January 30, 2013

Ethanol and other examples of government waste

Zero Dark Ethanol

The cellulosic ethanol industry produced zero gallons in 2011 and zero in 2012. But the EPA still required oil companies and refiners to buy 6.6 million gallons in 2011 and 8.7 million in 2012—and then to purchase millions of dollars of "waiver credits" for failing to comply with a mandate to buy a product that did not exist. This is the sort of thing that led to the Protestant Reformation.

Study: New E15 gas can ruin auto engines

The fuel industry's American Petroleum Institute tested the 15 percent ethanol gas approved in 2010 and found it gums up fuel systems, prompts "check engine" lights to come on, and messes with fuel gauge readings.

"Failure of these components could result in breakdowns that leave consumers stranded on busy roads and highways," said the industry report. Worse: API said the fuel problems--not found in E5 or E10 blends--aren't always covered by auto warranties.

As Walter Russell Mead points out in World's Largest Lobbies in Ethanol Deathmatch

Studies have shown that using corn for fuel is neither green nor cost-effective. Worse, it drives up global prices for corn, starving the world’s poor.
In 2012, 40 percent of U.S. corn went towards producing biofuels. Compare that to 2006, when just 19 percent of corn was used for fuel. Keep in mind that we’re actually producing fewer bushels of corn now than we were back in 2006.

The auto industry is thriving, except for subsidized alternative fuel vehicles.

From sport utes to sports cars to soccer-mom vans, every industry segment is thriving—with the notable exception of the alternative-fuel vehicles into which Washington has sunk billions of taxpayer dollars.

The buck stops at the desk of EPA's Lisa Jackson, The Worst Head of the Worst Regulatory Agency Ever

'Incalculable waste' in U.S.-paid $100 billion Afghan fund

The unprecedented $100 billion program slated to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan has been ravaged by theft, cost overruns, bribes, unused facilities and "incalculable waste,"

Going for Broke

According to Hillary Clinton’s long-delayed Benghazigate testimony, the State Department just did not have enough money to provide security for a mission in one of the most dangerous places in the world.

It did however have 16 million dollars to spend on 2,500 kindle book readers at the drastically inflated price of $6,600 per device.

It had $79,000 to spend on Obama’s books and $20,000 on a portrait of Obama. The US Embassy had $150,000 to spend on a book about the ambassador’s residence.  There was $4.5 for art in embassies, but no money for Benghazi security.

But then, "What difference does it make?"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 PM | Permalink

Two amazing stories

For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II

The baffled helicopter crew made several passes before reluctantly concluding that this was evidence of human habitation—a garden that, from the size and shape of the clearing, must have been there for a long time.

It was an astounding discovery. The mountain was more than 150 miles from the nearest settlement, in a spot that had never been explored. The Soviet authorities had no records of anyone living in the district.
Slowly, over several visits, the full story of the family emerged. The old man's name was Karp Lykov, and he was an Old Believer—a member of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, worshiping in a style unchanged since the 17th century.
Things had only got worse for the Lykov family when the atheist Bolsheviks took power. Under the Soviets, isolated Old Believer communities that had fled to Siberia to escape persecution began to retreat ever further from civilization.
Yet the Lykovs lived permanently on the edge of famine. It was not until the late 1950s, when Dmitry reached manhood, that they first trapped animals for their meat and skins. Lacking guns and even bows, they could hunt only by digging traps or pursuing prey across the mountains until the animals collapsed from exhaustion. Dmitry built up astonishing endurance, and could hunt barefoot in winter, sometimes returning to the hut after several days, having slept in the open in 40 degrees of frost, a young elk across his shoulders.
"What amazed him most of all," Peskov recorded, "was a transparent cellophane package. 'Lord, what have they thought up—it is glass, but it crumples!'"
When they first got to know the geologists, the family would accept only a single gift—salt. (Living without it for four decades, Karp said, had been "true torture.") Over time, however, they began to take more. They welcomed the assistance of their special friend among the geologists—a driller named Yerofei Sedov, who spent much of his spare time helping them to plant and harvest crops. They took knives, forks, handles, grain and eventually even pen and paper and an electric torch. Most of these innovations were only grudgingly acknowledged, but the sin of television, which they encountered at the geologists' camp,

proved irresistible for them…. On their rare appearances, they would invariably sit down and watch. Karp sat directly in front of the screen. Agafia watched poking her head from behind a door. She tried to pray away her transgression immediately—whispering, crossing herself…. The old man prayed afterward, diligently and in one fell swoop.

So viral was this article in the WSJ , It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being 'It'
Group of Men Have Played Game of Tag for 23 Years; Hiding in Bushes, Cars

that  the Daily Mail picked it up with a link everyone can access. The high school friends behind the longest game of tag EVER! The 40-somethings who fly across the world and break into each others' homes in quest to avoid being 'it'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: TB breath test, Super gonorrhea, Med diet no help for dementia, Eggs, Hurrah for Jack Andraka

Breath test could diagnose TB in minutes instead of weeks/

A simple breath test could be used to diagnose lung infections such as TB in minutes instead of weeks, say scientists.
They managed to identify the 'fingerprints' of different types and strains of bacteria by testing the breath of mice.
A scaled up version of the technique could reduce the time it takes to diagnose lung infections in humans from days and weeks to just minutes, it is claimed.

A Mediterranean diet WON'T stave off dementia or boost concentration in old age

No evidence that eating plenty of fruit, veg and oily fish boosts concentration in old age, say French experts. Until now, theory has been that diet prevents the blood vessels that supply the brain becoming blocked.

But academics from Paris Sorbonne University say there is no evidence for such a link.The researchers tracked the diets of 3,000 middle-aged adults for more than a decade and divided them into three groups depending on how ‘Mediterranean’ their diet was.
When the adults were 65 and over, they took six tests which checked their concentration and memory.

The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no difference between the scores of the three groups.
Lead researcher Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot said: ‘Midlife adherence to a MedDiet was not associated with global cognitive performance [brain power assessed 13 years later].’

Here It Comes: Super Gonorrhea .  The CDC announced that we're down to our last effective antibiotic.

Did you know gonorrhea can kill you? It can, and it's also tragically effective at making women infertile.

Go ahead, eat your eggs.  Analysis of eight studies that included 263,938 people show There's no evidence that an egg a day increased the risk of heart disease or stroke.  That is unless you are diabetic.    According to Mary Katherine Ham, the New York Times has been writing that story since 1993.  So why does everyone think eggs are so bad for you?  Because the New York Times also has run stories in the same time frame to say how bad eggs are for you.

