Thursday, June 26, 2008

Business as usual at Bush administration

Report Sees Illegal Hiring Practices at Justice Dept.

WASHINGTON -- Justice Department officials over the last six years illegally used “political or ideological” factors to hire new lawyers into an elite recruitment program, tapping law school graduates with conservative credentials over those with liberal-sounding resumes, a new report found Tuesday.

The blistering report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general, is the first in what will be a series of investigations growing out of last year’s scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys. It appeared to confirm for the first time in an official examination many of the allegations from critics who charged that the Justice Department had become overly politicized during the Bush administration.

“Many qualified candidates” were rejected for the department’s honors program because of what was perceived as a liberal bias, the report found. Those practices, the report concluded, “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations.”

Saturday, June 21, 2008

But are they cat-proof?

Getting Wrapped Up In Solar Textiles
ScienceDaily (June 21, 2008)

Sheila Kennedy, an expert in the integration of solar cell technology in architecture who is now at MIT, creates designs for flexible photovoltaic materials that may change the way buildings receive and distribute energy.

These new materials, known as solar textiles, work like the now-familiar photovoltaic cells in solar panels. Made of semiconductor materials, they absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Kennedy uses 3-D modeling software to design with solar textiles, generating membrane-like surfaces that can become energy-efficient cladding for roofs or walls. Solar textiles may also be draped like curtains.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What kind of values?

People blow my mind. When part of our country has been having horrible flooding of a magnitude that will be more common with global warming, we have people pressing to drill for as much oil as we can find, so that we won't have to face any inconvenience, like giving up SUV's for more fuel-efficent cars.

Sleepy-Time Blues

Sleepy-Time Blues
copyright 2000 Patricia M. Shannon

I know my child has the sleepy-time blues
by her droopy eyes and her fretful cry;
she says she doesn't want to go to sleep,
so I hold her in my lap and sing a lullaby.

Oh, those sleepy time blues,
yeah, yeah, yeah, those sleepy time blues.

There's so many things she wants to see,
so many things she wants to do,
she doesn't want to go to sleep,
might miss out on something new.


I wonder if she might be scared,
to be lying helpless there;
does she think someone might come along
and do her harm while she's unaware?


Now that she's grown and has a child,
she wishes she could take a nap,
she gets so sleepy after lunch,
but duty calls, and that is that.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Man-made water

“We studied the chemistry of water produced in several of the largest desalination plants on earth and found that that composition of the desalted water is totally different from those of natural waters,” he explains. “As this water leaks into the environment through poor infrastructure or enters it directly through irrigation, it will be possible to use our new tracers to track the water back to its origin.

Disturbing but typical. The difference between natural and artifically desalinated water is seen by the scientists as a handy way to trace the origins of water. What about possible effects on living beings, including humans? There is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. Perhaps it is an example of a difference in how men and women tend to think, with men narrowly focused on specific short-term goals, while women look at a broader scenario. Using the strengths of both kinds of thinking would benefit us more than just using one kind. Which I expect is why the Apaches had to get a proposal to go to war approved by the women of the tribe.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Restore Yourself

Restore Yourself
copyright 1995 Patricia M. Shannon
can be sung to tune of "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel"

Come walk among the trees awhile with me,
and listen to the birds which sing so sweet.
They do not spend their time in mowing lawns,
an action to which most of us are pawns.

Restore yourself by contact with the earth,
from whence we came and where we shall return.

The birds and beasts which live among the trees,
and meadows swaying lovely in the breeze,
they do not think the grass an enemy,
polluting air and ear with foul machine.

We were not made to sit all day on chairs,
in buildings made of cold concrete and steel,
and stare at writings on a monitor,
and talk with fingers to electron gods.

Come smell the earthy fragrance of the woods,
with sweet perfume of mint and wild rose;
cleanse your nostrils of the stink of Lysol spray,
which only brain-washed patsys can endure, much less enjoy.

When The Powerless Rise Up

ScienceDaily (Jun. 16, 2008) — In an effort to reconcile the science stating that power leads to action and lack of power leads to inhibition -- despite constant historical reminders of the powerless rising up and taking action -- new research in the June issue of Psychological Science, suggests that the legitimacy of the power relationship is an important determinant of whether power leads to action.
According to the researchers, when power is acquired or wielded legitimately (e.g., following a fair election or when actions are within authority), the likelihood for a successful cooperative environment is high, with the powerful leading and the powerless following. However, if power is borne of illegitimate means (in fixed elections or self-interested actions that exceed authority) this can motivate force and resistance from the powerless.

Complex Changes In The Brain's Vascular System Occur After Menopause

Remember, the jury is still out on this.

ScienceDaily (Jun. 16, 2008) — Many women experience menopausal changes in their body including hot flashes, moodiness and fatigue, but the changes they don’t notice can be more dangerous. In a new study, researchers at the University of Missouri have discovered significant changes in the brain’s vascular system when the ovaries stop producing estrogen. MU scientists predict that currently used estrogen-based hormone therapies may complicate this process and may do more harm than good in postmenopausal women.

"Before menopause, women are much more protected from certain conditions such as heart disease and stroke, but these vascular changes might explain why women lose this protection after menopause," said Olga Glinskii, research assistant professor of medical pharmacology and physiology in MU’s School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “Because the body eventually will naturally adapt to the loss of estrogen, we advise extreme caution when using estrogen-based therapy in postmenopausal women.”
Before menopause, the vascular system depends on estrogen for maintenance. When the body decreases its estrogen production, the body is unable to regulate blood vessels like it did before. After a period of deterioration, the body learns to adapt to the estrogen loss and eventually maintains the system in a different way.

We are what we eat

I have seen children come into a restaurant really fussing and crying, and after eating, they were cheerful and laughing.

