The Mayor of New Orleans says Katrina probably killed thousands.
There are a significant number of dead bodies in the water. Coffins are broken loose from above ground mausoleums and are floating free.
The city has to be totally evacuated as it will not be functional for months. The challenge of the fixing the levees under rising water is an engineering nightmare.
There will be a diaspora of refugees and evacuees in the South.
New Orleans is descending into chaos. Shelters have to be evacuated. Emergency generators in hospitals have run out of fuel.
Looting is out of control. Policemen who have been stranded on the roof of a motel said they were being shot at overnight.
Will the National Guard and the Pentagon's "unprecedented rescue and relief" efforts military get there soon enough?
The fraudsters never sleep. Here's a report of Katrina scams.
It's a race against time to save the stranded on roofs from the rising waters. I'm thinking of them tonight and praying they get through the night.
Some 3000 have already been pulled from roofs, rescued by boat and by helicopter.
How many people have already died, trapped in attics, without water or food?
From the Associated Press, Crews Pass Dead to Reach Storm Survivors
"He was kind of on the edge of the roof, catching his breath," Mills said. "Next thing I knew, he came floating past me",
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, "We're not even dealing with dead bodies. They're just pushing them on the side."
"Oh my God, it was hell," said Kioka Williams, who had to hack through the ceiling of the beauty shop where she worked as floodwaters rose in New Orleans' low-lying Ninth Ward. "We were screaming, hollering, flashing lights. It was complete chaos."
Can they evacuate all those tens of thousands still in the city who couldn't or wouldn't evacuate earlier?
How many didn't leave because they didn't want to abandon their pets?
Hundreds are on rooftops awaiting rescuers who can not get to them as water continues to rise.
Martial Law has been declared in New Orleans.
We have nowhere to go," one broken man whose wife and house were swept away by floodwaters in Gulfport, Miss., told FOX News. "I lost everything. That's all I had. That's all I had."
In Gulfport more than 75% of houses have major roof damage the police chief says.
Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said, "This is our tsunami".
We don't know about some of the out-lying areas but I expect hundreds if not thousands of deaths. One reporter said there were bodies floating in the water in Slidell.
More than a million 2.3 million people lack power. You can't drink the water in New Orleans without boiling it first.
The hundreds of thousands who have evacuated will not be able to go back to see if they have any homes left for a week or more.
One poor weeping man on TV told a reporter that he was on the roof of his house to escape the rising waters when it split in half. His wife?
"I can't find her body. She gone."
Fascinating essay by Ann Althouse discussing whether the man should be present at childbirth if it could destroy the man's sexual attraction to the woman
I'd say get the facts and make a sound decision for yourself. And don't focus on the childbirth experience so much. It's like focusing on the wedding and not the actual married life that will follow. The wedding is not the marriage, and the childbirth is not the family. The real happiness is to be found (or lost) in marriage and family, not in weddings and childbirth. Real life is lived in all those ordinary days, not on those big occasions that seem to matter so much when you're starting out.
Here's a useful tip from David Allen of "Getting It Done" fame that he got "from a Canadian in our network" about navigating airport security, especially if you're a guy and don't carry a purse.
"I typically carry in my pockets a cell phone, PDA, portable MP3 player, keys, loose change, gum, itinerary, watch, wallet, photo ID, boarding pass, reading material and pens for the plane. I need to get these through the security check quickly and easily. There is nothing worse than doing the Airport Macarena (i.e. the painfully dopey self pat down) after clearing security to ensure that nothing has been forgotten.
My solution is simple. I carry a clear, closable plastic folder labeled "Plane Carry File" and place all of the above in it. I close it and put the folder in the tray provided (except for the boarding pass) before I proceed through security. The laptop goes into a separate tray. When I have cleared inspection, I can retrieve the folder and its contents quickly and with peace of mind. Before I board the plane, I put everything back except the photo ID and boarding pass which I need to board the plane."
The levees have been breached. The mayor of New Orleans says that water is flowing into New Orleans, flooding it beyond recognition.
80% of the city is under water, in some sections the water is 20 feet deep. Both airports are underwater. The Twin Span bridge is totally destroyed. All of Slidell is under water. The I-10, the major highway into the city is under water.
Brendan Loy says, "Lake Pontchartrain is entering the city and becoming Lake New Orleans."
The breach is at the 17th Street canal and the water is flowing so fast, there are whitecaps on Canal St. The main hospital is being flooded and is considering air evacuation of patients.
This is terrible. This is catastrophe. My heart weeps at the devastation of lives and property. It will take years to recover.
UPDATE: The KatrinaHelp Wiki is up
Many thanks to Terry Teachout for creating the first manual aggregator of Katrina related blogs.
I can only imagine the fear people must have this night in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina.
Those who are left behind in nursing homes or hospitals because the mayor's evacuation order did not come soon enough. Those too infirm or without transportation sheltering in the Superdome. Those who are staying behind for official reasons. Those who have managed to evacuate but who are aware that they will probably lose everything they own.
I join the prayers of millions of Americans who are holding you in their thoughts this night before the storm.
This is great and it has to be making perverts very nervous.
Thao Nguyen used her phone to snap a photo of the man who flashed her in a NYC subway.
Now his photo is all over the internet and on the front page of the New York Daily News.
She told the Daily News,
Maybe someone will recognize him. Maybe it will stop other people from doing it," she said. "Maybe other women will use their camera phones to stop crime.
According to new research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the belief that a pill will relieve pain is enough to cause the brain to release its own natural painkillers.
I'm glad false memories can be put to at least one good purpose - getting tricked into thinking you got sick eating ice cream as a child.
From the New Scientist, a report on Elizabeth Loftus's research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Fighting fat with fake memories
Five teenagers stole a credit card, used it to buy DVDs and video games, a turkey and other groceries. One boy, a college freshman, threw the turkey from the backseat of a moving car.