Did this 15-year-old just change the course of medicine? Schoolboy invents early test for pancreatic cancer that killed Steve Jobs

Jack Andraka from Maryland, only 15, has developed a sip dip-stick test for a biomarker for early stage pancreatic cancer found in blood and urine.  It promises to revolutionize treatment of the disease, which currently kills 19 out of 20 sufferers after five years - largely because its so difficult to detect until its final stages.  ….His novel patent-pending sensor has proved to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive, and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.  Thanks to the test, pancreatic cancer patients could now get an early earning to seek medical help when it still has a chance of working, which could, he claims, potentially bump up survival rates to 'close to 100 per cent'.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:34 PM | Permalink

Aging Matures the Soul

When the frailties of age sound like the maturation process of fine wine

We all ponder death, our own and those of our friends and relatives. For people like Barnes it is something to be frightened of because it means final extinction, an often undignified departure from the only life there is – a life that is thus clung to desperately until the moment one decides to knock off or to be knocked off; when it’s no longer worth the candle. For Christians, as I have written in other blogs, death is not about discarding “a terrifyingly unsound body” for an abyss of nothingness; it is the gateway to eternity, a sacred transition that is accompanied by consoling, ancient, hallowed rites of passage.
The last years of our lives are meant to mellow the soul and most everything inside our biology conspires together to ensure this happens. The soul must be properly aged before it leaves. It’s a huge mistake to read the signs of aging as indications of dying rather than as initiations into another way of life. Each physical diminishment is designed to mature the soul.”
James Hillman,  The Force of Character and Lasting Life
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 PM | Permalink

January 29, 2013

Sleep and Memory

Quality sleep is deep sleep.   

 Deep Sleep1

Aging in Brain Found to Hurt Sleep Needed for Memory

Scientists have known for decades that the ability to remember newly learned information declines with age, but it was not clear why. A new study may provide part of the answer.

The report, posted online on Sunday by the journal Nature Neuroscience, suggests that structural brain changes occurring naturally over time interfere with sleep quality, which in turn blunts the ability to store memories for the long term.
In the study, the research team took brain images from 19 people of retirement age and from 18 people in their early 20s. It found that a brain area called the medial prefrontal cortex, roughly behind the middle of the forehead, was about one-third smaller on average in the older group than in the younger one — a difference due to natural atrophy over time, previous research suggests.
The findings do not imply that medial prefrontal atrophy is the only age-related change causing memory problems, said Matthew P. Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Berkeley and a co-author of the study.

“Essentially, with age, you lose tissue in this prefrontal area,” Dr. Walker said. “You get less quality deep sleep, and have less opportunity to consolidate new memories.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 PM | Permalink

Five "Good Habits" that you can do without

Food for thought Five Good Habits You Need to Unlearn

Stop Thinking So Positively

Stop Trying to Fill Every Hour of Your Day

Stop Caring What the Internet Thinks About You

Stop Equating Rejection with Failure

Stop Spending More Time on Your Work
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 PM | Permalink

January 28, 2013

The Placebo Effect

I've long been fascinated by the placebo and wondered why more study was not being to see how they work.

Well, at Harvard, they are doing just that.    An acupuncturist by training, Ted Kaptchuk, is an unlikely leader in the halls of academia, but he's an ingenious researcher in the search for the real ingredients of 'fake"'medicine.

The Placebo Phenomenon

researchers have found that placebo treatments—interventions with no active drug ingredients—can stimulate real physiological responses, from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to chemical activity in the brain, in cases involving pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Last year, he and colleagues from several Harvard-affiliated hospitals created the Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter (PiPS), headquartered at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—the only multidisciplinary institute dedicated solely to placebo study.  It’s a nod to changing attitudes in Western medicine, and a direct result of the small but growing group of researchers like Kaptchuk who study not if, but how, placebo effects work. Explanations for the phenomenon come from fields across the scientific map—clinical science, psychology, anthropology, biology, social economics, neuroscience. Disregarding the knowledge that placebo treatments can affect certain ailments, Kaptchuk says, “is like ignoring a huge chunk of healthcare.” As caregivers, “we should be using every tool in the box."
The study’s results shocked the investigators themselves: even patients who knew they were taking placebos described real improvement, reporting twice as much symptom relief as the no-treatment group. That’s a difference so significant, says Kaptchuk, it’s comparable to the improvement seen in trials for the best real IBS drugs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:47 PM | Permalink

Where no animals are harmed

From a friend who caught this in a San Francisco newspaper.

 Killed Vs Unkilled Beef

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:44 PM | Permalink

January 25, 2013

"I will take this burden to my grave"

Dr. Francis Beckwith

“From a strictly scientific point of view, there is no doubt that the development of an individual human life begins at conception. Consequently, it is vital that the reader understand that she did not come from a zygote, she once was a zygote; she did not come from an embryo, she once was an embryo; she did not come from a fetus, she once was a fetus; she did not come from an adolescent, she once was an adolescent.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams writes So what if abortion ends life?  The Anchoress responds Here Be Monsters

Just take a look at this totally creepy video produced by one pro-choice group, Happy Anniversary Baby indeed.

Janice Shaw Crouse on What Hath Roe Wrought

On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade abortion advocates have plenty of reason to be frightened and pessimistic. During 2012, an average of 7 abortion clinics closed each month. No wonder Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider is frantic about securing federal funding --70 percent of abortion clinics in the U.S. have closed over the past 22 years. By their recent abandonment of the "pro-choice" rhetoric, it is obvious that they, too, recognize that pro-life forces are prevailing with the American public….The pro-life movement is getting increasingly more sophisticated and effective. Plus, science and technology are on the pro-life side. As sonograms get higher definition and more parents-to-be post them on social media the pro-life cause strengthens. One study tracked seventy-five patients and all but five changed their minds about an abortion after seeing a sonogram of their baby in the womb.

We have many millions of women who have undergone abortions and are now at increased risk for suicide,  breast cancer, and mental health problems.

Abortion has hurt all women in other ways as Ross Douthat points out

While the frequent use of abortion can limit out-of-wedlock births, that is, the sudden mass availability of abortion almost certainly had the opposite effect — mostly by changing the obligations associated with pregnancy, and by legitimating male irresponsibility where sex and its consequences are concerned.

