Thursday, January 20, 2011

Musical Interlude: Mike Oldfield, "Ascension"

Mike Oldfield, "Ascension", from "Songs of Distant Earth"

Wayne Dyer

"Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy,
but this is not accurate. You make yourself unhappy."
~ Wayne Dyer

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Sprawling across almost 200 light-years, emission nebula IC 1805 is a mix of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds. Derived from its Valentine's-Day-approved shape, its nickname is the Heart Nebula. About 7,500 light-years away in the Perseus spiral arm of our galaxy, stars were born in IC 1805. In fact, near the cosmic heart's center are the massive hot stars of a newborn star cluster also known as Melotte 15, about 1.5 million years young. 
 Click image for larger sizes.

A little ironically, the Heart Nebula is located in the constellation Cassiopeia. From Greek mythology, the northern constellation is named for a vain and boastful queen. This deep view of the region around the Heart Nebula, cropped from a larger mosaic, spans about 2.5 degrees on the sky or about 5 times the diameter of the Full Moon."

Sam Nunn

"You have to pay the price. You will find that everything in life exacts a price,
and you will have to decide whether the prize is worth the price."
- Sam Nunn

FREE Download: "Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing"

"You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings,
Learn to use them, and fly."
 "What in your life is calling you,
When all the noise is silenced,
The meetings adjourned...
The lists laid aside,
And the Wild Iris blooms
By itself in the dark forest...
What still pulls on your soul?"

- Rumi (1207 - 1273)
"Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi was a 13th century Afghan poet and philosopher who heavily influenced both eastern and western poetry. His poetry is divided into categories: the quatrains and odes of the "Divan," the six books the "Masnavi," the discourses, the letters and the "Six Sermons." Rumi's major poetic work is "Matnawiye Ma'nawi," a six-volume poem, considered by many literary critics to be one of the greatest works of mystical poetry ever written. Rumi's prose works included "Fihi Ma Fihi," "Majalese Sab'a" and "Maktubat." His prose work largely contains sermons and lectures given by Rumi to his disciples and family members. Following Rumi's death, his followers founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the "Whirling Dervishes."
FREE download, "Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing" is here:
 (Free download link is near page center, right side, marked "Slow Download.")

Groucho Marx

 "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
- Groucho Marx

The Daily "Near You?"

Glen Rose, Texas, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Frederick Keonig

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something
we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
 - Frederick Keonig

Psychology: "Why First Impressions Are Difficult to Change"

"Why First Impressions Are Difficult to Change"
 by Nick Lauert

"There is more than a literal truth to the saying that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression," suggests emerging international research. Experts have discovered that new experiences that contradict a first impression become "bound" to the context in which they were made, whereas first impressions still dominate in other contexts.

"Imagine you have a new colleague at work and your impression of that person is not very favorable," said lead author Bertram Gawronski. "A few weeks later, you meet your colleague at a party and you realize he is actually a very nice guy. Although you know your first impression was wrong, your gut response to your new colleague will be influenced by your new experience only in contexts that are similar to the party. However, your first impression will still dominate in all other contexts." According to Gawronski, our brain stores expectancy-violating experiences as exceptions-to-the-rule, such that the rule is treated as valid except for the specific context in which it has been violated.

To investigate the persistence of first impressions, Gawronski and his collaborators showed their study participants either positive or negative information about an unknown individual on a computer screen. Later in the study, participants were presented with new information about the same individual, which was inconsistent with the initial information. To study the influence of contexts, the researchers subtly changed the background color of the computer screen while participants formed an impression of the target person. When the researchers subsequently measured participants' spontaneous reactions to an image of the target person, they found the new information influenced participants' reactions only when the person was presented against the background in which the new information had been learned. Otherwise, participants' reactions were still dominated by the first information when the target person was presented against other backgrounds.

Although these results support the common observation that first impressions are notoriously persistent, Gawronski notes they can sometimes be changed. "What is necessary is for the first impression to be challenged in multiple different contexts. In that case, new experiences become decontextualized and the first impression will slowly lose its power," he said. "But, as long as a first impression is challenged only within the same context, you can do whatever you want. The first impression will dominate regardless of how often it is contradicted by new experiences."

