Tuesday, February 27, 2007

ScienceDaily: Extreme Personality Poses Risk Of ADHD, Conduct Disorder

ScienceDaily: Extreme Personality Poses Risk Of ADHD, Conduct Disorder

FSU psychology professors Jeanette Taylor and Chris Schatschneider, FSU doctoral student Kelly Cukrowicz and University of Minnesota Professor William Iacono found that children with ADHD or conduct disorder had more negative emotions - aggressiveness, tension and feelings of being exploited, unlucky or poorly treated - and lower constraints - a tendency to break rules and engage in thrill-seeking behavior - than children with neither of the disorders. Not surprisingly, those children who have both ADHD and conduct disorder had the most extreme personality profiles.

Scientists Discover Genes for Type-2 Diabetes

Scientists Discover Genes for Type-2 Diabetes

Breakthrough could lead to personalized treatments for deadly illness in 15 to 20 years.
February 12, 2007

By Marisa Taylor

An international team of scientists has made an important genetic discovery that could lead to personalized treatments for type two-diabetes, an illness that can cause serious complications like heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes.

The scientists found mutations in four genes that appear to increase the likelihood of developing type-two diabetes. The researchers looked at the genetic variations of more than 400,000 genetic locales in 700 patients with type-two diabetes who also have a family history of the disease.

Among their more notable discoveries was a variation on the eighth chromosome that seems to be responsible for the transport of zinc, a mineral that is needed for the production of insulin.

“We know that the zinc transporter is very, very important for determining how sensitive your body is to insulin,” said Robert Sladek, scientific director at the Diabetes Gene Discovery Group at McGill University, and one of the authors of the study.

Welcome to Sun2Surf

Welcome to Sun2Surf

New genes point to diabetes risk
WASHINGTON (Feb 12, 2007): Researchers said yesterday they had homed in on five areas of DNA that could account for 70% of the genetic risk for type-2 diabetes.

They identified four different areas of genetic variation that conferred a significant risk of developing diabetes and confirmed that a fifth area, a gene called TCF7L2 suspected in diabetes, is associated with the disease.

Writing in the journal Nature, the international team of researchers said their findings would help other scientists find causes and possible treatments for diabetes. They also said it showed it was useful to scan people's entire genomes to look for disease-causing genes.

"Our new findings mean that we can create a good genetic test to predict people's risk of developing this type of diabetes," said Philippe Froguel of Imperial College London, who worked on the study.

Type-2 or adult onset diabetes is becoming more and more common around the world and is even being found now in children. It is associated with a rich diet and a lack of exercise.

"The rapidly increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus is thought to be due to environmental factors, such as increased availability of food and decreased opportunity and motivation for physical activity, acting on genetically susceptible individuals," the researchers wrote.

Constantin Polychronakos of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and colleagues tested nearly 7,000 volunteers - most with diabetes and many with a known family history of the disease.

They used new gene chip technology that allowed them to quickly screen for many of the tiny differences in the complex genetic code of DNA.

They found four new areas that appear involved in insulin secretion and pancreatic development. One gene encodes a protein that helps move zinc ions around and is found solely in the beta cells, the pancreatic cells that make and release insulin.

Many of the diabetes-linked variations seem to be the "older" version of the DNA sequence, suggesting that human beings evolved to be susceptible to diabetes. This would support the theory that biological traits that helped human beings survive famines have become disease-causing in times of plenty, they said. - Reuters

Zinc deficiency is also related to ADHD

Hyper, or Hurting?

Hyper, or Hurting?

If a child acts inattentive and hyperactive in school, chances are very good he (it’s usually a boy) will be diagnosed with ADHD. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder affects an estimated 8-12 percent of children worldwide. The designation is so common it’s become a casual synonym for being scatterbrained (“I’m totally ADD today”), and its prevalence is self-propogating—the more people are aware of the disorder, the more likely they are to claim it as the cause of a problem.

Beyond the overdiagnosis of kids who are hyper but healthy, there’s a graver consequence to this attention-deficit bandwagon. A small but growing body of research confirms what is, so far, a little-known fact—that the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can look exactly like those of ADHD. In other words, a distractible, impulsive irritable child who looks to a teacher or caregiver like a classic ADHD case may actually be struggling to cope with abuse, divorce, natural disaster, or another serious trauma. It can be hard to tell the difference; in a 1994 study by researchers at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, trained interviewers assessed a group of troubled children and, not knowing the children were sexually abused, diagnosed 46 percent of them with ADHD.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

ADDitude Magazine - For People Who Have AD/HD

ADDitude Magazine - For People Who Have AD/HD

By Bob Seay
AD/HD May Not Have Always Been a Disorder; Research indicates that traits may have contributed to the survival of early humans

Thom Hartmann took a lot of flak when he proposed an evolutionary model of AD/HD. Now, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have concluded that his controversial theory may well be correct. Researchers now believe that a gene variation associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) first appeared 10,000 to 40,000 years ago and was probably a significant advantage to the early humans who had it.

In an article published in the January 8, 2002 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Dr. Robert K. Moyzis and other researchers speculate that early humans with AD/HD traits such as novelty-seeking, increased aggression and perseverance were more likely to survive. These traits have been associated with the DRD4 7R gene. Up to half of AD/HD individuals have this same variant gene, according to Moyzis, one of the authors of the study. More information about the article is available online.

Today, many of these same traits are deemed inappropriate in the typical classroom setting and hence diagnosed as AD/HD. Like their early ancestors, today's AD/HD children are more active and often more aggressive than their peers. These children are always looking for something new to capture their attention. Once they find something interesting, such as a video game, they "lock on" and focus intently on the task. They are often unable to shift their focus to something new.

Researchers speculate that a "survival of the fittest" scenario may have contributed to an ever-increasing number of people with AD/HD. For example, being more aggressive, inquisitive, and willing to take risks meant a higher probability for mate selection and perhaps multiple sex partners, spreading the gene – and its associated AD/HD behaviors – through the population. Primitive hunters with this gene would have been more successful and would have been better providers for their families and tribes. These and other factors may explain why the gene is so prevalent now.

adist Perspectives on a U.S. Withdrawal By Fred Burton

Iraq: Jihadist Perspectives on a U.S. Withdrawal
By Fred Burton

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution to express disapproval of the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq. Republicans in the Senate prevented a similar resolution from coming to the floor for a vote the next day. The congressional actions come during a period of vigorous debate about U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan -- a debate that is being heavily fueled as presidential hopefuls from both parties begin to position themselves for the 2008 election.

Naturally, this internal debate and media coverage have focused on the American perspective -- and, more specifically, on public opinion polls. But often missing in that discussion is the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were not entered into as self-contained discrete wars, but as fronts in the wider U.S.-jihadist war. Therefore, though the Bush administration's troop strategy, the positioning of the Democrats and the anti-war statements of potential presidential contenders are by no measure unimportant, the intense focus on these issues means that another important perspective on the war -- that of the jihadists -- frequently goes unmentioned.

Al Qaeda leaders and the jihadist movement in general always have taken a long view of the war, and discussion of a U.S. withdrawal from either Iraq or Afghanistan has long been anticipated. In planning the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda leaders clearly expected that the United States, once drawn into a war, eventually would weaken and lose heart. A study of al Qaeda's philosophy, mindset and planning -- conveyed through the words and actions of its leadership -- is a reminder of just how the current U.S. political debate fits into the jihadist timeline and strategy.

It also is an indicator that a U.S. withdrawal from Muslim lands is not al Qaeda's ultimate requirement for ending attacks against the United States or American interests abroad.

Perceptions of American Resolve

Long before the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Osama bin Laden clearly stated that, in the jihadists' opinion, the United States was not prepared to fight a war of attrition.

Prior to 9/11, bin Laden's public statements conveyed his dim view of the U.S. military's capabilities and resolve, as well as of the willingness of the U.S. government (and to a larger extent, the American people) to take casualties in a sustained war. In a 1997 interview with Peter Arnett, bin Laden said, "We learned from those who fought [in Somalia] that they were surprised to see the low spiritual morale of the American fighters in comparison with the experience they had with the Russian fighters. The Americans ran away from those fighters who fought and killed them, while the latter were still there. If the U.S. still thinks and brags that it still has this kind of power even after all these successive defeats in Vietnam, Beirut, Aden, and Somalia, then let them go back to those who are awaiting its return."

It is widely believed that the U.S. withdrawal from Lebanon, following the 1983 Marine barracks bombing, and from Somalia in 1993 were important precedents in driving the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. The jihadists believed that if they killed enough Americans, U.S. forces would leave Saudi Arabia.

Bin Laden's opinion of U.S. resolve was not shaken by the "shock and awe" campaign that was unleashed in Afghanistan and, later, Iraq. In a February 2003 message, he said, "We can conclude that America is a superpower, with enormous military strength and vast economic power, but that all this is built on foundations of straw. So it is possible to target those foundations and focus on their weakest points which, even if you strike only one-tenth of them, then the whole edifice will totter and sway, and relinquish its unjust leadership of the world."

Bin Laden and other jihadist strategists often have stressed that the U.S. economy is one of the foundations to be attacked. However, another significant -- and in their view, vulnerable -- target is morale. In an October 2002 statement, marking the first anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, bin Laden discussed the importance of "the media people and writers who have remarkable impact and a big role in directing the battle, and breaking the enemy's morale, and heightening the Ummah's morale."