This was the conclusion that George Akerlof and Janet Yellen reached in a mid-1990s Brookings Institution analysis. ”Although many observers expected liberalized abortion and contraception to lead to fewer out-of-wedlock births,” they wrote, “in fact the opposite happened,” mostly because the availability of abortion dramatically undermined the expectation that a man would marry and support a woman he impregnated. “By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother,” they concluded, “the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father” — which in turn has made it much easier for fathers to choose non-involvement in cases where the mother decides not to use abortion as a birth control of last resort.

China Renews Commitment to One-Child Forced Abortion Policy

The tragic anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Two Women are Behind Legalized Abortion in America: Now Both of Them Want it Reversed. 

That would be Jane Roe and Mary Doe, the plaintiffs in the companion 1973 Supreme Court cases that legalized abortion in the country.
Both say their cases were based on lies.

Doe v. Bolton extended the right to abort through all nine months of pregnancy.  But Cano has since claimed that the whole foundation of Doe v. Bolton was a lie: that she never actually wanted nor requested an abortion and that she was tricked into signing an affidavit about abortion in the process of filing for divorce from her husband and seeking to regain custody of her other children.  According to Cano she actually fled the state when her mother and lawyer tried to force her into getting an abortion.
Though McCorvey worked as an abortion activist for years after Roe v. Wade was handed down, she announced a conversion to the pro-life cause in the mid 1990s. The conversion came after the pro-life group Operation Rescue moved in next door to the abortion clinic where she worked, and she came personally to know several pro-life leaders.

“I was persuaded by feminist attorneys to lie; to say that I was raped, and needed an abortion,” Norma stated in last year’s ad. “It was all a lie.”

Since then, over 50 million babies have been murdered. I will take this burden to my grave,” she said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:34 PM | Permalink

The Real War Against Women

Jennifer Roback Morse on The Real War against Women

The real war is against women’s fertility. We are allowed to participate in higher education and the labor market, as long as we agree to act like men: We agree to chemically neuter ourselves during our peak child-bearing years. We agree to place our children in daycare when they are at their smallest and most vulnerable, that is, if we are lucky enough to have children. We have taken the university and the labor market as given, and adapted our bodies to them. I say that it is time we take our bodies as the givens, and insist that the labor market and the university adapt to us and our bodies.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink

Men who sound like spinster Sunday school teachers when talking to young boys

When Neutered Men Speak to Boys

As I watched, I became aware of something that’s been gnawing at me for some time now. The young fathers and the not-so-young granddaddies had a peculiar way of speaking to the male children. They squatted down to be on eye level with the lads, or they leaned way over to appear less tall. And when they spoke, the mens’ voices were…feminine. I don’t mean lisping or mincing or effeminate. I mean feminine. No matter how low the voice might have been naturally pitched, the men without exception raised the pitch of their voices and lowered the volume until they sounded like spinster Sunday School teachers, whispering in calming tones, asking questions and making observations.

“Do you see the birds outside, Chad?”
“Let Papaw tie your shoe.”
“Did you spit out your gum, Nolan?”
“What do you want to drink?”
“Show Miss Judy your tooth!”

Each of these sentences was uttered with an upward inflection into the high tenor range, as if singing a campfire song. The younger men were the worst offenders; their facial expressions were all wide eyes and open mouths. They reminded me of 19-year old female daycare workers. But most of the older men were also doing some diluted variation of these techniques. None of them seemed like whole men in the presence of these male children.

And so I began to search my memory, and I could not recall a single adult male in my boyhood speaking to me or my friends in such tones. I cannot recall any men routinely squatting down or leaning over to make themselves appear closer to my own height. I cannot remember any men putting a breathless wheezing whisper into their words. I cannot bring to mind a single incident in which a grown man opened his eyes and mouth as wide as possible and talked to me like some grinning, masculine Norma Desmond. What I do remember are the grown men who picked me up and lifted me to their naturally imposing height, instead of lowering themselves to mine. And such lifting was always accompanied by a feeling of safety and strength. I’m pretty sure (and confirmed by my wife’s memories) that I never talked to our boys or to my nephews in such a manner. And I know very well that I have never vocally nor vertically neutered myself when interacting with my grandchildren.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:34 PM | Permalink

'I couldn't take it anymore'

Father-of-seven, 93, accused of killing wife, 95, after 70 years of marriage saying 'I couldn't take it anymore'

A 93-year-old Kansas City man has been charged with stabbing his 95-year-old wife to death, allegedly telling a nurse afterwards: 'I couldn't take it anymore'.

Harry Irwin is accused of stabbing Grace Irwin, his partner of 70 years and mother of his seven children, on Wednesday, before trying to kill himself, according to the Kansas City Star.

Irwin, his wife's primary carer after since she suffered debilitating cancer, slit his own wrists and plunged a knife into his chest after the alleged stabbing.
The paper reports he is also alleged to have told a shift nurse he 'couldn't take it anymore' and saying he killed his wife because she was 'arguing and screaming at him all night'.
Neighbors told the newspaper the family were close with the couple's many children and grandchildren often visiting the home they had shared for 10 years. They were all said to live nearby, mostly within 15 minutes of the couple's Wynadotte Street home.

Why is a  93-year-old man caring for his sick wife dying of cancer 24/7 all alone?  Did none of his children see how burnt-out he was?
Where was the support for this poor old man and his dying wife?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink

The Pied Pipers of Feminism

From Had Enough Therapy? The Pied Pipers of Feminism

It is often noted that teenage girls in America are out of control. Many of them think it’s cool to dress like prostitutes. Many think that the best way to show their love is to sext a picture of their genitals. Far too many of them suffer from eating disorders and other psychological problems.

If you ask who is leading them to these self-destructive behaviors, the answer does not lie in the home. Their mothers are most often horrified by what they see. Young girls and women no longer pay attention to their parents. They allow themselves to be led around by the Pied Pipers of feminism.

Feminist thinkers are telling young girls that they can dress as they please, revealing any or all of their intimacy, to whomever they please, and that anyone who does not like it is a repressive patriarch.
in the hands of one Lindy West, feminist thinking has become self-parody.  … West declared war on modesty. To no one’s surprise she believes that the concept of modesty was invented to subjugate women. Being modest means not having the right to own property and not having the right to an abortion.
Telling girls and young women that they can go through life dressing the way you want and acting the way you want without suffering consequences is mindless and dangerous.

A Millennial Woman's Lament

The feminist life plan has become the norm. Whether it’s ideology or peer pressure or both, Millennial young women—the under-30s-- have been induced to conduct their lives exactly as feminism would have wanted…..

But now, a growing number of Millennial women are beginning to fret over the unanticipated consequences of prioritizing our careers before love. And I only need to look at my group of friends to see this reality.

