Monday, August 30, 2010

I will return :)

I'll be posting again in a day or two. Pretty busy right now, getting my song demo up, car battery died, real busy at work.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Oneness of Being

I finally got a demo of my favorite song I've written, thanks to the help of David Leonard of Reveal Audio studio
I have it posted at Myspace.

David's web page is at


The Northwest and Northeast Passages are open

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The Northwest Passage--the legendary shipping route through ice-choked Canadian waters at the top of the world--melted free of ice last week, and is now open for navigation, according to satellite mosaics available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and The University of Illinois Cryosphere Today. This summer marks the fourth consecutive year--and fourth time in recorded history--that the fabled passage has opened for navigation. Over the past four days, warm temperatures and southerly winds over Siberia have also led to intermittent opening of the Northeast Passage, the shipping route along the north coast of Russia through the Arctic Ocean. It is now possible to completely circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean in ice-free waters, and this will probably be the case for at least a month. This year marks the third consecutive year--and the third time in recorded history--that both the Northwest Passage and Northeast Passage have melted free, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The Northeast Passage opened for the first time in recorded history in 2005, and the Northwest Passage in 2007. It now appears that the opening of one or both of these northern passages is the new norm, and business interests are taking note--commercial shipping in the Arctic is on the increase, and there is increasing interest in oil drilling. The great polar explorers of past centuries would be astounded at how the Arctic has changed in the 21st century.

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Tofu Ingredient Yields Formaldehyde-Free Glue for Plywood and Other Wood Products

ScienceDaily (Aug. 26, 2010) — In a real-life "back to the future" story, scientists have reported that the sustainable, environmentally-friendly process that gave birth to plywood a century ago is re-emerging as a "green" alternative to wood adhesives made from petroleum. Speaking at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, they described development of new soy-based glues that use a substance in soy milk and tofu and could mean a new generation of more eco-friendly furniture, cabinets, flooring, and other wood products.

The new adhesive contains soy flour and an additive used to make paper towels resist water. It performs as well as conventional wood adhesives for interior products, the scientists said, and does not produce the harmful formaldehyde vapors released from traditional plywood, particleboard, and other composite products.

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Certain petroleum-based adhesives can release formaldehyde, a potential human carcinogen, or substance capable of causing cancer. Formaldehyde fumes from these materials also can cause short-term symptoms, especially in sensitive people. These include watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; and skin irritation. Such problems, combined with high petroleum prices and concerns about sustainability, are spurring wood manufacturers to take another look at soy, Frihart said.

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Moisture Farming

I'm sure this will remind a lot of people of Luke Skywalkers foster family on Tatooine.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 26, 2010) — Some rural Moroccans have to trek for miles every day because their arid environment doesn't provide enough drinking water. Or does it?

Six Rice students with the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy's Energy Forum spent a month helping with a project that harvests potable water from the fog that envelops parts of the Atlas Mountains. The students were joined by Amy Myers Jaffe, a fellow in energy studies at the Baker Institute and associate director of the Rice Energy Program; Ronald Soligo, professor of economics; and Eugenia Georges, professor and chair of anthropology. They worked with the Dar Si Hmad Foundation in Sidi Ifni, Morocco, to move forward an engineering program to capture tiny droplets of water with a polyethylene mesh in the mountainous Boutmezguida region of southern Morocco.

The volleyball-net-like structures grab liquid from the fog, which drips down the nets into collecting tubes. Gravity propels the drops down pipes that terminate at a water storage tank at the bottom of the mountain. The sustainable project could theoretically provide clean, safe water for people in the area.

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While he acknowledged that the nets cannot supply enough water for a metropolitan area, Liu said they can make a real difference for rural families. At a cost of roughly $1,000-$1,500 to cover materials and maintenance for an average 10-year lifespan, he said, "we can provide anywhere from 200 to 1,000 liters of water per day for a village." They also looked into the possibility of harvesting water that accumulated on trees by spreading tarps on the ground beneath them. The idea stemmed from observing indicators of water accumulation on the vegetation. Ideally, the vegetation acts as a natural fog collector.

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Liu echoed Jaffe's conclusion: "Although we may think we know what is best for other countries, it is impossible for us to put ourselves in their shoes. That is why a comprehensive survey needs to be done before any construction so we can get a feel of the situation. If you just go and build without understanding the culture and the relationships of the locals (and what is socially acceptable), you could do more harm than good."


A Moment on the Lips, a Year on the Hips

ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2010) — A short period of excess food consumption can have long term effects on your body weight and fat storage even after the initial weight is lost. A study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Nutrition & Metabolism has found that a four-week episode of increased energy intake and decreased exercise can cause increased weight and fat mass more than two years later when compared to control individuals.

Åsa Ernersson worked with a team of researchers from Linköping University Sweden to investigate the long term effects of a sedentary and gluttonous lifestyle. They capped the physical activity of 18 individuals and used excessive food consumption to increase their energy intake by an average of 70% for four weeks. A separate control group ate and exercised as normal.

The intervention group gained an average of 6.4 kg in body weight, which was mostly lost 6 months later. However, one year later the intervention group showed an increased fat mass compared to baseline; the differences were even greater after two and a half years. Ernersson said "The long term difference in body weight in the intervention and control groups suggests that there is an extended effect on fat mass after a short period of large food consumption and minimal exercise."

The study provides interesting new evidence to suggest that even a short period of excessive eating and a lack of exercise can potentially change an individual's physiology, causing it to be harder to lose and keep off weight. Ernersson summarised, "The change of fat mass was larger than expected when compared to the controls, it suggests that even short-term behavioural changes may have prolonged effects on health."

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Electricity Collected from the Air Could Become the Newest Alternative Energy Source

ScienceDaily (Aug. 26, 2010) — Imagine devices that capture electricity from the air ― much like solar cells capture sunlight ― and using them to light a house or recharge an electric car. Imagine using similar panels on the rooftops of buildings to prevent lightning before it forms. Strange as it may sound, scientists already are in the early stages of developing such devices, according to a report presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

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Scientists once believed that water droplets in the atmosphere were electrically neutral, and remained so even after coming into contact with the electrical charges on dust particles and droplets of other liquids. But new evidence suggested that water in the atmosphere really does pick up an electrical charge.

Galembeck and colleagues confirmed that idea, using laboratory experiments that simulated water's contact with dust particles in the air. They used tiny particles of silica and aluminum phosphate, both common airborne substances, showing that silica became more negatively charged in the presence of high humidity and aluminum phosphate became more positively charged. High humidity means high levels of water vapor in the air ― the vapor that condenses and becomes visible as "fog" on windows of air-conditioned cars and buildings on steamy summer days.

"This was clear evidence that water in the atmosphere can accumulate electrical charges and transfer them to other materials it comes into contact with," Galembeck explained. "We are calling this 'hygroelectricity,' meaning 'humidity electricity'."

In the future, he added, it may be possible to develop collectors, similar to the solar cells that collect the sunlight to produce electricity, to capture hygroelectricity and route it to homes and businesses. Just as solar cells work best in sunny areas of the world, hygroelectrical panels would work more efficiently in areas with high humidity, such as the northeastern and southeastern United States and the humid tropics.

Galembeck said that a similar approach might help prevent lightning from forming and striking. He envisioned placing hygroelectrical panels on top of buildings in regions that experience frequent thunderstorms. The panels would drain electricity out of the air, and prevent the building of electrical charge that is released in lightning. His research group already is testing metals to identify those with the greatest potential for use in capturing atmospheric electricity and preventing lightning strikes.


Study Suggests Link Between Diet Sodas, Preterm Delivery

I don't doubt that artificial sweeteners might be bad for us, but one factor causing these results could be that women with diabetes and/or are overweight might be more likely to drink diet soda, and to have premature babies. Maybe there will be a report in a science blog that tells whether this possibility was allowed for.;_ylt=AnO3TB_Mwdrvmm6XwRMca5is0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNlcWhucTV0BGFzc2V0A2hzbi8yMDEwMDgyNC9zdHVkeXN1Z2dlc3RzbGlua2JldHdlZW5kaWV0c29kYXNwcmV0ZXJtZGVsaXZlcnkEcG9zAzgEc2VjA3luX21vc3RfcG9wdWxhcgRzbGsDc3R1ZHlzdWdnZXN0

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter by Kathleen Doheny
healthday Reporter – 2 hrs 49 mins ago

TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Could drinking one or more artificially sweetened, carbonated diet sodas a day boost a woman's odds of premature delivery? A new study from Denmark suggests such a link.

