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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Trillion$ In Secret Loan$

The U.S. Federal Reserve (Central Bank of the United States) promised $7.8 trillion in loans to U.S. banks without Congress's knowledge during the financial crisis between Aug. 2007 and March 2009 / with $1.2 trillion going out the door in actual loans -- even as lawmakers fiercely fought over the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) which was $700 billion. The Feds low rates gave the banks $13 billion in direct profits -- which was 1/4 of the profits that the six biggest U.S. banks turned during that period.
http://tinyurl.com/bwkdr4t
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Reserve_System

Monday, December 26, 2011

Opinions Gone Bad...

http://theweek.com/article/index/218150/bad-opinion-generator

"Men will never fly, because flying is reserved for angels."
Episcopalian Bishop Milton Wright, father of the Wright Brothers

"There is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality."
Abraham Lincoln in a speech delivered in Charleston, Illinois, 1858

"People give ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens… This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy."
Martin Luther, on Copernicus, 1543

“I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone.”
Charles Darwin, on The Origin of Species, 1869

Note: Just because you express an opinion doesn't make it right. And you'd better be willing to express more balanced views and change them as truths come to light.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nix Plastic Bag Ban

In Austin, whether or not to recycle your plastic bags is "still" a personal choice. However, throwing them into the street or the blue recycle bin is not. Plastic bags are to be either collected separately and deposited in the collection bin at the grocery stores' front door, or else, they go into the gray trash bin. I choose to stuff "nonrigid plastics" that are not accepted in my blue bin into an attractive 2-gallon round plastic bucket with a loose fitting lid and plastic grocery bag as a liner that can be easily knotted and lifted out on my way of my kitchen to the grocery store. If Leffingwell's ban is enacted, stores will no longer collect soft plastics and I'll be forced to send them to the landfill instead of supporting the industries that use post-consumer resin. And I'll be expressing my displeasure at the next local election. Consumer education is preferable.
www.savetheplasticbag.com/

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

HPV Vaccine: Not Just For Girls

The CDC recently recommended that preteen boys get the HPV vaccine. Besides preventing them from spreading cancers amongst our females, it also protects the guys from HPV induced cancers (including head and neck cancers).Note: The mouths of one in 15 Americans are infected with the HPV STD. The incidence of this and head and neck cancer is 3 times higher in men than women.]

We need to remind ourselves that HPV is not just transmitted by sexual intercourse. Diseases like HPV or herpes are skin-to-skin transmitted (kissing, petting, oral sex). So while condoms are very, very effective in preventing transmission during sexual intercourse, condoms are ineffective when it comes to these two sources of STDs.

NOTE: Remember that this is a vaccine against cancer -- and more than 3/4ths of people who become infected with HPV over the course of their lives are exposed within just a few years of their first sexual experience.

Read:
http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=142030282

Listen (04:11)-
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/11/07/142030282/why-hpv-vaccination-of-boys-may-be-easier

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why Don’t Condoms Stop HPV?

First, know that quality latex condoms are effective against typical STDs if used properly:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexually_transmitted_disease
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/condoms/HQ00463 


So, Why Don’t Condoms Stop HPV?

"Human papillomavirus differs from other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in its method of transmission; it is not spread from one person to another through the exchange of bodily fluids. Rather, like Herpes, it spreads through skin-to-skin contact. Since HPV is a regional, multicentric disease, it infects the entire genital area: the penis, scrotum, vulva and surrounding areas. 

[Note: Head and neck cancers are an increasingly common result of HPV.]
Condoms do not cover the scrotum, nor most of the other areas that can be infected with the virus. There also tends to be contact between the anogenital skin of the partners before a condom can be correctly placed on the penis. No known effective barrier exists that will protect the vulva or prevent vulvar transfer of the virus."
Read:
http://www.massnews.com/past_issues/other/1_Jan/condon.htm

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why Shorter Jaws In Modern Humans?

People living in "subsistence farming" communities around the world have shorter, wider jaws than those in hunting and gathering societies. This leaves less room for teeth, which have changed little in size or abundance over human history.

Changes in jawbone size arise due to "phenotypic plasticity", wherein environmental differences lead to anatomical changes. Longer jaws are advantageous for more intense chewing, whereas shorter jaws are more efficient for consuming agricultural fare like wheat, corn, or rice, which is relatively soft and consistent compared to hunter-gatherer grub.

Note: Children who chew tougher foods tend to have straighter teeth when they grow up.

http://tinyurl.com/caxxnkv
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenotypic_plasticity

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Splenda: Body Pollutant

I consider most 'sugar substitutes' to be pollutants. Splenda is a fine example.