We are coming to the realization that we were unwittingly playing a game of musical chairs — while everyone was pairing up, those focused on our careers are left standing alone.

Penelope Truck says

people who want to take care of people and can’t stand doing work that doesn’t relate to that should probably be parents. There are very few jobs that are truly just taking care of people. And most of them pay very poorly, if at all. So you may as well do it for your own family, where the pay is not so important. It’s ridiculous that we don’t think of taking care of a family as a career path. That’s a good path for some people. Just like earning a shit-load of money is a good career path for other people. In fact, those two types of people should marry each other.

has 3 Ways to Rectify the miseducation of girls

1. Validate the career goal of being a stay-at-home mom.
2. Help girls cut through the propaganda about what lies ahead.
3. Recognize that women with high-powered careers are outliers. 

In the Atlantic, How I Learned to Stop Criticizing and Be Nice to My Husband

I grew up as a product of second-wave feminism, having learned from the media that men were oppressive, foolish, and incompetent. Perhaps as a result, I spent nearly the first decade of my own marriage "fighting for my rights" with my husband. I criticized him and bossed him around. It wasn't that he was such a bad guy, but rather I was trained to spot potential oppression and domination by the male gender. I took personally his lack of attention to detail around the home or with the baby. I made a practice of letting him know his failings on a regular basis, expecting his behavior to change.

My methods made him feel defensive, and damaged our relationship. I soon found myself in a marriage with a man who stopped sharing his thoughts and feelings with me.
A decade later, I can say that those two concepts--"respect" and "submission"--saved my marriage. And it wasn't because I became a doormat or no longer communicated my feelings. I learned that Biblical submission, boiled down, is basically "don't be a contentious competitor to him." After learning that, I argued with him less. I stopped rolling my eyes with disgust when he had something to say - even if I thought it was not such a great idea at the time. I started practicing the Bible verse which reads, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to become angry."

I started asking him questions about his life. I started being interested in him again as a person. I decided he was more important to me than whether or not a dish made it into the dishwasher or his socks were left on the floor. There were even a few things he did that could be considered big mistakes that just didn't seem to matter as much when I viewed him as a person of worth. I could forgive him - and I saw my own flawed nature clearly.
I chose to give respect a chance because I am a Christian and try (emphasis on try) to follow the Bible's teachings on how to live. But even if I did not trust the Bible as much as I do, learning how to effectively communicate respect and love deeply impacts marriages.

We see these Biblical principles show up in marital success, as a recent (2005) study funded by a grant from the US Department of Justice demonstrates.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

Pornography is not a victimless crime

Our daughters are abused by a culture of porn
Young girls, under pressure to have sex as never before, need parental protection

It’s not often that I unleash my inner Mary Whitehouse, but the way young girls today are expected to conform to a hideous porn culture makes me want to don a pair of glasses with upswept frames and get myself one of those battleaxe perms. A friend’s daughter recently started at a highly regarded boarding school. When her mother asked how she was enjoying the mixed-sex environment, the girl said quietly: “You have to give the boys oral sex or they get cross.” Reeling with shock, the mum protested that her darling daughter did not have to do anything of the sort. “Oh yes you do,” replied the girl. “And you have to shave down there or the boys don’t like it.”
The girl in question is not some brazen, street-smart sixth-former; she is 14 years old. With a woman’s body, perhaps, but still a child. A child who, as far as her parents were concerned, was leading a sheltered middle-class life, not auditioning to become a professional footballer’s WAG. Teenagers have always had secrets, places where they go to try on their new selves, be it the pages of a padlocked diary or the back row of the movies. But mine is the first generation of parents that has to protect its young not just in the world we can see and hear, but in a parallel, online universe for which we barely know the password. And it’s really tough. Tougher even than we know.

What a world we have created where parents are clueless when it comes to the protection of their daughters. Pornography is not a victimless crime.  Boys are stunted in their emotional, psychological and relational development by pornography.  Girls are damaged in their development as they act out the pornographic fantasies of boys.  Some will become so hardened that they can say along with Mary Elizabeth Williams, So what if abortion ends a life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 AM | Permalink

Health roundup: Autism, migraines, stem cells, ovaries and antibiotics

Another  upside of reaching 75. You CAN have your cake and eat it as a poor diet makes no difference to your health

Women who have their ovaries removed are more likely to suffer mental decline in old age

Removal of a woman's ovaries leads to an increased risk of mental decline in older age, new research suggests.
The procedure, which triggers a 'surgical menopause', is most often carried out on younger women because of cancer. It usually accompanies removal of the womb, known as a hysterectomy.

Scientists studied 1,837 women aged between 53 and 100, a third of whom had experienced a surgical menopause.
The women were given tests to measure thinking skills and memory.

These showed that having a surgical menopause at an earlier age was associated with faster declines in thinking ability and certain kinds of memory.  Long-term memory relating to concepts and ideas and episodic memory of events were both affected.

'While we found a link between surgical menopause and thinking and memory decline, women on longer hormone replacement therapies had slower declines," said study author Riley Bove, MD, with Harvard Medical School in Boston and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

Children can GROW OUT of autism: Controversial research suggests not all youngsters have the same fate.  It's a small study that confirms what many parents have observed.

Migraines are the second biggest factor in risk of women suffering a heart attack or stroke, according to 15 year study of thousands of women

Scientists have said only high blood pressure was a bigger indicator of a stroke or heart attack than migraines with aura, as the condition is known when accompanied by vision problems including flashing lights.  The 15-year study followed 27,860 women, of who 1,435 had migraine with aura.

Eating blueberries and strawberries year round cuts a woman's risk of a heart attack by a third.  It's the flavonoids

'This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts.' The findings appear in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. Scientists believe the protective effect could be linked to anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that may help open up arteries and counter the build-up of fatty deposits on blood vessel walls.

Just a 15 minute stroll four times a week can reduce the risk of an early death by 40%

Fresh air and exercise can boost the immune system, strengthen bones and reduce obesity
Regular walking also means better physical health, better strength and a reduced risk of injuries from falls

Simple blood test that predicts if breast cancer is likely to return

Test detects genetic changes in DNA that could signal return of most common form of breast cancer.
Early warning could spare some women unnecessary treatment with grueling anti-cancer drugs.

Stem cell treatment left woman with bone growing around one eye

In a recent report in Scientific American, the doctor described how the woman "could not open her right eye without considerable pain and that every time she forced it open, she heard a strange click - a sharp sound, like a tiny castanet snapping shut."

