Sunday, November 30, 2014

David Archer's "The Long Thaw"

The following link has a review of David Archer's book on global warming/climate change, "The Long Thaw". I include some of the review concerning how long the effects of our actions can be expected to last, to augment the previous post based on a technical study, to which David Archer contributed research.

I suggest reading the whole review, which is itself well-written and informative.

David Archer’s The Long Thaw may just have the best symbolic cover graphic of any recent book on climate change: a human fingerprint, 90% submerged in true iceberg fashion, beneath a cloudy sky. One scarcely needs the subtitle—How Humans Are Changing The Next 100,000 Years Of Earth’s Climate.

Archer, an oceanographer and professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, is a master of the “Plain Style”—informal, and given as much to the simple declarative sentence as to the factual.


Chapter 10 considers the possibilities for future carbon cycle feedbacks. Currently, the carbon cycle is damping human-induced climate changes, but there are ways in which this could change. In past climate changes, warming temperatures produced increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, unlike today, when humans release CO2 which is partially absorbed by plants and by seawater.

But CO2 release in response to warming could easily happen again, if any of the things acting today as carbon sinks--the oceans, for instance, or the great boreal forests--begin instead to emit CO2 as they warm. For instance, the ocean waters grow less able to hold CO2 as temperatures warm. Permafrost can melt, releasing CO2 or methane, and the massive amounts of methane held as hydrates buried in oceanic sediments could melt and bubble up through the water column to enter the atmosphere.

It is not possible to predict which, if any, of these things will happen, or when. But if they do, it is possible that the warming effect of CO2 could quickly double.


Atmospheric Lifetime of Fossil Fuel Carbon Dioxide

Eg., those who cite a 100 year lifetime, are counting the absorption of CO2 molecules by the ocean, but not counting the release of previously absorbed CO2 molecules from the ocean back into the atmosphere. And they don't take into account that processes that remove CO2 from the air, such as absorption by the ocean, will slow in the future, as they become saturated with CO2 or used up by reactions with CO2. I will also create a post about a user-friendly book on this subject by David Arthur, one of the contributors to the technical article I cite below.

David Archer, Michael Eby, Victor Brovkin, Andy Ridgwell,
Long Cao, Uwe Mikolajewicz, Ken Caldeira, Katsumi Matsumoto,
Guy Munhoven, Alvaro Montenegro, and Kathy Tokos


CO2 released from combustion of fossil fuels equilibrates among the various carbon reservoirs of the atmosphere, the ocean, and the terrestrial biosphere on timescales of a few centuries. However, a sizeable fraction of the CO2 remains in the atmosphere, awaiting a return to the solid earth by much slower weathering processes and deposition of CaCO3 . Common measures of the atmospheric lifetime of CO2 , including the e-folding time scale, dis- regard the long tail. Its neglect in the calculation of global warming po- tentials leads many to underestimate the longevity of anthropogenic global warming. Here, we review the past literature on the atmospheric lifetime of fossil fuel CO2 and its impact on climate,

[ The fate and lifetime of fossil fuel CO2 released to the atmosphere is not inherently scientifically controversial, but the packaging of this information for public consumption is strewn with such confusion that Pieter Tans proposed in print that the entire concept should be banished (Tans et al.
1990). How long is global warming from CO2 going to last, policymakers and the public would like to know. If there is a trade-off possible between emissions of CO2 versus emissions of other greenhouse gases, how shall they be compared? The lifetimes of greenhouse gases are incorporated into the construction of global warming potentials, the time-integrated climate impact of each gas relative to CO 2


There is a strong consensus across models of global carbon cycling, as exemplified by the ones presented here, that the climate perturbations from fossil fuel–CO2 release extend hundreds of thousands of years into the future. This is consistent with sedimentary records from the deep past, in particular a climate event known as the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, which consisted of a relatively sharp increase in atmospheric CO2 and ocean temperature, followed by a recovery, which took perhaps 150,000 years


The gulf between the widespread preconception of a relatively short (hundred-year) lifetime of CO2 on the one hand and the evidence of a much longer climate impact of CO 2 on the other arguably has its origins in semantics. There are rival definitions of a lifetime for anthropogenic CO2 . One is the average amount of time that individual carbon atoms spend in the atmosphere before they are removed, by uptake into the ocean or the terrestrial biosphere. Another is the amount of time it takes until the CO2 concentration in the air recovers substantially toward its original concentration. The difference between the two definitions is that exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and other reservoirs affects the first definition, by removing specific CO2 molecules, but not the second because exchange does not result in net CO2 drawdown. The misinterpretation that has plagued the question of the atmospheric lifetime of CO2 seems to arise from confusion of these two very different definitions

As the ocean is acidified, its ability to hold more CO2 decreases, so that the airborne fraction of a kilogram of CO2 is higher if the water has already absorbed a substantial amount of new CO2.


Nowhere in these model results or in the published literature is there any reason to conclude that the effects of CO2 release will be substantially confined to just a few centuries.
In contrast, generally accepted modern understanding of the global carbon cycle indicates that climate effects of CO2 releases to the atmosphere will persist for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years into the future


Saturday, November 29, 2014

The problem with "self-esteem"

I suggest reading the whole article at the following link:

By Jennifer Crocker and Jessica J. Carnevale, Republished from the Scientific American
Scientific American Mind Sept./Oct. 2013

The Ego Trap

Having high self-esteem has a few modest benefits, but it can produce problems and is mostly irrelevant for success.
The pursuit of self-esteem through a focus on greatness makes us emotionally vulnerable to life’s disappointments—and can even lower our chances of success.
Compassion, along with a less self-centered perspective, can motivate us to achieve while helping us weather bad news, learn from our mistakes and fortify our friendships.


Self-esteem, or a person’s overall sense of self-worth, is generally considered to be critical to healthy functioning. Its darker side, however, has been largely overlooked. As Cassassuce’s experience suggests, the quest for greater self-esteem can leave people feeling empty and dissatisfied. Recent research bolsters the case. Even when we achieve goals we anticipate will make us feel good about ourselves, high self-esteem may still elude us because self-esteem that is contingent on success is fragile.

It turns out that having self-esteem, as a fairly stable personality trait, does have a few modest benefits. High self-esteem also has drawbacks, however, and is mostly irrelevant for success. Further the pursuit of self-esteem is clearly detrimental to well-being. When people chase after a stronger sense of self-worth, it becomes their ultimate goal, leading them to sacrifice other aspirations, such as learning or doing what is good for others.

The hunt for self-esteem through a focus on achievement makes us emotionally vulnerable to life’s inevitable travails and disappointments. It also causes us to engage in behaviors that can actually harm our chances of success, our competence and our personal relationships. A far better way to bolster your sense of self-worth is, ironically, to think about yourself less. Compassion toward others and yourself, along with a less self-centered perspective on your situation, can motivate you to achieve your goals while helping you weather bad news, learn from your mistakes and fortify your friendships.


Yet even as the self-esteem movement gained momentum, scientific research began to undermine some of its major assumptions. For one, the data did not show that many of us suffer from low self-esteem. On the contrary, most of us already feel pretty good about ourselves. In a study published in 1989 psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and his colleagues Dianne M. Tice and Debra G. Hutton, all then at Case Western Reserve University, found that the average American’s self-esteem score is well above the conceptual midpoint of self-esteem scales—the point that denotes a moderate or decent view of the self. Like the children in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, most of us have decided we are above average.


While documenting a plethora of self-esteem, researchers began to discount its importance. In a comprehensive review of the literature published in 2003 Baumeister, now at Florida State University, and his colleagues stated that people with high self-esteem perform only slightly better academically and at work than do those with low self-esteem. Likewise, self-esteem is only weakly related to children’s popularity in school and tenuously tied to the quality of a person’s relationships in general. It also has little effect on how likely someone is to be violent or engage in risky behaviors such as smoking and drug use.

High self-esteem does have some benefits. It seems to make people more persistent, Baumeister and his team found. Those with high self-esteem also reported feeling happier and less depressed. Yet whether high self-esteem causes pleasant feelings, or vice versa, remains unclear.

