Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
- Many men are devoted to exercise to bulk up their bodies, but the phrase “use it or lose it” applies to more than just the muscles in our bodies -- it also applies to the neural pathways and connections in our brains. There are a variety of exercises and activities that can successfully work each of the brain’s five major cognitive functions on a daily basis. In addition to the tasks you can perform daily.
- Our minds consist of five main cognitive functions:
It’s important to challenge, stimulate and effectively exercise all five areas to stay mentally sharp as our brains age. Here are 5 daily brain exercises that can help you do this.
Memory plays a crucial role in all cognitive activities, including reading, reasoning and mental calculation. There are several types of memory at work in the brain. Taken together, these are the cognitive skills we may notice most when they begin to fail. To maintain a good memory, you need to train for it, which can be easier than you think. Listening to music is not only enjoyable, but by choosing a song you don’t know and memorizing the lyrics, you boost the level of acetylcholine, the chemical that helps build your brain, and improve your memory skills. Challenge yourself even more by showering or getting dressed in the dark or using your opposite hand to brush your teeth. These challenges help build new associations between different neural connections of the brain.
Attention is necessary in nearly all daily tasks. Good attention enables you to maintain concentration despite noise and distractions and to focus on several activities at once. We can improve our attention by simply changing our routines. Change your route to work or reorganize your desk -- both will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again. As we age, our attention span can decrease, making us more susceptible to distraction and less efficient at multitasking. By combining activities like listening to an audio book with jogging or doing math in your head while you drive forces your brain to work at doing more in the same amount of time.
Language activities will challenge our ability to recognize, remember and understand words. They also exercise our fluency, grammatical skills and vocabulary. With regular practice, you can expand your knowledge of new words and much more easily retrieve words that are familiar. For example, if you usually only thoroughly read the sports section, try reading a few in-depth business articles. You’ll be exposed to new words, which are easier to understand when read in context or easier to look up on a dictionary site if you are reading the news online. Take time to understand the word in its context, which will help you build your language skills and retrieve the word more readily in front of your boss in the future.
We live in a colorful, three-dimensional world. Analyzing visual information is necessary to be able to act within your environment. To work this cognitive function, try walking into a room and picking out five items and their locations. When you exit the room, try to recall all five items and where they were located. Too easy? Wait two hours and try to remember those items and their locations. The next time you’re waiting on your coworker or friend to arrive, try this mental exercise. Look straight ahead and note everything you can see both in front of you and in your peripheral vision. Challenge yourself to recall everything and write it down. This will force you to use your memory and train your brain to focus on your surroundings.
5- Executive Function
Without even realizing it, you use your logic and reasoning skills on a daily basis to make decisions, build up hypotheses and consider the possible consequences of your actions. Activities in which you must define a strategy to reach a desired outcome and calculate the right moves to reach the solution in the shortest possible time are actually fun activities you do daily -- like social interaction and, yes, video games. Engaging in a brief visit with a friend boosts your intellectual performance by requiring you to consider possible responses and desired outcomes. Video games require strategy and problem-solving to reach a desired outcome -- like making it to the final level. “It’s not just Halo, honey; I’m exercising my executive brain functions!”
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
When Was the 4th of July First Celebrated?
- John Adams predicted in a letter to his wife Abigail that Americans would celebrate their Independence Day on July 2. Off by two days - not too bad for government work.
- On July 2, 1776, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, signed only by Charles Thompson (the secretary of Congress) and John Hancock (the presiding officer). Two days later Congress approved the revised version and ordered it to be printed and distributed to the states and military officers. The other signatures would have to wait.
- Many actually viewed the Declaration of Independence as a yawner - a rehashing of arguments already made against the British government. John Adams would later describe the Declaration as "dress and ornament rather than Body, Soul, or Substance." The exception was the last paragraph that said the united colonies "are and of Right ought to be Free and Independent states" and were "Absolved of all Allegiance to the British Crown."
- For Adams, it was the momentum towards achieving American independence initiated on July 2 that future generations would consider worth celebrating, not the approval of this document on July 4.
