Friday, June 29, 2007

good explanation of gloabal warming

The conclusion that observed climate change is our fault rests on the pattern of warming, too. As it happens, "human and natural factors that affect climate have unique signatures," says climatologist Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy. The clearest signature is differences in the warming of different layers of the atmosphere. According to satellites and weather balloons, the lower atmosphere, or troposphere, has warmed; the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere, has cooled. That's not what a hotter sun would do. "If you increase output from the sun, you increase the amount of energy that arrives at the top of Earth's atmosphere," says Santer. "And you get heating throughout the whole column. Have we observed anything like that? The answer is a very clear no." Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas and methane from, among other surprising sources, rice fields (where bacteria thriving in the submerged paddies release this and other gases) act from the bottom up. That is, they warm the troposphere and cool the stratosphere by trapping heat waves wafting off the planet's surface. The warm troposphere and cool stratosphere "is entirely consistent with our best understanding of how temperatures would change with an increase in greenhouse gases," says Santer.

But that raises a question for those who emphasize nature's contributions to global warming and other aspects of climate change. Let's suppose that those are nudging the climate toward worse storms and more droughts and more heat waves, just as greenhouse gases are. In that case, you'd think the world would want to control the causes of global warming that it can. At last check, no one had figured out how to turn down the sun.

This article has a good. understandable explanation of why climate scientists overwhelmingly believe the global waming we are experiencing is from man-made, rather than natural sources.
I found this through , an excellent web site.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Human-like Altruism Shown In Chimpanzees
Experimental evidence reveals that chimpanzees will help other unrelated humans and conspecifics without a reward, showing that they share crucial aspects of altruism with humans.

Frequent Brain Stimulation In Old Age Reduces Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease

How often old people read a newspaper, play chess, or engage in other mentally stimulating activities is related to risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

The study found a cognitively active person in old age was 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's disease than a cognitively inactive person in old age. This association remained after controlling for past cognitive activity, lifetime socioeconomic status, and current social and physical activity.

This is hopeful. But it may just be that people whose brains are healthy are more likely to engage in mentally stimulating activities.

Mothers' Second-hand Smoke Exposure Linked To Psychological Problems For Kids

Children whose mothers were exposed to second-hand smoke while they were pregnant have more symptoms of serious psychological problems compared to the offspring of women who had no prenatal exposure to smoke, according to a new University of Washington study.

Nicotine, an alkaloid compound in tobacco, is believed to be the chemical that causes these behavior problems in children. Animal studies have shown that nicotine affects brain development during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, causing changes in brain regions critical to the development of externalizing psychopathology in humans.

..."As a consequence, children who were exposed to smoke in utero have colic and are hard to sooth as infants. As toddlers they are overactive and oppositional. Later on they are irritable, inattentive and low on pleasure."


Friday, June 22, 2007

Psychologists Attribute Yawning To The Need To Cool The Brain And Pay Attention
The next time you "catch a yawn" from someone across the room, you're not copying their sleepiness, you're participating in an ancient, hardwired ritual that might have evolved to help groups stay alert as a means of detecting danger. That's the conclusion of University at Albany researchers Andrew C. Gallup and Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. in a study outlined in the May 2007 issue in Evolutionary Psychology (Volume 5.1., 2007).

Human Immunity To 'Viral Fossil' May Help Explain Our Vulnerability To HIV

Human resistance to a retrovirus that infected chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates 4 million years ago ironically may be at least partially responsible for the susceptibility of humans to HIV infection today.

"However, while TRIM5a may have served humans well millions of years ago, the antiviral protein does not seem to be good at defending against any of the retroviruses that currently infect humans, such as HIV-1," Emerman said. "In the end, this drove human evolution to be more susceptible to HIV." For example, the researchers found that changes in TRIM5a that make it better at fighting HIV actually inhibit its ability to stop PtERV1 and vice versa, which indicates that this antiviral gene may only be good at fighting off one virus at a time.

Reminds me of the evidence that some dietary factors that protect against heart disease might increase the risk of cancer.