High self-esteem seems to have at least one serious drawback: difficulty in seeing your own shortcomings. A great deal of research conducted for several decades shows that people with high self-esteem tend to have unrealistically positive views of themselves. They think they are more attractive, successful, likable, smart and moral than others do—and are unaware of their deficits or incompetence. When they get negative feedback, they tend to be defensive, blaming the test or the messenger, rather than owning up to a mistake or deficiency. In this way, high self-esteem can impede learning and growth and impair personal relationships. When it comes to your brain surgeon (or spouse, for that matter), most of us would most likely prefer that person to have a realistic view of his or her abilities and a willingness to learn from mistakes—rather than high self-esteem.


Pursuing self-esteem also undermines intrinsic motivation, the type driven by interest in the task itself. Psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan of the University of Rochester and their colleagues have argued that contingent self-esteem is a form of ego involvement, in which people focus on how successes and failures reflect on the self. Their research, conducted over several decades, shows that individuals who are ego-involved do things such as studying and exercising because they feel that they have to, rather than because they want to. This sense of obligation and pressure takes away the satisfaction that can come from working hard at something difficult.

Personal relationships also suffer from the quest for self-esteem. People focused on boosting their own self-esteem tend to put their own needs before those of others. Because they are preoccupied with questions about their own value, their friends, family and acquaintances serve mainly as potential sources of validation or invalidation, making their interactions with others ultimately all about themselves.


Although the pursuit of self-esteem has many negative consequences, it also serves an important purpose: motivating us to action. Without the urge to prove our worth, might we turn into slackers? Fortunately, we can adopt another approach. Instead of focusing on our own status, we can focus on others or the collective good. For example, an individual might work just as hard at the office, but with the primary goal of contributing to the team’s mission or supporting his or her family rather than earning individual recognition. Goals directed at being constructive, supportive and responsive to others lead to feelings of connectedness, closeness to others, social support and trust, as well as reduced feelings of conflict, loneliness, fear and confusion.

Compassionate goals appear to engender a sense of worth and connectedness without the devastating drops that come after feedback suggestive of failure.


You can be compassionate toward yourself and others. If you find yourself upset by a mistake or downfall, self-compassion can make for a softer landing for your fall. People with self-compassion treat themselves kindly, as they would a close friend. They are patient with themselves, nonjudgmental and understanding of their own imperfections, according to work by psychologist Kristin Neff of the University of Texas at Austin. They also avoid harsh self-critiques or negative generalizations about self-worth following one negative experience. Self-compassion helps you accept life’s inevitable setbacks as simply part of what it means to be human. It allows you to see failure as a learning opportunity rather than a threat, something that can motivate you to work toward your goals.
Compassion for the self seems to be linked to compassion for others.


A further way to reduce an obsession with the self, and the problems that fixation generates, is to use a technique called self-distancing. Using this strategy, you see yourself from the perspective of a third-party observer, the proverbial “fly on the wall,” rather than from inside your own head.


All these alternatives to pursuing self-esteem reduce the tendency to judge the self. By focusing on others, having self-compassion or adopting a distanced view of yourself, you can work toward your goals without constant self-evaluation and self-criticism. If we were to design a new self-esteem movement, it would teach people to reduce focus on the worth of the self altogether because any action designed to enhance self-esteem is destined to have, at best, temporary benefits and most likely will fail because such actions are motivated by a toxic preoccupation with self-judgment.


Beating gender discrimination

New Scientist
11:07 13 May 2014 by Jessica Hamzelou
Magazine issue 2969, May 17, 2014 page 48

Have you heard that women are paid less than men because they don't negotiate? Or that they rule themselves out of CEO positions by choosing motherhood over their careers? Joan C. Williams, professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, disagrees with such claims. Not only has she got solid evidence to show that it is gender bias that is holding women back at work, she has put together a list of strategies they can use to deal with it.

The scientific literature on gender bias doesn't make for a pleasant read, with study after study having found that women face unfair pressures in the workplace. After an exhaustive analysis, Williams determined that most of the bias women experience falls into one of four categories. Together, these biases can create an environment in which a woman is expected to repeatedly prove her worth, exhibit a specific blend of masculine and feminine behaviors, support her female colleagues and somehow avoid letting motherhood affect her working life at all.


As part of her campaign, Williams gave talks at universities. "When I began to talk about these four patterns, women in the audience immediately recognized them," she says. "As soon as I began to describe the patterns, they began to laugh and nudge each other." But knowledge alone isn't always power. "I realized that by just describing women's experience, I was depressing them," says Williams. "I decided to stop talking about it until I had some strategies that women could use to navigate these patterns. I had to provide proactive strategies, otherwise I would just make people feel helpless."


Williams calls the first pattern of bias Prove-It-Again!. Because the stereotypical successful professional is a masculine man, women have to work harder to prove themselves, she says.

And that's not all. While a man's successes are likely to be attributed to skill and brilliance, a woman's are more likely to be attributed to luck or hard work. As a result, men are more likely to be rewarded for their achievements.


"It's very important for women to keep careful, real-time records of all objective metrics they have met, and all the compliments they have received," says Williams. "You have to remind people of your successes."

Women must employ another strategy to do that, navigating the second type of bias: the Tightrope. "Women have to behave in masculine ways – being assertive and direct – in order to be seen as competent, but they have to behave in feminine ways lest they be respected but not liked," says Williams. "Men don't."

When a woman highlights her own achievements, she is seen to be bragging – a behavior associated with masculinity. Getting around this obstacle requires what Williams calls "gender judo" – behaving in a seemingly stereotypical way in order to get non-stereotypical results.

"One effective way of doing that is to form a posse – a group of men as well as women to celebrate each other's successes," suggests Williams. "You're doing something very masculine – bragging – but you're doing it in a feminine way, because it is seen as more suitable for a woman to be celebrating someone else's achievements, especially those of a man."

Tightrope bias also gets in the way of negotiations at work. "There's a large literature saying that women don't get ahead because they don't negotiate for themselves, but that's irresponsible," says Williams. "Women don't negotiate because they're not idiots – they know that if they do negotiate, they are going to encounter pushback." The answer here is to employ more gender judo. "Say someone else told you to negotiate," she says.


Williams labels the third type of bias as the Maternal Wall. "After women have children, they face Prove-It-Again! squared," she says. "They have to prove themselves all over again, often because they are assumed to be no longer competent or committed to their jobs."

In a lab-based experiment, Shelley Correll and her colleagues, then at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, found that women with children were half as likely to be recommended for hire as women without children, and were offered $11,000 less. Fatherhood, on the other hand, had no impact on men's employability, and fathers were offered higher salaries than men without kids.


The fourth type of bias women encounter comes from other women – what Williams calls Tug of War. Traditionally, "queen bees" have been accused of undercutting their female colleagues to get ahead. But blaming them for this kind of behavior is wrong, says Williams. "That's not an individual woman with a personality problem – that's gender bias in the environment, fuelling conflicts among women."


But there's another message to be learned from the Tug of War bias. "Do men always support men? No," Williams points out. "We don't expect them to. But women are often faulted for not supporting other women. It is not fair at all."


While it's true that organizations need to change, "we've been saying exactly that for about 40 years straight, and the organizations haven't changed," says Williams. "It's time to give women strategies to deal with what's out there. You have to be far savvier to get ahead as a woman than you do as a man."

tags: gender discrimination, sex discrimination

5 Jailed in ’95 Killing of Cabby Didn’t Do It, U.S. Inquiry Says

Published: August 2, 2012

Amid a rash of murders of taxi drivers in New York City, the killing of Baithe Diop in 1995 still attracted attention. He was shot twice in his livery cab, left to die as his car rolled down a street in the Bronx, not stopping until it struck a trash hauling bin.

Six people were tried; five were ultimately convicted. An article in New York magazine that focused on the investigation carried the headline, “How to Solve a Murder.”

But now, 15 years after the criminal trials, federal authorities have concluded that all five of those now imprisoned for the murder were innocent of the crime.

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, which conducted an exhaustive review of the case, reported its findings in June to the Bronx district attorney’s office, which had prosecuted the defendants over the course of two trials and defended their convictions on appeal.


Three men — Devon Ayers, Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez — were convicted of the Diop murder (a fourth, Israel Vasquez, was acquitted); all four men were convicted in the Raymond killing. Jurors accepted the theory advanced by prosecutors and the police that Mr. Diop’s murder was part of an elaborate plot to distract the police from the intended crime: the theft of $50,000 worth of cocaine from a passenger in Mr. Diop’s car.

In a second trial that focused only on the Diop murder, two more defendants — Ms. Watkins and Eric Glisson — were convicted. The defendants all received long prison sentences.


