Saturday, December 31, 2011

Scientists cure cancer, but no one notices....

Scientists cure cancer but no one takes notice. Sun, 15 May 2011 17:05 CDT Canadian researchers find a simple cure for cancer, but major pharmaceutical companies are not interested.

Researchers at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada have cured cancer last week, yet there is a little ripple in the news or in TV. It is a simple technique using very basic drug. The method employs dichloroacetate, which is currently used to treat metabolic disorders. So, there is no concern of side effects or about their long term effects.

This drug doesn't require a patent, so anyone can employ it widely and cheaply compared to the costly cancer drugs produced by major pharmaceutical companies.

Canadian scientists tested this dichloroacetate (DCA) on human's cells; it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells and left the healthy cells alone. It was tested on Rats inflicted with severe tumors; their cells shrank when they were fed with water supplemented with DCA. The drug is widely available and the technique is easy to use, why the major drug companies are not involved? Or the Media interested in this find?

In human bodies there is a natural cancer fighting human cell, the mitochondria, but they need to be triggered to be effective. Scientists used to think that these mitochondria cells were damaged and thus ineffective against cancer. So they used to focus on glycolysis, which is less effective in curing cancer and more wasteful. The drug manufacturers focused on this glycolysis method to fight cancer. This DCA on the other hand doesn't rely on glycolysis instead on mitochondria; it triggers the mitochondria which in turn fights the cancer cells.

The side effect of this is it also reactivates a process called apoptosis. You see, mitochondria contain an all-too-important self-destruct button that can't be pressed in cancer cells. Without it, tumors grow larger as cells refuse to be extinguished. Fully functioning mitochondria, thanks to DCA, can once again die.

With glycolysis turned off, the body produces less lactic acid, so the bad tissue around cancer cells doesn't break down and seed new tumors.

Pharmaceutical companies are not investing in this research because DCA method cannot be patented, without a patent they can't make money, like they are doing now with their AIDS Patent. Since the pharmaceutical companies won't develop this, the article says other independent laboratories should start producing this drug and do more research to confirm all the above findings and produce drugs. All the groundwork can be done in collaboration with the Universities, who will be glad to assist in such research and can develop an effective drug for curing cancer.

You can access the original research for this cancer here.

This article wants to raise awareness for this study, hope some independent companies and small startup will pick up this idea and produce these drugs, because the big companies won't touch it for a long time.

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Hundred Million Dollar Penny

Debt or Taxes – the battle of our time

SOURCE Article (in part- please see source for full article)
Debt or Taxes – the battle of our time by Golem XIV on NOVEMBER 23, 2011 in LATEST ....................................................................................... Debt is to the free market and its political agenda as taxes are to democracy. Both are THE ultimate source of power for their respective worlds. Taxes are what gives governments their power. Debt is what gives banks and the financial system its power. It has no other. ..................................................... The power to tax your future work and wealth is what gives the government a guarantee of income and therefore of power stretching away in to the future. Debt does exactly the same for the world of private finance and ‘free markets’. Debt and taxes are in direct competition. They are both claims on the future, our future. ... .......................................................................... .... The competition is not just financial it is crucially political. Paying taxes supports the workings and power of nation states and ties us all to the nation state and to the politics of democratically electing governments. Taking on private debts whether personally or collectively, replaces loyalty to and concern for the nation state with concern for the banks and the private financial system they make up. Whichever of the two claims we are persuaded takes precedence and is the most important, takes hold of the reigns of power and has the final say in what we do today and where we are headed tomorrow. The system of private finance and debt is right now claiming that precedence and our politicians are helping them. We are being betrayed. ............................................................................................... ....... We are no longer making financial decisions within the context of a democratic system based upon nation states. We are choosing between that 19th century system and a new private-debt based system in which neither the nation state nor its democratic traditions have any standing nor power. The decisions that are being made for us and around us, often in spite of our voiced concerns, are transferring power from the nation state system to the private global financial system. From governance to management. From democracy to oligarchic technocracy. ............................................................................................... ....................... Bailing out the banks and the wider system of private debt finance is a directly political act. Though that is not being made clear. Perhaps it is even being deliberately disguised. We are told bailing out the banks is purely a matter of practical and expedient necessity. A temporary financial matter. It is not. It is a fundamental shift in power.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Death of Common Sense

I take no credit for this: I am just echoing this powerful piece and passing it onwards.
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense , who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: - Knowing when to come in out of the rain; - Why the early bird gets the worm; - Life isn't always fair; - and maybe it was my fault. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights I Want It Now Someone Else Is To Blame I'm A Victim Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Rats Free Trapped Friends, Hint at Universal Empathy