As it turned out, the woman had received a new-fangled "stem cell treatment", whereby her own mesenchymal stem cells were extracted by liposuction from her abdomen and injected into her face.  Her cosmetic surgeons in Beverly Hills had told her new tissue would replace the old and that the therapy would prompt a release of chemicals that would reverse the signs of aging.

We do not know if her skin improved but she did end up with bits of bone and tooth growing around one eye. This is the reason why: mesenchymal stem cells are "multipotent", which means they can grow into different types of cells, including fat, cartilage and bone.

Antibiotic resistance is now as serious a threat as terrorism and could trigger an 'apocalyptic scenario', warns UK's top doctor

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:00 AM | Permalink

January 17, 2013

The Quantum World of Angels

Amazing.  Electrons and Angels

Remember learning about electrons in science class? How atoms are made up of protons and neutrons in the nucleus with electrons orbiting around them in energy levels, similar to how solar systems orbit a center of mass? It is perplexing to a young mind to conceive of electrons because we do not think of them moving as planets, but rather as a cloud in the whole orbital at once. Further, when electrons move from one orbital level to another, we do not think of them moving through space, but jumping instantaneously from one level to another.

Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922, called these states “quantum levels”. According to quantum mechanics, electrons are either here or there, but not in between, and when they are here or there, they are moving in that whole place all at once.
St. Thomas described angels and their motion at length in the Summa Theologica. They can move as we describe quantum motion, discretely, not through space. It blew my mind when I read a story about a luncheon conversation between Niels Bohr and a Thomistic philosopher named Mortimer J. Adler in the 1920′s. They were discussing electrons and angels.

In his book, Angels and Us, Mr. Adler wrote that he was the only philosopher at a table of eminent physicists, among them Mr. Bohr. The physicists were noting how original this quantum movement of electrons was, like nothing they had ever heard before. Mr. Adler replied that it was not a novel idea at all! This kind of movement was described in the thirteenth century by St. Aquinas in his writing about the discontinuous movement of angels. Angels sometimes move like Niels Bohr’s electrons of early quantum mechanics, from one place to another instantly, surrounding the whole place where they are.

No doubt there was quite a surprise to learn that a theologian had deduced a movement that modern science would not discover for another 650 years. One can only wonder what might happen to scientific progress if students were once again taught scholastic philosophical thought.

I immediately thought of this quote by Robert Jastrow, an American astronomer, physicist and leading NASA scientist.

"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

Many people have trouble with understanding angels.  The early Church fathers thought of angels as executing God's law regarding the physical world and maintaining the orderly harmony of the universe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink

The bounds of common decency

The war on prescription drugs has gone too far when inhumane treatment of ordinary people is justified.  The bounds of common decency bind the police as well.

Radley Balko writes in the Huffington Post about  government overreach in its paranoia over opioid painkillers.

New Victims in the War on Painkillers  No victim is Mayor Bloomberg who is dictating medical policy for NYC emergency rooms.

This policy is going to cause needless suffering. People who genuinely, legitimately need pain medication aren't going to be able to get it

But what about the 80 year old man, a former Navy medic, whose wife of 58 years just died on colon cancer in their bedroom when the police, not ten minutes after her death, burst in without a warrant to search for prescription drugs.

"I was holding her hand saying goodbye when all the intrusion happened," he told the Deseret News…

"I was indignant to think you can't even have a private moment. All these people were there and they're not concerned about her or me. They're concerned about the damn drugs. Isn't that something?" Mahaffey said.

Mahaffey said he was treated as if he were going to sell the painkillers, which included OxyContin, oxycodone and morphine, on the street.

In Oklahoma, Jamie Lynn Russell, a 33-year-old woman went to an emergency room in such extreme abdominal pain that she couldn't lie down or even cooperate with hospital staff who called a police officer to help them.    He found two prescription pills that he determined didn't belong to her, so he he took her to jail for drug possession.      Russell was in jail for less than two hours before she died of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. 

Said the sheriff, "There is nothing my staff in the jail could've done differently,"  ""It's very regrettable for the family. My heart and prayers go out to them."

The hospital is also at fault here.  I can't imagine taking a woman in such extremes pain out of a hospital where she could be treated just so she could be taken to jail over the possession of  two pills. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink

January 15, 2013


Miracle of the Age From the sidelines at American Digest


Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:32 PM | Permalink

News you can use

Literature has therapeutic value, and the more challenging it is, the better.  We're better for verse.

Penelope Trunk on How to pick a husband if you want to have kids

Why a glass of red wine with your steak can LOWER cholesterol

Red wine helps to prevent release of damaging compounds in dark meat that can raise cholesterol….researchers, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found that after eating red or dark meat, compounds called malondialdehyde accumulate in the blood stream. These can help to form the type of cholesterol that can raise the risk of heart disease.

But when volunteers drank red wine, these compounds were not absorbed into the blood stream. The researchers say this is because antioxidants in the wine - known as polyphenols - prevented these harmful compounds from being absorbed.

Proven: Pruney Fingers Give You a Better Grip 

Hacking the Hyperlinked Heart.  She found her husband online but only after she learned not to be too stuffy and professional in her profile.

In the Huffington Post, 10 Things Happy People Do Differently

What is the Secret to Aging Gracefully and Happily

From research in psychology and other fields–and from the work Cole is doing–the key to aging gracefully and happily seems to lie in at least three factors:
1) working into old age rather than retiring
2) finding love and community and
3) accepting old age.

13 Amazing Uses for WD-40
Protecting a bird feeder, separating stuck glassware, exterminating roaches, repelling insects and keeping wasps from building nests.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 PM | Permalink

"I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appalls me

"I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appalls me  writes A.N. Wilson.

The arrival of a contraceptive pill for women in 1961 appeared to signal the beginning of guilt-free, pregnancy-free sex. We were saying goodbye to what Larkin (in that poem) called ‘A shame that started at sixteen / And spread to everything.’
In 2011, there were 189,931 abortions carried out, a small rise on the previous year, and about seven per cent more than a decade ago.
But even if you concede that a little less than half the abortions had some medical justification, this still tells us that more than 90,000 fetuses are aborted every year in this country simply as a means of lazy ‘birth control’. Ninety thousand human lives are thrown away because their births are considered too expensive or in some other way inconvenient.
In the past few years, sexually transmitted diseases among young people have hugely increased, with more and more young people contracting chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and other diseases,
The divorce statistics tell another miserable story. About one third of marriages in Britain end in divorce. And because many couples do not marry at all before splitting up, the number of broken homes is even greater.

