October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

-Pumpkin-Festival- Keene N.H. Keene, N.H. Pumpkin  holds the granddaddy of all pumpkin festivals and the world's record for most jack-o-lanterns lit at one time, 29,762 last year.

-Pumpkin2 by Ray Villafane, renowned pumpkin sculptor

-Pumpkin3 Just one of Martha Stewart's 64 ideas for pumpkins

-Pumpkin5-Pigtown-Design  Pigtown Design at 28 Geeky Pumpkins

-Pumpkin6 No 13 at Best Halloween Pumpkin Carvings

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: 11 genes & Alzheimer's, aspirin, naps, gardening & DIY, almonds, IBS & D, and mental effects of hand-washing

Alzheimer’s to be treated by replacing faulty genes, expert predicts after discovery of 11 key genes that raise risk

Alzheimer’s will be treated or even prevented by replacing faulty genes, an expert in the disease has predicted.  Men and women could be given a nasal spray packed with healthy versions of the defective genes that cause the illness.

Professor Julie Williams, of Cardiff University, said the entire population could eventually be screened in middle-age to identify those at most risk of the memory-robbing disease. They could then be given cutting-edge gene therapy and other treatments to stop the disease ever developing.

The professor, who was given a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours last year for her work on Alzheimer’s, made the prediction after jointly leading the biggest-ever study into the genetics of the disease.  The landmark study, involving more than 180 researchers from 15 countries, pinpointed 11 genes that raise the risk of Alzheimer’s. The size of the collaboration allowed them to identify more genes in less than three years than have been found in the past two decades. By taking the total to 21, it also more than doubles the number of known Alzheimer’s genes, the journal Nature Genetics reports.

The BBC:  A daily aspirin 'risky' for healthy adults

Healthy people should not take aspirin to ward off heart attacks and cancer, according to the most comprehensive review of the risks and benefits.  …The review, conducted by the research arm of the NHS, said it was a "fine balance" due to the dangers of bleeding in the brain and stomach. Overall it warned against taking the drug, until there was more evidence.

The drug is given to people at high risk of a heart attack or stroke as the medical benefit is clear.

Scientific American Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime

Research on naps, meditation, nature walks and the habits of exceptional artists and athletes reveals how mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.

Gardening and DIY 'can cut the risk of dying by 30%': Active hobbies reduce chance of a heart attack or stroke

Older people with active hobbies cut their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, and their chances of dying from any cause by up to 30 per cent.
A new study found ‘working out’ in the garden or the home was as good as going to the gym for keeping the heart healthy.

Experts say it shows the benefits of active daily routines, which counteract the harm caused by sedentary lifestyles.  The study monitored the heart health and daily activities of almost 4,000 people aged 60 in Stockholm, Sweden, for 12.5 years.

The savvy snacker's secret? Eating 30 almonds a day reduces hunger pangs and doesn't cause weight gain

People who ate 1.5oz of almonds - equivalent to around 250 calories - didn't end up gaining weight or eating any more throughout the day
Eating almonds also improves Vitamin E and 'good' fat intake
Almonds keep hunger at bay because of their monounsaturated fat, protein, and fibre content

Washing your hands makes you HAPPIER: Cleaning boosts our confidence and washes away feelings of failure

A study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that the ritual of cleaning makes us more optimistic after failure.  People were also more confident they could complete the task the next time.  Previous research found hand washing made people feel more comfortable about decisions they had made

But there was a twist. While people who washed their hands felt better afterwards, they were also less likely to complete the task successfully next time.  Dr Kaspar explained: 'While physical cleansing after failure may eliminate negative feelings, it reduces the motivation to try harder in a new test situation.' Meanwhile, the non-hand washers performed better on the next occasion.

Could taking a vitamin D pill help ease the pain of an irritable bowel?  Yes says IBS sufferer Vicky Grant

'After years of symptoms, my diarrhoea, cramps, pain and bloating disappeared. I started to feel well, put on weight and my depression lifted.
'It was amazing. My symptoms would flare up again though, if I forgot to take it.'

With the help of medical researchers she knew from her work at Sheffield University medical school, Vicky wrote up her experience as a case report for the British Medical Journal - she included anecdotal reports on vitamin D from blogs, which suggested it worked in 70 per cent of cases.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink

October 30, 2013

Health and Food Roundup: Carbs and fat, sweets and memory problems, pasta and fries, carrots and sperm

Is a high-fat diet GOOD for the heart? Doctors say carbs are more damaging to the arteries than butter or cream

Experts claim false interpretation of scientific studies has led to millions being 'over-medicated'.
Doctors claim it is time to 'bust the myth' of the role of saturated fat in heart disease.
Some nations are adopting dietary guidelines to encourage high-fat foods.

How eating too many sweets could make you FORGETFUL: Having high blood sugar levels can cause memory problems

Bad news if you've got a sweet tooth - eating too many sweets could make you forgetful.
Researchers have found that maintaining low sugar levels in the blood is good for the brain.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, showed people with too much sugar in their blood were more likely to have memory problems.
Researchers looked at 141 people with an average age of 63 who did not have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Those with less sugar in their blood were more likely to score well on memory tests.
The researchers found that people with high levels of sugar in their blood were less able to recall a list of 15 words 30 minutes after hearing them.

Do pasta and fries make you depressed? Eating carbs can increase the risk by 40%

Women who eat a lot of red meat and carbohydrates - such as chips, pasta and bread - are 29 to 41% more likely to be diagnosed with depression
But those who consume olive oil, coffee, wine and fish are less likely to become depressed, say Harvard researchers

The researchers were unable to say whether carbs caused depression - or if people simply turned to them when they felt low.
Previous research by Dr Judith Wurtman, a former scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her husband, Dr Richard Wurtman, has suggested that people crave carbohydrates when the levels of the feel-good hormone, serotonin, fall in their brains - such as during that mid afternoon slump.

'We discovered years and years ago that many people experience the "universal carbohydrate craving time" between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. every day,' WedMD reports.

The secret to healthy sperm? CARROTS: Study finds they boost performance more than any other fruit or veg

A new study found many yellow and orange-colored fruit and vegetables improved men’s fertility, but the carrot produced the best all-round results.

The sperm-boosting qualities come from chemicals called carotenoids, which give such foods their familiar color.  These include beta-carotene, which the body can make into the antioxidant vitamin A.    Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals, destructive groups of atoms made as a by-product of metabolism that can damage cell membranes and DNA.

An international study led by Harvard University in the US found other similar hued foods such as sweet potato and melon can also enhance the quantity and quality of sperm by up to 10 per cent.  It comes amid concern that both the quantity and quality of male sperm appears to be declining in western countries, with some studies showing average sperm counts have fallen by over half.

Estimates suggest around 30 per cent of men in couples seeking IVF treatment are subfertile, and two per cent are ‘totally’ infertile.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:50 PM | Permalink

October 29, 2013

Boy wanders on stage to hang out with Pope Francis

This is so endearing.  The Pope is giving a speech before  thousands of people  when a little boy runs up to him and won't leave.    The Pope finally gets him to sit in the papal chair so he can continue his speech.    Buzzfeed has the photos and some gifs. 

 Pope Francis Wandering Boy

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 PM | Permalink

"We've reached the end of antibiotics"

'We've reached the end of antibiotics': Top CDC expert declares that 'miracle drugs' that have saved millions are no match against 'superbugs' because people have overmedicated themselves

'For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about "The end of antibiotics, question mark?"' said Dr Arjun Srinivasan. 'Well, now I would say you can change the title to "The end of antibiotics, period.”'

A high-ranking official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared in an interview with PBS that the age of antibiotics has come to an end.
Dr Arjun Srinivasan, Associate Director of the CDC….sat down with Frontline over the summer for a lengthy interview about the growing problem of antibacterial resistance.

Srinivasan, …,said that both humans and livestock have been overmedicated to such a degree that bacteria are now resistant to antibiotics.

‘We're in the post-antibiotic era,' he said. 'There are patients for whom we have no therapy, and we are literally in a position of having a patient in a bed who has an infection, something that five years ago even we could have treated, but now we can’t.’.

Stay healthy and stay out of hospitals if you possibly can.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:40 AM | Permalink

Baby on the phone

 Baby On The Phone Cute, but babies are always cute.

A very modern milestone: 40% of babies use a mobile phone or tablet before they can even speak full sentences

Most parents monitor their child's development by the first time they crawl, walk and eventually talk.  But now there's a new milestone that mothers and fathers can eagerly look forward to: the first use of a mobile phone.

Nearly two in five babies have used a mobile phone or tablet - before they can even speak full sentences, new research has found.

A survey has found that 38 per cent of children aged under two have used gadgets like iPhones or Kindles for playing games or watching films.  In 2011 the same figure was just 10 per cent.

The researchers said that the findings showed a ‘fundamental change in the way kids consume media’.
They should also serve as a wake-up call to parents who increasingly turn to gadgets to entertain their children - but could be doing them harm.

The current recommendation from the American Academy of Paediatrics is that the under-twos should have no screen time at all.

If you want some really cute photos of kids, look at the Crazy Photos a Creative Dad Takes of His Daughters.

Also Artist Queenie Liao who takes adorable photos capturing her sleeping son in flights of the imagination

-Sleeping-Baby-Dreams Artist

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2013

My favorites are 'baggatory' and 'rotter'

In The New Yorker, The Word For

There ought to be a word for “the limbo-like precincts of an airport baggage claim, where groggy travellers gather around the motionless treads of empty conveyor belts.” It is a singularly desolate scene, and there should be a succinct way for a forlorn luggage-seeker to text a quick apology to the friend who is idly circling the airport roads. Now, there is: “baggatory.”

That clever turn is just one of a couple hundred neologisms coined by Liesl Schillinger in her new book, “Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century.”

Some more:

“social crawler” (a party-goer who accidentaly mingles with losers);

“Facebook-happy” (a miserable person who fakes bliss in carefully managed Facebook posts);

“polterguy” (an ex-boyfriend who haunts future relationships);

“factose intolerant” (a person who claims a false allergy or irrational antipathy to certain foods); and

“rotter” (the bottom drawer in the refrigerator where produce goes to putrefy).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

What is going on in the Army? UPDATED

What in the world is the Army thinking?  Does Army consider Christians, Tea Party, a terror threat?

Soldiers attending a pre-deployment briefing at Fort Hood say they were told that evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party were a threat to the nation and that any soldier donating to those groups would be subjected to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

A soldier who attended the Oct. 17th briefing told me the counter-intelligence agent in charge of the meeting spent nearly a half hour discussing how evangelical Christians and groups like the American Family Association were “tearing the country apart.”
“My first concern was if I was going to be in trouble going to church,” the evangelical Christian soldier told me. “Can I tithe? Can I donate to Christian charities? What if I donate to a politician who is a part of the Tea Party movement?”

Another soldier who attended the briefing alerted the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. That individual’s recollections of the briefing matched the soldier who reached out to me.

“I was very shocked and couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” the soldier said. “I felt like my religious liberties, that I risk my life and sacrifice time away from family to fight for, were being taken away.”

And while a large portion of the briefing dealt with the threat evangelicals and the Tea Party pose to the nation, barely a word was said about Islamic extremism, the soldier said.

Breitbart news has uncovered a Military Training Document: Anti-Christian SPLC a Trusted Source to Define 'Extremism'

For months, the Obama-Hagel Pentagon has promised that reports of military trainers teaching troops that traditional Christian groups are extremists akin to terrorists were isolated incidents by rogue instructors. Now an official Army document contains evidence to the contrary.
This is just the latest outrage in a long train of disgraces. Just days ago, soldiers at Camp Shelby in Mississippi were instructed that the Christian conservative American Family Association is a domestic hate group. A month earlier, a security presentation portrayed the Founding Fathers as extremists. Before that, Breitbart News reported on a Christian chaplain who was officially censored by military commanders for talking about the importance of religious faith. And several months before that, Lt. Col. Jack Rich at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, instructed soldiers that traditional Christian beliefs are incompatible with “Army values.”
All along, the nation was told these were a series of isolated incidents, not authorized by military leadership. Now military documents suggest otherwise…..