The researchers looked at the soft drink habits of nearly 60,000 Danish women enrolled in a national study there from 1996 to 2002.

The investigators found a link between the intake of diet carbonated drinks and, to a lesser extent, diet noncarbonated drinks and delivering a baby early.

The study is published online and in the September print issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In the report, the researchers conclude: "Daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery."

The researchers defined preterm as delivering before 37 weeks' gestation. They categorized the women into groups depending on beverage drinking habits: those who never drank soft drinks or those who drank less than one per week, one to six per week, one each day, two or three per day, or four or more daily.

In all, 4.6 percent of the women delivered early, and one-third of those deliveries were medically induced.

The team found no association between the premature delivery and the intake of carbonated drinks sweetened with sugar.

However, compared with those who never drank the beverages, women who downed four or more diet (artificially sweetened) carbonated drinks a day were 78 percent more likely to deliver early than women who never drank the beverages. And those who had four or more diet, noncarbonated drinks daily were 29 percent more likely to deliver early.

Those who had one or more carbonated diet drinks a day were 38 percent more likely to deliver early.

Why the diet drinks, especially, were linked with early delivery is not known, but the researchers speculate that the link may be driven by high blood pressure disorders in pregnancy. They note that other studies have found a link between soft drinks and high blood pressure in non-pregnant women.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Drink Water to Curb Weight Gain

ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2010) — Has the long-sought magic potion in society's "battle with the bulge" finally arrived? An appetite-control agent that requires no prescription, has no common side effects, and costs almost nothing? Scientists report results of a new clinical trial confirming that just two 8-ounce glasses of the stuff, taken before meals, enables people to shed pounds. The weight-loss elixir, they told the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), is ordinary water.

"We are presenting results of the first randomized controlled intervention trial demonstrating that increased water consumption is an effective weight loss strategy," said Brenda Davy, Ph.D., senior author on the study. "We found in earlier studies that middle aged and older people who drank two cups of water right before eating a meal ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories during that meal. In this recent study, we found that over the course of 12 weeks, dieters who drank water before meals, three times per day, lost about 5 pounds more than dieters who did not increase their water intake."

"People should drink more water and less sugary, high-calorie drinks. It's a simple way to facilitate weight management."

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Organizations Learn More from Failure Than Success

ScienceDaily (Aug. 24, 2010) — While success is surely sweeter than failure, it seems failure is a far better teacher, and organizations that fail spectacularly often flourish more in the long run, according to a new study by Vinit Desai, assistant professor of management at the University of Colorado Denver Business School.

Desai's research, published in the Academy of Management Journal, focused on companies and organizations that launch satellites, rockets and shuttles into space -- an arena where failures are high profile and hard to conceal.

Working with Peter Madsen, assistant professor at BYU School of Management, Desai found that organizations not only learned more from failure than success, they retained that knowledge longer.

"We found that the knowledge gained from success was often fleeting while knowledge from failure stuck around for years," he said. "But there is a tendency in organizations to ignore failure or try not to focus on it. Managers may fire people or turn over the entire workforce while they should be treating the failure as a learning opportunity."

The researchers said they discovered little "significant organizational learning from success" but added "we do not discount the possibility that it may occur in other settings."

Desai compared the flights of the space shuttle Atlantis and the Challenger. During the 2002 Atlantis flight, a piece of insulation broke off and damaged the left solid rocket booster but did not impede the mission or the program. There was little follow-up or investigation.

The Challenger was launched next and another piece of insulation broke off. This time the shuttle and its seven-person crew were destroyed.

The disaster prompted the suspension of shuttle flights and led to a major investigation resulting in 29 recommended changes to prevent future calamities.

The difference in response in the two cases, Desai said, came down to this: The Atlantis was considered a success and the Challenger a failure.

"Whenever you have a failure it causes a company to search for solutions and when you search for solutions it puts you as an executive in a different mindset, a more open mindset," said Desai.

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"The most significant implication of this study…is that organizational leaders should neither ignore failures nor stigmatize those involved with them," he concluded in the June edition of the Academy of Management Journal, "rather leaders should treat failures as invaluable learning opportunities, encouraging the open sharing of information about them."


Child Abuse Declines Nationally in U.S. in Spite of Economic Deterioration

This might be at least part of the reason violent crime rates have been going down. Almost all violent criminals were abused as children. Another factor might be the declining rate of lead pollution. People who are exposed to lead before birth and in early childhood are more likely to have violent behavior. Plus, they would behave more violently toward their own children, making it a double whammy.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 24, 2010) — Child abuse declined nationally in the United States in 2008 compared to 2007, according to a new report by the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. Sexual abuse declined 6 percent, physical abuse 3 percent and neglect 2 percent.

The report also found that child maltreatment fatalities stayed stable from 2007 to 2008. These trends are noteworthy, according to the report's authors, because 2008 marked the first full year of the current recession, and economic downturns are generally thought to be associated with increased family stress and child maltreatment.

"This is good news, but we need to be very cautious," said lead author David Finkelhor, director of the center and professor of sociology. "It could be that discouragement and despair in families about their deteriorating economic situation take longer than a year to show their effects."

On the other hand, the report notes, the recent declines represent a continuation of a large downward trend for physical and sexual abuse that is now over 15 years in length.

"The long-improvement for sexual and physical abuse may be related to a generation-long effort to educate and respond more effectively and aggressively to the problem," Finkelhor said. "If successful prevention efforts are behind the declines, then the improvements may persist even in the face of social stressors like the recession."

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eggshells look more colorful through birds' eyes

By Wynne Parry
updated 1 hour 34 minutes ago

Birds see a more colorful world than we do, especially when it comes to their eggs, a new study suggests.

Unlike humans, birds can see ultraviolet (UV) light, and they have four rather than three color receptors in their eyes, allowing them to better distinguish between hues.

Now researchers have shown that while most of the color variation in eggshells can be seen by humans and birds alike, a swath of hues that our eyes miss may play an important role in avian life. For instance, we are oblivious to the UV pigment that may help birds differentiated between their own eggs and those of another species.

Among vertebrates, birds are unique in laying eggs with pigmented shells, though scientists suspect the ancestral egg was white and had none of the speckles now common on birds' eggs.

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Tylenol tied to childhood asthma and allergies

It is already known that aspirin can trigger an asthma attack in some people.

updated 8/13/2010 6:53:50 PM ET

NEW YORK — A pair of studies suggests that the common painkiller acetaminophen -- better known as Tylenol in the U.S. -- may be fueling a worldwide increase in asthma.

According to one study out Thursday, Tylenol could be responsible for as many as four in 10 cases of wheezing and severe asthma in teens.

While no one knows if the drug causes asthma by itself, another report -- published along with the first study -- shows for the first time that many toddlers took Tylenol before they developed asthma symptoms such as wheezing.

"We have confirmed that acetaminophen use comes first, so a causal link is increasingly likely," said Dr. Alemayehu Amberbir, of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and the University of Nottingham in the UK.

But large-scale clinical tests are necessary before anyone cleans out their medicine cabinet, stressed Amberbir, whose findings are published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Fair & Balanced?

http:August 19, 2010

IT'S NOT JUST THE PARENT COMPANY.... News Corp's $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association has generated a fair amount of attention, not on Fox News, which refuses to report on the story, but at most major outlets. There is a defense that Fox News can point to, however: News Corp is the corporate parent, so it's not the network's fault.

Michael Wolff reports today, however, that this unpersuasive argument isn't true. Rupert Murdoch isn't usually inclined to give $1 million to politicians, and according to Wolff, the massive contribution came not from Murdoch but from Roger Ailes -- the Republican campaign veteran who runs Fox News.

The company is claiming the donation has nothing to do with its news side, going so far as to audaciously say, "There is a strict wall between business and editorial." The "corporate side" made the donation, News Corp.'s hapless spokesman insists. But the central advocate for giving the dough has been none other than Fox Chief Roger Ailes. In the past, Ailes has been stymied or neutralized in his quest to have the company put its corporate money where its mouth is, because the No. 2 in the company until last summer, Peter Chernin, was a Democrat.

