Wednesday, November 30, 2005


...a hollow concept at best, if not meaningless doubletalk. What can Bush's "victory" mean for the people caught in the crossfire between bad guys fighting for power, control, wealth, the innocents who suffer and die, whose lives are torn apart by the war, however Bush defines our exit? We should leave Iraq as soon as practical and, once we've stopped fighting, together with the international community help establish peace, justice, and reconciliation where we have so far sown death, destruction, and hatred.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

driving off a cliff

Must read: this week's This Modern World cartoon strip.

Monday, November 28, 2005

"Art is too serious a matter to limit it to the concept of enjoyment"

Contemporary composer Arik (Arie) Shapiro in a Haaretz interview:
"Enjoyment is a historical experience. People enjoy Mozart, Dvorak, Berlioz. If I want to enjoy a melody, I go to Schubert. This is a cultural experience. But of a work that was written the day before yesterday, I am critical. The enjoyment is only a part of my listening, a niche. Art is too serious a matter to limit it to the concept of enjoyment. That's primitive. When a work appeals to taste, it is appealing to a low level: This is the same taste that chooses the color of a car, or upholstery, or a table. This is the same taste that chooses what ice cream to lick. Taste is base artistic judgment."

Cheney: crooked, cruel & crazy

Editorial from the Madison Capitol Times, reprinted at Common Dreams:

Cheney Threatens America

There is something reassuring about the battering that Vice President Dick Cheney has taken in recent weeks. Finally, it appears, the Washington intelligentsia is waking up to the reality that has been obvious for years to thinking Americans: The most powerful vice president in American history is a deeply dishonest and an even more deeply dangerous man.

Cheney has been taking hits from all sides ever since his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted for lying to FBI agents and a federal grand jury. Lewis has been linked to a scheme to destroy the reputation of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, the man who exposed the lies on which the Bush-Cheney administration based its "case" for invading Iraq.

The indictment of Libby mentioned Cheney's name repeatedly and in the most compromising of circumstances: as one of the first people to mention to Libby that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative and as a participant with Libby in sessions where schemes were hatched to "respond" to Wilson.

Even before the smoke had cleared from the Libby indictment, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who had served as chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, charged that Cheney and his allies had hijacked U.S. foreign policy - often without the knowledge or consent of President Bush. Recalling his service during the Bush administration's first term, Wilkerson charged: "What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made."

Using an approach that Wilkerson described as "not unlike the decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy," the colonel argued that Cheney's cabal had "produced a series of disastrous decisions" - policymaking - with disastrous consequences for America.

Then, as if to confirm Wilkerson's observation, Cheney was exposed as the federal government's primary proponent of the use of torture. In an attempt to counter a congressional move led by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to ban cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody, Cheney pressed lawmakers to exempt the CIA from the new standard.

Amid revelations that Cheney's office had long been the administration's chief advocate for the use of torture, former CIA Director Stansfield Turner has labeled Cheney America's "vice president for torture." Declaring that "I just don't understand how a man in that position can take such a stance," Turner labeled Cheney "reprehensible."

The vice president lived up to the description after U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Cheney immediately suggested that the old soldier had lost his "backbone."

But Murtha wasn't giving Cheney any ground. Recalling the vice president's determined efforts to avoid serving in Vietnam, the congressman said, "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and (have) never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

Cheney lost that round, as he has most rounds in recent months.

If this keeps up, President Bush might yet come to recognize what most Americans already well understand: Dick Cheney is too crooked, too cruel and too crazy to be allowed to continue warping this country's policies. And if Bush doesn't recognize the need to get rid of Cheney, Congress should.

© 2005 The Capital Times

headline of the day:

It's official: Romance lasts just a year, Italian scientists say

The brain chemicals involved apparently surge then return to normal levels after a while.

So much for poetry; chemical analysis may provide the better gauge for romantic love.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

the long march of Dick Cheney the title of a good survey of Cheney's rise to power:

The Long March of Dick Cheney
by Sidney Blumenthal, History News Network, 28 November 2005

I made this using a free new tool, Cool Text.