Let's not forget that  the Defense Department told Catholic priests  they would face possible arrest if they celebrated Mass at any military facility around the world during the shutdown even on a volunteer basis.

DOD took this action because Hagel determined--after consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department--that civilian Catholic priests, working under contract as chaplains, did not, among other things, “contribute to the morale” and “well-being” of service personnel.
At Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, the DOD went so far as to lock up the chapel and sequester the Holy Eucharist inside it. -….“The doors to the Kings Bay Chapel were locked on October 4, 2013, with the Holy Eucharist, Holy water, Catholic hymn books, and vessels all locked inside,” said Father Leonard’s lawsuit. “Father Leonard and his parishioners, including Fred Naylor, were prohibited from entering.”

UPDATE:  the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, sent an Army-wide memorandum ordering a halt to all briefings classifying Christian groups as domestic hate groups.

For now, McHugh ordered, Army leaders are “to cease all briefings, command presentations, or training on the subject of extremist organizations and activities, pending promulgation” of a uniform instruction and training program.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 AM | Permalink

October 23, 2013

Among the Benefits of Global Warming -Bigger and Better Crops

This is no small thing considering billions have to be fed.  Global warming could yield $11.6 trillion in increased crop production

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change found that while many studies focus on the costs of rising carbon emissions, few studies focused on whether or not more carbon in the atmosphere could be beneficial to society.

In fact, the Obama administration recently raised its social-cost-of-carbon estimate from $21 per metric ton to $35 per metric ton to the ire of global warming skeptics and Republicans. The estimate reflects how much each ton of carbon emitted costs the U.S. economy.

The number was disputed by economists who argue that there is “little science” behind the estimate and it is politically malleable.
The center’s study focused on benefits to global food production because higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been shown to stimulate plant productivity and growth, as well as increasing plant’s water conserving and stress-alleviating abilities.

“The results indicate that the annual total monetary value of this benefit grew from about $20 billion in 1961 to over $160 billion by 2011, amounting to a total sum of $3.5 trillion over the 50-year period 1961-2011,” reads the study. “Projecting the monetary value of this positive externality forward in time reveals it will likely bestow an additional $11.6 trillion on crop production between now and 2050.”

“It is clear from the material presented in this report that the modern rise in the air’s CO2  content is providing a tremendous economic benefit to global crop production,” the study adds.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:00 PM | Permalink

"Have the butter every time' says cardiologist

Time to end the war against saturated fat

The British Medical Journal has issued a clarion call to all who want to ward off heart disease: Forget the statins and bring back the bacon (or at least the full-fat yogurt). Saturated fat is not the widow-maker it's been made out to be, writes British cardiologist Aseem Malhotra in a stinging "Observations" column in the BMJ: The more likely culprits are empty carbs and added sugar.

Virtually all the truths about preventing heart attacks that physicians and patients have held dear for more than a generation are wrong and need to be abandoned, Malhotra writes.
the "obsession" with lowering a patients' total cholesterol with statins, and a public health message that has made all sources of saturated fat verboten to the health-conscious, have failed to reduce heart disease.
The result is a rate of obesity that has "rocketed" upward, writes Malhotra. And, despite a generation of patients taking statins (and enduring their common side effects), the trends in cardiovascular disease have not demonstrably budged.
"When saturated fat got mixed up with the high sugar added to processed food in the second half of the 20th century, it got a bad name," noted UC San Francisco pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig. On the question of which is worse -- saturated fat or added sugar, Lustig added, "The American Heart Assn. has weighed in -- the sugar many times over."

Have the butter every time,' says cardiologist.

For more than 20 years, there have been one or two medical commentators in newspapers, such as the Telegraph's great James Le Fanu, who have rejected the cholesterol theory of heart disease. Dr Le Fanu has always maintained that (most) people should stick to the boiled eggs and buttered soldiers for breakfast and avoided margarine as if their lives depended on it. But the mainstream view for 40 years, as dished out to the public in health campaigns and via the NHS has been – cut down saturated fat to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. That has meant that butter, full-fat milk and cheese were ruthlessly demonised, while oil-based spreads and low-fat products flew off the shelves.

But this is changing – and if you doubt it, consider that we have a leading young cardiologist, Aseem Malhotra, writing in the British Medical Journal today, saying quite plainly: "If you have a choice between butter and margarine, have the butter every time."
Malhotra's advice on diet instead. He says consuming a Mediterranean mixture of foods – fresh vegetables, olive oil, complex carbohydrates – is "almost three times as powerful in reducing mortality as taking a statin", citing the Predimed study.

If you want evidence-based nutrition advice, read the Authority Nutrition blog

10 Disturbing Reasons Why Sugar is Bad For You.

Top 11 Most Common Nutrition Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Top 13 Nutrition Lies That Made The World Sick and Fat

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:52 PM | Permalink

October 22, 2013

Parenting tips

Another horrifying example of our toxic  culture.  60% of teens face 'sexting' pressure: More than half have been asked to take explicit self-portrait in practice that is now seen as 'pretty normal' by youngsters

ChildLine poll of 500 children showed the extent of sexting culture in schools. A majority of children had been asked for explicit pictures. Half of children had received 'sexts' and 40 per cent had taken them. 15 per cent of those who took pictures sent them to total strangers.

I'm with Lewis C.K. when it comes to cellphones for kids. 


Good for parents, good for kids. Regular Bedtimes Tied to Better Behavior

A regular bedtime schedule is unquestionably helpful for parents, but a new study has found it that it may be even more beneficial for their children.
After controlling for many social, economic and parental behavioral factors, the scientists found that children with a regular bedtime, whether early or late, had fewer behavioral problems. And the longer irregular bedtimes persisted, the more severe the difficulties were……The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, also found that children who had irregular bedtimes at ages 3 and 5 had significant improvements in behavior scores if their bedtime was regular by age 7.

Another reason to breastfeed. Health risk: formula milk has '100 times more aluminium than breast'

Formula baby milk can contain 100 times more aluminum than breast milk, which could pose risks to health, researchers have warned after a new study.
"Aluminum can also produce anaemia in individuals, which is not then helped by giving people more iron.
"How may this aluminum be impacting on the immediate and long-term health of the baby - these are questions that are still unanswered.
There's a very good chance that some of this aluminum is coming from the packaging and an equal chance it is in the ingredients. Processing is also likely to be a source."

Consider seriously music lessons for your kids.  NYT Is Music the Key to Success?

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?
The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.”
Mr. Todd says there is a connection between years of practice and competition and what he calls the “drive for perfection.”
For many of the high achievers I spoke with, music functions as a “hidden language,” as Mr. Wolfensohn calls it, one that enhances the ability to connect disparate or even contradictory ideas.
Consider the qualities these high achievers say music has sharpened: collaboration, creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas. All are qualities notably absent from public life. Music may not make you a genius, or rich, or even a better person. But it helps train you to think differently, to process different points of view — and most important, to take pleasure in listening.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

Don't worry about tip of the tongue lapses, but do all you can to get a good night's sleep

Tip of the tongue' lapses AREN'T signs of dementia risk despite being more common in older people

If those ‘tip of the tongue’ moments are becoming more frequent, fear not.  They may be frustrating, but they do not indicate an increased risk of dementia, research has found.

Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that this type of memory lapse happens more often as we age – but its relationship to cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s had never been established.

They may be frustrating, but they do not indicate an increased risk of dementia, research has found.
Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that this type of memory lapse happens more often as we age – but its relationship to cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s had never been established.

So American researchers asked more than 700 participants, aged 18 to 99, to give the names of famous places, common nouns or famous people, based on brief descriptions or pictures.  The volunteers indicated which answers they knew, which they did not and which gave them a tip-of-the-tongue experience.

Overall, older participants experienced more of these frustrating moments.  But there was no association between the frequency of tip of the tongue occurrences and their performance on the types of memory tests often used in the detection of dementia.

How a poor night's sleep could be linked to Alzheimer's disease in older people

Poor sleep may be linked to Alzheimer's disease in older adults, according to a new brain imaging study.

The findings follow earlier research indicating that one of the functions of sleep is to purge the brain of toxic proteins.  One such harmful protein is beta-amyloid (Abeta), which accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

The new study appears to reinforce the importance of sleep in staving off dementia.  U.S. scientists who looked at data on 70 adults with an average age of 76 found that those who slept less, and who experienced low quality sleep, had higher levels of beta-amyloid.

This is part of a larger message that healthy sleep is an important contributor to health in general and especially to successfully aging,” said study author Adam Spira, an assistant professor in the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, in an Oct. 18 telephone interview.

“It may be an important component in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, but that remains to be seen.”
More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and the number is expected to triple by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Today’s findings are the first to use brain images to identify the potential link.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2013

Children bought and sold for sex, organs or forced labor. Modern day slavery

Girl smuggled into Britain to have her 'organs harvested'

The first case of a child being trafficked to Britain in order to have their organs harvested has been uncovered.
The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant…..The case emerged in a government report which showed that the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has risen by more than 50 per cent last year and reached record levels.
According to the World Health Organization as many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers each year around the world.  While there is a black market for organs such as hearts, lungs and livers, kidneys are the most sought after organs because one can be removed from a patient without any ill effects.

2.4 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, says UN
The United Nations has called on the international community to strengthen efforts to combat human trafficking,

Yuri Fedotov, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said at a special General Assembly meeting on trafficking that 80 per cent of trafficking victims are being exploited as sexual slaves.
Actress Mira Sorvino, the UN goodwill ambassador against human trafficking, said: "Modern-day slavery is bested only by the illegal drug trade for profitability."

She said: "Transnational organized crime groups are adding humans to their product lists. Satellites reveal the same routes moving them as arms and drugs."
M. Cherif Bassiouni, an emeritus law professor at DePaul University in Chicago, told the assembly: "There is no human rights subject on which governments have said so much but done so little."

Irish people 'buying' Indian children in rescue effort

IRISH business people are "buying" babies and young girls in order to rescue them from brothels in an infamous Indian red-light district where they are kept in cages and auctioned off for sex to the highest bidder, the Sunday Independent has learnt.
"Babies only a few months old, right up to young girls aged 11 and older, are kept in tiny dark cages for years on end. The cages are locked from the outside and manned by armed gangsters.

"You have to go down man holes and secret trap doors to get to them. Their spirit is broken and they are sold for sex for as little as €5. Virgins are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

"They are taken from families at such a young age that they can't even talk, they have no education, and they don't know the meaning of the word 'escape'. When they are older they are let out to work because the pimps know they have no means of existing on their own.

"They have children who are reared in the brothels too. The mothers are raped while the children lie beside them on the floor, or hide under the bed. Suicide and HIV is a big problem there."

Inside the brutal and hopeless world of Mumbai's trafficked teenage sex slaves
Hazel Thompson has spent 11 years investigating the red light district of India's biggest city. In a new book she gives a voice to girls who were taken from their homes, raped, caged and sold for sex

Suddenly I was face to face with a "box cage". I knew what I was looking at. The prostitutes had told me of the caged rooms and boxes they had been held in for months, even years, when they were first taken and trafficked to the red-light district. The madams would keep the girls like slaves in the cages until they were "broken", to the extent that they would not try to run away. The girls told me they never knew if it was night or day. They were only taken out to eat or to be given to a customer for sex. For years I had wanted to photograph these cages, to prove that these places actually exist.

British photographer Hazel Thompson has published an ebook about the sex trade and trafficking in Mumbai entitled Taken

 Taken Cover

Watch her 10-minute video on Slavery Now and Then

A new report by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation declares that 29.8 million people are living in slavery today.  Max Fisher at the Washington Post reports.