With Chernin gone, and with Fox News outperforming most other parts of the company, Ailes is the central voice... It really isn't possible that Murdoch is giving a million bucks and getting nothing for it.

Indeed, it's equally implausible that Murdoch's operation would care about gubernatorial races enough to give the Republican Governors Association a contribution with no modern precedent. The House and Senate, maybe. But governors? Republicans care about gubernatorial races, in large part because of post-Census redistricting, but News Corp's interest doesn't really make sense.

Roger Ailes' interest, however, makes perfect sense.//

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

How Polling Places Can Impact the Vote
August 21, 2010

The physical location of a poling place not only affects how many people vote -- it may also influence last-minute decisions regarding which box to mark or lever to pull.

Miller-McCune: "Polling places are, in theory, scrupulously neutral places, devoid of visual cues like campaign signs. But according to two recent studies, the building in which a polling place is located can exert subtle but perhaps decisive influence on how votes are cast."

August 19, 2010

Location, location, location: The house-buyer’s maxim also applies to polling places. That’s the conclusion of a 2005 study published in the Journal of Politics, which found that “small differences in distance from the polls can have a significant impact on voter turnout.” Moshe Haspel of Spelman College and H. Gibbs Knotts of Western Carolina University analyzed the 2001 mayoral election in Atlanta. They “geocoded” (now there’s a wonky word) each voter’s address and calculated the shortest distance between home and their assigned polling place.

Their first finding was hardly a shocker: While distance to the polling place did influence the likelihood of voting, the impact was much greater for households in which no one owned a car. But the researchers were surprised by a seemingly counterintuitive statistic: Moving the location of a polling place actually increased voter turnout. The researchers noted that, since the previous election, the number of precincts in the city had increased from 160 to 168, shortening some distances between voters’ homes and the polls. This factor apparently outweighed “any confusion over the location of the polling place,” they concluded.

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Polling places are, in theory, scrupulously neutral places, devoid of visual cues like campaign signs. But according to two recent studies, the building in which a polling place is located can exert subtle but perhaps decisive influence on how votes are cast.

In a 2008 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, three researchers from the Stanford Graduate School of Business analyzed the 2000 general election in Arizona, which included an initiative to raise the state sales tax to support education. In the state’s slightly more than 2,000 precincts, the researchers found that 40 percent of votes were cast in churches, 26 percent in schools, 10 percent in community centers and 4 percent each in apartment complexes and government centers.

The researchers suspected voters who had to walk by classroom doors or rows of lockers to cast their ballot would be more likely to vote for the school-funding measure. The numbers showed their hunch was right: “People who voted at schools were more likely to support raising taxes to fund education (55.0 percent) than people who voted at other polling locations (53.09 percent).”


Homework Wars: How Can Parents Improve the Odds of Winning?

ScienceDaily (Aug. 20, 2010) — Children are more likely to do their homework if they see it as an investment, not a chore, according to new research at the University of Michigan.

Most children in the United States say they expect to go to college, but there is frequently a gap between students' goals and their current behavior, according to the study conducted by U-M graduate student Mesmin Destin and Daphna Oyserman, a psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), School of Social Work, and Department of Psychology. The gap can be especially wide among low-income and African American students, the study says.

Children who saw how adult earnings were related to education were eight times more likely to do the extra credit homework as those who saw the presentation showing adult earnings independent of amount of education.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cigarette smoke causes harmful changes in the lungs even at the lowest levels

Public release date: 20-Aug-2010
Contact: Kaitlin Vangura
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Cigarette smoke causes harmful changes in the lungs even at the lowest levels
First study to show alteration in the function of genes in the lungs resulting from secondhand and low-level smoking

NEW YORK (August 20, 2010) -- Casual smokers may think that smoking a few cigarettes a week is "no big deal." But according to new research from physician-scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, having an infrequent smoke, or being exposed to secondhand smoke, may be doing more harm than people may think. The findings may further support public smoking bans, say the authors.

According to a new study published today in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, being exposed to even low-levels of cigarette smoke may put people at risk for future lung disease, such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Epidemiological studies have long shown that secondhand smoke is dangerous, but there have never been conclusive biological tests demonstrating what it does to the body at a gene function level, until now.

"Even at the lowest detectable levels of exposure, we found direct effects on the functioning of genes within the cells lining the airways," says Dr. Ronald Crystal, senior author of the study and chief of the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and chair of the department of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Dr. Crystal explains that genes, commonly activated in the cells of heavy smokers, are also turned on or off in those with very low-level exposure.

"The genetic effect is much lower than those who are regular smokers, but this does not mean that there are no health consequences," says Dr. Crystal. "Certain genes within the cells lining the airways are very sensitive to tobacco smoke, and changes in the function of these genes are the first evidence of 'biological disease' in the lungs or individuals."

To make their findings, Dr. Crystal and his collaborators tested 121 people from three different categories: "nonsmokers," "active smokers" and "low exposure smokers." The researchers tested urine levels of nicotine and cotinine -- markers of cigarette smoking within the body -- to determine each participant's category.

The research team then scanned each person's entire genome to determine which genes were either activated or deactivated in cells lining the airways. They found that there was no level of nicotine or cotinine that did not also correlate with genetic abnormalities.

"This means that no level of smoking, or exposure to secondhand smoke, is safe," says Dr. Crystal. He goes on to say that these genetic changes are like a "canary in a coal mine," warning of potential life-threatening disease, "but the canary is chirping for low-level exposure patients, and screaming for active smokers."

Dr. Crystal says that this is further evidence supporting the banning of smoking in public places, where non-smokers, and employees of businesses that allow smoking, are put at risk for future lung disease.


For a more conversational report on the same study:


Head of Fox News Contributed big to Republicans

http:August 19, 2010

IT'S NOT JUST THE PARENT COMPANY.... News Corp's $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association has generated a fair amount of attention, not on Fox News, which refuses to report on the story, but at most major outlets. There is a defense that Fox News can point to, however: News Corp is the corporate parent, so it's not the network's fault.

Michael Wolff reports today, however, that this unpersuasive argument isn't true. Rupert Murdoch isn't usually inclined to give $1 million to politicians, and according to Wolff, the massive contribution came not from Murdoch but from Roger Ailes -- the Republican campaign veteran who runs Fox News.

The company is claiming the donation has nothing to do with its news side, going so far as to audaciously say, "There is a strict wall between business and editorial." The "corporate side" made the donation, News Corp.'s hapless spokesman insists. But the central advocate for giving the dough has been none other than Fox Chief Roger Ailes. In the past, Ailes has been stymied or neutralized in his quest to have the company put its corporate money where its mouth is, because the No. 2 in the company until last summer, Peter Chernin, was a Democrat.

With Chernin gone, and with Fox News outperforming most other parts of the company, Ailes is the central voice... It really isn't possible that Murdoch is giving a million bucks and getting nothing for it.

Indeed, it's equally implausible that Murdoch's operation would care about gubernatorial races enough to give the Republican Governors Association a contribution with no modern precedent. The House and Senate, maybe. But governors? Republicans care about gubernatorial races, in large part because of post-Census redistricting, but News Corp's interest doesn't really make sense.

Roger Ailes' interest, however, makes perfect sense.//

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Maslow's pyramid gets a much needed renovation

Public release date: 19-Aug-2010
Contact: Skip Derra
Arizona State University
Maslow's pyramid gets a much needed renovation
A reworking of the famous psychological pyramid of needs puts parenting at the top

TEMPE, Ariz. – If you have ever felt that your children are your life's work, then you may in fact be recognizing a high-level psychological need. Caring for your children, feeding them, nurturing them, educating them and making sure they get off on the right foot in life – all of the things that make parenting successful – may actually be deep rooted psychological urges that we fulfill as part of being human.

This is according to a team of psychologists who have updated a cornerstone of modern psychology – Abraham Maslow's pyramid of needs. Maslow's pyramid describes human motivations from the most basic to the most advanced. But Maslow's time tested pyramid, first proposed in the 1940s, had begun to look a bit weathered and outdated.