- Interestingly, the pomp and circumstance that many Americans presume took place on July 4, 1776, actually occurred days to weeks afterwards.
- The Philadelphia Evening Post published the Declaration's full text in its July 6 newspaper. And the Declaration of Independence was publicly read from the State House in Philadelphia on July 8. Later that day, it was read in Easton, PA, Trenton, NJ, and to the local embryonic militia to provide much-needed inspiration against the formidable British.
- The shouting and firing of muskets that followed these first public readings represent America's first celebrations of independence.
- As copies spread, the Declaration of Independence would be read at town meetings and religious services. In response, Americans lit bonfires, fired guns, rang bells, and removed symbols of the British monarchy.
- The following year, no member of Congress thought about commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence until July 3 - one day too late. So the first organized elaborate celebration of independence occurred the following day: July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia. Ships in the harbor were decked in the nation's colors. Cannons rained 13-gun salutes in honor of each state. And parades and fireworks spiced up the festivities.
- Fireworks did not become staples of July 4 celebrations until after 1816, when Americans began producing their own pyrotechnics and no longer relied on expensive fireworks from across the pond.
- Since 1777, the tradition of celebrating America's independence on July 4 has continued.
- From: http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080701/sc_livescience/whenwasthe4thofjulyfirstcelebrated
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Formed by the intersection of Broadway, Seventh Avenue, and 42d Street, this famous square was named for the building there that formerly belonged to the New York Times. The building, located in the center of the square, is still famous for its band of lights that transmits up-to-the-minute news. Times Square and the adjacent area form one of the most concentrated entertainment districts in the nation, featuring legitimate theaters, motion picture houses, shops, newsstands, bars, and restaurants. When the New York Times erected a new building on 43rd Street in 1904, the neighborhood took on the name "Times Square." Just a few short years before, Longacre Square as it was then known, was considered a dangerous place where only those of ill repute would venture. A decade later, theater, vaudeville and cabaret migrated to the streets nearby, attracting much tourism by the 1920s. But the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression led to a sharp decline in theater attendance. Businesses needing something to draw people into the area, the notorious period of Times Square was born. It was mainly during the 60's and 70's that live nude shows, erotic bookstores, and x-rated movies occupied the area. By 1975 Times Square was being described as a 'sinkhole' by a daily New York newspaper. The crime rate sky rocketed causing Times Square to be the most dangerous place in the city, keeping tourists away. In the early 1980s, the city and business began to band together to make major efforts to restore the neighborhood to its former, more wholesome, reputation. By the late 1990's Times Square was restored to its intended glory. It is uniquely the only zone in the New York City where tenants are required to display bright signs. With 27,000 residents and an estimated 26 million annual visitors each year, Times Square has changed drastically since it's inauguration 100 years ago. HISTORY OF TIMES SQUARE NEW YEAR'S EVE CELEBRATIONS The first rooftop celebration atop One Times Square, complete with a fireworks display, took place in 1904. The New York Times produced this event to inaugurate its new headquarters in Times Square and celebrate the renaming of Longacre Square to Times Square. The first Ball Lowering celebration atop One Times Square was held on December 31, 1907 and is now a worldwide symbol of the turn of the New Year, seen via satellite by more than one billion people each year. In 1942 and 1943 the Ball Lowering was suspended due to the wartime dimout. The crowds who still gathered in Times Square celebrated with a minute of silence followed by chimes ringing out from an amplifier truck parked at One Times Square. The original New Year's Eve Ball weighed 700 pounds and was 5 feet in diameter. It was made of iron and wood and was decorated with 100 25-watt light bulbs. The New Year's Eve Ball is the property of the building owners of One Times Square. Live Webcams View EarthCam's selection of Live Webcams located in and around the heart of Times Square.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Determined to lose a few pounds but already feeling cranky and deprived? Take a cheese break. There’s nothing like cheese to make you feel like you’re not on a diet. And there are lots of low-fat varieties -- they’re just not all worth eating. But these 6 are. We know. The RealAge staff taste-tested dozens to find them. What’s more, there’s evidence that the calcium, protein, and other goodies in low-fat cheese (and other low-fat dairy foods) can actually help you lose weight, nourish your bones, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of diabetes. End of bad mood, beginning of new body!
