Monday, August 31, 2009

Best of the Month: Clippings

Thousands of people gathered in Tehran on Thursday to commemorate those killed in Iran’s post-election crackdown .... “This is the only way that we can stop everything from falling into the hands of the Revolutionary Guards,” said a 29-year-old physiotherapist who came to the cemetery. “You see, now [the police] don’t even take notice of the clerics, it’s gone that far.” ... As in earlier protests, young women were often at the forefront, hurling rocks at riot police officers and shouting in their faces. Yun, 26, suffered paralyzing leg cramps from the arctic temperatures after she sank to the bottom of a Chinese aquarium's arctic pool .... "I began to choke and sank even lower and I thought that was it for me – I was dead," she told the UK's The Telegraph. "Until I felt this incredible force under me driving me to the surface." ... "We suddenly saw the girl being pushed to the top of the pool with her leg in [Beluga whale] Mila's mouth. She's a sensitive animal who works closely with humans ...." They're calling it the Zeltiq procedure, and what they do is chill the stubborn area where the fat just won't leave (like your love handles or midriff), and then the fat gradually flushes out of your system. Redheads are sensitive to pain .... They require more generalized anesthesia, localized anesthesia. The conventional doses fail. They have bad experiences at the dentist and because of the bad experiences, they could avoid dental care. The World Health Organization estimates that about 10 percent of the 63,000 kidneys transplanted worldwide each year from living donors have been bought illegally. Lungs, pieces of livers and corneas also command a price. Last year, the authorities in India said they had broken up a ring involving doctors, nurses, paramedics and hospitals .... Most of the donors were poor laborers who were paid up to $2,500 for a kidney. Some were forced to give up organs at gunpoint. An investment of $520 billion in improvements like sealing ducts and replacing inefficient appliances could produce $1.2 trillion in savings on energy bills through 2020 .... Such a program, if carried out over the next decade, could cut the country’s projected energy use in 2020 by about 23 percent, a savings that would be greater than the total of energy consumption of Canada. For the bar-headed goose, migration is a high-altitude adventure. Spring and fall it flies between Central Asia and India, a route that takes it over the highest mountains in the world, the Himalayas. The bird has been known to reach altitudes of 30,000 feet. ... [The necessary changes in its] muscle cells probably evolved over a long period of time, perhaps as the Himalayas, one of the Earth’s youngest mountain chains, grew and the birds would have had to fly higher and higher. After Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal portraying Russia as a limping and humbled nation, many in Washington responded last week with a helpless shrug: There’s crazy Joe, they said .... But in Russia, they weren’t shrugging. Within hours, a top Kremlin aide had released a barbed statement comparing Mr. Biden to Dick Cheney. Commentators announced Mr. Biden’s emergence as Washington’s new “gray cardinal” — the figure who, from the shadows, makes all the decisions that matter. ... “Biden has said this in such a way that the whole world heard it,” said Alexei K. Pushkov, who is the anchor of the current events show “Post-Scriptum.” ... Mr. Putin, now Russia’s prime minister, occasionally departs from statesmanlike language, as when he threatened to hang the Georgian president by his testicles or offered a French reporter an especially thorough circumcision. But coming from Mr. Putin, these statements are expressions of Russian might, something like a political philosophy — never, ever mistakes. For anyone subordinate to the president to allow themselves that freedom is inconceivable .... “If it’s not the No. 1 man or woman, clearly that person has been instructed to say what he or she said,” Mr. Pozner said. ... Russians have spent months searching for clues to Mr. Obama’s true intentions; when Mr. Obama killed a fly during a television interview shortly before traveling to Moscow, for example, several analysts here interpreted it as a message to Russia. The U.S. military did major damage to the site of one of the wonders of the ancient world while converting it into a base, the United Nations said in a new report. ... The site of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon was converted into Camp Alpha shortly after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. ... Key structures that were damaged include the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way. Men who took naps at least three times a week had a 37 percent lower risk of heart-related death. Every person has a unique tongue print. The appendix ... [is] a “safe house” for the beneficial bacteria living in the human gut. The beneficial bacteria in the appendix that aid digestion can ride out a bout of diarrhea that completely evacuates the intestines and emerge afterwards to repopulate the gut. Episodes from your past are remembered faster and better while in a body position similar to the pose struck during the event. Wisdom teeth weren't always a cash crop for oral surgeons. Long ago, they served as a useful third set of meat-mashing molars. But as our brains grew our jawbone structure changed, leaving us with expensively overcrowded mouths. Blondes average 146,000 follicles while people with black