This is not some softened, by-modern-standards definition of slavery. These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership. Walk Free investigated 162 countries and found slaves in every single one. But the practice is far worse in some countries than others.

The country where you are most likely to be enslaved is Mauritania. Although this vast West African nation has tried three times to outlaw slavery within its borders, it remains so common that it is nearly normal. The report estimates that four percent of Mauritania is enslaved – one out of every 25 people.
A few trends are immediately clear from the map up top. First, rich, developed countries tend to have by far the lowest rates of slavery. The report says that effective government policies, rule of law, political stability and development levels all make slavery less likely. The vulnerable are less vulnerable, those who would exploit them face higher penalties and greater risk of getting caught. A war, natural disaster or state collapse is less likely to force helpless children or adults into bondage. Another crucial factor in preventing slavery is discrimination. When society treats women, ethnic groups or religious minorities as less valuable or less worthy of protection, they are more likely to become slaves.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Knees CAN predict the weather, addicted to Oreos and bacon as birth control

How Your Knees Can Predict the Weather Granny was right: Scientists find link between achy joints and the forecast

One leading theory holds that the falling barometric pressure that frequently precedes a storm alters the pressure inside joints. Those connections between bones, held together with tendons and ligaments, are surrounded and cushioned by sacs of fluid and trapped gasses.

"Think of a balloon that has as much air pressure on the outside pushing in as on the inside pushing out," says Robert Jamison, a professor of anesthesia and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. As the outside pressure drops, the balloon—or joint—expands, pressing against surrounding nerves and other tissues. "That's probably the effect that people are feeling, particularly if those nerves are irritated in the first place,"

I know this from experience.  Oreos are as addictive as cocaine, say scientists (who also discover the cream in the middle really IS the best part)

The chocolate cookies have been found to trigger the same neurons in the brain's 'pleasure centre' as the outlawed drug during extensive lab testing on rats. Neuroscientist Joseph Schroeder from Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, led research into the addictive effect of the indulgent treat.
His team discovered that the hungry rodents' reaction to the biscuit was comparable to that of rats who had been offered cocaine in earlier tests.  As well as finding that, like humans, rats prefer to eat the cream part of their Oreo first, scientists also saw similarities between the levels of addiction in 'Oreo rats' and their cocaine hooked cousins.

Writing in a statement describing the study, to be presented at the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego next month, Schroeder added: 'Our research supports the theory that high-fat and high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do.

Bacon as birth control.  Men who eat processed meat like bacon have poorer sperm: study

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who eat lots of processed meat like bacon and sausage have lower sperm quality than men who don't. Men who have a diet heavy in fish have better sperm and more of it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink

Freakout: Women are advised to stop getting drunk to lessen risk of sexual assault

Emily Yoffee College Women: Stop Getting Drunk  It’s closely associated with sexual assault. And yet we’re reluctant to tell women to stop doing it.

In one awful high-profile case after another—the U.S. Naval Academy; Steubenville, Ohio; now the allegations in Maryville, Mo.—we read about a young woman, sometimes only a girl, who goes to a party and ends up being raped. As soon as the school year begins, so do reports of female students sexually assaulted by their male classmates. A common denominator in these cases is alcohol, often copious amounts, enough to render the young woman incapacitated. But a misplaced fear of blaming the victim has made it somehow unacceptable to warn inexperienced young women that when they get wasted, they are putting themselves in potential peril.
Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.
I’ve told my daughter that it’s her responsibility to take steps to protect herself. (“I hear you! Stop!”) The biological reality is that women do not metabolize alcohol the same way as men, and that means drink for drink women will get drunker faster

Emily Yoffe Provokes a Feminist Freak Out

Before you knew it, Yoffe’s example of responsible parental advice had produced a feminist freak out. From Katie Baker to Amanda Hess to Erin Gloria Ryan to Ann Friedman to Emma Gray the voices of contemporary feminism rose up to denounce Yoffe for, they seemed all to believe, blaming the victim and going easy on the male perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

If I may summarize it, they seemed to be reasoning that when a woman is raped it is not her fault. True enough. Thus, any suggestion that she might have avoided placing herself in a dangerous situation can make her feel that she was at fault, and thus will impede her recovery.
Here’s another proposal: how about teaching men that they have a manly duty to protect and defend women. Not merely in the most egregious situations where a woman is in danger, but in the smaller gestures that signify protectiveness. That might mean picking a woman up at home before a date; it might mean escorting her home after a date; it might mean opening doors for her and helping her to carry heavy packages.

It would mean behaving like a gentleman and treating women like ladies.

One understands that such thoughts might provoke yet another feminist freak out. Women are independent; they do not need men to protect them; they can take care of themselves; they have taken judo classes.  Why not try to change the culture so that men are encouraged to demonstrate more respect and more gentlemanly concern for women
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:11 AM | Permalink

Research-backed tips on How to have a Happy Family

How To Have A Happy Family – 7 Tips Backed By Research

1) Having Dinner Together Matters….having joint meals as infrequently as once a week makes a difference…..

2) Share The Family Histor
y…..The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned….

3) Reduce Stress…..The kids’ number one wish was that their parents were less tired and less stressed……

4) Be Part Of A Larger Community….Tons of research shows religious families are happier. Why is that?……Further study has shown it’s the friends that a religious community provides. A community of ten supportive friends makes families happier……

5) Use Checklists

6) Empower The Children!…..By picking their own punishments, children become more internally driven to avoid them. By choosing their own rewards, children become more intrinsically motivated to achieve them...

7) Grandmoms Have Superpowers….When grandparents are involved, the study found, the children are more social, more involved in school, and more likely to show concern for others……
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

October 17, 2013

The Amazing Reason Why We Sleep, "Balm of hurt minds"

Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.


The BBC  Sleep 'cleans' the brain of toxins

The brain uses sleep to wash away the waste toxins built up during a hard day's thinking, researchers have shown.  The US team believe the "waste removal system" is one of the fundamental reasons for sleep. Their study, in the journal Science, showed brain cells shrink during sleep to open up the gaps between neurons and allow fluid to wash the brain clean.

They also suggest that failing to clear away some toxic proteins may play a role in brain disorders.

Their findings build on last year's discovery of the brain's own network of plumbing pipes - known as the glymphatic system - which carry waste material out of the brain. Scientists, who imaged the brains of mice, showed that the glymphatic system became 10-times more active when the mice were asleep.

Cells in the brain, probably the glial cells which keep nerve cells alive, shrink during sleep. This increases the size of the interstitial space, the gaps between brain tissue, allowing more fluid to be pumped in and wash the toxins away.

Dr Nedergaard said this was a "vital" function for staying alive, but did not appear to be possible while the mind was awake.

While Bad sleep 'dramatically' alters the body

A run of poor sleep can have a potentially profound effect on the internal workings of the human body, say UK researchers.  The activity of hundreds of genes was altered when people's sleep was cut to less than six hours a day for a week.
Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor brain function have all been linked to substandard sleep.

Prof Colin Smith, from the University of Surrey, " "Clearly sleep is critical to rebuilding the body and maintaining a functional state, all kinds of damage appear to occur - hinting at what may lead to ill health.

"If we can't actually replenish and replace new cells, then that's going to lead to degenerative diseases."

How to Sleep Like an Olympic Athlete

1. Darkness.  Cover up any blue lights and blinking lights.  Avoid  screens  for an hour before you go to bed.

"Sleeping in low light is important," says Mednick. "You need the hormone melatonin to sleep, and melatonin is only released under low-light conditions."

2.  Cool room. "The room temp needs to be on the cooler side," says Daniel McNally, MD, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center. "Your body temperature tracks your circadian rhythm, so as night begins, your body temp falls and it reaches a minimum right after you go to bed. If you are in an environment where you can't lose body heat, for instance if it's hot and humid, you won't sleep well."

3. Noise control.  Mask intrusive sounds with background noise, like a fan or sound machine.

4. Comfortable bed, soft pillows and cotton sheets

Foods That Help or Harm Your Sleep   Milk and carbs help.  Avoid protein, high fat, heavy, spicy foods.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 PM | Permalink

Saluting Heroes Swensen, Hargis and Cousy

Capt. William Swenson who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama.


Andrew Malcolm at IBD reports.

Last month, the United States Army released a remarkable piece of video. It’s from the combat helmet cameras of a Medevac helicopter crew in Afghanistan. And it’s shaky and it’s grainy, but it takes us to the frontlines that our troops face every single day, and it’s useful to remember that there is still a whole lot of our troops in Afghanistan in harm’s way. In that video, as the helicopter touches down by a remote village, you see, out of a cloud of dust, an American soldier. He’s without his helmet, standing in the open, exposing himself to enemy fire, standing watch over a severely wounded soldier.
He helps carry that wounded soldier to the helicopter and places him inside. And then, amidst the whipping wind and the deafening roar of the helicopter blades, he does something unexpected. He leans in and kisses the wounded soldier on the head -- a simple act of compassion and loyalty to a brother in arms. And as the door closes and the helicopter takes off, he turns and goes back the way he came, back into the battle.
As one of his fellow soldiers later said, Will “did things that nobody else would ever do, and he did it for his guys and for everybody on the ground, to get them out.”

Corporal Josh Hargis  and the salute seen round the world

 Cpl Josh Hargis Salute Seen Round The World
The photo shows Cpl. Josh Hargis lying on a hospital bed in Afghanistan with his eyes shut and tubes sticking out all over his body.
But the most telling thing it shows is this Ranger struggling to raise his hand to ­salute his commander, when everyone in the room thought him unconscious.
Cpl. Hargis was wounded this month during a Ranger operation aimed at catching a high-value terrorist target in Afghanistan. When the troops arrived at a home, a man came out and lifted his shirt to show the Rangers he wasn’t wearing a suicide vest. When several Rangers came forward, a woman with a suicide vest exited the house and blew herself up. Thirteen other improvised devices exploded, killing four of our people and injuring more.

Bob Cousy

 Bob Cousy

NBA great Bob Cousy has opened up about his beloved wife Missie's heart-breaking dementia and how he went to enormous lengths to allow the woman he called 'my bride' to believe she was healthy until the end.

Cousy, 85, who led the Celtics to six World Championships, said he never felt defeated by the challenge of caring for his high school sweetheart without seeking help, services or sympathy as she slowly succumbed to the ravaging disease.

And a week after her death, though bereft and inconsolable, he has described his bounding love for the woman who bristled at the suggestion she was suffering dementia, and the tear-jerking 'game plan' he followed - from shipping her car to their vacation home and doing all the household chores - that allowed her to believe, in her own mind, she wasn't sick.
He spent his wedding night playing point guard for the Celtics, which set the scene for how the early part of their marriage would unfold.

'I was busy playing a child's game,' Cousy said. 'I thought putting a ball in a hole was important. Looking back, I should have participated more in the lives of my family. But my girls were in the best possible loving hands.'

However, tearing up, he described how the couple's romance flourished as they grew older.

'Our marriage was somewhat contrary to tradition,' he said. 'Most couples have the most intensity in the beginning. But I was always working. So we had the best and most romantic part of our marriage at the end. We literally held hands for the last 20 years.'
He had her station wagon shipped to their place in Florida in the winter because she thought she could still drive. He planted artificial flowers in the garden and did all the chores, telling her she'd done them herself.

When her condition worsened, the couple stopped socializing and apart from the occasional 'night out with the boys' or game of golf, he spent all his time alone with his sweetheart, patiently answering her questions and ensuring she had everything she needed.

'It drew us closer together,' he told the newspaper. 'It was never a chore, because I knew she would have done the same for me. You just have to go with the flow. Every three months, I'd scream out something just for release.'
Each morning, Cousy would wake first and arrange Missie's pills, the newspaper, a fiber bar and a banana on the kitchen table before rousing her.