- Boursin Light A homerun for cheese fans and garlic lovers alike. Just a schmear of this creamy spread goes a long way on a whole-wheat cracker or slice of baguette.
- 2/3 tsp: 40 calories, 2.5g fat (1.5g saturated), 3.4g protein, 2% DV calcium
- Trader Joe’s Fat- Free Feta These moist, cheesy crumbles make a perfect final flourish for a baby spinach salad tossed with berries, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette.
- 1 ounce: 35 calories, 0g fat ( 0g saturated), 5g protein, 10% DV calcium
- Treasure Cave Reduced Fat Crumbled Blue Cheese Great on salads and burgers yet has roughly half the fat of regular blue cheese. As with all blues, you must be a fan of salty and stinky to enjoy this one. Lucky for us, we are!
- 1/4 cup: 80 calories, 5g fat (3.5g saturated), 7g protein, 15% DV calcium
- Mini Babybel Light These rounds of creamy, semi-soft cheese are perfect with a handful of grapes and a couple almonds.
- 1 round: 50 calories, 3g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 6g protein, 20% DV of calcium
- Jarlsberg Lite Replace your usual Swiss slices with these thin, deli-style slices -- they have a mild, slightly nutty flavor and an almost sweet aftertaste.
- 1 ounce: 70 calories, 4g fat, 2g saturated fat, 9g protein, 25% DV calcium
- Sargento Reduced Fat Provolone This mild Italian favorite maintains a nice buttery taste with a minimal amount of fat.
- 1 slice: 50 calories, 3.5g fat (2g saturated), 5g protein, 15% DV calcium
BEST FRINGE BENEFIT
- Need another reason (besides fitting into your skinny jeans) to swap full-fat cheese for lower-fat choices? Try this: Eating a diet low in saturated fats (and trans fats too) can make your RealAge as much as 6 years younger.
- From: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/6-skinny-cheeses-that-taste-creamy-162375/
- Just the other day, I was reading the label on a loaf of bread I bought and noticed it was fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat. You can now find eggs, cereal, waffles, milk, margarine spreads, and even orange juice fortified with omega-3s. But do you know what these fatty acids can do for you and how much you are supposed to consume?
- Researchers have identified a number of benefits from consuming omega-3 fatty acids:
- 1) Improving inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and asthma
- 2) Lowering blood pressure and triglycerides
- 3) Increasing HDL (good) cholesterol
- 4) Reducing depression, as well as the symptoms of bipolar disorder and Alzheimer's disease
- The American Heart Association recommends we consume the following amounts of omega-3s:
- For people without heart disease: At least two servings each week of a fatty fish such as salmon
- For people with heart disease: 1 gram each of DHA and EPA (types of omega-3s) daily
- For people with elevated triglycerides: 2 to 4 grams each of DHA and EPA daily, in capsule form
- This supplementation should be done under your doctor's supervision.
- Foods that naturally contain omega-3s include fish (salmon, tuna, white fish), flaxseed, walnuts, pinto beans, and broccoli, as well as canola, soybean, and flaxseed oils. To find out how much omega-3s are in some of the foods you eat, look up particular foods in:
- Enjoy some of the really good fats — think about your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
- Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, activist and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to graduate from college. The story of how Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become known worldwide through the dramatic depictions of the play The Miracle Worker.
- What is less well known is how Keller's life developed after she completed her education. A prolific author, she was well traveled, and was outspoken in her opposition to war. She campaigned for women's suffrage, workers' rights and socialism, as well as many other progressive causes.
- Helen Keller was born at an estate called Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880, to Captain Arthur H. Keller, a former officer of the Confederate Army, and Kate Adams Keller, a cousin of Robert E. Lee and daughter of Charles W. Adams, a former Confederate general. The Keller family originates from Germany, and at least one source claims her father was of Swiss descent. She was not born blind and deaf; it was not until nineteen months of age that she came down with an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which could have possibly been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind. At that time her only communication partner was Martha Washington, the six-year-old daughter of the family cook, who was able to create a sign language with her; by age seven, she had over 60 home signs to communicate with her family.