Honda underreported 1,729 deaths and injuries

By Katie Lobosco and Chris Isidore @CNNMoney November 25, 2014

Honda failed to report 1,729 serious accidents resulting in injuries or deaths to U.S. safety regulators.

The company knew about the accidents that took place between 2003 and 2014, but blamed data entry and computer programming errors for the failure in a regulatory filing Monday.

Automakers are required to report any death or injury claims to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a quarterly basis. The automakers and safety regulator both are supposed to analyze reports of such incidents so that it can be determined if there is a fault in vehicles that should prompt a recall.

The underreporting is likely to cost the Japanese automaker tens of millions of dollars in fines from federal safety regulators.

The news comes as Honda (HMC) finds itself at the center of a recall of more than 6 million cars worldwide with a deadly Takata airbags, which can explode and hit passengers with shrapnel. Honda has acknowledged at least four people who were killed by incidents involving the exploding airbags. The issue also impacts nine other automakers, including Ford (F), General Motors (GM) and Toyota (TM).

Eight of the 1,729 accidents that Honda failed to report to NHTSA involved Takata airbags. One of those accidents, which the company said took place on May 27, 2009, killed a driver named Ashley Parham in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

Among the seven other accidents not reported by Honda was a Sept. 1, 2013 accident that sent shrapnel into the right eye of Air Force Lt. Stephanie Erdman, seriously damaging her vision. Erdman testified about that injury before a Senate committee last week.


It is possible Honda could be subject to multiple $35 million fines because its underreporting involves many separate types of problems tied to the 1,729 serious accidents. Toyota ended up paying what was then a maximum $16 million to $17 million fine four separate times between 2010 and 2012 for problems related the unintended acceleration of its cars.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has said the $35 million limit for the fine amounts to a "rounding error" for a major automaker which makes billions a year in profits. His department is asking Congress to raise the limit for a fine to $300 million.


Court rules Michigan has no responsibility to provide quality public education

But if we educated our children, the power elite wouldn't be able to use a lack of educated workers as an excuse for shipping our jobs to other countries, or hiring cheap H1-B people from other countries.

Posted by: The Michigan Citizen Posted date: November 13, 2014 In: Front Page, Top Stories of the Week

In a blow to schoolchildren statewide, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 7 the State of Michigan has no legal obligation to provide a quality public education to students in the struggling Highland Park School District.

A 2-1 decision reversed an earlier circuit court ruling that there is a “broad compelling state interest in the provision of an education to all children.” The appellate court said the state has no constitutional requirement to ensure schoolchildren actually learn fundamental skills such as reading — but rather is obligated only to establish and finance a public education system, regardless of quality.


The decision dismisses an unprecedented “right-to-read” lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Michigan in July 2012 on behalf of eight students of nearly 1,000 children attending K-12 public schools in Highland Park, Mich. The suit, which named as defendants the State of Michigan, its agencies charged with overseeing public education and the Highland Park School District, maintained that the state failed to take effective steps to ensure that students are reading at grade level.

“Let’s remember it was the state that turned the entire district over to a for-profit charter management company with no track record of success with low performing schools,” said Moss. “It is the state that has not enforced the law that requires literacy intervention to children not reading at grade level. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure and maintain a system of education that serves all children.”

In a dissenting opinion, appellate court judge Douglas Shapiro accused the court of “abandonment of our essential judicial roles, that of enforcement of the rule of law even where the defendants are governmental entities, and of protecting the rights of all who live within Michigan’s borders, particularly those, like children, who do not have a voice in the political process.”

MEAP test results from 2012 painted a bleak picture for Highland Park students and parents. In the 2013-14 year, no fewer than 78.9 percent of current fourth graders and 73 percent of current seventh graders will require the special intervention mandated by statute. By contrast, 65 percent of then-fourth graders and 75 percent of then-seventh graders required statutory intervention entering the 2012-13 school year.


Referring to State Superintendent Mike Flanagan’s July 2014 announcement he will use his authority to suspend low-performing charter school authorizers from chartering new schools, DiSessa says, “The department wants to make sure there’s accountability for all schools in the state be they public or charter.”

tags: privatization, charter schools,

Record International Red Cross Budget Reflects Explosion of Global Conflicts, Violence

Lisa Schlein
November 27, 2014

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is appealing for a record $1.68 billion to help millions of people whose lives are torn apart by armed conflict and violence. The Swiss humanitarian agency says an explosion of conflict and violence, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, is threatening regional stability and putting development prospects of impoverished countries at risk.


Syria is the largest ICRC operation followed by South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the occupied territories, Mali, the Central African Republic and Ukraine.

Maurer said conflict and violence not only kills people, it kills development. He said it is sad to see how even modest progress, which has been made in some impoverished conflict-ridden countries has been destroyed. He said health systems, water and sanitation systems, and habitats are being disrupted by violence.

“It is not limited, but exemplified with the conflict in the Middle East. But, we see the same phenomenon in the Sahel," he said. We see the same phenomenon in the Horn of Africa, with massive displacements and neighboring countries not coping with the number of displaced and, therefore, health, water, sanitation, housing systems disintegrating. States basically not capable any more to deliver basic services to people.”


The Red Cross also plans to strengthen its response to sexual violence in places such as the Central African Republic, Central America, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Mali and South Sudan.

'Criminal Casanova' duped women from coast to coast, police say

Some people claim the cure for poverty is for poor women to marry. But often the men available make the women's situation even worse.

By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel
Nov. 21, 2014

It seems Cooper City was the most recent stop on Trevor D. Thornton's nationwide trajectory of deceived, scorned and ripped-off women, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Thornton, 33, is accused of stealing a safe containing $14,000 from a Cooper City woman he romanced.

But investigators say Thornton is a serial con artist — a criminal Casanova — who has left a trail of scorned women and biological children from California to Georgia while passing himself off as a pilot, a wealthy gent or a special agent.


"He's very charismatic, smart, intelligent. He's very proper. He has charm and makes you comfortable," said Charlaine Pierre Louis, 29, of Cooper City. "I fell for it."


Thornton's previous victims — women in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and California — say he has "multiple wives, fiancées, girlfriends, children and a fortune owed in child support," Moschella said.


"An Internet search shows a substantial online presence of Thornton's alleged victims warning other women of his scams."

Among the Internet warnings are a YouTube video, a Google Plus account and multiple blogs, one titled "Stop Trevor Devon Thornton Today." They include photos of Thornton and images of marriage certificates listing Thornton as the groom.

Accusers also turned to the website, where they anonymously posted about their encounters. One Georgia woman said she married Thornton in February 2012.

"I lost everything and over $10K," she wrote. "I do believe Trevor preyed on what most women our age want — love, commitment, marriage and a family."


Investigators urge anyone who may have been victimized by Thornton to contact sheriff's Detective Robert Petoskey at 954-435-2200 or Broward Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 954-493-8477.


Canines honored for training received at Dalton youth detention center

November 25, 2014

There were no caps and gowns, or even a band, for a graduation ceremony Monday, but there were plenty of dog treats.

The morsels were enough, evidently, for Bella and Panda, a pair of hound-mixes who, through a partnership between the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia and the Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC), became certified “Canine Good Citizens.”

The dogs were celebrated for having completed 12 weeks of obedience training that earns them the American Kennel Club designation.


The ceremony was also an opportunity to honor the pups’ unlikely trainers — a group of youths from the detention center.

According to Bobby Hughes, director of the Elbert Shaw RYDC, the center has for several years housed a small number of dogs at any given time to help offset crowding at the Humane Society and provide the youth with an opportunity to connect with dogs and learn responsibility.

For the first time, this year a small number of students were provided the opportunity to work with Brooks to provide the certified training.

Every day, during recess, and once a week with the trainer, students worked to teach Bella and Panda.

Chrissy Kaczynski, an animal program coordinator for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, said the program — officially called “Rescue-2-Restore” — was set up to not only make dogs more adoptable, but teach children lessons they’ll need long after their stay in detention is done.


Kelly Lewis, also an animal program coordinator, said, “It also helps to alleviate depression and those kinds of issues that we sometimes see. We have kids, a lot of times, that are able to satisfy a need to connect thanks to the dogs.”


The graduation ceremony also provided an opportunity for one of the youth trainers to share his appreciation for the program.

