Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Different Minds

New Scientist Nov. 5, 2011

the gene responsible for the serotonin transport gene, SERE, which regulates the move of serotonin - a neurotransmitter curcial to moods, among other things.
In humans and rhesus monkeys, it comes in two forms - "long" and "short". Everybody has two of these genes. People with the long/long combo appear to be protected from very low mood, whereas thos with the short/short or short/long variants are more susceptible to depression.

"The short variant appears to be linked with emotional responsivity. In a stressful environment this seems to increase vulnerability to depression, but in a good and nurturing environment people with this variant are often highly successful, with excellent communication and social skills."


Sunday, January 29, 2012

High Animal Fat Diet Increases Gestational Diabetes Risk, Study Finds


ScienceDaily (Jan. 25, 2012) — Women who consumed a diet high in animal fat and cholesterol before pregnancy were at higher risk for gestational diabetes than women whose diets were lower in animal fat and cholesterol, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes seen during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes increases the risk for certain pregnancy complications and health problems in the newborn.

Women whose diets were high in total fat or other kinds of fats -- but not in animal fat or cholesterol -- did not have an increased risk.



Asthma Rate and Costs from Traffic Pollution Higher: Much Higher Than Past Traditional Risk Assessments Have Indicated


ScienceDaily (Jan. 25, 2012) — A research team led by University of Massachusetts Amherst resource economist Sylvia Brandt, with colleagues in California and Switzerland, have revised the cost burden sharply upward for childhood asthma and for the first time include the number of cases attributable to air pollution, in a study released this week in the early online version of the European Respiratory Journal.

The total cost of asthma due to pollution is much higher than past traditional risk assessments have indicated and there is growing evidence that exposure to traffic-related air pollution is a cause of asthma and a trigger for attacks, so it should be included, say the authors. They conducted the study in Long Beach and Riverside, Calif., communities with high regional air pollution levels and large roads near residential neighborhoods.

Total additional asthma-specific costs there due to traffic-related pollution is about $18 million per year, almost half of which is due to new asthma cases caused by pollution, they report.



Bedwetting Can Be Due to Undiagnosed Constipation


ScienceDaily (Jan. 27, 2012) — Bedwetting isn't always due to problems with the bladder, according to new research by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Constipation is often the culprit; and if it isn't diagnosed, children and their parents must endure an unnecessarily long, costly and difficult quest to cure nighttime wetting.


"The importance of diagnosing this condition cannot be overstated," Hodges said. "When it is missed, children may be subjected to unnecessary surgery and the side effects of medications. We challenge physicians considering medications or surgery as a treatment for bedwetting to obtain an X-ray or ultrasound first."


Red States Use The Most Food Stamps

It's long been true that the southeastern states get back more in federal taxes than we pay, but a lot of people down here refuse to believe it, and the Republican politicians lie about it.


By Sarah Jones
Jan. 29, 201

Gingrich goes too far to say Obama has put more on the rolls than other presidents. We asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition service for month-by-month figures going back to January 2001. And they show that under President George W. Bush the number of recipients rose by nearly 14.7 million. Nothing before comes close to that.

And under Obama, the increase so far has been 14.2 million. To be exact, the program has so far grown by 444,574 fewer recipients during Obama’s time in office than during Bush’s.


Fox News has been going on the food stamp president with gusto, even including their favorite trick of the Misleading Chart! What’s not to like? It smears the President for having to clean up after Bush’s economic debacle, it’s a racist dog whistle, it implies that black people are on food stamps more than whites (not true), it gives their audience someone new to hate and most importantly, it’s easy enough for their propaganda activists to repeat without getting confused.

Of course, Fox News doesn’t tell their cult are that the people most likely to be on food stamps aren’t in blue states like California, but in red states like Mississippi, where more than 21% are on food stamps. Mississippi is also distinguished as the reddest of the red states, along with Wyoming. In other words, the food stamp users are Fox News’ base.



All money is multiply taxed


And the money paid in the wages of every other American have not already been taxed several times in several different ways before they get it? What is taxed is not the money, it is the transaction. When the money passes from the corporation to the stock holders, it has changed hands and that transaction is taxed.


America's poor are its most generous givers


Posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2009
By Frank Greve | McClatchy Newspapers

America's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.

"The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity," said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. "The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give."



Study: Many college students not learning to think critically


Posted on Tuesday, January 18, 2011
By Sara Rimer, The Hechinger Report

NEW YORK — An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.


Students who majored in the traditional liberal arts — including the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics — showed significantly greater gains over time than other students in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills.

Students majoring in business, education, social work and communications showed the least gains in learning. However, the authors note that their findings don't preclude the possibility that such students "are developing subject-specific or occupationally relevant skills."



Accomplishing great things

Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion. ~Jack Kerouac


Friday, January 27, 2012

2011: Earth's 11th warmest year; where is the climate headed?


Posted by: JeffMasters, 5:22 PM GMT on January 27, 2012

The year 2011 tied with 1997 as the 11th warmest year since records began in 1880, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said last week. NASA rated 2011 as the 9th warmest on record. Land temperatures were the 8th warmest on record, and ocean temperatures, the 11th warmest. For the Arctic, which has warmed about twice as much as the rest of the planet, 2011 was the warmest year on record (between 64°N and 90°N latitude.) The year 2011 was also the 2nd wettest year over land on record, as evidenced by some of the unprecedented flooding Earth witnessed. The wettest year over land was the previous year, 2010.


The El Niño/La Niña cycle causes cyclical changes in global temperatures that average out to zero over the course of several decades. La Niña events bring a large amount of cold water to the surface in the equatorial Eastern Pacific, which cools global temperatures by up to 0.2°C. El Niño events have the opposite effect. The year 2011 was the warmest year on record when a La Niña event was present. Global temperatures were 0.12°C (0.2°F) cooler than the record warmest year for the planet (2010), and would very likely have been the warmest on record had an El Niño event been present instead.


Despite public belief that climate scientists are divided about the human contribution to our changing climate, polling data show high agreement among climate scientists that humans are significantly affecting the climate. A 2008 poll of actively publishing climate scientists found that 97% said yes to the question, "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" In my personal experience interacting with climate scientists, I have found near-universal support for this position.


If we rely on hopes that the next Einstein or Galileo will successfully overthrow the current scientific consensus on climate change, we are making a high-stakes, low-probability-of-success gamble on the future of civilization. The richest and most powerful corporations in world history, the oil companies, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to push us to take this gamble, and their efforts have been very successful. Advertising works, particularly when your competition has little money to spend to oppose you.


Given that greenhouse gases are well-known to hold energy close to the Earth, those who deny a human-caused impact on weather need to pose a viable mechanism of how the Earth can hold in more energy and the weather not be changed. Think about it."


A warmer atmosphere has more energy to power stronger storms, hotter heat waves, more intense droughts, and heavier flooding rains. Natural weather patterns could have caused some of the extreme events we witnessed during 2010 - 2011, and these years likely would have been naturally extreme years even without climate change. But it strains the bounds of credulity that all of the extreme weather events--some of them 1-in-1000-year type events--could have occurred without a signicant change to the base climate state. Mother Nature is now able to hit the ball out of the park more often, and with much more power, thanks to the extra energy global warming has put into the atmosphere.

Extreme weather years like 2010 and 2011 are very likely to increase in frequency, since there is a delay of several decades between when we put heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere and when the climate fully responds. This is because Earth's oceans take so long to heat up when extra heat is added to the atmosphere (think about how long it takes it takes for a lake to heat up during summer.) Due to this lag, we are just now experiencing the full effect of CO2 emitted in the late 1980s; since CO2 has been increasing by 1 - 3% per year since then, there is a lot more climate change "in the pipeline" we cannot avoid. We've set in motion a dangerous boulder of climate change that is rolling downhill, and it is too late to avoid major damage when it hits full-force several decades from now. However, we can reduce the ultimate severity of the damage with strong and rapid action. A boulder rolling downhill can be deflected in its path more readily early in its course, before it gains too much momentum in its downward rush. For example, the International Energy Agency estimates that every dollar we invest in alternative energy before 2020 will save $4.30 later. There are many talented and dedicated people working very hard to deflect the downhill-rolling boulder of climate change--but they need a lot more help very soon.