He also noted that the Americans had failed to achieve their objectives in Afghanistan, saying, "The invading American forces in Afghanistan have now started to sink in the Afghani mud, with all of their equipment and personnel. The weird irony of the matter is that the Crusader forces, which came to protect the governing system in Kabul from the attacks of the mujahideen, have now come to need the protection of the regime's forces, having been dealt continuous blows by the mujahideen, so who protects who? The international and American forces had come to ensure the security [but] have become the biggest burden to security!!"

Orders given by Mullah Omar and his tactical commanders to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan also reflect this mindset. They are told not to go toe-to-toe with coalition forces in battle, but rather to increase the costs of doing battle in order to hasten the withdrawal of Western forces.

An al Qaeda military strategist and propagandist, Abu Ubeid al-Qurashi, expounded on this concept in an article titled "Fourth-Generation Wars," carried by the organization's biweekly Internet magazine, Al Ansar, in February 2002:

"Fourth-generation warfare, the experts said, is a new type of war in which fighting will be mostly scattered. The battle will not be limited to destroying military targets and regular forces, but will include societies, and will seek to destroy popular support for the fighters within the enemy's society. In these wars, the experts stated in their article, 'television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.' They also noted that 'the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point.'"

Al-Qurashi went on to extol jihadist successes in fourth-generation warfare, in settings ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia. He also noted that, like the Soviet Union, the United States was not well-suited to fight that type of war. And he predicted that al Qaeda's ideal structure for, and historical proficiency in, fourth-generation warfare ultimately would secure its victory -- despite the fact that jihadists were outgunned by the Americans in both types and quantities of weapons. Al-Qurashi said that while the U.S. military was designed and equipped with the concept of deterrence in mind -- that is, to deter attacks against the United States -- the guiding principle was not applicable in the struggle against a nonstate actor like al Qaeda.

"While the principle of deterrence works well between countries, it does not work at all for an organization with no permanent bases and with no capital in Western banks that does not rely on aid from particular countries. As a result, it is completely independent in its decisions, and it seeks conflict from the outset. How can such people, who strive for death more than anything else, be deterred?" he wrote.

In contrast, al Qaeda's leaders persistently have exhorted their followers to fight a war of attrition similar to that successfully waged by the mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In bin Laden's words, "We don't articulate and we don't quit."

One principle that has been emphasized in many statements by bin Laden and others is that the jihadists love death the way Americans love life -- a concept originally stated by Abu Bakr, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, as he led an army into battle against the Persians.

A Four-Part Strategy

The United States' military response to the 9/11 attacks was the reaction al Qaeda wanted and expected. The statements of al Qaeda leaders have made it clear that the jihadists' goal was to make sure these became protracted, painful and costly wars.

Ayman al-Zawahiri put it this way in August 2003, as the insurgency in Iraq was beginning to take hold: "We are saying to America one thing: What you saw with your eyes so far are only initial skirmishes; as for the real battle, it hasn't even started yet."

Now, whether al Qaeda or the jihadist movement actually retains the capability to achieve its long-term goals is a matter for vigorous debate, and one we have explored at other times. For purposes of this analysis, however, it is useful to examine just what those long-term goals, to which al-Zawahiri obviously was alluding, actually are.

Internal al Qaeda documents indicate that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan is but one of the stages factored into the movement's long-term planning. One of the most telling documents was a July 2005 letter from al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, outlining a four-step strategy for establishing a caliphate in the "heart of the Islamic world." (The authenticity of the al-Zawahiri letter has been questioned by some, but our own analysis has led Stratfor to conclude it was bona fide.)
The steps he outlined were:
1) Expel the Americans from Iraq.
2) Establish an Islamic authority or emirate in Iraq.
3) Extend the jihad wave to secular countries neighboring Iraq.
4) Initiate a clash with Israel.

Al-Zawahiri said he was proposing the four-step strategy in order to "stress something extremely important" to al-Zarqawi, "and it is that the mujahideen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal." He clearly wanted the jihadists to press on toward bigger objectives following the U.S. withdrawal.

In the letter, he cautioned: "Things may develop faster than we imagine. The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam -- and how they ran and left their agents -- is noteworthy. Because of that, we must be ready starting now, before events overtake us, and before we are surprised by the conspiracies of the Americans and the United Nations and their plans to fill the void behind them. We must take the initiative and impose a fait accompli upon our enemies, instead of the enemy imposing one on us, wherein our lot would be to merely resist their schemes."

It follows from this that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be construed by the jihadists as an opportunity to establish an important base or sanctuary -- and then to consolidate their gains and continue their "jihad wave" to other parts of the region. With that in mind, jihadist attacks against "Jews and Crusaders" could be expected to continue even after a U.S. departure from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Ultimate Objective

Al Qaeda's grievances with the United States have been well documented by Stratfor and numerous others since the 9/11 attacks: Bin Laden was outraged by the presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia following the 1991 Gulf War, and by what he sees as an unholy alliance between Western powers and "apostate" secular regimes in the Islamic world. Historical conflicts between Muslim and Christian entities also have been referenced as a precedent for what bin Laden describes as "aggressive intervention against Muslims in the whole world" -- meaning the U.N. embargo against Iraq, the existence of Israel and U.S. support for said "apostate" regimes.

In a February 1998 statement, bin Laden declared that "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the Al Aqsa mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.

An important point is that al Qaeda defines terms like the "lands of Islam" as territory that includes present-day Israel, India and Spain. While Israel is clearly more significant to Muslims than other areas, given the importance of Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa mosque to Islam, Spain -- which was the Caliphate of al-Andalus from 711 to 1492 -- is also in the crosshairs. An equally important point is that the political shift in Madrid (which followed a 2004 commuter train attack in the capital) and the government's decision to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq have not removed Spain from the jihadists' target list. In a July 2006 message -- in which he threatened revenge for the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the Palestinians -- al-Zawahiri said, "The war with Israel ... is a jihad for the sake of God ... a jihad that seeks to liberate Palestine, the whole of Palestine, and to liberate every land which (once belonged to) Islam, from Andalus to Iraq."

In other words, at least as long as the state of Israel exists -- and the "apostate" governments in places like Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco and Kuwait remain in power, with U.S. support -- the jihadists will continue to complain about U.S. "aggression against Islam." And, insofar as they are able, they will carry on their war.

This is from the stratfor email newsletter. It's a great site!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Adult ADD / ADHD: Recognizing the Symptoms and Managing the Effects

Adult ADD / ADHD: Recognizing the Symptoms and Managing the Effects

What are the signs and symptoms of adult ADD / ADHD?

ADD / ADHD in adults can seriously impair work, finances, and relationships. Adults with ADD / ADHD may have the following symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity / impulsivity:
not remembering being told something,
"zoning out" in conversations,
being late or forgetting to show up when expected,
speaking without thinking,
pressured rapid-fire speech, seemingly random, and aimless hopping from one topic to the next,
perceived as aloof and arrogant, or tiresomely talkative and boorish,
compulsive joking, often about personal life history and feelings,
easily frustrated or bored,
leaving a mess,
procrastination (difficulty starting tasks),
incompletions (starting tasks, household projects, or book reading, but not completing them before new projects or new books are begun, leaving a never-ending to-do list),
underestimating the time needed to finish a task,
insecurity and self-esteem issues because of unmet high personal expectations, and
often a high achiever, even an overachiever, but with poor self-image because of beliefs that more could be accomplished if not for disorganization.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Air Car Tantalisingly Close Celsias

Air Car Tantalisingly Close Celsias

A French designer of engines for Formula One racing cars has turned his attention to creating an engine that runs on, and emits, only air! By all accounts, this is no pie-in-the-sky dream invention either - as the vehicle’s release is slated for later this year.

With a top speed of 110kph (68mph) and a range of about 200kms (125miles), it looks to be an entirely useable commuter, and more. In fact, once the initial model is on the market, there are plans for a hybrid version - a car that will use a small amount of fuel to generate the compressed air required for the main engine - resulting in a 4,500km range (2,800 miles) from just one tank of fuel!

That’s right - just compressed air!


Because there is no ‘combustion’, the engine temperature remains tepid. This fact means the engine parts can be produced from metals with lower melting points, like aluminium - allowing for smaller lighter engines (about half the weight of a regular petrol engine) which increases the vehicle’s range.

Watch the video to learn more:

02/18/07 Coke > The Sunday Paper > COKE TAKES ON ADHD

02/18/07 Coke > The Sunday Paper > News Archives

There’s one in every office: the guy who’s smart, funny, interesting, creative and energetic—but also impulsive, chronically late and given to go on tangents in meetings. He’ll finish a report at the last minute, and it will be riddled with careless mistakes. That is, if he can find it on his messy desk to begin with.

He’s probably an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to William W. Dodson, a psychiatrist in private practice at the ADHD Treatment Center in Denver, Colo.

“They make wonderful executives, but terrible secretaries,” says Dodson, who will present “The Truth About ADHD—Is It Affecting Your Life?” to Coca-Cola employees

[...]

An adult disorder, too
Although ADHD is often perceived as an affliction of childhood, it is actually a lifelong disorder that affects more than 9 million adult Americans and is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders, Dodson says.