Article excerpt:
"The FDA has no definition for “natural,” so please bear with us for a biochemistry moment: Splenda is the trade name for "sucralose", a synthetic compound stumbled upon in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. It is true that the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar) — except that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms.

Once it gets to the gut, sucralose goes largely unrecognized in the body as food — that’s why it has no calories. The majority of people absorb about 15% of Splenda in their small intestine.

http://www.womentowomen.com/healthyweight/splenda.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_substitute

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/10/artificial-sweeteners-leading-cause-of-inflammatory-bowel-disease-in-canadians.aspx?e_cid=20111120_SNL_MS_1

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Telemarketer Predictive Dialer Harrassment

A relatively new phenomenon I've been experiencing is telephone solicitors' automatic predictive dialers' ringing my telephone without a caller ID showing and hanging before my answering machine can engage. This is in spite of my phone number being registered with the National Do Not Call Registry. As I understand it, the telemarketing software automatically dials my number as it's simultaneously being correlated with the Do Not Call List & quits ringing within a few rings when it drops the call when it identifies my number as a "do not call" number. This is too late though. I've already been disturbed. And this happens a half dozen times daily.

Google:  predictive dialer + automatic dialer + do not call compliance

http://privatecitizen.com/predictive.htm

Note: With "predictive dialer" software, those people who answer the phone 'live' are passed on to telemarketers. This helps telemarketers to be more productive. Then your number is sold to other outfits. I've been successful in greatly reducing the number of these trash calls by blocking their numbers. Rule of thumb: If you don't recognize the number on your caller id, DO NOT answer. If it's a legitimate call, they'll leave a message / you can pick up during the message if it's legit. If you've no caller id, then you're forced to let all callers start to leave a message before picking up.
http://www.callhunter.com/guides/robocaller-why-do-you-not-speak

Related topic:
"Caller ID Spoofing Scams"

Maybe the best thing is to simply add an incoming call block device that can block numbers from nuisance callers in the Blacklist (or block number list) / get kind with up to 1,500 telephone numbers in memory:
" T-lock Incoming PRO Call Blocker with LCD Display & Blacklist" 

If not, then buy a Panasonic phone (base station with cordless handset(s). They have a call block memory sufficient to block 30 different numbers. 
Panasonic KX-TG4771B Dect_6.0 1-Handset 1-Line Landline Telephone 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Coffee In Styrofoam Cups

The use of  styrofoam allows “styrene”, the single-molecule form of ‘polystyrene’, to migrate into your food or drink when used as a container.  Biopsies of fat from human subjects found styrene residues in 100% of the samples tested.  If you drink water, tea, or coffee from polystyrene cups four times a day for three years, you have consumed about one styrofoam cup-worth of styrene along with your beverages.  The amount that migrates into solid food is dependent upon the fat content of the food (the higher the fat content the greater the styrene migration).  The rate of migration also increases with temperature (e.g., hot coffee absorbs the most).   The health concerns related to this are numerous and readily available to read about on the internet. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Born Again" Means?

Nicodemus came to Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.... no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

John 3 New International Version
"Jesus Teaches Nicodemus"
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+3&version=NIV
[Be sure to study the footnotes.]

We know what Christianity teaches about being 'Born Again'. I propose that a way to help comprehend this is to consider that you were already in a 'spirit form' before you were born here into your physical body. And your 'spirit' will remain connected to your body through your soul until it's time for the real you to leave (return home). Your awareness of there being a spiritual world influences how smoothly or not it is for your Spirit to travel back to the 'spirit world' (be born again to where you came from). Those who have accepted spiritual truths such as those that Christ brought have the faith to go return straight home. Those who have not learned the essence of the Eleventh Commandment (or else simply reject it) will have a much harder time traveling home again. But, once they finally allow their "guardian angels" (Forces of White Light) to guide them, they'll make it in good order / even if they have been wandering spirits {lost souls} for awhile.

Causes of Great Depression & Great Recession

In my high school American History text, it told of how the Great Depression was preceded by speculation in the stock market. Speculation on stock led to the historic stock market crash in 1929 that brought on the Great Depression. It was fueled by "buying on margin" / with few regulations on stock market purchases, in the months and years leading up to the Great Depression, investors were able to buy stocks on margin, with the only requirement that they put 10% down. In other words, they could buy $100 worth of stock for a $10 investment, and if that stock went up by a mere 10%, they’d doubled their investment. This "leveraging" led to wild speculation, with people cashing in their life savings to funnel it into the stock market, which led to artificially high prices. Stock market regulations were put in place during the Great Depression to prevent the same catastrophe from repeating in the financial markets, but seventy years later, Americans
aimed a similar greed toward the housing market. Millions of people bought homes they couldn’t afford, with money they didn’t have, taking out 100% or 110% loans. Speculation on housing prices in 2003-2007 brought on the current recession.

http://www.museum.siu.edu/museum_classroom_grant/Museum_Explorers/school_pages/bourbonnais/page1.htm

http://www.thegreatdepressioncauses.com/then-and-now.html

Friday, November 18, 2011

Who Is GerryMandering?