“The dogs have made a big change in my life. I feel like I can succeed, now, thanks to learning patience with these dogs. I had no patience before getting in here,” he said. “I’ve learned that if you work hard at something, you can achieve. I love (this program). I didn’t think I liked dogs that much, but now I love them. I’ve learned how great they can be and I hope they go to a good place where they’re taken good care of.”


White Protestors Told To Remain Unseen During Michael Brown Vigil In Toronto

Nov. 28, 2014

Organizers for a Michael Brown vigil held in Toronto instructed white protestors to “refrain from taking up space in all ways possible” and “never be at the center of anything.” Rules set for white protestors were a whole different set from those that people of color were given, Opposing Views reports.

Those arranging the protest Tuesday told “non black allies” to keep hidden from cameras and the media at the Tuesday vigil — an event created by a group called “Black Lives Matter.”

The Daily Mail posted a notice of the rules white protestors received before the demonstration.


While we appreciate the solidarity shown by White and Non-Black POC, want to remind folks of some things:

-Please refrain from taking up space in all ways possible. Remember that you are there in support of black folks, so should never be at the center of anything

-Refrain from speaking to the media. Black voices are crucial to this

-Stand behind black folks or between us and the police

-If you see a cop harassing a black person, come in and engage. (chances are they are least likely to arrest you)


A $130,500 pension? Some in Congress say no, but most cash in

By Rob Hotakainen
Nov. 25, 2014

Like most members of Congress, Republican Reps. Howard Coble of North Carolina and Doc Hastings of Washington state are millionaires.

They also share something else: They’ll retire at the end of the year after turning down lucrative congressional pensions.

Coble, 83, is surrendering a pension estimated at $130,500 a year, while Hastings, 73, is giving up roughly $53,000 a year.

But if history is any indication, most departing members of Congress will conduct business as usual, cashing in on a retirement system that critics say is too generous and costs taxpayers too much.

After 40 years in the House of Representatives, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., will be eligible for an annual pension of $125,500. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., will retire after 20 years, qualifying for a yearly pension of $53,000.

And Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., defeated this month in her bid to win a second term, will be eligible for an annual pension of $16,000 after serving just six years.

Their pensions will rise with yearly cost-of-living increases, too.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Paul Krugman: Pollution and Politics

Nov. 28, 2014

Pollution and Politics, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed regulations to curb emissions of ozone, which causes smog, not to mention asthma, heart disease and premature death. And you know what happened: Republicans went on the attack, claiming that the new rules would impose enormous costs.

There’s no reason to take these complaints seriously... Polluters and their political friends have a track record of crying wolf. ... Again and again, the actual costs have been far lower than they predicted. In fact, almost always below the E.P.A.’s predictions.

So it’s the same old story. But why, exactly, does it always play this way? ... When and why did the Republican Party become the party of pollution?

For it wasn’t always thus. The Clean Air Act of 1970 ... was signed into law by Richard Nixon. (I’ve heard veterans of the E.P.A. describe the Nixon years as a golden age.) A major amendment of the law, which among other things made possible the cap-and-trade system that limits acid rain, was signed in 1990 by former President George H.W. Bush.

But that was then. Today’s Republican Party is putting a conspiracy theorist who views climate science as a “gigantic hoax” in charge of the Senate’s environment committee. And this isn’t an isolated case. ...

So what explains this anti-environmental shift?


One answer could be ideology... My guess, however, is that ideology is only part of the story — or, more accurately, it’s a symptom of the underlying cause...: rising inequality. ... Any policy that benefits lower- and middle-income Americans at the expense of the elite — like health reform, which guarantees insurance to all and pays for that guarantee in part with taxes on higher incomes — will face bitter Republican opposition.

And environmental protection is, in part, a class issue,... ownership of, say, stock in coal companies is concentrated in a few, wealthy hands. ...

In the case of the new ozone plan, the E.P.A.’s analysis suggests that, for the average American, the benefits would be more than twice the costs. But that doesn’t necessarily matter to the nonaverage American driving one party’s priorities. On ozone, as with almost everything these days, it’s all about inequality.


Star Light, Star Bright

Star Light, Star Bright
copyright 1994 Patricia M. Shannon
(I wrote a verse a day on the way to work
when I had a long commute, and my car
radio didn't work)

Oh please, start light, star bright,
first star I see tonight, oh yes,
I wish I may and I wish I might
have the wish I wish tonight.

I wish the whole world would live at peace,
and no one hungry be, oh yes,
and every child would have a home
in a loving family.

I wish for tolerance for those
who are not hurting anyone.
And that people would be careful
where they put their chewed up gum!


I wish political candidates
would be less negative,
and the media would give some news
that is more positive.

I wish that people would behave the way
they would like others to.
Then highway 85 would be less like
a rabies-infested zoo!


I'm not a great singer, but I did receive a compliment for this.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

16 Habits Of Highly Sensitive People

Amanda L. Chan
Feb. 26, 2014

Do you feel like you reflect on things more than everyone else? Do you find yourself worrying about how other people feel? Do you prefer quieter, less chaotic environments?

If the above sound true to you, you may be highly sensitive. The personality trait -- which was first researched by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., in the early 1990s -- is relatively common, with as many as one in five people possessing it. Aron, who has written multiple studies and books on high sensitivity, including The Highly Sensitive Person, also developed a self-test (which you can take here) to help you determine if you are highly sensitive.


being highly sensitive carries a multitude of positive characteristics. Read on for some of the commonalities shared by highly sensitive people.

1. They feel more deeply. •••

2. They're more emotionally reactive. •••

3. They're probably used to hearing, "Don't take things so personally" and "Why are you so sensitive?" •••

Depending on the culture, sensitivity can be perceived as an asset or a negative trait, Zeff explains. In some of his own research, Zeff says that highly sensitive men he interviewed from other countries -- such as Thailand and India -- were rarely or never teased, while highly sensitive men he interviewed from North America were frequently or always teased. "So a lot of it is very cultural -- the same person who is told, 'Oh, you're too sensitive,' in certain cultures, it's considered an asset," he says.

4. They prefer to exercise solo. •••

5. It takes longer for them to make decisions. •••

6. And on that note, they are more upset if they make a "bad" or "wrong" decision. •••

7. They're extremely detail-oriented. •••

8. Not all highly sensitive people are introverts. •••

9. They work well in team environments.

Because highly sensitive people are such deep thinkers, they make valuable workers and members of teams, Aron says. However, they may be well-suited for positions in teams where they don't have to make the final decision. For instance, if a highly sensitive person was part of a medical team, he or she would be valuable in analyzing the pros and cons of a patient having surgery, while someone else would ultimately make the decision about whether that patient would receive the surgery.

10. They're more prone to anxiety or depression (but only if they've had a lot of past negative experiences).

"If you've had a fair number of bad experiences, especially early in life, so you don't feel safe in the world or you don't feel secure at home or ... at school, your nervous system is set to 'anxious,'" Aron says. But that's not to say that all highly sensitive people will go on to have anxiety -- and in fact, having a supportive environment can go a long way to protecting against this. Parents of highly sensitive children, in particular, need to "realize these are really great kids, but they need to be handled in the right way," Aron says. "You can't over-protect them, but you can't under-protect them, either. You have to titrate that just right when they're young so they can feel confident and they can do fine."

11. That annoying sound is probably significantly more annoying to a highly sensitive person. •••

12. Violent movies are the worst. •••

13. They cry more easily. •••

14. They have above-average manners. •••

15. The effects of criticism are especially amplified in highly sensitive people. •••

16. Cubicles = good. Open-office plans = bad. •••

Not All Credit Card Comparison Shopping Sites Created Equal

By Clark Howard
Sept. 8, 2014

The banksters are at it again. The Wall Street Journal says there's dirty dealings going on, with many popular credit card comparison sites lying to you when you go to pick the best credit card.

Following the CARD Act of 2009, comparison shopping for credit cards became so easy; the whole thing was made to order for the Internet. So people set up slews of credit card comparison shopping sites.

But The Wall Street Journal reports the banks that control the bulk of our nation's credit card portfolio have intimidated the credit card shopping sites with threats of lawsuits if they publish a bad review and by dangling advertising dollars in front of them for top billing on those sites.

The fix was in. And little by little, one site after another became worthless if you were looking for objective recommendations. Now when you go on line to a comparison site, in many cases, the info is manipulated.

