Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Don't kill the whales

Don't Kill the Whales
copyright Patricia M. Shannon 1989

Don't kill the whales, let them roam free
deep in their home in the sea.
We have no right to destroy a whole race,
what we've done to the earth is a bloody disgrace.
Open your eyes before it's too late,
what we do to the world will be our own fate.
Don't kill the whales, let them roam free
deep in their home in the sea.

Don't clearcut the woods, let them grow tall,
a home for creatures great and small.
A place for the birds, the frogs, and the bears,
where the fox and the bobcat make their lairs.
Creator of soil and cleanser of air,
if the woods were all gone, our souls would be bare.
Don't clear the woods, let them grow tall,
for the bears cannot live in a shopping mall!

Conserve energy, recycle that can,
the earth needs the help of each woman and man.
Don't drive the car when you can take the bus,
for pollution hurts everyone of us.
Don't let the earth become barren sands,
the fate of the earth is in our hands.
Conserve energy, recycle that can,
the earth needs the help of each woman and man.

Hey Fever! The Surprise Benefit Of Allergies

There have already been indications that people with strong allergic responses might be more resistant to parasites, and that the paucity of parasites in modern life causes an increase in allergies. This is because the part of the immune system that would otherwise be occupied fighting parasites doesn't have enough real threats to keep it occupied, and so "fights" normally harmless allergens.

ScienceDaily (July 30, 2008) — Long-suffering victims of allergies such as asthma and hay fever might enjoy a surprise benefit, according to research led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

In a paper presented at an international symposium in Sydney, the researchers show that people with one of these atopic diseases are up to 25 percent less likely to get the most common type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

The more atopic diseases the individual has, the less likely they are to succumb to NHL. If an individual has three of these conditions, they are 40 percent less likely to get NHL.

Having had asthma and hay fever for a long time, also appears to be of greater benefit.

The result is significant given that the incidence of NHL in developed countries has escalated dramatically in the past 50 years. It is three times more prevalent now than it was in 1950, making it the sixth most common cause of cancer death in Australia, yet the cause of most cases remains unknown.

"This was a surprise result," said the lead author, Dr Claire Vajdic. "The only known strong risk factors for NHL are immune deficiency and certain infections. This occurs in people with uncontrolled HIV infection, and those who have had a solid organ transplant.

"So we thought other forms of immune dysregulation such as atopic diseases – including hayfever, asthma and food allergies – might relate to the development of lymphoma. It was therefore intuitive to think that these conditions would increase the risk, but in fact, they do the reverse," she said.

The research found that risk was reduced in B-cell NHL only. This is the most common type of NHL.

"While the relevant biological mechanisms are not yet known, the pooled data indicate that chronic and multiple atopic conditions impart the greatest reduction in risk," said Dr Vajdic. "Investigation of the genetic and environmental factors underlying atopy and the apparent inverse effect of atopy on NHL risk will inform our understanding of the complex biological pathways that may be involved."

Monday, July 28, 2008

What is "success"?

From an interview in the March 2007 issue of Discover Magazine, of Jane Goodall.

Q. If chimps are so much like us, why are they endangered while humans dominate the globe?

A. (Jane Goodall) Well, in some ways we're not successful at all. We're destroying our home. That's not a bit successful. Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulation, never destroying the forest. I would say they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.

Friday, July 25, 2008

listen to new song

You can hear "Waffle House Blues" at

Friday, July 11, 2008

Patients Unaware Of Link Between Smoking And Bladder Cancer

ScienceDaily (July 8, 2008)
Even though cigarette smoking accounts for up to half of all bladder cancer cases, few people are aware of the connection -- including more than three-quarters of patients who have bladder cancer, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Montie notes that in the first four years after a smoker quits, the risk of developing bladder cancer decreases by 40 percent.
cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year. Bladder cancer is one of the most costly cancers to treat, so the burden of the disease affects not only patients and their families but also the nation's health care financing system.

Will Our Future Brains Be Smaller?

Who knows. We might continue to advance technologically, and end up with automated vehicles. On the other hand, civilization might collapse, and we might need those quick reflexes more than ever.
I would guess that animals that frequently cross streets are evolving in some way to deal with danger from that.