So a team of psychologists, including two from Arizona State University, recast the pyramid. In doing so, they have taken on one of psychology's iconic symbols and have generated some controversy along the way.

The revamp of Maslow's pyramid reflects new findings and theory from fields like neuroscience, developmental psychology and evolutionary psychology, said Douglas Kenrick, an ASU professor of psychology and lead author of the paper, "Renovating the pyramid of needs: Contemporary extensions built upon ancient foundations." The paper was published in the March issue of Perspectives on Psychological Sciences.

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The bottom four levels of the new pyramid are highly compatible with Maslow's, but big changes are at the top. Perhaps the most controversial modification is that self-actualization no longer appears on the pyramid at all. At the top of the new pyramid are three evolutionarily critical motives that Maslow overlooked – mate acquisition, mate retention and parenting.

The researchers state in the article that while self-actualization is interesting and important, it isn't an evolutionarily fundamental need. Instead, many of the activities that Maslow labeled as self-actualizing (artistic creativity, for example) reflect more biologically basic drives to gain status, which in turn serves the goal of attracting mates.

"Among human aspirations that are most biologically fundamental are those that ultimately facilitate reproduction of our genes in our children's children," Kenrick explained. "For that reason, parenting is paramount."

The researchers are not saying that artists or poets are consciously thinking about increasing their reproductive success when they feel the inspiration to paint or write.

"Reproductive goals are ultimate causes," Kenrick added, "like the desire of birds to migrate because it helps them survive and reproduce. But at a proximate (or immediate psychological) level, the bird migrates because its brain registers that the length of day is changing. In our minds, we humans create simply because it feels good to us; we're not aware of its ultimate function."

"You could argue that a peacock's display is as beautiful as anything any human artist has ever produced," Kenrick said. "Yet it has a clear biological function – to attract a mate. We suspect that self actualization is also simply an expression of the more evolutionarily fundamental need to reproduce."

But, Kenrick adds, for humans reproduction is not just about sex and producing children. It's also about raising those children to the age at which they can reproduce as well. Consequently, parenting sits atop the revamped pyramid.

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Maslow's work has been distorted by pop culture. What he meant by "self-actualization" was not self-centeredness.

Maslow found that all self-actualizing people are dedicated to a vocation or a cause. Two requirements for growth are commitment to something greater than oneself and success at one's chosen tasks.


CEO: No Need to Invest Right Now

Republicans say we need big tax break for the very rich, because they will invest in business. But business already has a lot of money they're not using.

"I could borrow $2 billion tomorrow for 3 1/2 percent. But what am I going to do with it?"
David Speer, CEO of Illinois Tool Works which has 60,000 employees worldwide in more than 800 business units and $14 billion in sales.

The above quote is from an article by Neil Irwin in the WaPo: With consumers slow to spend, businesses are slow to hire

There is no reason to invest when there is excess capacity in most industries (and excess supply in housing). This excess capacity or lack of demand - and therefore lack of new investment - is a key reason why the recovery is sluggish.

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Green leafy vegetables reduce diabetes risk

Public release date: 19-Aug-2010
Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Green leafy vegetables reduce diabetes risk
Research: Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Eating more green leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, finds research published today on

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Patrice Carter and colleagues reviewed six studies involving over 220,000 participants that focused on the links between fruit and vegetable consumption and type 2 diabetes.

The results reveal that eating one and a half extra servings of green leafy vegetables a day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14%. However, eating more fruit and vegetables combined does not significantly affect this risk. Only a small number of studies were included in the meta-analysis and the benefit of fruit and vegetables as a whole for prevention of type 2 diabetes may have been obscured.

The authors believe that fruit and vegetables can prevent chronic diseases because of their antioxidant content. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach may also act to reduce type 2 diabetes risk due to their high magnesium content.

The authors argue that "our results support the evidence that 'foods' rather than isolated components such as antioxidants are beneficial for health … results from several supplement trials have produced disappointing results for prevention of disease."


ADHD risk may be tied to pesticide exposure before birth

By Linda Carroll contributor
updated 8/19/2010 11:21:56 AM ET

Children whose mothers were exposed to widely-used pesticides such as malathion during pregnancy may be at increased risk of developing an attention disorder by age 5, a new study shows.

Researchers found that the risk of attention disorders rose with increasing levels of metabolites — substances created when pesticides break down — measured in a pregnant woman’s urine. For each tenfold increase in pesticide metabolites in a mom’s system, the risk of an attention disorder rose fivefold in her child, according to the report published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study results fall in line with a report published earlier this year by Harvard researchers who found that school-aged children exposed to organophosphates, one of the most common types of pesticides, were more likely than others to develop symptoms of attention deficit disorder.

Pregnant women worried about the findings should lower the risk to their fetuses by carefully washing fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, suggests Brenda Eskenazi, a study co-author and director of the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health. Other experts suggest that pregnant women should eat organic fruits and vegetables when possible.

Eskenazi doesn't advise pregnant women to avoid eating

fruits and vegetables, however. “I think the risk created by not eating them is far greater than the risk from the pesticides,” said Eskenazi, a professor of epidemiology.

That advice is echoed by experts not affiliated with the study.

----- (skipping)

Eskenazi and her colleagues were interested in studying organophosphates because these pesticides are designed to kill insects by attacking the nervous system. The researchers suspected that the compounds might also affect a fetus’s developing nervous system.

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Another article on this study is


Friday, August 20, 2010

Paving 'Slabs' That Clean the Air

ScienceDaily (Aug. 18, 2010) — The concentrations of toxic nitrogen oxide that are present in German cities regularly exceed the maximum permitted levels. That's now about to change, as innovative paving slabs that will help protect the environment are being introduced. Coated in titanium dioxide nanoparticles, they reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide in the air.

----- (skipping)

Dr. Monika Herrchen, a scientist at the IME, says: "Experiments in Italian cities had already shown that photocatalytic paving slabs can improve the air quality. We wanted to see if they would also be effective here in Germany, where we have lower levels of light intensity and fewer hours of sunshine. Of course, the more intense the sunshine, the quicker the degradation of harmful substances, so our aim was to identify the formula with the highest photocatalytic efficiency rating."

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Evolution May Have Pushed Humans Toward Greater Risk for Type 1 Diabetes

ScienceDaily (Aug. 18, 2010) — Gene variants associated with an increased risk for type-1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis may confer previously unknown benefits to their human carriers, say researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. As a result, the human race may have been evolving in the recent past to be more susceptible, rather than less, to some complex diseases, they conclude.

"At first we were completely shocked because, without insulin treatment, type-1 diabetes will kill you as a child," said Atul Butte, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric cancer biology and a bioinformatics expert. "Everything we've been taught about evolution would indicate that we should be evolving away from developing it. But instead, we've been evolving toward it. Why would we have a genetic variant that predisposes us to a deadly condition?"

The researchers speculate that at least some of the risky changes may protect carriers against certain viruses and bacteria -- a trade-off that may have made evolutionary sense in the not-too-distant past when infectious diseases were devastating and largely untreatable. It's not clear, however, whether the beneficial effects arise from the disease-associated mutations themselves, or from neighboring genes that tag along when DNA is divvied up into sperm and eggs.

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The idea that disease-causing genes can be beneficial is not new. The most clear-cut case involves a gene variant that, when present in two copies, causes sickle cell anemia, which can result in severe pain, organ damage and death. Although it seems that natural selection would work to eliminate the disorder, the variant remains prevalent in some areas of Africa because people with just a single copy are less susceptible to malaria. Evolutionarily the trade-off is worth it: Far more people are protected from malaria than ever develop sickle cell anemia even in today's environment.

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"Now we're starting to see little hints as to why this might be the case," said Butte. For example, a recent study in another lab showed that genetic variations in an antiviral response gene called IFIH1 that improve its ability to protect against enterovirus infection (and the resulting severe, potentially deadly, abdominal distress) also increase a carrier's risk for type-1 diabetes. And scientists who study global disease patterns have long noted that the prevalence of tuberculosis varies inversely with that of rheumatoid arthritis.

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Black Patients, Women Miss out on Strongest Medications for Chronic Pain

ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2010) — Black patients are prescribed fewer pain medications than whites and few women receive medications strong enough to manage their chronic pain, according to a study in the August issue of Journal of Pain.