Six popular sites show credit cards that they get paid to show, according to the newspaper report. This is some ugly, crooked, dishonest stuff. And it completely perverts the original intention of the sites.


Why the odds are against you ever owning your own home

The "median" is the point where half are below it, half above it.

By Jason Notte
Nov. 27, 2014

Is the housing crisis over? Somewhat. Does that mean you can afford a home? Probably not.

If you earn a median-income, you can afford a median-priced home in only 10 of the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, according to a study by personal finance site Looking for some good news in there? Well consider it an improvement from last year, when median-income households couldn't afford mid-range homes in 17 out of 25 metro areas.


Still, 17 million Americans said they planned on buying a home this year, even though the median existing home price in the U.S. leapt past $220,000 for the first time since the housing crisis began.


Overall, median home prices rose 6 percent over the past year in all the areas surveyed, while incomes rose by about 2 percent. The only real break for middle class homebuyers came from mortgage rates, which Freddie Mac notes were down from 4.5 percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage in January to just 4 percent this month.


Toyota recalls more vehicles over dangerous air bags

Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) is recalling 57,000 vehicles worldwide amid widening concerns over defective air bags made by Takata.

The Japanese automaker said Thursday that roughly 40,000 of the vehicles were in Japan. The company is also investigating a new type of air bag problem that could lead to further recalls.

Toyota's recall for driver-side air bags is the latest in the widening safety problems related to Takata air bags. Toyota's recall involves three models: Vitz, Yaris and RAV4 vehicles made in 2002 and 2003. The company said it was not aware of any injury or death stemming from the recall.

Daihatsu Motor Co. said it's also recalling more than 27,000 Mira compact models in Japan for the same air bag problem linked to an inflator.

Takata air bags can inflate with excessive force, sending metal shrapnel toward the driver and passengers. More than 16 million vehicles, including 2.6 million in Japan, have been recalled since problems with the air bags began to surface in 2008.

Toyota is looking into whether a new type of air bag problem in a 2003 vehicle that could lead to further recalls. In that case, revealed Wednesday by the transport ministry, the air bag ruptured when it was launched while the vehicle was being scrapped earlier this month.

The rupture occurred on the passenger side of the now discontinued Will Cypha, company spokeswoman Kayo Doi said.

That air bag problem is not part of the ongoing recalls, and Toyota will add the new case to the company's investigation, she said.

NHTSA has posted a list of vehicles affected by the airbag recall and is urging owners to "take immediate action." Drivers can find out if their vehicles are part of the recall by using a search tool on

[There is also a list at the end of this article]


Another human footprint in the ocean


Contact: Marcie Grabowski
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Human-induced changes to Earth's carbon cycle - for example, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean acidification - have been observed for decades. However, a study published this week in Science showed human activities, in particular industrial and agricultural processes, have also had significant impacts on the upper ocean nitrogen cycle.

The rate of deposition of reactive nitrogen (i.e., nitrogen oxides from fossil fuel burning and ammonia compounds from fertilizer use) from the atmosphere to the open ocean has more than doubled globally over the last 100 years. This anthropogenic addition of nitrogen has reached a magnitude comparable to about half of global ocean nitrogen fixation (the natural process by which atmospheric nitrogen gas becomes a useful nutrient for organisms). David Karl, Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography at the University of Hawai'i, teamed up with researchers from Korea, Switzerland and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assess changes in nitrate concentration between the 1960s and 2000s across the open North Pacific Ocean.

Their analysis, which could discern human-derived nitrogen from natural nitrogen fixation, revealed that the oceanic nitrate concentration increased significantly over the last 30 years in surface waters of the North Pacific due largely to the enhanced deposition of nitrogen from the atmosphere.

"This is a sobering result, one that I would not have predicted," said Karl. "The North Pacific is so vast it is hard to imagine that humans could impact the natural nitrogen cycle."


Homing pigeons may navigate with gravity

By: Bryan Nelson
Wed, Nov 12, 2014

Their navigational skills are so reliable that homing pigeons have long been used as one of the world's first forms of long distance communication, but exactly how they find their way home has remained a scientific puzzle. Now a team of Swiss and South African scientists think they may have finally solved the mystery, reports

Experts have always assumed the birds used some combination of solar and magnetic cues to navigate — and these skills do appear to matter — but they don't account for all of a pigeon's unique homing abilities. Dissatisfied with current theories, researcher Hans-Peter Lipp from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and Kwazulu-Natal University, South Africa, decided to test another possibility: that the pigeons can detect the gravity field and use it to navigate.

Lipp first caught wind of this alternative idea after an encounter with Valeryi Kanevskyi from the High-Technologies Institute, Ukraine, who was the first to suspect that the birds were tapping into the Earth's gravitational field.


The team formulated a study that could isolate gravitational anomalies, and rule out geomagnetic factors, for testing homing pigeons' ability to navigate. Fortunately, a location where gravity was weaker than usual but where no geomagnetic aberrations were at play was known: a massive circular meteorite crater in Ukraine. The team borrowed some homing pigeons from the nearby town of Novoukrainka, Ukraine, where the birds were trained, and over a series of days released them from the middle of the crater.

Of the 26 birds that were released, only 18 made it home. Of those 18, only seven made the journey with an efficient, beeline route. The rest chose far more bizarre, disoriented routes. Using GPS devices to track the flock's movements, researchers noticed that the place where the birds seemed to deviate was, sure enough, at the point where they crossed the crater's edge, indicating that the change in gravity must have thrown them off.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Feeling — Not Being — Wealthy Drives Opposition to Wealth Redistribution

People’s views on income inequality and wealth distribution may have little to do with how much money they have in the bank and a lot to do with how wealthy they feel in comparison to their friends and neighbors, according to new findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Our research shows that subjective feelings of wealth or poverty motivate people’s attitudes toward redistribution, quite independently of objective self-interest,” says psychological scientist and study co-author Keith Payne of the University of North Carolina.

The research reveals that feeling relatively wealthy not only led participants to oppose redistribution, it led them to view anyone who disagreed as blinded by self-interest.

“These findings are important because they suggest a mechanism by which inequality may lead to increases in political polarization and conflict,” Payne explains. “Peoples’ support for tax and welfare policies depends on how well off each person feels at that moment.”

While it seems logical that people would support whichever wealth distribution policy enhances their own bottom line, research consistently shows that the association between actual household income and attitudes toward redistribution is weak. Lead author Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi of the University of North Carolina, Payne, and colleagues speculated that perceived socioeconomic status, how people judge their status relative to those around them, might be the more influential factor.

Indeed, an online survey of adults revealed that the more well-off people felt relative to most people in the US, the less supportive they were of policies that involved redistribution of income from the wealthy to the poor. Importantly, support for redistribution wasn’t related to participants’ actual household income or level of education.


New study examines the effect of timing of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy


Contact: Rebecca Jones

New study examines the effect of timing of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy

Taking folic acid before conception significantly reduces the risk of small for gestational age (SGA) at birth, suggests a new study published today (26 November) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG).

This UK population-based study and systematic review assessed the effect of timing of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy on the risk of the baby being SGA at birth, defined as birth weight less than the 10th centile or in the lowest 10% of babies born.

Being small for gestational age is associated with increased neonatal morbidity and mortality and an increased risk of chronic diseases in later life such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease and mental health problems, states the study.

Folic acid supplementation has already been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and it is recommended in the UK for women to start folic acid supplementation pre-conceptually. However, uptake is low, state the authors, and previous studies have suggested rates of pre-conceptual uptake to be between 14.8% and 31%, with lower uptake in younger age groups and ethnic minorities.


News Media not doing its job

Someone else posted this on Facebook. It did not have Public share permissions, so I'm copying it w/o attribution because he puts it well.

I really think the News Media is doing Our Country great harm. I saw all kinds of news clips, articles, etc. that said various things like Michael Brown was shot in the back, Brown was beaten, etc. to indicate that their was no cause for the policeman to do anything. THESE REPORTS THE MEDIA WAS PUTTING OUT ENDED UP MOSTLY ABSOLUTELY WRONG. By putting the untruths on National TV and Local TV, The Media led a lot of people in the wrong direction. SOMEBODY OR WE AS A WHOLE NEED TO REQUIRE NEWS MEDIA TO TELL THE TRUTH AND NOT ALLOW PEOPLE TO BE MISLED BY THEIR COVERAGES. By running these erroneous reports over and over again only make them seem like they must be true and the people who want to believe these untruthful reports end up thinking that something bad has occurred and law enforcement is covering it up.