Study: Multitasking hinders youth social skills


By Mark Milian, CNN
updated 8:07 PM EST, Wed January 25, 2012

FaceTime, the Apple video-chat application, is not a replacement for real human interaction, especially for children, according to a new study.

Tween girls who spend much of their waking hours switching frantically between YouTube, Facebook, television and text messaging are more likely to develop social problems, says a Stanford University study published in a scientific journal on Wednesday.

Young girls who spend the most time multitasking between various digital devices, communicating online or watching video are the least likely to develop normal social tendencies, according to the survey of 3,461 American girls aged 8 to 12 who volunteered responses.



CEOs rake in huge sums when their companies go bankrupt


Jan. 27, 2012

By Martha C. White

When companies go bankrupt, the misery is shared among many: Bond holders are wiped out, retirees see their pensions and benefits vanish, and employees lose their jobs.

But some feel no pain at all: CEOs and other top executives of companies that go through Chapter 11 receive robust compensation in the form of salary, stock grants and other benefits.

In some cases, they earn even more money than they did before the filing, even while other stakeholders suffer. It's the most unlikely fast-track to a fat payout ever, and it goes on in spite of federal legislation meant to crack down on corporate honchos feasting while everyone else fights over crumbs.


"There seems to be no sense of accountability at this level," said Steven Kropp, a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law. "In most of these cases, the unsecured creditors aren't being paid back in full, employees are being laid off, and in addition, they're finding their health insurance and pensions diminished." An investigation by The Wall Street Journal found that median compensation of CEOs at 21 companies that filed for bankruptcy was $8.7 million, just $400,000 less than the median compensation earned by CEOs at healthy companies.



Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice


By Stephanie Pappas | LiveScience.com – Thu, Jan 26, 2012

There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.



Innately curious

from New Scientist Jan. 21-27, 2012
p 27 "Innately curious"

"over the last 10 years we have started to see powerful evidence that children might learn language statistically, by unconsciously tabulating patterns in the sentences they hear and using them to generalize to new cases. Children might learn language effortlessly not because they possess innate grammatical rules, but because statistical learning is something we all do incessantly and automatically. The brain is designed to pick up on patterns of all kinds."


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Noise pollution pulps squid organs

New Scientist April 16, 2011
by Andy Coghlan

Michel Andre of the Technical University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain and
Angel Gonzalez of the Institute of Marine Investigation in Vigo, Spain found that experiments on squid, cuttlefish, and octopuses strongly suggest their
balancing organs are ruined by underwater noise pollution.

This leads to their inability to move around, and thus they cannot find food or avoid predators.


US sued over Navy sonar tests in whale waters

Loud noise has been used as a means of torture.


Environmental groups sued the Obama administration on Thursday for granting the Navy permits to test underwater sonar along the West Coast -- and potentially harass up to 650,000 porpoises, seals, dolphins and whales over a five-year period.

The alliance said it wasn't seeking to stop the testing but to scale it back, especially at certain times and in waters important for feeding and giving birth.

Several studies have found that marine mammals can hear low-frequency sonar, which is magnified under water, and periodically dolphins and even whales have been found with perforated ear drums.



33 whales stranded again off New Zealand, to be killed


Jan. 25, 2012

Some 33 long-finned pilot whales that were refloated Wednesday off a New Zealand beach with the help of volunteers became stranded again Thursday and will have to be euthanized, officials told TVNZ.

“Unfortunately the stranded whales are now also further along the Spit and on the extreme boundary of our ability to reach them for another rescue attempt,” Kimberly Muncaster, CEO of the marine-mammal rescue group Project Jonah, told the TV station.

"The Department of Conservation has decided they will have to be put down."

John Mason, a Department of Conservation official, said the whales were physically deteriorating and in distress.


Pilot whales grow to about 20 feet, and large strandings are common during the New Zealand summer. Experts describe Farewell Spit as a whale trap due to the way its shallow waters seem to confuse whales and diminish their ability to navigate.


Dispute over drug in feed limiting US meat exports


By Helena Bottemiller
Jan. 24, 2012

A drug used to keep pigs lean and boost their growth is jeopardizing the nation’s exports of what once was known as “the other white meat.”

The drug, ractopamine hydrochloride, is fed to pigs and other animals right up until slaughter and minute traces have been found in meat. The European Union, China, Taiwan and many others have banned its use, citing concerns about its effect on human health, limiting U.S. meat exports to key markets.

Although few Americans outside of the livestock industry have ever heard of ractopamine, the feed additive is controversial. Fed to an estimated 60 to 80 percent of pigs in the United States, it has sickened or killed more of them than any other livestock drug on the market, an investigation of Food and Drug Administration records shows. Cattle and turkeys have also suffered high numbers of illnesses from the drug.


The FDA ruled that ractopamine was safe and approved it for pigs in 1999, for cattle in 2003 and turkeys in 2008. As with many drugs, the approval process relied on safety studies conducted by the drug-maker -- studies that lie at the heart of the current trade dispute.

Elanco mainly tested animals -- mice, rats, monkeys and dogs -- to judge how much ractopamine could be safely consumed. Only one human study was used in the safety assessment by Elanco, and among the six healthy young men who participated, one was removed because his heart began racing and pounding abnormally, according to a detailed evaluation of the study by European food safety officials.


In the U.S., residue tests for ractopamine are limited. In 2010, for example, the U.S. did no tests on 22 billion pounds of pork; 712 samples were taken from 26 billion pounds of beef. Those results have not yet been released.


Wrongfully convicted man awarded $25 million


By NBCChicago.com
Jan. 25, 2012

CHICAGO -- A federal jury has awarded $25 million to a man who sued the City of Chicago after spending 16 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.



Brown Fat, Triggered by Cold or Exercise, May Yield a Key to Weight Control


Published: January 24, 2012

Fat people have less than thin people. Older people have less than younger people. Men have less than younger women.

It is brown fat, actually brown in color, and its great appeal is that it burns calories like a furnace. A new study finds that one form of it, which is turned on when people get cold, sucks fat out of the rest of the body to fuel itself. Another new study finds that a second form of brown fat can be created from ordinary white fat by exercise.



Working Long Hours Can Be Depressing, Truly


by Nancy Shute
January 26, 2012

Putting in a lot of of overtime can make a person more vulnerable to depression.

You might have guessed that. But now there are some hard numbers, thanks to a study that tracked the health of civil service workers in Great Britain.

People who worked 11 hours a day or more than doubled their risk of major depression, compared to colleagues putting in eight hours a day.


Working long hours also increases the risk of heart disease, and of decline in cognitive function, according to earlier studies by Virtanen, which also followed British government employees.

Still, it's worth noting that the population groups most at risk for major depression are women, members of minority groups, and people unable to work or unemployed, and those without health insurance, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


At least 14 billion-dollar weather disasters for the U.S. in 2011


Posted by: JeffMasters, 3:28 PM GMT on January 26, 2012

The tally of billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. during the crazy weather year of 2011 has grown to fourteen, and may reach fifteen, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center announced last week. The fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011 easily surpass the previous record of nine such disasters, set in 2008. Since 1980, the U.S. has averaged 3.5 billion-dollar weather disasters per year. The two new billion-dollar disasters of 2011:

Tropical Storm Lee, early September, 2011: Wind and flood damage across the southeast (LA, MS, AL, GA, TN) but considerably more damage from record flooding across the northeast (PA, NY, NJ, CT, VA, MD). Pennsylvania and New York were most affected. Total losses exceed $1.0 billion; 21 deaths.

Rockies and Midwest Severe Weather, July 10-14, 2011: An outbreak of tornadoes, hail, and high wind caused damage east of the Rockies and across the central plains (CO, WY, IA, IL, MI, MN, OH). Total losses exceed $1.0 billion; 2 deaths.

