October 31, 2006

It's Halloween and I'm off

Halloween Witch

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:29 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Lending the Poor out of Poverty

I often write drafts of posts and save them to finish later.  One such saved and forgotten start was about the Nobel Prize for Economics being awarded to Muhammad Yunus whose micro-lending ventures gave a path out of poverty to millions of the world's poor.

Better than anything I could write are two posts.

From Gates of Vienna:  From Rags to a Roof Over Your Head

From 37 days: Help someone buy a cow.  Patti met him years ago when she interviewed him for a book.

But this one, this Nobel Peace Prize, I agree with completely. And so, in honor of Mr. Yunus, here is the chapter I wrote some six years ago about his quiet, small revolution. Well done, Mr Yunus, well done:

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:27 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Suicide states

This is the scariest article I've read in a while and it seems to me, I've read a lot of them.

Suicide superpower.  Martyrdom as a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Iranian willingness to accept nuclear retaliation against itself as a form of martyrdom -or, if that willingness is not actually present, other countries’ belief that it is-will allow Tehran to use the implicit threat of a suicidal first strike to get its way:

We are prepared to nuke you first even though you are certain to respond by nuking us. You, in contrast, are not prepared to nuke us first because we are certain to respond by nuking you. Therefore we need only to possess the ability to nuke you in order to induce you to bend to our will.

The prospect of an Iran that can wield nuclear strategic power without having to launch a single missile, though not as spectacular as the Ahmadinejad-as-All-Four-Horsemen-of-the-Apocalypse scenario, is daunting. The distance from Iran to Saudi Arabia, between which lies Shi’a-populated, oil-endowed southern Iraq, is less than 200 miles. Saudi Arabia’s oilfields are in its Eastern Province, much of whose populace are Shi’ites, who are suppressed by, and hostile to, the House of Saud. The goal of Tehran’s nuclear weapons program is to enable Iran to attain hegemony over the entire littoral of the very aptly named Persian Gulf and, by exercising control of virtually all of the Mideast’s oil reserves, become a global power.

Or die trying.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Sleazy bank practices in incomprehensible language

Seems as if  the gobbledygook banks use is used deliberately to hide sleazy practices.

• Like penalty rates when you're late on some other bill.
• Soaring late fees that have risen more than 160% since 1995.
• "Double cycle" billing to calculate interest rates.

Editorialized USA Today

What's seems far more unfair - in fact downright sleazy - is imposing onerous rates and fees on consumers and failing to tell them about it in plain language.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 30, 2006

Making Final Choices

He says what I say, Tom Lauricella in today's Wall St Journal, Making Final Choices While They're Yours.

In an era where many retirees have multiple retirement accounts and homes that have appreciated considerably in value, there often needs to be a well-thought-out plan for how these assets will be handled at death.

And no matter what your net worth, it's vital to give someone you trust the power to make financial and health-care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

By making these arrangements ahead of time, you'll spare your family and friends emotional anguish, minimize the time they'll spend with lawyers or in court, and protect the assets you worked so hard to accumulate. If anything, knowing that these matters are taken care of should help you enjoy retirement that much more.

The legal trinity of necessary legal documents that every adult should have includes:

1. A Durable Power of Attorney
2. Health Care Proxy
3. A Will

Check your beneficiaries for all those assets "outside the will" - like your IRAs, 401(k)s, and life insurance policies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:19 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Jitterbug cell phones for elderly parents

I haven't been posting as much as usual because I've been taking care of my mother who just had major surgery to remove cancer from her colon.     

Like many older people, she doesn't have a computer or internet access.  Yet as she recovers, she realizes that she'll need a cell phone if she plans to drive again, just in case of an emergency.

Jitterbug is what she's looking at.  They have made cell phones easy-to-use for  the technologically-challenged.  With big buttons, bright screens and no unnecessary features, it looks great for the elderly who want something just for an emergency.  Best of all, there's an operator always standing by to help out.

Has anyone had experience with them?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:17 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 28, 2006

Sex Trafficking in San Francisco

Meredith May has conducted over 100 interviews to write a 4-part series in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sex Trafficking.  It's an eye-opening series revealing how common sex trafficking is in the United States.

I was especially appalled to learn that most traffickers are usually women who earn the naive trust of their victims and smuggle the unsuspecting girls across the border from Canada or Mexico, often to be beaten, raped and starved.   

Many of San Francisco's Asian massage parlors -- long an established part of the city's sexually permissive culture -- have degenerated into something much more sinister: international sex slave shops.

Once limited to infamous locales such as Bombay and Bangkok, sex trafficking is now an $8 billion international business, with San Francisco among its largest commercial centers.

San Francisco's liberal attitude toward sex, the city's history of arresting prostitutes instead of pimps, and its large immigrant population have made it one of the top American cities for international sex traffickers to do business undetected, according to Donna Hughes, a national expert on sex trafficking at the University of Rhode Island.

---

Relying on research from the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department estimates there are 14,500 to 17,500 human trafficking victims brought into the United States each year -- but does not quantify how many of those are sex victims. Some advocacy groups place the number of U.S. victims much higher, while others criticize the government for overstating the problem.
--

"Human trafficking is a multibillion-dollar business. In terms of profits, it's on a path to overtake drug and arms trafficking," said Barry Tang, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement attache with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in South Korea. "There's a highly organized logistical network between Korea and the United States with recruiters, brokers, intermediaries, taxi drivers and madams."
---

"The number of Asian massage parlors has doubled in San Francisco in the last two years," said Capt. Tim Hettrich of the San Francisco police vice unit. "Profits are huge. I have nine people working on this. I need three times that many to keep up."

The victims are too afraid of the traffickers to co-operate with the police.

Part 2 is about You MI whose credit card debt led her into sexual slavery in San Francisco.

To traffickers, 22-year-old You Mi was the perfect victim: a small-town girl in financial trouble. She gave her trust, and in return her life went horribly wrong, terribly fast.

Part 3 and Part 4 continues the story of You Mi and her escape.  Thanks to a lawyer specializing in human trafficking, she  eventually received a T-1 visa created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

With a law already on the books and the human trafficking moving to the suburbs,  there's not much you can do but report suspicious activity to the police.