Nebraska Farmers Union prez says climate change must be taken seriously

Nov. 25, 2014

A report from the General Accounting Office says climate change could make the crop insurance program more vulnerable to potential losses.

Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen says the report is another example of why climate change needs to be addressed and taken seriously by both ag and non-ag interests.

“The GAO report is just one more indication we need to deal with the very real impact of too much carbon in our atmosphere,” Hansen says. “We’re just getting more variability, more volatility and more intensity in the weather patterns that already existed.”

The GAO report shows both the Risk Management Agency and FEMA showed an increase of 8% in potential losses for insured property between 2007 and 2013.

Hansen says there’s no doubt those impacts are still being felt.

“We’ve already seen very substantial changes in property and casualty losses, especially in the Midwest,” Hansen says. “As you study loss ratios and loss experiences and go through the actuarial tables, we’re already seeing an impact.”

Hansen says agriculture is in a good position to help battle the negative effects of climate change by storing and utilizing carbon credits.

He says, “While we emit about 8% of all the carbon that’s emitted, we have the opportunity to store, if we modify how we produce and what we do, around 25 to 28% of all the carbon that’s in the atmosphere.”

The GAO report also indicated that climate change may substantially increase losses by 2040 and increase losses from about 50 to 100 percent by 2100.

Record-breaking ocean temperatures wreak havoc

12 November 2014 by Michael Slezak
Magazine issue 2995

THE world's oceans are the hottest they've ever been in the modern record. An analysis shared exclusively with New Scientist suggests that the global slowdown in the rise of air temperatures is probably over, and we are entering another period of rapid warming.

Since the last big El Niño event in 1998, when ocean temperatures last peaked, they have remained relatively stable. Such periods are not unexpected, but research is increasingly indicating that the recent slowdown in global surface air temperature rise is down to heat being absorbed by the world's deep oceans, leaving the surface, and therefore also the air, cool.

But when Axel Timmermann of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu analysed the most recent publicly available monthly data from the UK Met Office, he found that the ocean surfaces are now the hottest they have been since records began. In July this year, ocean surfaces were 0.55 °C (99F) above the average since 1890, just beating the previous record of 0.51 °C in 1998. In the North Pacific, the temperatures were about 0.8 °C (1.4F) above average, which is 0.25 °C warmer than the 1998 peak.

"It's a remarkable situation and I've never seen warming of the North Pacific like that," Timmermann says. The sea surface temperatures could drop back to what they've been recently, he says, but unless there is a dramatic drop soon, it will mean the end of the current hiatus in warming. "This will bias the trends over the next two or three years," says Timmermann.


Most climate scientists had expected the slowdown in global warming to be brought to an end by a large El Niño. These events happen when warm waters deep in the Pacific burst to the surface and raise global air temperatures.

But although a large El Niño was predicted for this year, we haven't had even a small one yet.


"For an El Niño to develop you need the atmosphere to play ball," says David Jones at the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne. Temperature differences across the Pacific Ocean are needed before an El Niño can kick in, so the consistently warm temperatures this year could be why the event forecasted for 2014 doesn't seem to be happening.

The warmer oceans make El Niño forecasts difficult, because they rely on looking at past events. "This is a flawed strategy when the climate is changing," says Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Even though a large El Niño is yet to materialise, the warm Pacific temperatures mean some El Niño-like effects are occurring, says Trenberth. This includes more hurricanes in the Pacific, as well as more storms curling over into mainland US. Meanwhile, there have been fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic, just as happens during El Niño. Elsewhere, dry conditions have occurred across Australia, and the Indian monsoon was delayed – effects all arising from warm oceans, despite the lack of an El Nino event.

Cai compared recent temperature maps (see map) with historical patterns for New Scientist to see what to expect over the coming months. He found a correlation with rainfall changes that roughly matches those seen during El Niño, and so predicts that there may be increased rainfall over drought-stricken California. But unlike during El Niño, he says there should be drier than usual conditions in western Canada.

Taylor Swift, Spotify and the Musical Food Chain Myth

I suggest reading the whole article at the following link:

By Doria Roberts on November 18, 2014

I cannot tell you how happy I am that the conversation about Taylor Swift and Spotify is happening. Maybe people will start listening to what independent artists like me and my peers have been saying for years now.

A little background for those who don’t know me: I’ve been an indie musician by choice for 22 years. In 1999, I was chosen to perform at Lilith Fair and quit my day job the following Monday. I attracted several major labels, but ultimately, I walked away because I felt the industry was not going to be supportive of me; the business model was almost laughable for a new artist with little leverage


Fast forward to 2008 when everything was crashing. I don’t think people think of artists being affected in a failing economy, but we were. Gas prices were sky high as were flights, so expenses went up and venues started paying less because fewer were able to come out to the shows (because they were broke, too). And, for the first time in all my touring history, my American dollars lost value going into Canada. It was sobering to say the least.
In the years preceding this, I saw a slow but very deliberate decline in my music sales, which was more than just supplemental income; it was nearly half of my income. So, I stopped touring full-time to assess the situation and come up with solutions.
The only solution I found that allowed me to stay true to who I am an artist was to stay put: which brings me to today.

Like clockwork, once or twice a week since I stopped touring full time in 2008, I get asked when I’m coming back to XYZ. And, like a broken record once or twice a week, I’ve had to say I can’t afford it. I’ve had to explain that not only have physical CD sales been down, but also the digital money I used to get from legal downloads all but disappeared. Instead of getting weekly payments ranging between $200-$750 from my distributor, I started getting an average $11.36, once a month from all streaming services combined. Yes, $11.36/month is what I get from all of them. That is not a sustainable business model for a truly independent artist.

While carefully building and maintaining a social media connection with my fan base and doing mostly one-offs in some of my bigger markets, I decided to do a full regional tour in 2012. And, while I am grateful to the people who came, I had miserable turnouts at most of the shows. In Buffalo, where the temp dropped to 30 degrees that night, I cleared $14 once the door was split with the venue. In Philadelphia, where I started my career, I lost upwards of $1,500-2,000 on one show because only 12 people showed up. It was the night of the Presidential debates, something I couldn’t have known when I booked the show months before. But, I still had to pay the venue, their door person and sound person, pay my band, pay for their hotel room and mine for three nights so we wouldn’t have to stay in NYC, paid for their flights (along with baggage handling fees for my cellist’s cello), my rental car, gas and food for myself and the band (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Same with D.C., where the venue wouldn’t even allow me to officially charge a door fee and where some people (my fans included) opted not to pay one even as a requested donation.

This is my reality and the reality of the many artists you care about.

I’m sorry if you think so, but music is NOT FREE. It costs money to make and it costs money to support via touring. It’s a “life cycle.” This “life cycle” is how I used to get my CDs out and how I used to see my fans two to three times a year in some places. It worked like this: fans would come to my shows, they and their friends would buy my CDs and then I made another CD and went on a another tour and so forth and so on.


All the money I made went to bills, touring, promotion and creating new music – so I had to keep my overhead low. No new cars (I had and still have my ’78 Volvo that I bought for $600 in 1996), no new shoes or clothes and I lived in a small 425 sq ft apartment for 12 years. 12 years. That’s how I did it. It’s not a sob story. It’s not a mystery or a marketing ploy. I am a working-class artist. There is no rich-uncle-wizard-behind-the-curtain type situation here. This is how it goes when you make tough decisions to be true to your life and your life’s work.


The point is, we haven’t just “given up”. It’s not that we don’t “want to” do it anymore. It is, painfully and honestly, simple math that mostly prevents me and others like me from doing what we do.



As a consumer and a fan, you are at the top of this food chain, not the bottom. You are not subject to the whims of popular culture; you are the arbiter of it. If you want to see less “fluff” in the music industry, if you want to see your artists remain authentic, creative and prolific beings and, if you want them to come back to your hometowns:

1. Start buying our music again. Digital, hard copy, doesn’t matter, just pay for it. If you can pay $4 for a coffee, you can pay $9.99 for something meaningful that you’ll enjoy forever.

2. Stop using streaming services that only pay us $.0006 per listen if you don’t already own our music either via a legal download or a hard copy. Educate yourself. If you think the profits that oil companies make are obscene, I urge you to do some digging about what some of these streaming companies are really about. [Editor’s note: Spotify claims to have paid Taylor Swift over $2 million dollars in streaming royalties. Her label says that’s not even close to the truth.]