Friday, November 25, 2005

"i'd rather be smashing imperialism"

The only banner ad that made me laugh today:

Actions Speak Louder Than BumperStickers

Thursday, November 24, 2005

attitude of gratitude

...unless you're a turkey.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wilber sells out

I was hoping Ken Wilber wouldn't go into the guru biz, but that's what it looks like, according to this email today:
Shambhala, in partnership with Sounds True, is offering a new audio program from Ken Wilber. With this program, streamlined into a concise, accessible form, Ken has finally created the ideal tool for sparking an immediate revolution of mind and spirit—The Integral Operating System. With this multi-modal "platform for the soul," users will learn how to see the world with a whole new level of understanding and philosophical sophistication.

Can't wait for the informercial.

I still recommend Wilber's big Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, as a passionately argued polemic, if not the "consensus" distillation that Wilber claims he's writing.

Monday, November 21, 2005

mildly depressed people more perceptive than others

I could have told them that and spared them the research expense. Pay close attention to what's going on with the people around you and see if you can avoid feeling depressed.

Queen's University reports:
KINGSTON, Ont. – Surprisingly, people with mild depression are actually more tuned into the feelings of others than those who aren’t depressed, a team of Queen’s psychologists has discovered.

“This was quite unexpected because we tend to think that the opposite is true,” says lead researcher Kate Harkness. “For example, people with depression are more likely to have problems in a number of social areas.”

The researchers were so taken aback by the findings, they decided to replicate the study with another group of participants. The second study produced the same results: People with mild symptoms of depression pay more attention to details of their social environment than those who are not depressed.

Their report on what is known as “mental state decoding” – or identifying other people’s emotional states from social cues such as eye expressions – is published today in the international journal, Cognition and Emotion.

Also on the research team from the Queen’s Psychology Department are Professors Mark Sabbagh and Jill Jacobson, and students Neeta Chowdrey and Tina Chen. Drs. Roumen Milev and Michela David at Providence Continuing Care Centre, Mental Health Services, collaborated on the study as well.

Previous related research by the Queen’s investigators has been conducted on people diagnosed with clinical depression. In this case, the clinically depressed participants performed much worse on tests of mental state decoding than people who weren’t depressed.

To explain the apparent discrepancy between those with mild and clinical depression, the researchers suggest that becoming mildly depressed (dysphoric) can heighten concern about your surroundings. “People with mild levels of depression may initially experience feelings of helplessness, and a desire to regain control of their social world,” says Dr. Harkness. “They might be specially motivated to scan their environment in a very detailed way, to find subtle social cues indicating what others are thinking and feeling.”

The idea that mild depression differs from clinical depression is a controversial one, the psychologist adds. Although it is often viewed as a continuum, she believes that depression may also contain thresholds such as the one identified in this study. “Once you pass the threshold, you’re into something very different,” she says.

Funding for this study comes from a New Opportunities Grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

PLEASE NOTE: PDF copies of the study are available upon request.

To learn more about Research at Queen’s ...


Nancy Dorrance, Queen’s News & Media Services, 613.533.2869

Therese Greenwood, Queen’s News & Media Services, 613.533.6907

Attention broadcasters: Queen’s has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds. For television interviews, we can provide a live, real-time double ender from Kingston fibre optic cable. Please call for details.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

mobile phone monkeys

Only a Japanese phenomenon?

Mobile phones making a monkey out of Japanese
Sapio, 10 November 2005

Going bananas over mobile phones for so many years is turning Japanese into monkeys, according to Sapio (11/23).

Nobuo Masataka, a professor at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute and author of the monster best seller Keitai wo Motta Saru (Monkeys With Mobile Phones), argues that the proliferation of mobile phones has got young Japanese making monkeys of themselves, aping the behavior patterns of chimpanzees.

He says that young Japanese have lost the ability to discern between public and private space. He adds that they have formed what he calls the dearuki-zoku (out and about tribe).

"There's been a dramatic increase in the dearuki-zoku. They don't eat meals at home with family members and you can clearly see with your own eyes the large increase in young people who hang about on the streets together with the same old friends," Masataka tells Sapio. "They make places like Shibuya their territory and rarely head even to places like (nearby entertainment and shopping districts) Shinjuku or Harajuku. They get tired going to new places or meeting new people. If they get hungry while they're strolling around, they simply get food by going into a convenience store, buying something and sitting down outside on the curb to eat it. If not that, then they just hang around for hours in fast food joints."