The total costs of these fourteen disasters is $55 billion, tying 2011 with 2004 for fourth place for most costly year for billion-dollar weather disasters in history. The only costlier years were 2005 (Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma); 1988 (Midwest drought); and 2008 (Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.) NCDC says they are still analyzing the late-October snowstorm that hit New England to see if it was a billion dollar disaster. Insurance broker AON Benfield puts damages from this event at $3 billion, so it is likely that NCDC will add at least one more billion-dollar disaster to 2011's tally.

For those interested, NOAA has a full description of the 14 billion-dollar weather disasters of 2011, plus a list of their Top Ten Global Weather Events of 2011 and Top Ten U.S. Weather Events of 2011.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monogamy reduces major social problems of polygamist cultures


Public release date: 23-Jan-2012
Contact: Basil Waugh
University of British Columbia
Monogamy reduces major social problems of polygamist cultures

In cultures that permit men to take multiple wives, the intra-sexual competition that occurs causes greater levels of crime, violence, poverty and gender inequality than in societies that institutionalize and practice monogamous marriage.

That is a key finding of a new University of British Columbia-led study that explores the global rise of monogamous marriage as a dominant cultural institution. The study suggests that institutionalized monogamous marriage is rapidly replacing polygamy because it has lower levels of inherent social problems.


Monogamous marriage also results in significant improvements in child welfare, including lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death, homicide and intra-household conflict, the study finds. These benefits result from greater levels of parental investment, smaller households and increased direct "blood relatedness" in monogamous family households, says Henrich, who served as an expert witness for British Columbia's Supreme Court case involving the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C.



Diets high in fiber won't protect against diverticulosis

Fiber in our diets have other health benefits.


Public release date: 23-Jan-2012
Contact: Les Lang
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Diets high in fiber won't protect against diverticulosis
UNC researchers challenge commonly-held beliefs about the causes of a major intestinal disease

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – For more than 40 years, scientists and physicians have thought eating a high-fiber diet lowered a person's risk of diverticulosis, a disease of the large intestine in which pouches develop in the colon wall. A new study of more than 2,000 people reveals the opposite may be true.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine , found that consuming a diet high in fiber raised, rather than lowered, the risk of developing diverticulosis. The findings also counter the commonly-held belief that constipation increases a person's risk of the disease.


The study found no association between diverticulosis and physical inactivity, intake of fat, or intake of red meat. The disease's causes remain unknown, but the researchers believe gut flora may play a role.


PFCs, chemicals in environment, linked to lowered immune response to childhood vaccinations


Public release date: 24-Jan-2012
Contact: Todd Datz
Harvard School of Public Health

Boston, MA—A new study finds that perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), widely used in manufactured products such as non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, and fast-food packaging, were associated with lowered immune response to vaccinations in children. It is the first study to document how PFCs, which can be transferred to children prenatally (via the mother) and postnatally from exposure in the environment, can adversely affect vaccine response.



Georgia judge orders President Obama to appear in court over 'birthers' suit


Posted on Monday, January 23, 2012
By Chuck Williams | The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer

A Georgia judge has ordered President Barack Obama to appear in court in Atlanta Thursday for a hearing on a complaint that says Obama isn’t a natural-born citizen and can’t be president.


A Georgia resident made the complaint, which is intended to keep Obama’s name off the state’s ballot in the March presidential primary.


The hearing is set for Thursday before an administrative judge. Deputy Chief Judge Michael Malihi on Friday denied a motion by the president’s lawyer to quash a subpoena that requires Obama to show up.



Damning Evidence Emerges In Google-Apple “No Poach” Antitrust Lawsuit


Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Next week a class-action civil lawsuit will be heard in San Jose to determine if Google, Apple, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Adobe, Intel, and Intuit conspired to eliminate competition for skilled labor. In anticipation of the hearing, TechCrunch has obtained evidence from the Department of Justice’s investigation in 2010 which was made public this evening for the first time. It appears to support the plaintiff’s case that the defendant companies tried to suppress employee compensation by entering into “no poach” agreements.



Look for Northern Lights tonight, Jan.24, 2012


updated 2 hours 38 minutes ago

A wave of charged particles from an intense solar storm is raising alerts about airline flights and satellite operations — and raising the prospect of stunning auroral displays.


As powerful as it is, the storm should have no effect on daily life for most people.

"Probably in the next 10 hours or so, people at high latitudes can see auroras," Yihua Zheng, a lead researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, told Space.com.


"There's a very good chance tonight that we'll be seeing some very strong auroral displays. Typically auroras occur at relatively high latitudes, but for events like this, you could get auroras down at mid- to low latitudes."



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Who Should Pay for Deficit Reduction?


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Richard Green makes an argument for progressive taxes:

The banal moderateness of Thomas Friedman, by Richard Green: In his paean to conventional wisdom this morning, the ever so serious Mr Friedman writes:

Second, I want to vote for a candidate who is committed to reforming taxes, and cutting spending, in a fair way. The rich must pay more, but everyone has to pay something. We are all in this together.

But how over the past decades have we all been in this together? In 2007, those in the bottom quintile had the same income they had in 1998, and a bump of little more than 11 percent since 1969; those in the top five percent have seen incomes rise by 74 percent since then.

[...] [see above link for graph]

Sure, if everyone had benefitted from the policies of the past 40 years, then everyone should sacrifice now.

But for the time being, lets begin by asking for sacrifice from those with the means to do so.

When we measure who pays for bringing the long-run deficit under control, we should remember that deficit reduction is likely to include both cuts to spending and tax increases. We should also remember the complaint from the wealthy that most of the benefits of government spending go to lower income classes. According to this argument, the cost of reducing the budget deficit through cuts to government spending -- and Republicans will push for this option as much as they can -- will fall mainly on the less fortunate.


Damning Evidence Emerges In Google-Apple “No Poach” Antitrust Lawsuit


Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Next week a class-action civil lawsuit will be heard in San Jose to determine if Google, Apple, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Adobe, Intel, and Intuit conspired to eliminate competition for skilled labor. In anticipation of the hearing, TechCrunch has obtained evidence from the Department of Justice’s investigation in 2010 which was made public this evening for the first time. It appears to support the plaintiff’s case that the defendant companies tried to suppress employee compensation by entering into “no poach” agreements.



A thank you note


The Limits to Growth - updated 1/22/2012

See comment from John for link to article with graphs.
However, I don't think his arguments against dealing with global warming are valid. He expects economic collapse within a short time, leading to lessening use of fuel, leading to less CO2. I doubt it will be that simple. As he himself points out, economic systems almost always overshoot. And as countries try to deal with the results of such things as shortage of resources, they might use even use fuel faster, because of having to use less efficient processes. And global warming itself will accelerate problems such as food shortages.

The current issue of New Scientist (Jan. 7-13, 2012, page 38) has an article on the book "The Limits of Growth", which was published in 1972.

The book reported the conclusions of group of scientists who used a computer model, World3, to explore possible futures.



The young scientists tried to take a more rigorous approach: using a computer model to explore possible futures. What was shocking was that their simulations, far from showing growth continuing forever, or even levelling out, suggested that it was most likely that boom would be followed by bust: a sharp decline in industrial output, food production and population. In other words, the collapse of global civilisation.

These explosive conclusions were published in 1972 in a slim paperback called The Limits to Growth. It became a bestseller - and provoked a furious backlash that has obscured what it actually said. For instance, it is widely believed that Limits predicted collapse by 2000, yet in fact it made no such claim. So what did it say? And 40 years on, how do its projections compare with reality so far?


The team compares their work to exploring what happens to a ball thrown upwards. World3 was meant to reveal the general behaviour that results - in the case of a ball, going up and then falling down - not to make precise predictions, such as exactly how high the ball would go, or where and when it would fall. "None of these computer outputs is a prediction," the book warned repeatedly.