hair tend to have about 110,000 follicles. Those with brown hair fit the average with 100,000 follicles and redheads have the least dense hair, with about 86,000 follicles. The average person expels flatulence 14 times each day. Middle-aged men who had (or at least remember having) at least four orgasms a week throughout their 20s, 30s and 40s had a reduced risk of prostate cancer by as much as one-third. Some researchers speculate that ejaculations may clear the prostate of carcinogens. "If you use a room less than six times a year, you don't need it," she explained. You should assume that every phone conversation will be taped, every internal memo leaked, and every hallway conversation shared with a blogger. ... You should utter only the words you’d want to see on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. This is at the essence of being radically transparent. [Population projections depend on] many decisions. First and foremost is the choice of projection techniques .... Once chosen, the analyst then has to decide which base data to use, how to form assumptions, how to treat special populations, and so forth. All too often, these decisions are based on incomplete information, misconceptions, or legacy. Chewing an aspirin at the onset of a heart attack does improve [chances of] survival. [Women] are three times more likely to underestimate how their boss' value their work as compared to their male counterparts. ... Taylor's findings might help explain why women continue to earn only 78 cents for every dollar that men get for doing the same job. 60 percent of [Twitter] users quit within the first month. Men are more than twice as likely to report long-term exposure to loud noise ... so this is probably an important reason why men have worse hearing, on average, as working-age adults. [Note about these clippings: these are verbatim extracts from published materials. As such, I don't provide them just as statements of fact. I assume there is some accuracy to them, but I haven't checked them out. Perhaps their most important function is to serve as entry points into areas of learning. If you search for the verbatim text shown below (without including [bracketed] text and ellipses (...)), you will find the article it came from, and can use that to go further in learning about the current state of discussion on the topic. Sometimes I can find something I remember reading, in these clippings, that I can't find in a Google search -- when, for example, Google gives thousands of results to my search.] * * * * * Economic contractions may increase the prevalence of extended families that consolidate resources into one household, and fathers may expand their role as caretakers for their parents and/or in-laws, as well as children. The difference between the gender suicide rates is rising. In 1933 the young male suicide rate was 1.54 times higher than for young females. In 2005 the male rate was 4.63 times higher than the female rate. In people with the most severe injuries — including torn ligaments — treatment with ice resulted in a 13-day recovery, compared with 30 days for those treated with heat. For the best results, experts recommend the Price method: protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. They caution that ice should be applied only 20 minutes at a time. "Bites to the hands, forearms, neck, and head have the potential for the highest morbidity," the scientists warn. They conclude: "Much more remains to be learned about MRSA and pet-associated human infections." Two significant comments in the past two days by trusted White House advisers, which Barack Obama has felt compelled to correct, taken together suggest that Obama's inside style is so masked, conciliatory, and evenhanded that even the people closest to him are not sure where his willingness to compromise stops. Laughter probably predates human speech by millions of years. One idea that's been floating around for years: Humans have "kamikaze sperm" whose sole aim is to knock out the other guy's sperm, should any be there. Evidence doesn't support this popular but apparent myth, however, though it persists because it sounds cool. 2.3 percent of children under 18 in the United States have at least one parent in prison. Carbonized chicken feather fibers have the potential to dramatically improve upon existing methods of hydrogen storage and perhaps pave the way for the practical development of a truly hydrogen-based energy economy. Casper the mixed breed cat has traveled an estimated 20,000 miles. At 10:55 a.m. every day, he catches Bus No. 3 just outside his owner's home in Plymouth, Devon, southwest of London. He travels an 11-mile, one-hour loop -- including a historic dockyard and the city’s red light district, before returning home. "Casper has always disappeared for hours at a time but I never understood where he was going," his owner Susan Finden, 65, told the UK's The Telegraph. Central Park is way safer than South Dakota. There were no murders and three serious assaults in Central Park in 2008, compared with five murders and 341 assaults in Sioux Falls alone. An 800th patient has recently been implanted with the world's only "total artificial heart," (TAH) ... Unlike a pacemaker, which helps a malfunctioning heart to beat properly, the revolutionary device approved in 2004 can completely replace an individual's heart for up to a few months. The sex chip [brain implant] ... is nearing readiness and would stimulate orgasms at the push of a button. Al Qaeda may be having leadership problems. While able to find fresh