03.01.12

Why French Parents Are Superior

Posted in Education, society at 4:48 pm by site admin

Check out this article discussing some of the differences between American and French parenting styles.

Yet the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. “For me, the evenings are for the parents,” one Parisian mother told me. “My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time.” French parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves.

I’m hardly the first to point out that middle-class America has a parenting problem. This problem has been painstakingly diagnosed, critiqued and named: overparenting, hyperparenting, helicopter parenting, and my personal favorite, the kindergarchy. Nobody seems to like the relentless, unhappy pace of American parenting, least of all parents themselves.

02.26.12

Myth of the 8 Hour Sleep

Posted in Evolution, society at 8:41 pm by site admin

Check out this article regarding the evolutionary nature of human sleeping habits.

Today, most people seem to have adapted quite well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body’s natural preference for segmented sleep as well as the ubiquity of artificial light.

This could be the root of a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where people wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep, he suggests.

The condition first appears in literature at the end of the 19th Century, at the same time as accounts of segmented sleep disappear.

“For most of evolution we slept a certain way,” says sleep psychologist Gregg Jacobs. “Waking up during the night is part of normal human physiology.”

The idea that we must sleep in a consolidated block could be damaging, he says, if it makes people who wake up at night anxious, as this anxiety can itself prohibit sleeps and is likely to seep into waking life too.

Global Warming Means Shorter People

Posted in Evolution at 8:38 pm by site admin

Check out this article discussing how global warming may make people shorter.

Modern mammals, including humans, could be at risk of shrinking as a result of global warming, just as small prehistoric horses shrank to an even smaller size when temperatures rose 56 million years ago.

The proposal follows from a study of Sifrhippus, the first horse, 56 million years ago. Sifrhippus shrank from about 12 pounds average weight to about eight and a half pounds as the climate warmed over thousands of years, according to a report published by a team of researchers and reported in the journal Science on Thursday.

The study finds that early horses were much smaller than their modern day ancestors, which have since been bred for speed, size, and a number of additional attributes. The earliest-known horse, Sifrhippus, first appeared in North America during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, when increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans caused average global temperatures to begin to rise.

08.18.11

Mutate HIV Away

Posted in health at 10:02 pm by site admin

Check out this article discussing the possibility of mutating HIV away.

Traditional HIV drugs attempt to keep the virus in check by preventing it from replicating. But Koronis’s KP-1461 uses a new drug mechanism–dubbed Viral Decay AccelerationT–to insert itself into the viral genome, increasing the frequency of mutations, until eventually the virus population collapses. “If you think of HIV as a house made of two by fours, and the genetic backbone of the virus as the foundation of that house, [the drug mechanism] replaces the two by fours with toothpicks, and eventually the house comes crashing down,” says Dr. Mark G. Fromhold, VP of Manufacturing and Business Development at Koronis.

06.22.11

Silicon Breast Implants Deemed Reasonably Safe!

Posted in health, society at 9:35 pm by site admin

Check out this article stating the FDA now deems silicon breast implants reasonable safe to use. The funniest parts of this are:

“Based on the totality of the evidence, the FDA believes that silicone gel-filled breast implants have reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness when used as labeled,” the agency said.

This is a loaded statement. The safety part I get.. But effectiveness?? And what is considered to be the effectiveness of implants?? And then, ‘when used as labeled’… I didn’t know there was a proper use of breast implants, much less a label.. Guess its not like those pesky labels on the mattress that you don’t want to cut..

The other interesting point the FDA makes is:

“Breast implants are not lifetime devices. The longer a woman has silicone gel-filled breast implants, the more likely she is to experience complications,” the FDA said.

 

05.16.11

Religion and Financial Destiny

Posted in society at 6:13 am by site admin

Check out this article discussing the correlation of religion, education level, and financial standing in the US.