The primate specialist says the actions of the dearuki-zoku closely resemble behavior patterns in chimpanzees, which tend to travel in groups, walking around for a long time without going to any specific place, then eating and disposing of their wastes in the same place before bedding down on piles of grass whenever and wherever the inclination takes them.

"This ability to loiter on the streets exists only because of the proliferation of mobile phones. Parents let their kids go out because they think they're only a phone call away. And even if the kid doesn't come home, parents don't call them because they believe the child's mobile phone offers them an unbreakable link," Masataka tells Sapio. "Behind this imagined ease of mind, though, lies a breakdown in communications among the family members. Mobile phones have made it possible to connect to family members or other parts of society 24 hours a day, drastically changing the nature of relationships that humans have created through their evolution."

The problem is, Masataka notes, despite having this communication device, there's little real communication going on with parents or children rarely calling each other.

Masataka adds that a tendency for the young to lash out in wild, unprovoked attacks also draws on primate instincts drawn out by over-use of mobile phones that have stopped people from speaking in favor of sending text messages and thus made them more emotional and unable to express their feelings in words.

"Apes will suddenly strike out at people for looking at them. Naturally, apes can't talk and they're expressing their emotions in the only way they can. People prone to rage are doing exactly the same thing," the primatologist says.

Masataka claims that mobile phones have deprived people of brainpower because memory functions now eliminate the need to try and remember phone numbers and GPS functions mean people have no need to learn about their surroundings.

"Mobile phones are now performing tasks that minds once did, such as think and talk. If this continues, people will continue losing their ability to think. Information Technology may have liberated us from a whole series of daily burdens, but IT has also dragged us down. Incidentally, the only people so caught up with mobile phones and use them to send so much mail are the Japanese," Masataka tells Sapio. "Some may criticize me for likening the behavior of humans with monkeys, but having studied primates for so long, I can clearly say that it's a fact the proliferation of IT has made human behavior closely resemble that of apes." (By Ryann Connell)

Copyright 2004-2005 THE MAINICHI NEWSPAPERS. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 18, 2005

lashes, prison for HS chemistry teacher

"A Saudi high-school chemistry teacher accused of discussing religion with his students has been sentenced to 750 lashes and 40 months in prison for blasphemy, officials said Thursday," the Associated Press reported today.

Where were these guys when I was struggling with high school chemistry?

read between the lines

Judith Miller at the New York Times, Bob Woodward at the Washington Post: turns out that reporters and editors at the two major Establishment newspapers were in bed with the government, witholding facts and disseminating disinformation regarding issues of war and peace, life and death...more than ever, the need to search for facts and analysis in a broad spectrum of publications, and to hold publishers to the highest editorial standards.

fund investigative journalism now!

Re the next round of layoffs, Editor & Publisher asks,
Investigative Journalism: Will It Survive?

I suggest that people of means who care about an informed democracy immediately, if not sooner, fund a massive, collaborative, investigative journalism project to investigate government, business & etc. at local, regional, state, federal, hemispheric, global levels, with a multi-tier editorial team consisting of professionals and citizen-journalists. Offer meaningful incentives ($$ cash or cash-value coupons, redeemables, licensed merchandise, etc.) at every level of participation, including generous retainer contracts for independent journalists. Firebrands in action, adapted as necessary to work for the public good (instead of aiming to line the pockets of investors and shareholders). Create blogs & other web publications, books, comix, magazines, films, TV, radio, billboards, events, and so on. I humbly offer my services as an Editor in such an endeavor. Minding Everybody's Business (and its underlying business and editorial development plan) represents a test-bed for the concept of collaborative investigative journalism with a particular focus on business and corporations.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

my way or the highway

"My Way" by Frank Sinatra is the most popular funeral song in Britain, reports the Guardian.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

pit bulls on pot?

Urban legend in the making.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

stating the obvious: lying Bush is rewriting history, not war critics

... opines the New York Times today. Choice:
Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of them reached the same conclusions. The only part that is true is that Mr. Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful.... Mr. Bush has said in recent days that the first phase of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation on Iraq found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence. That is true only in the very narrow way the Republicans on the committee insisted on defining pressure: as direct pressure from senior officials to change intelligence. Instead, the Bush administration made what it wanted to hear crystal clear and kept sending reports back to be redone until it got those answers.... Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Jimmy Carter rings warning bell

This Isn't The Real America
by Jimmy Carter
[published 14 November 2005 by the Los Angeles Times]

In recent years, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need. It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.

Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

impeach Bush

Liar, torturer, killer, cheat, placed in the White House first by Supreme Court right-wingers and a second time as a result of lying (Libby's) and fraud.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

diplomatic foreplay

Friday, November 11, 2005

just say No to pardons for Bush & his gang

Alexander Cockburn in CounterPunch today:
Fitzgerald should say that anyone seriously urging pardons may risk indictment for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Such pardons go hand in hand with the lying which Fitzgerald denounced. If officials violating the law and then lying about it knows with certainty that they are going to escape legal sanction, then we no longer have a government. We have a sequence of criminal conspiracies. There have been scandalous pardons down the decades, but as with lying the Reagan years raised the bar.. It should become a major political issue. A model here could be Jonathan Pollard, sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel. Bush Sr and Clinton were under huge pressure to pardon him but declined to buckle because the Armed Services simply said No, we won't stand for it. To the prospect of any pardon for Libby and others the popular message should be the same. Otherwise Fitzgerald will be wasting his time and the people's money.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

we already knew it took a crime to re-elect Bush

So, when one asks why Libby lied, what motivated him to make up his cock and bull story, the likely answers do not seem so hard to fathom. Libby was covering up for Cheney, may well have been covering up for Bush too (whose small inner circle he was a part of), and very likely was saving the election for Bush, Cheney and company. These were stakes worth the candle. One should note, moreover, that if Libby lied in order to ward off a Kerry victory, this would mean that Bush was elected the first time by the Supreme Court and the second time because of lies and perjury. This would not speak well for our system, would it?

... read it all: Why Did Libby Lie?, CounterPunch

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

mainstreaming medical marijuana

You know something is going on when Ferndale, Michigan voters decriminalize medical cannabis....And the news is full of reports that a cannabis-based medicine ("CBM") provides relief for people who suffer with rheumatoid arthritis. Then there's this announcement from the ACLU:

SANTA CRUZ, CA – The nation’s first-ever government office tasked with providing medical marijuana directly to patients will likely be established today by the Santa Cruz City Council, the American Civil Liberties Union said. The action is designed to test states’ constitutional right to opt out of enforcing the federal government’s medical marijuana prohibition scheme.

“This ordinance represents our city’s sincere attempt to responsibly implement state medical marijuana laws,” said Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin, a co-sponsor of the ordinance. “We want to help medical marijuana patients obtain their medicine while also protecting them from the undesirable consequences of an unregulated black market.”....

nurses, other true heroes kick Little Dictator's butt

At The Huffington Post, Jamie Court writes:
Schwarzenegger's fall from grace and his disgrace in yesterday's extra California election could be a rallying cry for progressives across the nation to seize on the populist anger at the arrogance of power that Arnold initially exploited for his own ends. If progressives look closely at last night's Schwarzenegger slaying, they could topple Goliaths of all kinds that threaten their mores, their money, their planet, and sometimes their lives. Arnold rose and fell based on the power of populism he stold from progressives who have been happier in their arm chairs than putting their ideas on ballots for the people to vote on. The nurses, cops, teachers, and firefighters beat Arnold by displaying their humanity. By showing they were the true action heroes that protected the public and they had the right to organize for unity through unions, to stop Schwarzenegger's budget power grabs for the rich and wealthy, and to be represented by a system of checks and balances not merely a celebrity with a grudge and 70 million in corporate cash. And they could only do it by putting aside their grudges and working togther. Sure they spent a lot of money on tv, but they proved once and for all the public doesn't buy Schwarzenegger's notion that working people are special interests.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

why doesn't this happen in the US?

Lord knows we have plenty to be upset about.

it's the President, stupid

...sez the New York Times in a searing editorial today.

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall writes:
What we have here is an administration under the sway of men with lawless and authoritarian tendencies. Betraying one of the county's own spies to cover up revelations about dishonest actions in leading the country to war, attempts to squelch the press to hide government policy of supporting torture. These actions are all cut from the same cloth: cover-ups and secrecy to hide lies and dishonorable acts, all backed by force and disregard for the law.

Now it seems Sen. Lott is telling reporters he thinks the leaks came from Republicans, which is at least one more sign that there are a growing number of Republicans more interested in their country's honor than in the Cheney gang's governance by violence and lies.