Rats Free Trapped Friends
Rats Free Trapped Friends, Hint at Universal Empathy By Brandon Keim December 8, 2011 | 2:00 pm | Categories: Animals, Brains and Behavior With a few liberating swipes of their paws, a group of research rats freed trapped labmates and raised anew the possibility that empathy isn’t unique to humans and a few extra-smart animals, but is widespread in the animal world. Though more studies are needed on the rats’ motivations, it’s at least plausible they demonstrated “empathically motivated pro-social behavior.” People would generally call that helpfulness, or even kindness. “Rats help other rats in distress. That means it’s a biological inheritance,” said neurobiologist Peggy Mason of the University of Chicago. “That’s the biological program we have.” In a study published Dec. 7 in Science, Mason and University of Chicago psychologists Jean Decety and Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal describe their rat empathy-testing apparatus: An enclosure into which pairs of rats were placed, with one roaming free and the other restrained inside a plastic tube. It could only be opened from the outside, which is exactly what the free rats did — again and again and again, seemingly in response to their trapped companions’ distress. The experiment built on research conducted several years ago by geneticist Jeff Mogil at McGill University, where mice were shown capable of “emotional contagion” — a slightly scary-sounding term denoting a tendency to become upset when cagemates were in pain. This might not seem surprising, but anecdotes from wild animal observations don’t pass academic scrutiny, and it hadn’t before been shown in captive mice. It hinted at unexpectedly sophisticated cognition: Mice were supposed to feel pain, but not each other’s, at least not outside children’s stories. At the time, ethologist Frans de Waal of Emory University, whose work has helped redefine what’s known about thoughts and feelings in chimpanzees and dolphins and elephants, said Mogil’s experiment “justifies speaking of ‘empathy’” — the ability to both put oneself in the shoes, or paws, of another, and to become emotionally involved in their situation. Sure, mice almost certainly weren’t so empathic as humans, but maybe they had the seeds of it. Maybe empathy wasn’t the result of some high-powered cognitive process, as most biologists and psychologists preferred to think, but a relatively simple phenomenon. Wrote de Waal in Scientific American, “This mouse experiment suggests that the emotional component of this process is at least as old as the mammals and runs deep within us.” Still, it was hard to know what to think, and emotional contagion didn’t equal empathy. Maybe the mice were simply fearful for themselves. But the possibility was open for investigation. And around the same time as the McGill studies, Bartal — then researching cancer in Israel — noticed rats at her lab becoming distressed when surgeries were performed on other rats. She couldn’t shake the feeling that empathy was involved. When she read about a rat bringing food to a trapped rat, she again thought about empathy. Bartal went to the University of Chicago, where she joined with Decety, a leading scholar on empathy and prosocial behavior, and Mason, who’d been intrigued by Mogil’s work. Together they designed the new study — and not only did they find what might be empathy, but the rats acted on it. Once rats learned to free their trapped and agitated partners, they did so almost immediately in trial after trial. The behavior was clearly deliberate. When the restrainer was empty, rats ignored it. When stuffed rats were restrained, the rats ignored them. “It’s compelling evidence that it’s the distress of the trapped cagemate motivating this helping behavior,” said Mason. “It is a huge leap up to use emotional contagion to actually do something, to actually help another individual.” To make sure the rats weren’t responding to some immediate social reward — a rat version of a thank-you hug — the researchers tweaked the apparatus so that trapped rats were released into a separate cage. Again, the rats freed each other. When given the opportunity to eat chocolate treats first, rats were as likely to release their companions first, and even shared the chocolate with them. “Empathy is a truly powerful motivator, on a par with the desire for chocolate!” said de Waal, who was not involved in the new study. According to de Waal, the results “show for the first time that rodents are not just affected by the emotions of others, but that empathy motivates altruism.” He believes the rats responded to an instinctive urge to make their compatriots feel better, just as humans and chimpanzees and some cetaceans do. “The mechanism must ancient,” said de Waal. However, the researchers stopped short of ascribing the results to a conclusive display of empathy. It’s possible the rats were less concerned with alleviating the suffering of brethren than soothing their own upset feelings. Perhaps the trapped rats’ distress calls were simply loud and annoying, and the free rats wanted to quiet them. One potentially important experimental condition — the opportunity for free rats to simply leave — wasn’t tested. “The reservation I have is that it’s very difficult to demonstrate empathy. You have to show that the animal is putting itself in another’s shoes, and I’m not sure that’s demonstrated here,” said Joshua Plotnik, an Emory University psychologist and collaborator with de Waal. But Plotnik still called the observations “very exciting.” 'Nature made it rewarding for us to end the suffering of another.'According to Mason, further tests are planned in which rats’ stress responses will be damped by drugs. If a rat feels no distress itself but still frees a trapped companion, or if a trapped rat expresses no distress but is still rescued, empathy will seem more likely. “We can figure this question out. It’s completely tractable,” said Mason. “And this experimental model is unbelievably easy to set up. It’s our fervent hope this model will be used by many people to look at helping behavior.” Cognitive mechanisms thought to underlie empathy and helpfulness could be tested, Mason said. So could the effects of personality traits, sex differences — females rats seemed more helpful, which tracks with studies of chimps and humans — or genetic and environmental variables. Indeed, the tests needn’t be restricted to rats, but could involve any species amenable to captivity. For Bartal, whether rats were motivated by their companions’ distress or their own is less interesting than the simple fact they responded at all. “The bottom line here is that nature is very smart. Nature made it rewarding for us to end the suffering of another,” she said. While the researchers didn’t discuss mechanisms underlying the possible empathy, Bartal and de Waal suspect it’s linked to the lengthy care and nursing provided, as in all mammals, by mother rats. “Mammals that need nurture and care after they’re born would require some form of empathic connection between mother and offspring,” Bartal said. Sociality could be another important factor. Rats live in large family groups with complex hierarchies, and empathy is especially important in social settings. Rats also share basic neurological features, such as a highly developed limbic system and various hormones and neurotransmitters, with all other mammals. These could provide a common ancestral origin for empathy, said Bartal, or evolution could have shaped them independently in converging ways. All roads could lead to empathy. Of course, mammals don’t have a monopoly on intelligence or sociality or maternal care. Octopi are extraordinarily smart. So are many birds, which also care for their young and can live in large colonies. The seeds of empathy, if that’s what the rats have, could be scattered widely. “Nature has an interesting way of using different structures for similar functions,” said Bartal. Image: A rat helps another escape from a cage. (Bartal et al./Science) Citation: “Empathy and Pro-Social Behavior in Rats.” By Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal, Jean Decety, Peggy Mason. Science, Vol. 334 Issue 6061, Dec. 9, 2011.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's about time...