Victoria Ruvolo didn't know what happened when a frozen turkey came crashing through her windshield. Every bone on her face was shattered requiring five weeks in a hospital and many surgeries.
Ryan Cushing, 19, faced 25 years in prison when he walked into the Long Island courtroom for sentencing.
Then, a moment of grace, what the New York Times called "something startling and luminous"
Victoria Ruvolo met Ryan Cushing for the first time. He said he was sorry and begged her to forgive him. Victoria did.
She cradled his head as he sobbed. She stroked his face and patted his back. "It's O.K.; it's O.K.," she said. "I just want you to make your life the best it can be."
The prosecutor denounced the crime as heedless and brutal, but at Ms Ruvolo's insistence, they gave him a plea bargain: six months in jail and five years' probation.
Given the opportunity for retribution, Ms. Ruvolo gave and got something better: the dissipation of anger and the restoration of hope, in a gesture as cleansing as the tears washing down her damaged face, and the face of the foolish, miserable boy whose life she single-handedly restored.
William Keahon, the defendant's lawyer, said,
This woman's spirituality must be incredible to have this forgiveness. I've never seen this in 32 years of practicing law.
Every day we make a difference in the way we live and deal with other people. Victoria Ruvulo restored her life, Ryan's life, and immeasurably affected for the better the lives of everyone in that courtroom and everyone who reads her story and who can understand the power of forgiveness.
No one does more to rail against ageism, the last acceptable prejudice - than Ronnie Bennett.
Take a look at The Courage To Be Our Age.
So why do we try so hard to deny our age? Because we live in age-phobic culture that is discriminatory and disrespectful, littered with false beliefs about old age. No one wants to live in such a world, so we go along with the cultural imperative to maintain a facsimile of youth, actively complicit in our own second-class citizenry.
Ageism is as evil as every other ism and it will persist as long as we pretend to be younger than we are.
And if you think you're not prejudiced, just take her test on aging myths to see how you do. After all, if you don't know what's true, it's hard not to be prejudiced.
From the 100th issue of Body & Soul, the London Times weekly supplement, comes 100 top tips for living.
Here's Simon Cromption on Body Maintenance.
1 Get married and live happily ever after — statistics show that single men in particular are at significantly greater risk of death than men in a permanent relationship.
2 Take good quality omega oil (cod liver, flax seed, etc) capsules every day — there’s evidence it improves your brain power, reduces rates of heart and stroke, and possibly helps prevent Alzheimer’s.
3 Yes, it’s boring, but don’t smoke. It’s the single most avoidable cause of illness and death so it’s pretty pointless worrying about your health if you’re still puffing away.
4 Get to understand food labels — the more you know about what goes into food and what it does to you, the more manufacturers will have to ensure that it is healthy.
5 Exercise regularly, but don’t go mad — remember that as you get older the cartilage in your joints becomes more brittle. The last thing you want is to be laid up for months on end.
6 Believe in something — there is increasing evidence that those who attend church tend to have lower blood pressure and live longer.
7 Be aware of your body — what’s normal and what’s not. Doctors believe that people benefit more from being aware of sudden changes, or anything that is not normal, than having regular health screens. Go to the doctor if something does seem unusual.
8 Do what your doctor says. Up to half of those who are prescribed medicines don’t take them properly. Research indicates thousands remain ill or die as a result.
9 Look after your teeth. Not only does toothache destroy your quality of life but recent studies have shown that those who neglect their dental health tend to die earlier.
10 Remember moderation in all things. If you’re eating three cream cakes every day you know that there’s going to be payback. The same applies to taking handfuls of supplements.
Oranges, legumes, leafy green vegetables all contain folates. So do folic acid supplements.
Now we learn that folates appear to have more impact on reducing Alzheimer's risk than vitamin E, as does healthy diets overall.
In what may be an end run around the current debate on embryonic stem cell research, a Harvard research team announced that they have turned ordinary skin cells into what appears to be embryonic stem cells.
Apart from avoiding the ethical quagmire, these new skin cells match EXACTLY the DNA of the donor. Until now, the only way to offer an exact replica was therapeutic cloning, creating an embryo than killing it to harvest its stem cells.
In the secret world of surrogacy, where older women buy eggs from other women or arrange for other women to carry and bear their child,
Melanie McGuire was an "emotional midwife", available at any time to talk with her clients.
A client of Reproductive Medical Associates, Jennifer Calise, is quoted in the Style section of Sunday's New York Times
The entire process is a leap of faith. As a parent who is entrusting strangers with your DNA - your eggs, your sperm, your future children - it's really a scary prospect.
The emotional midwife has been arrested for murder. Prosecutors charge her with shooting her husband, dismembering him, putting the cut-up pieces into black garbage bags, then into suitcases, throwing them off a bridge, before carrying on her life and career for over a year before her arrest.
This is what can happen if you don't take responsibility for reading your own banking and investment statements.
From, A 'devasted' Leonard Cohen by Katherine Macklem
it's a true tale, with the bizarre twist of a Tibetan Buddhist suing a Zen Buddhist, Cohen. For the 70-year-old poet, singer and songwriter, it's a nasty, rapidly escalating legal battle that on the one hand accuses him of conspiracy and extortion, and on the other has him accusing both his highly trusted personal manager and long-time financial adviser -- the Tibetan Buddhist -- of gross mismanagement of his financial affairs. The case exposes not only private details of Cohen's finances, but also a dramatic tale of betrayal.
The conflict, which Cohen and others have tried to keep out of public view, has left him virtually broke -- he's had to take out a mortgage on his house to pay legal costs -- and facing a multi-million-dollar tax bill.