Putting Feelings Into Words Produces Therapeutic Effects In The Brain

This is ancient wisdom," Lieberman said. "Putting our feelings into words helps us heal better. If a friend is sad and we can get them to talk about it, that probably will make them feel better."

Baby Formula Goes On Trial In Asia

For decades, moms everywhere have been told that "breast is best" for babies. Health care experts say that message goes double in the developing world, where clean water for bottle-feeding is a luxury and, they say, breast-feeding can be a key factor in an infant's survival.

Health experts say U.S. companies are among those using aggressive marketing to hawk infant formula in Asia's dynamic economies, the same kinds of tactics that sparked a boycott campaign of Nestle products in the 1970s. This led to the adoption in 1981 of a global marketing code for such products.

That isn't the message that Ding Bing says she got from her managers at Nestlé in China where she worked for five years as a marketing rep for infant formula. Ms. Ding, who spoke by telephone from the UNICEF/WHO conference, said the Swiss company told expecting mothers attending antenatal classes that Nestlé's Good Start formula was superior and that many of them would be unable to produce sufficient breast milk for their baby.

"The company told the staff that infant formula is better. It didn't tell us that mother's milk is enough; they couldn't tell us the truth," she says.

Breast milk contains antibodies and enzymes that speed the healthy growth and development of infants and may also lower the risk of chronic diseases later in life, according to WHO.

Struggling parents who opt for formula often dilute the product or substitute rice flour and other powders that lack essential nutrients, say health experts. In the Philippines, where bottle-feeding costs a minimum $43 a month, an estimated 16,000 infants under 5 die annually because of such practices, according to UNICEF. Campaigners point to Cambodia as a sign of what can go right. A national campaign there has raised breast-feeding rates at six months to 60 percent, up from 10 percent in 2000. Over the same period, child mortality fell by one-third, a huge gain that can only be explained by the switch to breast milk, says Karen Codling, a nutritionist for UNICEF.

I hae avoided buying Nestle products for years because of this issue. Nestle kept claiming that they had changeed their ways. The first couple of times, I took them at their word, and started buying their products again. Then I caught on to them. Too bad psychopaths have an advantage in the business world.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

good news from global warming

Icebergs that break off Antarctica and drift away turn out to be hotspots of life in the cold southern ocean, researchers report.

Turns out, the melting ice also dumps particles scraped off Antarctica into the ocean, providing a pool of nutrients that feed plankton and tiny shrimplike creatures known as krill.

Indeed, the researchers led by Kenneth L. Smith Jr., of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., found an increase in life forms surrounding a pair of icebergs they studied.

The abundance extended nearly 2 1/2 miles away from the drifting ice, they report in this week's online edition of the journal Science.

By promoting life surrounding them, the icebergs also may have an impact on reducing the excess carbon in the atmosphere _ at least somewhat countering the greenhouse warming that helped make them break free in the first place, Smith suggested.


Being Treated As Oldest Linked To IQ

Boys at the top of the pecking order _ either by birth or because their older siblings died _ score higher on IQ tests than their younger brothers.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Eating Foie Gras May Raise Risk of Alzheimer's, Diabetes And Other Diseases

New research suggests that a compound found in fatty goose and duck liver may be linked to a rare disease called amyloidosis, opening the door to a potential link between the delicacy and a host of other amyloid-related diseases ranging from Alzheimer's disease to type-2 diabetes.

Researchers say it's the first known evidence that a food product can speed the production of amyloid protein in animals. An abnormal buildup of amyloid deposits is linked to a variety of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, type-2 diabetes and others.

Amyloid is commonly found in waterfowl, but researchers say their concentration is especially high in force-fed birds, such as those used in the production of foie gras.


global warming - updated 6/21/2007

I posted this on a blog in where of course many of the posts are from people who don't understand the subject, and in many cases, are just plain silly jerks.
I'm putting it here so that if I want to, I can copy it instead of typing it again!