For You Mi, her time as a sex slave has left a permanent bruise on her soul....."Most customers come into a massage parlor thinking nothing is wrong; that it's a job we choose," she said. "It doesn't occur to them that we are slaves."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:53 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 27, 2006

Run don't walk

The Book of Joe has the definite answer, probably.

Running in the rain keeps you drier than walking which is why everyone does it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Rape as Jihad

The Australian sheik who said that Muslim rapists were not entirely to blame because women without veils were "uncovered meat" that attract predators has been forced to apologize.  Aussies were up in arms about the sheik's outrageous comment, not so the Europeans.

Rape in Europe seems to be part of the jihad.

Fjordman reports about a Muslim rape wave in Sweden.

Swedish girls Malin and Amanda were on their way to a party on New Year's Eve when they were assaulted, raped and beaten half to death by four Somali immigrants. Sweden's largest newspaper has presented the perpetrators as "two men from Sweden, one from Finland and one from Somalia", a testimony as to how bad the informal censorship is in stories related to immigration in Sweden. Similar incidents are reported with shocking frequency, to the point where some observers fear that law and order is completely breaking down in the country. The number of rape charges in Sweden has tripled in just above twenty years. Rape cases involving children under the age of 15 are six - 6 - times as common today as they were a generation ago. Most other kinds of violent crime have rapidly increased, too.
-
--
82% of women in Sweden expressed fear about going out after dark.

A group of Swedish teenage girls has designed a belt that requires two hands to remove and which they hope will deter would-be rapists. "It's like a reverse chastity belt," one of the creators, 19-year-old Nadja Björk, told AFP, meaning that the wearer is in control, instead of being controlled. Björk and one of her partners now plan to start a business to mass produce the belts and are currently in negotiations with potential partners. "But I'm not doing this for the money," she said. "I'm really passionate about stopping rape. I think it's terrible." In an online readers' poll from the newspaper Aftonbladet, 82% of the women expressed fear to go outside after dark.

There are reports of rapes happening in broad daylight. 30 guests in a Swedish public bath watched as 17 girl was raped recently, and nobody did anything.
--

Some Muslim immigrants admit their bias quite openly. An Islamic Mufti in Copenhagen sparked a political outcry after publicly declaring that women who refuse to wear headscarves are "asking for rape."
--
If you postulate that many of the Muslims in Europe view themselves as a conquering army and that European women are simply war booty, it all makes perfect sense and is in full accordance with Islamic law. Western women are not so much regarded by most Muslims as individuals, but as "their women," the women who "belong" to hostile Infidels. They are booty, to be taken, just as the land of the Infidels someday will drop, it is believed, into Muslim hand.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 26, 2006

Big Babies

Michael Bywater writes in the London Telegraph that we're so bombarded by petty rules, bossy advice and celebrity tittle-tattle that we have forgotten how to be adults.  It's time to grow up. 

We're All Big Babies

My grandfather was born in 1888 and he didn't have a lifestyle. He didn't need one: he had a life.
--
The crucial difference is my grandfather's lack of self-consciousness, and that self-consciousness is a hallmark of the perpetual, infantilised adolescents we have all become, monsters of introspection hovering twitchily on the edge of self-obsession, occasionally aware that the life that exists only to be examined is barely manageable; barely, indeed, a life.

It is a preparation for a life. The consistently introspective life of the Big Baby is as much a simulacrum as life on Big Brother.
--

It's the old paradox. We need distraction from our fragmented and solitary lives because the distractions available to us have rendered our lives fragmented and solitary.
--

If one of the markers of adulthood is autonomy, then one of the preconditions of autonomy is being left alone.
--

We live on a diet of shadows, and we can only imitate them, stuck in the playpen, waiting to be distracted.

Admittedly, it's tricky, being grown up. The great thing about being a Big Baby is it's so easy and so rewarding, and everybody else can just bugger off.

Read the whole article to see "how to be an adult."  Adult is so rarely used now except to describe x-rated material.  It's actually shocking to read something that prescribes adult behavior.

Why is it that no one really wants to be an adult anymore?  They want to be forever youthful.

Remember, "Growing older is mandatory.  Growing up is optional."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:07 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Arthritis and DNA

Is arthritis caused by a build-up of surplus DNA?

Mice that cannot degrade surplus DNA develop arthritis, according to a new study. If the same occurs in humans, the discovery may suggest new treatments for the inflammatory disorder, researchers say.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an often-crippling inflammation of the joints that afflicts two million people in the US alone. Now, Japanese scientists have discovered that mice which cannot degrade "garbage" DNA develop a condition very similar to human arthritis.

We dump a lot of DNA. Between the newly-made red blood cells that eject their nuclei before joining the circulation, and the many cells that die normally, we dispose of 10 to the 18th – a billion billion – genomes’ worth every day. This garbage DNA is normally engulfed by scavenging white blood cells, called macrophages, which then degrade it using an enzyme called DNase II.
--

The researchers conclude that macrophages gorged with DNA they cannot digest turn on TNF-alpha production, which leads to chronic inflammation in the joint, causing arthritis.

We get rid of a billion billion genomes a day!  The body is astonishing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 25, 2006

Embryonic stem cell research a bust

Mary Davenport, a doctor reports in the American Thinker

The plain fact is that embryonic stem cell research is proving to be a bust. There are currently 72 therapies showing human benefits using adult stem cells and zero using embryonic stem cells.  Scientifically-minded readers can review this medical journal article on the status of adult stem cell research. Adult stem cell therapies are already being advertised and promoted while no such treatments are even remotely in prospect for embryonic stem cell research.

Benefits of Stem Cells to Human Patients

Using adult stem cells - 72
Using embryonic stem cells  - 0

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:42 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Art of an Alzheimer's Patient

  Art Of Alzheimer's

The power of art  to convey emotion and experience is dramatically illustrated by the self-portaits of William Utermohlen, an American artist in London.    He suffers from Alzheimer's but continued painting to try to understand it.

Self-Portaits Chronicle a Descent into Alzehimer's.

He is now in a nursing home and paints no more.  We can be thankful for the glimpse he has given us of what Alzheimer's feels like.