Many factors are behind the discrepancies among religions, but one stands out. The relationship between education and income is so strong that you can almost draw a line through the points on this graph. Social science rarely produces result

04.11.11

Future farm: a sunless, rainless room indoors

Posted in Evolution, society at 9:04 am by site admin

Check out this article discussing some of the more recent trends in technological indoor farming.

The perfect crop field could be inside a windowless building with meticulously controlled light, temperature, humidity, air quality and nutrition. It could be in a New York high-rise, a Siberian bunker, or a sprawling complex in the Saudi desert.

Advocates say this, or something like it, may be an answer to the world’s food problems.

“In order to keep a planet that’s worth living on, we have to change our methods,” says Gertjan Meeuws, of PlantLab, a private research company.

The world already is having trouble feeding itself. Half the people on Earth live in cities, and nearly half of those — about 3 billion — are hungry or malnourished. Food prices, currently soaring, are buffeted by droughts, floods and the cost of energy required to plant, fertilize, harvest and transport it.

And prices will only get more unstable. Climate change makes long-term crop planning uncertain. Farmers in many parts of the world already are draining available water resources to the last drop. And the world is getting more crowded: by mid-century, the global population will grow from 6.8 billion to 9 billion, the U.N. predicts.

03.21.11

US Citizens Dumb?

Posted in society at 6:29 am by site admin

Check out this article talking about how US citizens are ignorant of the way our government works.

For more than two centuries, Americans have gotten away with not knowing much about the world around them. But times have changed—and they’ve changed in ways that make civic ignorance a big problem going forward. While isolationism is fine in an isolated society, we can no longer afford to mind our own business. What happens in China and India (or at a Japanese nuclear plant) affects the autoworker in Detroit; what happens in the statehouse and the White House affects the competition in China and India. Before the Internet, brawn was enough; now the information economy demands brains instead. And where we once relied on political institutions (like organized labor) to school the middle classes and give them leverage, we now have nothing. “The issue isn’t that people in the past knew a lot more and know less now,” says Hacker. “It’s that their ignorance was counterbalanced by denser political organizations.” The result is a society in which wired activists at either end of the spectrum dominate the debate—and lead politicians astray at precisely the wrong moment.

03.19.11

Sumo Wrestlers Run Marathons Too

Posted in Sports at 9:07 pm by site admin

Check out this article about 405 pound former sumo wrestler Kelly Gneiting planning on setting a Guinness record running a marathon.

With a trace of humor and no small amount of pride, Kelly Gneiting, 40, calls himself the Fat Man. He weighs 405 pounds and is not embarrassed by an ounce of it. He stands out. He is one of a very few white people on the reservation. He is 6 feet tall with a 60-inch waist. That makes him 5 feet around the middle. His fleshy body is devoid of angles.

Even so, he is an athlete, and he is hardly shy about saying how good he is. “I honestly think I’m one of the best athletes in the world,” he says. Bold overstatement, maybe, but this man who weighs nearly a quarter ton can do the splits, then bend at the waist and shoulders until his forehead touches the ground. He can reel off four consecutive sets of 25 pushups.

The Fat Man is a three-time national champion sumo wrestler.

03.06.11

Great Economic Stagnation?

Posted in society at 9:13 pm by site admin

Check out this article about a different take on the story discussed in Tyler Cowen’s eBook The Great Stagnation.

But his evidence can also be used to tell a related story. It could be that the nature of technological change isn’t causing the slowdown but a shift in values. It could be that in an industrial economy people develop a materialist mind-set and believe that improving their income is the same thing as improving their quality of life. But in an affluent information-driven world, people embrace the postmaterialist mind-set. They realize they can improve their quality of life without actually producing more wealth.

02.24.11

Cellphones Affect the Brain.. Just Don’t Know How

Posted in health at 9:27 am by site admin

Check out this article discussing how cell phone usage elevates glucose levels in the brain (near the cell phone).