Still, when he discovered last fall that his retirement funds, which he had thought amounted to more than $5 million (all figures U.S.), had been reduced to $150,000, he wasn't so sanguine. "I was devastated," Cohen says. "You know, God gave me a strong inner core, so I wasn't shattered. But I was deeply concerned."
4 out of 5 high school students think there is nothing wrong with cheating, according to a recent survey conducted with 4500 high school students by Rutgers University.
Russell Williams, says
I do want to point the finger to the causal problem - a forty-plus year tradition of moral relativism in America's institutions of learning.
The relativists have been in the driver's seat championing the ethic of feelings. If it feels good to me, it must be right. The narcissistic, me-centered, moral relativists have fine-tuned this ethical mantra. Unfortunately, our kids have been immersed deeply in a prevailing society ethos that is more interested in getting what we think we deserve rather than discovering ethical principles that guide noble behavior.
I don't write these words as discouragement. I believe the character pendulum is swinging in a significant and promising direction. However I am certain that the survey points to the stark reality that there is tremendous work to be done educationally in America to guide today's kids from ethical blurred lines toward moral clarity in distinguishing between right and wrong.
Williams is president of Passkeys Foundation Jefferson Center for Character Education.
Some quotes from my tour around the blogosphere this morning.
"Why do you want to live here and not in Europe?" I asked a young woman from Ethiopia, who tipped back her Seattle Mariners baseball cap and looked at me as if I were completely mad.
"Europe," she said disdainfully.
"What do they ever hope for in Europe? Here they have a law that you can dream to be happy."
From Sigmund, Carl and Alfred
NG made the sorry attempt to lighten our disappointment by offering to take us to her favorite vegetarian (Howie's Ashram and Curry Emporium) place for dinner, where we might enjoy her favorite tofu platter, seasoned with mint and little itty bitty edible flowers, with an endless loop of Indian sitar music playing in the background.
"TOFU?" we gently inquired "ARE YOU INSANE?" and "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?"
In a role reversal, older activists and loving children who choose to fight
In Waterbury, Ray Odiorne, 56, an ordained minister who works as a psychotherapist, reflects on the days he used to take his two young daughters to peace vigils around New England. He told them stories of how he had marched against the Vietnam War while attending seminary school in Massachusetts, how once he had run all the way from Harvard Square to downtown Boston after a face-off with police firing tear gas.
Few people know it, but he is a military dad. His youngest daughter, Kathryn, 23, enlisted in the Army last year. When she broke the news to him in October, he felt punched in the gut.
"I was stunned. It was so out of the blue. I mean, good grief, she went to Wellesley,"
Via neo-neocon who says
"It's not an unusual phenomenon, this alternating of generations in which grandparents and grandchildren are aligned, with parents the odd men (and women) out .
I read the post I wrote last night before going to bed and all I have to say about it is HUSBANDS SHOULD NOT LET THEIR WIVES BLOG DRUNK.
Okay, one more. Why not.
A couple of years ago, I wrote (in one feverish session) a piece called "74 Facts and One Lie". And it's one of those rare pieces which pretty much came out of me completely whole - I did very little editing, I didn't feel the need to touch it at all. I wrote it with a sense of urgency and specificity - and without saying too much - it came from a need I had to describe a profound experience from my life, using ONLY FACTS. I was so sick of emotions that I could barely stand my own damn company. I sat down one night, thinking: "Okay. Hang on. Enough emotion, enough, enough editorializing. What are the FACTS?" So I gave myself that assignment. List all of the facts, and don't comment on any of them. Don't write about how you FEEL (because, well ... ICK) - just the facts, ma'am.
Sheila O'Malley at the Sheila Variations, 74 Facts and One Lie.
I can't resist blogging this - it had me laughing out loud and it's more than 30 years old!
The Harvard Lampoon's takeoff Detoriata on the famous Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (in the extended entry)
Go placidly amid the noise & waste, & remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet & passive persons unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself and heed well their advice even though they be turkeys; know what to kiss and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity & disillusionment and despite the changing fortunes of time, there will always be a big future in computer maintenance.
Remember the Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, & mutilate.
Know yourself; if you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs, especially with those persons closest to you. That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore; it will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth, birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan; and let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time, call 606-4311; ask for Ken.
Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese; and reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee.
You are a fluke of the universe; you have no right to be here, and whether you can hear it or not, the universe is laughing behind your back.
Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive Him to be: Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises & urban renewal, the world continues to deteriorate.
By Tony Hendra - 1972
Tony Hendra was the editor of the Harvard Lampoon for many years. He's also the author of "Father Joe : The Man Who Saved My Soul",
Hilarious, profound and spiritual, the book begins, "How I met Father Joe. I was fourteen and having an affair with a married woman."
Desiderata - by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
It's the end of August, nearing the end of summer. But I'll be busier than ever finishing a business plan, our prototype for ESOL and my book.
So, while everyone else is off at the beach, I'll be in a cool library, writing.
Blogging will be sporadic, if at all, until Labor Day.
Last week, I attended a seminar to learn about hedge funds. I learned a lot, but what I was most interested in was the company that put it on.
(Full disclosure note - Much to my surprise, I won a $200 bottle of Chateau Margaux in the raffle among attendees which I've put away for a special occasion.)
I first learned about SEI investments in May and was quite intrigued by its holistic approach that I think will prove very appealing to aging boomers. At this educational seminar with no hard sell, I was surprised to learn how long the employees had been with the company and how much they loved their jobs - always a good sign and one of my rules of thumb. I later learned on the web that SEI has been named four times to Fortune's List of the 100 Best Companies to work for.
SEI has launched SEI Wealth Network, a new financial advisor business model, that enables advisors to help their clients realize their true life goals, enriching their lives and the lives of others.