His work is currently on exhibit in New York at the Academy of Medicine in Manhattan.  The Alzheimer's Association is the sponsor.

There are more paintings at the link.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:20 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Mobile phones and infertility

Hey, you guys, if you want to be a father, get off the phone.

Men who use mobile phones face increased risk of infertility.

A new study shows a worrying link between poor sperm and the number of hours a day that a man uses his mobile phone.

Those who made calls on a mobile phone for more than four hours a day had the worst sperm counts and the poorest quality sperm, according to results released yest at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in New Orleans.

Doctors believe the damage could be caused by the electromagnetic radiation emitted by handsets or the heat they generate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:10 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 23, 2006

Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Each year the FBI publishes hate-crime statistics for the U.S.  Targeting a victim because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability is classified as a hate crime.

The good news is that the 2005 statistics show a drop of 6% in hate crimes.

The surprising news is that of the 1314 verified offenses motivated by religious bias, 68.5% were anti-Jewish, only 11.1 were anti-Muslim.

In a country of 300 million people, only 146 hate crimes took place against Muslims during the entire year of 2005.

FBI press release.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:49 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Embryonic vs Adult Stem Cells for Parkinson's

Injecting human embryonic stem cells into the brains of Parkinson's disease patients may cause tumors to form reports US researchers in the journal Nature Medicine.

The Anchoress who is keeping closer watch on this than I reports that earlier the injection of embryonic stem cells into the brains of Parkinson's patients were a nightmarish experimentation gone bad.
At the same time, the injection of adult stem cells has shown considerable success with Parkinson's patients.

Michael J Fox fighting for bad science.

Why the difference?  The Anchoress speculates

That research…made me believe that Embryonic stem cells are like uncut heroin…waaaay, way to powerful to use - they are part of begotten life in its purest form (perhaps still too near to God for our fooling with) - and they are so maleable as to be (so far in research) unpredictable and unusable. And that’s not even getting into the moral and ethical questions of whether or not a human embryo should be exploited in such a way, particularly when Adult Stem Cells are showing remarkable results in everything from helping sufferers of Sickle Cell Anemia and Thallassemias Major and Minor, to spinal injuries, skin regeneration and more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:16 PM | Permalink

Laundering Your Cell Phone

Just when I needed it most with my mother in the hospital and various siblings calling from hither and yon,  I left my cellphone in a pocket of my pants and threw both in the washer to get my laundry done.

Laundering your cellphone voids the warranty, renders it absolutely useless, and causes to vanish every phone number you have entered into your phone directory.    A replacement phone at full retail price can cost $250 and I was forced to buy one off eBay and waiting for a full week before it was delivered.

How I wish I had read How to Save a Wet Cell Phone. from Wikihow.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:19 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Shopping tips

If you're one of those people who are beginning to think of Christmas shopping - it's hard not to with all those catalogs flooding mailboxes - here are some handy shopping tips via Lifehacker and the consumerist.

1. If shopping online, before you click buy, check to see if there are any  promotion codes that might save you money.  Search for the product and merchant name under couponcabin.com  or fatwallet.com.

2. If you've already thrown out a catalog but want to order something from it, search Google Catalog, a comprehensive database of hundreds of catalogs.

3. If your favorite store is having a blowout sale starting Friday, go shopping at 6 pm the day before and avoid the crowds.  I've been doing this for years and it's great.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 19, 2006

Human Signs of Ovulation Are Obvious!

Even total strangers could detect a difference in women's grooming habits when they approached ovulation

Forget Basal Body Temperature -- Check Out Her Clothes; Signs Of Ovulation May Be More Obvious Than Supposed

"Near ovulation, women dress to impress, and the closer women come to ovulation, the more attention they appear to pay to their appearance," said Martie Haselton, the study's lead author and a UCLA associate professor of communication studies and psychology. "They tend to put on skirts instead of pants, show more skin and generally dress more fashionably."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:20 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Online resumes new spot for identity theft

When posting an online resume, be sure to clear it of all personal information.    Never ever post your social security number.  Be sure you are dealing with legitimate companies and recruiters before giving up any of your personal info.

Just assume that Identity Thieves are Reading Your Online Resumes.

When you post a resume, clear it of personal information. Cyberthieves have been able to gain access to resume databases and troll for Social Security numbers and other personal information, such as where you live and your contact information, says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a public interest research group in San Diego.
---
Think twice before revealing personal information by email or phone. Con artists "phishing" for information through fake interviews may ask for, say, information such as your Social Security number or a scan of your driver's license or passport, says Ms. Dixon, and claim it will expedite the application process.
---
You can start by searching on the company's name on the Better Business Bureau's Web site. Another helpful Web site is Lookstoogoodtobetrue.com, maintained by a joint federal law-enforcement and industry task force.
--

If the company that contacts you appears to be a well-known employer, don't think you're in the clear. Criminals are copying company Web sites and tweaking the contact information or links, says Ms. Dixon of the World Privacy Forum. Although a Web site may look credible, do an Internet search of the company to make sure the URL of the official Web site matches the address the employer refers you to. If there's a mismatch, find the phone number of the company's corporate headquarters on the official Web site to verify that the hiring manager who contacted you is an employee.


Since we're speaking of the importance of safeguarding your personal information, here's an ultimate guide to identity theft .

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:28 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Breakfast for Lunch

Hey, it's okay if you don't eat breakfast say some scientists and nutritionists.  No breakfast, no problem.

I say listen to your body.  Do what works for you.

When I'm working at home, I eat breakfast for lunch.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:10 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Ebert Back at the Movies

My favorite movie reviewer is Roger Ebert and I particularly missed him this summer when he was hospitalized with salivary cancer and later complications.

Fortunately, his rehabilitation is coming along well and he'll soon be back at the movies.  Here's what he said in a letter to his readers.

The good news is that my rehabilitation is a profound education in the realities of the daily lives we lead, and my mind is still capable of being delighted by cinematic greatness.
---

I have discovered a goodness and decency in people as exhibited in all the letters, e-mails, flowers, gifts and prayers that have been directed my way. I am overwhelmed and humbled. I offer you my most sincere thanks and my deep and abiding gratitude. If I ever write my memoirs, I have some spellbinding material. How does the Joni Mitchell song go? "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone"? One thing I've discovered is that I love my job more than I thought I did, and I love my wife even more!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Puberty in Pre-Schoolers

Be very careful about any products you use that contain hormones because you might be the cause of pre-school puberty in your children.