recruits to replace those killed and arrested it seems to have more difficulty replacing senior military trainers and other key operational figures. "I am tired of making medical decisions based on the profit motives of insurance companies. I want to treat patients, not fill out insurance forms." Ma says he handled early difficulties by being flexible. "There were three reasons why we survived," he once said. "We had no money, we had no technology, and we had no plan." [If] you or one of your workout partners becomes dangerously hot and confused, get yourself or them into a tub filled with ice or ice-cold water as quickly as possible. That’s the best treatment shown to reduce core body temperature quickly enough to avoid severe internal damage or death. Each day, billions of tiny krill and some jellyfish migrate hundreds of meters from the depths of the ocean toward the surface where they feed. ... "There are enough of these animals in the ocean," Dabiri said, "that, on the whole, the global power input from this process is as much as a trillion watts of energy — comparable to that of wind forcing and tidal forcing." One interior region of the Antarctic is known as The Dry Valleys. These valleys have not seen rainfall in over two million years. Nationwide, 7 percent of beach water samples are so contaminated with human or animal waste that they're not conducive for swimming. A study published this year in the Journal of Dentistry showed that orange juice decreased enamel hardness by 84 percent. Lemon, orange and grapefruit juice can strip away the enamel with their acidity. "We encourage adults if they're going to have kids drink fruit juices, which is good in a way, that they consume it all at once instead of sipping on it all day long," Stanford said. In the 1950s and ’60s, a dam went up in the United States every six minutes to generate electricity, provide irrigation water and protect against floods, according to the United States Forest Service. As a result, there are an estimated 75,000 aging dams blocking rivers large and small today. ... [Many] have outlived their usefulness. ... You have these dams that have huge ecological impact that don’t produce a lot of power. ... [O]ld dams are being dismantled at a rate of about 40 a year .... While that’s good news for fish and wildlife, it’s also benefiting paddlers like Mr. Kuthe who are flocking to these uncorked rivers in search of newly formed whitewater rapids and other paddling adventures. In the 1980s, I helped make known a secret pact between Iranian mullahs and some European governments. Thirsty for Iranian oil, the Europeans gave the go-ahead to Iranian agents to assassinate opposition members abroad without interference, as long as European citizens were not at risk. Hundreds of dissidents were gunned down. “The National Institutes of Health spends $400 million a year on dental research,” he said. “The National Institute of Justice spends $50 million a year on criminal justice research.” When you're young and restless and it's hot outside you can get into trouble. At least that's how the thinking goes in Los Angeles, where Marketplace reports that even amidst a budget crisis that has forced California to cut many public programs, parks are staying open later this summer in an effort to keep teens off the streets. ... Investing in these parks saves big bucks for the city -- and the lives of its citizens. The murder rate in surrounding neighborhoods dropped by 86 percent when the program ran last year. And that saves the city the million dollars it costs to run a homicide investigation. “The children have told us that boredom is the biggest downer, along with adults who expect too much of them and having to work too hard," said Robert Hart, whose firm Intuitive Media Research Services conducted the survey. "Children want more freedom to play, relax, pursue their hobbies and be creative." Activities that keep the brain active ... may delay the precipitous memory declines that define dementia .... 488 people age 75 to 85 who did not have dementia at the start of the study ... were followed for an average of five years .... [Researchers] looked at the point when memory loss started accelerating rapidly .... "The point of accelerated decline was delayed by 1.29 years for the person who participated in 11 activities per week [such as reading, writing, playing card games] compared to the person who participated in only four activities per week .... [Also] those who can handle stress without becoming anxious may see fewer memory problems ... exercise may keep older minds, as well as bodies, in shape by improving blood flow in the brain, [and] searching the Internet ... may be better than reading because of the range of choices it involves making. [Because of lower consumption,] the long-term [environmental] impact of a child born to a family in China is less than one-fifth the impact of a child born in the United States. More than 90 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest ... end up dying. Cooling a patient's body -- or therapeutic hypothermia -- improves those odds. ... Yet, as one 2007 paper put it, "implementation of hypothermia is lousy." ... Makers of cooling equipment say fewer than 300 hospitals, out of more than 6,000 nationwide, have the necessary equipment. China's prostitutes are better-trusted than its politicians and scientists, according to an online survey published by Insight China magazine. Early Victorian England was not a place to get caught on the wrong side of the law. ... The infamous system in England and