Albert Einstein and Theodore Roosevelt almost certainly suffered from it. Roosevelt was so hyperactive he had a “standing desk.” These days, at least one in every 12 adults has the disorder, according to a national study of 10,000 randomly selected people.

Most adults with ADHD don’t get diagnosed until they’re in their 40s because they’ve managed to figure out thousands of ways to compensate for their disorder. Depression and other major psychiatric diagnoses are present in 70 percent of individuals with ADHD (ADHD adults are six times as likely to be depressed and 10 times as likely to have a bipolar disorder as other people).

“People’s lives take off when they finally get the medication right,” says Dodson. “It doesn’t take away your creativity; it allows you to use that creativity. Without that, you have thousands of wonderful clever ideas that go nowhere because you can’t implement them.”

Add to that the finding that the vast majority of ADHD adults, 85 percent, don’t have an “internal clock”—a natural sense of time—which means they tend to be late and have a hard time gauging how long a task will take.

[...]

“They can hyperfocus”
The problem isn’t the willfulness of the individual, it’s his neurology. An ADHD person’s whole nervous system is controlled by the momentary sense of interest, challenge, novelty or urgency, says Dodson.

“If they’re doing something interesting or challenging, their attention is almost superhuman,” he says. “They can hyperfocus.”
Exercise is tremendously helpful. One hour at the gym or jogging is good for about four hours of focus, says Dodson, who’s seen patients who get up early to work out, then work out after lunch and after work to get through their day. Then they suffer an injury and show up at Dodson’s door.

“Suddenly, their life just falls apart,” Dodson says. “They can’t treat their ADHD with exercise anymore.”

Worse, they might develop eating disorders or substance abuse problems as a way to cope.

ADHD seems to be genetic. If a person has it, half of their first-degree relatives—parents, siblings, children—usually have it, too.

Researchers have searched for ADHD in the populations of 26 countries outside the U.S., including primitive African cultures without TV. The conclusion: It’s just about everywhere.

“Whenever they’ve looked for ADHD, they’ve found it in the same prevalence, 10 to 12 percent,” says Dodson. “ADHD is something that is fundamentally human and occurs at the same rate in males and females.” SP

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Good German Schools Come to America

Good German Schools Come to America

The Austrian famine of 1771-1772, combined with the increasingly brazen exploitation of children by mercantilists, led to a tense political situation for the ruling families of Austria and Prussia. Traditionally, peasants were kept in line by fear or threats of starvation. But the Austrian and Prussian governments' inability or unwillingness to move in the direction of any sort of social equality - combined with the desperation of famine and the theft of children - had pushed the populace to a dangerous level of anger.

The old way of keeping the peasants in line didn't work: something new was necessary.

[...]


In 1756, Schlabrendorff suggested to Frederick II that a system of state-run, compulsory schools be established. Extraordinary benefits could come from it, which would be praised and echoed by German and Austrian philosophers, leaders, and educators (such as Fichte, Raab, Hitler, and others) for the next two hundred years:

· By molding young minds, it would be possible to create the belief that work was a necessary and moral imperative. Work was Good, even if the fruits of it ended up with a corporate or royal dynasty, even if it meant five or six days of toil a week just to provide basic essentials for the family. · Schools could inculcate proper political opinions in children: there would never again be a generation who would grow up to revolt against their government.

· Children would learn not to question authority or authority figures, be they governmental or corporate. (The practice of forcing pupils to raise their hand to ask a question - essentially asking permission to ask - was pioneered by Johann Hecker in 1740 in Prussia.)

· Children would learn to accept their lot in life and to limit their aspirations: the needs of the factories for workers and the army for soldiers would be met with compliant recruits.

· Children's primary loyalty and fear would be shifted from their mother and father to the king and the state. This would be ensured by the children learning very early that if they didn't attend school, special truant police would come after them, a force their parents were powerless to stop.

In 1763, at the end of the Seven Year War, King Frederick was willing to consider the proposition. Many of the early schools were educational facilities in the morning, factories for making wool or silk in the afternoon. They were known as Spinnschulen. Prussian Minister von Schlabrendorff issued an edict in late 1763 that every Silesian town must provide such compulsory instruction to all children ages seven to fifteen (with the exception, of course, of the children of the landholding royal families). In 1765, Maria Theresa of Austria passed an identical law in Austria.

The use of compulsory, state-controlled education as a replacement for the gallows, the rack, the whip, and the prison cell as a way to keep the peasantry was suddenly popular across Germany and Austria. A leading German, Chrisian Fürchtegott Gellert, believed this would not only lead to a more docile populace, but a more moral one as well. A student of his, philosopher Karl Heinrich Seibt, wrote in 1771: "If laws are to be faithfully observed, the subject of the state must obey them freely and willingly_ The enlightened state which educates each subject in the duties of his profession, a state whose subjects fulfill their duties willingly and out of love - this is a powerful, invincible, and blessed state."

As Europe's economy gained steam in the late 1700's, largely through manufacturing, imported gold from South America, and money made in the slave-trade business, adults began to resent the competition of children for jobs. By 1805, fewer than half of all employed skilled workers in Berlin were members of guilds. Concern began to arise about "child labor." The Spinnschulen were replaced by full-day educational programs, and around this time the first system of teacher certification and the first state control of curriculum was put into place.

That the purpose of public compulsory education was to create a compliant citizenry was no secret: if anything, the Prussians and Austrians were proud of it. In 1774 when the Gymnasium high-school system was reformed in Prussia, its main architect, Mathes Inaz von Hess, suggested that class, and not ability, should determine the quality of a child's education. This would assure stability, he said, if bright children of low social class were only to learn to be compliant laborers, it would be "no loss to society." The Prussian Education Edict of 1776 demanded that children of high social class be admitted to higher education even if they were of "only mediocre talent and little proficiency," keeping the "children from the lower orders" in the state-run compulsory system. Children of wealth could attend private schools: the overt goal of the compulsory public educational system, wrote Felbiger, was to make lower-class students "content with the station into which they are born."

Around 1850, the legislature of the State of Massachusetts was grappling with a problem that had an explosive potential similar to that faced by King Frederick and Queen Maria Theresa a century earlier. Irish Catholics had poured into Boston by the millions, particularly after the Potato Famine, and threatened the Protestant power structure of the state legislature. At that time, there was no compulsory or state-controlled education in the United States of America -although we were regarded even by the Germans as the most well-educated and well-read people in the world.

To break the back of the Catholic power center in the Boston area, the Massachusetts legislature enacted the first compulsory education law in 1852. Over the next six years many parents were jailed and thousands of children marched off to school by the state militia, as entire "revolting" towns were militarized when they refused to take their children out of their locally-run schools or home-schools and place them in the state-run, state-controlled institutions. The last town to fall, Barnstable, Massachusetts, capitulated in 1858 after a massive invasion by police and the state militia: compulsory public state-run education had begun in America.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Monkey's brain signals control 'third arm' - 13 October 2003 - New Scientist

Monkey's brain signals control 'third arm' - 13 October 2003 - New Scientist

Monkeys can control a robot arm as naturally as their own limbs using only brain signals, a pioneering experiment has shown. The macaque monkeys could reach and grasp with the same precision as their own hand.

"It's just as if they have a representation of a third arm," says project leader Miguel Nicolelis, at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Experts believe the experiment's success bodes well for future devices for humans that are controlled solely by thought.

One such type of device is a neurally-controlled prosthetic - a brain-controlled false limb. Nicolelis says his team's work is important because it has shown that prosthetics can only deliver precision movements if multiple parts of the brain are monitored and visual feedback is provided.

Gerald Loeb, a biomedical engineer at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, says the new experiment already has some parallels in everyday life. For example, he says, when you drive a car it becomes an extension of your body.

But Nicolelis says the monkeys appeared to be treating the robot arm as their limb, not an extension. "The properties of the robot were being assimilated as if they were a property of the animal's own body."

Monday, February 19, 2007

You may look thin  and be too fat | News | Health | Telegraph

You may look thin  and be too fat | News | Health | Telegraph :

"Research highlighting the danger of fat around vital organs could change the way we tackle obesity, reports Nic Fleming. MRI scans on four guinea pigs had surprising results

[....]

The team at the Medical Research Council's Clinical Sciences Centre has used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner at Hammersmith Hospital in London to map the fat distribution of 600 volunteers. Their results suggest that up to four in 10 people could be "tofi" – thin outside, fat inside.

Previous research has shown someone with a lot of internal fat around the liver, gut, heart and pancreas, or streaked through under-used muscles, has a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and some cancers than someone with high levels of external fat."

Cool pictures showing fat disribution

WWGWBD?

WWGWBD?

Have to admit this is funny.

Al Qaeda Chiefs Are Seen to Regain Power - New York Times

Al Qaeda Chiefs Are Seen to Regain Power - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 — Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.

American analysts said recent intelligence showed that the compounds functioned under a loose command structure and were operated by groups of Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants allied with Al Qaeda. They receive guidance from their commanders and Mr. Zawahri, the analysts said. Mr. bin Laden, who has long played less of an operational role, appears to have little direct involvement.