It's not about just trying to sell you products but helping people deal with the messiness and complexities of their lives. The SEI Wealth Network has a broad set of experts to help solve issues their clients face - from elder care, to caring for a special needs child, to career and life redirection.
While SEI is targeting financial advisors who deal with high net worth individuals and families, what they've uncovered as the new wealth code for advisors is quite interesting.
Old Wealth Code
1. True wealth is being rich.
2. Money is its own reward.
3. Be an expert in your financial field.
4. Deliver great products.
5. Offer great service.
6. Give me a great deal.
Success Measure: ROI
(Return on Investment - Market Driven)
New Wealth Code
1. True wealth is well-being.
2. Money helps to realize a rewarding life.
3. Become the expert on my life goals.
4. Align my wealth with my life changes.
5. Help me solve my life problems.
6. Create value with me.
Success Measure: ROL
(Return on Life - Goal Driven)
I believe that all of us want the very best of our professional advisors. We want them to be our advocates, always on our side. We count on them to be experts in their profession and to know how to deliver consistently strong investment returns. But what we really want at important times is the best advice to deal with our personal challenges in life. That's what SEI is looking to do. I wish them the best of success.
From Marshall Loeb at Marketwatch, a new book, called 3 Dimensional Wealth should be very good in getting people to view their wealth in a far broader context. Your Wealth in 3-D.
The authors, Monroe Diefendorf and Robert Sterling Madden don't see wealth as a simple collection of assets. They say wealth is composed of who you are (personal wealth), what you have (financial wealth) and how you can make a difference (social wealth).
I'm glad to see the financial industry beginning to look at wealth at large and in full.
Coming soon and just in time for boomers, a nasal spray vaccine that might slow Alzheimer's.
It works with mice who showed a 73% reduction in damaging amyloid plaques.
Were the dangers of long term hormone replacement therapy known for years?
Was it a conspiracy against women?
Together, the pharmaceutical companies, physicians and researchers effectively colluded to promote the view that menopause is a 'deficiency disease,' and that women needed long-term treatment with HRT to prevent illness, loss of sexuality and ugly aging
This from the Harvard authors of a paper appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Other experts, however, fault the tone of the article, saying scientists can't view the events of four decades ago with knowledge and experience only recently acquired.
The authors pinned their paper around this question: "Why, for four decades, since the mid-1960s, were millions of women prescribed powerful pharmacological agents already shown, three decades earlier, to be carcinogenic?"
The complicated answer, as the authors see it, includes an industry that is not tightly regulated; the ascendancy of individual as opposed to collective risk; and the "gendering" of hormones involving longstanding beliefs that sex hormones explain women's and men's behavior and biology.
Socially responsible research, they conclude, needs to include greater transparency of funding; a public registry for all drug trials; and a re-weighing of current prevention vs. future risk.
A recent study in the UK reveals that many dads are unknowingly raising children that are not theirs.
Calling it a Pandora's Box with broad health implications, British researchers say genetic testing is informing about 4 percent of fathers that a child they are raising is not their own.
What do you want to do with the rest of your life?
If you go to 43 things, you'll see how people discover what's important, make it happen, share their progress.
From Learning Japanese, ice skating in Rockefeller Center, build a log cabin, become a master knitter, stop procrastinating, worry less, bungee jump, write more, take one picture a day as a way to document my life and lots more.
Take a look at 43 Things Zeitgeist of the day's most popular goals and see how many you share with this younger slice of the country.
Another for the compendium of rules of life.
Always wear your good underpants when you travel.
Stephanie tells why.
via Happy Catholic
It all began with Demi Moore. Remember how shocking it was to see her naked and very pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair way back in 1991?
Now, pregnant women are clamoring for similar shots of their pregnant selves. This new type of family portrait is taking off with even J.C. Penny offering a maternity package at its 400 photography studios.
From Letting It All Hang Out in the Wall St. Journal
Jennifer Loomis, a photographer who focuses almost exclusively on maternity clients, brings in revenues of about $300,000 annually.
"The message I'm trying to communicate is one of strength, transformation and beauty," says Ms. Loomis. "I'm helping them capture one of the most interesting times of their lives."
Have you ever wondered what other investment clubs are selecting for stocks?
Since women predominant in investment clubs, it's quite interesting to see that they select companies based on the products they use and the retail stores where they shop. No high flying tech stocks here.
Top-Held Stocks by Investment Clubs, ranked by % of Clubs Holding as of August 1, 2005.
1. Home Depot Inc. (HD) — 40.3%
2. Pfizer Inc. (PFE) — 40.0%
3. General Electric Co. (GE) — 35.3%
4. Harley-Davidson Inc. (HDI) — 21.6%
5. Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) — 21.4%
6. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) — 20.0%
7. Intel Corp. (INTC) — 18.7%
8. Johnson & Johnson Inc. (JNJ) — 18.6%
9. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY) — 17.2%
10. Walgreen Co. (WAG) — 16.7%
But if you look at the total amount invested by clubs, the list is different.
Top-Held Stocks by Investment Clubs, ranked by Total $ Invested*
1. Home Depot Inc. (HD)
2. General Electric Co. (GE)
3. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY)
4. Pfizer Inc. (PFE)
5. Johnson & Johnson Inc. (JNJ)
6. Walgreens Co. (WAG)
7. Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO)
8. Amgen Inc. (AMGN)
9. Harley Davidson (HDI)
10. Lowe’s Companies (LOW)
ICLUBCentral, the market leader in investment club software and web services, released these lists of the most widely-held stocks held by investment clubs as of August 1, 2005
Placentas may offer an alternative source of stem cells.
They described primitive cells found in a part of the placenta called the amnion, which they coaxed into forming a variety of cell types and which look very similar to sought-after embryonic stem cells.