Like the father who used a testosterone skin cream that was determined to be the cause of the onset of puberty to his two pre-school children who developed pubic hair and enlarged genitals.

Don't let your boys use shampoos containing lavender or tea tree oils because their breasts might enlarge.

Preschool Puberty and a Search for the Causes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 AM | Permalink

The Top Ten Who Never Lived

Three "rowdy philosophers" from New Jersey have ranked the 101 most influential people who never lived in a new book.  Allan Lazar, Dan Karlan and Jeremy Slater wanted to show how "characters of fiction, myth, legends, television and myth have shaped our society, changed our behavior and set the course of history."

Here are the top ten.

1. The Marlboro Man
2. Big Brother
3. King Arthur
4. Santa Claus
5. Hamlet
6. Dr Frankenstein's Monster
7. Siegfried
8. Sherlock Holmes
9. Romeo and Juliet
10. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

You can find the entire list at 101influential and leave your own comments once they get the site working correctly

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:20 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 18, 2006

Drinking after work

It's not the alcohol, it's the social capital you build by nurturing relationships and meeting new people.

How a drink after work can increase your rate of pay.

Research from the US indicates that social drinkers earn, on average, up to 14 per cent more than teetotallers in the same profession, with women benefiting more than men.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:36 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Television and Autism

Could TV be the cause of the increasing rates of autism? 

Gregg Easterbrook discusses the findings from a recent Cornell study on Slate in TV Really Might Cause Autism.   

Last month, I speculated in Slate that the mounting incidence of childhood autism may be related to increased television viewing among the very young. The autism rise began around 1980, about the same time cable television and VCRs became common, allowing children to watch television aimed at them any time. Since the brain is organizing during the first years of life and since human beings evolved responding to three-dimensional stimuli, I wondered if exposing toddlers to lots of colorful two-dimensional stimulation could be harmful to brain development. This was sheer speculation, since I knew of no researchers pursuing the question.


Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.
---
Everyone complains about television in a general way. But if it turns out television has specific harmful medical effects—in addition to these new findings about autism, some studies have linked television viewing by children younger than 3 to the onset of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder—parents may urgently need to know to keep toddlers away from the TV.
---
If screen images cause harm to brain development in the young, the proliferation of these TV-like devices may bode ill for the future. The aggressive marketing of Teletubbies, Baby Einstein videos, and similar products intended to encourage television watching by toddlers may turn out to have been a nightmarish mistake.


If I were the parent of a baby, I'd be very concerned.  The relationship between television viewing and autism and ADD seems quite strong.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink

October 13, 2006

Free International Calls

You can make international phone calls for free if you connect to one of Futurephone's gateway access numbers, like 712-858-8883.

Once the gateway answers, enter 011 then the country code and number you want to reach.

Futurephone promises
• No signup
• Complete privacy
* Unlimited calls
* Call anytime

HT David Pogue at the New York Times.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

"No Duh" ways to improve your life

Some super-obvious ways to immediately improve your life from Merlin 
at 43 folders.

1. Reduce noise
2. Write things down
3. Focus on action
4. Get out of your inbox

Inboxes are delivery systems, not workspaces. The real work is happening in your brain and practically every other place that’s not an inbox.

5. Get pickier.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:50 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 12, 2006

Chocolate Beer

I love chocolate.  I love beer.  But chocolate beer somehow doesn't appeal to me. 

Maybe, I'm just a stick-in-the-mud traditionalist, but I prefer eggnog or mulled wine at Christmas time.    Even with a name like Chocolate Lager.  But I'll try it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Negative Calories

Coca Cola and Nestle are preparing to launch a carbonated beverage that burns calories.

Called Enviga, the beverage uses green tea extracts to increase metabolism and burn about 77 calories while delivering about the same amount of caffeine as an average cup of coffee and calcium -about 20% of the daily amount required for adults 19-50.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Fresh out of law school at 91

He started law school at 86 and finished at 91, one year ahead of schedule. 

And to do it, he had to teach himself how to use a computer and the Internet.

Allan Stewart said, "Time is of the essence. I think if I had let it run too much longer I might not have finished it."

Good show, mate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

Childhood Cancer Survivors

The good news is that 80% of children with cancer survive. 

The bad news is that they are three times as likely to develop chronic health conditions as adults according to research at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

"These findings imply that vigorous and long-term monitoring of young cancer survivors, accompanied by early intervention when problems arise, is mandatory," concluded Philip Rosoff of the Duke University School of Medicine, in a journal commentary accompanying the study.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 11, 2006

Are Men Responsible for Human Evolution?

Are men responsible for the evolution of the human species?

Time magazine reported in a cover story, "How We Became Human" that a gene-by-gene comparison showed that "the most striking divergence between them occurs, intriguingly, in the Y chromosome, present only in males."

William Tucker explores further in Bulletin -- Men Invented Humanity.

The role of females hasn't changed much - mothers nurse and care for their children much as chimps do. What's changed, he says,  is the role of males,    From male brotherhood, they learned to work together co-operatively.  Along with monogamy and the "invention of fatherhood" these have been the primary pathways to human evolution.

Not politically correct.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Kindness, the Secret of Success

Is Kindness the Secret of Success?

'There is a widespread belief that ruthless and self-centred people are the most successful when it comes to their careers. But being prepared to do anything to get ahead does not mean you will succeed in your ambitions,' says Stefan Einhorn, author of The Art Of Being Kind, to be published this week by Little, Brown. 'True success is not achieved by those who are smart or inconsiderate, by hard-baked egotists or psychopathic bosses,' says Einhorn, who is also chairman of the Ethics Council at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

'On the contrary, being kind to our fellow human beings is a precondition to becoming truly successful. Goodness and kindness are the single most important factors when it comes to how successful we will be in our lives.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Focus is Fair Play

In Macon, Mississippi, the U.S. Justice Department is bringing an unusual suit under the Voting Rights Act - accusing blacks of suppressing the rights of whites.