This was unexpected and shocking. Why should the world's economy collapse rather than stabilise? In World3, it happened because of the complex feedbacks between different global subsystems such as industry, health and agriculture. More industrial output meant more money to spend on agriculture and healthcare, but also more pollution, which could damage health and food production.

And most importantly, says Randers, in the real world there are delays before limits are understood, institutions act or remedies take effect. These delayed responses were programmed into World3. The model crashed because its hypothetical people did not respond to the mounting problems before underlying support systems, such as farmland and ecosystems, had been damaged.

Instead, they carried on consuming and polluting past the point the model world could sustain. The result was what economists call a bubble and Limits called overshoot. The impact of these response delays was "the fundamental scientific message" of the study, says Randers. Critics, and even fans of the study, he says, didn't get this point.

The other message missed was that Limits was about how catastrophe could be averted. It did not say that humanity was doomed. In model runs where growth of population and industry were constrained, growth did level out rather than collapse - the stabilised scenario


The crucial point is that overshoot and collapse usually happened sooner or later in World3 even if very optimistic assumptions were made about, say, oil reserves. "The general behaviour of overshoot and collapse persists, even when large changes to numerous parameters are made," says Graham Turner of the CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences lab in Crace, Australia.

This did not convince those who thought technology could fix every problem. And with so much criticism, the idea took hold that Limits had been disproved. That mantra has been repeated so often that it became the received wisdom, says Ugo Bardi of the University of Florence in Italy, author of a recent book about Limits. "The common perception is that the work was discredited scientifically. I heard it again at a meeting last April," says Homer-Dixon. "It wasn't."

It wasn't just confusion. "Misunderstanding was enhanced by a media campaign very similar to the one that has been recently directed against climate science," says Bardi.

One of the most common myths is that Limits predicted collapse by 2000. Yet as a brief glance at the "standard run" shows, it didn't


When Matthew Simmons, a leading oil-industry banker, finally read Limits in the 1990s, he was surprised to find none of the false predictions he had heard about. On the contrary, he concluded, population and energy growth largely matched the basic simulation. He felt Limits got so much attention, then lost it, partly because the oil shock of 1973 focused minds on resource shortages that were then largely resolved.

There have been other recent re-appraisals of the book. In 2008, for instance, Turner did a detailed statistical analysis of how real growth compares to the scenarios in Limits. He concluded that reality so far closely matches the standard run of World3.


We already know the future will be different from the standard run in one respect, says Bar-Yam. Although the actual world population up to 2000 has been similar, in the scenario the rate of population growth increases with time - one of the exponential drivers of collapse. Although Limits took account of the fact that birth rates fall as prosperity rises, in reality they have fallen much faster than was expected when the book was written. "It is reasonable to be concerned about resource limitations in fifty years," Bar-Yam says, "but the population is not even close to growing [the way Limits projected in 1972]."

The book itself may be partly responsible. Bar-Yam thinks some of the efforts in the 1970s to cut population growth were at least partly due to Limits. "If it helped do that, it bought us more time, and it's a very important work in the history of humanity," he says.

Yet World3 still suggests we'll hit the buffers eventually. The original Limits team put out an updated study using World3 in 2005, which included faster-falling birth rates. Except in the stabilising scenario, World3 still collapsed.

Otherwise, the team didn't analyse the correspondence between the real world and their 1972 scenarios in detail - noting only that they generally match. "Does this correspondence with history prove our model was true? No, of course not," they wrote. "But it does indicate that [our] assumptions and conclusions still warrant consideration today."

This remains the case. Forty years on from its publication, it is still not clear whether Limits was right, but it hasn't been proved wrong either. And while the model was too pessimistic about birth and death rates, it was too optimistic about the future impact of pollution. We now know that overshoot - the delayed response to problems that makes the effects so much worse - will eventually be especially catastrophic for climate change, because the full effects of greenhouse gases will not be apparent for centuries.


We need to apply that knowledge, too. The most important message of Limits was that the longer we ignore the problems caused by growth, the harder they are to overcome. As we pump out more CO2, it is clear this is a lesson we have yet to learn.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Child slavery and chocolate: All too easy to find


January 19th, 2012

In "Chocolate's Child Slaves," CNN's David McKenzie travels into the heart of the Ivory Coast to investigate children working in the cocoa fields. (Premieres Friday January 20, 8 p.m. GMT, 9 CET on CNN International.)

By David McKenzie and Brent Swails, CNN

During the course of an investigation for CNN’s Freedom Project initiative - an investigation that went deep into the cocoa fields of Ivory Coast - a team of CNN journalists found that child labor, trafficking and slavery are rife in an industry that produces some of the world’s best-known brands.


UNICEF estimates that nearly a half-million children work on farms across Ivory Coast, which produces nearly 40% of the world’s supply of cocoa. The agency says hundreds of thousands of children, many of them trafficked across borders, are engaged in the worst forms of child labor.


Yacou insisted he is 16, but his face looks far younger.

“My mother brought me from Burkina Faso when my father died,” he said.

Scars crisscross Yacou’s legs from a machete. He can’t clear grass in the cocoa fields without cutting himself. During harvest season, he works day after day hacking the cocoa pods.

The emotional scars run much deeper.

“I wish I could go to school. I want to read and write,” he said. But Yacou hasn’t spent a single day in school, and he has no idea how to leave the farm.




There are in fact many chocolate companies who according to company correspondence use cocoa that has definitively not been produced with slave labor. These companies include Clif Bar, Cloud Nine, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Denman Island Chocolate, Gardners Candies, Green and Black’s, Kailua Candy Company, Koppers Chocolate, L.A. Burdick Chocolates, Montezuma’s Chocolates, Newman’s Own Organics, Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, Rapunzel Pure Organics, and The Endangered Species Chocolate Company.

At present, no organic cocoa beans are coming from Ivory Coast, so organic chocolate is unlikely to be tainted by slavery. Newman’s Own Organics is one of the largest of the slavery-free companies. The company’s chocolate is purchased through the Organic Commodity Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It comes from Costa Rica where the farms are closely monitored.

Some companies go further and buy only fairly traded chocolate.


Although it is chocolate that has gotten the most publicity of late, chocolate isn’t the only American staple produced by slaves. Some coffee beans are also tainted by slavery. In addition to producing nearly half of the world’s cocoa, Ivory Coast is the world’s fourth-largest grower of Robusta coffee. Robusta beans are used for espresso and instant coffees. They are also blended with milder Arabica beans to make ground coffees.



Florida Republicans Introduce Bill That Would Keep Privatization A Secret From The People


January 18, 2012
By Stephen D. Foster Jr.


Florida Republicans are desperate to privatize the prison system in the state, which had been stalled by a judge in Tallahassee. So, they have introduced SB 2036 and SB 2038 to do just that. The measures would allow the state government to privatize prisons in secret and would also allow the government to secretly outsource the work of other state agencies. In other words, citizens could literally wake up one morning and find that their government by the people, for the people, and of the people has been given to corporations that don’t give a damn about what the people have to say. But that’s not all. The measures also give agencies the option of not reporting the privatization of a program until after it has already been done. So citizens won’t even have a chance to object. The bills also give the state legislature the power to privatize any government function it wants.


The reason Republicans want to privatize everything is because they claim the private sector is less expensive. But they are wrong as usual. It’s either that or they’re lying. Privatization is costlier than the public sector. Take education for example. Each year, every American pays a few dollars in taxes to fund public schools. If you send your child to a private school, it will cost you thousands.

Now let’s look at health care. There’s a reason why medical services are cheaper in countries that have government run health care. It’s because the private sector doesn’t have a role. Government is not a profit driven organization. Obviously the government wants to take in more than it spends but it isn’t a greedy private sector company that needs profit to survive. Private companies have one goal: to make money. To make that money and pay their CEO’s massive salaries, they must keep prices high. You see, government, unlike private companies, does not have to pay insane salaries. Government workers make considerably less than private sector workers. And no government worker makes a million dollars a year. Not even the President.