ScienceDaily (July 8, 2008)
The speed at which we react to threatening situations can have life or death implications. In the more primitive past, it could have meant escaping a wild animal; today it might mean swerving to avoid a head-on car crash.
The results of their modelling showed that when the threat level is high, such as the risk of being attacked by a dangerous animal, it is very useful to have the fast-acting, if inaccurate, system. But when dealing with situations which don't occur very often, or complex scenarios with many conflicting cues such as social situations, the cortical system is of more use than the sub-cortical system.

Trimmer commented: "As life became more complex, the benefit of gathering information before making a decision put an evolutionary pressure on the early brain. This may have led to the rapid development of the cortex in mammals. So if humans continue to live in a world of dangers such as wild animals or fast-moving cars, there will still be an evolutionary benefit to maintaining the sub-cortical system, and it is unlikely to atrophy in future humans."

Silver Lining;_ylt=AoDHL2qq4bLESTGdqiZ0pvms0NUE

By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press 1 hour, 9 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - High gas prices could turn out to be a lifesaver for some drivers. The authors of a new study say gas prices are causing driving declines that could result in a third fewer auto deaths annually, with the most dramatic drop likely to be among teen drivers.

Professors Michael Morrisey of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and David Grabowski of Harvard Medical School said they found that for every 10 percent increase in gas prices there was a 2.3 percent decline in auto deaths. For drivers ages 15 to 17, the decline was 6 percent, and for ages 18 to 21, it was 3.2 percent.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

new song available

You can buy a download of "Waffle House Blues" at

Thursday, July 03, 2008

new song to be available

I got my song "Waffle House Blues" recorded recently by a professional.
It is in the process of being uploaded to myspace.
Keep an eye on

Happy Independence Day


copyright Patricia M. Shannon 1996

They say that they are patriots because they love to wave the flag,
but they throw their trash along the road, and pour used oil down the drain.
They say that they are patriots because the pledge they love to say,
but they never bother to turn out the lights when they go home for the day.

How can we be patriots and not do all we can
to protect the earth upon which all our lives depend?
How can we be patriots and not help our fellow men?
What else is a country, but its people and its land?

They say that they are patriots because, they will always choose
to vote to build more prisons, while cutting funding for our schools.
They say that they are patriots, Star Spangled Banner they do sing,
but to their big gas-guzzlers they selfishly do cling.

How can we be patriots and not do all we can
to prevent the earth from turning into barren sands?
How can we be patriots and not lend a helping hand?
What else is a country, but its people and its land?

They say that they are patriots, because it fills them with such glee
to send our young folks overseas to be killed by enemies.
They say that they are patriots, but they would never think
to tutor some poor kids to help them stay out of the clink.

A country's not a piece of cloth, or words we say by rote;
a country's not a song we sing before we watch a sport.
And love's not just a feeling, it's something that we do,
every day, in every way, in everything we choose.


copyright 1992 Patricia M. Shannon

I have an acquaintance named Sue
who believes all religions are true
because she can't tell
which will send her to hell
if she doesn't sit in its pew!

type of religion affects health of community

ScienceDaily (July 3, 2008)
Blanchard found that people live longer in areas with a large number of Catholic and Mainline Protestant churches. He offers two key reasons for these findings.

"First, these types of churches have what's known as a 'worldly perspective.' Instead of solely focusing on the afterlife, they place a significant emphasis on the current needs of their communities," he said. These religions commonly organize outreach efforts for the needy and homeless, invest in the health infrastructures of their town and participate in other forms of public charity.

"Secondly, these congregations tend to create bridging ties in communities that lead to greater social cohesion among citizens," said Blanchard. This enhanced sense of connection between people provides collective encouragement for healthy behavior.

In contrast to Catholics and Mainline Protestant congregations, Conservative Protestant churches have a mixed effect on community health. The "otherworldly" character of Conservative Protestantism leads congregations in this tradition to focus on the afterlife. Conservative Protestantism is also a more individualistic faith, one in which the believer's personal relationship with God is paramount. These types of churches are thought to downplay the importance of using collective action, including human institutions, to improve the world. Communities dominated by Conservative Protestant churches tend to have higher mortality rates.

However, this finding has an important caveat, because there are different types of Conservative Protestant churches, namely, Fundamentalist, Pentecostal and Evangelical.