The New York Times reports

The Justice Department’s main focus is Ike Brown, a local power broker whose imaginative electoral tactics have for 20 years caused whisperings from here to the state capital in Jackson, 100 miles to the southwest. Mr. Brown, tall, thin, a twice-convicted felon, the chairman of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee and its undisputed political boss, is accused by the federal government of orchestrating — with the help of others — “relentless voting-related racial discrimination” against whites, whom blacks outnumber by more than 3 to 1 in the county.

His goal, according to the government: keeping black politicians — ones supported by Mr. Brown, that is — in office.

To do that, the department says, he and his allies devised a watertight system for controlling the all-determining Democratic primary, much as segregationists did decades ago.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:47 AM | Permalink

October 10, 2006

Blue Light

   Blue Light

Interesting news about blue light.

A recent pilot study found that Alzheimer's patients show that they sleep better and wander less if exposed to blue LED lighting a few hours before bedtime.

If you have trouble waking up in the morning,  you can use blue light to turn off the production of melatonin which is only produced during darkness. 

Seems contradictory doesn't it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:47 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Mondays

Why you hate Mondays via Tinkerty Tonk   

A new study has found that lazy Saturday and Sunday lie-ins can disturb your body clock, leaving you fatigued at the start of the week.

The cure is to stop sleeping in on the weekends.

Get up early, do all your weekend errands when nobody's around, then go home and take a nap instead.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Corrosive effects of ethnic diversity

Seems as if too much ethic diversity undermines trust.

Robert Putnam, a political science professor at Harvard University, who became an academic celebrity in 2000 with his book, Bowling Alone, about the increased atomization of contemporary society, is making a new splash with his study on the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity.

From the Financial Times, Harvard study paints bleak picture of ethnic diversity.

His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone ñ from their next-door neighbour to the mayor.

This is a contentious finding in the current climate of concern about the benefits of immigration. Professor Putnam told the Financial Times he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it "would have been irresponsible to publish without that".

The core message of the research was that, "in the presence of diversity, we hunker down", he said. "We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it's not just that we don't trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don't trust people who do look like us."

Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, "the most diverse human habitation in human history", but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where "diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians' picnic".

When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. "They don't trust the local mayor, they don't trust the local paper, they don't trust other people and they don't trust institutions," said Prof Putnam. "The only thing there's more of is protest marches and TV watching."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:01 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 9, 2006

To understand the world today, understand religion

From the Doctor Is In, Warren Peace, another stellar essay.

The sceptic will be quick to point out the violent pages in Christianity’s history, dragging out the Crusades and the Inquisition to prove that all religious zealotry is violent by nature. Such pale parallels do not survive scrutiny, ignoring the far less useful reality that the Crusades were very much defensive wars against four centuries of brutal and aggressive conquest against Christians and Christian lands. Even the Inquisition–hardly Christendom’s finest hour–occurred in the milieu of la re-conquista– a nearly seven-century re-conquest of the Iberian peninsula from Muslim aggression. Christianity’s most punitive stances were themselves reactions to Islamic aggression and conquest.
----

Our struggle now is a struggle of ideas; more than that, a struggle of absolutes. Our enemies hold to them–though their absolutes beget murder, hatred, destruction and anarchy.

It is a struggle which the West is now woefully ill-equipped to fight, having squandered, like some prodigal son, the cultural and spiritual riches it inherited on self-indulgence and dissipation.
We are a culture of material comfort and moral relativism, living off the spoils of an earlier age when truth mattered and character counted.

I think it's a good sign that Harvard plans to revise its curriculum to require a course in religion. From the WSJ report

The proposed requirement in religion, dubbed "Reason and Faith," has little parallel in higher education, authors of the report said. It would address topics from personal beliefs to foreign policy to the interplay between science and religion. The report, which calls traditional academics "profoundly secular," seeks to place Harvard's students and faculty in the center of contemporary religious debates.


"I think 30 years ago," when the school's curriculum was last overhauled, "people would have said that religion is not something that everyone needs to know," said Louis Menand, a Harvard professor and co-chairman of the committee that drafted the report. "But today, few would disagree that religion is supremely important to modern life."

To understand the nature of faith and religion, even if one is an atheist or agnostic, is necessary these days if one is comprehend why so many young men find the meaning in jihad they couldn't find in modern society.    Multiculturalism just isn't doing it.  Nor does the platitude we all worship the same God.  The Christian God is different from the Muslim God.  Just ask the Pope.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

More Play

From the American Academy of Pediatrics, what children really need for healthy development is more old-fashioned playtime.

Let Kids be kids

Numerous studies have shown that unstructured play has many benefits. It can help children become creative, discover their own passions, develop problem-solving skills and relate to others, the academy report says.

"Perhaps above all, play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood," says the report, prepared by two academy committees for release today at the group's annual meeting in Atlanta.

A lack of spontaneous playtime can create stress for children and parents alike.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:05 PM | Permalink

Life lessons for Halloween

Just in time for Halloween.

Here are ten life lessons, illustrated by coffins. 

We spend so much time avoiding the hard facts in our lives. It's much more productive to invest the energy you would spend avoiding unpleasant things to preparing for them. If you stop denying that bad things happen and just start facing their inevitability, you may be able to find a clever way to take advantage of the things that are going to happen in your life.

For example, if you buy a coffin window seat, then you can use it throughout your life to take off your shoes. At the same time, you will have a handy place to store a dead body if you ever kill anyone. Now you're really thinking ahead! Think of all the ways your life would be better if you just planned ahead.

I liked the gold leaf ecopod the best.  It looks like Paloma Picasso's bean jewelry though she preferred silver.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 7, 2006

Brain Injured patients for experimentation?

Where do you draw the line? 

Brain Injury Patients Should be Used for Medical Experiments

Patients designated as in a “persistent vegetative state (PVS)” should be used for medical experiments, according to several top bioethicists, regardless of whether or not prior consent was obtained.

Several articles published in the recent issue of the Journal of Medical debated the potential use of patients with non-responsive brain function for such medical experiments as animal organ transplants—to bypass ethic prohibitions against using a living human being for medical experimentation, some even suggested designating such patients as “dead,” saying their cognitive impairments justified treating them as cadavers.

