-side service for a homeless man with no family or friends. The funeral was to be held at a cemetery in the Oklahoma back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost; and being a typical man didn’t stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew. The funeral guy had evidently gone, as the diggers were eating lunch and the hearse was nowhere in sight.

I felt badly about this. I apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down. The vault lid was already in place.

I started to play and the workers gathered around.

I played out my heart and soul for this homeless man.

As I played Amazing Grace, the workers began to weep.

I played like I’d never played before. Then I finished and started for my car.

As I was opened the door, I heard one of the workers say:

“Man that was really moving, I ain’t never seen nothin’ like that before.”

“And I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

* * * * * * *

The Best Surgical Patient

Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on. The first surgeon says, “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.”

The second responds, “Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color-coded.”

The third surgeon says, “No, I really think file clerks are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.”

The fourth surgeon chimes in: “You know, I like construction workers. Those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would.”

But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: “You’re all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There’s no guts, no heart, and no spine, and the head and tail are interchangeable.”






New Sweets of Lawson Japan





In Pictures: Food of Chaat in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Fine Dining Indian Cuisine

The Restaurant





Gut Bacteria Can Trigger Rheumatoid Arthritis, Patient Study Suggests

Joseph Cariz wrote . . . . . . . . .

Rheumatoid arthritis affects millions worldwide and often leaves patients debilitated with chronic pain and joint inflammation. Scientists have long struggled to figure out the core causes of the condition.

Now, research involving mice and a small group of patients has connected the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis to a newly discovered species of bacteria found in the gut microbiome — the vast community of microbes that assist digestion and influence human health.

The new study, published in the Science Translational Medicine, revealed that this bacterial species could trigger the formation of autoantibodies, or antibodies that target the body’s own tissues.

The findings build on a body of work that has suggested a strong link between rheumatoid arthritis and abnormal shifts in the body’s microbiome, according to the study authors.

“We discovered a new type of bacteria that can stimulate the development of rheumatoid arthritis-like immune responses as well as joint swelling in mice,” said Meagan Chriswell, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and lead author of the new study.

“We also found that people with rheumatoid arthritis have immune responses against these bacteria, indicating that these bacteria could be stimulating the development of these antibodies in humans,” she added.


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that develops when the immune system starts to attack joints such as the hands and feet. These attacks lead to chronic inflammation, which can eventually cause permanent joint damage and physical disability.

The condition remains one of the most widespread chronic diseases worldwide. Approximately 1.3 million people have rheumatoid arthritis in the U.S., and a 2020 study estimated that as much as 1% of the global population suffers from the condition.

Modern medicines have come a long way in providing relief for patients, but the disease remains a massive health burden. Furthermore, scientists are still unsure about what exactly causes rheumatoid arthritis or what triggers it to appear in some people and not in others.

Recent studies have connected rheumatoid arthritis to multiple types of autoantibodies, such as rheumatoid factor and antibodies called ACPAs, Chriswell said. ACPAs have been particularly interesting to rheumatoid arthritis researchers due to their broad activities and targets.

“ACPAs bind … many different proteins in the human body, so there isn’t one easy target to pick out,” Chriswell said. “ACPAs have been detected at the intestinal, lung, and cervicovaginal tracts in humans but until recently it was unknown what they may be targeting at these sites.”

Some researchers also posit that environmental influences such as microbes can trigger the condition by generating sustained local immune responses. Over time, these immune responses could potentially develop into the systemic autoimmunity that defines rheumatoid arthritis.


Chriswell’s team theorized that there might be a link between rheumatoid arthritis, bacteria in the microbiome, and ACPAs and other autoantibodies in patients. To test their theory, they gathered blood samples from two patients in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis and four people with a risk of the disease.

After obtaining the samples, the scientists isolated several types of autoantibodies and confirmed that the antibodies bound to antigens linked with rheumatoid arthritis.

They then tested whether these autoantibodies could also interact with bacteria found in the gut. The authors gathered an array of common gut bacterial species from fecal samples from five healthy individuals, eight at-risk individuals, and five patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.

After many experiments, Chriswell and her colleagues concluded that several of the autoantibodies reacted to gut bacteria. They bound primarily to bacteria from the bacterial families Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae, and particularly to bacteria from the genus Subdoligranulum.

Following this lead, the study authors set up a new experiment where they gathered more than 50 isolates of Subdoligranulum from a patient involved in the study.

One of the isolates, which the team named Subdoligranulum didolesgii, bound with autoantibodies and activated immune cells called T cells. Furthermore, mice that became colonized with this newly discovered isolate ended up with common rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as inflamed joints and swollen paws.

“We identified Subdoligranulum didolesgii using a very small cohort of individuals at risk for rheumatoid arthritis and cultured the bacterium from one individual,” Chriswell said. “But we need to determine if additional relevant bacteria from more individuals may have similar capabilities as this one.”


With this discovery, Chriswell and her colleagues suggest that it might be possible to target Subdoligranulum didolesgii to either treat or prevent rheumatoid arthritis in patients. But she cautions against the use of antibiotics, as these drugs lack selectivity and tend to kill a large swath of microbes in the gut.

There is still a long way to go before any treatments can be tested in humans. The study involved a very small sample size, and researchers would have to first determine whether Subdoligranulum didolesgii interacts with other microbes in the gut.

Furthermore, the scientists only observed Subdoligranulum didolesgii in 20% of the people at-risk for or living with rheumatoid arthritis, according to Chriswell. This left them wondering if other microbes in the gut could similarly act as triggers in other patients.

To answer these questions, Chriswell’s team is currently working to study the prevalence of Subdoligranulum didolesgii in larger populations, as well as to define the exact mechanisms by which the bacteria trigger the release of autoantibodies.

Ultimately, the researchers aim to better define the complex interplay between Subdoligranulum didolesgii, environmental risk factors such as other microbes, immune and genetic risk factors, and the appearance of rheumatoid arthritis in patients.

In a Focus article related to the study, scientists Rabi Upadhyay and Dan Littman argue that the new discoveries provide strong support for the mucosal origins hypothesis, which proposes that rheumatoid arthritis first begins with environmental interactions in mucosal surfaces before progressing to the joints.

“By identifying the specific gut microbiota that may be the provocateurs of the original local immune response, and perhaps by pursuing clinical trials where these bacteria are eliminated in at-risk individuals, rheumatologists may finally stand a chance of reversing or preventing disease,” they conclude.

Source: AAAS





Stuffed Cabbage with Beef and Tomato Goulash


1 head savoy cabbage, core removed
olive oil cooking spray
16 ounces 96% lean ground beef
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup minced onions
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
1/2 cup no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup no-salt-added beef stock
1-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the cabbage on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high until the leaves can be easily pulled off, about 2 minutes per layer. Reserve 8 whole leaves and chop the remaining cabbage.
  3. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add it to the hot pan. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the beef to a plate.
  5. Add the onions, bell peppers, and chopped cabbage to the skillet and cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the reserved beef and the chickpeas and season again. Add the stock, tomatoes, and paprika and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened and turn off the heat.
  7. Lay the cabbage leaves out on a clean work surface.
  8. Strain the beef mixture through a colander, reserving the liquid. Transfer this sauce to a large baking dish. Working one at a time, evenly spoon the beef mixture onto each cabbage leaf, fold the side over the filling, and roll into a pouch. Place each pouch seam side down in the baking dish.
  9. Transfer to the oven and bake until the cabbage is tender and the filling is hot, about 10 minutes.
  10. Place 2 pouches each on four plates and serve wit sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: The Negative Calorie Diet

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