With 4 million children born in the United States each year, placentas could provide a ready source of the cells, the team at the University of Pittsburgh said.
It is not yet certain that the cells they found are true stem cells, said Stephen Strom, who worked on the study. But they carry two important genes, called Oct 4 and nanog, which so far have only been seen on embryonic stem cells.
"We were just blown away when we found those two genes expressed in those cells," Strom said in a telephone interview.
"The presence of these two genes suggests these cells are pluripotent, which means they should be able to form any cell type in the body."
Stem cells are the body's master cells. So-called adult stem cells are found in the tissue and blood are a source for renewing cells.
The university has licensed the technology to a company called Stemnion, LLC, and the researchers are shareholders and will receive license fees as part of the agreement.
If so, we may be lucky enough to side step the moral controversy of embryonic stem cells. That would be great. All the benefits of embryonic stem cells and none of the moral reservations.
Embryonic stem cells have something else going for them that keeps them ever young, an enzyme called telomerase, which repairs a cell's chromosomes as it divides into new cells. Ominously, telomerase, although absent in most adult cells, is also present in cancer cells. It may, in fact, be the key to what turns a normal cell into a cancer cell and sends it into an out of control cycle of propagation, growing and spreading throughout the body. Thus the concern that embryonic stem cells will have the unwanted complication of causing cancer. Amniotic epithelial cells, to their credit, do not have telomerase. They would thus appear to have the best of both worlds - the genes that allow embryonic cells to differentiate into different types of tissue cells, but no association with cancer.
She links to a doctor in the Philippines who writes about the Caul - the transparent placental membrane that sometimes covers the head of a baby when it is born.
In the Philippines, this is the prevailing belief: Babies born with a caul will manifest supernatural abilities and an open third eye (the ability to see ghosts).
Many other cultures have attributed strange powers to this membrane since time immemorial. As the link shows, some seers practiced a form of divination with it, called Amniomancy. It was said that a caul could prevent anyone from dying by drowning, so they were prized by sailors all over the world. That cauls are considered lucky even among some superstition-scorning Christians is explained by the legend that even Jesus was born with one.
Here's a round-up of health news that caught my eye this past week, that is, apart from the staggering news that the World Health Organization has declared that oral combined contraceptives and hormonal therapy are carcinogenic to humans.
It may be a genetic trait that some people benefit more from exercise than others according to a recent study, but the researchers insist, everyone benefits from exercise.
The heart drugs known as beta blockers may ease traumatic memories, reducing the fear but not the memory, through their effects on the hormones linked to fear and arousal.
Fructose may increase obesity not just by its added calories but also because of its effect on metabolism.
A drug used for Parkinson's eases fibromyalgia pain.
If your knee hurts, probably another joints hurt as well, and that effects the emotional quality of your life, especially if you are over 50.
Scientists are developing an "in-body bone factory" that may be available in just a few years.
People with Alzheimer's may be even more isolated because they are not getting their vision corrected so they can see clearly.
You know all those people who believe they've been kidnapped by aliens? Haven't you wondered how could they believe in something so preposterous? I certainly have.
Harvard psychologist Susan Clancy tells us in her new book, Abducted
At a basic level, Dr. Clancy concludes, alien abduction stories give people meaning, a way to comprehend the many odd and dispiriting things that buffet any life, as well as a deep sense that they are not alone in the universe. In this sense, abduction memories are like transcendent religious visions, scary and yet somehow comforting and, at some personal psychological level, true.
As if you didn't have enough to worry about, both the pill and hormone treatment for the menopause can make you more susceptible to cancer.
This is not a report based on the studies on rats that theoretically could affect humans in the same way. This report is based on a thorough review of the published scientific evidence by a working group of 21 scientists from 8 countries, part of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, itself part of the World Health Organization.
This information is of major public health importance to millions of women and those that love them.
Cancer consultants, an oncology resource center. reports on the press release.
Estrogen Plus Progestin Classified as “Carcinogenic to Humans"
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, issued a press release on July 29, 2005 stating that combined estrogen plus progestin postmenopausal hormone therapy and oral contraceptives are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans.
The announcement, which followed a review of the published scientific evidence, came from an IARC working group comprised of 21 scientists from eight countries. Dr. Peter Boyle, Director of IARC, stressed the importance of the topic by noting that millions of women worldwide take combined oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormone therapy.
Oral contraceptives containing estrogen plus progestin were found to increase the risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer, while decreasing the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
Press release from the IARC and the WHO.
If you are one of the 100 million women using combined hormonal contraceptives or one of the 20 million women under hormonal menopausal therapy, talk to your doctor and find something less harmful to use instead.
People aren't cashing in the frequent flyer miles - 2004 saw a drop of 2.1% in the number of FF tickets.
Because airlines must report the approximate cash value of future reward tickets to the SEC as a liability, they want people to cash in their miles for FF tickets and many have revised their policies to make it easier to do so.
If you want a good primer on your various frequent flyer programs or want to compare the policies of various airlines, do get a copy of today's - August 9 -Wall St. Journal
The Cranky Consumer in Checking When Air Miles Expire has a great chart with threshold and expiration policies nicely laid out,
There was a time not so long ago when fathers weren't allowed in delivery rooms to see their children being born. Today, that's completely changed and fathers are expected to support their wives and share in the miracle of childbirth.
Neither an ocean nor a war could keep Sgt William Hammock from seeing his wife Angela give birth through streaming audio and video.
One of the more remarkable outcomes of the Air France crash in Toronto last week was how calm everyone was.
It turns out to be not so remarkable at all. And what good news that is.
Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and president of the Society for Risk Analysis writes in the New York Times, there was a hero in every aisle seat and we could have been one of them.