About time: What is it? 10 October 2011 by Stuart Clark
Read more: "About time: Adventures in the fourth dimension" WHAT is time? It is a question that has occupied some of the greatest minds, from the ancient philosophers to the scientists of the Enlightenment and beyond. Yet after thousands of years of contemplation and scientific progress, there remains no consensus about its nature. "We can recognise time but we do not understand it," says philosopher Julian Barbour. "It is remarkable that there's so little agreement on what time is or even how to investigate a solution." This may be because a deep understanding of time has proved almost superfluous to our progress. In physics, for example, Newton's laws of motion, Einstein's general relativity and quantum theory do not require us to know the nature of time in order to make them work. Even clock-makers do not need to understand time. Clocks, however, do give us a clue about where to concentrate our efforts because a clock needs some kind of moving part to gauge the passing of time. This can be the tick-tock of an escapement, an oscillating quartz crystal or the ejection of a particle from a radioactive atom - one way or another, there must be movement. When something moves, it changes. So clocks tell us that time is inextricably linked somehow to change. Yet that only takes us so far. From this point, there are two paths that lead to completely opposing views of time. The first concludes that time is a real, fundamental property of the universe. Like space or mass, it exists in itself. It provides the framework in which events take place. This was the view taken by Isaac Newton, who realised that to quantify motion, you have to treat time as if it is as solid as the walls of a house. Only then can you confidently measure how far and how fast an object is moving. Einstein got rid of this notion of rigidity by showing that time passes at different rates depending upon an observer's motion and the strength of gravity pulling on them. His theory abandons the notion that space and time exist in themselves and he even went so far as to say "time is nothing but a stubbornly persistent illusion". Yet space-time can still provide a useful reference frame against which to measure the cosmos, or as physicist Brian Greene writes in his book The Fabric of the Cosmos: "space-time is a something". The second path leads to the idea that change is the fundamental property of the universe and that time emerges from our mental efforts to organise the changing world we see around us. Newton's great rival Gottfried Leibniz favoured this style of interpretation, which suggests that time is not real but created inside our brains. So we are faced with a conundrum: is time real? Physicists and philosophers are still very much debating the issue, not least because quantum mechanics muddies the issue further. One of the main reasons, though, is that the answers could lead us towards a "theory of everything" that would explain all the particles and forces of nature (see "Countdown to the theory of everything"). Another question looms large too. If time is real, where did it come from? Until recently, most physicists assumed that it was created in the big bang when matter, energy and space itself were born. Any notion that time existed before the big bang was therefore considered irrelevant. Now, however, they are not so sure. "We have no right to claim that the universe and time started at the big bang, or had some sort of prehistory," says Sean Carroll at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Both options are very much on the table, and personally I favour the idea that the universe has lasted forever." String theories are what have led to this re-evaluation. In these hypothetical extensions to standard physics, reality is composed of more dimensions than our familiar four. Although we cannot directly perceive these other realms, they provide places for alternate universes to exist. These universes bud off from each other in a perpetual sequence of big bangs, meaning that our universe was born from another and so time did exist before our big bang. Previous universes may even have left hints of themselves on ours. In 2008, Carroll and colleagues hinted that peculiarities in the radiation leftover from the big bang may be the signature of earlier universes ( Last year Roger Penrose at the University of Oxford and Vahe Gurzadyan at Yerevan State University in Armenia went much further and argued that circular patterns in this cosmic microwave background (CMB) were evidence of a sequence of previous universes and big bangs ( We will have an opportunity to test these ideas when the European Space Agency's Planck satellite releases its map of the CMB in a few years' time. For the moment there is simply no way of escaping the fiendish difficulty of these questions, nor can we conceive of the profundity their answers will one day bring. Now, more than ever, we have to face up to our ignorance about time.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Thinking Doggie-Style
Has our long shared history with dogs shaped their brains - and ours?
By David Hambling
December 2010