Let them investigate Republicans, Democrats; let them take it before judges. Whatever. Lies beget coverups which beget more law breaking into a spiralling cycle. The executive is in corrupt hands. Nothing will change till that does

Sign posted up the hill at Kensington Circle this morning (first time I saw it, at least):
Let's start removing the criminals
from our government.

Sounds prissy enough for Kensington. No need to be overly polite.

Throw the lying bums out.

Monday, November 07, 2005

one inner manifestation of depression

Bush's blood money bonanza

It is blood-for-oil after all, reports Steve Parry.

the little engine that could

Reflecting on personal values offers protection from effects of stress, UCLA psychologists report

Reflecting on meaningful values provides biological and psychological protection from the adverse effects of stress, UCLA psychologists report in the November issue of the journal Psychological Science.

"Our study shows that reflection on personal values can buffer people from the effects of stress, but the implications are broader than that," said Shelley E. Taylor, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology, and an expert in the field of stress and health. "Any positive self-affirmation can act as a buffer against stressful events; that can include values, personal relationships and qualities that are a source of pride."

In the study, 80 UCLA undergraduates completed stressful tasks. They delivered five-minute speeches about their qualifications for an office job in front of "speech evaluators" trained to be non expressive, who would coldly tell them during pauses, "You still have time remaining. Please continue." After a short break, they were instructed to subtract 13 from 2,083 under harassing conditions. They were told to go faster and at each mistake, they were told, "That is incorrect. Please start over from 2,083."

Prior to these stress tests, one group of students (a randomly assigned "value affirmation" group) reflected on values they had identified in advance as especially meaningful to them, answering 10 written questions. These could have been religious values, in which case they were asked a series of questions about their religion, the Bible and God. In other cases, they reflected on meaningful secular values -- such as their political beliefs or social values -- answering questions about, for example, Abraham Lincoln or community service work.

The other students were randomly assigned to a control group where they answered questions before the stress test about values they had identified as unimportant to them.

Those who reflected on values they consider meaningful, regardless of what those values were, had significantly lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released during stressful events; when stimulated excessively over time, cortisol can lead to cognitive impairments and increased risk for physical disease.

Eighty-two percent of the control subjects had an increase in cortisol after the stress task, compared with only 51 percent of the value-affirmation participants, said David Creswell, an advanced UCLA psychology graduate student and the study's lead author.

"It's remarkable that such a brief, subtle value affirmation has the ability to mute cortisol responses and serve as a buffer against stress," Creswell said. "This is the first finding showing that reflecting on one's personal values reduces cortisol responses to stress. The implication is that value affirmation may make a stressful experience less so and, over time, this could potentially benefit one's cognitive functioning and physical health."

Forty-five minutes after the stress test, the researchers still saw differences in cortisol levels between the two groups. The two groups had the same levels before the stress test.

The researchers measured the students' responses to stress, including cortisol levels, heart rate and blood pressure.

"This study provides evidence for a novel, but effective method to combat stress, showing that thinking or potentially writing about important values can be stress-reducing and health enhancing," Creswell said.

"Stress-management interventions may benefit by incorporating value-affirming activities in the arsenal of weapons to combat stress, potentially in combination with other techniques," he added.

Can affirming values also help with chronic stress, such as that experienced by people coping with a serious illness, the death of a loved one or a difficult divorce?

Creswell's preliminary answer is that value-affirmation will produce beneficial health effects in those cases, and he said that is an important question for future research.

"Self-affirmations can be a very good stress-combater, especially under conditions of chronic stress," Taylor said. "It's helpful to remind yourself you're a good person with talents, and remind yourself what is important to you; that can be hard to do when you're going through something that's really awful."

The research team is conducting a follow-up study with people who have chronic illnesses, to assess how reflecting on personal values affects health. Preliminary evidence suggests that these patients do benefit, Taylor said.


The research in Psychological Science was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and a Positive Psychology Microgrant. Psychological Science, published by the American Psychological Society, is one of the leading psychology journals in the United States.

Other members of the research team included William Welch, David Sherman (now at University of California, Santa Barbara), Tara Gruenewald and Traci Mann.