"We find that a greater presence of Fundamentalist and Pentecostal congregations is associated with higher rates of mortality, but communities with a large number of Evangelical congregations have better health outcomes," said Blanchard. "Evangelical congregations do a better job of engaging the broader community and promoting social connectedness that is so essential for longer life expectancies. Fundamentalist congregations tend to be more reclusive, and this insularity is linked with higher mortality rates."

What happened to the end of science?

Just a few years ago, some physicists were talking about the end of science, that humans had supposedly learned everything about science. Of course, anybody interested in biology knew that was sill. And they keep learning new things about physics.

ScienceDaily (July 4, 2008)
Some Fundamental Interactions Of Matter Found To Be Fundamentally Different Than Thought

When an atom collides with a molecule, traditional wisdom said the atom had to strike one end of the molecule hard to deliver energy to it. People thought a glancing blow from an atom would be useless in terms of energy transfer, but that turns out not to be the case, according to the researchers.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Species Extinction Threat Underestimated Due To Math Glitch

ScienceDaily (July 3, 2008) — Extinction risks for natural populations of endangered species are likely being underestimated by as much as 100-fold because of a mathematical "misdiagnosis," according to a new study led by a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher.

Efficient lighting

ScienceDaily (July 1, 2008) — Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in cooperation with national standards organizations, have taken the lead in developing the first two standards for solid-state lighting in the United States. This new generation lighting technology uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of incandescent filaments or fluorescent tubes to produce illumination that cuts energy consumption significantly.

Solid-state lighting is expected to significantly reduce the amount of energy needed for general lighting, including residential, commercial and street lighting. "Lighting," explains NIST scientist Yoshi Ohno, "uses 22 percent of the electricity and 8 percent of the total energy spent in the country, so the energy savings in lighting will have a huge impact."

Solid-state lighting is expected to be twice as energy efficient as fluorescent lamps and 10 times more efficient than incandescent lamps, although the current products are still at their early stages. Ohno chaired the task groups that developed these new standards.

Fisheries, Not Whales, To Blame For Shortage Of Fish

ScienceDaily (June 30, 2008) — The argument that increasing whale populations are behind declining fish stocks is completely without scientific foundation, leading researchers and conservation organizations said today as the International Whaling Commission opened its 60th meeting in Santiago, Chile.

The Humane Society International, WWF and the Lenfest Ocean Program today presented three new reports debunking the science behind the ‘whales-eat-fish’ claims emanating from whaling nations Japan, Norway and Iceland. The argument has been used to bolster support for whaling, particularly from developing nations.
The idea that whales are to blame for declining fish stocks was ridiculous to start off with. When there were a lot more whales, there were plenty of fish, until humans starting killing off both.

Natural Carbon Sequestration

ScienceDaily (June 28, 2008) — The battle to reduce carbon emissions is at the heart of many eco-friendly efforts, and researchers from the University of Missouri have discovered that nature has been lending a hand. Researchers at the Missouri Tree Ring Laboratory in the Department of Forestry discovered that trees submerged in freshwater aquatic systems store carbon for thousands of years, a significantly longer period of time than trees that fall in a forest, thus keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

“If a tree is submerged in water, its carbon will be stored for an average of 2,000 years,” said Richard Guyette, director of the MU Tree Ring Lab and research associate professor of forestry in the School of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “If a tree falls in a forest, that number is reduced to an average of 20 years, and in firewood, the carbon is only stored for one year.”

The team studied trees in northern Missouri, a geographically unique area with a high level of riparian forests (forests that have natural water flowing through them). They discovered submerged oak trees that were as old as 14,000 years, potentially some of the oldest discovered in the world. This carbon storage process is not just ancient; it continues even today as additional trees become submerged, according to Guyette.

While a tree is alive, it has a high ability to store carbon, thus keeping it out of the atmosphere. However, as it begins to decay, a tree’s carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Discovering that certain conditions slow this process reveals the importance of proper tree disposal as well as the benefits of riparian forests.

“Carbon plays a huge role in climate change and information about where it goes will be very important someday soon,” said Michael C. Stambaugh, research associate in the MU Department of Forestry. “The goal is to increase our knowledge of the carbon cycle, particularly its exchange between the biosphere (plants) and atmosphere. We need to know where it goes and for how long in order to know how to offset its effects.”