- In his doctoral dissertation, "Deaf-blind Children (psychological development in a process of education)" (1971, Moscow Defectology Institute), Soviet blind-deaf psychologist Meshcheryakov asserted that Washington's friendship and teaching was crucial for Keller's later developments.
- In 1886, her mother, inspired by an account in Charles Dickens' American Notes of the successful education of another deafblind child, Laura Bridgman, dispatched young Helen, accompanied by her father, to seek out Dr. J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist in Baltimore, for advice. He, subsequently, put them in touch with Alexander Graham Bell, who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell advised the couple to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, the school where Bridgman had been educated, which was then located in South Boston. The school delegated teacher and former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and then only 20 years old, to become Keller's instructor.
- It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, eventually evolving into governess and companion.
- Sullivan got permission from Keller's father to isolate the girl from the rest of the family in a little house in their garden. Her first task was to instill discipline in the spoiled girl. Keller's big breakthrough in communication came one day when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on her palm, while running cool water over her hand, symbolized the idea of "water"; she then nearly exhausted Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world (including her prized doll). In 1890, ten-year-old Helen Keller was introduced to the story of Ragnhild Kåta, a deafblind Norwegian girl who had learned to speak. Kåta's success inspired Keller to want to learn to speak as well. Sullivan taught her charge to speak using the Tadoma method of touching the lips and throat of others as they speak, combined with fingerspelling letters on the palm of the child's hand. Later Keller learned Braille, and used it to read not only English but also French, German, Greek, and Latin.
- In 1888, Keller attended the Royal Institute For the Blind. In 1894, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan moved to New York City to attend the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf and Horace Mann School for the Deaf. In 1896, they returned to Massachusetts and Helen entered The Cambridge School for Young Ladies before gaining admittance, in 1900, to Radcliffe College. Her admirer Mark Twain had introduced her to Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleton Rogers, who, with his wife, paid for her education. In 1904, at the age of 24, Keller graduated from Radcliffe magna cum laude, becoming the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
- Anne Sullivan stayed as a companion to Helen Keller long after she taught her. Anne married John Macy in 1905, and her health started failing around 1914. Polly Thompson was hired to keep house. She was a young woman from Scotland who didn't have experience with deaf or blind people. She progressed to working as a secretary as well, and eventually became a constant companion to Helen.
- After Anne died in 1936, Helen and Polly moved to Connecticut. They travelled worldwide raising funding for the blind. Polly had a stroke in 1957 from which she never fully recovered, and died in 1960.
- Winnie Corbally was Helen's companion for the rest of her life
- Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes. She was a suffragist, a pacifist, a Wilson opposer, a radical socialist, and a birth control supporter. In 1915, Helen Keller and George Kessler founded the Helen Keller International (HKI) organization. This organization is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. In 1920, she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Keller and Sullivan traveled to over 39 countries, making several trips to Japan and becoming a favorite of the Japanese people. Keller met every US President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson and was friends with many famous figures, including Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain.
- Keller was a member of the Socialist Party and actively campaigned and wrote in support of the working classes from 1909 to 1921. She supported Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs in each of his campaigns for the presidency.
- Newspaper columnists who had praised her courage and intelligence before she expressed her socialist views now called attention to her disabilities. The editor of the Brooklyn Eagle wrote that her "mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development." Keller responded to that editor, referring to having met him before he knew of her political views:
- "At that time the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him...Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent."
- Keller joined the Industrial Workers of the World (known as the IWW or the Wobblies) in 1912, saying that parliamentary socialism was "sinking in the political bog." She wrote for the IWW between 1916 and 1918. In Why I Became an IWW, Keller explained that her motivation for activism came in part from her concern about blindness and other disabilities:
- "I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers. And the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness."
- The last sentence refers to prostitution and syphilis, the latter a leading cause of blindness.
