General Kwan’s Knife


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Two modest-sized statues of General Kwan with his fabled ‘knife’


The large statue is in Guan Yu Park in Jingzhou (population about 5.6 million people; in southern Hubei Province, China). It is 58 meters (190 ft) tall, weighs over 1,300 tons, and contains over 4,000 strips of bronze. It was designed by Han Meilin, famed for his work on the 2008 Beijing Olympics. There is an 8,000 square meters museum inside it. General Kwan lived during China’s Three Kingdoms period (180 to 280 AD). The  weapon shown here weighs 136 tons.GeneralKwanGiantStatue2


And from China (translated)



Sifu Peter – Like you, we are disappointed that so many genes are involved in thyroid problems. We see some or most of the following symptoms of hyperthyroidism: high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, moist skin, increased sweating, tremor (hands), nervousness, increased appetite with weight loss, diarrhea, and/or frequent bowel movements. We see some or most of the following symptoms of hypothyroidism: a hoarse voice, slowed speech, puffy face, drooping eyelids, sensitivity to cold, sometime memory or attention problems, constipation, weight gain, dry hair and skin, and depression.

Some recent work at the Shanghai Medical University – 32 patients with hypothyroidism were treated for one year with a Chinese herbal preparation to stimulate the kidney meridian and compared with a control group of 34 (there were some dropouts). The clinical symptoms of hypothyroidism were markedly improved.  A much larger study is starting.

Herbs for treating hyperthyroidism include Rehmannia (shu di huang), Dioscorea (shan yao), and Cornus (shan zhu yu). Kidney Yin Tonic (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan) is the herbal formula most often used. Other herbal formulas such as Liver Cleansing (Zhi Zi Qing Gan Tang) and Heart Yin Tonic (Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan) are also used.

In treating hypothyroidism, the recommendation is cinnamon (rou gui) and Aconite (fu zi). The most often used herbal formula is Kidney Yang Tonic (Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan), and formulas such as Right Restoration Formula (You Gui Wan) are also widely used.

We will have to consider the exercises in detail.

Genes and Traditional Chinese Medicine


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As part of an ongoing dialog with some martial arts aces in China I figured I should see how many genes (so far) are involved in thyroid problems. We humans probably have 30,000 genes scattered on 23 pairs of chromosomes. When lots more women than men or vice versa have something it generally implicates the X or Y chromosomes (if you are rusty, for chromosome pair 23 XX in humans is a female and XY is a male). Down Syndrome comes in a couple of types – all involve extra amounts of DNA from one or both chromosomes in pair 21. That should mean that there are some thyroid genes on chromosome 21.
So I plunged into extracting technical materials from several genetics databases. After a lot of work, 67 genes that influence the thyroid gland. That’s more than I expected but we human are complicated. And fragile. No (zero) genes on chromosome 21 or 23. Argh. What has been happening is that I send along a problem, and the real professionals in China send back advice in the form of a student with such and such symptoms (or genes) should do the following exercises at home each day.
Back to work for me.



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In the thrilling world of genetics two observations that I am guessing will be true world-wide are that far more women than men get hypo-thyroidism (your thyroid gland does not produce enough of a hormone called thyroxin) AND that people with Down Syndrome have a very high incidence of hypo-thyroidism. Sure, if you live in some country where leaders either don’t know what they are doing or don’t care (Cambodia is an example) it is possible to have thyroid problems because there isn’t enough iodine in your diet. Most of the time, if you eat iodized salt (Cambodia no longer regulates 
salt, with disastrous consequences) or crunch down stuff like spinach and seaweed you will get enough iodine. Then the question is do you have the right genes to metabolize iodine. The costs are pretty severe if you do not: mental retardation, a couple nasty diseases and about a dozen cancers. Even mild hypo-thyroidism is a tough life. 

Points on the Palm


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Intended to be stimulated during exercises with tai chi ruler and tai chi bang:


The heart and pericardium meridians cross the palm. The small intestine meridian follows the outside (distal) edge of the hand. The triple warmer, lung and large intestine meridians cross the back of the hand. To maximize the number of points in contact with the end of either wooden tool (1) angle the two outer fingers (pinkie and ring) slightly more toward one’s heart so the outside tips of the fingers come into contact with the rounded end of the tool and (2) angle the thumb and index fingers in the opposite direction (so different on the two hands) so the points on these fingers also come into contact with the end of the tool (3) You also need the two points on the palm – heart 8 and pericardium 8 – to be in contact as well as heart 9 (4) keeping Small intestine 1 and Heart 9 both in contact with the wood involves some compromise (5) and then you have to have a relaxed grip through all of this.