Muslim College Student Reports Sexual Harassment, Gets Reported To FBI For Terrorism And Expelled


By Tanya Somanader on Jan 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm

In 2008, African-American Muslim student Balayla Ahmad enrolled in Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport with hopes of becoming a chiropractor. Instead, she became of a victim of sexual harassment. Distressed by the repeated sexual advances and “graphic offensive comments” of a male student, Ahmad reported the harassment and “fears for her safety” to multiple teachers, who urged her to say nothing, and finally the university’s president and dean. The dean told Ahmad, “My hands are tied. What do you suggest I do?”

Rather than having her claims addressed, Ahmad received allegations of her own. Learning of her report, Ahmad’s harasser decided to falsely accuse her of terrorism to the FBI. And rather than fully investigate what was happening, the University of Bridgeport just expelled Ahmad altogether:



Homeless Teen Who Is A Semifinalist For Science Prize Will Be At The State Of The Union


Samantha Garvey, a New York high school senior who has been living in a homeless shelter and recently named a semifinalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition, will be Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-NY) guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address next Tuesday. Garvey found out she was a seminfinalist after her family had been living in a homeless shelter for several days, and donations have poured in to help the family as news of Garvey’s story spread. She wants to be a marine biologist and has applied to college at Brown and Yale.



GOP Hopefuls Refusing To Disclose Top Bundlers


By Josh Israel on Jan 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

While the Barack Obama presidential campaign continues to release quarterly lists of who is bundling contributions for his campaign, iWatch News reports that unlike the president and past candidates of both parties, GOP White House hopefuls are still not disclosing their campaign bundlers (supporters who collect “bundles” of campaign checks to deliver to their favored candidates):



Two-Thirds Of Small Business Owners Say Citizens United Ruling Hurts Them

If they voted for Republicans, they got what they asked for - judges who favor the ultra-rich.


By Marie Diamond on Jan 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which opened the door for unlimited corporate spending to influence the outcome of elections.

On the eve of the anniversary, a new survey reveals that small business owners overwhelmingly say the ruling hurts their business:

Two-thirds of American small business leaders believe the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case handed down two years ago on January 21 hurts small companies.

In fact, only nine percent of small business leaders thought the ruling positive, according to an independent national survey of 500 small business leaders released today by the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority.



Pregnant Women Advised to Stay Cool for Baby's Sake


ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2011) — Queensland University of Technology (QUT) world-first research has found a link between increases in temperature and the incidence of stillbirth and shorter pregnancies.


"We found that increases in temperature increased the risk of stillbirth, and this was particularly true in the earlier stages of pregnancy before 28 weeks," he said.

"Our estimated numbers were at 15°C (59F) there would be 353 stillbirths per 100,000 pregnancies, as compared with 610 stillbirths per 100,000 pregnancies at 23°C (73F).

"Increased temperatures also shortened gestation times, which means more preterm babies who often have serious long-term health problems such as cerebral palsy and impaired vision and hearing."


Professor Barnett said as global temperatures rise, the study could have serious public health implications.


"It is known that women should avoid hot tubs or Jacuzzis during pregnancy as this can cause a pregnancy termination, and that dehydration caused by heat stress and sweating could be harmful to a fetus and induce birth."


Being Told Painting Is Fake Changes Brain's Response to Art


ScienceDaily (Dec. 20, 2011) — Being told that a work of art is authentic or fake alters the brain's response to the visual content of artwork, Oxford University academics have found.


When a participant was told that a work was genuine, it raised activity in the part of the brain that deals with rewarding events, such as tasting pleasant food or winning a gamble. Being told a work is not by the master triggered a complex set of responses in areas of the brain involved in planning new strategies. Participants reported that when viewing a supposed fake, they tried to work out why the experts regarded it not to be genuine.



Resolve to quit smoking this year for your pets’ sake


January 6, 2012


Researchers at Tufts’ School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a study in which they found that cats living in homes with smokers are twice as likely as cats living with non-smokers to acquire feline lymphoma cancer. In homes where the cats were exposed to smoking for five years or more, the cats’ cancer risk tripled, and in homes with two smokers, the cancer risk to the cats quadrupled.

Dogs who live with smokers are much more likely to get nasal cancer and lung cancer, both of which usually have a grim prognosis. Pet birds are hypersensitive to environmental contaminants and can develop pneumonia, lung cancer, and problems with their eyes, skin and heart when exposed to smoke.

It’s not just the inhalation of the smoke that is dangerous to animals. The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center receives hundreds of calls each year about pets who have been sickened from ingesting cigarette butts or other tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco. A dog who consumes a large amount of cigarette butts or ash can have a grave prognosis, especially if he or she does not receive immediate treatment. Studies have also documented the deaths of pet birds as a result of the consumption of cigarette butts.



For Major Low-Income Programs, More Than 90 Percent Goes to Beneficiaries


By Robert Greenstein and CBPP Staff
January 12, 2012

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has endorsed a proposal to eliminate major federal assistance programs for low-income Americans and turn them over to the states, often with deep funding cuts. But the rationale he offered for doing so in this past Sunday’s “Meet the Press” debate — that the federal bureaucracy eats up most of the money Congress provides for these programs, and little actually reaches people in need — is simply false. At least nine-tenths of federal spending for each of these programs (and in most cases, a higher percentage) reaches low-income Americans.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1 in 8 low-income parents waters down formula, study finds


Jan. 18, 2012

By Linda Carroll

Many low-income parents feel they must resort to “formula stretching,” to keep their infants fed, even with government food assistance programs, a new study shows.

The study found that 30 percent of parents who brought their infants to an inner city children’s clinic didn’t have enough food to make it through each month. And a full 15 percent, or about 1 in 8, made ends meet by watering down their babies’ formula or by feeding less frequently, according to the study which was published in Clinical Pediatrics.

“We knew this was a high-risk population,” said study co-author Andrew Beck, a fellow in general academic pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “But these numbers are still staggering.”


Studies of hunger and food shortages across the nation have found that 16 to 22 percent of American families come up short some months.


This kind of formula stretching may have consequences for the infants, Beck said.

“There will be a subset of children who will have what is called ‘failure to thrive,’” Beck explained. “More often, though, the ramifications of this tend to be less visible -- problems with cognition and behavior. In some it may lead to obesity later in life.”

While some might point to breast feeding as a solution, not every mom is in the position to do this for her child. In some jobs it’s virtually impossible to express milk during the day when a mom is away from her baby.



If a parent can't enough formula, they might not get enough nutrition themselves to provide enough milk for their baby.



"Stop pirating my stories about SOPA, or I'll have to support it"


By Bob Sullivan
Jan. 18, 2012

SOPA – Maybe I’m for it after all.

I’m as adamant a supporter of Web free speech as you’ll find. And there’s a lot to dislike about the Stop Online Piracy Act. But when my stories about Web free speech are stolen and posted in their entirety by “rogue” websites, my head hurts. Stealing content is a funny way to prove your anti-SOPA credentials.


I have no patience for Internet users who copy movies, music or software whole-hog, share it with their friends for free and then cry foul at efforts to stop this.


I’m not in favor of SOPA. Blacklisting entire domains is a terrible idea that seems to have been beaten back by reason. Jailing alleged pirates would be Draconian in most cases. Using the U.S. Justice Department to enforce multinational corporations’ intellectual property rights through the criminal court system makes me queasy. Placing the burden of proof on small websites to show they aren’t violating copyrights is a dangerous turnabout of U.S. law. And perhaps most important, it’s highly doubtful that SOPA would be effective in stopping the kind of content theft I’m writing about here.


The real problem is Web culture that suggests everything is free, or should be free. That’s just not a grown-up way of looking at the world.
[Exactly. It takes a lot of time and money to run the web, buy music and video equipment, learn to use it well, travel to places to investigate things, etc. If you think it should be free, why aren't you creating it and providing it for free instead of expecting others to do it for you?]



It looks like the rich are doing the fact-finding for the administration and the interpretation of those facts.