It is a fact of physics that some gases have a greenhouse effect. See the post by ubrew12 for a good explanation of what that means. It is a fact of physics that humans are causing an increase in these gases. Whatever natural processes there are that are affecting the earth's temperature, this man-made increase in greenhouse gases must cause the earth to be warmer than it would be w/o the extra gases, just like the inside of a car sitting in the sun with the windows up will be hotter than the outside temperature, whatever it is. Yes, when the temperature outside the car is hotter, it will be hotter inside the car, but that doesn't mean the windshield glass does not have a greenhouse effect.
octavianfdlr says that Mars and Jupiter have warmed. The implication seems to be that this is caused by the Sun. If this is the case, what about the other planets? After all, Mercury and Venus are closer to the sun. From my experience, this "fact" might be something that was made up by people like Mobil/Exxon.
Incidentally, Venus is so hot because of a runaway greenhouse effect, caused by water vapor, another greenhouse gas. Venus is closer to the sun than the Earth, which caused an increased evaporation of water, and water vapor is a greenhouse gas. So that caused warming, which caused more evaporation, etc.


Today is the summer solstice. If the greenhouse effect does not exist, then I guess we could expect the temperature to start getting cooler, since the amount of sunlight will be getting less. Also, we would expect the temperature to start getting warmer after the winter solstive, Dec. 20 or 21. Of course, that doesn't happen
William Ruddiman proposes that we would be in an ice age by now if it hadn't been for global warming caused by human activity, going back thousands of years ago.

processor2 What does this have to do with "America's fault"? This is a problem accidently caused by humans. If we continue, it won't be accidental any more, it will be because of irresponsible people who are too lazy and uncaring to change their ways; that would be unpatriotic.

I found this on the Nasa web site, for Mars.I couldn't find a reference to Jupiter warming.Could you provide us with a link?
For the past 30 years, NASA scientists have been using high-tech satellite equipment to study features on the face of Mars. It appears a slight change in the planet’s surface luster has caused its temperature to rise.
To determine the extent of surface changes on Mars, scientists took images from the Viking (launched 1975) and Mars Global Surveyor (1996) satellite missions and mapped them into a climate model developed at NASA Ames Research Center. They discovered that a wind-whipped, dusty surface has a measurable effect on the amount of sunlight that is reflected by the planet. The results of this research show that an increase in darkened surface areas may account for a one degree Fahrenheit rise in the surface air temperature of the planet.
It has been noted that one of the reason's the earth is warming faster than older computer models predicted, is that as ice melts, the ground underneath, which is darker, is exposed, and thus does not reflect as much solar radiation back into space as the ice did.

Tenn. Candidates Go Homeless For Night
The National Coalition for the Homeless has been organizing similar experiences for college students and others for the past 25 years. But the group's executive director, Michael Stoops, said it was the first time political candidates agreed to take part.

What a good idea. We are too prone to have opinions that are not based on reality.

'Segregated' Schools Hinder Reading Skills
Children in families with low incomes, who attend schools where the minority population exceeds 75 percent of the student enrollment, under-perform in reading, even after accounting for the quality of the literacy instruction, literary experiences at home, gender, race and other variables, according to a new study.


Effect Of Removing TV, Games Consoles And Computers On Young Children

Twenty-three 7 and 8-year-old school children from a single year group in a primary school in the Manchester area took part.

Over a five-week period, the children were observed in the classroom and along with their families in their homes. During weeks 3 and 4, half the participants had their TV sets, PCs and portable game consoles removed or disabled. The remaining families carried on as normal.

Even after just two weeks, families found they began to interact more, even to ‘rediscover’ their pleasure in each other’s company.

Children tired from an active evening were more liable to go to bed early and wake up refreshed and alert the next day.

One parent told the Panorama team after the two-week experiment: “Thinking of how we were as a family around the TV…the TV controlling us…and using the TV as a pacifier for the kids…just seems totally crazy now.”