Photo by Etienne Gilfillan


A common – if unlikely – claim made by dog owners is: “He understands every word you say.” But scientists are increasingly finding that it might be truer than you think. The evidence suggests that the two species have moulded each other over a long period of co-evolution, and have developed sophisticated communications in the process.

Arch├Žological findings show that dogs were first domesticated at least 10,000 years ago, with one find at the Goyet Cave in Belgium recorded in 2008 possibly pushing that back to 30,000 years. Genetic studies indicate that the process of domestication that split dogs from wolves may date as far back as 100,000 years. And the relationship may have started long before that, as some arch├Žological finds put humans and wolves in the same place 400,000 years ago.

The aptly named biologist Wolfgang Schleidt suggests that the two came together in Northern Europe at a time when humans – either Homo sapiens or the earlier H.erectus or H.heidelbergensis – existed in small nomadic groups. Humans joined wolves in their following of migratory reindeer, and the two races of hunter-scavengers started working together.

The success of the wolf pack hinges on the members’ ability to work together without conflict and share the kill. Recent work with dogs shows that they have a sense of ‘fair play’, previously thought to be limited to primates. The experiment at the University of Vienna involved training dogs to extend a paw. The dogs were happy to perform this trick with or without a reward when on their own. But if they were with another dog which received a reward when they did not, the dogs quickly refused to play.

We don’t know yet whether wolves share this attitude. Some have suggested that dogs became attuned to fairness as an adaptation for living with humans. This seems questionable: the phrase “a dog’s life” dates back to the 17th century, meaning “a life of misery, or of miserable subservience”.

Perhaps humans gained their own notions of fairness from their companions during the period when the two worked together. Wolfgang Schleidt sugg­ests that “wolves and dogs, with their remarkable capacity for co-operation and loyalty, were both role models and companions on this long trek toward humanity.”[1]

Sherlock Holmes once noted the curious silence of a dog, which failed to bark in the night (clear evidence to the great detective that an intruder was known to the dog). However, what is really curious is that dogs bark at all. Barking is rare among wolves, whose vocal commun­ications are generally howls or growls. Barking appears to have been evolved to talk to people.

Barking is more effective at getting human attention than growling. Peter Pongracz, a behavioural biologist at Eotvos University in Budapest, has shown that the pattern of barking is different for aggression, loneliness and happiness. Pongracz’s team recorded hundreds of different barks from different situations. Not only were the barks consistently differ­ent depending on the dog’s emotional state, but even people who had never owned a dog were able to correctly interpret them. Our long association with them means that understanding dogs is hardwired into the human psyche.

Humans and dogs also share the ability to follow a gaze or gesture to see what someone else is looking at or indicating. This is very unusual in nature – even chimpanzees have trouble with pointing tasks. However, the same team at Eotvos University also showed that dogs are capable of following both gaze and pointing. This should not come as any great surprise when you consider what Pointers are bred to do. Wolves are also capable of learning the same tricks, but it is much harder for them: unlike dogs they are not used to looking at humans.

Again, it would be interesting to know if pointing or gaze-following is a natural skill in wolves that humans – being mere primates and a bit slow – gradually acquired over time.