By Chuck Marr and Brian Highsmith
Updated May 31, 2011

A recent finding by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation that 51 percent of households owed no federal income tax in 2009 [1] is being used to advance the argument that low- and moderate-income families do not pay sufficient taxes. Apart from the fact that most of those who make this argument also call for maintaining or increasing all of the tax cuts of recent years for people at the top of the income scale, the 51 percent figure, its significance, and its policy implications are widely misunderstood.

The 51 percent figure is an anomaly that reflects the unique circumstances of 2009, .....

The 51 percent figure covers only the federal income tax and ignores the substantial amounts of other federal taxes — especially the payroll tax — that many of these households pay . As a result, it greatly overstates the share of households that do not pay any federal taxes. Data from the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center show only about 14 percent of households paid neither federal income tax nor payroll tax in 2009, despite the high unemployment and temporary tax cuts that marked that year.

This percentage would be even lower if federal excise taxes on gasoline and other items were taken into account.

Most of the people who pay neither federal income tax nor payroll taxes are low-income people who are elderly, unable to work due to a serious disability, or students, most of whom subsequently become taxpayers. (In a year like 2009, this group also includes a significant number of people who have been unemployed the entire year and cannot find work.)

Moreover, low-income households as a whole do, in fact, pay federal taxes. Congressional Budget Office data show that the poorest fifth of households as a group paid an average of 4 percent of their incomes in federal taxes in 2007 (the latest year for which these data are available), not an insignificant amount given how modest these households’ incomes are — the poorest fifth of households had average income of $18,400 in 2007. [4] The next-to-the bottom fifth — those with incomes between $20,500 and $34,300 in 2007 — paid an average of 10 percent of their incomes in federal taxes.

Even these figures understate low-income households’ total tax burden, because these households also pay substantial state and local taxes. Data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy show that the poorest fifth of households paid a stunning 12.3 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes in 2010.

When all federal, state, and local taxes are taken into account,the bottom fifth of households paid 16.3 percent of their incomes in taxes, on average, in 2010. The second-poorest fifth paid 20.7 percent.



Are there Benefits to Drinking Water before Bedtime?


There are numerous benefits of drinking water, from keeping healthy and hydrated to clearing up acne. You may already be getting some of these benefits without even knowing it. Water contains many valuable minerals and nutrients that your body needs to function properly. Drinking water before bedtime is one of the best ways to help your body store those nutrients and minerals you need to stay healthy and strong.


One of the best benefits of drinking water is that it acts as a natural cleanser. Your body attracts many toxins, from food, the environment and other elements. Cleaning it out consistently will help keep it healthy and functioning well. Drinking water before you go to bed will provide your body with the supplies (water) and the time to clear out your system of unwanted toxins



Wind Power Without the Blades

Sounds great. I do think that objections to windmills because they spoil someone's view is pretty warped, thinking that that is more important than the protection of the environment on which all life depends. But there are other considerations (eg., bird collisions) which makes this alternative welcome.


By Alyssa Danigelis
Noise from wind turbine blades, inadvertent bat and bird kills and even the way wind turbines look have made installing them anything but a breeze. New York design firm Atelier DNA has an alternative concept that ditches blades in favor of stalks. Resembling thin cattails, the Windstalks generate electricity when the wind sets them waving. The designers came up with the idea for the planned city Masdar, a 2.3-square-mile, automobile-free area being built outside of Abu Dhabi. Atelier DNA’s "Windstalk"project came in second in the Land Art Generator competition a contest sponsored by Madsar to identify the best work of art that generates renewable energy from a pool of international submissions.


Núñez-Ameni also reports that the firm is currently working on taking the Windstalk idea underwater. Called Wavestalk, the whole system would be inverted to harness energy from the flow of ocean currents and waves. The firm’s long-term goal is to build a large system in the United States, either on land or in the water.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An easier way to remove gallstones


Public release date: 17-Jan-2012
Contact: Jennifer Lauren Lee
American Institute of Physics
An easier way to remove gallstones

For more than 100 years, the traditional treatment for the painful growths called gallstones has been removal of the gallbladder, or cholecystectomy. But a new device, patented in China, promises to make removing the entire organ unnecessary. A group of scientists from the Second People's Hospital of Panyu District and Central South University in China have developed an endoscope specially designed for locating and clearing out gallstones and other gallbladder lesions.



new advances aimed at improving treatment, prognosis and detection of GI cancers


Public release date: 17-Jan-2012
Contact: Susie Tappouni
American Society of Clinical Oncology
2012 Gastroinstestinal Cancers Symposium reveals new advances aimed at improving treatment, prognosis and detection of GI cancers

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – New research into the treatment, prognosis and early detection of gastrointestinal cancers was released today in advance of the ninth annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium being held January 19-21, 2012, at The Moscone West Building in San Francisco, Calif.

1)Biomarkers Promising for Detecting Barrett's Esophagus Patients at High Risk for Esophageal Cancer: ...

2) New Test Shows Promise for Detecting Early Stage Pancreatic Cancer: ...

3) Study Finds Prognostic Factors for Rare Neuroendocrine Tumors, Suggests Everolimus May Be More Beneficial Than Previously Shown: ...

4) Multi-Targeted Drug Improves Survival in Certain Patients with Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: ...



from mental_floss Nov/Dec 2011

Doodling helps us concentrate at long work meetings. It keeps us from daydreaming, w/o using too much brain power to distract us.


When I was in school lectures or work meetings, I did a lot of doodling of this kind. It does help


Brazil Nut Effect

from mental_floss Nov/Dec 2011

Muesli effect=Brazil nut effect : tendency of larger size particles to end up at top of mixture.

To counteract this : Hold the box upright and shake it side to side.


Best Milking Song

from mental_floss Nov/Dec 2011

R.E.M. "Everybody Hurts" - best song for reducing bovind stress, resulting in

Other great milking songs:

Aretha Franklin : "What a Difference a Day Makes"
Simon & Garfunkel : "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
Danny Williams : "Moon River"
Lou Reed : "Perfect Day"
Beethoven : "Pastoral Symphony"


To be or not to be

I heard a song last year that irritated me. It was a young man thanking his mother for not using birth control, because he was glad he was born. Such narcissism is normal in young people, but really irrational, even just considering this particular aspect. Women are born with 1 million (1,000,000) to 2 million eggs. At puberty, that number drops to 400,000. Obviously, even if a woman has the maximum number of children she is capable of, the vast majority of her potential children will never exist. And if you consider the number of unfertilized eggs of all women since humans first evolved, it would be mind-boggling. But it's not a tragedy. Someone who never exists doesn't miss not existing. People will say we might have missed having another Newton, but we also must have missed having even more Hitlers. And every person who is born means at least 9 other people were not born during the gestation of the baby. Every month a woman remains a virgin means a potential person is not born. A woman who is faithful to her husband who is on active duty overseas, or is himself infertile, means some eggs are never fertilized.

And of course, men have enourmously more sperm that are never used. That young man was probably old enough to be a father. Are we supposed to be unhappy if he doesn't spend his waking hours impregnating women, to minimize the number of his sperm that never become children? And some people are not good parents. I say from experience, that it can be better never to have been born than to have to endure decades of misery from abusive parents. And society suffers because, while most abused children do not become criminals or abuse their own children, they are more likely to do so. Almost all violent criminals were abused as children. A neurologist who studied men in prison for violent crimes found almost all of them had brain damage, usually from the abuse.

And of course, women are human beings. We have a right to lives of our own, and we have value and capabilities as something besides baby-making machines. Maybe that young man's mother might have discovered a cure for cancer, or written great music, if she hadn't had children. I love children, and very much wanted children of my own, but if a woman does not want children, she shouldn't have them. In addition to the fact that her own quality of life is of value, children deserve to be raised in an environment where they are cherished and valued.

It's not like the world is suffering from a shortage of humans. There are already too many. We are destroying the environment we depend on for life.