I hold up my hands. I have been divorced. …I made myself and dozens of people extremely unhappy — including, of course, my children and other people’s children. I am absolutely certain that my parents, by contrast, who married in 1939 and stayed together for more than 40 years until my father died, never strayed from the marriage bed.    There were long periods when they found marriage extremely tough, but having lived through years of aching irritation and frustration, they grew to be Darby and Joan, deeply dependent upon one another in old age, and in an imperfect but recognizable way, an object lesson in the meaning of the word ‘love’.
Back in the Fifties, GfK National Opinion Poll conducted a survey asking how happy people felt on a sliding scale — from very happy to very unhappy.  In 1957, 52 per cent said they were ‘very happy’. By 2005, the same set of questions found only 36 per cent were ‘very happy’, and the figures are falling.

More than half of those questioned in the GfK’s most recent survey said that it was a stable relationship which made them happy. Half those who were married said they were ‘very happy’, compared with only a quarter of singles.
The truth is that the Sexual Revolution had the power to alter our way of life, but it could not alter our essential nature; it could not alter the reality of who and what we are as human beings.
The wackier clerics of the Church of England, the pundits of the BBC, the groovier representatives of the educational establishment, the liberal Press, have all, since the Sexual Revolution began, gone along with the notion that a relaxation of sexual morality will lead to a more enlightened and happy society.  This was despite the fact that all the evidence around us demonstrates that the exact opposite is the case.
Our generation, who started to grow up ‘between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP’ got it all so horribly wrong.
We ignored the obvious fact that moral conventions develop in human societies for a reason.
Two generations have grown up — comprising children of selfish grown-ups who put their own momentary emotional needs and impulses before family stability and the needs of their children. …The price we all pay for the fragmentation of society, caused by the break-up of so many homes, will surely lead to a massive rethink.  At least, let’s hope so.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

"The rights of children trump the right to children"

It was a "March for All" in Paris  by an alliance of secularist, straight, gay, rightist, leftist and non-partisans, Catholics,  Jews , Evangelicals and Muslims, all  against gay marriage being imposed by the federal government without public debate.

Estimates of  the numbers of participants who came from all over France to converge on Paris range from 360,000 to 1,000,000 with most settling on 800,000.

“This law is going to lead to a change of civilization that we don’t want,” said Philippe Javaloyes, a literature teacher who bused in with 300 people from Franche Comte in the far east. “We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father.”


Robert Oscar Lopez writes in The Public Discourse, Lessons from France on Defending Marriage.

In France, a repeating refrain is “the rights of children trump the right to children.” It is a pithy but forceful philosophical claim, uttered in voices ranging from gay mayor “Jean-Marc” to auteur Jean-Dominique Bunel, who revealed in Le Figaro that two lesbians raised him. For most of France, LGBT rights cross the line when they mean that same-sex couples have a “right” to children—something that both France’s grand rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, and Louis-Georges Barret, Vice President of the Christian Democratic Party, have refuted as a right at all.
The right to a child, according to Bernheim and Barret, does not exist; it would mean changing children, as Bernheim says, from “child as subject” to “child as object.” Bunel states in Figaro that such a shift violates international law by denying the right of children to have a mother and a father. Bunel writes:

I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millennia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that “the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration” (Article 3, section 1).

"We love homosexuals but a child must be born from a man and a woman, and the law must respect that,” said Frigide Barjot, the alter ego of comedian Virginie Tellene, the intentionally apolitical face of the protest.

Carl Olsen comments

there are many Americans who believe they have a right to "have children", and to treat children like projects or even experiments, as if they are blank slates that can be filled up with the whims of their parents (and others). In this perspective, children are objects that exist because we wish them to and make them so, not because they are gifts from God who come to us through the marital embrace, to be raised by a mother and father, who are also the primary educators of their children.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told Vatican Radio the church supports cultural and social progress, but not "at the expense of nature."  He said he wondered why so many people were so committed to protecting the environment from manipulation, but "not very concerned about manipulation against the inner workings of anthropology."

"The French are tolerant, but they are deeply attached to the family and the defense of children," said Frigide Barjot, the alter ego of comedian Virginie Tellene, the intentionally apolitical face of the protest..  Their efforts appear to have had an impact. Surveys indicate that popular support for gay marriage in France has slipped about 10 points to less than 55 percent since opponents started speaking out. Fewer than half of those polled recently favored giving gay couples adoption rights.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

Teaching children

Are we ever to be done with the nonsense of teaching self-esteem instead of self-respect and self-control?  Here's yet another study that shows  Teaching Self-Esteem Undermines Students’ Academic Achievement

‘An intervention that encourages [students] to feel good about themselves, regardless of work, may remove the reason to work hard,’” notes “Roy Baumeister, a Florida State professor who’s studied the topic for years. ‘Self-control is much more powerful and well-supported as a cause of personal success,’ he says.”

Inflated self-esteem is why American students think they are doing much better than they are.  I trace it back to the pernicious notion that everyone must 'feel' good all the time.It's real achievement that leads to self-esteem.

Kids are not dumb.  Why praising your child may do more harm than good: Psychologist claims 'empty' comments makes them unhappy

Mr Grosz – who has practised as a psychoanalyst, a type of psychologist, for 25 years – said: ‘Empty praise is as bad as thoughtless criticism – it expresses indifference to the child’s feelings and thoughts."

The government (HHS) releases a study that shows: Head Start , the pre-school program federally funded for the past 48 years to the tune of $8 billion/year, has had no good effect once the students reach first grade.    A sad and costly secret.

According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.

The HHS’ scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either a group receiving Head Start services or a group that did not participate in Head Start. It followed their progression from ages three or four through the end of third grade

At last, an Education Hero, David Coleman

Our hero is David Coleman, president of the College Board, a Rhodes Scholar, and a former McKinsey & Company consultant.
Coleman used a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to mold the requirements for the Common Core States Standards in English -- adopted by 46 states to be implemented in 2014 -- to mandate that 50% of reading assignments are non-fiction "informational text" in elementary school, and 70 percent by grade 12.
Coleman does not mince his words: "People (employers) don't give a damn about what you feel and what you think. What they instead care about is, can you make an argument with evidence, is there something verifiable behind what you are saying or what you think or feel that you can demonstrate to me?"
In addition to the inclusion of quality non-fiction, changes in fiction selections suggestions indicate a shift back to standards: Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby; William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying; Thomas Paine's Common Sense; The Declaration of Independence; Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave is the 4th of July?:," Allen Paulo's Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences; Mark Fischetti's Working Knowledge: Electronic Stability Control; and George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language."