She would take two or three hours to get through the paper, he said, because she liked to underline every line with a black pen. He explained how, after a while, he found comfort in reading between the lines because it was something they shared.

'She was leading a happy life,' he said. 'It was part of the game plan.'
The routine continued for years.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

Camille Paglia on Gender

Camille Paglia is fresh, bracing and badly needed to wake up college students.    Would that she could speak at every college and university

Christine Hoff Sommers was there and reports

Last week I attended a debate at American University between dissident feminist Camille Paglia and AU gender scholar Jane Flax. The topic: “Gender Roles: Nature or Nurture?” Flax gave a polite and respectable defense of an exhausted idea: “gender is a social construction.” But Paglia stole the show. She deftly reminded the audience that Mother Nature tends to get the final word—and is not a feminist. I watched the faces of astonished and fascinated undergraduates as Paglia shattered the sacred icons of contemporary gender studies. By the end of the evening, even three sullen hipsters sitting next to me seemed to be won over.

Here is the Full text of her remarks at American University.

Women’s studies programs were rushed into existence in the 1970s partly because of national pressure to add more women to faculties that were often embarrassingly all-male. Administrators diverting funds to these new programs were less concerned with maintaining scholarly rigor than with solving a prickly public relations problem. Hence women’s studies was from the start flash-frozen at that early stage of ideology, which might be described as militant social environmentalism. In my view, biology and endocrinology should have been built as required courses into the curriculum of every women’s studies program in the country

…..No deviation was permitted from the party line, which was that all gender differences are due to patriarchy, with its monolithic enslavement and abuse of women by men.
Male academics, sensing which way the wind was blowing, were reluctant to challenge the new power structure and shrank back out of fear of being labeled sexist and retrograde. History will not be kind to their timidity and cowardice. There was a kind of contemptuous indifference in it.
A volatility in gender roles is usually symptomatic of tensions and anxieties about larger issues. That is, sexual identity becomes a primary focus only when other forms of identification and affiliation—religious, national, tribal, familial—break down. Furthermore, while androgyny or transgender fluidity is currently regarded as progressive, such phenomena have at times helped trigger a severe counter-reaction that could last for centuries.
Our present system of primary and secondary education should be stringently reviewed for its confinement of boys to a prison-like setting that curtails their energy and requires ideological renunciation of male traits. By the time young middle class men emerge from college these days, they have been smoothed and ground down to obedient clones. The elite universities have become police states where an army of deans, sub-deans and faculty committees monitor and sanction male undergraduate speech and behavior if it violates the establishment feminist code. The now routine surveillance of students’ dating lives on American campuses would be unthinkable in Europe.
there is something fundamentally constant in gender that is based in concrete facts.
Extravaganzas of gender experimentation sometimes precede cultural collapse, as they certainly did in Weimar Germany. Like late Rome, America too is an empire distracted by games and leisure pursuits. Now as then, there are forces aligning outside the borders, scattered fanatical hordes where the cult of heroic masculinity still has tremendous force. I close with this question: is a nation whose elite education is increasingly predicated on the neutralization of gender prepared to defend itself against that growing challenge?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

October 16, 2013

Listen to crickets slowed way down until they become a heavenly choir

Where it not for the Anchoress and Simcha Fisher, I never would have heard this extraordinary recording of Crickets slowed way down

At Soundcloud you read commentary by Tom Waits, " I heard a recording recently of crickets slowed way down. It sounds like a choir, it sounds like angel music. Something sparkling, celestial with full harmony and bass parts - you wouldn't believe it. It's like a sweeping chorus of heaven, and it's just slowed down, they didn't manipulate the tape at all."

Simcha Fisher writes  All Creation Rightly Sings Your Praise

Here is the sound of crickets, slowed down and down until they become a choir.  I listened, first skeptically, then fascinated, and finally almost in tears, waiting for the basso profondos to stake their claim, for the sopranos to vault in exultation above the rest of the choir.  When we say to God "All creation rightly sings your praise, " this is what we mean.  Do the crickets know they are praising God?  Oh, yes and no.  Just being what they are, doing what they are made to do, they send forth this glorious roundsong
What the Father wants is for us to rejoice in our very existence, because through our lives we praise Him.  Through our good works, yes, and through our efforts and sacrifices and conversions of heart.  But also just because we are here -- because we are.

This is why our hearts beat even as we sleep, with every beat gushing forth life.  This is why suicides tie their feet together before they dive into the cold river:  because they know they will try to save themselves despite themselves, because life works so hard to be alive.  This is why babies love other babies.  What do they know?  Not a thing.  Only that we are here, we are here, we are here.  Praise God.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink

October 15, 2013

Miscellany: Elephants, receipts, Roman Bathhouse, cell phones and Louis C.K.

Why do stores give receipts? Mostly so employees can't steal.

Elephants Know What It Means to Point to Something, No Training Required.  Smarter than apes.

They also love brides.  A bride's big day became even more memorable when an elephant invaded the wedding ceremony and put her head in its mouth.

After the Australian woman tied the knot in the Thai resort of Phuket, she walked up to the exotic uninvited guest.
But when she was a few feet away, the three-year-old Indian elephant wrapped its trunk around her and pulled her towards its mouth.


And it did not do the bride - who had travelled from Melbourne for her wedding - any damage other than a dose of bad breath, as the elephant soon let her go.

A Roman Bathhouse Still in Use after 2,000 Years

 Roman-Bathhouse In Algeria

Single males between the ages of 18 and 55 only change their sheets an average of four times a year.

Women, on average, change their sheets every week.

How often do you check your phone? The average person does it 110 times a DAY

People look at their phones the most between peak hours of 5pm and 8pm.  During these hours, 75% of users are actively using their devices
Average number of times a user checks their phone is nine times an hour.  This increases to once every six seconds for 'highest frequency users'

Why Louis C.K. won't give his daughters cellphones

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Food edition: Licorice, pomegranates, cabbage, frozen food, food good for your gut and mental health

Licorice slows skins cancer cells: Compound found in root could hold key to beating most lethal form of the disease

Breakthrough could lead to new drug to combat malignant melanoma

Pomegranates can protect the heart from a high cholesterol diet by 'strengthening the arteries'

A supplement made from the fruit helps keep blood vessels healthy. In doing so, it reduces the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
Pomegranate plant chemicals, called polyphenols, cancelled out the damage done by junk food in the cardiovascular systems of pigs.

Cabbage may protect against the effects of radiation during cancer therapy.

Researchers claim a compound derived from cruciferous vegetable - such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli - protected rats and mice from lethal doses of radiation.  Their study suggests the compound, already shown to be safe for humans, may protect normal tissues during radiation therapy for cancer treatment and prevent or mitigate sickness caused by radiation exposure.  The compound - known as DIM (or ,3'-diindolylmethane) - previously has been found to have cancer preventative properties.

Bacteria in your gut affects your mental health

CBC Radio science columnist Torah Kachur spoke to researchers such as Karen Madsen at the University of Alberta who are studying the types of bacteria that live in your gut and how they affect your behavior, via a nerve that travels between the gut and the brain.

"You know the whole term, 'listen to your gut'? It’s kind of taking on a whole new meaning.

Kachur explained that there are "good" bacteria, like Bifidiobacterium and Lactobacillus, that are present in yogurt. They produce a happy signal called GABA, which acts on the nervous system to curb depressive symptoms and anxiety.

Meanwhile, "bad" bacteria like the Clostridium family, of botulism fame, live in our guts and dine on our Western diets of high fat, high sugar and processed foods, Kachur said. She added that these bacteria can produce toxins that are released into the bloodstream and could affect the  brain.

Kachur recommends eating food high in probiotics, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso soup; and avoiding high fat and high sugar diets, in order to promote the growth of bacteria that are good for your mental health.

"We've got to nurture and take care of our microbes."

Frozen food IS better than fresh: Higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants in frozen fruit and vegetables say scientists

Study finds two out of three foods found to have more nutrients if frozen.
Dr Rachel Burch, said: ‘We must disregard the mistaken opinion that ‘fresh’ food is always better for us than frozen food.  ‘These results demonstrate that frozen can be nutritionally comparable to ‘fresh’ produce.’

Direct comparison: In two out of three cases frozen fruit and vegetables scored better on antioxidant-type compounds – including Vitamin C, polyphenols, anthocyanins, lutein and beta-carotene, a study found

Her team found frozen broccoli had higher levels of Vitamin C, lutein and four times more beta-carotene. However, fresh scored better on polyphenols, which are thought to help prevent cancer.
Frozen carrots had three times the lutein and double the beta-carotene, while they were also higher in Vitamin C and polyphenols.
Frozen sprouts scored higher on all nutrient measurements, however fresh spinach did better than frozen in some tests.
The Chester study found levels of Vitamin C and polyphenols were much higher in frozen blueberries and green beans. The frozen blueberries also had more polyphenols and anthocyanins.
The figures in raspberries and peas were around the same, while there was no clear winner for cauliflower and baby sweetcorn.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

October 14, 2013

Life expectancy for American women goes down

Why are American women living five years LESS than their mothers? Scientists baffled by shocking trend

Two studies found that life expectancy rates among women have been steadily falling in about half of U.S. counties.  According to a map by the University of Wisconsin, the states most affected are Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee.  The Southwest and Northeast are the areas least impacted by the trend

The mortality rate is falling among white, high-school dropouts especially who are expected to die five years earlier than the previous generation

Kindig was the co-author of a University of Wisconsin study published in March which reported that for the last two decades, the mortality rate for women had increased in half of U.S. counties, while the male mortality rate only increased in 3 per cent. Kindig said he was so shocked by it's outcome, that he and his research partner went back and did the numbers again just to double check.

But their initial calculations were right and soon confirmed by a study by the University of Washington which found that female life expectancy either stagnated or declined in 45 per cent of U.S. counties between 1985 and 2010.

The studies agreed that women were living shorter lives, but researchers still don't know what to blame.
'Clearly something is going on,' Kindig told the Atlantic. 'It could be cultural, political, or environmental, but the truth is we don't really know the answer.'
Only one third of female high-school dropouts are employed, and working low income jobs or being unemployed all together can cause stress which manifests itself in smoking or obesity.

'Life is different for women without a high-school degree than it was a few decades ago, and in most cases it's a lot worse,' said demographer Jennifer Karas Montez.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:33 AM | Permalink

What's the point of Kissing?

 Wp-Content Uploads 2013 07 Girl-Boy-Kissing-Deviantart-15923245-1023-682

University of Oxford.  Kissing helps us find the right partner – and keep them

A study by Oxford University researchers suggests kissing helps us size up potential partners and, once in a relationship, may be a way of getting a partner to stick around.
The researchers report their findings in two papers, one in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior and the second in the journal Human Nature. They were funded by the European Research Council.

Belinda Luscombe at Time magazine calls it a Mating Audition

What is the point, really, of kissing? Humans make such a big deal of it, but almost no other animals smooch.