And I have to say, if this song is a reflection of this young man's permanent character and intelligence, not just the narcissism and arrogance of youth, the world would be a better place without him.


Hungry in Georgia

from Georgia Trend Jan. 2012

"Feeding the Hungry" by Jerry Grillo
2012 Georgian of the Year : Bill Bolling, who created and maintains the Atlanta Community Food Bank

17.8 percent of Georgians (1.7 million people) struggle with hunger, well
above the national average

27.9 % of children (almost 703,000) in Georgia struggle with hunger; 33 % of them live in households likely to be ineligible for federal food nutrition programs

27 % of people served by food bank partner agencies are seeking help for the first time in their lives


Oversight of Cruise Lines at Issue After Disaster

Lack of government control, that's the paradise that Republicans and Libertarians long for. I certainly am not for too much government control, but some is needed, a healthy balance.


Published: January 16, 2012

As the world was transfixed by the Titanic-like imagery of the partly submerged Costa Concordia and the frantic efforts to save the fuel-laden vessel in rough seas off the Tuscany coast, questions swirled on Monday about the enormous cruise line industry, which operates without much regulation.


While airline pilots are directed and guided by controllers on the ground, sea captains are considered to be in complete control. “It’s not like the aircraft industry, where you file a flight plan,” said Peter Wild, a cruise industry consultant at G. P. Wild (International) Limited, a consultancy outside London. Rather, at most cruise lines, company directors determine the routes, which are then transmitted to the captain and a navigating officer, who scrutinize the charted course but are meant to follow it.


For many years, the global cruise line industry has operated under a loosely defined system that tends to escape scrutiny by courts and regulators. Cruise line instances of crime, pollution and safety and health violations have often gone unpoliced because no single authority is in charge.

A United Nations agency, the International Maritime Organization, oversees maritime safety through international conventions, including one for the Safety of Life at Sea, known as Solas, adopted in 1914, which grew out of the global anger that stemmed from the loss of the Titanic in 1912. But the agency has no policing powers.


Passengers described delays and confusion, with unclear instructions and inexperienced crew members. Emily Lau, 27, and her husband, Benji Smith, 34, an American honeymoon couple on board, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “it was every man for himself,” Ms. Lau said. “The main thing is no one knew how to help because they were never trained. That is the cruise ship’s fault.”


“Cruising is a safer way to travel than air, but the investigation may take time, the story is getting global publicity, and people are unlikely to book until confidence returns,” Mr. Rollo said.



1. Greed is not the same thing as ambition.

2. Whether ambition is good depends on the details of that ambition.

Eg., a person might have the ambition of finding a cure for cancer, or writing beautiful songs. Or they might have the ambition of being an all-powerful dictator, or killing everybody in a certain category.


Pennsylvania Slashes 88,000 Children From Medicaid Rolls

I don't know if the Medicaid cuts were necessarily a big problem. I've included info below from the Pennsylvania web site

But the food stamp rules are horrible. If you lose your job and have no income and are living in your car which is worth $2500, you would be “too rich” for aid.


The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare reveals that 88,071 children were cut from the Medicaid rolls since August as a result of the department Secretary Gary Alexander’s (R) efforts to “reduce waste, fraud, and abuse.” Alexander ordered an increase in eligibility reviews of beneficiaries in July and, now 80 percent complete, the reviews have resulted in the slew of cuts. The numbers don’t count an additional 23,000 children that DPW cut but eventually restored after the families secured legal help. Advocates note, however, that “poorer people may be less likely to call a lawyer, and child advocates believe thousands have no idea they are now uninsured.” DPW is also enforcing a stricter food stamp eligibility requirement that disqualifies any low-income Pennsylvanian with $2,000 or more in assets, as they are “too rich” for aid.


Eligibility & Benefits

No family makes too much money for CHIP. Most kids receive CHIP for free. Others can get the same benefits at a low cost. If your income is below the lowest amount listed, your child or teen may be enrolled in Medical Assistance. Learn more about how to qualify for CHIP, what it covers and how to apply by watching our YouTube videos.

How do I know if my child qualifies?*
Based on your family size and income, your child or teen may be eligible if he or she meets the following requirements:

Under 19 years of age
A U.S. Citizen, U.S. National or Qualified Alien
A resident of Pennsylvania
Uninsured and not eligible for Medical Assistance

An average family of four making $44,000 qualifies for free CHIP. View complete income information here.

Information for Grandparents
*Like parents, if you're a grandparent, coverage for your grandchildren is based on your income. Read more to find out if you are covered.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Republican Sponsor Of Bill To Require Drug Testing For Georgia Welfare Recipients Arrested For DUI


By Judd Legum on Jan 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm

A Georgia Republican who wants all welfare reciepients subject to drug tests failed one himself after he ran a red light on Friday morning.


Smith told the officer he’d had the beer 45 minutes earlier, and the officer asked him to blow into a hand-held “intoximeter”. The officer said the lawmaker refused, stating he would prefer to go to a clinic or the hospital to get tested.

The officer said Smith finally agreed to blow into the device. The report stated that Smith blew a .091., which is above the legal limit of .08.



The White House Labels SOPA Censorship And Refuses To Support It

I would like to see some method devised to help creators of content get compensation for the time and money they expend on creating the content. As a songwriter and musician (non-performing) who has a lot of musician friends, I know how much time and money goes into creating a good piece of music. And it must take a lot of time and money for reporters to get their information. I know most of what is on my blog comes from other sources, but I know most people would not have the time and passion to research all of these. I hope my readers are motivated to link to many of the sources I use.


By Jason Easley
January 14, 2012

In response to two online petitions the Obama administration called SOPA and PIPA censorship, and announced their opposition to the two bills.


The White House response comes on the heels of six Republican Senate co-sponsors of PIPA calling on Majority Leader Harry Reid to postpone the scheduled January 24 vote on the bill. With such strong White House opposition to the bill, Senate Democrats now have the political cover that they needed to kill SOPA/PIPA. This also opens the door for the Senate Democrats who foolishly supported an industry written bill to get with the program and change their position.


For people who still claim that Obama is just like the Republicans, ask yourself what would a Republican president have done in this situation? Can you imagine a president Mitt Romney saying no to the corporate media, and telling them that his administration is not going to do their dirty work?

What we have also learned is that not only is the White House reading the petitions that they have solicited, but they are also taking them seriously.


Which 6 Companies Control 90% Of What You Read, Watch, And Listen To?


Originally found on OWNI.eu. Submitted by volunteer editors Jayne C. and Ken H.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Food Stamps: Democrats In Congress Attempt To Eat On $4.50 A Day To Protest Potential Budget Cuts


Luke Johnson First Posted: 10/31/11 07:48 PM ET Updated: 11/1/11 05:29 PM ET

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) along with eight other congressional Democrats are eating on a budget of about $4.50 a day to show solidarity with food stamp recipients who receive $32.59 a week.

The personal thrift, which is part of a challenge organized by Fighting Poverty With Faith, was reported by Pacifica Patch. The site also listed the food items that Speier was now buying.


Food stamps have been a target of Republican-led budget cuts. House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed transfering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, into a block grant program administered by the states.


n addition to Speier and Courtney, Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) have also decided to trim down their food budget in solidarity.



I'll Occupy

I love this! And it uses the tune of one of my favorite songs (I Will Survive).


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chloe Cornelius is a young woman who previously posted a few self-made music videos on youtube which got very little attention. However, these videos already proved that she has very good skills for example as far as singing and video editing are concerned. Now she combined her skills and created a new powerful video which has already received quite a lot of attention - the "hymn" for the OWS-movement: "I'll Occupy" (full title: "I'll Occupy" Recruitment Song: The 99 is Pissed and We Will Not Be Dismissed!).


Friday, January 13, 2012

Chlorophyll can help prevent or increase cancer


CORVALLIS, Ore. – A recent study at Oregon State University found that the chlorophyll in green vegetables offers protection against cancer when tested against the modest carcinogen exposure levels most likely to be found in the environment.