Reducing the parallelism



Normally, we are all in favor of increasing the concurrency of our software – how many parallel threads it is doing at the same time. Typically, a reasonable rule of thumb is two times the number of cores plus 2. For a quad core chip that means 10 threads. If Intel Hyper-Threading is available on a quad core chip we push the work to 18 threads. When things are going well significant savings are realized in clock time: if it takes 18 minutes for one thread to finish a set amount of work it might take 2 minutes for 18 threads to do the work in parallel.

However, when it comes to having live students get kwan daos, less is better. There’s way too much noise and confusion when 16 students are fetching long weapons. We are experimenting  with four groups of four students each. A little slower, but safer.


A New Nano-Mesh


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In the latest issue of  Nature Nanotechnology, Akihito Miyamoto and colleagues from the University of Tokyo report on a new ultra-thin mesh that offers direct integration with the soft surface of the skin. There is virtually no mechanical footprint and the skin can still breathe and sweat as normal. The skin becomes electronics.  In the past, there has always been a substrate – some sort of a thin base layer that connects electronics to skin. The challenges have been that substrates limit softness and flexibility, impose weight (and sometimes heat), and usually have poor gas permeability. Miyamoto’s mesh is made with fibers of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), a synthetic water-soluble polymer that is already used in medical applications. The polymer fibers are then patterned out and coated in a thin layer of gold. The resulting mesh is affixed to a patch of skin and sprayed with water. The PVA dissolves, leaving only finely interwoven threads of gold. Goldfinger would be pleased.




We note with sorrow


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the death from breast cancer of Professor Maryam Mirzakhani, aged 40, an Iranian-born mathematician who was the first woman to win the coveted Fields Medal.  We stumbled across her paper “Ergodic Theory of the Earthquake Flow” from 2008. An ergodic process is one whose statistical properties can be deduced from a single, sufficiently long, random sample of the process. The term had not been applied to earthquakes – or volcanic eruptions or tsunamis, for that matter. The Persian below may be translated as “it rains in our hearts”

در دل ما باران می آید

Obtain the Optane


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The document discusses how to improve Windows computer performance by using Intel ® Optane ™ storage technology as an upgrade over normal hard disk drives. In particular,use as a device for the SuperFetch and ReadyBoost functions; use as the drive holding Windows itself as well as other heavily used applications; and use as a server drive holding a reasonably large and active database. The document discusses database table key structures in the context of our SAITO application software needing to insert 100,000 rows of sensor data per minute. Click the link below to download a 3 megabyte 32 page PDF




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is defined as a collection of cancers that usually begin in the bone marrow and result in high numbers of abnormal white blood cells. There are four main types of leukemia — acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) — as well as about a dozen less common types. There are four imprecisely defined  populations – infants, children, young adults and mature adults.

In the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 published in The Lancet leukemia was present in 2.3 million people and caused 353,500 deaths world-wide. About 75% of leukemia cases in children are ALL, but about 90% of all leukemias are diagnosed in adults, with AML and CLL being the most common. About 250,000 people in the United States have some form of leukemia, including those that have achieved remission or cure. Approximately 50,00 new cases of leukemia are diagnosed per year in the US. I hope to get more quantitative data.

Among environmental factors thought to be causes we have smoking, ionizing radiation, some chemicals (notably benzene), prior chemotherapy, and Down syndrome (chromosome 21 trisomy). There is some interesting research on genetic causes of some leukemias, especially involving genes on chromosome 21.

Of interest was an email from China which mentioned that in traditional Chinese medicine there are several diagnoses that we would associate with leukemia. In some cases the drug homoharringtonine has been effective – made from the leaves of a plum yew tree found in parts of Asia – Cephalotaxus harringtoni. Of additional interest was the advice to de-emphasize direct (flesh on flesh) and indirect (flesh on floor) impacts during practice. The example was given of Buddha’s Warrior Pounds Mortar (done multiple times in 18 Movements, Lao Jia 1, Lao Jia 2 [Cannon Fist], Xin Jia 1 and Xin Jia 2) where the back of the right fist impacts the upturned left palm and the right foot stomps into the ground. The problems are most people with leukemia bruise easily, and the bruising tends to increase the number and activity of abnormal white blood cells.

I am checking around if Dit Da Jow, the liniment used in Iron Palm training, might be useful.