Another government study released in the dead of night by the Department of Justice on Dec 20th.  Violent Crime Against Youth, 1994-2010.

A new Justice Department study looking at violent crimes committed against “youth”—defined as Americans from 12 to 17 years of age—discovered that the rate of "serious violent crime" committed against youth by a perpetrator using a firearm dropped 95 percent from 1994 to 2010.
American youth who were victims of a serious violent crime in 2010 were six times more likely to have been attacked by a perpetrator wielding a knife than one wielding a gun.
An American youth was 3.8 times more likely to become the victim of a serious violent crime if he or she lived in a home where the householder was unmarried than if he or she lived with married parents
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 AM | Permalink

January 14, 2013

Unconventional financial and career advice that makes sense

Penelope Trunk has 8 new ways to think about financial security

2. Your ability to make money fast is your emergency fund.

3. Your ability to stay engaged is your retirement account.

6. Your high learning curve is unemployment insurance.

And for all the Young people who are screwed, Bryan Goldberg in Pando Daily recommends

Learn how to make something
There are millions of unfilled jobs in America, and most of them are careers where you actually have to make and build stuff. If you grew up in an affluent environment, then you see your software engineer friends getting jobs easily. But it’s not just them. There are countless labor jobs — everything from HVAC to plumbing — that still pay big dollars. But rich kids don’t even know what those jobs entail.

My advice to young people is to figure out how to make something. That means either working with your hands, or learning how to type code with them.

And his  Lesson No. 4: Don’t worry about your network. Worry about your friends.   

If you have successful friends, you will be successful. It’s pretty much that simple. If you hang out with a bunch of losers, you too will adopt their loser ways and not achieve anything. Regardless of whether or not you go out and network, please make sure that your friends are ambitious and hard working people who you admire.
Your friends bring you up or pull you down. There’s no in-between. Make sure they are pulling you up.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

January 13, 2013

Can lead be linked to violent behavior?

This is a most intriguing study.

Did outlawing leaded gasoline cause the crime rate to drop? Researchers link toxic element to violent behavior

A new study links leaded gasoline to violent crime rates in six cities.

High lead levels have long been known to cause birth defects, lower intelligence and hearing problems - but now researchers are beginning to find that it also causes high levels of aggression.

Tulane University toxicologist Howard W. Mielke says high levels of lead exposure in children in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in a dramatic uptick in crime two decades later.

When the use of leaded gasoline declined in the 1980s, crime rates dropped off at corresponding rates.

Mielke found that in all six cities - Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and San Diego - every one percent increase in the number of tons of lead released into the atmosphere resulted in a half percentage point increase in the aggravated assault rate 22 years later.
Dr Herbert Needleman, a University of Pittsburgh researcher, conducted a 1996 study that showed that children with high lead levels were much more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior than those with normal levels.

A 2002 study showed that youths had been arrested had far higher levels of lead in their bones, on average, than their non-delinquent peers.

Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum reports that the leaded gasoline theory is the only explanation for the dramatic rise and fall of violent crime across the country.
General Motors developed a lead additive for gasoline to prevent engine knock in the 1920s. The most popular additive was tetraethyllead, which soon became nearly universal.

By the 1970s, cars were being made with catalytic converters, which were incompatible with leaded gasoline.

Leaded gas was quickly phased out by the 1980s. It was banned for use in vehicles on U.S. roadways in 1996.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 PM | Permalink

“Every age, we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong…”

Self-Perception, Past and Future  You Won't Stay the Same, Study Finds

When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same, a team of psychologists said Thursday, describing research they conducted of people’s self-perceptions.

They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” According to their research, which involved more than 19,000 people ages 18 to 68, the illusion persists from teenage years into retirement.
“Middle-aged people — like me — often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin,” said one of the authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard. “What we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.”

Other psychologists said they were intrigued by the findings, published Thursday in the journal Science, and were impressed with the amount of supporting evidence.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:52 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Obesity and gut bacteria, beta blockers against Alzheimer's, cancer-killing cells created, Obamacare and my daughter

Well, this is going to change everything.  Scientists link obesity to gut bacteria

Obesity in human beings could be caused by bacterial infection rather than eating too much, exercising too little or genetics, according to a groundbreaking study that could have profound implications for public health systems, the pharmaceutical industry and food manufacturers.
The discovery in China followed an eight-year search by scientists across the world to explain the link between gut bacteria and obesity.

Researchers in Shanghai identified a human bacteria linked with obesity, fed it to mice and compared their weight gain with rodents without the bacteria. The latter did not become obese despite being fed a high-fat diet and being prevented from exercising.

The bacterium – known as enterobacter – encourages the body to make and store fat, and prevents it from being used, by deregulating the body’s metabolism-controlling genes.

A Common Blood Pressure Drug May Lower Your Risk Of Getting Alzheimer's - beta blockers

Men get the most  health benefits from dark chocolate

Chocolate gives men more protection against heart attack and stroke than women for some reason.  The dark chocolate helps by preventing fatal blood clots. 

A Briton is 5 times more likely to die from government health care than an American is to die from a gunshot.

Basic errors killing 1000 NHS patients a month a study has revealed -

First cases of 'incurable' antibiotic resistant gonorrhea found in North America as CDC warns of public health nightmare.  Predictable. 

Justin Binik-Thomas in Obamacare and my daughter explains why he's lucky she wasn't born two years later.

We have met with various medical professionals to discuss treatment options. There were several possibilities discussed, and we were able to weigh these options for the best fit: Zoe’s surgery is scheduled for the day after Christmas.

We knew that surgery was likely in the near future and chose to select a top-notch full coverage insurance plan this year.

The hospital informed us that this is a fairly new operation perfected over just the last five years. However: this surgery will “cease to be available in two years for insurance patients due to ObamaCare.” This is a quote from the flustered nurse at the hospital.

This plan pays all costs incurred after the deductible, provided the services are provided in-network. The plan goes away in 2014 as a result of the health law. The best new plans to replace this will pay for 90% after deductible, and will cost more. If our daughter was born just two years later we would pay more for insurance, have inferior treatment options, and be triaged (meaning delayed) for treatment. That, in my mind, is regressive.  It is not progressive as many would have us believe.

World first as scientists create cancer-killing cells that can be injected into patients

Scientists have created cells capable of killing cancer for the first time.  The dramatic breakthrough was made by researchers in Japan who created cancer-specific killer T cells.  They say the development paves the way for the cells being directly injected into cancer patients for new cancer and HIV treatments.