- Keller and her friend Mark Twain were both considered radicals in the socio-political context present in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, and as a consequence, their political views have been forgotten or glossed over in popular perception.
- One of Keller's earliest pieces of writing, at the age of eleven, was "The Frost King" (1891). There were allegations that this story had been plagiarized from The Frost Fairies by Margaret Canby. An investigation into the matter revealed that Keller may have suffered from cryptomnesia, having once had Canby's story read to her, only to forget about it, although the memory had remained hidden in her subconscious.
- At the age of 23, Keller published her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1903), with help from Sullivan and Sullivan's husband, John Macy. It includes letters that Keller wrote and the story of her life up to age 21, and was written during her time in college.
- Helen wrote "The World I Live In" in 1908 giving readers an insight into how she felt about the world. "Out of the Dark", a series of essays on Socialism, was published in 1913.
- Her spiritual autobiography, My Religion, was published in 1927 and re-issued as Light in my Darkness. It advocates the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, the controversial mystic who claimed to have witnessed the Last Judgment and second coming of Jesus Christ, and the movement named after him, Swedenborgianism.
- In total Keller wrote 12 books and numerous articles.
- When Keller visited Akita Prefecture in Japan in July 1937, she inquired about Hachikō, the famed Akita dog that had died in 1935. She told a Japanese person that she would like to have an Akita dog; one was given to her within a month, with the name of Kamikaze-go. When he died of canine distemper, his older brother, Kenzan-go, was presented to her as an official gift from the Japanese government in July 1939. Keller is credited with having introduced the Akita to the United States through these two dogs. By 1938 a breed standard had been established and dog shows had been held, but such activities stopped after World War II began. Keller wrote in the Akita Journal:
- "If ever there was an angel in fur, it was Kamikaze. I know I shall never feel quite the same tenderness for any other pet. The Akita dog has all the qualities that appeal to me — he is gentle, companionable and trusty."
- Keller suffered a series of strokes in 1961 and spent the last years of her life at her home.
- On September 14, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Helen Keller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States' highest two civilian honors. In 1965 she was elected to the Women's Hall of Fame at the New York World's Fair.
- Keller devoted much of her later life to raise funds for the American Foundation for the Blind. She died in her sleep on June 1, 1968, passing away 26 days before her 88th birthday, at her home in Arcan Ridge near Westport, Connecticut. A service was held in her honor at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and her ashes were placed there next to her constant companions, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thompson.
- No one expects a 3-year-old who loves to dress like a princess to swear like a sailor.
- But early exposure is not so uncommon. Who's to blame? Well, there's a pretty apt quote from a 1970 Pogo cartoon: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
- The "us" are parents. A few weeks ago, I put a question out to hundreds of mothers on a local list-serv asking for anecdotes about the first time they heard their children use inappropriate words.
- Many responses were similar to mom Julia Gordon of Silver Spring, Md. She was in her car, in a hurry and trying to park.
- "The parking lot was crazy," says Gordon, a lawyer and mother of a four-year-old daughter. When someone sped into a parking space she had been waiting for, Gordon said under her breath, "He totally screwed me."
- And a few minutes later, she heard her daughter parrot back the same phrase.
- "I have to admit I did laugh at first," says Gordon. "Then I immediately stopped and told her, 'We don't say that word!'"
The Worst Swear Word of All
- Psychologists say it's no surprise that children mimic words and phrases.
- "That's just language learning. These words have no special status as taboo words," says Paul Bloom, Ph.D., of Yale University. "Learning they're taboo words is a later step."
- Bloom explains that children are using words to communicate instinctively. They don't yet have the judgment to take a step back and think about whether a word is appropriate for a given situation.
- Bloom remembers one day when his son Max, then 6, came home from school.
- Max asked in a hushed voice: "Dad, do you know what the worst swear word of all is?"
- His son then went on to explain that "damn" must be the worst. When Bloom asked why, his son said, "I listen to my babysitter talk on the phone, and she uses the 'f' word, and the 's' word, but she never says 'damn!'"