Wales ... was dubbed the "Bloody Code" for good reason. Executions were public spectacles, with the wealthy hiring balconies to get better views .... Being in the company of gypsies for a month, damaging Westminster Bridge, cutting down trees, stealing livestock - or anything worth more than five shillings (£30 today) for that matter - would [bring the death penalty]. ... The death sentence also applied to pickpockets, the destruction of turnpike roads, general poaching, stealing from a shipwreck and being out at night with a blackened face, which made people assume you were a burglar. ... In 1874, one John Walker was sentenced to seven years "penal servitude" and police supervision. His crime? Stealing onions. And in 1791, a 63-year-old woman called Sarah Douglas was transported to New South Wales [Australia] for seven years for stealing table linen. The Islamist insurgent group Shabab is forcibly removing gold and silver teeth from residents in southern Somalia because it says they contravene strict religious law. The happiest men are ages 60 to 69, while the least happy are ages 20 to 29. With the exception of those with age-dementia, mental health tends to improve as people get older .... Older adults report fewer negative emotional experiences and greater emotional control than young adults do .... Older adults mostly interact with close friends and family members, instead of new friends or acquaintances. This fits in with the idea that using established social connections brings about more positive social experiences and increased well-being .... [Also,] older adults who are retired do not have exposure to stressful work situations. ... Older adults limit the time they spend thinking about the negative aspects of a situation, and focus on the positive aspects more than younger adults. ... Older adults tend to recall negative emotional experiences from the past as less intense, and think of memories more positively in general. While most of the derisive commentary on Mrs. Clinton’s flash of temper contextualized it by noting that her husband had just been lauded for his trip to North Korea, few noted that she was in the middle of a trip to Congo, where the plight of women, many of whom suffered violent sexual abuse during recent fighting, is a major issue. NASA's Cassini spacecraft is currently in orbit around Saturn, but it only flies by [Saturn's earth-like moon] Titan once every six weeks or so. Earth's population will reach 7 billion people in 2011 .... In the year 1900, there were just 1.6 billion people. After nine days on a high-fat diet, the rats took longer to complete a maze and made more mistakes in the process than their low-fat-diet counterparts. [Scientists may eventually be able to] reconstruct a song that a person has heard ... [by examining] the activity pattern in their brain. A US-born child has 160 times more impact on the environment than a child born in Bangladesh. Researchers studied 167 people who they believed were suffering from early signs of Alzheimer's. ... People with closer relationships to their caretakers (mostly the ones with their spouses) had a much slower progression of symptoms of dementia over a one to three year period. A Spanish study found that women who [drink beer] have stronger bones, making them less vulnerable to osteoporosis. It seems beer's health benefits are in its high level of silicon .... Beer is also teeming with phytoestrogens, aka plant versions of estrogen. Melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would change the focus of the planet's gravitational field and sea levels would rise disproportionately around North America and the Indian Ocean. Across America, major cities have experienced a significant drop in violent crime, a definition which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. They include once-notorious crime hubs like New York and Los Angeles, both of which are on track for their lowest homicide rates in 40 years. ... In New York, murder has dropped ... 77.2% since 1993. ... Crime rates were relatively low during the Great Depression compared with the Roaring Twenties, when there was more violence across America. ... Chief Lanier stresses that new technology alone cannot fight crime. She has introduced a number of initiatives aimed at building relationships with the community, including All Hands On Deck, whereby every police officer in DC goes out simultaneously on foot patrol. The introduction of these measures has led to a greater volume of tip-offs from the public. [Sounds like the police have learned from the Iraq war. Theory: if the police had been doing their jobs well in the 1990s, the U.S. would have had more productive attitudes and expectations going into Baghdad.] China has scaled back its plans to install controversial net filtering software on its citizens' computers. ... In June, the government said that all PCs would have to have the ... software installed to filter out objectionable material. ... The plan was to prevent "obscenity" from "poisoning the young." Parts of India are on track for severe water shortages .... [Also, due to climate change,] the area of South Asia suitable for wheat [is] forecast to halve over the next 50 years. A German politician has unleashed a new weapon to soften up voters in Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel's bust, alongside her own. ... "We have more to offer" is the slogan on the poster .... The shot of Mrs Merkel sporting an evening gown with plunging neckline was taken at the 2008 opening of Oslo's opera house. Other sports have been