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

pet-food info
As the media focused on breaking news and other significant developments in the story, bloggers took the "completely logical approach" of finding what specific details pet owners need and putting them all together, says Paul Grabowicz, director of the New Media Program at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.
•The Pet Connection , a longtime pet-care site, links to the
Food and Drug Administration' name=c1> SEARCHNews News Photos Images Web' name=c3> Food and Drug Administration's list of recalled foods, gives information on poisoning symptoms and provides live streaming text from FDA press conferences.
• , named for a dog who loves to be scratched, went from a specialty site that founder Ben Huh of Bellevue, Wash., said got "about two visits a month" to a news source with 1.5 million visitors and a high enough profile that it has been banned in China.
• lists "the latest in head-exploding news."
• lists the foods that companies describe as safe for canine and feline consumption.


Friday, June 15, 2007

college degrees for all?

In my post on Sunday, I took on one section of the lead article in this week's New York Times Magazine, "The Inequality Conundrum." But before it becomes last week's news, I need to get something off my chest. The piece repeats what is probably the most dangerous and widespread myth about the new inequality -- that education is the answer to the problems of the working poor.

It's easy to see why this trap is so easy to fall into if you don't have an economics Ph.D. If you look at a chart of the average incomes of people by education level, you see it rises with each degree. Those with a high school diploma earn more on average than those without. Those with college degrees do better than those with high school diplomas and so on. The same trend continues for graduate and professional school. So you can see how one can easily make the mistake of assuming that if everyone had more education, everyone would make more money. But that's just not true.

There are lots of jobs for burger flippers not because there are lots of uneducated people who can't do other jobs. People don't flip burgers for a living because we have compassion on them and give them spatulas. There are lots of jobs for burger flippers because there's a high demand for burgers and because running a chain of restaurants that serve burgers is very profitable. (McDonald's stock recently hit an all-time high.)

In the U.K., the minimum wage is roughly twice ours -- about USD $10 an hour -- so their burger flippers get paid about twice what they do here (to say nothing of the fact that every British burger flipper and her children has health insurance). In many other European countries the minimum wage is even higher. And yet, those countries are still filled with burger flippers and McDonald's restaurants. And contrary to the Times' insinuation, their prices are not dramatically higher than our own. The American translation of Sweden's "8 Kronor Menu" would be the "$1.13 Menu" according to the latest exchange rate.


Savings from outsourcing goes to good cause

Forget about the $350 stilettos. Shoes with status these days come with $1,000 price tags. And $600 handbags have become so bourgeois. A-listers don't want to be seen with anything costing less than $5,000.

Montblanc recently sold a $700,000-plus pen just a few days after it showed up in the New York store. The pen, adorned with rubies, sapphires and diamonds, took 15 months to handcraft. At Cartier, $1 million to $2 million sales checks _ rare only a few years ago _ is occurring a couple times a month at its North American boutiques.

According to an analysis of the latest IRS tax data available by Prof. Emmanuel Saez, the University of California, Berkeley economist with Prof. Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, those in the top tenth of a percent reported an average income of $5.6 million in 2005, up $908,000 from the prior year; the top one-hundredth of a percent had an average income of $25.7 million, up almost $4.4 million from the year before, according to the study.

Meanwhile, real reported income in the U.S. rose 3.4 percent in 2005 on average but the average income for those in the bottom 90 percent fell slightly compared with the year before, according to the study.

We can see why it is so important to business to keep workers' wages depressed by various means. It would be such a hardship for their CEO's not to be able to buy a $700,000 pen.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Miracle Surgery Mends Cambodian Orphan

When Scott Neeson first laid eyes on Lyda, the 13-year-old orphan was clambering over a mountain of garbage in a Phnom Penh, Cambodia slum. She was moving slowly and painfully because of a spinal deformity that left her with a severe hunchback. Still, she persevered.

Neeson and Lyda were truly from opposite ends of the world: He was a former film executive nicknamed "Mr. Hollywood" who gave up his home and Porche in exchange for a life in Phnom Penh and occasional head lice. "I've gone from Hollywood to the garbage dump, and I'm so much happier today," he explained.

Lyda "is such a loving girl," he told Early Show correspondent Hattie Kauffman. "She was living in the garbage dump. She was left there by her parents when she was five. She was fending for herself, basically."