A new study out of Oxford University suggests that kissing may actually have a purpose beyond the obvious — it’s a mating audition. Potential mates are doing a taste test. And that could explain why women and guys who think they’re good-looking enjoy it more than other people do.
How does a kiss determine mateworthiness? It’s not really clear, but some philematologists (those are the people who study kissing) believe that it has to do with smell. In her book The Science of Kissing, Sheril Kirshenbaum cites Claus Wedekind, who she says found that “women are most attracted to the scent of men who have a very different genetic code for their immune system in a region of DNA known as the major histocompatibility complex.” Having different DNA from the individual you are kissing heightens the chance of having healthy offspring should the kissing lead somewhere. And juxtaposing two orbicularis oris muscles in a state of contraction is usually more fun than having a genetic test.
Women in the study also ranked kissing as more important for longer relationships, suggesting it was a way of communicating and enhancing affection and attachment. In fact, more kissing was strongly correlated than more sex with a higher-quality relationship (although the people who had a lot of both had the highest relationship satisfaction). Moreover, the researchers suggest that although kissing does cause arousal, arousal doesn’t seem to be what is driving people to kiss.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink

Fertility Awareness as Birth Control

In the Atlantic, The New Old-School Birth Control

There is a good amount of research and educational programs devoted to natural fertility awareness-based methods of birth control (FABM), though they may not yet be well-known.
Surveys conducted by physicians at the University of Utah show that when natural fertility-awareness methods are described to women, 25 percent say they would strongly consider using one as their means of birth control. But thanks to its glaring image problem and a set of just-as-formidable infrastructural hindrances, ignorance of fertility awareness-based methods is widespread. If more women looking for a non-hormonal, non-barrier, non-surgical form of birth control knew about FABM, then more of them could be practicing it to its utmost effectiveness—rather than doing it in the dark.
A recent 20-year German study asked 900 women to track their fertility every day by monitoring their body temperature and cervical mucus, and use that information to avoid pregnancy. The study’s researchers found this to be 98.2 percent effective—comparable with the pill, and a far cry from the 82 percent effectiveness rate of the withdrawal method.
In January, a group of physicians organized through the Family Medicine Education Consortium published a review looking into the efficacy of various FABMs. They combed through all the relevant research published since 1980, and concluded that “when correctly used to avoid pregnancy, modern fertility awareness-based methods have unintended pregnancy rates of less than five (per 100 women years).” (A woman year is one year in the reproductive life of a woman.) Their effectiveness levels, in other words, are “comparable to those of commonly used contraceptives,” the study’s authors add.

Speaking of NFP, The Atlantic Discovers Something Faithful Catholics Have Known All Along

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:19 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Success of statins, walking and Alzheimers, foot cream and HIV, dog collar to track mood and owner, iSlouch a growing problem

In the U.K. Strokes fall by 40 per cent due to increased statin use  The growing use of statins has led to a 40 per cent fall in the number of strokes among Britons, research suggests.

Statins can also help to reduce the risk of dementia by almost a third, according to American researchers. Dr Kristopher Swiger, who led the study, said longer-term statin use was associated with protection from dementia. A study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that taking statins for more than a year appeared to safeguard the brain from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Exercise keeps Alzheimer's at bay: Walking releases chemical which helps keep the brain healthy

Walking could hold key to slowing onset of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. 

A natural chemical produced by the body during exercise could one day be given as an injection to inhibit the diseases, researchers say.
The protein, called FNDC5, is produced by muscular exertion and is released into the bloodstream as a hormone called irisin.

Can a foot cream really do battle with HIV?

A study has found that the antifungal drug Ciclopirox kills HIV in cell cultures -- and the virus doesn't bounce back when the drug is stopped. But the research has yet to be performed on people.

How a dog's collar could help save its master's life: Device will indicate if elderly owners are unwell Device promises to transform every pet dog into a potential life-saver. It monitors an animal's mood and any changes to their regular routine.

As most dogs are fed and walked at similar times each day, any change to their regular routine could be a sign that an elderly owner is struggling to cope.
‘Any changes such as the dog being walked less often, perhaps not being fed regularly, or simply demonstrating "unhappy" behavior could be an early indicator for families that an older relative needs help.
The waterproof collar contains sensors which tracks a dog’s movement and can distinguish between 17 different actions, such as barking, eating, sniffing, laying and walking.
The device has been tested on 17 different breeds with success, and is now set to be used in field trials on pets belonging to vulnerable individuals, such as those with early onset dementia.

Do you suffer from iSlouch or iGrind? Doctors warn smartphone use could permanently damage the neck and jaw

Following reports the average person looks at their phone 110 times a day, a doctor has warned that too much smartphone use could actually be damaging our spines.
Slumping over phones and tablets reading messages or playing games - dubbed 'iSlouching' - can cause the head to sit further forward and add pressure to a person's spine.  Florida-based Dr. Matt Herba claims that many people, especially children, are already reporting neck problems and, long-term, this damage could become permanent.
The report also found orthodontists are seeing a rise in children grinding their teeth, and damaging their jaw, while playing games - dubbed 'iGrinding'.
A study published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics found 53 per cent of mobile phone users suffer numbness or neck aches - dubbed 'text neck'. Another study by San Francisco State University discovered 83 per cent of people have experienced 'some hand and neck pain during texting'.

Worse still, they may be so distracted with their phones, they won't notice a man pulling out a gun and waving it about until he shot  a San Francisco student in the back killing him.

“These people are in very close proximity with him, and nobody sees this. They’re just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot. They’re completely oblivious of their surroundings.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2013

"Look in your underwear, Grandpa,"

How Children See Their Grandparents

A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like. "We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked  wild raspberries in the woods" The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, "I sure wish I'd gotten to know you sooner!"
I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided  to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued.  At last, she headed for the door, saying, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these colors yourself!"
When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy  whispered, "It's no use Grandpa. Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights."

When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised "Mine says I'm 4 to 6."
  Children's Logic: "Give me a sentence about a public servant," said a teacher. The small boy wrote: "The fireman came down the ladder pregnant."  The teacher took the lad aside to correct him.    "Don't you know what pregnant means?" she asked."Sure," said the young boy confidently. 'It means carrying a child."
A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties. "They use him to keep crowds back," said one child. "No,"  said another.
"He's just for good luck." A third child brought the argument to a close."They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrants."
A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the airport."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:28 PM | Permalink

October 10, 2013

Breakthrough in Alzheimer's treatment and the Peanut Butter smell test to detect early stages of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s treatment breakthrough: British scientists pave way for simple pill to cure disease
Historic ‘turning point’ hailed as UK researchers discover how to halt death of brain cells, opening new pathway for future drug treatments

Although the prospect of a pill for Alzheimer's remains a long way off, the landmark British study provides a major new pathway for future drug treatments.

The compound works by blocking a faulty signal in brains affected by neurodegenerative diseases, which shuts down the production of essential proteins, leading to brain cells being unprotected and dying off.

It was tested in mice with prion disease - the best animal model of human neurodegenerative disorders - but scientists said they were confident the same principles would apply in a human brain with debilitating brain diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

How sniffing a teaspoon of PEANUT BUTTER can help detect if you are in the early stages of Alzheimer's

Researchers at the University of Florida have found that patients lose sense of smell in their left nostril faster than their right.  Peanut butter was used as a 'pure odorant' in tests to determine loss of sense of smell

Test subjects had all been diagnosed already, but the study revealed that one day smell may be used to detect early stages of Alzheimer's
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:29 PM | Permalink

Online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today and as addictive as heroin

Experiment that convinced me online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today: by ex-lads' mag editor Martin Daubney

The moment I knew internet pornography had cast its dark shadow over the lives of millions of ordinary British teenagers will live with me for ever.  I was sitting in the smart drama hall of a specialist sports college in the North of England with a fantastic reputation.  Before me were a group of 20 boys and girls, aged 13-14. Largely white, working class children, they were well turned-out, polite, giggly and shy.

As the presenter of a Channel 4 documentary called Porn On The Brain, airing next Monday at 10pm, I'd been invited to sit in on a forward-thinking class led by sex education consultant Jonny Hunt, who is regularly asked into schools to discuss sex and relationships. To establish what these kids knew about sex - including pornography - he had asked the children to write an A-Z list of the sexual terms they knew, no matter how extreme.

Most of these children had just hit puberty and some were clearly still children: wide-eyed, nervous, with high-pitched voices….These were clearly good children, from good homes. So far, so very, very ordinary.

But when Jonny pinned their lists on the board, it turned out that the children's extensive knowledge of porn terms was not only startling, it superseded that of every adult in the room - including the sex education consultant himself.

Nugget, what's that?' asked Jonny.
'A nugget is a girl who has no arms or legs and has sex in a porno movie,' chortled one young, pimply boy, to an outburst of embarrassed laughter from some, and outright revulsion from others.

The adults in attendance were incredulous at the thought that not only did this kind of porn exist, but that a 14-year-old boy may have actually watched it.

By the end of the hour-long class - and three others that followed with other children - I was profoundly saddened by what I had witnessed. While teenage boys will always be fascinated by, and curious about, sex, what's now considered 'normal' by under-18s is an entirely distorted view of intercourse and the way relationships should be conducted.

It seemed as if the children's entire expectation of sex had been defined by what they see in online porn. The conversation was horrifying enough, yet there was worse to come.

New neurological research reveals that porn is as potently addictive as heroin or cocaine.  The New Narcotic

In a statement before Congress, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physicist, and former Fellow in Psychiatry at Yale, cautioned:

"With the advent of the computer, the delivery system for this addictive stimulus [internet pornography] has become nearly resistance-free. It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes. It’s now available in unlimited supply via a self-replicating distribution network, glorified as art and protected by the Constitution.
Donald L. Hilton Jr., MD, a practicing neurosurgeon and a clinical associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Texas, observes:

"Pornography is a visual pheromone, a powerful 100 billion dollar-per-year brain drug that is changing sexuality even more rapidly through the cyber-acceleration of the Internet. It is “inhibiting orientation” and “disrupting pre-mating communication between the sexes by permeating the atmosphere.”

Think of the brain as a forest where trails are worn down by hikers who walk along the same path over and over again, day after day. The exposure to pornographic images creates similar neural pathways that, over time, become more and more “well-paved” as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. Those neurological pathways eventually become the trail in the brain’s forest by which sexual interactions are routed.
Thus, a pornography user has “unknowingly created a neurological circuit” that makes his or her default perspective toward sexual matters ruled by the norms and expectations of pornography."

Dr. Hilton argues that sexual images are “unique among natural rewards” because sexual rewards, unlike food or other natural rewards, cause “persistent change in synaptic plasticity.” In other words, internet pornography does more than just spike the level of dopamine in the brain for a pleasure sensation. It literally changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways require pornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:24 PM | Permalink

Anti-bullying programs teach bullies new and better ways to bully and how to get away with it

Anti-bullying programs promote bullying

Everyone knows that bullying is bad. Everyone also knows more and more children are being bullied. The pusillanimous leaders of our educational institutions have failed to take direct, punitive action against bullies. Thus, it continues, unmolested.

You will certainly not be surprised to learn that these same administrators have decided to fight bullying with increased self-awareness and consciousness-raising. They have instituted anti-bullying programs that make bullies feel bad about themselves and tell their victims how best to defend themselves. They seem to believe that empathy will solve the problem.

It’s almost as though they are trying to cure bullying through group therapy.

The result: more bullying. Not only that, more effective bullying.

A criminologist from the University of Texas at Arlington  did a national survey. He was shocked by the results:

University of Texas at Arlington criminologist Seokjin Jeong analyzed data collected from 7,000students from all 50 states.

He thought the results would be predictable and would show that anti-bullying programs curb bullying. Instead — he found the opposite.

Jeong said it was, “A very disappointing and a very surprising thing. Our anti-bullying programs, either intervention or prevention does not work.”

In anti-bullying videos children are shown different types of bullying—presumably you don’t know you are being bullied until you’ve seen a video—and constructive ways to respond.

The result: the bullies are learning new and better ways to bully.

Amazingly the videos also teach bullies how better to get away with it:
Consider this: if you show victims how they can respond, sensitively, you are telling the bullies that you, as an adult are not going to protect their victims. You are saying that no adult authority will intervene forcefully to stop the bullying. It's open season for bullies.

The moral of the story: as long as there are no real sanctions against bullies they will continue to do as they do. Appealing to their empathy for their victims just makes things worse.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:27 PM | Permalink

October 9, 2013

Obamacare Chaos

"Exchange launch turns into inexcusable mess" USA Today editorial

Presidents always negotiate over the debt ceiling, even President Obama has

Historically, presidents have had to make concessions to Congress to secure funding. President Reagan endured eight shutdowns. Each time he negotiated with the Democratic speaker of the house, Tip O'Neill, conceding on issues from mid-range missile defense to support for Nicaraguan contras to quickly end the shutdown.