Dr. John Shea, medical advisor to Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com it would never be ethically or morally acceptable to use a living human being for medical research without their permission, regardless of their level of cognitive function.

“A person who has PVS is not dead! If you claim to respect the sacredness of human life, you can’t use a human person for medical experimentation—that would be grossly immoral.”

I am against such experiments without consent.  To me, the intrinsic value of human life, any human life, completely outweighs any external value such a life might have to medical scientists.  It's a clear, bright line. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

One Number for Life

From LifeHacker,  One phone number to rule them all.

GrandCentral is a brilliant new web app that lets you consolidate all of your phone numbers into one number, meaning someone can call you on your GrandCentral phone number and all of your phones (cell phone, work phone, home phone) will ring. And then it gets interesting.

I'm not ready quite yet.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 6, 2006

Thank the entrepreneur for today's miracles

From the Wall St Journal, Humanity's Greatest Achievement by Johan Norberg. 

Think for a moment about what this morning would have looked like if it were 150 years ago. You wouldn't have had electric light, running water or indoor sanitation. You couldn't have gone to work by car, bus or train. You couldn't have used a computer, which performs calculations in seconds that would take decades with pen and paper. In short, you would probably not have found this morning very comfortable or enjoyable -- if you had been alive to experience it. Back then, the global average for life expectancy was around 30 years.

We tend to take our opportunities for granted, but our ancestors could not have imagined what we now have. In the last 100 years, we have created more wealth than in the 100,000 years before that, and not because we work more. To the contrary: In the last century, work hours have been halved in the Western world. It is because new ideas have made it possible for us to work smarter and find easier ways to satisfy our needs and demands.


The people we should thank are the innovators and entrepreneurs, the individuals who see new opportunities and risk exploring them -- the people who find new markets, create new products, think out new ways to handle commodities commercially, organize work in new ways, design new technology or transfer capital to more productive uses. The entrepreneur is an explorer, who ventures into uncharted territory and opens up the new routes along which we will all be traveling soon enough. Simply to look around is to understand that entrepreneurs have filled our lives with everyday miracles.

Entrepreneurs are serial problem-solvers who search out inefficiencies and find more practical ways of connecting possible supply with potential demand. In that way, they constantly revolutionize our economy, and have made it possible for average people today to live longer and healthier lives, with more access to technology than the kings had in previous generations.

With that in mind, take a look at Small Business Heroes on YouTube.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Part time work online

Get paid immediately as you work online part-time. 

Wired magazine reports on ChaCah Search, a human-assisted search that offers its contracted workers the option of being paid immediately.

Beer money for college students, "pin money" for mothers at home.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:53 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Quality of U.S. Health Care Improves

How about some more good news on the health front.

Quality of health care in U.S. improves.
The quality of the health care provided to millions of Americans improved last year across several dozen categories, including increased immunization rates among insured children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Use your own smiley face

Coming soon, personalized 'emoticons', using your own smiley face.

The researchers behind the system say it can quickly transform a user's face to convey any of six emotions, ranging from anger to happiness.

A user first uploads a picture of their face with a "neutral" expression. Then they use their mouse to mark the ends of their eyebrows, the corners of their mouth and the edges of their eyes and lips.

The software uses these points to morph the face to express different emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. A user can select an emotion and one of three intensity levels when using the system.

"We think it could be an improvement on the crude emoticons [ :-) ] instant messaging programmes use now," says Anthony Boucouvalas who created the system with colleagues at Bournemouth University in the UK. "It isn't perfect but it gets the message across and is very convenient."
--

In future, the researchers may integrate the face morphing software with a program that uses a dictionary of 18,000 words and basic grammatical phrases to identify the emotional content of a message.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Get Older, Not Frailer

Why do some people age well and others get frail?

Two reasons:
1. undetected heart disease
2. having positive images of growing older

Old but Not Frail: A Matter of Heart and Head

You’re only as old as you think you are. Rigorous studies are now showing that seeing, or hearing, gloomy nostrums about what it is like to be old can make people walk more slowly, hear and remember less well, and even affect their cardiovascular systems. Positive images of aging have the opposite effects. The constant message that old people are expected to be slow and weak and forgetful is not a reason for the full-blown frailty syndrome.
---

More and more scientists say they have been won over by an accumulating body of evidence.

“I am changing my initially skeptical view,” says Richard Suzman, who is director of the office of behavioral and social research programs at the National Institute on Aging. “There is growing evidence that these subjective experiences might be more important than we thought.”
--
Dr. Levy wondered, were there long-term effects of believing the stereotypes of aging? She found a study that could provide answers, the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement. The two-decade-long study included 1,157 people, nearly every resident of Oxford, Ohio, who was 50 or older and was not suffering from dementia. And it had questions about beliefs about aging.

It turned out that people who had more positive views about aging were healthier over time. They lived an average of 7.6 years longer than those of a similar age who did not hold such views, and even had less hearing loss when their hearing was tested three years after the study began

Our fears of aging become self-fulfilling prophecies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:18 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Marijuana staves off Alzheimers

Aging hippies and many others are going to love this news.

Marijuana may stave off Alzheimer's

New research shows that the active ingredient in marijuana may prevent the progression of the disease by preserving levels of an important neurotransmitter that allows the brain to function.

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that marijuana's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can prevent the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from breaking down more effectively than commercially marketed drugs.

THC is also more effective at blocking clumps of protein that can inhibit memory and cognition in Alzheimer's patients, the researchers reported in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:09 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Fish Oil After Heart Attacks Works

In Italy, it would be malpractice NOT to go home after a heart attack without a prescription for fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids.

Prescription fish oil has not been approved by the FDA

In Europe it's fish oil after heart attacks.

“Most cardiologists here are not giving omega-3’s even though the data supports it — there’s a real disconnect,” said Dr. Terry Jacobson, a preventive cardiologist at Emory University in Atlanta. “They have been very slow to incorporate the therapy.”
---
Because prescription fish oil is not licensed to prevent heart disease in the United States, drug companies may not legally promote it for that purpose at conferences, in doctors’ offices, to patients or even on the Internet.