Neeson resolved to get Lyda the medical help she needed through the charity he founded to fund three orphanages he's opened in Cambodia. But the surgery that could give her a pain-free and mobile life would cost dearly, and needed to be performed in an American hospital. Lyda needed an angel in her corner.

Enter Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom and CBS Corporation, and a major philanthropist. "I had no idea how the children live in Cambodia. I mean, little girls being put out for prostitution, children living in dumps, scrounging for something to eat. The story really got to me," he told Kauffman.

Her surgeon, Dr. Robert Bernstein, feels that, without the surgery, Lyda would eventually have been paralyzed, because her bones were pressing against her spinal cord.

It's heartwarming and inspiring to read of these caring people.

deja vu all over again

The Bush administration is trying to roll back a Supreme Court decision by pushing legislation that would require prison time for nearly all criminals.

In a speech June 1 to announce the bill, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urged Congress to re-impose mandatory minimum prison sentences against federal convicts — and not let judges consider such penalties “merely a suggestion.”

One minute,a judge ordered him released from prison , saying the young man's 10-year sentence for consensual sex between teens was a "grave miscarriage of justice." Ninety minutes later, Georgia's attorney general said Wilson wasn't going anywhere — the state had appealed.

When the people in the Bush administration are out of their jobs, they can come to Georgia. They'll fit right in. Two or three days after a man was released after spending more than 18/20? years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, an idiot Republican Georgian legislator introduced a bill to reduce the number of jurors needed to impose the death sentence.
A few days ago, a judge ordered Genarlow Wilson released from prison, where he was serving a 10 year sentence for having consensual sex when he was 17 with a 15 year-old girl. Neither she nor her parents wanted Wilson charged. The law he was sentenced under has since been changed, reducing the matter to a misdemeanor (still riduculous) instead of a felony, but it was not made retroactive.
So now the Bush administration wants to impose mandatory minimums at the federal level. What timing!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bodies at recycle plants ID'd as homeless couple

Two people whose bodies were found at paper recycling plants more than 1,000 miles apart were a homeless couple who apparently went to sleep in a recycling container before its contents were compacted, police said Tuesday.

Police believe both of the Jansens, who had recently become homeless, had gone to sleep in a recycling container in south St. Louis County before the container's contents were emptied into a truck and compacted.

Woman dies in ER lobby as 911 refuses to help

A woman who lay bleeding on the emergency room floor of a troubled inner-city hospital died after 911 dispatchers refused to contact paramedics or an ambulance to take her to another facility, newly released tapes of the emergency calls reveal.

Relatives reported she died as police were wheeling her out of the hospital after the officers they had asked to help Rodriguez arrested her instead on a parole violation.

(added later)
The CBS report is followed by reader comments. Some jerk said that if someone doesn't have medical insurance, it's ok that they die, that everybody could have insurance if they were willing to work hard. The following was my response:

I have an M.A. in math & more than 30 years experience in computer programming. Because of age discrimination, I worked for 4 years as a waitress. With so many baby boomers retiring, I was able to get back into the tech field, but I don't know for how long, because business is trying to get Congress to remove all caps on foreign visas, so they can bring in people from other countries, and go back to discriminating against older people. The jobs I can get now are as a contractor w/o benefits.

If everybody were identical, there were still be people who would end up working in low-paying jobs, because we don't have a need for well-paying jobs for everybody. The middle- and upper-class depend on the working class. Where do you think your food comes from? Do you grow it all yourself and cook it all from scratch? Do you build your car and other possessions from raw materials you have mined yourself? If so, how do you have the time to run your business?

For those who are capable, we are lucky. We could have been brain-damaged before birth because our mother was too poor to get enough to eat. We could have had a genetic mutation. Any day we might get brain-damaged or paralyzed in an automobile accident. If we are uncaring towards others, we help to create a world where others are uncaring to us.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Diet And Exercise Key To Surviving Breast Cancer
Breast cancer survivors who eat a healthy diet and exercise moderately can reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer by half, regardless of their weight, suggests a new longitudinal study from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dirty Snow May Warm Arctic As Much As Greenhouse Gases
The global warming debate has focused on carbon dioxide emissions, but scientists at UC Irvine have determined that a lesser-known mechanism – dirty snow – can explain one-third or more of the Arctic warming primarily attributed to greenhouse gases.