Dogs also read human facial expressions. A team at the University of Lincoln has found that dogs show what is termed ‘left gaze bias’. This is the tend­ency, when looking at a human face, to look left (i.e. at the right-hand side of the face) first, and to spend more time looking at this side. Left gaze bias has already been established as a human trait and only occurs when looking at faces. The reason for it is that emotions register more clearly and more intensely on the right side of the face. And dogs have been around humans long enough to have face-reading in their genes.

However, while it might seem that dogs and humans have evolved to understand each other very well, there is one huge gap. Children under the age of five have very little understanding of dog body language or barks and can’t tell a happy dog from an angry one. An excited child may try to hug this big fluffy toy, with disastrous results. Dogs and small children should always be supervised; possibly ancient humans didn’t leave children alone with dogs the way their modern descendents are prone to. Or perhaps evolution still has some work to do.

So far, research into dog-human communication has only scratched the surface; but the indications are that, even if they don’t catch every word, dogs understand us very well indeed because they shaped our brains as we shaped theirs.

1 WM Schleidt: “Apes

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Do dogs recognize death?

Last night as I was walking the two hounds, Xerxes and Emmy, we happened upon the corpse of a raven. This is the story of what happened during that 4 minute adventure.

Xerxes was the first to spot, approach and sniff the carcass. The bird was laying prostrate on it's back, talons clenched. Xerxes approached with apprehension and gingerly sniffed, ready to spring back at a moments notice. He sniffed the dead bird an moved on.

Emmy, on the other hand, showed a great deal of apprehension and caution. She crept over carefully, ready to spring back...but with even greater fright, as if she was approaching something quite dangerous. Finally she sniffed the corpse once and that's when the surprise kicked in. Emmy started nosing pine needles over the body in a very delicate and ginger manner. She very carefully and thoroughly covered the bird in pine needles, maneuvering herself all the way around the critter to do so. Only after the bird was completely buried did Emmy walk away from the raven.

Why is this event unusual, one may ask. It stood out in my mind because I have been reading a great deal about self-awareness, consciousness, language and even the recognition of death among different species of animals. So this event leads me to the questions:

What was the purpose of this burying behavior?

Was Emmy saving this bird for a future meal?

Did Emmy recognize that the bird was dead and in decay, thus needing to be covered to prevent other scavengers from entering the area?

Why was Xerxes reaction completely different than Emmy's reaction?

Were her actions altruistic? Was she showing some sort of inter-species respect for this animal? (She has encountered dead and dying squirrels before and never performed this behavior.)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What teachers really want to tell parentS

What teachers really want to tell parents

(CNN) -- This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.
I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."
Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.
So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?
For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.
Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.
Please quit with all the excuses
The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone.
Ron Clark
And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.
His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some "fun time" during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete.
Can you feel my pain?
Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.
Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor
And parents, you know, it's OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.
This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn't assume that because your child makes straight A's that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, "My child has a great teacher! He made all A's this year!"
Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it's usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal's office.
Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has "given" your child, you might need to realize your child "earned" those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.
And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.
Teachers walking on eggshells
I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster.
My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"
I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow's outstanding educators.
Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner.
If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me." If you aren't happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don't respect her, he won't either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.
We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.
That's a teacher's promise, from me to you

Why some Languages Sound So Fast


Slow Down! Why Some Languages Sound So Fast
By Jeffrey Kluger Thursday, Sept. 08, 2011