Fast-forward to the current showdown. The House Republicans' fourth (and latest) offer asks for only two changes in ObamaCare: First, eliminate the subsidy for members of Congress, which has outraged the public.

Second, delay for a year making insurance mandatory for individuals. Let anyone enroll in ObamaCare who wants to. But don't penalize individuals for being uninsured in 2014 when the president has already postponed the penalty on big companies for not insuring workers.

Given that the President has unilaterally delayed 19 parts of Obamacare, I simply cannot understand why the President wouldn't want a delay so that the software can be fixed  One year gives Democrats an opportunity to fix systemic errors in the software, the regulations, and the law. One year gives nothing at all to the Republicans–nothing–except the opportunity to crow a little bit.

Megan McArdle Republicans Didn't Sabotage Health Exchanges, Obama Did

They did not force the administration to wait until late 2011 to begin awarding important contracts for implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Presumably, they were also not skulking around the Department of Health and Human Services, writing the memos that delayed, until February of this year, the deadline for states to declare whether they’d be running their own exchanges.

Thirty Obamacare Fails

1. 99 Percent of Obamacare Applications Hit a Wall.
14. Kentucky Marketplace Customers Have No “Expectation of Privacy”
Kentucky’s state-run Obamacare marketplace issued a disclaimer that users should have “no explicit or implicit expectation of privacy” in the beginning stages of the sign-up process. The site warns that “any or all uses of this system and all files on the system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized state government and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.”

15. McAfee, Inc., founder John McAfee slammed Obamacare’s lack of security precautions and predicted “millions” of identity thefts because of it. “This is a hacker’s wet dream — I cannot believe that they did this,” McAfee said on the Fox Business Network.

Better Business Bureau issues Scam Alert - "Obamacare" Scams Emerge as New Policies

Scammers look at opportunities where there’s confusion, where people don’t really understand what perhaps the new law is bringing to them. …We’re getting reports even here in Birmingham of people going door-to-door, telling homeowners that they are with an insurance company or they are with Medicare and that they’re going to have to have an Affordable Care Act Card. And so, in order to get their new card they’ve got to give their Social Security number, their bank accounts, all these things that people need to protect with everything they have and we’ve gotten report of them just handing these out… It’s a perfect opportunity for your identity to be stolen, for your bank accounts to be… your payments to be re-routed. … [The federal government is not soliciting door-to-door for people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act], and they’re not going to…  HealthCare.Gov is where you can go for real information…

Obamacare Site Resets All User Passwords In An Attempt To Fix Massive Login Problems

Our courageous press.  Not one dared to ask a  single question during the hour-long press conference with the President about Obamacare and the glitches of the insurance exchanges.

Gov. actuaries say ObamaCare will increase health care spending by $621 billion over next 10 years

‘I like you Obama, but I’m broke’: Americans upset that Obamacare costs money

I checked out an Obamacare exchange and it impressed me.. Until I saw the lowest premium for me was 3x what I am paying now

"I was laughing at Boehner -- until the mail came today,"

Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.
"I really don't like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family's pocket each year, that's otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

What They Left and What They Kept

From the Art of Manliness:  What an Antarctic Expedition Can Teach You About What’s Truly Valuable

Shackleton knew their efforts were not enough to save the ship; the next day he ordered the Endurance abandoned. “She’s going boys,” he said. “I think it’s time to get off.”….

Gathering his men around him, he told them of the new plan: they would begin a march across the ice towards Paulet Island, some 346 miles to the west. As they hoped to hit open water along the way, the men would have to drag two, one-ton lifeboats along with them, hauling them across a vast wasteland of ice and over ridges that could rise two stories high. …..

Given the arduous nature of the task ahead, Shackleton solemnly informed his men that “nothing but the bare necessities are to be taken on the march, for we can not afford to cumber ourselves with unnecessary weight.”….

Shackleton had come to believe that traveling light was absolutely paramount, as “those that burdened themselves with equipment for every contingency had fared much worse than those that had sacrificed total preparedness for speed.”

Each member of the team was allowed the clothes on his back, plus two pairs of mittens, six pairs of socks, two pairs of boots, and a sleeping bag. Beyond these basic provisions, Shackleton ordered that each man only bring a maximum of two pounds of personal possessions…

Shackleton placed the torn pages inside his jacket and laid the Bible in the snow. He then reached into his pocket and withdrew a gold watch, gold cigarette case, and a handful of gold sovereigns. He gave the items one last look before tossing them into the snow as well.

It was a dramatic gesture, but Shackleton was determined to impress upon his men the absolute necessity of each man stripping himself of every ounce of superfluous weight. “No article has any value when measured against our survival,” Shackleton intoned. “Everything is replaceable except your lives.”

What They Left Behind

Money/Jewelry/Gold. …Clothes. ….Scientific instruments…..Books……Suitcases.

What They Took

Toothbrush….Religious items…..Photographs ……Medical supplies and instruments…..One banjo (Shackleton insisted it be lashed underneath one of the lifeboats and brought along. “It’s vital mental medicine,” he said, “and we shall need it.”)…..diaries.
The most important question then becomes: are you putting your time and money where your mouth is? Are you investing the resources of your life into what you truly value, or are you wasting them on things, that, if push came to shove, you would ultimately leave behind in an icy grave?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:23 PM | Permalink

Petty, mean and very bad optics

Baptisms, weddings and Masses cancelled per order of Priests Risk Arrest for Offering Sacraments to Catholic Troops During Shutdown

Steve Skojec with CatholicVote.org said, “This is outrageous. It is a violation of the First Amendment. It is a prohibition of the free exercise of religion to order priests under penalty of arrest that they cannot volunteer their time to offer Mass to the faithful on base. This cannot be allowed to stand.”

Senior citizens on tour caught in Yellowstone National Park when shutdown began were locked inside their hotel and forbidden to take pictures; their tour guide accused the NPS of "Gestapo tactics".    Listen to an audio interview of Pat Vaillancourt recount her trip to Yellowstone “Shutdown Theater:” Obama Admin Puts Seniors At Yellowstone Under Armed Guard

NPS kicks out residents on Lake Mead including Ralph and Joyce Spencer, 77 and 80 years of age, respectively, who were evicted from their home on Lake Mead in Nevada by an officious park ranger who told them they had 24 hours to vacate the premises. The Spencers own their home outright, but it sits on land leased from the federal government.  Joyce Spencer said, “I had to be sure and get his walker and his scooter that he has to go in,”

Veterans arrested at Vietnam War memorial in NYC

Lincoln Memorial shut down

 Shutdown Obama's America

Pentagon Withholding Death Benefits for Fallen Soldiers' Families.  17 soldiers have died since the shutdown began.

Shutdown leaves kin of dead soldiers without money for funerals

the Fisher House Foundation has stepped forward to help cover travel and funeral costs to help families receive the remains of their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Meanwhile, Department of Veterans Affairs bought $1 million TV ad buy during shutdown

The shutdown has halted many government services, including military death benefits totaling $100,000, a one year housing allowance, up to $9,000 for a funeral and a flight to Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, for a dignified reception of their loved ones’ remains.  The outcry has led Congress to act quickly, a bill is expected to be passed Wednesday morning to remedy the problem, according to Speaker of the House John Boehner.

All of the above is why the following two quotes resonated.

Mme Scherzo "The only thing we need to be certain of, beyond mere death and taxes, is this: Our government hates us. They don’t even pretend to care, anymore. The hatred is naked and sadistic. They enjoy making us suffer because they can."

and Mme Scherzo again.  "Regardless of political party, opinion of Obamacare, or who you blame for the shutdown…a government that intentionally makes life harder for its citizens is no longer of, by, or for the people. That is a fact."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink

Best cure for a hangover

The best cure for a hangover? SPRITE: Study finds lemon and lime drink is the best at helping the body process alcohol

Chinese scientists examined 57 drinks - from herbal teas to fizzy drinks.  Found that some helped to speed up the process where the body breaks down alcohol, helping relieve a hangover quicker. But some slowed the process down, meaning symptoms remained

Sprite is made by Coca Cola

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

Things I Never Knew

Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut

Scientists find 'black holes' at sea: The ocean whirlpools from which nothing can ever escape - not even water
Eddies are so tightly surrounded by water paths that nothing can escape.  Scientists have found they are mathematically equivalent to black holes
The findings may help explain the spread of pollution in the world's oceans.  It could also help better determine how eddies effect ocean temperatures

Matthew Shepard Tortured and Murdered By Bisexual Lover And Drug Dealer

Three lies that built a revolution
The myth is that Matthew Shepard was martyred by redneck homophobes. A stunning new book by a gay journalist debunks this.

Newsbusters Media Almost Totally Ignore Book Claiming Matthew Shepard Murder Wasn't a Hate Crime

US Census shows seven times more Irish Americans than population of Ireland

Richard Knox at NPR  Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For A Fee

When medical research is published in a peer-reviewed journal, the presumption is that the study has been reviewed for accuracy. The advent of open-access journals has made it easier to get published. But when a journalist sent an obviously faked paper, dozens of open-access journals said they'd be happy to publish it, for a fee.

That's the conclusion of an elaborate sting carried out by Science, a leading mainline journal. The result should trouble doctors, patients, policymakers and anyone who has a stake in the integrity of science (and who doesn't?).

Carnegie Hall stagehands -there are 5 full-time - make an average of $419,000 a year!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

The Importance of Character and Tough Teachers

Why character is the key to a perfect education

This classical idea, that young people should be taught the best that’s been thought and written as well as being given the chance to develop their character strengths, has always been popular. A recent poll for The Jubilee Centre for Character and Values showed that 87 per cent of parents want schools to focus on character development and academic study. The independent sector – which has always been more responsive to parents than to passing fads – has long delivered this more rounded approach to schooling.

But research from the field of positive psychology has shown that focusing on pupils’ happiness, which is best achieved by improving their character strengths like optimism, perseverance, compassion and curiosity, actually leads to better outcomes in tests. Modern research is in the process of confirming the wisdom of the ancients.
In his book How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that pupils’ characters traits are better predictors of whether they will lead happy and successful lives than their academic grades.
As Martin Luther King said: “Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education.” Parents want it and young people need it.

Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results by Joanne Lipman in the Wall Street Journal.

It's time to revive old-fashioned education. Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here's the thing: It works.

Now I'm not calling for abuse; I'd be the first to complain if a teacher called my kids names. But the latest evidence backs up my modest proposal. Studies have now shown, among other things, the benefits of moderate childhood stress; how praise kills kids' self-esteem; and why grit is a better predictor of success than SAT scores.

the following eight principles—a manifesto if you will, a battle cry inspired by my old teacher and buttressed by new research—
1. A little pain is good for you.
2. Drill, baby, drill.
3. Failure is an option.
4. Strict is better than nice.
5. Creativity can be learned.
6. Grit trumps talent.
7. Praise makes you weak…
8.…while stress makes you strong.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

Parenting Tips: keep reading bedtime stories, habits for young men, alternatives to yelling, setting dating rules

The Child Is the Father to the Man: 9 Foundational Habits Young Men Should Start Now to Raise Themselves Right

1. Save 20% of Your Money
2. Exercise Daily
3. Eat Healthy
4. Plan Weekly and Daily
5. Read for Pleasure
6. Brush and Floss
7. Meditate
8. Journal
9. Serve

How stopping bedtime stories too early can damage children's literacy: Those who are read to are more likely to enjoy books

Oxford University Press surveyed 1,000 children aged seven to 11.  Half of young readers said they'd enjoy reading more if parents helped.  Many parents abandon reading with their children from the age of eight.  Half of eight and nine year olds were 'rarely or never read to at home'

Yelling Makes Parenting Harder, Study Says

Last week, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan released the results of a study that showed that yelling at teens actually aggravated problematic behavior rather than extinguishing it.  Likewise, teens who were consistently yelled at had higher incidences of depression, school problems, lying, stealing and fighting than kids who did not experience “harsh verbal punishment.”
Researchers also found that the more parents yelled, the more they felt they needed to yell as the problem behaviors increased creating a vicious cycle of yelling begetting bad behavior which begat more yelling.  Most interestingly, the researchers also found that a strong parent-child bond did not protect children or parents from the negative consequences of yelling that I listed above.