It's hoped injecting huge quantities back into a patient could turbo-charge the immune system.

Pill developed that could help paralyzed patients walk again. It works on mice with no side effects.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:49 PM | Permalink

Roundup of interesting and unrelated links

A round-up of interesting links that have been sitting in draft form for far too long because I was busy doing other stuff.

Organized crime is best left to the Catholics

Lying, The Degradation of Language

Feds look other way as wind farms kill birds -- but haul oil and gas firms to court

We cops know the truth, but we rarely explain it to civilians or politicians.

In the New Yorker Notre Dame at Eight Hundred and Fifty Years

As Victor Hugo put it in “Notre-Dame de Paris” (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”), in a meditation on architecture’s ability to bear culture: “When a man understands the art of seeing, he can trace the spirit of an age and the features of a king even in the knocker on a door.”


Most unfortunate wedding announcements ever.


There's never been a better time to be an armchair mountain climber. The interactive Two BILLION  pixel image of Mount Everest

Nearly 85% of the soldiers who commit suicide have no combat history and never saw action

Astonishing maps that reveal how our brain organizes everything we see

Could women really be spending ten days a year doing their hair?

Facebook to sell access to your inbox for a dollar at a time
Fee will guarantee messages avoid 'spam' folder
Pilot US scheme is limited to 'personal messages'
Fears businesses will bombard inboxes with ads

171 pounds, a pear-shaped body and a taste for beefsteak: Meet Elsie Scheel, the Cornell student declared 1912's perfect woman

A new state of matter, and a third type of magnetism

The experimental work showing the existence of this new state, called a quantum spin liquid (QSL), was reported in the journal Nature.The QSL is a solid crystal, but its magnetic state is described as liquid: Unlike the other two kinds of magnetism, the magnetic orientations of the individual particles within it fluctuate constantly, resembling the constant motion of molecules within a true liquid.
There is no static order to the magnetic orientations, known as magnetic moments, within the material, Lee said.

'But there is a strong interaction between them, and due to quantum effects, they don’t lock in place,' he says.
The discovery of a third type of magnetism could have major implications for superconducting material and the way computer hard drives work

Ten Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2012

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:43 PM | Permalink

Getting the ketchup to flow

It won't be long before it's longer a problem.

Five MIT Students Have Solved A Universally Annoying Problem

Last spring, they invented LiquiGlide, an edible, plant-based coating that can be placed on any surface, from glass to ceramics. Liquid-based products that encounter the surfaces will slip right off, whether it's ketchup in a bottle or rain on a jacket.

It made the Time magazine's Best Inventions of 2012 along with two other notable ones I liked: The Civilization Starter Kit and a Drifting Fish Farm equipped with GPS  for the high seas - growing fish with zero environmental impact.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:36 PM | Permalink

January 10, 2013

Valjean based on Hugh Jackman's father


Bring him home: Hugh Jackman talks about modeling Jean Valjean on his own father’s conversion

His performance is both a tribute and a thank you to his father Chris, who brought him up after his mother walked out of the family home in Australia when Hugh was just eight years old. Both parents are English-born, but settled in Australia, where Jackman was born.
Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without him, I wouldn’t have had an inspiration for my role in Les Miserables. Dad underwent the same kind of life-changing experience that my character undergoes in the film.
‘Dad was converted by the Christian evangelist Dr Billy Graham when he was 30 years old, and underwent a life-changing epiphany, too.

‘I thought about that constantly when I was playing Valjean, I tried to inject as much of Dad’s goodness, and change of life, into the character I was playing.
‘And he was wholly sincere. He lived —and lives — his life through a firm foundation of principle and he is both my inspiration and my hero.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:09 PM | Permalink

A Generation of Deluded Narcissists?

We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists

A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing
Psychologist Jean Twenge, the lead author of the analysis, is also the author of a study showing that the tendency toward narcissism in students is up 30 percent in the last thirty-odd years.

Keith Ablow comments

This data is not unexpected.  I have been writing a great deal over the past few years about the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.

On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.”

We must beware of the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.
Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.

When they finally confront reality, they will be stunned as they realize the falsity of their lives.

Ablow again

Distractions, however, are temporary, and the truth is eternal. Watch for an epidemic of depression and suicidality, not to mention homicidality, as the real self-loathing and hatred of others that lies beneath all this narcissism rises to the surface.  I see it happening and, no doubt, many of you do, too. 

We laughed at and scoffed anyone like this when I was in high school.  We called them "conceited" which is about the worse thing you could call anybody.      Ridicule is a powerful weapon.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:03 PM | Permalink

January 9, 2013

Great ideas: biological concrete, plant skyscrapers and iShacks

"Biological concrete" to promote vertical gardens

In Barcelona, a team comes up with biological concrete designed to act as a substrate for vertical gardens that is simple, low maintenance and requires little or no attention.


The plant skyscrapers: Giant greenhouses in city centers to herald a new age of farming

Crops could soon be grown in greenhouses the size of skyscrapers in city centres across the country, it has been claimed.

Birds Eye and other food producers are investigating building ‘plantscrapers’, which could accommodate hundreds of storeys worth of crops, in a bid to make farming more economical, sustainable and meet increasing demand.

The ‘vertical farms’ would use an innovative feeding system which nourishes plants with enriched water, therefore cancelling out the need for soil – and the need for food to be grown  and harvested in the countryside.
In Linkoping, Sweden, a 54-metre-high structure (just over half the height of Elizabeth Tower – home of Big Ben – in London) is being built by Swedish firm Plantagon.  By 2014, the structure will produce a range of leafy green vegetables, including salad leaves, spinach and mustard greens.


The iShack: The simple, solar-powered home that could transform life for slum-dwellers

People living in rickety and makeshift shacks in slum areas can wait for years before they can get connected to the electricity or water grids, and the United Nations estimates that 62 per cent of the urban population in Sub-Saharan Africa lives in slums.

With the iShack, the ‘improved shack’, they get a solid dwelling that is fitted with enough solar panels to keep the lights on at night and provide power for important equipment such as mobile phone chargers. 
Windows are placed to maximise air circulation and the sloping roof allows rainwater to be collected.
The walls are insulated with recycled materials, a brick floor helps keep temperatures steady and flame-retardant paint is intended to reduce the risk of fires.

An initiative from researchers at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, an initial grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will build 100 over the next year.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:03 PM | Permalink

January 1, 2013

The New Year dawns

Full of light and promise.   

Morning Glory

This photo by OhYo is entitled Morning Glory

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 AM | Permalink