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Younger men received better pain management, and the U-M found other racial and gender gaps in the pain care journey that suggests changes are needed beginning in primary care.

"Most patients first seek help for pain from their primary care doctor," said U-M pain medicine specialist and anesthesiologist Carmen R. Green, M.D., lead author of the study. "If we are to reduce or eliminate disparities in pain care, we have to support successful primary care interventions."

Before referral to the specialty pain center, black patients were on 1.8 medications compared to 2.6 medicines among white patients. The gender gap was worse: only 21 percent of women were prescribed a strong opoid, compared to 30 percent of men taking a strong painkiller.

Problems with access to pain care and previous research suggests that overall, the pain complaints of women and minorities get less attention and lesser quality treatment from health care professionals.

It's a variance that can lead to differences in outcomes such as disability, sleep disturbance and depression.

U-M researchers did not ask physicians about their prescribing practices, but they did examine barriers to treatment from a patient's point of view.

"Men and women differed on a single item -- the notion, primarily among women, to save medication in case pain gets worse. Blacks also more more strongly endorsed that it was easier to put up with pain than the side effects of medication," Green says.

Chronic pain is increasingly common and there are many options to treat it successfully, yet people continue to suffer with inadequate pain management, authors say.


Plant growth declines as warming causes drought;_ylt=AmRnYQIEhIVES_JPgiqREHis0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTFlcWd2ZHI0BHBvcwMxMTUEc2VjA2FjY29yZGlvbl9zY2llbmNlBHNsawNwbGFudGdyb3d0aGQ-

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, Ap Science Writer – Thu Aug 19, 5:03 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Plant growth that had been spurred by global warming has reversed, despite temperatures that continue to rise.

Researchers say the change could affect food security and development of biofuels.

The amount of carbon taken up by growing plants increased from 1982 through 1999 as temperatures rose and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased.

But a new study in Friday's edition of the journal Science found a drought-related decline in such plant growth from 2000 to 2009, even though temperatures continued to climb.

As drought caused by warming reduces the land's ability to take up carbon, the result could be more carbon dioxide left in the atmosphere, and thus more warming, Maosheng Zhao of the University of Montana explained in a telephone interview.

"This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth," co-author Steven W. Running, also of the University of Montana, said in a statement.

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Their study, based on data collected by NASA satellites, found that northerly areas continued to increase plant growth, thanks to warmer temperatures and a longer growing season.

But that was more than offset by warming-associated drought in the Southern Hemisphere.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Birth Dates, School Enrollment Dates Affect ADHD Diagnosis Rates

ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2010) — Rising rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and large differences in diagnosis rates have led to fears that the condition is often being misdiagnosed. A new study from North Carolina State University demonstrates that these concerns are justified. The researchers found large discrepancies in diagnosis and treatment rates based on small differences in children's dates of birth.

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Morrill explains that the study shows that children born just after the kindergarten cutoff date were 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD than children born just before the cutoff date. "This indicates that there are children who are diagnosed (or not) because of something other than underlying biological or medical reasons.

"We believe that younger children may be mistakenly diagnosed as having ADHD, when in fact they are simply less mature," Morrill says.

Morrill stresses that "we are not downplaying the existence or significance of ADHD in children. What our research shows is that similar students have significantly different diagnosis rates depending on when their birthday falls in relation to the school year."

see also:

Other countries probing Bush-era torture — Why aren't we?

Posted on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

By Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — In June, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a Canadian man who contends that U.S. authorities mistook him for an al Qaida operative in 2002 and shipped him to a secret prison in Syria, where he was beaten with electrical cables and held in a grave-like cell for 10 months.

Four years earlier, however, the Canadian government had concluded an exhaustive inquiry and found that the former prisoner, Maher Arar, was telling the truth. Canada cleared Arar of all ties to terrorism and paid him $10 million in damages, and his lawyers say he's cooperating with an investigation into the role of U.S. and Syrian officials in his imprisonment and reported torture.

Arar's case illustrates what lawyers and human rights groups call a shameful trend: While U.S. courts and the Obama administration have been reluctant or unwilling to pursue the cases, countries that once backed former President George W. Bush's war on terrorism are carrying out their own investigations of the alleged U.S. torture program and the role that their governments played in it.

Judges in Great Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland and Lithuania are preparing to hear allegations that their governments helped the CIA run secret prisons on their soil or cooperated in illegal U.S. treatment of terrorism suspects. Spanish prosecutors also have filed criminal charges against six senior Bush administration officials who approved the harsh interrogation methods that detainees say were employed at U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and other sites.

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Mind-controlling parasites date back millions of years

By Charles Q. Choi
updated 8/17/2010 8:15:18 PM ET

Mind control by parasite sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but not only have scientists revealed that it is real across a range of animals including perhaps humans they now even have fossil evidence suggesting it has taken place for millions of years.

An unnerving variety of parasites have evolved the ability to control the brains of victims to help the parasites spread. For instance, the protozoan known as Toxoplasma gondi imakes rats love cat urine so that it can spread among its feline hosts and it may influence human culture as well, making people more prone to certain forms of neuroticism.

Another case of parasite mind control involves the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, which essentially turns ants into zombies. It maneuvers the insects into biting down on the major veins of the undersides of leaves just before they die the fungus then rapidly grows a stalk from their victims' heads, releasing spores to infect more ants.

Now scientists have discovered what might be ancient evidence of such mind-control-induced death grips scars on a roughly 48-million-year-old leaf.

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"We are now realizing that half of life on Earth is parasitic — each free-living organism has at least one parasite," Hughes said. "But very few manipulate behaviors and there is a reason for that — it is likely very costly.


Lou Gehrig may not have really had Lou Gehrig's disease

Study shows concussions, brain trauma can mimic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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This story, "Study says brain trauma can mimic Lou Gehrig's disease", first appeared in The New York Times.

see also:


Aid workers warn of famine disaster in Niger

Another example of why I don't designate a specific disaster when I donate.

updated 8/14/2010 1:06:28 PM ET

DAKAR, Senegal — Niger is now facing the worst hunger crisis in its history, with almost half the country's population in desperate need of food and up to one in six children suffering from acute malnutrition, aid officials say.

Malek Triki, West Africa spokesman for the United Nations' World Food Programme, said villagers in Niger are describing the situation as worse than in 2005, when aid organizations treated tens of thousands of children for malnutrition, and worse even than 1973, when thousands died.

"What they are saying is that this is the worst crisis in living memory," Triki said.

National surveys conducted in May and June in the drought-stricken country on the southern fringe of the Sahara desert indicate that 16.7 percent of children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished. That is well above the 15 percent threshold used by the U.N. to declare an emergency, according to the WFP.

The WFP estimates that 7.3 million people — almost half the country's population — are in desperate need of food. In rural areas like Diffa, Triki says he spoke to numerous people who eat at most once a day.

"A woman I spoke to basically said, 'We're in a constant state of fasting. If we eat lunch, we cannot eat dinner. If we eat dinner, we cannot eat lunch.'"

Aid workers, however, say that the high rate of malnutrition is obvious at the food distribution points. Many of the children "look stunted," said Triki.

It's unclear if people have begun to die of starvation, he said, and mortality figures are not available from either Niger's government or the U.N.

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Flood-ravaged Pakistan faces donor fatigue

By Kamran Haider
updated 8/17/2010 11:09:53 AM ET

ISLAMABAD — Only a small fraction of the 6 million Pakistanis desperate for food and clean water have received any help as the United Nations battled donor fatigue and appealed urgently on Tuesday for more funds.

With hundreds of villages marooned and highways and bridges cut in half by swollen rivers, food rations and access to clean water have only been provided to around 500,000 million flood survivors, the U.N. said.

The United Nations has warned that up to 3.5 million children could be in danger of contracting deadly diseases carried through contaminated water and insects in a crisis that has disrupted the lives of at least a tenth of Pakistan's 170 million people.

"We have a country which has endemic watery diarrhea, endemic cholera, endemic upper respiratory infections and we have the conditions for much much expanded problems," Daniel Toole, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, told a news conference.