3. And, this is important: Set your DVRs on your favorite show nights and go to our concerts. If I had a dime for every time a person told me they weren’t able to make my show because it was the finals of DWTS or The Voice, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I’d be sitting in a bungalow in Costa Rica sipping something fruity and delicious.

Simple solutions sometimes require difficult choices. Oh, and this goes for independent movies, books, indie/feminist bookstores, small venues and small businesses, too. Just know this: you have the power to change the cultural landscape around you. Use that power wisely.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

High school girl, 17, allegedly ran prostitution ring of underage girls

John Luciew | By John Luciew |
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on November 25, 2014

Disturbing details are coming out about an alleged high school prostitution ring in Venice, Florida. And in one of the exchanges detailed by the Associated Press, a 21-year-old customer allegedly paid "$40 and a bottle of liquor" to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Authorities say that at the center of the high school sex ring was a 17-year-old Sarasota High School student named Alexa Nicole De Armas. The ring allegedly involved students from nearby high schools, as well.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, De Armas wrote this exchange on Facebook exchange to a business partner:

"Why pimp out old hoes when I have fresh young hoes I can give up for money?" De Armas wrote on Facebook. "As long as I'm getting paid I'm trafficking all these (expletive deleted)."


Background: Officials say the ring was uncovered when four students confided to administrators at Venice High School.

Documents indicate the teen and at least one other student concocted the plan over the summer to prostitute teens for money and alcohol.


Wrongfully Convicted Inmate, Longest-Serving in California, Released After 36 Years

By Katherine Hafner and Candice Nguyen
Nov. 25, 2014

Moving slowly assisted by a cane, a white-haired and weary Michael Hanline saw the outside of a Los Angeles-area prison cell for the first time in more than three decades Monday.

Hanline ambled his way to freedom after spending 36 years behind bars for a murder he was wrongly convicted of before his release Monday, reuniting with his wife and family.


Prosecutors said they are no longer sure whether Hanline, now 68, killed Ventura resident J.T. McGarry in 1978.

Hanline’s was the longest wrongful incarceration in the state’s history.


The California Innocence Project, which dedicates legal services to helping release wrongfully convicted inmates, took up Hanline’s case in 1999 and has been working to prove his innocence ever since, said Alex Simpson, attorney for the case and associate director of the San Diego-based organization.

"The case really rested on two pieces of evidence. There were documents that had never been handed over to the defense which showed other people had knowledge of the crime and were likely responsible for the crime," Simpson said.

Some of the documents proved people knew specific facts they couldn’t have unless they were involved, he added.

Recent testing showed DNA at the crime scene matched an unknown man's, not Hanline's, according to the attorney.

Still, prosecutors will decide whether to retry Hanline at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 27.


Extreme Weather Will Be ‘New Climate Normal’ Without Immediate Action, Warns World Bank

Anastasia Pantsios | November 24, 2014

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said this weekend that the organization’s investment focus will be on clean energy and that it will back coal-fired and other fossil fuel projects only when there is “extreme need.” Flying in the face of a popular climate denier narrative that says phasing out fossil fuels and addressing extreme poverty can’t be done at the same time, Kim said climate change threatened efforts to tackle poverty.

His remarks followed the release of the World Bank’s new report, Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal. It said among other things that the extreme weather impacts of climate change may now be unavoidable and that they are impacting people’s food and water security as well as threatening their safety. But it also said, “More and more voices are arguing that is possible to grow greener without necessarily growing slower. Today, we know that action is urgently needed on climate change, but it does not have to come at the expense of economic growth.”

“There is growing evidence that warming close to 1.5 Centigrade above pre-industrial levels is locked in to the Earth’s atmospheric system due to past and predicted emissions of greenhouse gases, and climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable,” the report asserted. “As the planet warms, climatic conditions, heat and other weather extremes which occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, and considered highly unusual or unprecedented today would become the ‘new climate normal’ as we approach 4°C—a frightening world of increased risks and global instability.”

“Today’s report confirms what scientists have been saying—past emissions have set an unavoidable course to warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most,” said Kim. “We’re already seeing record-breaking temperatures occurring more frequently, rainfall increasing in intensity in some places and drought-prone regions like the Mediterranean becoming drier. “These changes make it more difficult to reduce poverty and put in jeopardy the livelihoods of millions of people. They also have serious consequences for development budgets, and for institutions like the World Bank Group, where our investments, support and advice must now also build resilience and help affected populations adapt.”

The 200-plus page report enumerated the impacts of heat waves, prolonged droughts, disappearing glaciers, rising sea levels, heavy rainfall and vanishing forests on different parts of the world from Mexico City to Benghazi to Central Asia and spotlighted what it called “The Case for Immediate Action.”


“The good news is that we can take action that reduces the rate of climate change and promotes economic growth, ultimately stopping our journey down this dangerous path,” said Kim. “World leaders and policy makers should embrace affordable solutions like carbon pricing and policy choices that shift investment to clean public transport, cleaner energy and more energy efficient factories, buildings and appliances.”


Why College Is Necessary But Gets You Nowhere

Nov. 24, 2014

This is the time of year when high school seniors apply to college, and when I get lots of mail about whether college is worth the cost.

The answer is unequivocally yes, but with one big qualification. I’ll come to the qualification in a moment but first the financial case for why it’s worth going to college.

Put simply, people with college degrees continue to earn far more than people without them. And that college “premium” keeps rising.

Last year, Americans with four-year college degrees earned on average 98 percent more per hour than people without college degrees.

In the early 1980s, graduates earned 64 percent more.

So even though college costs are rising, the financial return to a college degree compared to not having one is rising even faster.

But here’s the qualification, and it’s a big one.

A college degree no longer guarantees a good job. The main reason it pays better than the job of someone without a degree is the latter’s wages are dropping.

In fact, it’s likely that new college graduates will spend some years in jobs for which they’re overqualified.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 46 percent of recent college graduates are now working in jobs that don’t require college degrees. (The same is true for more than a third of college graduates overall.)

Their employers still choose college grads over non-college grads on the assumption that more education is better than less.

As a result, non-grads are being pushed into ever more menial work, if they can get work at all. Which is a major reason why their pay is dropping.

What’s going on? For years we’ve been told globalization and technological advances increase the demand for well-educated workers. (Confession: I was one of the ones making this argument.)

This was correct until around 2000. But since then two things have reversed the trend.

First, millions of people in developing nations are now far better educated, and the Internet has given them an easy way to sell their skills in advanced economies like the United States. Hence, more and more complex work is being outsourced to them.

Second, advanced software is taking over many tasks that had been done by well-educated professionals – including data analysis, accounting, legal and engineering work, even some medical diagnoses.

As a result, the demand for well-educated workers in the United States seems to have peaked around 2000 and fallen since. But the supply of well-educated workers has continued to grow.

What happens when demand drops and supply increases? You guessed it. This is why the incomes of young people who graduated college after 2000 have barely risen.


When it comes to beginning their careers, it’s even worse. The starting wages of college graduates have actually dropped since 2000. The starting wage of women grads has dropped 8.1 percent, and for men, 6.7 percent.


The deeper problem is this. While a college education is now a prerequisite for joining the middle class, the middle class is in lousy shape. Its share of the total economic pie continues to shrink, while the share going to the very top continues to grow.


Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe the main reason to go to college – or to choose one career over another — should be to make lots of money.

Hopefully, a college education gives young people tools for leading full and purposeful lives, and having meaningful careers.

Even if they don’t change the world for the better, I want my students to be responsible and engaged citizens.

But when considering a college education in a perilous economy like this, it’s also important to know the economics.

How to raise nice kids

Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind
By Amy Joyce July 18, 2014

Earlier this year, I wrote about teaching empathy, and whether you are a parent who does so. The idea behind it is from Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, who runs the Making Caring Common project, aimed to help teach kids to be kind.

I know, you’d think they are or that parents are teaching that themselves, right? Not so, according to a new study released by the group. (Chat with Weissbourd here.)

About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

Weissbourd and his cohorts have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. Why is this important? Because if we want our children to be moral people, we have to, well, raise them that way.

“Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,” the researchers write.