However, chlorophyll actually increases the number of tumors at very high carcinogen exposure levels.

Beyond confirming the value of chlorophyll, the research raises serious questions about whether traditional lab studies done with mice and high levels of toxic exposure are providing accurate answers to what is a real health risk, what isn’t, and what dietary or pharmaceutical approaches are useful.

The findings, published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, were done using 12,360 rainbow trout as laboratory models, instead of more common laboratory mice. Rodent studies are much more expensive, forcing the use of fewer specimens and higher carcinogen exposures.


“This study, like others before it, found that chlorophyll can reduce tumors, up to a point,” McQuistan said. “But at very high doses of the same carcinogen, chlorophyll actually made the problem worse. This questions the value of an approach often used in studying cancer-causing compounds.”



A golden tail of Beyoncé’s bootylicious fly


Posted: January 13, 2012 | Author: Huw Morgan | Filed under: News |Leave a comment »

A previously un-named species of horse fly whose appearance is dominated by its glamorous golden lower abdomen has been named in honour of American pop diva, Beyoncé.

According to the Australian National Insect Collection researcher responsible for officially ‘describing’ the fly as Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae, CSIRO’s Bryan Lessard, the fly’s spectacular gold colour makes it the “all time diva of flies”.

[...] [See original article for picture]


NIH study shows 32 million Americans have autoantibodies that target their own tissues


Public release date: 13-Jan-2012
Contact: Robin Mackar
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

More than 32 million people in the United States have autoantibodies, which are proteins made by the immune system that target the body's tissues and define a condition known as autoimmunity, a study shows. The first nationally representative sample looking at the prevalence of the most common type of autoantibody, known as antinuclear antibodies (ANA), found that the frequency of ANA is highest among women, older individuals, and African-Americans. The study was conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. Researchers in Gainesville at the University of Florida also participated.

Earlier studies have shown that ANA can actually develop many years before the clinical appearance of autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. ANA are frequently measured biomarkers for detecting autoimmune diseases, but the presence of autoantibodies does not necessarily mean a person will get an autoimmune disease. Other factors, including drugs, cancer, and infections, are also known to cause autoantibodies in some people.



Wearing contact lenses can affect glaucoma measurements



Brenner and colleagues studied the effects of contact lens wear on retinal nerve fiber layer measurements, which ophthalmologists use to diagnose and manage glaucoma. The researchers found that in patients with lower refractive errors, better quality measurements were obtained without contact lenses in place. But in patients with higher refractive errors, wearing contact lenses could improve measurements. (A refractive error is an error in the way the eye focuses light.)



Extreme temperatures of 2011: 7 national all-time heat records; 1 cold record

I have lived in north Alabama or Georgia since 1960 (except for a year in Pensacola, FL 1992-1993), and I remember that every 3-4 years we would have a very cold spell, like 3F. (The coldest I remember was one time it got down to -11F.) But it hasn't gotten down to anywhere as cold a 3F for years.


Posted by: JeffMasters, 4:14 PM GMT on January 13, 2012

The year 2011 was the tenth warmest year on record for the globe, but the warmest year on record when a La Niña event was present (Ricky Rood has a discussion of this in his lastest post.) Seven nations and one territory broke all-time hottest temperature records. This is a far cry from 2010 (which tied for the warmest year on record), when twenty nations (plus one UK territory) set all-time hottest temperature records. One all-time coldest temperature record was set in 2011; this was the first time since 2009 one of these records was set. The all-time cold record occurred in Zambia, which ironically also set an all-time hottest temperature record in 2011. Here, then, are the most most notable extreme temperatures globally in 2011, courtesy of weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera:

Hottest temperature in the world in 2011: 53.3°C (127.9°F) in Mitrabah, Kuwait, August 3
Coldest temperature in the world in 2011: -80.2°C (-112.4°F) at Dome Fuji, Antarctica, September 18
Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 49.4°C (120.9°F) at Roebourne, Australia, on December 21
Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -67.2°C (-89°F) at Summit, Greenland, March 18. This is also the coldest March temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere.
Hottest undisputed 24-hour minimum temperature in world history: A minimum temperature of 41.7°C (107°F) measured at Khasab Airport in Oman on June 27


Weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera is the primary source of the weather records listed here and has worked tremendously hard to research them. He maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records.


Clarence Thomas’ brand of justice

The prosecutor should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, and given a lengthy prison term.


January 11, 2012 12:35 PM
By Steve Benen

n 1995, a group of men burst into a New Orleans home in search of money and drugs. They ordered those inside to lie down and then opened fire, killing five innocent people. One man, Larry Boatner, survived the violence and identified Juan Smith as one of the assailants.

Boatner’s testimony was the only evidence presented at trial, and it proved persuasive enough to convince a jury. Juan Smith was convicted of murder.

There was, however, a problem. The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office decided to hide relevant information from both Smith’s lawyers and the jury: mere hours after the slayings, Boatner told police he could only describe the gunmen as black men, and five days later, Boatner said he never saw the intruders’ faces.

Smith’s conviction was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the conviction yesterday in an 8-1 ruling. The court majority found that the relevant evidence obviously needed to be shared with the defendant’s attorney as part of the discovery process. The question before the court was whether the disclosure of the evidence would have affected the outcome of the trial, and eight of the nine justices endorsed common sense and said it would.

As Adam Liptak reported, Clarence Thomas disagreed.

Justice Thomas’s dissent, at 19 pages, was almost five times as long as the majority opinion. “The question presented here is not whether a prudent prosecutor should have disclosed the information that Smith identifies,” Justice Thomas wrote.

Rather, he wrote, the question was whether Mr. Smith had not shown a reasonable probability that the jury would have reached a different conclusion had it known of the undisclosed statements. Justice Thomas said a careful review of the balance of the evidence demonstrated that nothing would have changed.

Has Thomas never heard of “reasonable doubt”? Prosecutors had no fingerprints, no weapon, no DNA, and no physical evidence of any kind. They had one witness, who said he never saw the faces of the murderers.

A Supreme Court justice believes a jury wouldn’t have cared about these details at all?

‘A time of broadly shared prosperity’


January 11, 2012 4:35 PM
By Steve Benen

The New York Times had a terrific editorial today, taking a big-picture view of the race for the Republican presidential nomination and the “journey into the dingy, cramped quarters of the right wing’s economic policies.” The piece is well worth reading.

The Republicans ritually denounced President Obama as hostile to capitalism, disdainful of individual enterprise and lacking in ideas for reviving the economy. All they had to offer were economic ideas that not only are inadequate for that purpose but were instrumental in creating the nation’s current economic problems. […]

Economic growth and rising productivity are needed for broadly shared prosperity, but rising living standards require policies that ensure regular increases in the minimum wage, which peaked in 1968; greater investment in the social safety net; full employment as a government priority; progressive taxation; and effective financial regulation to avoid overgrowth followed by collapse.

These kinds of policies dominated from the late-1940s to the 1970s, a time of broadly shared prosperity and a strong middle class. Those policies were then systematically reversed, income inequality began to explode and productivity growth slowed. Tax cuts for the rich and assaults on programs for the poor and middle class worsened inequality during the years of George W. Bush.

[Also during the years of Reagan]

The answer is not more of the same failed policies. The solution is to revive the successful ones, along with policies to stimulate the economy and stop foreclosures. Mr. Obama understands this. The Republican hopefuls are deluding themselves and trying to delude the voters.


Joe Scarborough wrote last summer about his upbringing and his desire to see America return to the can-do spirit in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2010, John Boehner complained about the loss of the “America I grew up in.”

But whether Republicans want to admit it or not, progressive economic policies, embraced and implemented by government, created the national conditions they now miss. They’re unsatisfied with the status quo, but don’t want to acknowledge that it’s been a generation-long departure from these progressive policies that changed the America they “grew up in” in ways they don’t like.

Worse, they now insist on sticking with what doesn’t work, and moving even further to the right. There’s no reason for the public to find their demands credible.