Contact: Stuart Wolpert
University of California - Los Angeles

Sunday, November 06, 2005

the sky IS falling

New York Daily News:
A Times Square movie theater laid an egg at a showing of "Chicken Little" last night.

Adults and kids expecting to watch Disney's G-rated animated flick at the AMC Empire 25 theater on 42nd St. were instead presented with a foreign film that opened with a young man committing suicide.

"It's pandemonium," Joshua Gallo, 30, told the Daily News as he rushed out of the theater with his 5-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. "The kids are crying. The mothers are screaming for the managers to stop the film."

Terrified children didn't know what to do as they watched a young boy hang himself from a tree at the 8:45 p.m. screening.

After five minutes, "Andrea," a Spanish drama opening today, was turned off and "Chicken Little" was played.

Patrons got a coupon for a free movie.

Friday, November 04, 2005

wrong season

"I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

headline of the day:

Scientists show how thinking can harm brain cells

(Scroll down for the press release from the National Institutes of Health.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the down low from little bro'

ADB study favours two gas pipelines to South Asia

by Ashok Dasgupta, The Hindu, 1 November 2005

NEW DELHI: The demand for natural gas in South Asia in future is projected to be strong enough to require gas to be piped from both Turkmenistan and Iran, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) expert has said. According to a senior ADB energy specialist, Dan Millison, reserves information from Turkmenistan released some time ago shows a lower-than-expected gas deliverability for a proposed $3.3-billion pipeline project to carry gas from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to India and Pakistan.

ADB has been brokering the 1,700 km pipeline project since 2002, promoting it as a win-win example of regional cooperation, a pioneering effort to link gas-rich Central Asia with energy-deficient South Asia through Afghanistan. The project would bring clean fuel at competitive costs to India and Pakistan coupled with the much-needed transit fees to Afghanistan and new markets for Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan's Dauletabad gas field has gross reserves of 1.4 trillion cubic metres. However, production forecasts are lower than expected, causing analysts to doubt that it could meet the proposed target of piping 30 billion cubic metres (BCM) of gas annually to South Asia. "The reserves information shows that Turkmenistan could supply enough gas for the first few years but then production is predicted to decline instead of increasing," said Mr. Millison. "They will need to find gas from other fields to meet pipeline design targets," he said. Meanwhile, a $7 billion scheme to pipe natural gas from offshore Iran to Pakistan and India is gaining momentum. This 2,700 km pipeline would cost more than double the Turkmenistan scheme but leaves out Afghanistan, where security concerns remain.

Gas demand estimate

"However, with long-term gas demand from India and Pakistan estimated at 50 BCM a year, there is a need for more than one pipeline," says Mr. Millison. India already imports gas and the demand is expected to soar in the next decade. Pakistan, with its own reserves declining, is expected to begin importing gas after late 2008.

In fact, Mr. Millison feels that the projected demand in South Asia is so strong that there may be a need for a third pipeline from Qatar or Oman. With the new gas reserves data on hand, as well as a draft security analysis report, the next step is for the project's steering committee to meet and discuss inviting an international consortium of investors to build the pipeline.

Turkmenistan is largely a desert country, with proven recoverable natural gas reserves of 71 trillion cubic feet (TCF) (about two trillion cubic metres) and possible reserves of over 200 TCF (about six trillion cubic metres). It is one of the world's largest gas exporters. However, although its 4.5 million people receive free gas, electricity and water, incomes are among the lowest in Central Asia and health and education services are declining. With large gas reserves and a small population, Turkmenistan's export potential is huge, though substantial investments are needed to increase production. Turkmenistan at present pipes most of its gas to Ukraine and Europe via Gazprom, the Russian utility, though it has also a small pipeline to Iran.

Even if Turkmenistan settles for current gas prices with India and Pakistan, observers note that it should have some pricing leverage within five years when the project comes on stream. They point out that Pakistan industries and power plants now pay $100 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas. Apart from financing the feasibility report for the Turkmen project, ADB financed a study for underground natural gas storage in Pakistan, where storage capacity would help meet local demand peaks in winter and counter possible supply disruptions.

© Copyright 2000 - 2005 The Hindu

coffee beer

"Nestec, part of the Nestlé empire in Switzerland, has filed patents in every major market round the world on a 'fermented coffee beverage' that pours and foams like beer, but smells of strong coffee and packs a concentrated caffeine kick," reports New Scientist.