Dr. Greg offers 5 more effective ways of dealing with your child.

Children who start dating too young are more likely to have behavioral problems than those who wait for love, says study

Survey found the strain of a relationship can have damaging effects.  Child daters are twice as likely to have unsafe sex and use alcohol.
Parents should be concerned if their children are dating by age 11
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink

October 7, 2013

Speaking of Islam

Brendan O'Neill I'm sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism

In Western news-making and opinion-forming circles, there’s a palpable reluctance to talk about the most noteworthy thing about modern Islamist violence: its barbarism, its graphic lack of moral restraint. This goes beyond the BBC's yellow reluctance to deploy the T-word – terrorism – in relation to the bloody assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya at the weekend. Across the commentating board, people are sheepish about pointing out the historically unique lunacy of Islamist violence and its utter detachment from any recognizable moral universe or human values. We have to talk about this barbarism; we have to appreciate how new and unusual it is, how different it is even from the terrorism of the 1970s or of the early twentieth century. We owe it to the victims of these assaults, and to the principle of honest and frank political debate, to face up to the unhinged, morally unanchored nature of Islamist violence in the 21st century.

Maybe it’s because we have become so inured to Islamist terrorism in the 12 years since 9/11 that even something like the blowing-up of 85 Christians outside a church in Pakistan no longer shocks us or even makes it on to many newspaper front pages. But consider what happened: two men strapped with explosives walked into a group of men, women and children who were queuing for food and blew up themselves and the innocents gathered around them. Who does that? How far must a person have drifted from any basic system of moral values to behave in such an unrestrained and wicked fashion? Yet the Guardian tells us it is “moral masturbation” to express outrage over this attack, and it would be better to give into a “sober recognition that there are many bad things we can’t as a matter of fact do much about”. This is a demand that we further acclimatize to the peculiar and perverse bloody Islamist attacks around the world, shrug our shoulders, put away our moral compasses, and say: “Ah well, this kind of thing happens.
What we have today, uniquely in human history, is a terrorism that seems myopically focused on killing as many people as possible and which has no clear political goals and no stated territorial aims. The question is, why? It is not moral masturbation to ask this question or to point out the peculiarity and perversity of modern Islamist violence. My penny’s worth is that this terrorism speaks to a profound crisis of politics and of morality. Where earlier terrorist groups were restrained both by their desire to appear as rational political actors with a clear goal in mind and by basic moral rules of human behavior – meaning their violence was often bloody, yes, but rarely focused narrowly on committing mass murder – today’s Islamist terrorists appear to float free of normal political rules and moral compunctions. This is what is so infuriating about the BBC’s refusal to call these groups terrorists – because if anything, and historically speaking, even the term terrorist might be too good for them.

Raymond Ibrahim: Surreal and Suicidal: Modern Western Histories of Islam

Consider some facts for a moment:

A mere decade after the birth of Islam in the 7th century, the jihad burst out of Arabia. Leaving aside all the thousands of miles of ancient lands and civilizations that were permanently conquered, today casually called the "Islamic world" -- including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and parts of India and China -- much of Europe was also, at one time or another, conquered by the sword of Islam.

Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order): Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.

In 846 Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Muslim Arab raiders; some 700 years later, in 1453, Christendom's other great basilica, Constantinople's Holy Wisdom (or Hagia Sophia) was conquered by Muslim Turks, permanently.
In short, for roughly one millennium -- punctuated by a Crusader-rebuttal that the modern West is obsessed with demonizing -- Islam daily posed an existential threat to Christian Europe and by extension Western civilization.

And therein lies the rub: Today, whether as taught in high school or graduate school, whether as portrayed by Hollywood or the news media, the predominant historic narrative is that Muslims are the historic "victims" of "intolerant" Western Christians.

In the future (whatever one there may be) the histories written about our times will likely stress how our era, ironically called the "information age," was not an age when people were so well informed, but rather an age when disinformation was so widespread and unquestioned that generations of people lived in bubbles of alternate realities -- till they were finally popped.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

Some practical tips to nap better, persuade more, build trust and improve your social skills

How Long to Nap for the Biggest Brain Benefits    Lifehacker distills the science of napping as explained by the Wall St Journal into this graph.

 How Long To Nap

Want to succeed in the art of persuasion? AVOID eye contact: Locking glances can lower your chance of winning a person over

The finding is only true if someone is skeptical of the speaker to begin with.  The longer they hold eye contact, the more skeptical they will become
Locking eyes can boost receptiveness if person already agrees with speaker.

Superfluous or unnecessary apologies build trust

Newly published research suggests that superfluous or unnecessary apologies perform the important function of building trust. In our minds, anyone who takes note of our misfortune, and expresses dismay over it, is impressively empathetic and thus worthy of our confidence. 

“Even in the absence of culpability, individuals can increase trust and liking by saying ‘I’m sorry’—even when they are merely ‘sorry’ about the rain,” writes a research team led by Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School. research team led by Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School. The team's study - I’m Sorry About the Rain! -  is published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Study: To Improve Your Social Skills, Read Complex Fiction

David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, social scientists at the New School for Social Research in New York City, evaluated how well people performed on tests of empathy and emotional and social intelligence. Subjects did better on these tests after reading literary fiction, rather than serious nonfiction or popular fiction.

Kidd and Castano conclude that the complexity of literary fiction compels readers to search for subtleties of meaning and nuance--skills that are essential for gauging the emotional responses and depth of real people. Kidd explains:

In literary fiction, like Dostoyevsky, “there is no single, overarching authorial voice,” he said. “Each character presents a different version of reality, and they aren’t necessarily reliable. You have to participate as a reader in this dialectic, which is really something you have to do in real life.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:01 PM | Permalink

The meanings of life

From Aeon. The meanings of life

Happiness is not the same as a sense of meaning. How do we go about finding a meaningful life, not just a happy one?

Parents often say: ‘I just want my children to be happy.’ It is unusual to hear: ‘I just want my children’s lives to be meaningful,’ yet that’s what most of us seem to want for ourselves. We fear meaninglessness. We fret about the ‘nihilism’ of this or that aspect of our culture. When we lose a sense of meaning, we get depressed. What is this thing we call meaning, and why might we need it so badly?
The difference between meaningfulness and happiness was the focus of an investigation I worked on with my fellow social psychologists Kathleen Vohs, Jennifer Aaker and Emily Garbinsky, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology this August…..we found five sets of major differences between happiness and meaningfulness, five areas where different versions of the good life parted company.
The satisfaction of desires was a reliable source of happiness. But it had nothing — maybe even less than nothing ­— to add to a sense of meaning. People are happier to the extent that they find their lives easy rather than difficult….The frequency of good and bad feelings turns out to be irrelevant to meaning, which can flourish even in very forbidding conditions.
The second set of differences involved time frame.  Meaning and happiness are apparently experienced quite differently in time. Happiness is about the present; meaning is about the future, or, more precisely, about linking past, present and future….people experience happiness as something that is felt here and now, and that cannot be counted on to last. By contrast, meaning is seen as lasting, and so people might think they can establish a basis for a more lasting kind of happiness by cultivating meaning.
Social life was the locus of our third set of differences. As you might expect, connections to other people turned out to be important both for meaning and for happiness….Simply put, meaningfulness comes from contributing to other people, whereas happiness comes from what they contribute to you.
A fourth category of differences had to do with struggles, problems, stresses and the like….all these are notably low or absent from the lives of purely happy people, but they seem to be part and parcel of a highly meaningful life.
The final category of differences had to do with the self and personal identity. Activities that express the self are an important source of meaning but are mostly irrelevant to happiness. ….If happiness is about getting what you want, it appears that meaningfulness is about doing things that express yourself.
Marriage is a good example of how meaning pins down the world and increases stability.
The meaningful life, then, has four properties. It has purposes that guide actions from present and past into the future, lending it direction. It has values that enable us to judge what is good and bad; and, in particular, that allow us to justify our actions and strivings as good. It is marked by efficacy, in which our actions make a positive contribution towards realizing our goals and values. And it provides a basis for regarding ourselves in a positive light, as good and worthy people.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

Health roundup: No Yoga, middle-age stress and depression, exercise beats statins, single-dose pill to lower cholesterol

The articles that caught my eye over the past week.

How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body

Glenn Black, a yoga teacher of nearly four decades….has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm.
Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people,” Black said. “You can’t believe what’s going on — teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, ‘You should be able to do this by now.’

Stress in middle age raises dementia risk: Scientists' warning after 45-year study of women

Conditions such as Alzheimer's may be linked to mid-life stress.  Divorce, bereavement and trouble at work can all be factors
Swedish study finds that effects of trauma can be traced decades later.

Depression can triple risk of developing Parkinson's disease, scientists say

Scientists in Taiwan studied records 23,000 people over 10 years. Those with depression 3.24 times more likely to be develop Parkinson's
Age and hard-to-treat Parkinson's risk factors, scientists said

Exercise 'beats drugs for heart and stroke patients': Study finds prescribing physical activity could revolutionize patients' health

Exercise can work better than drugs at preventing death in heart and stroke patients, research reveals
The study is the first to compare the effects of physical activity with taking prescription drugs, such as statins and beta blockers

Could a single dose of this drug lower your cholesterol? Treatment may help those at risk of heart disease who can't take statins

ALN-PCS cuts bad cholesterol by more than half, first human tests show.  The new pill could be used for the one in five patients intolerant to statins
Findings from the first tests in humans show the potential benefits of an agent that works in a different way to statins.  The drug blocks production of a protein that destroys receptors that normally clear harmful LDL cholesterol from the blood.

Are we a step closer to curing jet lag? Scientists identify hormone that prevents body and brain from adjusting to new time zones

Hormone vasopressin stops the body rapidly adjusting to new time zones.  A vasopressin-suppressing pill could, therefore, reduce jet lag.
Such a pill could also help rotational shift workers adjust to their schedule
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

Whatever Happened to Freedom?

For some time I've been puzzling over the fact that liberals no longer value freedom as they once did.  Two articles I read over the weekend began to explain to why.

In his essay  The Anglosphere and the Future of Liberty, Roger Kimball explains some of the unique attributes of the Anglosphere including  the English language itself.

Why is it that English-speaking countries produced Adam Smith and John Locke, David Hume and James Madison, but not Hegel, Marx, or Foucault? “The tongue and the philosophy are not unrelated,” the philologist Robert Claiborne writes in Our Marvelous Native Tongue: The Life and Times of the English Language (1983). “Both reflect the ingrained Anglo-American distrust of unlimited authority, whether in language or in life.”

Andrew Roberts stresses the element of pragmatic skepticism that speaks English as its native language. “The unimaginative, bourgeois, earth-bound English-speaking peoples,” he writes,

refuse to dream dreams, see visions and follow fanatics and demagogues, from whom they are protected by their liberal constitutions, free press, rationalist philosophy, and representative institutions. They are temperamentally less inclined towards fanaticism, high-flown rhetoric and Bonapartism than many other peoples in history. They respect what is tangible and, in politics at least, suspect what is not.”

So how did the huge change in core values come about?