According to the study, the area of the brain closest to the cell phone’s antenna elevated its glucose metabolism – which is a form of measuring brain cell activity – due to the electromagnetic field emitted by the phone in those regions.

“Although we cannot determine the clinical significance, our results give evidence that the human brain is sensitive to the effects of radiofrequency-electromagnetic fields from acute cell phone exposures,” said Nora Volkow, MD, MD, of the National Institutes of Health and the study’s lead author.

My Child Shouldn’t Read (That Early)!

Posted in Education, society at 7:47 am by site admin

Check out this article discussing how focusing on your child’s reading ability at a young age can impair the development in other life skills.

Patricia Appel, a learning specialist at Glenelg’s primary school, said that many times, if pre-kindergarten children learn a word, it’s simply a picture they’re internalizing.

“Then, as they enter school, it’s almost re-learning,” she said. “We still have to back them up and teach them phonics and syntax.”

She added that with early readers, teachers try to even out the other skills the children need to be successful in the classroom.

“This year we have two pre-kindergarten boys who can’t hold a pencil and write but read at a first-grade level,” she said. “We try to boost up the areas that are weaker to make a child more balanced.”

The author points out that reading is a great pastime as well.. And is not simply a learn to read or hold a pencil. Just a reminder that time is limited and there is always an opportunity cost associated with everything we do.. Even as a toddler.

02.21.11

The Ego Invades Yoga

Posted in health at 10:16 am by site admin

Check out this article about how Yoga is in vogue and how its affecting the spirituality of the practice.

Do yoga, transcend your ego, and discover your inner humility—at least that’s the idea behind this ancient spiritual practice. The enlightened person is “friendly and compassionate, free from self-regard and vanity,” promises the Bhagavad-Gita. But in the recent past, around the time that $100 yoga pants became as common as designer jeans, the once inconspicuous yoga instructor has morphed into something more grandiose. Now certain teachers display all the monkishness of Keith Richards cooling his heels in the greenroom as adoring fans reach a peak of anticipation.

02.16.11

Ecuadorean Villagers May Hold Secret to Longevity

Posted in health at 9:26 pm by site admin

Check out this article about how a rare condition known as Laron syndrome or Laron-type dwarfism may hold the secrets to Longevity.

As Dr. Guevara-Aguirre accumulated health data on his patients, he noticed a remarkable pattern: though cancer was frequent among people who did not have the Laron mutation, those who did have it almost never got cancer. And they never developed diabetes, even though many were obese, which often brings on the condition.

02.11.11

Exabyte

Posted in society, technology at 11:24 pm by site admin

Check out this article about exabytes.

So much digital data now moves around the globe that those who endeavor to measure it employ a new – or new to non-nerds – term.

Meet the exabyte.

How much data is an exabyte? It’s a billion gigabytes – and it signifies just how digital and data-intensive the world has become.

In 2007, the global capacity to store digital information – on computer hard disks, smartphones, CDs and other digital media – totaled 276 exabytes, a new report finds.

How much is that? Imagine a stack of CDs – each holding an album’s worth of digital music – shooting from the top of your desk to 50,000 miles beyond the moon.

Captured Carbon’s Escape

Posted in Environment, technology at 11:14 pm by site admin

Check out this article on how carbon captured underground is escaping..

One proposed strategy for reducing the effects of carbon emissions is to try to capture the carbon as it is emitted and to bury it underground. But the technology is controversial. And a story from Saskatchewan is adding support to opponents of the technology. A farm couple whose land sits atop a carbon capture site commissioned an independent report into their land quality, and say that it appears to indicate that the so-called “captured” carbon has actually leaked into their land.

01.04.11

Raising Children to be Accountable

Posted in society at 8:34 pm by site admin

Check out this article about how America has messed up raising its children. Not really quite my forte, but think the lessons here are applicable in many real world situations..