Read more:,8599,2091477,00.html#ixzz1XMPaNWb8

Here's one of the least-interesting paragraphs you've ever read: "Last night I opened the front door to let the cat out. It was such a beautiful night that I wandered down to the garden to get a breath of fresh air. Then I heard a click as the door closed behind me."
OK, it becomes a little less eye-glazing after that, with the speaker getting arrested while trying to force the door back open. Still, we ain't talking Noel Coward here. All the same, this perfectly ordinary passage and a few others like it are part of an intriguing study just published in the journal Language — a study that answers one of the longest-standing questions about human speech.
(Read why speaking more than one language may delay Alzheimer's.)
It's an almost universal truth that any language you don't understand sounds like it's being spoken at 200 miles per hour — a storm of alien syllables almost impossible to tease apart. That, we tell ourselves, is simply because the words make no sense to us. Surely our spoken English sounds just as fast to a native speaker of Urdu. And yet it's equally true that some languages seem to zip by faster than others. Spanish blows the doors off French; Japanese leaves German in the dust — or at least that's how they sound.
But how could that be? The dialogue in movies translated from English to Spanish doesn't whiz by in half the original time, after all, which is what it would have to do if the same lines were being spoken at doubletime. Similarly, Spanish films don't take four hours to unspool when they're translated into French. Somewhere among all the languages must be a great equalizer that keeps us conveying information at the same rate even if the speed limits vary from tongue to tongue.
To investigate this puzzle, researchers from the Universite de Lyon recruited 59 male and female volunteers who were native speakers of one of seven common languages — English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish — and one not so common one: Vietnamese. They instructed them all to read 20 different texts, including the one about the housecat and the locked door, into a recorder. All of the volunteers read all 20 passages in their native languages. Any silences that lasted longer than 150 milliseconds were edited out, but the recordings were left otherwise untouched.
(Read about the death of a language.)
The investigators next counted all of the syllables in each of the recordings, and further analyzed how much meaning was packed into each of those syllables. A single syllable word like "bliss," for example, is rich with meaning — signifying not ordinary happiness but a particularly serene and rapturous kind. The single syllable word "to" is less information-dense. And a single syllabile like the short i sound, as in the word "jubilee," has no independent meaning at all.
With this raw data in hand, the investigators crunched the numbers together to arrive at two critical values for each language: The average information density for each of its syllables and the average number of syllables spoken per second in ordinary speech. Vietnamese was used as a reference language for the other seven, with its syllables (which are considered by linguists to be very information dense) given an arbitrary value of 1.
For all of the other languages, the researchers discovered, the more data-dense the average syllable is, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and the slower the speech thus was. English, with a high information density of .91, is spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, was the spoken slowpoke at 5.18 syllables per second. Spanish, with a low-density .63, rips along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82. The true speed demon of the group, however, was Japanese, which edges past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49. Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.
"A tradeoff is operating between a syllable-based average information density and the rate of transmission of syllables," the researchers wrote. "A dense language will make use of fewer speech chunks than a sparser language for a given amount of semantic information." In other words, your ears aren't deceiving you: Spaniards really do sprint and Chinese really do stroll, but they will tell you the same story in the same span of time.
None of that, of course, makes the skull-cracking business of trying to learn a new language any easier. It does, however, serve as one more reminder that beneath all of the differences that separate Tagalog from Thai from Norwegian from Wolof from any one of the world's 6,800 other languages, lie some very simple, very common rules. The DNA of speech — like our actual DNA — makes us a lot closer to one another than we think.

Read more:,8599,2091477,00.html#ixzz1XMPGjmF2

Sunday, July 10, 2011

June 10, 2011

On June 10, 2011 I went to visit an old woman. I walked in and saw a frail woman lying in an hospital bed. I saw a woman who was dying. This was not the woman I went to see.

The woman I went to see was a woman of strungth, a woman of faith, a woman who raised six children and was the glue that kept her family together. The woman I went to see was a champion back-scratcher who always said the right words to those in need. Not that those words were always what one wanted to hear, but that those words were the most constructive and appropriate words that one needed to hear.

The woman I went to see wasn't thin and dying, but a woman who was full of life, vivacious and unwavering. She was a woman who was full of life, full of love and made those around her better because of it. The woman I went to see was surrounded by family in the best of times, as well as when times weren't so good. The woman I saw was surrounded by family and hospice workers.

One of the best things I've ever heard about this woman was the following: She was very easy to love. That was the woman I went to see. A matriarch of her family, proud, strong and firm in her beliefs. A woman who welcomed me into her family with open arms. A woman so full of love that it was never a doubt. Her name was Margaret K. Hirst, but I knew her as Grandma Hirst.

On June 11, 2011 she finally let go the ties to her life on earth. Even as she left this life, she had gotten one thing that she loved so dearly; Her family had come together, under one roof.

I remember as a child going to Saturday barbecues, Sunday dinners, Holiday meals. I remember the chaos of having so many grandchildren around, the red punch made with ginger-ale and a frozen mix of some kind floating in the punch bowl. I remember back stratches and hugs. I remember trips to the Chesapeake bay, to a cabin that smelled of old times and boiling crab. I remember how our family dog, Shiloh, used to lay at her feet as if saying "I am your protector." I'd like to think that somewhere on that other side, he's laying at her feet now, not having to protect her-simply enjoying her company.

The woman I went to see on June 10, 2011 was not the woman I saw. No, I think that the woman I saw on June 10, 2011 was more than I could expect to see. Laying in her bed she wasn't just Grandma Hirst, she was the matriarch, the mother, the grandmother, the great-grandmother, the friend, the shepherd, and the guardian to her family. I won't forget Margaret K. Hirst, my grandmother. I don't think that anyone whose life she touched will either. The old woman I went to see was not the old woman that I saw, not at all.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Aston Martin's phone concept...holy crap!