The Air France evacuation required an extraordinary degree of social coordination - which emerged among a group of strangers with virtually no time to prepare. Once out of the wreckage, they were aided by other strangers who, on the spur of the moment and with no expertise in emergency situations, had pulled off a nearby highway and calmly charged into the scene, despite the risks posed by an exploding plane.
While this sort of behavior is often described as remarkable, it is actually what researchers have come to expect. Studies of civilians' intense experiences in the London Blitz; the cities of Japan and Germany in World War II; the 1947 smallpox outbreak in New York; the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, in 1995; and even fires have found that people, however stressed, almost always keep their wits and elevate their humanity.
Women representing 17 civil society groups in Najaf, a Shiite stronghold, protest for women's rights for the first time ever in that city and against sharia. They are courageous and brave reminding us that the struggle for women's rights is the struggle for human rights here.
From Publius Pundit
With news of the draft constitution circling the streets, women aren’t all that happy knowing that legislation will be based on sharia and certain rights won’t be given. So what do they do about it? Make their views known by exercising their right to assembly! This was the first civil rights protest held by women’s groups in the holy city of Najaf. It was reported by Radio Free Iraq, but this is the only account I could find of it on Google News (now that’s pathetic!).
Women representing 17 civil society groups took the streets of Najaf on Aug. 3.
“We want to make clear that we’re against any attempt to revive the notorious 137 personal affairs laws,” organizer Intisar Al-Mayali declared. “We want a civil law to govern issues like marriage and inheritance . . . and even the existing civil law that we support needs to be modified and improved in a way that matches the needs and rights of Iraqi women and we insist that Islam must not be the only source of legislation.”
Again, it cannot be overlooked that this protest was held in Najaf, a Shiite stronghold and holy city, where the religious leaders practically demand that sharia be the law of the land.
Omar, from Iraq the Model, reports
What’s even more interesting is that those women come from the strictly conservative city of Najaf where the SCIRI won the provincial elections and appointed one of their men as governor, yet those strong women had enough courage to publicly claim equality with men, condemn forcing Share’at laws into the constitution and also criticized Al-Hakim in spite of all the power and influence he has in Najaf.
Women suffer the most in the Mideast under fundamentalist Islam. They may not work or be educated, they cannot go about in public without a male relative, they must be veiled. They are under the total control of men.
Yet, women will be the main drivers for freedom and democracy. Some of them are dying now. They are the bravest women in the world.
A few examples, of many, of what women in some countries are up against: in northern Afghanistan in May, three women workers at a microcredit organisation (which gives loans to women to start up small businesses) were stoned to death by warlords; in India, a woman social worker in Madhya Pradesh state had her hands chopped off by a man furious because she was counselling villagers against child marriage.
In Pakistan, the head of the Human Rights Commission was stripped and beaten in public after she organised a series of sporting marathons in which women could compete. (One marathon was attacked by 900 men from the Islamist alliance, armed with batons and petrol bombs. President Pervez Musharraf, who talks constantly of curbing Islamic militants, has since reversed his Government's policy of allowing mixed-gender sporting activities in public.)
In Iraq, a wave of attacks on women has been carried out by the new insurgent groups. Said a 23-year-old university student: "They dropped acid in my face and on my legs. They cut all my hair off while hitting me in the face many times, telling me it's the price for not obeying God's wish in using the veil."
We owe them all our support. A government that would deny the equal rights of women can not be trusted.
Was there ever such a story that combined tragedy with hope, sadness with love?
Is there any doubt that this is what Susan Torres would have wanted? Her dying body, riddled with cancer, was yet suffused with love sufficient to bring a healthy baby to life - Susan Anne Catherine Torres.
Brain dead mother taken off life support from the Washington Post .
After her husband and parents said their last goodbyes and after a priest offered a prayer -- words about weeping in a valley of tears -- Susan Torres, her improbable mission accomplished, was unhooked yesterday morning from the machines that sustained not only her body but that of her baby for the past three months.
The 26-year-old Arlington woman, who was felled by cancer and declared brain-dead in May, but who gave birth by Caesarean section Tuesday to the girl she had hoped for, died shortly thereafter. It was the end her family knew was inevitable, but it was no less difficult to fathom.
Jason Torres, who slept by his wife's side for three months, whose cell phone still carries her voice and who made the final decision to unhook the machines, stayed away from the cameras and crowds of reporters who had come to the hospital to find out, among other things, how his new daughter, Susan Anne Catherine Torres, was doing.
Strange happening on the night of Susan Torres' tragic collapse.
On the night of Susan’s collapse, May 7, said Sonny, he returned home with his wife Karen at about 3:00am, and went to bed, exhausted. At about 4:15am, without any warning, he awoke and sat bolt upright. Karen also awoke and asked him what the matter was.
“What it was,” he said, “it wasn’t a dream…This was so different from a dream…so…so powerful. It was words that came to me. It was a woman’s voice; my wife made me write it down. It wasn’t a request, it was a command.”......
“.......Sonny said that although it struck him at the time as a singular and unusual experience, he put it down to overwrought nerves, still barely coming to terms with the tragedy of his daughter-in-law’s sudden collapse only a few hours before. It wasn’t until the following day when he began to tell his son what happened that he was given a palpable reason to think of it as something more than imagination.
“I went to my son later that day,” continued Sonny, “and I began to tell him about it and he said ‘Stop! Let me tell you what I had.’ We compared notes, and it happened about the same time—4:15 in the morning. And his is almost word for word of mine.”
The words that both Sonny and Jason believe they heard, before the life-affirming story of Susan ever reached the ears of a journalist or a newsman, are the following:
“You and others will tell the world of a fight to save a precious life, not to change hardened hearts, but to give hope to those who believe, so that they know that there is more than what they see and hear. Let them come and see for themselves.”
Congratulations and condolences to the Torres family.
