Sunday, December 9, 2007

Catching Up: Best of 2004: April

Another installment in the continuing effort to distill the best postings from my personal mailing list. There were a lot of things that still seemed worthwhile, so I decided to take it one month at a time. So now I am up to whatever I posted there in April 2004. * * * * * [From] Pets trigger our 'feel good' hormones, research suggests By Jane Weaver Updated: 9:45 a.m. ET April 02, 2004 Those big brown eyes gazing at you with complete adoration. The cool, wet nose nudging bare feet in the early morning. That tireless wagging tail that symbolizes pure joy in your presence. We know that dogs are dedicated companions that offer unquestioning attachment and acceptance. In the past several years, mounting scientific evidence suggests that they benefit us even beyond eager devotion. Numerous studies have shown that dogs -- one of the earliest domesticated animals -- can help lower blood pressure, ease the loneliness of the elderly in nursing homes, and help children overcome allergies. Now there's new research from the University of Missouri-Columbia suggesting the hormonal changes that occur when humans and dogs interact could help people cope with depression and certain stress- related disorders. Preliminary results from a study show that a few minutes of stroking our pet dog prompts a release of a number of "feel good" hormones in humans, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. In addition, petting our pooches results in decreased levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol, the adrenal chemical responsible for regulating appetite and cravings for carbohydrates. ... * * * * * Websites of Note ----------------- Morph the 2004 Presidential Candidates I know, it's outdated and childish, but it's still kind of funny * * * * * Clippings --------- MARRIAGE SEMINAR While attending a Marriage Seminar dealing with communication, Tom and his wife Grace listened to the instructor, "It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other." He addressed the men, "Can you describe your wife's favorite flower?" Tom leaned over, touched his wife's arm gently and whispered, "It's Pillsbury, isn't it?" The rest of the story gets rather ugly so I'll stop right here. [From New York Times at] As one sensible woman put it in her autobiography: "For me, abortion is a personal issue — between the mother, father and doctor." She added, "Abortion is not a presidential matter." President Bush, listen to your mother. * * * * * [From New York Times at] The Mercury Scandal By PAUL KRUGMAN Published: April 6, 2004 If you want a single example that captures why so many people no longer believe in the good intentions of the Bush administration, look at the case of mercury pollution. Mercury can damage the nervous system, especially in fetuses and infants — which is why the Food and Drug Administration warns pregnant women and nursing mothers against consuming types of fish, like albacore tuna, that often contain high mercury levels. ... During the 1990's, government regulation greatly reduced mercury emissions from medical and municipal waste incineration, leaving power plants as the main problem. ... The head of the E.P.A.'s Office of Air and Radiation, like most key environmental appointees in the Bush administration, previously made his living representing polluting industries (which, in case you haven't guessed, are huge Republican donors). ... E.P.A. experts normally study regulations before they are issued, but they were bypassed. According to The Los Angeles Times: "E.P.A. staffers say they were told not to undertake the normal scientific and economic studies called for under a standing executive order. . . . E.P.A. veterans say they cannot recall another instance where the agency's technical experts were cut out of developing a major regulatory proposal." ... * * * * * Great Quotes from Great Ladies I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once. -Jennifer Unlimited- ++++++++++++++++++++++++ If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning. -Catherine- ++++++++++++++++++++++++ I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb .. and I'm also not blonde. -Dolly Parton- ++++++++++++++++++++++++ I'm not going to vacuum 'til Sears makes one you can ride on. -Roseanne Barr- ++++++++++++++++++++++++ When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. -Elayne Boosler- ++++++++++++++++++++++++ Behind every successful man is a surprised woman. -Maryon Pearson- ++++++++++++++++++++++++ I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house. -Zsa Zsa Gabor- ++++++++++++++++++++++++ Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission. -Eleanor Roosevelt- * * * * * [Thanks to the friend who pointed out this New York Times item I missed] The murderous attack on four American civilians in Falluja, Iraq ... introduced Americans to a company few had heard of: Blackwater USA, which was providing security for food delivery convoys when its employees were ambushed. ... [T]here is far less accountability to the American public and to international law than if real troops were performing the tasks. In the 1990's, several employees of one company, DynCorp, were implicated in a sex-trafficking scandal in Bosnia involving girls as young as 12. Had these men been soldiers, they would have faced court-martial proceedings. As private workers, they were simply put on the next plane back to America. ... * * * * * Borowitz Report Breaking News BUSH MISSED BILLBOARD OF OSAMA 60-Foot-Tall Sign Appeared Outside White House The Bush administration today grappled with allegations that President George W. Bush did not see a sixty-foot-tall billboard featuring Osama bin Laden that appeared suddenly across the street from the White House in August 2001. The gigantic billboard, which featured bin Laden's stern visage and the words "I AM GOING TO HIJACK U.S. AIRPLANES VERY SOON," was first spotted by a UPS driver, Clayton Spedding, while making his morning deliveries on Pennsylvania Avenue. "I was like, `Didn't there use to be a Bacardi ad up there?'" Mr. Spedding, 34, told reporters today. After making his startling discovery, Mr. Spedding called the White House, but was told to call back when he had "something more specific." As Mr. Bush's apparent failure to notice the bin Laden billboard ignited a new round of finger-pointing in Washington, the President went on the offensive, warning the al-Qaeda kingpin to make future terror threats more explicit or "face the consequences." ... * * * * * [From] Almost two-thirds of America's corporations paid no federal income taxes during the late 1990's, when corporate profits were soaring. Nine out of 10 companies paid less than the equivalent of 5 percent of their total income. ... Meanwhile, as David Cay Johnston reported in yesterday's Times, .... [o]ver the last decade, the audit rate for the largest corporations has fallen by almost half. ... Corporate taxes now account for about 7.5 percent of overall federal tax receipts, down from a high of 40 percent during World War II. [From] More than half the nation's population lives in or around areas that violate clean air standards, according to a list to be released on April 15 by the federal government. ... Rural communities will be affected along with at least seven national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee, Acadia in Maine and Yosemite in California. * * * * * I'm told that these stories come from an ex-IRS employee: Caller: I want to know if I should file married or single. IRS: Are you married? Caller: Well, sort of ... IRS: What? Caller: Well, we did get married, but we're not counting on it. * Caller: I got a letter from you guys and I want to know what you want. IRS: What does it say? Caller: Just a minute, I'll open it. * Caller: I'm a bookkeeper and I need to know if ten $100 bills make a thousand dollars or only ten hundred dollars. IRS: Both. It's the same amount. Caller: So why do I get a different answer every time I move the decimal point? * Caller: What does the law say about people who are renting to relatives and taking a loss on the property? IRS: You are required to charge them fair market value. Caller: It's very fair. If we rented to someone else we could get a lot more. * Caller: Could you please send me some of those WD-40's? * * * * * The Washington Post's Style Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's (2003) winners: Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray painted very, very high. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.) Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating. And the pick of the literature: Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and a butthole.