"We cannot spend pledges. We cannot buy purification tablets, we cannot support Pakistan with pledges. I urge the international community to urgently change pledges into checks."

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The following link has links to organizations providing aid to Pakistan.
It is a Canadian news outlook, so some of the organizations are the Canadian branches of international organizations.
I am trying to find an equivalent list for the U.S.
I never donate for a specific disaster, because often more is donated than is needed for a highly publicized disaster, then when there are subsequent disasters, there are fewer donations.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Disaster Aid Organizations

The following link has a links to the following disaster relief organizations, toward the bottom right of the page.

Action Against Hunger
American Red Cross
American Refugee Committee
Catholic Relief Services
Caring for Kaela: International Children's Foundation
Christian Children's Fund
Concern Worldwide US
Doctors without Borders
Enough Project
Genocide Intervention Network
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Human Rights Watch
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
Jewish World Watch
Mercy Corps
Not On Our Watch Project
Oxfam International
Save Darfur
STAND: Students Taking Action Now: Darfur
U.N. Refugee Agency
UNMIS: U.N. Mission in Sudan
World Food Programme
World Vision International

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Big Bucks for a Job Poorly Done

CEOs are dropping like flies this year. Just this month, the CEOs of GM, Sara Lee and Hewlett-Packard announced their resignations, though each did so for different reasons.

In the case of HP, Mark Hurd was forced to resign after allegedly having an affair with a contractor and subsequently fabricating expense reports to cover up money that had gone to the woman. However, despite these allegations, Hurd, like most CEOs at major U.S. companies, will likely end up with a very generous severance package from the company. Early estimates say he may receive anywhere between $12 million and $40 million.

It’s no surprise Americans get frustrated when hearing about CEOs earning more money in an hour than most Americans earn in a year. It’s one thing when a CEO gets paid millions of dollars for a job well done, but the executives on this list made off with incredibly generous severance and retirement packages, even as they failed their companies.

--By Seth Fiegerman for


There is a slide show of 7 examples:

1. Tony Hayward, BP
While there’s no official word on how much he’ll get, estimates put it near $18 million.

2. Rick Wagoner, GM
When Wagoner left, the company was on the brink of financial ruin, and a month later, GM filed for bankruptcy. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, GM will pay Wagoner $8.2 million for the first five years of his retirement and $74,030 each year on top of that for as long as he lives.

3. Ken Lewis, Bank of America
Lewis presided over the company as it entered into a financial crisis and needed a bailout with billions in taxpayer money. But when it came time to leave, the company rewarded him with $72 million in “stock and other compensation,” on top of $53 million in pension money.

4. Carly Fiorina, HP
Carly Fiorina, was forced to resign back in 2005 due to the company’s declining market value. But the company still paid her $21 million in severance and as much as $20 million on top of that in stock options.

5. Harry Stonecipher, Boeing
Harry Stonecipher was forced to step down in 2005 due to allegations that he’d had an affair with an executive at the company. Unlike some of the other CEOs on this list, Stonecipher was penalized somewhat for his actions, and had to forfeit $38 million in company stocks. Still, Boeing didn’t let him leave completely empty-handed. As part of his severance package, Stonecipher made off with $11 million in stocks plus an annual pension of $681,000 a year.

6. Hank McKinnell, Pfizer
Hank McKinnell was the CEO of Pfizer for five years, and the company’s stock value suffered throughout his tenure. Imagine how shareholders must have felt in 2006 when McKinnell was pushed out, only to end up with one of the largest severance packages in history. McKinnell received $122 million in retirement money, plus additional compensation worth another $78 million.

7. Martin Sullivan, AIG
Martin Sullivan took over as CEO in 2005 and served in this position until the middle of 2008 after AIG posted two consecutive quarters of record losses. AIG paid Sullivan a nice severance of $15 million, in addition to $28 million in additional compensation.


Restore Yourself

Restore Yourself
copyright 2008 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.


Out of Fashion: Green Lawns

I don't water my own lawn. It's survival of the fittest! And I think dandelions are much prettier than plain grass.

Published on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 by USA Today
by Laura Vanderkam

Diane Faulkner's lawn was always causing her trouble. This Jacksonville, Fla., resident traveled frequently, and in her absence, her thirsty, fussy grass would go brown or otherwise run afoul of her neighborhood association's rules. She hated returning home to a $50 fine, but the last straw was when her travels took her to rural Kenya. Immersed in local life, she'd wake up at dawn with the villagers to walk miles along a dried-up river toward a water source, then return with a few gallons for cooking and washing.

"That was their whole morning," she says. As soon as she got on the plane back to America, she had a thought: "How many gallons of water do I waste on that stinking lawn?" And more broadly, why did she even have a lawn in the first place?

It's a question a growing number of sweaty Americans are asking as they push (or ride) their lawnmowers in the August heat. While a field of green, closely cropped grass is the default landscape for a "nice" neighborhood, there's no reason it has to be. And there are plenty of reasons it shouldn't be - at least if we value the planet and our time.

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According to Stephen Kress of theNational Audubon Society, homeowners apply 78 million pounds of pesticides a year to lawns,often to kill "weeds" such as dandelions and clover, perhaps not noticing that these plants look just as green as grass when you mow them.

Mowing itself requires fuel, just like our cars, with a similar impact on the environment. And all these woes are before you even get to the issue of water. According to Kress, maintaining non-native plants requires 10,000 gallons of water per year per lawn, over and above rainwater. That water doesn't just show up by itself; it requires energy to get to your hose. In California, for example, the energy required to treat and move water amounts to 19% of total electricity use in the state.

In short, lawns are incredibly inefficient, and not just from an environmental perspective. Maintenance requires time and money, which people usually claim are in short supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey, the average father of school-aged kids spends 1.6 hours a week on lawn and garden care - more time than he spends on reading, talking, playing or doing educational activities with his kids combined.

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1 in 5 US teenagers has slight hearing loss

The only thing "stunning" about this to me is that it's a lower percentage, and less damage than I would have guessed.;_ylt=AgiEVeFI5967tRNxio1ej66s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTFldGQ3cTl2BHBvcwM2NQRzZWMDYWNjb3JkaW9uX3Vfc19uZXdzBHNsawNzdHVkeTFpbjV1c3Q-

By CARLA K. JOHNSON, AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson, Ap Medical Writer – Tue Aug 17, 6:35 pm ET

CHICAGO – A stunning one in five teens has lost a little bit of hearing, and the problem has increased substantially in recent years, a new national study has found.

Some experts are urging teenagers to turn down the volume on their digital music players, suggesting loud music through earbuds may be to blame — although hard evidence is lacking. They warn that slight hearing loss can cause problems in school and set the stage for hearing aids in later life.

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Those with slight hearing loss "will hear all of the vowel sounds clearly, but might miss some of the consonant sounds" such as t, k and s, Curhan said.

"Although speech will be detectable, it might not be fully intelligible," he said.

While the researchers didn't single out iPods or any other device for blame, they found a significant increase in high-frequency hearing loss, which they said may indicate that noise caused the problems. And they cited a 2010 Australian study that linked use of personal listening devices with a 70 percent increased risk of hearing loss in children.

"I think the evidence is out there that prolonged exposure to loud noise is likely to be harmful to hearing, but that doesn't mean kids can't listen to MP3 players," Curhan said.

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Death and Joblessness

By Annie Lowrey 8/17/10 4:30 AM

He hit “publish” on the last Wednesday in July, in the middle of a long afternoon. “I also have become homeless and am on the verge of suicide. I slept out in the wood last night and didn’t gett very much sleep. I hate to bring you people down with my problems but I thought you would like to know this. I don’t know what else to say except I’m very sorry it turned out like this but I can take the strain of living like this very much longer.” (All posts are reproduced as published.)

The post went up as part of a conversation about homelessness on Unemployed-Friends, a popular online forum for the unemployed to connect with one another. Most were discussing how to live in homeless shelters after eviction or foreclosure. But his post went further. “This is killing me physically and emotoinally. I am at the end of my rope and getting to the point of letting go. I have tried everything I know to get help. DHS won’t help’ Salvation Army won’t help. 211 won’t help. I have no idea as to where to go from here. If you don’t hear from me by tomorrow I probably will be dead.”