“If people paid more attention to guidelines, more people would be on the drug,” Dr. Jacobson said. “But pharmaceutical companies can’t drive this change. The fact that it’s not licensed for this has definitely kept doctors away.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Red wine and Alzheimer's

Good news.  Red wine protects against Alzheimer's. 

  Red Wine

A study at Mt Sinai School of Medicine in New York City finds that mice genetically engineered to get Alzheimer's disease respond to the red wine treatment.

Red wine also reduces levels of bad cholesterol, protects against heart disease and some cancers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:57 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 5, 2006

Plain Evil and Plain Good

  Amish Women At Schoolhouse-1

I've been thinking a lot about good and evil since I heard of the horrific deaths of five innocent schoolgirls, shot to death execution style, in a simple one room Amish school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

The killer, 32 year old Charles Carl Roberts IV, came into the schoolhouse, armed to the teeth, ordered the boys and adults out, barricaded the doors, tied the young girls feet, lined them up in front of the blackboard and shot them in the head, before shooting and killing himself.

Roberts, a milk tank driver, who wrote suicide notes to each of his three children, before arming himself with an automatic handgun and shotgun, and driving to the school which he apparently chose just because it was close by and had young girls.

The suicide notes suggested that he was acting out of revenge for an incident that happened 20 years earlier when he was 12.    Nothing can explain such a horrific death.  To say that he was obviously  "sick" seems to minimize the tragedy.  This premeditated crime was evil and there is no better word for it.    Sometimes, I think the personification of evil as the devil as more subtlety than is generally given credit.  And I don't mean "the devil made me do it."    That there are dark forces around us and in us with which we do battle is something we all know.  We continually choose between good and bad, every one of us. 

Today, four girls will be buried,  Naomi Rose Ebersole, 7; Marian Fisher, 13; Mary Liz Miller, 8; and her sister Lena Miller, 7. The funeral for the fifth girl, Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12, is scheduled for tomorrow. Each girl laid to rest in a white dress, a cape, and a white prayer covering on her head.

That there are good forces as well we can see from the Amish themselves.  Their actions humble all of us.  In the aftermath, they reached out to the family of the gunman, comforting them and extending forgiveness.    Said Gertrude Huntington, a Michigan researcher who wrote a book about Amish children, they are quietly accepting of God's will. 

"They know their children are going to heaven. They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death. The hurt is very great, but they don't balance the hurt with hate."

One pastor who stood next to the body of a 13-year-old girl heard her grandfather tell his young boys, "We must not think evil of this man."  Such forgiveness said pastor Rev. Robert Schenck,  "Was one of the most touching things I've seen in 25 years of Christian ministry."

Descendants of Swiss and German immigrants, the Amish are Anabaptists and no strangers to tragedy which they accept as the will of God, an approach to life they call yieldedness.  They derive their strength from their faith and the mutual aid of their community.   

The Amish surmount hardship through mutual aid. When a barn burns, they do not call the insurance company. They have a barn raising, said Kimberly D. Schmidt, associate professor of history at Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg, Va., who has studied Amish women.

“For the families who lost children, there will be a tremendous community outpouring of love and support,” Ms. Schmidt said. “They will not suffer alone in their grief at all. People will bring in meals for weeks. As devastating as this is, there’s so much strength they can draw from their community.”

The Amish are self-insured and pay for all their own medical bills.  There are young girls, severely injured still in the hospital who will require long term care.    They may not be able to shoulder all the costs themselves.  They generally do not accept help from outside their community.  Said one Amish bishop, " "We are not asking for funds. In fact, it's wrong for us to ask. But we will accept them with humility."

The local newspaper reports that funds have been set up to cover the expenses of the victims and their families, including the family of the gunman.

Donations may be sent to Nickel Mines School Victims Fund, HomeTowne Heritage Bank, 100 Historic Drive, P.O. Box 337, Strasburg, PA 17579, or at any division of National Penn Bank.
•••

Another fund is being set up through Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Disaster Services. According to MCC’s Web site, contributions may be sent to the MCC U.S., 21 S. 12th St., P.O. Box 500, Akron, PA 17501-0500.

Donations may also be made by phone by calling 859-1151 or (888) 563-4676 or online at www.mds.mennonite.net.

If you wish to send a card or letter of condolence, address them to Bart Township Fire Company, P.O. Box 72, 11 Furnace Road, Bart, PA 17503.

Herman Bontrager, the secretary/treasurer of the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom, said the Amish are “very appreciative” of the outpouring of help.

“They feel so humbled by it,” he said.

The Amish sometimes refer to themselves as "plain people".  What we've seen in the past week is plain goodness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:42 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Intifada in France?

The police union in France says its members are "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed suburbs or "banlieue estates" which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of North African origin.

Nearly 2500 officers have been wounded this year in violent clashes which injure an average of 14 officers a day.

Muslims are waging civil war says police union.

Michel Thoomis, the secretary general of the hardline Action Police trade union, has written to Mr Sarkozy warning of an "intifada" on the estates and demanding that officers be given armoured cars in the most dangerous areas.

He said yesterday: "We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more, it is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails. You no longer see two or three youths confronting police, you see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their 'comrades' free when they are arrested."

He added: "We need armoured vehicles and water cannon. They are the only things that can disperse crowds of hundreds of people who are trying to kill police and burn their vehicles."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 4, 2006

It's the Mother, not the Breast Milk

You've heard it said that breastfeeding babies makes them smarter.  It's not the milk but the mothers that make them smarter.

In and of itself, breast milk does not boost IQ.

Researchers found breastfeeding mothers tended to be more intelligent, more highly educated, and likely to provide a more stimulating home environment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

To-Do Lists

When to-do lists become a business.

Recipething  Organize your favorite recipes, tag them, share them with others.

Squirl is a site to catalog, organize and share your collectibles and track others

I've never found a planner that really suits me, so as soon as I get time, I'm trying out the do it yourself planner at DIYPlanner.

Collaborate on a to-do list with Tadalist.com, whoever does an item gets to check it off.

All of these from the Wall St Journal article The Way We List Now

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink

Sore thumb

You know those annoying cuts you get on the tip of your index finger or your thumb?  Bandages never seem to work because they fall off too soon and you hit your thumb again right where the cut is.