What Are We Going to Do with Dad by Jerald Winakur in the Washington Post. A sobering piece.
My only sibling, an architect, asks me every time we are together....."What are we going to do with Dad?" As if there must be a definitive answer, some fix -- say, putting a grab bar in the bathroom or increasing the width of the doorways.
He asks me this question not just out of fear and frustration, but because he figures that his older brother, the physician, should know the answer. I do not know the answer. I do not have a pat solution for my father or yours -- neither as a son, a man past middle age with grown children of his own, nor as a specialist in geriatrics who is also a credentialed long-term care medical director.
In the United States today there are 35 million geriatric patients -- defined as over the age of 65. Of these, 4.5 million are older than 85, now characterized as the "old old." Yet the American Medical Directors Association, which credentials physicians in long-term care, has certified only 1,900 such doctors in the entire country; only 2 percent of physicians in training say they want to go into geriatric care. As we baby boomers go about our lives, frozen into our routines of work and family responsibilities, a vast inland sea of elders is building. By 2020 there will be an estimated 53 million Americans older than 65, 6.5 million of whom will be "old old." Many of you will be among them. America will be inundated with old folks, each with a unique set of circumstances, medical and financial.
It's rarely talked about, but hospitalizations are the most dangerous times for the elderly. Even if they have never manifested any signs of disorientation, it is in the hospital -- in a strange and threatening environment, under the influence of anesthetics, pain pills, anti-emetics and soporifics -- that many elderly will meet their match. Add to this the treatment mishaps (caused by the "normally expected" side effects and complications of standard medical procedures) and the human errors (mistakes in drug dosing, the right medication given to the wrong patient), now multiplying in our modern hospitals like germs in a Petri dish, and it is almost a miracle that any elderly patient gets out relatively unscathed.
Every night, I slept in the reclining chair by my father's bed. I got up when he did; ran interference with bedrails, side tables and IV poles; guarded his every move to the bathroom; looked at every medication and every fluid-filled bag plugged into his arm. Yet each day, my father descended deeper into paranoid confusion. He was restless, and intermittently unsure of who I was. At first I could calm him with my voice, talking about the old days, reminding him of our fishing trips on the Chesapeake Bay when I was young. Then he needed the physical reassurance of my hand on his arm or shoulder at all times. Finally, so that he could get some rest, I got in the bed and held him, comforting him as he once -- in a long-ago life -- did me.
At first, my mother didn't believe that my father was demented. Most of us do not recognize the reduction in the mental capacities of our spouses or parents unless something unexpected happens. My mother continued to see his stubbornness and withdrawal as purposeful acts of belligerence against her -- until the day she realized he could no longer figure out how to unlock the front door by himself..
From my years as a geriatrician and now as the son of an "old old" man, I recognize that there is one inescapable truth: Our parents will become our children if they live long enough. Perhaps if we looked on our elderly in this way, we would be kinder to them.
How just packing a lunch four days a week can add up.
Frank saves $20/week, $1000/year with peanut butter and jam sandwiches and fruit. Healthier too
The hills are alive with the sound of music again in Switzerland.
Hikers are told to sing if they want to avoid being attacked by a bear. Good advice anywhere.
I wrote in Rural Europe Dying that economics and declining birthrates are pushing large swaths of Europe back to their primeval state. Looks like it's not just wolves returning, but bears too.
Bears had been extinct in Switzerland for 100 years. The new bear that's got everyone singing probably migrated from Italy when wildlife experts say about 70 live.
Is Communism to blame for baby deaths?
Brandenburg Interior Minister Joerg Schoenbohm thinks so to the consternation of his party, the Christian Democrats.
Police arrested a 39-year-old German woman in the eastern state of Brandenburg on Monday and charged her with killing nine newborn babies between 1988 and 1999 after finding their bodies buried in flower pots at her parents' home.
The deaths, described as Germany's worst post war series of child killings, have sparked shock and disbelief that the woman identified as Sabine H could conceal so many pregnancies.
He added the communists' compulsory collectivisation of farms 50 years ago in the largely rural state had led people to lose their sense of personal responsibility and to a decline of moral values in society.
It has the ring of truth to me. Nine pregnancies. Nine births. Nine babies buried in flowerpots and no one noticed?
Certain compounds in broccoli may help prevent bladder cancer say Ohio State University researchers.
So, unless you're the President, eat your broccoli because you know what's good for you.
"I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli."
George H.W. Bush (#41)
A very interesting essay on the idea of evil by Sophie Masson over at Norm's blog
What interested me in this discussion was the poverty of the idea of evil displayed by so many of these eminent men and women. The most humble folktale story of the Devil is more complex, subtle and ambiguous in its exploration of evil than are all the depravity tables of people who, for all their undoubted eminence and record in helping the mentally ill, seem powerless in front of the reality that sometimes - rarely, fortunately - there arise human beings who have deliberately chosen the path of evil.
The Australians began a 20 year study in 1999 to examine the changes in people's thinking and mood as they age.
Preliminary results are in.
It is guaranteed to raise a cheer among those who enjoy a tipple: moderate drinkers are better thinkers than teetotallers or those who overindulge.
Research by the Australian National University in Canberra suggests drinking in moderation boost your brainpower. But none at all, or too much, can make you a dullard.
A study of 7,000 people in their early 20s, 40s and 60s found that those who drank within safe limits had better verbal skills, memory and speed of thinking than those at the extremes of the drinking spectrum. The safe consumption level was considered to be 14 to 28 standard drinks a week for a man and seven to 14 for a woman.
The results may reflect the fact that alcohol can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and increase blood flow to the brain - factors linked to improved mental function. They also support research that suggests moderate alcohol intake can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by improving circulation.
If you're like me, sometimes you just can't stand watching the news for another minute because it's so depressing.