Officials said the training camps had yet to reach the size and level of sophistication of the Qaeda camps established in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. But groups of 10 to 20 men are being trained at the camps, the officials said, and the Qaeda infrastructure in the region is gradually becoming more mature.

The new warnings are different from those made in recent months by intelligence officials and terrorism experts, who have spoken about the growing abilities of Taliban forces and Pakistani militants to launch attacks into Afghanistan. American officials say that the new intelligence is focused on Al Qaeda and points to the prospect that the terrorist network is gaining in strength despite more than five years of a sustained American-led campaign to weaken it.

The intelligence and counterterrorism officials would discuss the classified intelligence only on the condition of anonymity. They would not provide some of the evidence that led them to their assessments, saying that revealing the information would disclose too much about the sources and methods of intelligence collection.

The concern about a resurgent Al Qaeda has been the subject of intensive discussion at high levels of the Bush administration, the officials said, and has reignited debate about how to address Pakistan’s role as a haven for militants without undermining the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president.

Jeff Hawkins hacks the human brain - February 1, 2007

Jeff Hawkins hacks the human brain - February 1, 2007


The creator of the PalmPilot and the Treo isn't just making another gadget. He's attempting to fuse silicon and gray matter to produce the ultimate intelligent machine.
Business 2.0 Magazine
Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0 Magazine editor-at-large
February 7 2007: 6:15 PM EST

(Business 2.0) -- Jeff Hawkins was just another junior engineer at Intel in 1979 when he stumbled across an issue of Scientific American magazine that would illuminate a path to what would become his life's work.

It had nothing to do with the two great breakthroughs - the PalmPilot and the Treo - for which Hawkins would later become celebrated as one of the great technological and design geniuses of recent times. The issue was devoted to the human brain, and it featured an essay by DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick bemoaning the lack of a grand theory explaining how the roughly 3 pounds of gelatinous tissue each of us carries around in our skulls could possibly do all the fantastically complex tasks it does.
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Jeff Hawkins wants to create the world's first truly intelligent computer.
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Dubinsky, Hawkins's longtime business partner, runs operations so he can focus on brainstorming.
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Hawkins read it, put the magazine down, and thought to himself, "I have to work on this." Then and there, he set a goal of not just devising such a theory but using it to build a machine that, simply put, can think like a human.

People thought he was nuts. He tried to enroll in doctoral programs at MIT, then as now a hotbed of artificial intelligence; they wouldn't take him. He got into a biophysics doctoral program at the University of California at Berkeley but gave up after he was told he couldn't work on his brain-meets-machine interests because no one on the faculty would sponsor that kind of research.

Hawkins drifted back to the computer industry, but the brain obsession never waned. "In 1986, I laid out a plan, and it included making enough money to do what I wanted to do," Hawkins recalls. With the PalmPilot, first introduced in 1996, and the Treo, unveiled in 2001, Hawkins went about making his money.

Yet even as he was perfecting his groundbreaking inventions and trying to help manage the roller-coaster corporate fortunes of his companies, Hawkins quietly began puzzling out an overarching theory of how the brain works. Once in a while, he would pop up at some conference and hint that he was onto something epic - "the biggest idea I've ever had," as he once put it - but coyly refuse to give many details. There were whispers in Silicon Valley that Hawkins's project, whatever it was, was at best a distraction and quite possibly a technological white whale.

Now Hawkins is finally ready to open up about what he's been chasing. And what he says makes clear that his quest may well lead to a tremendous technical advance with far-ranging implications. Hawkins believes that his latest startup, called Numenta, is on its way to creating the first truly intelligent computer - a thinking machine that, in essence, learns the same way the human brain does.
Video: "We're not building humans," says Hawkins

Hawkins, now 49, founded Numenta in 2005 and brought in longtime business partner and Palm (Charts) veteran Donna Dubinsky as CEO. Numenta, Hawkins stresses, has nothing to do with the field known as artificial intelligence. What he has in mind is far more supple and elegant.

Rather than being inspired by biology, AI uses brute computing power and logic to make computers seem intelligent through their behavior. When IBM's (Charts) Deep Blue finally beat chess grand master Gary Kasparov a decade ago, it wasn't because it was smarter than he was. It was just faster.

Even today, computers don't have intuition. They have trouble recognizing images, understanding language, and dealing with ambiguous information. Humans have no trouble doing those things. We are intelligent, and computers are not.

Numenta's approach is radically different. Computers running Numenta software will not be programmed like regular computers. Rather, algorithms that Numenta has come up with allow machines to learn from observation, just as a child learns by observing the world around her.

Numenta is developing a new computer memory system that it says can remember the patterns of the world presented to it and use them, the way a human does, to make analogies and draw conclusions. If it works as Hawkins expects, the applications and business opportunities will be stunning. They could range from the mundane - helping radiologists or airport security officers to read X-ray images, predicting machine failures in factories, improving manufacturing yields at chip plants - to the mind-boggling: predicting tornadoes and stock prices, making smart cars, unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos. "I know this has to work because this is how the brain does it," Hawkins says.

Even with his track record, it's tempting to dismiss Hawkins's enthusiasm as overheated. "No one yet knows how human brains work," cautions Marvin Minsky, a venerated researcher who co-founded MIT's AI lab in 1959.

Nonetheless, some very impressive people have bought in. Bill Atkinson, one of the software engineers who designed the original user interface for the Mac computer, declares, "What Numenta is doing is more fundamentally important to society than the personal computer and the rise of the Internet." Atkinson pulled himself out of semiretirement to become one of the first outside developers of Numenta software.

What a fascinating article! A must Read!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Google to rule the Earth

Google to rule the Earth: "Google to rule the Earth
February 18th, 2007 @ 7:12 pm | Duncan Riley | 4 comments

aiIn a speech Friday night to the Annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, Google co-founder Larry Page let slip with a truth we all suspected:

“We have some people at Google [who] are really trying to build artificial intelligence (AI) and to do it on a large scale…It’s not as far off as people think.”

Yep, you read that right, Google is trying to build real AI. The worlds most dominant online company, with the largest conglomeration of computing power the world has ever seen, is trying to build artificial intelligence, and according to Page it isn’t that far away either. The term Googlebot is about to take on a whole new meaning, and in the not to distant future as well.

But Google is a good company, you may well say, after all Do No Evil is the company mantra. But true artificial intelligence not only has serious ethical and moral implications, self aware intelligence may also not be controllable, after all it thinks for itself and makes decisions based on that reasoning, as we all do. What if Google creates AI with the logical reasoning of Hitler or Stalin? or even George W Bush?

Food for thought…literally :-)"

YouTube - UNC PIT BREAKUP VIDEO HIGH QUALITY ( ANGLE 2 OF 2)

YouTube - UNC PIT BREAKUP VIDEO HIGH QUALITY ( ANGLE 2 OF 2)

UNC student breaks up with his girlfriend in front of 3000 people

UNC student Ryan Burke found out his girlfriend was cheating on him. He planned out the entire event on Facebook. Roughly 3000 students showed up to see Ryan break up with his girlfriend on Valentine's Day in The Pit.

DrawerGeeks!

DrawerGeeks!

What if real artists did THEIR interpretations of children's drawings of monsters? Find out! Very cool!

The Power of Makeup (Extreme Makeover)

The Power of Makeup (Extreme Makeover): "Click to view these girls after the makeover (you'll be surprised)"

Baghdad bombings, al-Qaeda and the insurgency (The Fourth Rail)

Baghdad bombings, al-Qaeda and the insurgency (The Fourth Rail)

Today's bombings in Baghdad bear the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda strike. The timing, target and mode of attack carry the signature of an al-Qaeda operation. The bombing also helps expose a fallacy of the recent National Intelligence Estimate, which claims al_Qaeda plays only a minor role in the insurgency.

Timing: As the Associated Press notes, the attacks were coordinated on the very day of the anniversary of the Samarra bombing, where al-Qaeda destroyed the Golden Dome of the al-Askaria mosque, the most revered site in Shia Islam. The bombing kicked off a wave of sectarian violence which has threatened to plunge Iraq into civil war.

But not only was the attack in Baghdad on the very day of the Samarra bombing, it was timed to occur "shortly after the government called for a 15-minute period of commemoration for the Feb. 22 Samarra bombing."

Targets: Today's bombings, like several others over the past month, have occurred in predominantly Shia areas, ensuring Shia are killed, thus further discrediting the government's ability to protect them. In order for al-Qaeda to establish its rump Islamic State, it needs the Iraqi security forces to fail, Baghdad to remain a sectarian battlefield and the U.S. to draw down or withdraw from Iraq. Mass attacks on Shia civilians radicalizes the Shia, forces them to choose between the government and militias, and places greater political pressure on the U.S. to withdraw lest it be mired in a 'civil war.'

Mode of Attack: The attackers used car bombs, planned the attack to inflict massive casualties, and coordinated the attacks to occur nearly simultaneously. "The bombs struck within a minute of each other, targeting two buildings about 200 yards apart," notes the Associated Press. "One of the cars was parked near the entrance to a parking garage under one of the buildings." The Interior Minster later stated three suspects were arrested in the attack: two foreigners and one Iraqi.