To what extent have the epicenters of the Anglosphere—Britain, North America, Australia—abandoned their allegiance to the core values Alan Macfarlane descried in English society three-quarters of a millennium past: individual liberty and its political correlative, limited government? Take Britain. In a melancholy passage, the critic Anthony Daniels writes that

The huge change in British society, from a free and orderly but very unequal society to a highly regulated but disorderly and rather more equal society, came about because the ruling political passions and desiderata, particularly among the ever-more important intelligentsia, changed from freedom and equality before the law to equality of outcome and physical well-being and comfort. If freedom failed to result in the latter, so much the worse for freedom: very few people in Britain now give a fig for it. The loss of their double-glazing would mean more to them than the loss of their right to say what they like.

The second essay by  Joseph Backholm explains Why the Left Abandoned Religious Freedom

When it passed in 1993, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was supported left-leaning Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. President Clinton, who signed it into law, called the bill one of his greatest accomplishments as President. A decade later they are now opposing religious liberty laws they themselves wrote. What changed in the last decade? Joseph Backholm explains how the value system of liberalism has changed:

While a belief in individual rights used to be the hallmark of liberalism, it has since been replaced by a commitment to amorphous concepts like “equality” and ending “discrimination”. While they never define those terms in a way they could be held accountable for, what is obvious is that their pursuit of those values leaves no room for people to disagree. After all, how can we have a tolerant world if people are allowed to do things that are intolerant?
This begs the question, what exactly has changed since 1993 that makes a formerly uncontroversial proposal suddenly so controversial?  If RFRA was supported by Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, why can’t they support it today?

In 1993, the left still cared about individual rights.
The new left wants government to officiate all of our interactions to make sure no one “discriminates”.

So in pursuit of a more tolerant world, they ironically seek to arm government with the power to decide which ideas are acceptable and which are not. That puts them in historically uncomfortable company where typically everyone’s ox is gored.
In the process of looking for religious freedom protections, we don’t need to convince everyone to see the world like we do. What we are really doing is asking liberals to be liberals again.

UPDATE: Well, this summarizes it:  When the bleeding heart becomes the iron fist

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2013

Feds try to close the Ocean

Unbelievable.  Feds try to  close the OCEAN

Just before the weekend, the National Park Service informed charter boat captains in Florida that the Florida Bay was "closed" due to the shutdown. Until government funding is restored, the fishing boats are prohibited from taking anglers into 1,100 square-miles of open ocean. Fishing is also prohibited at Biscayne National Park during the shutdown.

According to an anonymous Park Service ranger, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

I can't imagine why the Obama Administration would want to appear so mean-spirited.  Just a few from a List of Unnecessary Shut Downs

Although Barack Obama's chefs have been deemed "essential," employees at the National Institute of Health who offer last-chance experimental cancer treatments for children suffering from cancer, have not. Worse still, House Republicans have offered to compromise with the president and single the NIH out for funding. The White House has threatened a veto.
2. The World War II Memorial - The WWII memorial on the DC Mall is a 24/7 open-air memorial that is not regularly staffed. Although the White House must have known that WWII veterans in their eighties and nineties had already booked flights to visit this memorial, the White House still found the resources to spitefully barricade the attraction.

3. Furloughed Military Chaplains Not Allowed to Work for Free - Furloughed military chaplains willing to celebrate Mass and baptisms for free have been told they will be punished for doing so.
6. Obama Closes D-Day Memorial - The GOP have offered to compromise and fund the National Parks. Obama has said he will veto this compromise legislation. As a result, along with 24 other military cemeteries, the D-Day memorial in Normandy has been barricaded.
7. Obama Tries to Close Privately-Funded Mt. Vernon - Although George Washington's Mt. Vernon estate is privately funded, the feds blocked visitors from entering the parking because the Park Service maintains the lot. Apparently, the New Media publicity resulted in the feds backing down.

8. Obama Closes Over 100 Privately-Managed Parks That Cost No Money to Run -  The U.S. Treasury actually makes money from the rent paid by a private company that "employs about 400-500 camp workers and managers across about a dozen states." No federal money is used to operate these parks. No federal employees are used to staff these parks. Taxpayers make a profit from these parks. Still, Obama had them closed and as a result 400-500 employees and a private business are taking it in the neck.

Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post calls it Dumb

When a group of World War II veterans recently faced barriers blocking entry to the memorial — an open space requiring not so much as an attendant — these elderly warriors took a page from their Normandy playbook and stormed the barricades.

Can there be an image more inspiring than members of this venerable club, whose living roll declines each day by about 640, pushing their way through flimsy, useless, pointless barriers to roam among pillars erected to their heroism? What was Washington thinking?

Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Among the many reasons this was so clumsy, one stands out starkly: It isn’t as though the WWII guys can always come back another day. All are in their late 80s and early 90s, and time is of the essence. Moreover, most plan these trips well in advance and at considerable expense.

Thanks to the monument liberators, Washington officials were forced to rethink their decision and removed the barriers. The American People are now free to roam their public spaces that remember sacrifices beyond most imaginations.

Optically, symbolically and every other way, this seems too little too late. Shutting out veterans from their memorial touchstone was more than a bad call, a lapse of judgment, a mere moment of tone-deafness. In reality, it may have been the tidy effort of a box-checking bureaucrat, but it reeked of the small work of a petty bully.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:59 PM | Permalink

Lost for 500 years, Leonardo da Vinci painting discovered in Swiss vault

Lost Leonardo da Vinci painting of a noblewoman with same smile as the Mona Lisa discovered in Swiss vault after 500 years

For five centuries, it has been one of the art world’s greatest mysteries, with even its very existence in doubt.
But now, almost 500 years after he painted it, a priceless Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece has been unearthed in a Swiss bank vault.


 Lost Leonardo Painting

The painting is a canvas and oil, finished rendering of a well-known pencil sketch of the same woman, the wife of the Marquess of Mantua and one of Renaissance Italy’s most influential women.  The sketch, which was drawn in 1499, hangs in the Louvre, and is considered a forerunner to his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa.

Isabella, who appears to share the world-famous subject's mysterious smile and rounded chin, wanted to be painted by the all the greatest artists of the day, which naturally included da Vinci.
Professor Carlo Pedretti of the University of California, Los Angeles, the world’s leading expert in da Vinci told Italy’s Corriere della sera newspaper. 'There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo.

'I can immediately recognise Da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:27 PM | Permalink

October 4, 2013

Secrets to a Fulfilling Life

I've written often about George Vaillant, the Harvard professor who directed the Harvard Grant Study from 1972-2004 and later wrote several books summarizing the study, but it's always good to revisit the lessons learned.

The 75-Year Study That Found The Secrets To A Fulfilling Life

Love Is Really All That Matters.  It may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true: Love is key to a happy and fulfilling life. As Vaillant puts it, there are two pillars of happiness. "One is love," he writes. "The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away."  Vaillant has said that the study's most important finding is that the only thing that matters in life is relationships. A man could have a successful career, money and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, he wouldn't be happy.
It’s About More than Money and Power.  The Grant Study's findings echoed those of other studies -- that acquiring more money and power doesn't correlate to greater happiness. That’s not to say money or traditional career success don’t matter. But they’re small parts of a much larger picture -- and while they may loom large for us in the moment, they diminish in importance when viewed in the context of a full life.
Regardless of How We Begin Life, We Can All Become Happier.  A man named Godfrey Minot Camille went into the Grant study with fairly bleak prospects for life satisfaction: He had the lowest rating for future stability of all the subjects and he had previously attempted suicide. But at the end of his life, he was one of the happiest. Why? As Vaillant explains, “He spent his life searching for love.”
Connection Is Crucial  "Joy is connection,” Vaillant says. "The more areas in your life you can make connection, the better."

The study found strong relationships to be far and away the strongest predictor of life satisfaction. And in terms of career satisfaction, too, feeling connected to one's work was far more important than making money or achieving traditional success.

"The conclusion of the study, not in a medical but in a psychological sense, is that connection is the whole shooting match," says Vaillant.
Challenges –- and the Perspective They Give You -- Can Make You Happier  The journey from immaturity to maturity, says Vaillant, is a sort of movement from narcissism to connection, and a big part of this shift has to do with the way we deal with challenges.

Coping mechanisms -- “the capacity to make gold out of shit,” as Vaillant puts it -- have a significant effect on social support and overall well-being. The secret is replacing narcissism, a single-minded focus on one's own emotional oscillations and perceived problems, with mature coping defenses, Vaillant explains, citing Mother Teresa and Beethoven as examples.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:19 PM | Permalink

October 2, 2013

The chart that explains the world

It's called The Lewis Model and explains the national norms of various cultures around the world.

A world traveler who speaks ten languages, British linguist Richard Lewis decided he was qualified to plot the world's cultures on a chart.

He did so while acknowledging the dangers of stereotypes.

"Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception," Lewis wrote. "There is, however, such a thing as a national norm."

Lewis plots countries in relation to three categories:

Linear-actives — those who plan, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time. Germans and Swiss are in this group.

Multi-actives — those lively, loquacious peoples who do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule, but according to the relative thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it. Italians, Latin Americans and Arabs are members of this group.

Reactives — those cultures that prioritize courtesy and respect, listening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side's proposals. Chinese, Japanese and Finns are in this group.

He says that this categorization of national norms does not change significantly over time:

  The Lewis Model
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

Are basic life skills an essential part of education?

Christine Gross-Loh in the Wall Street Jounal makes a good case for Home Ec as a Core Subject

In Japan, they teach meal planning alongside math, with impressive results.

But classes like home economics, woodworking, art or music are about more than learning to play a recorder, plan a menu or thread a needle. They foster concrete know-how, as well as the confidence to improvise. They teach children to make good choices, take the initiative and make connections. When a student measures the dimensions of a bookcase, he is learning math and geometry in a hands-on, applicable way. When Benjamin embroidered his dishtowel he was tapping into an engrossing creative process.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 AM | Permalink

October 1, 2013

Eating out every night

Most people tire of eating out after a while, but not Harry Rosen.

 103-Year-Old Harry Rosen

The 103-year-old who says dining alone every night in top Manhattan restaurants keeps him alive

Ever since retiring from the office supply business, Mr Rosen has been dining out every night at New York City's most respected eateries.
His favorites include Cafe Boulud, Boulud Sud, Avra Estiatorio and David Burke Townhouse.

But Mr Rosen didn't always eat so well. He was born in Russia and recalls marching with protesters during the Russian Revolution.
Sometimes he's joined by his sons Stan and Jerry, but Mr Rosen has no aversion to eating alone. Although there is always that hope that he'll meet someone new.

Mr Rosen was married to his wife Lillian for 70 years before she passed away five years ago at the age of 95.
'I'm still open to meeting someone,' he said. 'I still have the desire that's what counts.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:03 PM | Permalink

Not ready for prime time

It is beyond my ability to understand why the President doesn't welcome a one year delay for the individual mandate in Obamacare until the software is ready for prime time.  After all, the President himself had no problem in  unilaterally delaying the employer mandate for one year without approval of Congress,.   

Today, the first day Obamacare exchanges were open for individual signup and it's no surprise that  Obamacare health insurance exchange websites don’t work; HealthCare.gov a total mess  Go to the link to read the Twitter accounts of people unable to sign up and getting the following message:


State exchanges are down across the country. 

In the Wall St Journal Gottlieb and Astrue on ObamaCare's Technology Mess

President Obama is bracing Americans for inevitable problems as the Affordable Care Act rolls out this week, but what he calls "glitches" are hardly routine. Information technology is ObamaCare's Achilles' heel. The faulty IT will expose Americans to lost data, attempts to enroll online that fail and the risk of fraud.

There are two key technological flaws in ObamaCare. First is the "hub"—the software to link servers at the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security and state agencies to verify the income and health-insurance status of enrollees and ensure that they are eligible for subsidies. The other flaw is the "portal"—the federally run IT platform that is supposed to let consumers compare health plans and select one that best suits their needs
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:40 PM | Permalink