Outside Independence Hall, ask a graduate student in line to see the Liberty Bell what he thinks of gerrymandering, and you might get this answer:

"I think Gerry Mandering is a great guy."

No, he isn't.

Read or Watch to see why not:
http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/18/politics/gerrymandering/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

Occupy Wall Street: The 99% Movement

The following select portion is from the 10-28-2011 issue of The Week, a weekly magazine well worth subscribing to:

Occupy Wall Street continues to gather momentum with satellite protests in more than 60 American cities. Yet as the growing protest continues, critics are still asking what it’s all about.

The answer is simple: “income inequality.” The wealthiest 400 people in the U.S. are now worth more than the bottom 150 million Americans. Three years after taxpayers bailed out the Wall Street gamblers whose recklessness plunged the country into the Great Recession, the average pay in the securities industry is $361,000, and the gap between the rich and everyone else is wider than ever. And the rich continue to rig the game, using their wealth to buy off politicians, and lobby for laws and tax policies that help them at the expense of everyone else.

Protesters have legitimate grievances, despite the nonstop demands for “democracy” / though democracy is necessarily an unglamorous, time-consuming process, which you can turn to your advantage only by immersing yourself in rules, laws, institutions, and elections.

Polls show that the “99 percent” movement is resonating with millions of people not present at the protests; the belief that wealthy Americans have grown too rich while the majority have been left behind is “shared by Americans across the political spectrum,” whether rich, poor, Republican, or Democrat. If you tune out the “anti-capitalist claptrap” of the usual “lefty fringe groups,” you’ll hear the “plaintive cry of a middle class in distress.” Who isn’t angry that Washington bailed out the big banks, which immediately went back to awarding their executives obscene bonuses? That “bipartisan dereliction of duty” is what unites the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

That’s why all politicians should heed the ongoing cry of distress. On the “99 percent” website, the stories that inspire the movement are a portrayal of the grinding misery of the Great Recession: a construction worker laid off from his job, now doing menial labor for $12 an hour; “hard-pressed single moms” who can’t afford health care; the Harvard graduate who owes $60,000 and can’t find a job. This is a moment that calls for bold political leadership and genuine economic reforms. But Obama’s only “misbegotten contribution” has been a costly, ineffective health-care law, and the Republican candidates don’t even seem to be aware of “the troubles of workers down the income scale.”

It’s about the “downward mobility” of middle-class Americans.

http://theweek.com/article/index/220577/the-lsquo99-percentrsquo-movement-will-it-matter

Emotional Stress Linked To Common Cold & Flu

Higher levels of mental and emotional stress increases the risk of both infection by cold viruses AND the appearance of cold symptoms.

Researchers administered questionnaires on psychological stress to 420 healthy adults. Participants reported the number of major stressful events experienced "in the past year", etcetera. The investigators used these data to divide volunteers into groups. Next, 394 volunteers received nasal drops containing a low dose of one of five respiratory viruses....

Among the virus-exposed volunteers, 325 became infected and 148 developed colds. Cold virus infections also showed up in five saline recipients from exposure to infected housemates.

The rates of respiratory infection and colds increased in accordance with stress levels reported on the questionnaires. Compared with the lowest-stress group, volunteers who reported the most psychological stress ran twice the risk of getting a cold and more than five time the risk of becoming infected with a cold virus. The pattern held despite statistical controls for varied influences on immune function, including age, sex, education, allergies, weight, viral status prior to the study, cigarette and alcohol use, exercise, diet, quality of sleep, number of housemates, and housemate infection rates. The ink between stress and colds also proved independent of the personality characteristics assessed on questionnaires.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_n9_v140/ai_11315142/?tag=content;col1
http://tinyurl.com/74wcmkv

Google: "Stress Management Tips"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Science of Sex Appeal

What we find sexually appealing is hard wired into our genes. It is based on finding the best mate (aka genes) for our offspring. And not surprisingly, it's the females who are the hardest to understand and predict as to who they'll find sexually appealing. It would bode well for young single adults to pay attention to the subject.

Could "copulance" be a hidden weapon in women's armory of attraction? Men seem to lose all ability to think clearly when exposed. Strippers who are ovulating receive much greater 'tips'. Meanwhile, a man's odor influences a woman's choices. However, note that a woman on birth control pills will make poorer genetically compatible choices than women who don't ovulate. Think of the implications .... etc... etc.