The National Intelligence Estimate

At the beginning of February, the intelligence community released the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which claimed "sectarian bloodshed has surpassed the threat from al-Qaeda," and continued to promote the idea al-Qaeda is only a small element of the insurgency. The NIE was hotly disputed by four intelligence agencies, and "four of America's 16 intelligence agencies have obliged the Directorate of National Intelligence to provide a formal dissent to the 90-page classified Iraq assessment." The disagreement was over al-Qaeda's role in the insurgency (as well as issues related to Pakistan). Eli Lake of the New York Sun reports:
According to two sources familiar with the addendum, the dissenters argue that the Baathist wing of the umbrella Sunni terrorist group has ceded authority to Abu Ayoub al-Masri, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq who replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The majority view, endorsed by the CIA, the National Security Agency, the State Department, and others, holds that a majority of the Sunni insurgency is still comprised of Baathists and Sunni nationalists...

At issue in the bureaucratic fight is the methodology for counting Al Qaeda fighters. "They employed a methodology by looking at the fighter's background," an intelligence analyst familiar with the debate told The New York Sun. "The CIA looked at whether the fighters were recruited through religious means, or did they go to a training camp."

What the supporters of the NIE fail to recognize is al-Qaeda, despite what its composition and number of foreign fighters, is a major driving force behind the sectarian violence by conducting mass casualty attacks designed to divide the Iraqi government and her people. The January attacks in Baghdad clearly demonstrate al-Qaeda is a driving force behind both the insurgency and the sectarian violence.

Iranian sniper rifles in the hands of Iraqi insurgents (The Fourth Rail)

Iranian sniper rifles in the hands of Iraqi insurgents (The Fourth Rail)

Iranian sniper rifles in the hands of Iraqi insurgents

The Telegraph reports a large quantity of Austrian made .50 caliber sniper rifles were seized in Baghdad

The Steyr HS50 sniper rifle. Click photo to view.


On the heals of a U.S. military presentation which provided evidence of Iranian made Explosively formed projectiles, mortars and other weapons being supplied to to Iraqi terrorists, as well as evidence of Iranian Qods Force operatives captured in Iraq, The Telegraph reports a significant quantity of Iranian owned sniper rifles have been seized in Iraq. Over twelve percent of Iran's Steyr HS50 sniper rifles purchased by the "National Iranian Police Organisation" in 2005 have been found inside Iraq. The Telegraph's Thomas Harding reports:
More than 100 of the .50 calibre weapons, capable of penetrating body armour, have been discovered by American troops during raids. The guns were part of a shipment of 800 rifles that the Austrian company, Steyr-Mannlicher, exported legally to Iran last year...

Within 45 days of the first HS50 Steyr Mannlicher rifles arriving in Iran, an American officer in an armoured vehicle was shot dead by an Iraqi insurgent using the weapon. Over the last six months American forces have found small caches of the £10,000 [about $19,500] rifles but in the last 24 hours a raid in Baghdad brought the total to more than 100, US defence sources reported...

The transfer of the deadly sniper rifles provides irrefutable proof Iran is supplying weapons to Iraqi terrorists. While not stated in the article, the weapons can be directly traced back to Iran as the serial numbers have been recorded prior to the sale and transfer.

The quantities of the weapons that have been seized on the Iraqi battlefield make it difficult for the Iranians to argue this was the work of a rogue individual. The weapons were in the hands of Iranian police, nd almost immediately wound up in the hands of Iraqi insurgents (withing 45 days). The one hundred plus rifles found are only what the Coalition can prove are in Iraq. All indications are the sniper rifles were purchased with the explicit purpose of being provided to Iraqi groups intending to kill American forces in Iraq.

It should be noted that the information provided by the U.S. military during Sunday's briefing, as well as the information on the sniper rifles, is what the military can prove with 100% certainty. The military has strong intelligence Iran is supplying other weapons to terrorists, including anti-aircraft missiles, which have been responsible for the recent rash of helicopters downed in central Iraq. In today's politicized environment, intelligence must now meet the evidence standards of a criminal case.

Stanley Kurtz on The Enemy at Home on National Review Online

Stanley Kurtz on The Enemy at Home on National Review Online

For the greater part of human history, almost every society has been structured around the bonds of marriage and kinship. A man’s security, health, prosperity, and religious standing all traditionally depended on his relatives. We moderns continue to marry and trace our descent through our parents, especially our fathers. Yet in comparison to societies in other times and places, the bonds of kinship are now thin and watery things.




Marriage and the Terror War, Part II 02/16

Marriage and the Terror War 02/15

War of Cultures 02/14
Angry Talk 01/02

Doves Fly Toward Iran 11/13

Marriage Wins 11/08



Novak: Gambling on Defeat

Lopez: Good for McCain

Buckley: So Help Us Darwin

Zalenski: February 18, 2007

Symposium: Presidential Considerations

Canto: The Dangerfield Economy

Seasholes: Free the Eagle
Boyles: Lovelorn

Norman: Yore Cheating Heart

Nugent: Still Mystified by Money and Inflation

Suderman: Bad Check

Wittig: Days of Glory

Charen: Is It All About Britney?

Hanson: Casting the First Stone




The Muslim world is different. Guided by powerful cultural rules and preferences, Muslims commonly arrange the marriages of their children. A Muslim family’s economic well-being, social standing, and much else typically depend upon those arrangements, and as we learned in “Marriage and the Terror War,” large sections of the Muslim world prefer to arrange marriages between “parallel cousins,” cousins who are members of the same paternal family line.

In the first part of this piece, I showed that, on a world scale, the radical form of in-marriage represented by the union of parallel cousins is highly unusual. Parallel-cousin marriage is confined almost exclusively to the region once ruled by the original eighth-century Islamic empire, and this involuted form of marriage stands in sharp contrast to the relative value placed on out-marriage, inter-group alliance, and interchange favored by almost every other culture in the world.

Anthropologists once identified exogamy — the tendency to form alliances with strangers by “marrying out” — as a core component of human nature. Of course, every society identifies boundaries outside of which legitimate marriage cannot take place. Nonetheless, within those boundaries, most societies frown on close marriages within existing family lines, and this sets a nearly universal value on the practice of alliance and interchange between insiders and outsiders.

Yet the very strong form of endogamy uniquely practiced throughout much of the Muslim world shows that it is possible to construct a human society on the basis of another fundamental strategy. Instead of cultural communication, adaptive development, and mutual trust, this strategy stresses intense in-group solidarity and unbreakable cultural continuity. Understanding the distinctive kinship principles around which Muslims structure their social life may tell us a good deal about why we’re engaged in a war against terror — and what we must do over the long term to win it. In particular, we want to understand the “functional connection” between the marriage practices prevalent in the Muslim world and Islam itself. How do Muslim religion and social life fit together, and what is it about both that makes the Muslim adjustment to modernity so difficult?

Here's part II of the article on Muslims marrying their cousins.

Stanley Kurtz on The Enemy at Home on National Review Online

Stanley Kurtz on The Enemy at Home on National Review Online

Short Course in Kinship
In the late nineteenth century, British anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor developed the founding insight of the modern study of kinship. Tylor cited exogamy, or “marrying out,” as the key to human social progress. In Tylor’s scenario, early human groups, in danger of killing each other off through inveterate competition, discovered intermarriage as the path to social peace. Women who were related to one clan as sisters and to another clan as wives tended to discourage feuds between otherwise competing groups. As Tylor famously put it: “Again and again in the world’s history, savage tribes must have had plainly before their minds the simple practical alternative between marrying-out and being killed out.” And for Tylor, “cross cousin marriage,” a particular form of cousin marriage favored by many “primitive” societies, was the earliest and most fundamental form of clan exogamy — or “marrying out.”

So what exactly is “cross cousin marriage”? Well, in anthropological parlance, descendants of same-sex siblings are “parallel cousins,” while descendants of opposite-sex siblings are “cross cousins.” That is, if a man marries his mother’s brother’s daughter, he is marrying a cross cousin. If, on the other hand, a man marries his father’s brother’s daughter, he is marrying his parallel cousin.

Yes, this sort of terminological arcana has been the bane of generations of anthropology students. But let me put my larger point in the form of a threat: Sit still for this brief basic account of anthropological kinship theory...or lose the war on terror.

All right, let’s say we have a society made up of clans organized by descent through the father. (Imagine a grander version of your own father’s family line, or something like the Hatfields and McCoys.) In any given clan, the men all trace their descent from a common male ancestor. In such a society, a rule or preference for cross-cousin marriage would create a systematic form of exogamy. In other words, if every man in a patrilineal, clan-based society were to marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, every man would be marrying someone from a different clan. (For example, if you were to marry your own mother’s brother’s child, you would be marrying someone from outside of your father’s family line.) Since every man’s mother in our imaginary society is born into a different patriclan than his own, when a man marries the daughter of his mother’s brother (i.e., his cross cousin) he is renewing an alliance with another patriclan (i.e. his mother’s birth clan) by bringing a woman from his mother’s birth clan into his own clan as a wife, just as his father did before him.

On the other hand, in a society made up of competing patriclans, a rule or preference for parallel-cousin marriage would have exactly the opposite effect. Parallel-cousin marriage would seal each and every clan off from all of the others. If, say, every man in a society made up of patrilineal clans was to marry his father’s brother’s daughter, every man would be married to a descendent of his own birth clan. (For example, if you were to marry your own father’s brother’s child, you would be marrying someone from within your father’s family line.) That would be a very strong form of endogamy, or “marrying in,” which, according to Tylor, would encourage social isolation, cultural stasis, rivalry, and high levels of conflict between clans.