linked with early-onset arthritis in knees. In a British study, almost half of the middle-aged, formerly elite soccer players were found to have crippling, bone-on-bone arthritis in at least one knee. Former weight lifters also have a high incidence of the condition, as do retired N.F.L. players. ... [But] runners don’t seem prone to degenerating knees. An important ... [study] followed middle-aged, longtime distance runners (not necessarily marathoners) for nearly 20 years, ... [starting] in their 50s or 60s. ... After 20 years ... barely 2 percent of the runners’ knees were severely arthritic, while almost 10 percent of the control group’s were. ... Running may actually shield somewhat against arthritis, in part because the knee develops a kind of motion groove. ... It grows accustomed to those particular movements. ... But if this exquisite balance is disturbed, usually by an injury, the loading mechanisms shift .... The biggest predictor of injury is previous injury .... The runners we studied were still running, well into their 70s and 80s. ... They averaged [only] 90 minutes a week. But they were still running. The European Union [may be] losing the will to absorb nations from Southern and Eastern Europe and thereby stabilize those regions. ... The European Union is shifting gears because of several factors: cooling public opinion toward expansion, the economic crisis and the difficulty the bloc is experiencing in integrating Bulgaria and Romania. Last week, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, published a report outlining continuing corruption problems in Bulgaria and Romania .... Even Poles, who are firm supporters of expansion, are concluding that reforms need to be put in place before new nations are admitted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that at least 100,000 road crashes are caused by driver fatigue each year. The wild tiger population is at a tipping point, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Tigers are experiencing a range collapse, occupying 40 per cent less habitat than just a decade ago, the group estimates. There may be as few as 1,300 tigers left in India, the species' stronghold. Where the space station roams, some 220 miles (354 km) up, the force of gravity is still about 90 percent what it is here on the surface. ... [But] the space shuttle typically travels at a blistering 17,000 to 18,000 mph around the Earth to stay aloft. That continuous free fall around the planet gives astronauts the impression of being weightless. [Middle-aged] divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer than married people. They also have 23 percent more mobility limitations, such as trouble climbing stairs or walking a block. ... If people have done this and remarried, we still see, in their health, the scars or marks -- the damage that was done by this event. ... Think of divorce as one of the most intense stressors. It leads to what we call dysregulation [impairment] in key cardiovascular process that may be permanently altered. “What’s an amputee’s favorite restaurant?” asked a soldier who recently lost both legs in Iraq. Answer: IHOP. Not everyone can get away with making that joke, but for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, that’s exactly the type of humor that helps them heal faster and come to grips with [their] life-changing injuries .... At Walter Reed, soldiers rely on doctors, nurses and physical therapists to help heal their physical wounds, but often look to one another for emotional support, a sort of funny, unofficial support group that’s always meeting in hospital rooms and common areas. ... Consider the time Keith Blanchard, who lost his left leg in Iraq in 2005, went out to eat after being released from Walter Reed. He stabbed his prosthetic leg with a steak knife and pretended to howl in pain. Another time he took off his prosthetic leg before a roller coaster ride and briefly tricked other riders in line into believing he lost his leg on the ride. "It gave me a sense of identity," she says. "I really liked the purpose behind the hijab -- a woman covering herself so that a man should know her for her mind, not her body." Despite the old saying “opposites attract,” scholars have found that in almost every way imaginable, people tend to choose mates who look, sound and act as they do. But in the area perhaps most fraught with potential conflict — money — somehow, some way, people gravitate toward their polar opposite .... The major previously identified exception to that rule is on dominant and submissive personalities, traits for which opposites do tend to attract. ... Perhaps this disconnect between the qualities people say they want and the spouses they actually choose happens because people don’t talk about money, relationship experts say. [When researchers] injected the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) into rats suffering spinal cord injuries, the rodents were able to walk again, albeit with a limp. [BBG is the dye found in blue M&Ms.] As soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, women have done nearly as much in battle as their male counterparts: patrolled streets with machine guns, served as gunners on vehicles, disposed of explosives, and driven trucks down bomb-ridden roads. They have proved indispensable in their ability to interact with and search Iraqi and Afghan women for weapons, a job men cannot do for cultural reasons. The Marine Corps has created revolving units — “lionesses” — dedicated to just this task. A small number of women have even conducted