Science of Sex Appeal Videos
http://tinyurl.com/3bd67du
http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/science-of-sex-appeal-female-copulance.html
http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/science-of-sex-appeal/
http://health.discovery.com/videos/science-of-sex-appeal/
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/10/12/women-on-the-pill-may-choose-reliable-over-sexy-study-suggests/

Friday, November 11, 2011

Autism: Too Many Neurons?

Autism may be linked to an excess of neurons in a child's brain according to a SMALL study:
the brains of seven deceased autistic children were compared with the brains of six deceased kids who didn't have autism. The autistic kids had, on average, 67% more neurons — a type of brain cell and a building block of the nervous system — than boys without autism at a similar age. These neurons were concentrated in the prefrontal cortex, which is key to complex thoughts and behaviors, including language, social behavior and decision-making. The brains of autistic children were also found to be heavier, weighing an average of 17% more than the brains of kids without autism. 

What does it mean?
Neurons are only generated during development in the womb. Thus, this study lends compelling evidence to the argument that autism has something of a prenatal origin — and is not something triggered during early childhood. In the future, brain size could have a large impact on future autism screening. Pediatricians, for instance, might flag children with abnormally large brains as potential victims of the disease earlier than they do now, and be able to start treatment sooner.

 http://theweek.com/article/index/221322/is-autism-linked-to-too-many-brain-cells
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/11/09/extra-brain-cells-may-be-key-to-autism-study-says/

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Middle Class Squeeze

Our "tax system" is virtually FLAT when one considers all taxes and the hodgepodge of charges and levies we struggle with.  Suffice it to say that we have  a big "regressive employment tax" that have enlarged over the decades.
http://www.statesman.com/business/personal-finance/how-much-can-the-99-percent-squeeze-out-1928809.html

http://assetbuilder.com/blogs/scott_burns/archive/2011/10/21/how-much-can-the-99-squeeze-out-of-the-1.aspx

A regressive tax is a tax imposed in such a manner that the tax rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases.
http://www.ask.com/wiki/Regressive_tax

Saturday, October 15, 2011

'Un'Certain USA Economic Realities

Fact: USA businesses are among the most regulated in the world -- only a few countries have more regulations that are enforced.

Fact: USA businesses cannot find enough employees "qualified" for their companies' vacancies.

Public Perception:
The Uncertain Economy
http://candorville.com/2011/10/07/down-to-the-wire-5/

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Collar Color Divide

As I come and go in various locales, I've noticed the following to be true:
"White-collar workers are much less likely to smoke than their blue-collar counterparts to be smokers."

http://theweek.com/article/index/219904/americas-blue-collar-smoking-trend-by-the-numbersnbsp

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Drug Abuse vs. Chemical Dependence

About 25% of heroin users, 32% of nicotine users, and 15% of alcohol users will become chemically dependent during their lifetimes / a higher percentage for cocaine users -- and even higher still for those who use alcohol and cocaine at the same time (produces 'cocaethylene' in the body)..

Breakthroughs in genetics, neurobiology and neuropharmacology show that some people who drink or use drugs harmfully can develop a full-blown "disease" -- significant numbers of drug users develop the disease of "chemical dependence" (commonly known as 'addiction'). It is a definitive, diagnosable brain pathology.

It is far more serious and different from the other diagnosable drug overuse condition — called 'drug abuse' (which is a self-controllable condition that often is reduced by education, punishment, maturity, increased will power, or sometimes simply learning from an embarrassing or costly experience)).

Drug abusers are the ones who are most likely to respond to the "war on drugs" — take away their drugs or punish their use, and they usually give up. People who are chemically dependent, on the other hand, cannot 'give up'. This would require powerful intervention and intensive treatment that can be expensive and prolonged.

During Prohibition, from 1920 to 1933, the national ban on alcohol manufacturing significantly reduced the amount of alcohol consumed in the United States. Yet the number of alcoholics — those chemically dependent on alcohol — remained the same. Most of these individuals had become 'dependent' before their brains finished fully physically developing at around age 20 (started drinking as teenagers). NOTE: This same higher addiction rate for teens applies to tobacco and all other addictive drugs.

Addiction Science Advances:
http://www.statesman.com/opinion/insight/texas-expert-addiction-science-has-taken-giant-steps-1642154.html?viewAsSinglePage=true

End to the "War on Drugs"
Related AAS article:
http://www.statesman.com/opinion/naacps-call-for-an-end-to-war-on-1677750.html

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marijuana Myth

Denial of marijuana use being a problem for our society is itself a significant societal problem. I don't pretend to have a solution -- but when I both look at some members of my extended family and recall what I observed during a career as a public school teacher, I know that denial of marijuana's negative effects is counterproductive.