Aston Martin's Sexy New Cell Phone
Published Mar 29, 2011

Poor So-So Pretty Good Good Excellent PoorSo-SoPretty GoodGoodExcellent8 Ratings 8 RatingsJust the Facts:
In partnership with Mobiado, the Canadian luxury-phone maker, Aston Martin offers a glimpse at a dazzling new high-tech Android mobile phone.
The device consists of a transparent touchscreen made from a solid sapphire crystal, with the electronics built into the platinum sides.
The phone is designed to integrate with various vehicle functions, from the power door locks to the GPS nav system, and to provide onboard wireless connectivity to a variety of social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare.

BASEL, Switzerland — Aston Martin, in partnership with Mobiado, the Canadian luxury-phone maker, is offering a glimpse at a dazzling new high-tech Android mobile phone that would look completely at home on the Starship Enterprise.

Debuting at BaselWorld, the world watch and jewelry show, the new CPT002 Aston Martin Concept Phone is meant to whet consumers' appetites for the new Mobiado/Aston Martin mobile-phone collection that is slated to go on sale in May.

To say the CPT002 concept phone is high-tech doesn't begin to do this communications gadget justice.

The most sensational feature of the phone is a see-through capacitive touchscreen made from a solid sapphire crystal that displays the usual Android icons when in use, but is otherwise virtually transparent when powered down. The phone's electronics, battery and SIM card are built into the platinum sides.

Mobiado envisions a device that will integrate itself with various functions on your Aston Martin, from the power door locks and the safety hardware to the GPS nav system.

The CPT002 also is designed to provide in-vehicle wireless connectivity to a variety of social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare, automatically updating your social-media accounts with your current location (from the GPS) plus images from the car's onboard cameras.

Inside Line says: Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any near-term plan to produce this exotic phone, whose purpose, according to Mobiado, is "to push the boundaries of invention, allowing concept ideas to be identified for future production designs." — Paul Lienert, Correspondent

Friday, March 18, 2011

Loyalty between dogs

It's not just a myth. Couldn't we be more like them?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How 'OK' took over the world

Source Article

18 How 'OK' took over the world OK is everywhere, used every day

It crops up in our speech dozens of times every day, although it apparently means little. So how did the word "OK" conquer the world, asks Allan Metcalf.

"OK" is one of the most frequently used and recognised words in the world.

It is also one of the oddest expressions ever invented. But this oddity may in large measure account for its popularity.

It's odd-looking. It's a word that looks and sounds like an abbreviation, an acronym.

We generally spell it OK - the spelling okay is relatively recent, and still relatively rare - and we pronounce it not "ock" but by sounding the names of the letters O and K.

Visually, OK pairs the completely round O with the completely straight lines of K.

Almost every language has an O vowel, a K consonant, and an A vowel. So OK is a very distinctive combination of very familiar elements. And that's one reason it's so successful. OK stands apart.

Ordinarily a word so odd, so distinctive from others, wouldn't be allowed in a language to begin with. As a general rule, a language allows new words only when they resemble familiar ones.

Clever coinages may be laughed at and enjoyed, but hardly ever adopted by users of the language.

So it was in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, in the late 1830s, when newspaper editors enjoyed inventing fanciful abbreviations, like "WOOOFC" for "with one of our first citizens" and OW for "all right".

Needless to say, neither of these found a permanent place in the language. But they provided the unusual context that enabled the creation of OK.

On 23 March 1839, OK was introduced to the world on the second page of the Boston Morning Post, in the midst of a long paragraph, as "o.k. (all correct)".

OK may have originated from a comical misspelling How this weak joke survived at all, instead of vanishing like its counterparts, is a matter of lucky coincidence involving the American presidential election of 1840.

One candidate was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and there was a false tale that a previous American president couldn't spell properly and thus would approve documents with an "OK", thinking it was the abbreviation for "all correct".

Within a decade, people began actually marking OK on documents and using OK on the telegraph to signal that all was well. So OK had found its niche, being easy to say or write and also distinctive enough to be clear.

But there was still only restricted use of OK. The misspelled abbreviation may have implied illiteracy to some, and OK was generally avoided in anything but business contexts, or in fictional dialogue by characters deemed to be rustic or illiterate.

Indeed, by and large American writers of fiction avoided OK altogether, even those like Mark Twain who freely used slang.

But in the 20th Century OK moved from margin to mainstream, gradually becoming a staple of nearly everyone's conversation, no longer looked on as illiterate or slang.