raids, engaging the enemy directly in total disregard of existing policies. ... More than a dozen countries allow women in some or all ground combat occupations. Among those pushing boundaries most aggressively is Canada, which has recruited women for the infantry and sent them to Afghanistan. ... In 2008, 57 women were serving as generals and admirals in the active-duty military, more than double the number a decade earlier. In some agricultural regions of the U.K., persistent labor shortages result in perfectly good produce spoiling in the field before it has the chance to be harvested. ... Scientists at the U.K.'s National Physical Laboratory are at the helm of a public-private partnership resulting in robotic crop monitoring, measurement and harvesting. The parents of most young children can be confident that stealing is a pretty routine behavior. ... You shouldn’t do as some parents have, and rush out to organize a “scared straight” tour of the local correctional facilities to show your 7-year-old where a life of crime will lead. “They need to be stopped, they need to pay it back and they need to apologize,” she said, “but they shouldn’t be taken to the county jail or treated as if they’re bound to be criminals forever.” Traces of cocaine taint up to 90 percent of paper money in the United States. Sleep paralysis can be a terrifying experience for the near 50 percent of people who have had an episode. It's the middle of the night, your eyes are open, dark shapes are gathering around you, something has grabbed your feet, and you can't move. You can't even scream. ... Wakefulness has occurred, but the body and part of the brain is still in REM sleep. "In the Christian world," wrote [Graham] Greene, "we have grown accustomed to the idea of a spiritual war, of God and Satan." But, he added, in this [African] supernatural world there was "neither good nor evil", simply power, a concept that was beyond our "sympathetic comprehension." Thirty-four people went to hospital and dozens were treated for sickness after strong perfume was sprayed by a woman in a Texas bank. 75 percent of Americans may not be getting enough vitamin D. It is possible to fabricate DNA evidence. If you dip your hand in hot water, if someone is standing there beside you, then you feel less pain. Sometimes, out of guilt or misunderstanding, family members insist that “everything that can be done should be done” to keep their dying relatives alive as long as possible. But as the main character in Dr. Gordon’s book puts it, “I wish more people knew the misery of ‘everything.’ ” The nude body of a former swimsuit model found last weekend in Orange County was identified through her breast implants' serial number. It is ironic that ancient Greeks lived into their 70s and older, while more than 2,000 years later modern Americans aren't living much longer. Hunter-gatherers with fairly simple technology were actively degrading some marine ecosystems tens of thousands of years ago. As long as the sun or moon was out, the volunteers were able to walk in a straight line, more or less. But on cloudy days or when there was no moon, they looped back on themselves, often several times. ... You cannot trust your own senses at all .... Just about everybody who has spent considerable time in the woods has probably experienced being lost and feeling as if they have become turned around .... One way to try to walk in a straight line is to set your sights on a nearby tree, walk to it, find another tree in the same direction and walk to that, and so on. But even with a compass it is difficult to maintain a straight course, as little errors will compound themselves. .... “Your job as the lost person is to sit down,” he said. “By moving you make everybody’s job more difficult.” “All carnivorous plants have evolved to catch insects but the biggest ones, such as this one, can eat rats and frogs,” McPherson told LiveScience. “It’s truly remarkable that a plant this big has been undiscovered for so long.” People who are high in conscientiousness live longer than their impulsive friends. One of the theories is that such conscientious individuals have self-discipline and so are more likely to exercise regularly, take their meds and go to the doctor .... More recent studies are showing that people who are open-minded also live longer. For the first time, a building block of proteins — and hence of life as we know it — has been found in a comet. That adds to the prevailing notion that many of the ingredients for the origin of life showered down on the early Earth [from comets]. "What worries me: time and time again," writes Brendan Skwire in the Philadelphia Weekly about the circuses which are currently passing for Democrats' town hall meetings on healthcare, "[is that] the needs of the stupid and disingenuous are not only treated as valid concerns, but as the greatest concerns." Well, yes. This being the United States, one of the most gleefully anti-intellectual nations on earth, stupid people aren't pathetic dolts to be pitied or perhaps sent to a reeducation camp. They're the shining example we're supposed to look up to. Obamacare, whatever it is or was going to be once the President saw fit to share it with the public, is dead. ... Obama's Democrats have a presidential mandate, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a commanding lead in the House - yet they still haven't pushed through a single significant bit of liberal legislation. ... [Obama] didn't so much lose the healthcare debate to right-wing attack ads as he argued with himself so