I speak as a sometimes news junkie who used to walk a mile in the morning to get every newspaper.
Now there's an alternative that can bring some balance to your news and maybe to your soul. It's called Happy News - "Real news, compelling stories, always positive"
Citizen Journalists welcomed.
"All the news that's fun to print."
From the New York Times, Your Body is Younger than You Think.
The cells in our body are in a constant flux of change, growing, dying, renewing, so much so that the average age of all the cells in an adult's body may turn out to be as young as 7 to 10 years.
About the only pieces of the body that last a lifetime, on present evidence, seem to be the neurons of the cerebral cortex, the inner lens cells of the eye and perhaps the muscle cells of the heart. The inner lens cells form in the embryo and then lapse into such inertness for the rest of their owner's lifetime that they dispense altogether with their nucleus and other cellular organelles.
Mind. Eye. Heart. What you think. What you see. What you feel.
All that makes us unique as individuals.
Isn't it curious that these are what we say we want to keep OPEN.
Open Mind. Eyes Opened. Open Heart. Keeping mind, eyes and heart open is how we stay fresh, flexible, vital and youthful.
I believe that the strongest bonds of friendship are formed through experiences shared in common. With the shared experience of blogging, every woman who came to Blogher had something in common, but who could have imagined the glorious excitement of finding just how true that was.
When women connect to women and bond through a shared experience, the pleasure is intense, And that was Blogher. That intense high extended through Saturday and night. Bursting through my stereotypes, I was amazed at how smart and ariticulate every one was and how well-meaning and supportive. The conference experience is totally different when women predominate and speak from their hearts and experience. It was three hundred voices in full flower and bloom.
When the change agents are women, all the maps change, says Evelyn Rodriguez and quotes Ursula Le Guin,
When women speak truly, they speak subversively--they can't help it: if you're underneath, if you're kept down, you break out, you subvert.
We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains
Hally Suitt, Intense Broadband Beauty
I've been talking with friends who attended and reading accounts about how INTENSE and EXHAUSTING the whole thing was and we are all rather astounded by the gathering...
Holy heck! Honestly, I've never been so tired out by such an amazing group. I was talking with a friend about how dull most conferences are and you have times when you can just "switch off" and rest. This event felt so "SWITCHED ON" the whole time!
Trish Grier at Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams.
This was the most wonderful gathering of women I've ever been part of (that's saying alot, considering I went to an all-women college).
Jory des Jardins, one of the co-mothers of the conference
I've been writing about the Power of the X Chromosome, which I define as qualities unique to women that cultivate effective leadership when used to their potential. I think that these qualities--communication, connectedness, humilty--were in play all weekend.
Conferences don't materialize out of good intentions alone, and while I liked to pretend that they did, Elisa always was the one to deal with the more nitpicky, fiduciary and stress-inducing aspects of our enterprise. Even the next day, when wireless connections were questionable, and we were scrambling to set up signage and the registration table, she was cool as a cucumber. I wanted to be equally effective in times of crisis, and fortunately I had my opportunity to contribute when Elisa found she'd arrived at TechMart without any hair product. Elisa, it was an HONOR.
..I valued every opinion that was offered, even if I didn't agree with it, because of HOW it was offered--with intelligence, respect, and an intention of enhancing the community.
Charlene Li from Forrester
I came to network. I came to learn. And I came away inspired. Within the first few minutes of the start of BlogHer, I was moved to tears. As a woman (make that Asian-American woman) in the technology field, it’s rare that I have a chance to meet and connect with people like me -- I’m often one of a handful of women at technology conferences and frequently the only woman on a panel. So it was thrilling to see and then proceed to meet so many women who share the same passion that I have for blogging.
Koan Bremner, newly arrived to the community of women.
I'm struggling to find a single word to capture the effect that yesterday had on me; I think the best I can come up with is "inspirational". Truly, I feel as if in new life was breathed into me.... From the moment I stepped into the panelists briefing meeting on Friday afternoon, to the moment I left Nicolino's restaurant on Saturday evening, I felt at home. I *was* at home. I didn't encounter anyone in whom I detected the slightest resentment at my presence.
Saturday at Blogher was an amazing experience. And high in contrast to my usual experience with the conferences I usually attend, which are mostly men. Men's conversational style at events is often competitive and not very sharing of information. Over time, I've learned to share information and develop strong ties with many of those men, without competing, but rather by having interesting conversations. But at Blogher, which was 80% women, my style of conversing at my usual conferences would not go over, even if not competitive. This was a much more collaborative scene, and listening proved to be the most interesting thing, and the best way to connect with all the many amazing women there.
Ronni Bennett from Time goes by
Blogher was the best time I’ve had all year
Toby Bloomberg, the Marketing Diva
BlogHer was most valuable for me when I explored new worlds. ... we can learn from all corners of the blog world. That issues facing mommy bloggers, political bloggers, non profit bloggers and biz bloggers are very similar.
Susan Mernit from Susan Mernit
For me, the three flashpoints were
• the people--old friends and great new people
• the diversity--themes and attendees varied more widely than other conferences I've attended--and that added such richness
• the fact we did it
This conference rocked! This conference rocked!
I suspect BlogHer will lead the way to many more related events and projects--
Renee Blodgett from Down the Avenue
I have loved every other blogging event I've attended over the years, but hell, none of them had this much energy, beauty, passion and talent combined in one room. In addition to network TV, an editor from Glamour Magazine even showed up for this one!!!
Like every other woman who was lucky enough to go to Blogher, I'm still recovering from the intensity of this splendid experience.
On the way back from San Jose, a side trip to Washington, D.C., via Atlanta to get a townhouse ready for sale in less than a day. Thank God, my wonderful friend and real estate agent, J.J. Borzino, made this as easy and pleasant as possible.