[...]


In any case, early history aside, there is a critical flaw in Levi-Strauss’s theory of contemporary human kinship. Levi-Strauss did indeed show that the widespread practice of cross-cousin marriage confirms, rather than contradicts, the leading role of exogamy in human social life. Unfortunately, Levi-Strauss almost entirely failed to deal with the single great exception to his rule. Although the vast majority of societies with a preference for close-cousin marriage favor the marriage of cross cousins, a significant minority of such societies favor the marriage of parallel cousins.

And as we’ve already seen, parallel-cousin marriage has an effect precisely the opposite of the alliance-building interchange encouraged by cross-cousin marriage — and praised by Tylor and Levi-Strauss. Instead of encouraging cultural exchange, forging alliances, and mitigating tensions among competing groups, parallel-cousin marriage tends to wall off groups from one another and to encourage conflict between and among them. However strong the urge among anthropologists to identify the cooperative advantages of exogamy as a core characteristic of human nature itself, the hard fact of the matter is that a significant minority of human societies have chosen to organize themselves according to principles quite the opposite of alliance-based exogamy. Care to hazard guess as to exactly where in the world those societies might be?

While the vast majority of societies that practice cousin marriage favor the marriage of cross cousins, the relatively small number of societies that encourage parallel-cousin marriage can be found in the Islamic cultures of North Africa and west and central Asia. Russian anthropologist Andrey Korotayev has shown that, while the region that practices parallel-cousin marriage does not map perfectly onto the Islamic world as a whole, it does (with some exceptions) closely resemble the territory of the eighth-century Islamic Caliphate — the original Islamic empire. So there is one great exception to the claim that human society — and even human nature itself — are built around the principle of extra-familial marriage. Almost every known contemporary case of preferential parallel-cousin marriage is the result of diffusion from a single source: the original Islamic Caliphate. And while parallel-cousin marriage may not be Islamic in any strict or formal sense (in fact, the practice apparently predates Islam in the region), as Korotayev puts it, “there seems to be no serious doubt that there is some functional connection between Islam and FBD [father’s brother’s daughter — i.e., parallel cousin] marriage.” Sounds like we’d best find out what that “functional connection” is.

...Proves the Rule
Once you give up the idea that every human society depends in some fundamental way on the practice of marrying out, it’s fairly easy to see the other side of the coin. If in-marriage stifles cultural development and change by walling society off from outside influences, then strong endogamy also has the corresponding benefits of heightening social cohesion and preserving cultural continuity. That is precisely the argument of Kansas State University anthropologist Martin Ottenheimer, who notes that parallel-cousin marriage among Pakistanis in Great Britain tends to reinforce cultural continuity in Muslim immigrant communities. Ottenheimer’s study, Forbidden Relatives: The American Myth of Cousin Marriage, was published in 1996, several years before it became apparent that reinforcing the “cultural continuity” of immigrant Muslim communities in Britain might have a down side. (See especially chapter 7.)


Muslims prefer to marry parallel cousins, and that keeps their society tight knit and opposed to change. 70% of Muslims marry their cousins. The Islamic world is the only place on Earth that prefers parallel cousin marriage to cross cousin marriage, which at least allows male clans to mix members. Instead they prefer parallel cousin marriage, to keep the family unit closely sealed,since it it most important for them to preserve the sexual honor of the family's women. This is done by marrying them to their male parallel cousins.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Driver’s License Emerges as Crime-Fighting Tool, but Privacy Advocates Worry - New York Times

Driver’s License Emerges as Crime-Fighting Tool, but Privacy Advocates Worry - New York Times

BOSTON, Feb. 12 — On the second floor of a state office building here, upstairs from a food court, three facial-recognition specialists are revolutionizing American law enforcement. They work for the Massachusetts motor vehicles department.

Last year they tried an experiment, for sport. Using computerized biometric technology, they ran a mug shot from the Web site of “America’s Most Wanted,” the Fox Network television show, against the state’s database of nine million digital driver’s license photographs.

The computer found a match. A man who looked very much like Robert Howell, the fugitive in the mug shot, had a Massachusetts driver’s license under another name. Mr. Howell was wanted in Massachusetts on rape charges.

The analysts passed that tip along to the police, who tracked him down to New York City, where he was receiving welfare benefits under the alias on the driver’s license. Mr. Howell was arrested in October.

At least six other states have or are working on similar enormous databases of driver’s license photographs. Coupled with increasingly accurate facial-recognition technology, the databases may become a radical innovation in law enforcement.

Other biometric databases are more useful for now. But DNA and fingerprint information, for instance, are not routinely collected from the general public. Most adults, on the other hand, have a driver’s license with a picture on it, meaning that the relevant databases for facial-recognition analysis already exist. And while the current technology requires good-quality photographs, the day may not be far off when images from ordinary surveillance cameras will routinely help solve crimes.

Critics say the databases may therefore also represent a profound threat to privacy.

“What is the D.M.V.?” asked Lee Tien, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a privacy advocate. “Does it license motor vehicles and drivers? Or is it really an identification arm of law enforcement?”

Anne L. Collins, the Massachusetts registrar of motor vehicles, said that people seeking a driver’s license at least implicitly consent to allowing their images to be used for other purposes.

“One of the things a driver’s license has become,” Ms. Collins said, “is evidence that you are who you say you are.”

Ch�vez Threatens to Jail Price Control Violators - New York Times

Ch�vez Threatens to Jail Price Control Violators - New York Times

The economy grew by more than 10 percent last year, helping Mr. Chávez glide to a re-election victory in December with 63 percent of the vote. Yet economists who have worked with Mr. Chávez’s government say that soaring public spending is overheating Venezuela’s economy, generating imbalances in the distribution of products from sugar to basic construction materials like wallboard.

Public spending grew last year by more than 50 percent and has more than doubled since the start of 2004, as Mr. Chávez has channeled oil revenues into social programs and projects like bridges, highways, trains, subways, museums and, in a departure for a country where baseball reigns supreme, soccer stadiums.

In an indicator of concern with Mr. Chávez’s economic policies, which included nationalizing companies in the telephone and electricity industries, foreign direct investment was negative in the first nine months of 2006. The last year Venezuela had a net investment outflow was in 1986.

Shortages of basic foods have been sporadic since the government strengthened price controls in 2003 after a debilitating strike by oil workers. But in recent weeks, the scarcity of items like meat and chicken has led to a panicked reaction by federal authorities as they try to understand how such shortages could develop in a seemingly flourishing economy.

Entering a supermarket here is a bizarre experience. Shelves are fully stocked with Scotch whiskey, Argentine wines and imported cheeses like brie and Camembert, but basic staples like black beans and desirable cuts of beef like sirloin are often absent. Customers, even those in the government’s own Mercal chain of subsidized grocery stores, are left with choices like pork neck bones, rabbit and unusual cuts of lamb.

With shoppers limited to just two large packages of sugar, a black market in sugar has developed among street vendors in parts of Caracas. “This country is going to turn into Cuba, or Chávez will have to give in,” said Cándida de Gómez, 54, a shopper at a private supermarket in Los Palos Grandes, a district in the capital.

José Vielma Mora, the chief of Seniat, the government’s tax agency, oversaw a raid this month on a warehouse here where officials seized about 165 tons of sugar. Mr. Vielma said the raid exposed hoarding by vendors who were unwilling to sell the sugar at official prices. He and other officials in Mr. Chávez’s government have repeatedly blamed the shortages on producers, intermediaries and grocers.

Those in the food industry argue that the price controls prevented them from making a profit after inflation rose and the value of Venezuela’s currency plunged in black market trading in recent weeks. The bolívar, the country’s currency, fell more than 30 percent to about 4,400 to the dollar in unofficial trading following Mr. Chávez’s nationalization of Venezuela’s main telephone company, CANTV, and its largest electric utility, Electricidad de Caracas.

[...]

“There seems to be a basic misunderstanding in Chávez’s government of what is driving scarcity and inflation,” said Francisco Rodríguez, a former chief economist at Venezuela’s National Assembly who teaches at Wesleyan University.

“There are competent people in the government who know that Chávez needs to lower spending if he wants to defeat these problems,” Mr. Rodríguez said. “But there are few people in positions of power who are willing to risk telling him what he needs to hear.”

Ch�vez Threatens to Jail Price Control Violators - New York Times

Ch�vez Threatens to Jail Price Control Violators - New York Times

CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 16 — Faced with an accelerating inflation rate and shortages of basic foods like beef, chicken and milk, President Hugo Chávez has threatened to jail grocery store owners and nationalize their businesses if they violate the country’s expanding price controls.

Food producers and economists say the measures announced late Thursday night, which include removing three zeroes from the denomination of Venezuela’s currency, are likely to backfire and generate even more acute shortages and higher prices for consumers. Inflation climbed to an annual rate of 18.4 percent a year in January, the highest in Latin America and far above the official target of 10 to 12 percent.