Its true origin was gradually forgotten. OK used such familiar sounds that speakers of other languages, hearing it, could rethink it as an expression or abbreviation in their own language.

Thus it was taken into the Choctaw Native American language, whose expression "okeh" meant something like "it is so".

US President Woodrow Wilson, early in the 20th Century, lent his prestige by marking okeh on documents he approved.

And soon OK was to find its place in many languages as a reminder of a familiar word or abbreviation.

But what makes OK so useful that we incorporate it into so many conversations?

It's not that it was needed to "fill a gap" in any language. Before 1839, English speakers had "yes", "good", "fine", "excellent", "satisfactory", and "all right".

What OK provided that the others did not was neutrality, a way to affirm or to express agreement without having to offer an opinion.

Consider this dialogue: "Let's meet again this afternoon."

Reply: "OK."

Compare that with: "Let's meet again this afternoon."

Reply: "Wonderful!" or "If we must."

Martin Van Buren was a big part of OK's initial takeoff OK allows us to view a situation in simplest terms, just OK or not.

When someone falls down, the question is not "how well are you feeling?" but the more basic "are you OK?".

And any lingering stigma associated with OK is long since gone. Now OK is not out of place in the mouth of a US president like Barack Obama.

Speaking to schoolchildren in 2009 he said: "That's OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures."

The word would also easily slip from the mouth of a British prime minister like David Cameron.

And yet, despite its conquest of conversations the world over, there remain vast areas of language where OK is scarcely to be found.

You won't find OK in prepared speeches. Indeed, most formal speeches and reports are free of OK.

Modern English translations of the Bible remain almost entirely OK-free. Many a published book has not a single instance of OK.

But OK still rules over the vast domain of our conversation.

Allan Metcalf is the author of OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word.

International OKs
Native American Choctaw: Okeh - it is so
Scottish: Och aye - oh yes
Greek: Ola kala - all is right
German: ohne Korrektur - without [need for] correction
Finnish: Oikea - correct
Mandinka: O ke - that's it
So both in speech and in writing OK stands out clearly, easily distinguished from other words, and yet it uses simple sounds that are familiar to a multitude of languages.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding the music

On some days I just can't find the music anymore. I know it's there but I don't hear it. I'm having a hard time being moved by anything and it's rare that I get "the shivers" or really feel the emotion behind a piece.

Last night I marveled while watching an aged David Gilmour playing Pink Floyd numbers. Somehow he kept his love affair alive with his music. I want that. I want to rekindle my love affair with that which is intangible. I want to touch that magic, mold it, carve it and sculpt it.

I don't want to stay silent anymore. But I've forgotten how to touch it's gilded edge.

Monday, January 03, 2011

A little bit of Karma

Dedicated to Sayrene, one of the nicest, kindest people ever.

Christmas day. December 25, 2010. Rockville, Maryland.

I was spending some time with my friend Jacob. He needed some smokes so we stopped by a local 7-11. He came back and proceeded to smoke when I realized that I could use a snack. I noticed a homeless man sitting near the entrance eating a bowl of soup, that obviously he had just bought. I knew what I had to do.

I went in the store and began the frantic search for that one thing that would ease my hunger cravings, that would quiet the abdominal unrest that I was feeling. I found that item and purchased it, and a cup of coffee.

As I left the store I went over and handed this homeless gentleman a five dollar bill. He said thanks and then asked me to "pray for the troops." I told him that if I believed in a god that I would, however, they are in my thoughts daily, as I was one of them- in what seems like many years ago.

I went back to my Element and talked with my friend a bit while he jonesed another menthol. We talked about this and that and just caught up with each other, renewing our friendship as we rarely get to see each other. Then he was finished and we got into the car.

We continued talking and I started up the motor. Just then a little finch landed on my rear-view mirror. The finch sat there and looked at me, and I at it.

I believe it was a female purple finch, but I'm not a bird watcher...except for this one time.

I rolled down the window. The finch flew down to the ground, then flew right back up. Here I was, maybe 8 or 10 inches away from a wild finch and it was absolutely beautiful and fascinating. I rolled the window back up, the finch flew down and right back up to the mirror. I think it was as curious about me as I was about it. I could see the wind blowing it's little feathers. I could see how rapidly the finch was moving it's head, how nervous it appeared to be. But I could almost feel a sense of calming from this little bird, as if she was saying to me: don't be afraid to slow down from time to time.

Another finch then flew up onto the roof of the Element. Which is when I decided I needed to drive away. The little female stayed on the mirror until I got onto the main road. It was a sublime moment.

So $5 was the price of admission into a few moments of this tiny birds life.