My solution.
1. Treat the cut with neosporin.
2. You can try a bandage if you want.
3.  Cut off the tip of any finger on any rubber glove, the thinner the glove the better.  Place just the tip on your cut finger or thumb  and go about your business.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

A fact you'll never forget

The static on your radio is residual radiation noise from the Big Bang.

From Echo of Genesis by Michio Kaku in the Wall Street Journal.

Remarkably, this echo from the Big Bang makes up a significant fraction of the static you hear on the radio. You literally pick up signals from Genesis itself every time you spin the radio dial. And if we somehow had eyes that could see microwave radiation, we would see this radiation come out every night, filling the night sky with a soft, faint glow

This evidence of the Big Bang was predicted by George Garnow in 1948.  Although he never got the Nobel prize, John Mather and George Smoot did yesterday for providing "increased support for the Big Bang scenario for the origin of the universe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Browne's Observations on Arabs.

I have a strange predilection for social anthropologists.  Maybe it's the careful observation of how people act and the conclusions drawn from such observations. 

I think of Jane Jacobs and her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities that completely changed how architects, city planners and the rest of us think about cities.    She watched how people in Greenwich Village used the streets, sidewalks, stores, cafes and parks and concluded that the central planning of big box skyscrapers were killing American cities.  Her common sense swept away all the grand theories of city planning at the time.

Anthropology is often understood as the study of the strange customs of non-western people.  Margaret Mead is perhaps  best known for her book Coming of Age in Samoa where adolescents appeared to live in a paradise of free love and sex.  Her work was seriously flawed and later revealed  by Derek Freedman as a hoax by mischievous teenagers who told tall tales Mead accepted without evidence.  The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead

Another great social anthropologist though he's a neurologist is Oliver Sachs.
perhaps more famous for his Awakenings, he writes often for The New Yorker. 

My favorite book of his, and not just because I absolutely love the title, is  The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

We become so used to thinking that the way we think is normal and natural, it takes an anthropologist to reveal how others think.  There are lots of ways to be human.

Stephen Browne, an anthropologist now living in Oklahoma, has spent  time in Saudi Arabia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

His Observations on Arabs is a stunning post that reveals how Arabs really don't think the same way we do.  Some of his other conclusions

1. Their self-worth derives not from their work or love in marriage but from their sense of possessing the one, true religion.
2. They do not think of obligations as running both ways.
3. What we call terrorism is quite close to the normal way of warfare for them.
4. We think that everybody has a right to their own point of view, they think that idea is absurd and evil.
5. We take for granted that we are a dominant civilization still on the way up.  "They are acutely aware that they are a civilization on the skids

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 3, 2006

Steroids Shrink the Brain

Another reason not even to try steroids if you're an athlete.  That explains a lot.

"Steroids Shrink the Brain."

A new study shows taking steroids to bulk up can lead to a "catastrophic loss" of brain cells.

Large doses of steroids were already known to boost levels of the male hormone testosterone and cause heightened aggression.

This could be evidence of impaired brain function, according to Professor Barbara Ehrlich, from Yale School of Medicine.

That explains a lot.

HT Siggy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:21 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Statistics predict True Love

Playing the Odds on True Love

TRUE LOVE is like a kick in the head. No, really. It's not just that it comes out of nowhere, knocks you sideways and changes your life forever. It's statistically like a kick in the head.
----
Love, here as everywhere, is different. True love is rare; we can only hope to find it once in a lifetime, and maybe not even then. The curve that charts love is very narrow — more like a steeple than a bell. It's called a Poisson curve, and its classic exemplar was the chance of being kicked to death by a horse while serving in the Prussian cavalry.
--
While the bell curve describes things we can expect; Poisson's formula predicts things we fear or hope for — things that, though rare, could happen at any time.
--
True love is such an event. It could be today; it could be never. All we know is that it happens to some people, sometimes. This makes me believe that the hope of meeting the love of your life is also governed by the Poisson curve. If so, it suggests some interesting conclusions.
--

This implies that your best chances come from seeking out and sustaining friendships with the people you already like most, rather than devoting too much time to the exotic alternatives. Rare things become near-impossible once you compound their rarity — say, by buying a lottery ticket only on your birthday.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:23 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Surpassingly strange and beautiful

Awesome, beautiful and strange, The Inner Life of a Cell, from Biovisions at Harvard is my pick for the best video I've seen in some time. 

When I think there's all that going on inside of each of us, in each of the 10 -100 trillion cells in our bodies, my mind reels, and I stagger, dumbstruck,  in my wonder for a minute or two, then my mind wanders off, looking for easier stuff to think about, maybe something to eat.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Bernard Baruch

“One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything every night before going to bed.” 
Bernard Baruch, financier

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:05 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 2, 2006

43 hour days

Yahoo says that technology and multi-tasking has extended the typical day's activities far beyond the traditional 24 hours. 

We're now talking 43 hours and that's still not enough time for all that we want to do.

At the same time there's a resurgence of traditional values among the tech-saavy.

"It's clear that within the '43-hour day,' families are making concerted efforts to spend time together and to live out a new family value that says 'we control technology -- it does not control us,'"

With only a third of U.S. online households (33 percent) today consisting of the once-typical husband, wife, and children, the Ozzie and Harriet era is long past. The family power structure is changing as younger men are far more likely to cook, clean, and plan family activities, while women are as likely as men to manage family finances. As a more open, democratic family emerges, roles and levels of influence change.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:16 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 1, 2006

Washing Away Sins

Dubbed the "MacBeth effect", it's the human compulsion to clean up physically after doing  wrong morally.

researchers found that study participants who focused on unethical behaviours such as lying, stealing, or betraying friends were more likely to follow up with activities that indicated they felt physically dirty.

Those who were given an opportunity to wash their hands after recalling incidents of immoral behaviour showed signs of a clearer conscious than those who had not washed.

“After we feel morally threatened, we have this deep psychological urge to cleanse ourselves,” says Chen-Bo Zhong at the University of Toronto, Canada, who led the study.

From the New Scientist,  Physical washing may help your conscience.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 PM | Permalink | TrackBack