Mr. Chávez, whose leftist populism remains highly popular among Venezuela’s poor and working classes, seemed unfazed by criticism of his policies. Appearing live on national television, he called for the creation of “committees of social control,” essentially groups of his political supporters whose purpose would be to report on farmers, ranchers, supermarket owners and street vendors who circumvent the state’s effort to control food prices.

“It is surreal that we’ve arrived at a point where we are in danger of squandering a major oil boom,” said José Guerra, a former chief of economic research at Venezuela’s central bank, who left Mr. Chavez’s government in 2004. “If the government insists on sticking to policies that are clearly failing, we may be headed down the road of Zimbabwe.”

For now, Venezuela remains far from any nightmarish economic meltdown. The country, which has the largest conventional oil reserves outside the Middle East, is still enjoying a revenue windfall from historically high oil prices, resulting in a surge in consumer spending and lavish government financing for an array of social welfare and infrastructure programs. Dollar reserves at the central bank total more than $35 billion.

Bloomberg Printer-Friendly Page

Bloomberg Printer-Friendly Page

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela President Hugo Chavez's plan to curb inflation by lopping three zeros from the currency may backfire because the move fails to address production bottlenecks that are pushing prices higher, economists said.

The government will cut three zeros from the bolivar's exchange rate by February 2008, Chavez said last night in a televised speech, citing rising consumer prices. He also will cut the value-added tax rate and clamp down on ``speculators'' to halt last month's 4 percent increase in the cost of food.

The steps aimed at slowing inflation and boosting local output miss the root causes exacerbating imbalances in South America's third-biggest economy, according to economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bear Stearns & Co. Flush with oil money and government spending, which jumped about 50 percent last year, economic growth and inflation are both surging.

``He has a funny understanding of the problem,'' Alberto Bernal, a Latin America economist with Bear Stearns & Co., said in an interview. ``Cutting a number of zeros from the bolivar is irrelevant in the end.''

Chavez, who won a third term in December, was granted decree powers last month by Congress in his drive to seize key industries and put the country on the path of socialism. The president said he plans in ``coming hours'' to decree a law that allows the government to expropriate any business that sells food products higher than government-set prices.

The annual inflation rate rose to 18.4 percent last month, the highest in Latin America, from 10.4 percent in May.

`Hello President'

Price regulations and other controls, including a crackdown on businesses buying currencies outside official government channels, have helped to make food production unprofitable, leading to a decline in supply and spurring inflation.

``Inflation isn't a problem that you solve with a few detentions,'' Carlos Caicedo, head of the Latin American office at London-based political risk advisers Exclusive Analysis, said in a telephone interview ``Speculation is a symptom of the disease, not its real cause.''

Chavez, speaking during his daily ``Hello President'' show, said he would lower value-added taxes 3 percentage points on March 1 and by an additional 2 points in July. The highest current value-added tax rate is 14 percent.

``The only economic indicator that has me a bit worried is inflation,'' Chavez said. ``Cutting three zeros will have a positive psychological effect and lower inflation expectations.''

Unregulated Markets

Government officials blame private businesses and citizens who buy dollars outside government channels for accelerating inflation. Chavez said those found guilty of ``hoarding'' and ``speculating'' may receive prison terms of two-to-six years.

Socialism is for morons. "for want of an economics class, the country was ruined" I love the people who think Chavez is making us look bad, and that other Latin American countries will embrace socialism. Let them. But this time we shouldn't bail them out when their economy collapses. Why aren't American leftists streaming into Venezuela? If they went total free market libertarian, I'D move! I wish there was a place built to order for Libertarians. The U.S. is the closest we have!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Karbala provincial headquarters raid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Karbala provincial headquarters raid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The raid of the Karbala provincial headquarters was an infiltration attack carried out on 20 January 2007 by insurgent commandos, with possible Iranian involvement, on a meeting of U.S. and Iraqi officials at the governor's compound in Karbala to discuss security for the Shia ceremony of Ashoura. The assault, which left five American soldiers dead and three wounded, has been called the "boldest and most sophisticated attack in four years of warfare"[2] and is furthermore notable for being one of the few instances when Iraqi militants have managed to capture U.S. soldiers.

[...]

The raid

The attack was perpetrated by "nine to 12 militants posing as an American security team ... [who] traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles — the type used by U.S. government convoys — had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues, and spoke English."[4] According to one Iraqi official, the militant team was led by a blond. The attack occurred as the U.S. military convened a meeting to discuss security for Ashura. About a dozen U.S. troops were inside the compound at the time.[1]

After being waved through the last of three checkpoints manned by Iraqi securtiy forces at around 17:45, the militants parked their (at least) five SUVs[5] near the city's Provisional Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) main building.[1] The attackers' convoy divided upon arrival, with some vehicles parking at the back of the main building where the meeting was taking place and others parking in front. The commandos first used flash grenades to confuse the Americans. They then stormed into a room where Americans and Iraqis were making the security plans, capturing two U.S. soldiers.[6] They pulled two more soldiers out of an armored Humvee at the entrance. One soldier died and three were wounded when a grenade thrown by insurgents exploded in the local police chief's office on an upper floor of the building. Three U.S. Humvees were damaged by separate explosions in the raid.[5] No Iraqi police or soldiers were injured in the raid, as the insurgents specifically targeted the American soldiers in the compound.[6]

At approximately 18:00, the insurgents broke off the attack and left the compound with their prisoners, heading east toward neighbouring Babil province. Shortly after crossing the Euphrates River, the militants, who were then being followed by Iraqi police, shot their four captives and abandoned five vehicles along with uniforms, equipment, and a rifle.[5] The four soldiers were found later by Iraqi police with gunshot wounds to their heads near Bu-Alwan, a village close to Mahawil. Three were already dead (two handcuffed together in the back of one of the SUVs and the other on the ground) and the fourth died while being evacuated to a nearby hospital.[4]

[...]

Suspected Iranian involvement

According to two unnamed U.S. officials, the Pentagon is examining the possibility that the raid was supported or conducted by Iranians. In a speech on 31 January 2007, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated that Iran was supporting attacks against Coalition forces in Iraq[8] and some Iraqis suspect that the raid may have been perpetrated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps's Qods Force in retaliation for the detention of 5 Iranian officials by U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil on 11 January.[9][10]

In response to such speculations, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, "ridiculed evidence the US military claimed to have proving Iranian involvement in planning attacks on US and Iraqi forces."[11]

Journalist Bill Roggio has suggested that the attackers may have intended to transfer the captured Americans over the border to Iran.[12]
“ This raid required specific intelligence, in depth training for the agents to pass as American troops, resources to provide for weapons, vehicles, uniforms, identification, radios and other items needed to successfully carry out the mission. Hezbollah’s Imad Mugniyah executed a similar attack against Israeli forces on the Lebanese border, which initiated the Hezbollah-Israeli war during the summer of 2006…

Mahawil (where abandoned vehicles & the victim’s bodies were found) is in Babil province, about 27 miles directly west of Karbala. While it is impossible to prove, the attackers may have been making a bee-line towards the Iranian border.

The Karbala raid makes sense in light of the U.S. raids on the Iranian diplomatic missions in Baghdad and Irbil, where Iranian Qods Force agents were captured, along with documentation that divulged Iran’s involvement with and support of Shia death squads, the Sunni insurgent, and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunnah. Five Iranians from the Irbil raid are still in U.S. custody, and captured U.S. soldiers would provide for excellent bargaining chips.

IF it is confirmed that Iran’s Qods Force was responsible, the news that the United States has authorized the death or captured of Iranian agents inside Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan and Lebanon makes all the more sense.

Iran's elite and mysterious fighters - Los Angeles Times

Iran's elite and mysterious fighters - Los Angeles Times

The Revolutionary Guard was entrusted to protect Khomeini's theocracy. But the revolutionaries also were inspired to spread their vision abroad.

The Quds Force and its predecessors consisted of the Guard's most skilled warriors. Experts said they were highly secretive commando units sent abroad to help Shiites usurp monarchies in the Persian Gulf, gun down enemies and battle Israeli forces in southern Lebanon. They also reportedly have run operations in Sudan, South Asia and Western Europe.

Their plans sometimes coincided with U.S. interests, as when they supported Afghans fighting the Soviet Union in the 1980s and Bosnian Muslims battling Serbs in the 1990s.

The Quds Force also has been involved in Iraq. It assisted Kurdish rebels fighting Saddam Hussein in the 1980s and Shiites battling his regime in the 1990s. Even Ahmad Chalabi's expatriate Iraqi National Congress had Quds Force help, experts say.

At most, the force numbers 2,000, said Mahan Abedin, director of research at the Center for the Study of Terrorism, a London think tank.

"It's a remarkably efficient organization, quite possibly one of the best special forces units in the world," he said.

The extent to which the Quds Force is controlled by the government has been hotly debated in U.S. foreign policy circles.

"This has been a topic of debate among Iran experts inside and outside the government for 25 years," said Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. "There are people who believe the Quds Force does not move a muscle without getting explicit orders from [supreme leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei; there are other people who believe they are rogues. The weight of evidence is somewhere in the middle."

There are signs that Quds Force-linked operatives have taken orders from Tehran for overseas missions.