- A study by the Parents Television Council found that about once an hour children watching popular children's networks will hear mild curse words such as "stupid," "loser" and "butt." The scope and frequency can rise immeasurably with exposure to adult programs and popular music.
Lessons from the Playground
- As an experiment with his children, Bloom and his wife tried their hand at creating their own family curse words.
- "So one of them was 'flep,'" says Bloom. Whenever someone would bang their foot or hurt their toe, they'd scream "flep" as if it were an obscenity.
- The experiment was very short-lived.
- "It was a total failure," says Bloom. "The children looked at us as if we were crazy."
- The story gives one of Bloom's mentors, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, a chuckle.
- "Children are far more influenced by peers," says Pinker. "That's why kids of immigrants end up with the accent of their peer group rather than their parents."
- Particularly once they've entered elementary school.
- When it comes to choosing words, our society has a bent toward novelty. Pinker explains we're forever coming up with new ways to express that things are "good" or "bad." He says there's always a little "semantic inflation" going on.
- For instance, if members of Generation X hear a song they like, they may say, "It's awesome." A teen of today may say, "It's bitchin'." If the song is lousy, they may say, "It sucks."
- "When I was a kid and you said something sucks," says Pinker, "it was pretty clear what sexual act they were referring back to." But today kids have no idea. The term is just part of their common language.
Perception Is Everything
- Frequent use, over time, has stripped away the original connotation. Pinker says the evolution of "sucks" is similar to that of "jerk" or "sucker."
- "There is an assumption that 'sucks' was a reference to oral sex," explains Jesse Sheidlower, editor-at-large of the Oxford English Dictionary. Some scholars debate this, but Sheidlower says perception is what matters.
- "Suck" may sound edgy or obnoxious to middle-aged ears, but parents may be at a loss to explain why it's a bad word, especially to an 8- or 9-year-old. "It brings up a conversation you might not want to have right now," says Sheidlower.
- Not everyone's on the same page about what constitutes offensive language. The boundaries of what's acceptable vary from community to community and family to family.
- Some moms listen for attitude and intention in their children's words. Chevy Chase, Md., resident Sarah Pekkanen is the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 8, and she has found her dividing line.
- "I would be much quicker to jump on my kid for saying an unkind thing," says Pekkanen, "even if he used perfect language to do so."
- Pekkanen says a borderline phrase like, "it sucks," isn't as offensive if it's not intended to insult anyone.
- A clear message about respect may be more fruitful than trying to police every word. By the time kids enter the teen world, swearing is almost a rite-of-passage.
- "It's hard sometimes," says pediatrician Monika Walters. "As parents, you worry that they're going to grow up and be vagrants or a menace to society."
- When parents like this come to see her or pull her aside after an office appointment, worried about vulgar words they spotted in their teens' text messages, she asks them to remember how they talked when they were 15.
- Walters says if offensive language is part of a pattern of aggressive behavior, there's a problem. But in most cases, it's just the way teens salt their language.
- "Obscenity is a sure ticket to adulthood," says Paul Bloom.
- Or at least a way for teenagers to perceive that they sound older.
- Bloom says he doesn't want to control the words his children choose to use with their friends. "That's part of growing up," he says.
- Another part of growing up is knowing how to speak with adults and in formal situations. "So we'd like our children to grow up knowing when it's appropriate to use these words," Bloom says.
- As most parents come to recognize, teaching good judgment is not a one-time event; it's a process.
- From: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89127830
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Skip the Diet Soda
- Get ready to ditch your soda habit. Here’s why: Recent research has shown that artificial sweeteners in soda may interfere with your body’s ability to estimate how many calories you’ve ingested, so you eat more than you need. In a new rat study, animals that ate fake sugar consumed more calories overall and gained weight, compared to those that didn’t eat artificially sweetened treats. This is just one study, but it’s enough to make me want to kick the can habit. Need more convincing? For every diet soda you sip daily, your risk of becoming overweight can rise by 37 percent, according to researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. We also know that regular soda is a total sugar bomb — most people I know gave it up long ago. At roughly 225 calories a pop, a 20-ounce bottle of regular soda packs nearly as many calories as a chocolate bar (but is much less satisfying). Typically, soda also contains zero nutrients — so who needs it? Still have some soda around? Fine, stow it for guests who haven’t decided to quit. Next time you want a fizz hit, try seltzer with lime (or for a caffeine fix, green tea). What are your favorite low-cal soda substitutes?