ScienceDaily (Jun. 11, 2008) — New research by scientists at the University of Cambridge suggests that the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as a chemical messenger between nerve cells, plays a critical role in regulating emotions such as aggression during social decision-making.
Their findings highlight why some of us may become combative or aggressive when we haven't eaten. The essential amino acid necessary for the body to create serotonin can only be obtained through diet. Therefore, our serotonin levels naturally decline when we don't eat, an effect the researchers took advantage of in their experimental technique.
The only way to get the raw material for serotonin (tryptophan) is through the diet. Therefore, serotonin levels are lower when you haven't eaten, an effect that the researchers take advantage of in their experimental technique. Eating tryptophan rich foods like poultry (chicken soup) and chocolate can boost serotonin levels - some have speculated that this is why these are "feel good" foods.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pigeons Show Superior Self-recognition Abilities To Three Year Old Humans

ScienceDaily (Jun. 13, 2008) — Keio University scientists have shown that pigeons are able to discriminate video images of themselves even with a 5-7 second delay, thus having self-cognitive abilities higher than 3-year-old children who have difficulty recognizing their self-image with only a 2 second delay.

Delaying School Start Time By One Hour Positively Affects Adolescents' Cognitive Performance

I believe that. Sleeping an hour later certainly improves my cognitive performance. and I'm no teenager.

ScienceDaily (Jun. 13, 2008) — Delaying an adolescent's school start time by one hour has a positive effect on his or her cognitive performance, according to a research abstract that will be presented on June 12 at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

Life's Raw Materials May Have Come From The Stars

ScienceDaily (Jun. 13, 2008) — Scientists have confirmed for the first time that an important component of early genetic material which has been found in meteorite fragments is extraterrestrial in origin, in a paper published on 15 June 2008.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ADHD an advantage for nomadic tribesmen?

A propensity for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might be beneficial to a group of Kenyan nomads, according to new research published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. Scientists have shown that an ADHD-associated version of the gene DRD4 is associated with better health in nomadic tribesmen, and yet may cause malnourishment in their settled cousins.

Paradise Regained

A Piece of Paradise
copyright 2001 Patricia M. Shannon

Walking my dog in the evening,
I hear the crickets call.
How peaceful is the quiet
after the sun falls.

I feel I've found a piece of paradise
to spend delightful days,
listening to the sounds of nature
and watching the squirrels play.

After spending too much time
cooped up in a cube,
I feel full of freedom
when I come out to the woods.

Breathing in the clear, clean air,
I feel so energized;
I need the comfort of the woods
more than I realize.


Stopping by a waterfall,
much to my delight,
I see a mini-rainbow
shining in the bright moonlight.

A hooty owl says "Who are you?"
A loon sings a jazz song.
The stars put on a light show.
while some bull frogs thrum along.


progress or regress?

Looks like ancient Roman laborers were more civilized than some people today.;_ylt=ArRj6w2tu6iHndAp9lFfpNVvieAA

By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press Writer Mon Jun 9, 8:41 PM ET
ROME - First-century burial grounds near Rome's main airport are yielding a rare look into how ancient longshoremen and other manual workers did backbreaking jobs, archaeologists said Monday.

Also excavated was a skeleton of a man whose lower jaw was fused to his upper jaw.

Study indicated "how for all of his life this individual was fed, likely through the care of his family" with liquids or semisolids "introduced through a hole made through his teeth," the archaeology statement said.

The man lived into his 30s, a decent age at the time. Experts took that as evidence that the lower classes cared for the disabled.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Caribbean monk seal becomes extinct

I remember some years ago, when I expressed concern to someone about humans damaging the ocean, they were confident that the ocean was too big for humans to affect. Microbes are so tiny we can't see them with the naked eye, but they can kill us. And they don't use technology. To say that humans can't affect the world shows a lack of knowledge.;_ylt=AufJa0ljKZbA5pv4nxIou9JvieAA

By JAYMES SONG, Associated Press Writer Sat Jun 7, 7:13 AM ET
The last confirmed sighting of a Caribbean monk seal was in 1952 between Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service confirmed Friday that the species is extinct.
The federal agency says there are fewer than 1,200 Hawaiian and 500 Mediterranean monk seals remaining, and their populations are declining.
The Hawaiian monk seal population, protected by NOAA, is declining at a rate of about 4 percent annually, according to NOAA. The agency predicts the population could fall below 1,000 in the next three to four years, placing the mammal among the world's most endangered marine species.

"When populations get very small, they become very unstable," Baker said. "They become more vulnerable to threats like disease and predation by sharks."
Monk seals are particularly sensitive to human disturbance. And the sea creatures have been losing their food supply and beaches, officials say.

"Once Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean were teeming with fish, but these are areas under severe fishing pressure," Cornish said. "They'll eat almost anything — shellfish or finned fish — but their food supply is waning and they're in competition with man."

The Caribbean monk seal, first discovered during Christopher Columbus' second voyage in 1494, once had a population of more than 250,000. But they became easy game for hunters because they often rested, gave birth or nursed their pups on beaches.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Long-term Pesticide Exposure May Increase Risk Of Diabetes

ScienceDaily (Jun. 4, 2008) — Licensed pesticide applicators who used chlorinated pesticides on more than 100 days in their lifetime were at greater risk of diabetes, according to researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The associations between specific pesticides and incident diabetes ranged from a 20 percent to a 200 percent increase in risk, said the scientists with the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Humans Have Ten Times More Bacteria Than Human Cells

ScienceDaily (Jun. 5, 2008) — The number of bacteria living within the body of the average healthy adult human are estimated to outnumber human cells 10 to 1.

So are we humans with bacteria added, or bacteria with human cells added :)