Most notable, Pollack said, were the 1992 killings of an Iranian Kurdish separatist leader and three associates in Berlin by four gunmen led by an Iranian agent. In 1997, a German court found that the slayings had been ordered by a government committee in Tehran that included Khamenei and then-President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

There has been evidence of rifts between Iran's government and the Revolutionary Guard and Quds Force. The Revolutionary Guard occasionally has tried to push the government into more extremist positions.

In 1998, for example, thousands of Guard troops gathered on the border with Afghanistan in what appeared to be a move against the Taliban regime. There was suspicion that the Revolutionary Guard was working independently. The government later sent conventional forces to "keep a watch" on the Guard, Pollack said.

Why are the Iranian bombs marked in English? - By Lindsay Goldwert - Slate Magazine

Why are the Iranian bombs marked in English? - By Lindsay Goldwert - Slate Magazine

Last week, U.S. military officials accused Iran of arming Iraqi insurgents with bombs, missiles, and rockets for attacks on American troops. Apparently, serial numbers and markings on seized munitions indicate they came from Iran. (Click here for a PDF of the U.S. military intelligence report.) Why do bombs need serial numbers?

For inventory and quality control. When a bullet, explosive, or any kind of ammunition is manufactured, it may be marked with a unique serial number and the date of manufacture. (A bomb may also include information indicating which factory produced it.) This information simplifies the process of tracking missing or damaged munitions. For example, if a bullet misfires, the military can use its markings to identify and scrap the entire lot it came from. The date of manufacture is important because the components in ammunition begin to degrade and become unreliable after about 15 years.

Military intelligence analysts have to learn to identify the manufacturer markings and serial numbers of each country's munitions, since there are no international guidelines for labeling. The exact markings on grenades, bombs, and bullets will vary depending on the country and sometimes on the specific company that does the manufacturing.
Click Here!

Why does the Iranian TNT have markings in Farsi, while the other rounds seem to be labeled in English? Since Iran sells munitions on the international market, it makes more sense to use a language that is spoken far and wide. (You don't have to use English, though; China and Russia sell arms marked with Chinese and Cyrillic characters.) In recent years, U.S. manufacturers have begun to augment their markings with bar codes that can be tracked by computer.

Surveying the serial numbers on bullets and projectiles can be an effective way to measure the flow of arms into conflict zones. Last year, Oxfam reported that bullets manufactured in the United States, Greece, Russia, and China had ended up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in spite of a U.N. arms embargo. Last summer, Israel examined the serial numbers on rockets fired by Hezbollah and concluded they came from Syria by way of Russia. Serial numbers are also used by national and international police to track down illegal sales of ammunition. Meanwhile, the United Nations is now attempting to create an international standard for the tracing and marking of ammunition.

Liz Cheney - Retreat Isn't an Option - washingtonpost.com

Liz Cheney - Retreat Isn't an Option - washingtonpost.com

Sen. Hillary Clinton declared this weekend, " I'm in to win." Anyone who has watched her remarkable trajectory can have no doubt that she'll do whatever it takes to win the presidency. I wish she felt the same way about the war.

In fairness, Clinton, with her proposal for arbitrary caps on troop levels and hemming and hawing about her vote for the war resolution, has company on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is the only national Democrat showing any courage on this issue. We Republicans -- with help from senators such as Chuck Hagel -- seem ready to race the Democrats to the bottom.

[..]

I'd like to ask the politicians in both parties who are heading for the hills to stop and reflect on these basic facts:

· We are at war. America faces an existential threat. This is not, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has claimed, a "situation to be solved." It would be nice if we could wake up tomorrow and say, as Sen. Barack Obama suggested at a Jan. 11 hearing, "Enough is enough." Wishing doesn't make it so. We will have to fight these terrorists to the death somewhere, sometime. We can't negotiate with them or "solve" their jihad. If we quit in Iraq now, we must get ready for a harder, longer, more deadly struggle later.

· Quitting helps the terrorists. Few politicians want to be known as spokesmen for retreat. Instead we hear such words as "redeployment," "drawdown" or "troop cap." Let's be clear: If we restrict the ability of our troops to fight and win this war, we help the terrorists. Don't take my word for it. Read the plans of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Ayman Zawahiri to drive America from Iraq, establish a base for al-Qaeda and spread jihad across the Middle East. The terrorists are counting on us to lose our will and retreat under pressure. We're in danger of proving them right.

· Beware the polls. In November the American people expressed serious concerns about Iraq (and about Republican corruption and scandals). They did not say that they want us to lose this war. They did not say that they want us to allow Iraq to become a base for al-Qaeda to conduct global terrorist operations. They did not say that they would rather we fight the terrorists here at home. Until you see a poll that asks those questions, don't use election results as an excuse to retreat.

· Retreat from Iraq hurts us in the broader war. We are fighting the war on terrorism with allies across the globe, leaders such as Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. Brave activists are also standing with us, fighting for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the empowerment of women. They risk their lives every day to defeat the forces of terrorism. They can't win without us, and many of them won't continue to fight if they believe we're abandoning them. Politicians urging America to quit in Iraq should explain how we win the war on terrorism once we've scared all of our allies away.

What about Iran? There is no doubt that an American retreat from Iraq will embolden Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, making it even less likely that the Iranian president will bend to the will of the international community and halt his nuclear weapons program.

The Sun Online - Bizarre: Cruise 'is Christ' of Scientology

The Sun Online - Bizarre: Cruise 'is Christ' of Scientology

TOM Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.

The Mission: Impossible star has been told he has been “chosen” to spread the word of his faith throughout the world.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion.

A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

“Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in the ’80s. Leader L Ron Hubbard claimed humans bear traces of an ancient alien civilisation.

Exploring Google's Hidden Features

Exploring Google's Hidden Features

Google is a great search engine, but it's also more than that. Google has tons of hidden features, some of which are quite fun and most of which are extremely useful— if you know about them. How do you discover all these hidden features within the Google site? Read on to learn more.

I love Google, and I love finding google hacks like these here!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Top Web tools for College Students - NextPath

Top Web tools for College Students - NextPath

Top Web Tools for College Students

I have been in college almost three years now and have been using many different Web tools that saved me time, helped me learn more and, most importantly, did not cost a penny. Here are 10 tools that I recommend for every college student:

13 Things I Wish I Learned In College - NextPath

13 Things I Wish I Learned In College - NextPath

13 Things I Wish I Learned In College

College is a great experience that millions of students look forward to every year. I myself have been in college for a total of 6 years and have obtained a B.A. in communications as well as a MBA. After attending college I started working and realized that college does not prepare you for the real world. Here are some of the things that I should have learned in college so I would have been more prepared for my job after college.

Washington inaugurates new dollar coin series

Washington inaugurates new dollar coin series

Dollar coins have gone clunk with the American public, but maybe that's about to change.

Today, the U.S. Mint is issuing a gold-color "Presidential Dollar" coin that it hopes will appeal to collectors and consumers, unlike the wallflower Sacagawea and Susan B. Anthony dollar coins.

Edmund Moy, director of the U.S. Mint, said the relentless pace of inflation means the time is ripe for a higher-denomination coin.

"A quarter doesn't buy a whole lot in a parking meter anymore," he said. "You've got to carry a sack of quarters around to plug that meter. Laundry, car washes are very coin-intensive services."

Weighing 8.1 grams, the same as the Sacagawea, a Presidential Dollar is lighter than four quarters, which weigh 5.5 grams each.

But Moy thinks a bigger plus for the new dollars is their novelty. He hopes they will, ahem, mint a new generation of amateur numismatists.

The Mint will issue the coins as a rotating limited-edition series, one for each president, following the order in which they served.

Presidents Day coins

The George Washington coin reaches banks today, in time for Presidents Day on Monday. Coins depicting John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are due out later this year. Four additional presidents will be honored each year for a decade. Each president's coin will be minted only once, during a single 10-week period. Only presidents who have been dead at least two years will be depicted.

"This is based off a very, very successful program, which is the 50 State Quarter program," Moy said. "It is the most successful coin program the Mint has ever had. It generated 140 million people who are collecting these right now."

Stupid. Stupid. Stupied.

Oh, the government is concerned that dollar bills are wasteful compared to dollar coins? The whole fucking government is awash in waste and squander. At least coining money is in the Constitution, unlike most of the other shit they do. Oh, and we need this because of inflation? Well, why not stop inflating the currency then? The dollar has lost 99% of its value since the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank.

I don't use coins. Ever. I collect them and turn them in to the bank every few months. Now I won't be able to have any dollar bills, so I'll use up my currency much faster now. Super inconvenient. I won't have any dollars to buy things now, I'll have to get change for larger bills five fucking times a day.

The dollar coins have failed time and time again. People are going to COLLECT these coins, not use them!

Carbs May Help You Fall Asleep Faster, Study Shows Biggest Benefit Comes From Starchy Carbohydrates Eaten Four Hours Before Sleep - CBS News

Carbs May Help You Fall Asleep Faster, Study Shows Biggest Benefit Comes From Starchy Carbohydrates Eaten Four Hours Before Sleep - CBS News

(WebMD) To fall asleep faster, you might want to consider eating starchy carbohydrates before bedtime.

That's according to an Australian study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Carbs that quickly raise blood sugar (those with a high glycemic index) may hasten sleep, especially when eaten four hours before bedtime, the researchers report. Such carbs may boost tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals involved in sleep, the study suggests.