The Mystery of Global Warming's Missing Heat
Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them. This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming. In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans. "There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant," Willis says. So the buildup of heat on Earth may be on a brief hiatus. "Global warming doesn't mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming." In recent years, heat has actually been flowing out of the ocean and into the air. This is a feature of the weather phenomenon known as El Nino. So it is indeed possible the air has warmed but the ocean has not. But it's also possible that something more mysterious is going on. That becomes clear when you consider what's happening to global sea level. Sea level rises when the oceans get warm because warmer water expands. This accounts for about half of global sea level rise. So with the oceans not warming, you would expect to see less sea level rise. Instead, sea level has risen about half an inch in the past four years. That's a lot. Willis says some of this water is apparently coming from a recent increase in the melting rate of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. "But in fact there's a little bit of a mystery. We can't account for all of the sea level increase we've seen over the last three or four years," he says. One possibility is that the sea has, in fact, warmed and expanded — and scientists are somehow misinterpreting the data from the diving buoys. But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going? Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it's probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet. That can't be directly measured at the moment, however. "Unfortunately, we don't have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they've been playing during this period," Trenberth says. It's also possible that some of the heat has gone even deeper into the ocean, he says. Or it's possible that scientists need to correct for some other feature of the planet they don't know about. It's an exciting time, though, with all this new data about global sea temperature, sea level and other features of climate. "I suspect that we'll able to put this together with a little bit more perspective and further analysis," Trenberth says. "But what this does is highlight some of the issues and send people back to the drawing board." Trenberth and Willis agree that a few mild years have no effect on the long-term trend of global warming. But they say there are still things to learn about how our planet copes with the heat.
Is Olive Oil Worth a Splurge?
We've all considered the benefits of splurging on an extravagantly priced olive oil. Is there a magic ingredient lurking in the fancy bottles that will raise our cooking to greatness or is it just a marketing scam? Here's how to make sense of it all...
Buying Tips and Cooking Bits
- -The Language of Labels: Deciphering olive oil labels is a challenge. Those that read, "first cold pressing" or "extra virgin," are the most expensive because they taste the best and are difficult to make. These oils are extracted by a centrifuge, which is an apparatus that rotates at high speed and, in this case, separates the oil from the olive paste using the laws of physics. This special process is done to get around heating the olives, which weakens their true flavor.
- -Where Expensive Counts: That delicious, earthy olive flavor is brightest when the oil is raw. Use that expensive stuff, the "extra virgin" kind that has the truest olive taste, in raw preparations and alongside ingredients that won't overpower it. That way you'll get the most out of your fancy purchase.
- -Avoid Extremes: "Light" olive oil and "Pumace" olive oil don't cut it. It may seem counter-intuitive but don't use "pure olive oil" either, because that usually means it's been refined with chemicals and, sometimes, just blended with plain ol' virgin olive oil.
- -Heat Sensitive: Since olive oil has a lower smoking point than other vegetable oils and is categorically more expensive, I don't use it for high-heat cooking. I use a more affordable oil (i.e., Canola) for jobs such as searing a piece of fish. Then, once it's cooked, I'll top it with some vegetables and a drizzle of good olive oil for flavor.
- -Calorie Count: High in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, olive oil is considered a healthy part of our diet. However, it is high in calories. 120 per tablespoon makes a salad heavier than you might realize, if you are calorie counting.
- -Forgotten Fruit: It wasn't until recently, despite all my years of cooking, that I realized olives are the "fruit" of the olive tree (which is actually an evergreen!). So, why not pair this "fruit" oil with actual fruits? Quickly sauté some apple or peach slices (for example) in olive oil and serve them with roasted meats, as part of a vegetable stir-fry, or even for a savory touch to basic frozen yogurt.