Economic Impact Of Hunger Affects All Americans

While thirty-five million Americans feel the physical effects of hunger each day, every household and individual in our nation feels the economic effects. So finds a new study released today by the Sodexho Foundation and researchers affiliated with Harvard University School of Public Health, Brandeis University and Loyola University.

The study found that the lion's share of the overall cost, $66.8 billion, resulted from illness associated with hunger, said Brandeis health economist Donald Shepard, who led the economic analysis. These illnesses included iron deficiency, colds and depression, and other causes of fair and poor health.

"What was unusual about hunger was the wide range of problems associated with it, which included not only the illness burden, but also expenses on food pantries and other charities to mitigate the problem, and lost productivity due to hunger's adverse impact on learning,"

This is another area where the super-rich elite are whining about conditions for which they are at least partly the cause. They hold down wages to poverty levels for many of their employees, so that they themselves can make an amount that they can have no real use for. They make huge political donations to political candidates to vote to remove taxes from themselves and shift it to the poor and middle-class. This means there is less money for such things as educations and health care for the less advantaged. They fund "think tanks" to support their positions. They inflence the news media because of their advertising power. Also, they control the big media.

Then they complain that they can't get well-educated, intelligent employees.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Diet May Influence Survival After Treatment For Colon Cancer

Unfortunately, this study describes my grandmother. But it could have been worse, since she didn't get cancer until she was in her middle 80's, and lived until 10 days before she would have been 92.
Patients with stage III colon cancer who have undergone surgery and chemotherapy with the goal of cure may have a higher risk of relapsing and dying early if they follow a predominantly "Western" diet of red meat, fatty foods, refined grains, and desserts

vitamins and pancreatic cancer

investigators combined data from four large studies and found that people who were at or below normal body weight decreased their risk for developing pancreatic cancer if they took in high levels of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate from food.

The study determined that their risk was 81 percent, 73 percent, and 59 percent lower, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate respectively, compared with participants who did not eat as much of these nutrients or who weighed more.

The researchers also say that they uncovered another interesting trend that some people who received these nutrients from multivitamin pills had an increased risk of developing the disease. According to the researchers, individuals who said they used multivitamins, and whose blood showed traces of these nutrients, had a 139 percent increased relative risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

No one knows why vitamin pills may not help ward off cancer, or why, in this study, it might have a deleterious effect, Dr. Schernhammer said, but some research in animals suggests that "if there is a dormant tumor, folate and other similar vitamins may stimulate growth." That might be especially true if a person did not take in enough of these nutrients consistently through diet, and then suddenly started taking multivitamins in an effort to become healthy, she said.

A variety of studies have shown health benefits from getting a lot of vitamins from food, vs. increased risk from taking vitamin in pills.

I expect some of this is due to such things as interactions and balance among nutrients, and the intake of nutrients from food that are not in multivitamins, as well as the possiblity of "fertilization" of dormat cancer.

But I wonder if the fact that much of our vitamins come from China could account for some of the detrimental effects of vitamin supplements? Eg., almost all vitamin C comes from China. China shows the result of excessive Capitalism/free markets/libertarianism/freedom from governmen regulations situations. Of course, anybody who knows a little about history could have predicted such problems.

Friday, June 01, 2007

FDA: Toss Toothpaste Made In China
The government warned consumers on Friday to avoid using toothpaste made in China because it may contain a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze.

How can we know. It might have some ingredients from China, but not be so labeled. I try to avoid buying products made in China. In the case of the pet food, there was no labeling indicating that foreign ingredients were used. Many vitamins are made in China, but are not labeled. I guess I am a horrible, unregenerate liberal, because I don't think that this should be left to the voluntary actions of business.

what's your religion?

Your daily life is your temple and your religion.
- Kahlil Gibran