Part of the problem is the "soft" parents who smoked pot 20 or 30 years ago when the marijuana was about 1/5th as strong as today's "weed." The other part of the problem is today's kids tend to start smoking earlier in their lives.

Note: 85% of today's chemically dependent people started their drug use with pot (and the other 15% started with alcohol).

Note: The brain isn't fully developed until age 24 or 25. This drug that profoundly affects the brain and neurotransmitters especially causes big problems in the developing brain.

The following article highlights "social acceptance masking pot's dangers".

http://www.recoverytoday.net/articles/373-the-myth-of-marijuana

I post this because of tragedies occurring within my extended family are proof of what the article highlights.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Purslane: Edible Landscaping

If you have an area that gets blistered by the summer sun, you have a great spot to raise Purslane (low-growing annual succulents). They take very little watering (less than Bermuda grass) and provides thick green ground cover with bountiful flowers that are constantly blooming. I have it in 5 different rich and vibrant colors growing on bare ground -- though I've topped it lately with a layer of pea gravel. My first Purslane plant I discovered in the yard growing wild (a seed from somewhere had been somehow deposited there). I added other colors from nurseries. Once established, they come back from seed each summer. Small butterflies love it. And it's very nutritious - munch on it as you will.

My favorite method for propogating new starts of Purslane is to use a stick to poke a hole a few inches into moistened ground and insert a length of Purslane broken off of the main plant -- then gently cave in the sides of the hole to seal the start into place. Keeping it slightly moist for a while gets it established.

Image:
http://www.beltramicountymastergardeners.org/files/F_Ornamental_Purslane_Toucan_Hot_Mix.jpg
Nutrition:
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/purslane.html
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2604/2

General:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea
http://www.tclawnservices.com/images/purslane%20assorted.jpg
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/98promotions/april/april.html
http://landscaping.about.com/cs/weedsdiseases/a/purslane.htm

Texas Rock Rose: Pavonia

Last year, I noted a delicate looking plant with pretty pink blooms growing on a patch of hard pan dirt next to an inhospitable parking lot. I was very impressed with it. It was the Texas Rock Rose, also called Pavonia, or more scientifically, Parvonia lasiopetala.

"It belongs to the same family of plants as cotton or okra. It is rarely found in the wild because grazing animals, such as sheep, goats and deer, find it tasty. Rock rose grows happily in pastures, savannahs, ditches, ravines, depressions, open woodlands and at the edges of thickets in Texas’ Edwards Plateau, Rio Grande Plains and the Trans Pecos areas and into adjacent Mexico.

"It sinks its roots into almost any kind of dirt, including shallow soil on limestone in rocky places. A true Texan, rock rose can be found in well-drained limestone soils, medium loam, rocky limestone-based sandy and sandy loam soil, as well as clay loam and clay caliche-type soils.

"Additionally, the perennial thrives in partial to full sun, with medium to low water. Gardeners should remember, however, this extremely drought tolerant plant doesn’t mind a little water now and then.

"Texas Rock Rose is used as a popular garden accent plant throughout the Lone Star State due to its long bloom period and nominal sun, soil and irrigation requirements.

"The plant’s most striking feature is its prolific Hibiscus-like pink to rose-colored flowers. The beautiful flowers open early in the morning and close by mid- to late-afternoon, but afternoon shade can extend their awakening hours. Although the miniature blooms last only a day or so, Texas Rock Rose flowers from March to November in South Central Texas. In addition, the eye-catching blossoms standout in any setting.

"This shrub grows about three to four feet high and bears light green, velvety, heart-shaped leaves, approximately two inches in length. The leaves are evergreen to semi-evergreen.

"Pruning the naturally loose, open-branching– read “leggy” – form of Texas Rock Rose maintains dense foliage, promotes new growth and encourages more flowers. Pruning should be done before the foliage appears in the spring, but may be completed at any time during the growing season as needed. In addition, because it’s easy to grow, insect free, drought tolerant and requires little care, Texas Rock Rose has earned the designation “black thumb proof,” making it a excellent choice for landscaping, especially xeriscaping. Not only does it survive summer heat, but its profusion of brilliant flowers also adds a colorful touch to a dry August landscape.

"Texas Rock Rose generally only lasts three to six years but its tendency to reseed freely allows seedlings to replace the older plants."

http://www.bccourier.com/Archives/Plant_detail.php?recordID=080403P
Picture:
http://www.southwestnursery.com/userfiles/database/ROCK%20ROSE123.jpg

Friday, September 16, 2011

Payroll Tax Holiday: Temporary Or Not?