As the G.I. Generation gave their Baby Boomer children more freedom from oppression and repression, the Baby Boomers have given their Generation Y/Millennials freedom from responsibility and accountability for their actions. They have moved past indulging them directly to spoiling them. And rather than letting their children face the consequences of their actions, Baby Boomers have more often bailed out their Gen Y/Millennial children. And when children feel no responsibility or accountability for their actions, the next step is for them to feel and act entitled — entitled to act according to how they feel and to what will immediately gratify them, and entitled to not do whatever they don’t want to do. It is this attitude that would give rise to the Parent-Teenager dialogue that opened this blog.

What We Can and Need to Do About It

An initial step that might be helpful is to reach a consensus between parents and their children as to what terms related to personal responsibility mean. Here are ten terms that come to mind for me:

  1. Commitment: the level of dedicated action(s) you continue to take after your enthusiasm for an enterprise stops.
  2. Accountability: taking full responsibility for your actions by owning up to the negative or failed results, taking action to make up for it to the person(s) you let down, and learning what you did wrong so that it doesn’t occur again.
  3. Maturity: how well you are able to resist an irresistible impulse and instead have and exercise judgment and do the reasonable thing. In the brain we refer to this as exercising one’s executive function.
  4. Honesty: this is simply telling the truth according to the facts as you understand them. You know honesty best, when you tell a lie. Pathological liars lie whenever they are trying to get their way and take advantage of a situation. Compulsive liars lie both when the are trying to get their way and when they are trying to get out of facing the consequences of their actions.
  5. Forthrightness: this is coming forward and telling the truth and revealing untruths that you become aware of. It’s believing and following Justice Louis Brandeis words: “Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant.”
  6. Character: what you do when you are frustrated, angry, annoyed, afraid and/or bored and nobody is watching and your chance of getting caught is close to nil.
  7. Sacrifice: what you do unto others who will not (immediately) be able to pay you back by doing unto you.
  8. Compassion: what you feel unto others who will not be able to do more than say, “Thank you.”
  9. Thinking ahead and planning: overcoming the aversion to anything that causes you to forego immediate gratification.
  10. Listening: and then pausing to consider what you’ve heard before rejecting it, tuning out or competing with it (a skill every generation needs to learn).

12.30.10

Toxicperfluoroalkyls Found in Fast Food

Posted in health at 1:01 am by site admin

Check out this link about Toxicperfluoroalkyls being leached from fast food packaging into the food.

A new study shows that toxicperfluoroalkyls, which are used in surface protection treatments and coatings to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers, are being ingested by people through their food and showing up as contaminants in blood.

Perfluoroalkyls are a hazardous class of stable, synthetic chemicals that repel oil, grease and water.

As reported by University of Toronto researchers, the chemicals studied in human blood, urine and feces were polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs), which are the breakdown products of the perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs) used in coating the food wrappers. Scientists said the exposure to humans through this means “should be considered as a significant indirect source of PFCA.”

That means you now have a new reason to avoid fast foods.

PFCs are linked to infertility, thyroid disease, cancer, immune system problems, and increased LDL cholesterol level.s

12.15.10

Prehistoric People Ate Each Other

Posted in Evolution at 9:57 pm by site admin

Check out this article about how prehistoric people practiced nutritional cannibalism.

“Think that a member of your group dies,” Fernandez-Jalvo told Discovery News. “The body can give one day off from hunting, which was always dangerous at that time, and what to do with the dead body that may attract other dangerous carnivores that may attack the group.”

“This could be a good solution,” she added, reminding that cannibalism does not always mean the cannibal killed the consumed individual.

TSA Privates

Posted in technology at 9:52 pm by site admin

Check out this article about TSA proof underwear.

There’s been no shortage of outrage over the TSA’s“naked” body scanners, which have been compared to virtual strip searches. For those of you who want to protect your private parts from being ogled by TSA employees, crowdsourced online retail site Betabrand is now offering a scanner-proof undergarment, aptly called “Privates.”

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