Thousands of users visit the web site daily, offering one another everything from advice about applying for unemployment insurance benefits to emotional support. It is one of dozens of such sites helping the nation’s 14.6 million unemployed — particularly the long-term unemployed, the 6.6 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. “I am very tempted to walk in front of an oncoming semi right now. Sorry to go on ranting but I am getting to the point where I feel I have no choice. For those of you that want to know I am currently in Grand Rapids. I appreciate your words of encouragement but right now it doesn’t seem to be enough to keep me going.”

The post ended, “I will try to tough out another night. Goodbye for now.”


The unemployed commit suicide at a rate two or three times the national average, researchers estimate. And in many cases, the longer the spell of unemployment, the higher the likelihood of suicide.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spirit, Draw Near

There is a better version of my song "Spirit, Draw Near" on MySpace, thanks to Ernie Richmond.

Also, I found out the reason he was singing the first verse twice, instead of using the 2nd verse, was simply that there was a mix up and he never got the 2nd verse. So eventually, I hope to have the whole song available.


Massive coral die-off seen in 93-degree waters

updated 2 hours 9 minutes ago

One of the most destructive and swift coral bleaching events ever recorded is under way in the waters off Indonesia, where water temperatures have climbed into the low 90s, according to data released by a conservation group this week.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says a dramatic rise in sea temperature, potentially linked to global warming, is responsible for the devastation.

In May, the WCS sent marine biologists to investigate coral bleaching reported in Aceh — a province of Indonesia — located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. The initial survey carried out by the team revealed that more than 60 percent of corals in the area were bleached.

Subsequent monitoring of the Indonesian corals completed in early August revealed one of the most rapid and severe coral mortality events ever recorded. The scientists found that 80 percent of some species have died since the initial assessment, and more colonies are expected to die within the next few months.

"This is a tragedy not only for some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs, but also for people in the region, many of whom are extremely impoverished and depend on these reefs for their food and livelihoods," said WCS Marine Program Director Caleb McClennen. Coral reefs provide haven for fish and other creatures, and larger fish tend to congregate around reefs because they are good places to feed.

Bleaching — a whitening of corals that occurs when symbiotic algae living within coral tissues are expelled — is an indication of stress caused by environmental triggers such as fluctuations in ocean temperature. Depending on many factors, bleached coral may recover over time or die.

The event is the result of a rise in sea surface temperatures in the Andaman Sea — an area that includes the coasts of Myanmar, Thailand, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and northwestern Indonesia. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Hotspots website, temperatures in the region peaked in late May at more than 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius). That's 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) higher than long-term averages for the area.

"It's a disappointing development particularly in light of the fact that these same corals proved resilient to other disruptions to this ecosystem, including the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004," said WCS Indonesia Marine Program Director Stuart Campbell.

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Of particular concern is the scale of the warmer ocean waters, which the NOAA website indicates has affected the entire Andaman Sea and beyond. Similar mass bleaching events in 2010 have now been recorded in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and many parts of Indonesia.

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A Hen’s Space to Roost

Published: August 14, 2010

Which came first — consumer preference for humane farming, or pressure from animal welfare advocates?

Some combination of the two is driving big changes in the industrialized treatment of farm animals, including egg-laying hens, the vast majority of which live out their lives packed tightly in “battery cages.”

Ohio, the second-largest producer of eggs after Iowa, is the latest to adjust its standards. Animal welfare advocates and farmers there agreed recently to phase out small crates for gestating hogs and veal calves, and to ban new cages for egg-laying hens. (Existing cages can remain.)

Commercial egg farmers see an animal-rights agenda at work from “groups who are opposed to consumption of our products,” said Mitch Head, a spokesman for the United Egg Producers, a trade group. But the big producers also benefit from the growing demand for eggs from cage-free and free-range birds. Most of those eggs, according to Mr. Head, come from the same large operations that use cages, not from smaller farms. Big farms already have the birds, expertise and transportation in place — some hens just need to be released from their cages.

Here is how egg-laying hens — not chickens raised for meat — are confined on American farms.


The link at "here" goes to a page where you can see the chickens packed into cages.
It notes that "97% of all eggs produced in the U.S. are from hens that live in tightly packed battery cages, with no way to roam outside". Heck, there's no way to roam inside. Just turning around might be a problem.
"1% of U.S. eggs are from free-range birds that have the option to go outdoors. Animal advocates say this is often a phantom access. Doors are small and don't accommodate the whole flock, or they are open for limited times."


Attacking Social Security

Published: August 15, 2010

Social Security turned 75 last week. It should have been a joyous occasion, a time to celebrate a program that has brought dignity and decency to the lives of older Americans.

But the program is under attack, with some Democrats as well as nearly all Republicans joining the assault. Rumor has it that President Obama’s deficit commission may call for deep benefit cuts, in particular a sharp rise in the retirement age.

Social Security’s attackers claim that they’re concerned about the program’s financial future. But their math doesn’t add up, and their hostility isn’t really about dollars and cents. Instead, it’s about ideology and posturing. And underneath it all is ignorance of or indifference to the realities of life for many Americans.

About that math: Legally, Social Security has its own, dedicated funding, via the payroll tax (“FICA” on your pay statement). But it’s also part of the broader federal budget. This dual accounting means that there are two ways Social Security could face financial problems. First, that dedicated funding could prove inadequate, forcing the program either to cut benefits or to turn to Congress for aid. Second, Social Security costs could prove unsupportable for the federal budget as a whole.

But neither of these potential problems is a clear and present danger. Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century, banking those surpluses in a special account, the so-called trust fund. The program won’t have to turn to Congress for help or cut benefits until or unless the trust fund is exhausted, which the program’s actuaries don’t expect to happen until 2037 — and there’s a significant chance, according to their estimates, that that day will never come.

Meanwhile, an aging population will eventually (over the course of the next 20 years) cause the cost of paying Social Security benefits to rise from its current 4.8 percent of G.D.P. to about 6 percent of G.D.P. To give you some perspective, that’s a significantly smaller increase than the rise in defense spending since 2001, which Washington certainly didn’t consider a crisis, or even a reason to rethink some of the Bush tax cuts.

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The currently fashionable idea of raising the retirement age even more than it will rise under existing law — it has already gone from 65 to 66, it’s scheduled to rise to 67, but now some are proposing that it go to 70 — is usually justified with assertions that life expectancy has risen, so people can easily work later into life. But that’s only true for affluent, white-collar workers — the people who need Social Security least.

I’m not just talking about the fact that it’s a lot easier to imagine working until you’re 70 if you have a comfortable office job than if you’re engaged in manual labor. America is becoming an increasingly unequal society — and the growing disparities extend to matters of life and death. Life expectancy at age 65 has risen a lot at the top of the income distribution, but much less for lower-income workers. And remember, the retirement age is already scheduled to rise under current law.

So let’s beat back this unnecessary, unfair and — let’s not mince words — cruel attack on working Americans. Big cuts in Social Security should not be on the table.


Childhood Abuse, Adversity May Shorten Life, Weaken Immune Response Among the Elderly

ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2010) — The emotional pains we suffer in childhood can lead to weakened immune systems later in life, according to a new study.

Based on this new research, the amount of this immune impairment even enhances that caused by the stress of caregiving later in life.

"What happens in childhood really matters when it comes to your immune response in the latter part of your life," explained Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University. She explained her work at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Diego.

The study showed that for some children who experienced serious abuse or adverse experiences as kids, the long-term effect might be a lifespan shortened by seven to 15 years.

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Childhood Memories of Father Have Lasting Impact on Men's Ability to Handle Stress

ScienceDaily (Aug. 13, 2010) — Sons who have fond childhood memories of their fathers are more likely to be emotionally stable in the face of day-to-day stresses, according to psychologists who studied hundreds of adults of all ages.

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Adversity in Childhood Can Increase Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Adulthood

ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2010) — Early life adversity through poverty, social isolation or abuse in childhood is linked to heightened reactivity, which can lead to heart disease later on, a leading expert on stress and disease reports.

"Many diseases first diagnosed in mid-life can be traced back to childhood," Karen A. Matthews, PhD, said at the 118th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. "Having some bad health habits in your 20s and 30s is part of the reason why people get diseases later on. However, it isn't the whole reason. The evidence shows that certain reactions to adverse childhood experiences associated with lower socioeconomic status, isolation and negative events can affect the disease process."