long that he ended up winning - and therefore losing. Rather than demand socialized medicine, he proposed a "public option," whatever that meant, in a doomed bid to gain political cover by convincing a few moderate Republicans to break ranks. ... Old-school Democrats like FDR and LBJ didn't bother to appeal to Americans' non-existent intellects. They rammed through laws that improved people's lives. People like to live better. So they stuck. Obama should have done the same. There was something peculiarly Obama-esque about the simultaneous embrace of the Iranian cause through Twitter and the reluctance to back formal support from any Western government. The men who jogged or otherwise exercised fairly intensely for at least 30 minutes a day had a 50 percent reduction in the risk of dying prematurely from cancer. ... Women over age 30 who defined themselves as “highly competitive” by disposition and who exercised more than the average for the group had much less risk of developing breast cancer than women who worked out for less than 60 minutes per week. ... Women who walked briskly for five to six hours a week were much less likely to develop colon cancer than those who strolled for 30 minutes per week. The amygdala, an area of the brain associated with emotion, was more active when exposed to the skydivers' sweat than to the runners' sweat. ... Participants could not discriminate between the sweat samples based on smell alone. ... People tended to discriminate better between neutral and angry faces when exposed to the "stress" sweat. Never stifle a generous impulse. Contrary to popular belief – Wednesdays, not Mondays, are the most grim day of the week. That's because on Mondays, memories of the weekend are still fresh. Researchers from Indiana University analysed data on 3.8m people diagnosed with cancer between 1973 and 2004. They found people who were married had a 63% chance of surviving five years, compared to 45% of people who were separated .... The team said the stress of break-up probably affected survival rates. [Another expert suggested that living with someone increases the likelihood of noticing and responding to early symptoms.] People who were persistently concerned about losing their jobs reported significantly worse overall health in both studies and were more depressed in one of the studies than those who had actually lost and regained their jobs recently," said Sarah Burgard, a sociologist at the University of Michigan. "In fact, chronic job insecurity was a stronger predictor of poor health than either smoking or hypertension in one of the groups we studied." The more you can multitask, the worse you are at it. ... Students were separated into heavy and light multitaskers, and the ones who could take in more information were slower at completing tasks, had more trouble filtering irrelevant information and took longer to refocus between tasks. A recent analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries has revealed that the world's finances are in the hands of just a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. Obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals To build a structure of living trees, researchers begin with white willows planted at ground level. Then they add temporary steel scaffolding, planting additional trees in specially designed containers. As the trees grow, the architect/arborists graft them together, so that they become a single living organism. Over time, as the root and branch structure strengthens, the steel scaffolding is removed -- and a living tree house is left standing. In spring, of course, the tree house sprouts leaves -- creating living walls of green. Creation of a living structure is just a first step. Next, as the structure strengthens, the team plans to add three zinc-coated platforms. The total time required to plant, build and complete the structure is estimated at eight to nine years. College students have clearly noticed the more self-centered traits of their peers – it’s fascinating how honest they are about diagnosing their generation’s downsides … And students are right about the influence of social networking sites – research has shown that narcissistic people thrive on sites like Facebook, where self-centered people have more friends and post more attractive pictures of themselves. A Stanford University study found that a father’s projected attention to and remarks about a daughter’s weight may increase her risk of eating disorders. A University of Minnesota study found that children whose parents encouraged diets were significantly more likely to remain overweight than those whose parents didn’t. A new, super-comfy, "smart" undershirt from HealthWear can monitor your heart and other vital signs while you watch TV and drink a Bud. ... The embedded sensors include a six-lead electrocardiograph (ECG), respiration movement, pulse rate and skin temperature monitors, in addition to an external oximeter to measure blood oxygen saturation and a 3D accelerometer inside the PPU to measure body position. The data are then transmitted via a secure GPRS mobile connection to a central server. All this is available in a comfortable, easy-to-wear shirt made of a smart fabric that's not only reliable but is also comfortable, practical and great for everyday wear. Depressed people are very good at thinking intensely about a problem in a highly analytical fashion. [In one study,] women with higher levels of testosterone [were seven times] more likely to take financial risks than their counterparts with lower testosterone levels.