Supposedly, Republicans are opposed to raising taxes. Except that they support corporate subsidies, etcetera & they oppose extending the temporary 'payroll tax holiday', which reduces Social Security deductions from 6.2% to 4.2% for employees ((not employers). Yet Republicans did the very same thing when Bush Jr. was in office in 2001 and again in 2008. But seemingly, when a Democrat is in office, they change their tune (except when it benefits the wealthier).
http://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/tax/newsandpublications/taxnews/pages/20110912.aspx?action=print

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tweeters: Who Are They?

Pop diva Beyonce's announcement that she is pregnant spread on Twitter at a record-breaking pace of 8,868 tweets per second. The Twitter response to the death of 'bin Laden' peaked at 5,106 tweets per second.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/29/beyonce-pregnancy-twiter-record-mtv-vmas_n_941064.html

Most Americans know about Twitter, but the vast majority of people don't use the microblogging service because they don't see the need. The percentage of Americans who have heard about Twitter exploded from 5 percent in February 2008 to 87 percent in February 2010, nearly equal to the 88 percent who are aware of social-networking king Facebook. Yet only 7 percent, about 17 million people, actually use Twitter.
http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-05-01/business/20882978_1_microblogging-service-twitter-users-facebook

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Are Americans Increasingly Smarter?

Although Americans and people from other industrialized nations are scoring higher than ever before on IQ tests due to better overall nutrition and mental stimulation, their creative abilities (ability to come up with original ideas and put them into practice) have not increased. That's a serious issue at a time when creative thinking is among the most desperately needed skills in the American workplace. A recent study found that 85 percent of employers concerned with hiring creative people say they can't find the right applicants. Kim blamed America's standards-obsessed schools for creating an environment in which creative thinking was not nurtured.


http://theweek.com/article/index/219002/are-americans-smarter-than-ever

Although Americans and people from other industrialized nations are scoring higher than ever before on IQ tests due to better overall nutrition and mental stimulation, their creative abilities (ability to come up with original ideas and put them into practice) have not increased. That's a serious issue at a time when creative thinking is among the most desperately needed skills in the American workplace. A recent study found that 85 percent of employers concerned with hiring creative people say they can't find the right applicants. Kim blamed America's standards-obsessed schools for creating an environment in which creative thinking was not nurtured.


http://theweek.com/article/index/219002/are-americans-smarter-than-ever

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kuunkuiskaajat

Kuunkuiskaajat ('Moonwhisperers') is a Finnish female folk duo made up of Värttinä members Susan Aho and Johanna Virtanen
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuunkuiskaajat
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A4rttin%C3%A4

Kuunkuiskaajat "Kahden"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWvZnLoaKDA&feature=related

Kuunkuiskaajat's first rehearsal...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5GP63_JBJE

Hääkellot - Kuunkuiskaajat
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0YIps1XhFQ&NR=1

Kuunkuiskaajat- Taivaanrinne
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geSAf54ZruE&feature=related

Kuunkuiskaajat - Ruutuliina
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ernyj7T-vOE&feature=related
 
Kuunkuikaajat - Taivaallinen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp1Lo1jGWVM&feature=related

Last Week's Virginia Earthquake

"The most recent large earthquake in Virginia occurred last week when a magnitude 5.8 quake was centered near Mineral, Virginia (followed by a 4.2 aftershock) in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone. In 2003, a 4.5 magnitude quake had struck nearby. The rumbling/shaking lasted 10-15 seconds and triggered buildings to be evacuated between New York City to Richmond. Modern technology is fragile, and the two nuclear power plants at Lake Anna were shut down as a routine precaution. Buildings on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University were closed, urban workers in Washington DC took the rest of the afternoon off, and a classic traffic jam developed on Northern Virginia highways."

http://www.virginiaplaces.org/geology/quake.html

Ten Things You Should Know About the East Coast Quake
http://tinyurl.com/3up5vne

Ave Maria

The "Ave Maria" is one of the oldest and most popular Catholic prayers.
It has many musical settings; the compositions by Franz Schubert and Charles Gounod are among the most popular. There's no one single single rendition that has come down through time.
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/ave_maria.htm

It should be noted that it is not as well known among Protestants. I'll blog "Pater Noster" to provide balance next.