The five strategies to raise moral, caring children, according to Making Caring Common:

1. Make caring for others a priority •••

2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude •••

3. Expand your child’s circle of concern. •••

4. Be a strong moral role model and mentor. •••

5. Guide children in managing destructive feelings •••

Suicide risk falls substantially after talk therapy


Contact: Stephanie Desmon
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Suicide risk falls substantially after talk therapy
Researchers find repeat suicide attempts and deaths by suicide plummet even years after treatment

Repeat suicide attempts and deaths by suicide were roughly 25 percent lower among a group of Danish people who underwent voluntary short-term psychosocial counseling after a suicide attempt, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-led research suggests.

The findings are believed to be the first to show that talk therapy-focused suicide prevention actually works, averting future suicide attempts in this very high-risk population. Although just six-to-ten talk therapy sessions were provided, researchers found long-term benefits: Five years after the counseling ended, there were 26 percent fewer suicides in the group that received treatment as compared to a group that did not.


In Denmark, which has free health care for its citizens, the first suicide prevention clinics were opened in 1992 for people at risk of suicide but not in need of psychiatric hospitalization. The clinics were opened nationwide in 2007.


The researchers found that during the first year, those who received therapy were 27 percent less likely to attempt suicide again and 38 percent less likely to die of any cause. After five years, there were 26 percent fewer suicides in the group that had been treated following their attempt. After 10 years, the suicide rate for those who had therapy was 229 per 100,000 compared to 314 per 100,000 in the group that did not get the treatment.


Study co-author Elizabeth A. Stuart, PhD, an associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health, says that before this, it was not possible to determine whether a specific suicide prevention treatment was working. It isn't ethical to do a randomized study where some get suicide prevention therapy while others don't, Stuart says. That the Danish clinics were rolled out slowly and participation was voluntary, and that extensive baseline and long-term follow-up data were available on such a large group of people, gave the researchers the best way to gather this kind of information.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Economic Double Whammy: America's Growing Wealth Divide Is Actually Putting People out of Work

Those who have studied economic patterns for several centuries have found that high rates of inequality lead to severe economic declines, usually only ending when there is a big war.¤t_page=1

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
November 20, 2014

Barry Z. Cynamon, currently Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Steven M. Fazzari, Professor of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis, are researchers on consumer behavior and how it effects the economy.


It turns out that the rise of the income share of high-income households begins at almost the same time as the rise in debt that was the focus of our earlier research. It seemed likely that this correspondence was not a coincidence. I began to see a common thread between the dynamics of inequality and the macroeconomics of U.S. expenditure.

LP: An ordinary person on the street would probably say that if the rich have most of the money, that’s bad for the economy. She’d intuit that if the rest of us don’t have enough money in our pockets to spend on goods and services, the overall economy will suffer. Yet this has been minority view in the field of economics. In fact, many economists have long argued that economic inequality was good for economic growth. What explains the persistence of the conventional view?

SMF: The person on the street typically understands that consumer spending is the source of business sales, and if consumer spending falls then businesses will sell less, produce less, and support fewer jobs. As your question suggests, it is also intuitive that rich households will spend a smaller share of their income. So, the person on the street can appreciate that as more and more income flows into the hands of the rich, it will become more difficult for the economy to generate the sales it needs to support job creation.


Our works shows that this is not so. We find that high and rising inequality is now holding back the U.S. recovery from the Great Recession and the lack of purchasing power faced by most people is a job killer not just for a few quarters but also over a number of years. Unemployment may cause wages and prices to fall (or at least rise more slowly), but disinflation and, especially, deflation are not likely to raise total spending. Of course, consumers appreciate lower prices for the things they buy, but lower wages are bad for spending, especially if the household has a fixed mortgage or car payment to meet.


LP: How does our sense of fairness and justice evolve in view of this growing inequality; this sense that the hard work of the many is supporting the luxury spending habits of the few?

Barry Z. Cynamon: Humans have achieved incredible things on this planet not just through our use of tools but through cooperation. E.O. Wilson tells us that humans are one of roughly 20 species known to be “eusocial” — that means we live in multigenerational communities, practice division of labor, and show willingness to sacrifice some of our personal interests to that of the group. Regardless of the debate about kin selection versus group selection, it is widely agreed that we have conquered the planet by cooperating with one another in spite of universally present instincts toward survival and self-interest. Our elaborate, interlocking systems of social norms, laws, and concepts of fairness and justice collectively bolster that underlying trait of eusociality so that what once enabled survival and propagation of small bands of humans has also enabled vast civilizations—including the unprecedented global human civilization of which we are all part today.

Fairness is central to this incredible history of cooperation. If we lose our trust in the legal system and the legitimacy of the market, then we will lose trust and cooperation. When that happens, it is not good. Societies that lose their trust end up looking more like Somalia, Iraq, or Sudan than like Sweden, Canada, or Australia. The point is not that the U.S. is one election or financial crisis or a few percentage points of income concentration away from becoming an ungovernable state. Rather, the point is that social infrastructure makes a huge difference, and it is not something that we seem to understand well enough to reliably manipulate it for good.


Animals steal defenses from bacteria


Contact: Leila Gray
University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Animals steal defenses from bacteria
Microbe toxin genes have jumped to ticks, mites and other animals

It's a dog eat dog world, and bacteria have been living in it for a long time. It's of no surprise that bacteria have a sophisticated arsenal to compete with each other for valuable resources in the environment. In 2010, work led by University of Washington Department of Microbiology Associate Professor Joseph Mougous uncovered a weaponry system used in this warfare between bacteria. The combatants inject deadly toxins into rival cells.

Now, in a surprising twist, Mougous and colleagues have found that many animals have taken a page from the bacterial playbook. They steal these toxins to fight unwanted microbes growing in or on them. The researchers describe their findings in a report to be published online Nov. 24 in the journal Nature.


"When we started digging into genome databases, we were surprised to find that toxin genes we thought were present only in bacteria were also in several animals," explained co-author Matt Daugherty, a postdoctoral fellow in the Malik lab. "We immediately started wondering why they were there."

Their analyses revealed that these genes had jumped from bacteria into animals. These genes had become permanently incorporated into the genomes of these animals through a process known as horizontal gene transfer. While such transfer events are common between microbes, very few genes have been reported to jump from bacteria to more complex organisms.


Babies remember nothin’ but a good time, study says

November 24, 2014
Media Contact: Joe Hadfield
Writers: Sierra Naumu Thomas
Brigham Young University

Parents who spend their time playing with and talking to their five-month-old baby may wonder whether their child remembers any of it a day later.

Thanks to a new BYU study, we now know that they at least remember the good times.

The study, published in Infant Behavior and Development, shows that babies are more likely to remember something if there is a positive emotion, or affect, that accompanies it.


“We think what happens is that the positive affect heightens the babies’ attentional system and arousal,” Flom said. “By heightening those systems, we heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”

This paper was co-authored with Professor Brock Kirwan as well undergraduate and masters students Rebecca B. Janis and Darren J. Garcia. It follows a string of Flom’s significant research on infants’ ability to understand each others’ moods, the moods of dogs, monkeys, and classical music.


Weather Whiplash: Floods Hit Buffalo as 62°F Temperatures Melt Huge Snowpack

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:54 PM GMT on November 24, 2014

It's weather whiplash in Buffalo, New York, where the temperature surged to 62°F at 11 am EST Monday, following a week of near-record cold and heavy snow. The exceptional warmth would be welcome if not for the massive snowpack on the ground along a swath across the southern and eastern suburbs of Buffalo, where last week's extreme lake effect snow storm dumped up to 88" (7 feet, four inches) of snow at Cowlesville. The water content of the snow, if it all melted at once, is huge--equivalent to up to 6.3" of rain at Orchard Park, NY, as measured last Friday. Fortunately, today's warmth has been accompanied by rainfall amounts less than .10" so far, and only one area river is at moderate flood stage--Cayuga Creek at Lancaster, where over six feet of snow fell last week. With freezing temperatures expected to return on Tuesday night and continue for most of the remainder of the week, widespread damaging flooding is not expected, and the forecast is for mostly minor flooding in the Buffalo area on Monday and Tuesday.


Moroccan floods kill at least 31
Torrential rains in Morocco on Monday have triggered extreme flooding responsible for at least 31 deaths, reported Al Jazzeera on Monday morning. Dozens remain missing after storms dumped more than 4" of rain (101.6 mm) on the southern part of the north African country.