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Expensive New Blood Pressure Meds No Better Than Generics

ScienceDaily (Aug. 14, 2010) — Expensive brand-name medications to lower blood pressure are no better at preventing cardiovascular disease than older, generic diuretics, according to new long-term data from a landmark study.

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More than 33,000 patients with high blood pressure were randomly assigned to take either a diuretic (chlorthalidone) or one of two newer drugs, a calcium channel blocker (amlodipine) or an ACE inhibitor (lisinopril).

In 2002, ALLHAT researchers reported that among patients followed for four-to-eight years, the diuretic was better than the calcium channel blocker in preventing heart failure and better than the ACE inhibitor in preventing stroke, heart failure and overall cardiovascular disease.

In the new study, researchers followed ALLHAT participants for an additional four to five years after completion of the trial, bringing the total follow-up period to between eight and 13 years. During this longer follow-up period, the differences between the three drugs narrowed -- by most measures they were a statistical dead heat.

But the diuretic still was superior in two measures: Compared with the diuretic group, the ACE inhibitor group had a 20 percent higher death rate from stroke, and the calcium channel blocker group had a 12 percent higher rate of hospitalizations and deaths due to heart failure.

Diuretics, sometimes called "water pills," are the traditional medications for high blood pressure. They cause kidneys to remove sodium and water from the body, thereby relaxing blood vessel walls. ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril (brand names, Prinivil® and Zestril®) decrease chemicals that tighten blood vessels. Calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine (brand name, Norvasc®) relax blood vessels.

Diuretics cost $25 to $40 per year, while newer brand-name hypertension drugs can cost $300 to $600 per year.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends patients control their blood pressure by first controlling their weight, exercising, reducing sodium, increasing potassium and drinking alcohol in moderation. The institute says that if lifestyle changes are not sufficient, diuretics then normally should be the drug of first choice.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

The Washington Post March on Ukulele


Reagan insider: 'GOP destroyed U.S. economy'

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- "How my G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. economy." Yes, that is exactly what David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan's director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, "Four Deformations of the Apocalypse."

Get it? Not "destroying." The GOP has already "destroyed" the U.S. economy, setting up an "American Apocalypse."

Yes, Stockman is equally damning of the Democrats' Keynesian policies. But what this indictment by a party insider -- someone so close to the development of the Reaganomics ideology -- says about America, helps all of us better understand how America's toxic partisan-politics "holy war" is destroying not just the economy and capitalism, but the America dream. And unless this war stops soon, both parties will succeed in their collective death wish.

But why focus on Stockman's message? It's already lost in the 24/7 news cycle. Why? We need some introspection. Ask yourself: How did the great nation of America lose its moral compass and drift so far off course, to where our very survival is threatened?

We've arrived at a historic turning point as a nation that no longer needs outside enemies to destroy us, we are committing suicide. Democracy. Capitalism. The American dream. All dying. Why? Because of the economic decisions of the GOP the past 40 years, says this leading Reagan Republican.

Please listen with an open mind, no matter your party affiliation: This makes for a powerful history lesson, because it exposes how both parties are responsible for destroying the U.S. economy. Listen closely:

Stockman rushes into the ring swinging like a boxer: "If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation's public debt ... will soon reach $18 trillion." It screams "out for austerity and sacrifice." But instead, the GOP insists "that the nation's wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase."

In the past 40 years Republican ideology has gone from solid principles to hype and slogans. Stockman says: "Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts -- in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses too."

No more. Today there's a "new catechism" that's "little more than money printing and deficit finance, vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes" making a mockery of GOP ideals. Worse, it has resulted in "serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy." Yes, GOP ideals backfired, crippling our economy.

Stockman's indictment warns that the Republican party's "new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one:"

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High Levels of Carbon Dioxide Threaten Oyster Survival

ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2010) — It has been widely reported that the build up of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, which is caused by human behavior, will likely lead to climate change and have major implications for life on earth. But less focus has been given to global warming's evil twin, ocean acidification, which occurs when CO2 lowers the pH of water bodies, thus making them more acidic. This lesser known phenomenon may have catastrophic effects on all sea life.

Inna Sokolova, associate professor of biology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, studies the affect of high carbon dioxide on oyster survival, growth and shell hardness. The results of her research suggest that creatures once thought to be fairly adaptable to changes in the environment, may be in serious trouble.

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The research group monitored oysters that were kept in high CO2 conditions. Juvenile oysters were affected the most by high CO2 conditions. These young oysters grow at a faster rate than the adults and need to use more energy for survival. There was a higher chance that juvenile oysters would die if kept in high CO2. They also had reduced growth of their shells and their soft bodies. The young oysters' shells were also more fragile and prone to breaking, potentially making them more susceptible to predators.

"Living in the high CO2 world may increase the cost of living which cuts into other energy expending pathways," says Sokolova. "Everyday maintenance becomes harder making it harder to live."

The effects on growth were less pronounced in the adult oysters since they don't grow as fast and have slower metabolisms than the juveniles.

The fact that the early life stages are more affected by high CO2, suggests that this may serve as a bottleneck for oyster decline. Sokolova says, "Expect to see huge effects on populations in the future."

The researchers found evidence that the oysters are sensing and trying to offset the affects of a high CO2 environment. The oyster's soft body covering called the mantle had increased expression of carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that regulates pH and helps make bicarbonate, which is used to make the shell. Sokolova believes that the increased levels of this enzyme show that the oysters are at least trying to compensate for the acidic conditions in response to CO2, but it doesn't seem to be enough.

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Forest Fires Help Power the Nitrogen Cycle

ScienceDaily (Aug. 9, 2010) — When fire burns down a forest, nitrate levels go up, and the effects are persistent, according to recent research from University of Montana scientists. They found that charcoal deposited during fire events has the potential to stimulate the conversion of ammonia to nitrates, an important step in the nitrogen cycle.

Led by Patrick Ball, the research team found that a type of bacteria that transforms ammonia into nitrates was found in greater abundance in recently burned sites, despite the fact that the "recent" fire was twelve years prior to the sampling period. In addition to the bacteria, the burned sites had greater rates of nitrification, meaning that nitrogen was being processed more quickly through the ecosystem than without a fire.

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Learn More in Kindergarten, Earn More as an Adult

ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2010) — There isn't a lot of research that links early childhood test scores to earnings as an adult. But new research reveals a surprising finding: Students who learn more in kindergarten earn more as adults. They are also more successful overall.

Harvard University economist John Friedman says he and a group of colleagues found that students who progress during their kindergarten year from attaining an average score on the Stanford Achievement Test to attaining a score in the 60th percentile can expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than students whose scores remain average.

Taking into account all variation across kindergarten classes, including class size, individuals who learn more--as measured by an above-average score on the Stanford Achievement Test--and are in smaller classes earn about $2,000 more per year at age 27.

Moreover, students who learn more in kindergarten are more likely to go to college than students with similar backgrounds. Those who learn more in kindergarten are also less likely to become single parents, more likely to own a home by age 28 and more likely to save for retirement earlier in their work lives.

"Kindergarten interventions matter a great deal for long-term outcomes," said Friedman. "For instance, being in a smaller class for two years increases the probability of attending college by 2 percent.

"We find that both smaller class sizes and teachers with more experience improve long-term outcomes," he said. "We believe that other teacher characteristics, as well as various characteristics of a student's peers, also have significant impacts on later life outcomes, but the data did not allow us to measure those effects well."

Friedman and colleagues from Harvard, Northwestern University and University of California, Berkeley, used a well-known education experiment conducted in Tennessee as a starting point to measure adult outcomes of early childhood learning. In the mid-1980s, the Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) project placed students in classes of different size to determine how class size affects student learning. Results showed that students in small classes learn more and have greater academic success.

This new study, funded by the National Science Foundation's Division of Social and Economic Sciences, examined adult outcomes of nearly 12,000 students who took part in the original study and who are now 30 years old. It allowed the research team to go beyond what children learned during their year in the STAR project to see how their kindergarten learning experiences affected their lives. Researchers recently presented results of the new study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, at an academic conference in Cambridge, Mass.