1) Open up one window and post:
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0909/Swift_M31_large_UV70p.jpg
It's a picture of:
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap101027.html
which can be found by simply clicking on the picture.
OR
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/0901/newrings_cassini_big.jpg
is a picture from
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110904.html


2)Now allow another window to open when you click on the following so you can something to look at and meditate upon while listening to the following when desired:

a)Luciano Pavarotti - Ave Maria
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPvAQxZsgpQ&feature=related

b)Helene Fischer - Ave Maria (in German)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc1-Ajf-zzs

c)Andre Rieu - Ave Maria sung by Mirusia Louwerse
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkY9HtwXNU8&NR=1

d)Ave Maria-- With Lyrics-- Celine Dion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiQqPy6qPA0&feature=related

e)Charlotte Church Ave Maria
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8g6Tqqc6DQ&feature=related

f)Tarja Turunen - Ave Maria
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_vMEvcPDGs&feature=related

g)Ave Maria - Christina England Hale
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBt-9LhE8ms

h)Ave Maria , Celtic Women
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arYEQ_m8VwM&feature=related

i)Ave Maria in Latin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rd4aD47Qbm8&feature=related

j)Ave Maria - Karaoke Traditional Style
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGSIRidwJjc&feature=related

k)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1kQ5xJAJFw&feature=related
l)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQVz6vuNq7s
m)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPvAQxZsgpQ&feature=related

Ave Maria Lyrics (Latin)
Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Tui, Jesus
Sancta Maria
Mater Dei
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae
Amen.

Ave Maria lyrics in English:
Hail Mary,
full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Spray Foam: Saving Lives & Dollars in Iraq & Afghanistan

Fuel trucks are a tempting target for insurgents. And most of them are caring fuel for electric generators. And most of the electricity is needed for air conditioning. Reduce the amount of fuel being used and you save lives. Foam insulation yields 92% reduction in the electrical energy needed. Hence, spray foam insulation pays for itself almost instantly. And renewable energy sources (wind and solar) became valuable supplemental sources.

Spray Foam Insulation Saving Lives & Billions of Dollars in Iraq & Afghanistan
http://www.synovision.com/news/10-March-00

The military's $20 billion air conditioning bill
http://theweek.com/article/index/216786/the-militarys-20-billion-air-conditioning-bill-by-the-numbers

Yellowstone Quakes and Yellowstone Calderas

Friday's news about earthquakes in Alaska and Argentina made me think about a quake I felt in 1959. In 1959, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit Yellowstone while I was living in Idaho.
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/events/1959_08_18.php
http://samslair.blogspot.com/
http://www.ypf.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5343
http://faculty.weber.edu/bdattilo/shknbk/notes/intrmtnblt.htm

In Yellowstone, there's the added fact that the North American plate is moving over a hot spot that will in some future millennium erupt as a super-volcano and cause extended winter-like conditions.
Note: Humans and cheetahs almost became extinct when Toba blew 74,000 years ago due to harsh conditions.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_Caldera
http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/figures/fig1.html
http://pidema.wikispaces.com/Super+Volcano
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supervolcano#Known_super_eruptions


Earthquakes For Kids:
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids/

Friday, September 2, 2011

As It Was: 1959 West Yellowstone Earthquake

Late in the day, Draper and Nelly, a retired couple,
tried pulling into a Yellowstone campground with their
small trailer; but, it was fully occupied and so,
frustrated, they had to double back and pull into a
less desirable campground that they’d passed several
miles back up the road.  They bedded down and just
before midnight their trailer began to pitch and
shake.  Nelly, panicked, was only partly reassured by
Draper’s comment: “It’s just some old bull scratching
his ass on the corner of the trailer.  Go back to
sleep.”  The shaking soon stopped.

When they awoke early in the morning, the rest of the
campground was abuzz.  An earthquake had caused the
shaking in the middle of the night.  And the
campground that they’d not been able to stay at had
been obliterated by a huge rockslide.

Meanwhile, in Boise, Idaho, in our household the
closet doors had rattled and the baby’s crib squeaked
as it shook during the night from the tremors.

It wasn’t until the next day that we learned how close
my paternal grandparents had come to finding an early
rocky grave. The bodies of the 28 campers of the
doomed campground would never be recovered.

Nine years later, I was able to visit the site.  I was
astounded that the campground had been buried by a
huge rockslide that had been heaed from across the
valley from the opposite side.  It wasn’t merely a
slide of rocks that came down from above the
campground.  To this day, I’m haunted in remembering
looking across the newly formed lake with dead trees
standing upright in the valley at the naked side of the
mountain whose former slope was now under my feet
as I stood over the buried campers.No pictures can
impart the sense of devastating power in that scene.
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=yellowstone+earthquake+1959&btnG=Search


It gives an especially ominous meaning regarding the
volcanic history of Yellowstone:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=yellowstone+supervolcano&btnG=Google+Search

UAE's "The National" Paper

Before I started blogging at the Statesman.com's now defunct Reader Blogs, I used to spend a good bit of time reading online international newspapers online. Below are a few articles from a Abu Dhabi paper, The National, an English-language voice in the Middle East:

"Pakistani fertiliser fuels Afghan insurgents' bombs":
http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/south-asia/pakistani-fertiliser-fuels-afghan-insurgents-bombs?pageCount=0
[The article's picture helps me realize how difficult it'll be to stem the flow of fertilizer into Afghanistan.]

"Stealth of Nations: no black and white when it comes to grey market"
http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/books/stealth-of-nations-no-black-and-white-when-it-comes-to-grey-market
[This led me to read the description of the book, Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy, at
http://www.amazon.com/Stealth-Nations-Global-Informal-Economy/dp/037542489X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314901148&sr=8-1]

"Caravans retire from the road for a golden moment on the track"
http://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/motoring/caravans-retire-from-the-road-for-a-golden-moment-on-the-track
[Led to:
Caravan Banger Racing Warton Aug 07:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgaBFIUV4rU]








Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pro-life Rally: Irony Never Looked So Good

I'm borrowing these pictures from Austin American Statesman "reader blogger" ken45's blog. August 31st is the last day their AAS online Reader Blogs will exist.
At any rate, what's 'poignantly ironic' is that the first photo is advertising for activities ("cause" aka sexual intercourse) that the second photo ("effect" aka unplanned pregnancy) supposedly resists. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words -- or in this case, a whole bleepin' dissertation that speaks volumes without me saying another word on this subject (for now anyway).

blog post photo


blog post photo

Dear Perry, Is God Only A Theory?

In the Austin American Statesman (08-23-2011) was a good letter-to-the-editor that read:

Gov. Rick Perry says evolution is "a theory that's out there, and it's got some gaps in it. In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution."

Students, he says, are "smart enough" to decide for themselves.

The corollary to Perry's "theory of education" is: Here in Texas, we teach students about the atomic theory of matter. It's still known as a theory and it's got some gaps in it, so we also teach alchemy and astrology. Students are smart enough to decide for themselves.

Or perhaps, here in Texas we teach students about the germ theory of disease. Yes, it's still known as a theory and it's got some gaps in it, so we teach disease prevention and treatment using newt's eye and blood-letting.

If only we could apply Perry's wishful theory of education to meteorology, maybe we Texans could do some serious learning and make it rain.

Eleanor B. Newnan

[For myself, I'd like to add:
Is God only a theory? Because I have personal experiential data, I believe in God. I have reality based knowledge. Scientists have reality based data that is concrete and based on shared observations that are well documented.  They themselves use the term "theory" -- even when stating the obvious, because they're maintaining scientific integrity via the 'scientific method' that allow for further developments to occur as our knowledge expands towards the "INFINITE". [Example: Plate Tectonics is still called a scientific theory despite the very factual nature supporting this scientific belief. It shouldn't threaten anyone's belief in God. After all, if God created the Earth (all of creation), then "HE" put in motion every process that's a part of the whole. But, if I apply Perry's Christian coalition based thought process, then I'd be forced to say that "It's only a theory with gaps".]

So, yes, students must decide many things for themselves. But wasting time on debating 'flat Earth' superstitions as opposed to genuine scientific debate is voodoo politics catering to the lowest common denominator aka 'fear factor' -- which, unfortunately, has been and will always be with us as long as people fear evil more than they love good.

Perry: Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

'Politifact' had to correct presidential wannabe Perry's naysayer statement that scientists are questioning the idea that "man-made global warming" is what's causing climate change.

The truth is that even the scientists to whom Perry is generally referring to "do not claim that humans are making no contribution at all to rising temperatures. Rather, they tend to make more nuanced points. They question whether carbon emissions alone are driving up temperatures, or whether other human activities contribute as well. They question whether extreme weather events such as storms or floods can be conclusively linked to rising temperatures. And, they question whether significant changes to public policy are necessary as a means of coping with rising temperatures".

[I do note, however, a shift in the naysayers' attitude as of late as reflected in Perry's statement. It is that they now acknowledge that our global climate is changing. Good - because any one who gardens or raises crops is well aware of that fact. Even corporate agribiz interests that will fund the GOP's final choice of presidential nominees know that.]

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/aug/22/rick-perry/rick-perry-says-more-and-more-scientists-are-quest/

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/



For those who fail 5th grade level TAKS earth science questions, then there's the effect of not recognizing causes:
August 23, 2011 Non Sequitur
http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2011/08/23

Non Sequitur



For those who take the Bible too literally -- think about the extreme past climate change event:
August 22, 2011 Mother Goose & Grimm
http://www.arcamax.com/thefunnies/mothergooseandgrimm/s-934579





And for those who take King Perry's by-line too seriously:
August 23, 2011 Hagar the Horrible
http://www.arcamax.com/thefunnies/hagarthehorrible/