According to Gawronski, the research also has important implications for the treatment of clinical disorders. "If someone with phobic reactions to spiders is seeking help from a psychologist, the therapy will be much more successful if it occurs in multiple different contexts rather than just in the psychologist's office." The research is published in the latest issue of the "Journal of Experimental Psychology: General."
- http://www.sott.net/

Volcanology: “Yellowstone Supervolcano Bulges as Magma Pocket Swells”

“Yellowstone Supervolcano Bulges as Magma Pocket Swells”
by Brian Handwerk

"Yellowstone National Park's supervolcano just took a deep "breath," causing miles of ground to rise dramatically, scientists report. The simmering volcano has produced major eruptions - each a thousand times more powerful than Mount St. Helens's 1980 eruption - three times in the past 2.1 million years. Yellowstone's caldera, which covers a 25- by 37-mile (40- by 60-kilometer) swath of Wyoming, is an ancient crater formed after the last big blast, some 640,000 years ago. (See "When Yellowstone Explodes" in National Geographic magazine.)
 
Since then, about 30 smaller eruptions - including one as recent as 70,000 years ago - have filled the caldera with lava and ash, producing the relatively flat landscape we see today. But beginning in 2004, scientists saw the ground above the caldera rise upward at rates as high as 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) a year. (Related: "Yellowstone Is Rising on Swollen 'Supervolcano.'") The rate slowed between 2007 and 2010 to a centimeter a year or less. Still, since the start of the swelling, ground levels over the volcano have been raised by as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) in places. "It's an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high," said the University of Utah's Bob Smith, a longtime expert in Yellowstone's volcanism.
 
Scientists think a swelling magma reservoir four to six miles (seven to ten kilometers) below the surface is driving the uplift. Fortunately, the surge doesn't seem to herald an imminent catastrophe, Smith said. (Related: "Under Yellowstone, Magma Pocket 20 Percent Larger Than Thought.") "At the beginning we were concerned it could be leading up to an eruption," said Smith, who co-authored a paper on the surge published in the December 3, 2010, edition of Geophysical Research Letters. "But once we saw [the magma] was at a depth of ten kilometers, we weren't so concerned. If it had been at depths of two or three kilometers [one or two miles], we'd have been a lot more concerned." Studies of the surge, he added, may offer valuable clues about what's going on in the volcano's subterranean plumbing, which may eventually help scientists predict when Yellowstone's next volcanic "burp" will break out.

Yellowstone Takes Regular Breaths: Smith and colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Yellowstone Volcano Observatory have been mapping the caldera's rise and fall using tools such as global positioning systems (GPS) and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), which gives ground-deformation measurements. Ground deformation can suggest that magma is moving toward the surface before an eruption: The flanks of Mount St. Helens, for example, swelled dramatically in the months before its 1980 explosion. (See pictures of Mount St. Helens before and after the blast.) But there are also many examples, including the Yellowstone supervolcano, where it appears the ground has risen and fallen for thousands of years without an eruption.

According to current theory, Yellowstone's magma reservoir is fed by a plume of hot rock surging upward from Earth's mantle. (Related: "New Magma Layer Found Deep in Earth's Mantle?") When the amount of magma flowing into the chamber increases, the reservoir swells like a lung and the surface above expands upward. Models suggest that during the recent uplift, the reservoir was filling with 0.02 cubic miles (0.1 cubic kilometer) of magma a year. When the rate of increase slows, the theory goes, the magma likely moves off horizontally to solidify and cool, allowing the surface to settle back down.

Based on geologic evidence, Yellowstone has probably seen a continuous cycle of inflation and deflation over the past 15,000 years, and the cycle will likely continue, Smith said. Surveys show, for example, that the caldera rose some 7 inches (18 centimeters) between 1976 and 1984 before dropping back about 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) over the next decade. "These calderas tend to go up and down, up and down," he said. "But every once in a while they burp, creating hydrothermal explosions, earthquakes, or - ultimately - they can produce volcanic eruptions."

Yellowstone Surge Also Linked to Geysers, Quakes? Predicting when an eruption might occur is extremely difficult, in part because the fine details of what's going on under Yellowstone are still undetermined. What's more, continuous records of Yellowstone's activity have been made only since the 1970s - a tiny slice of geologic time - making it hard to draw conclusions.

"Clearly some deep source of magma feeds Yellowstone, and since Yellowstone has erupted in the recent geological past, we know that there is magma at shallower depths too," said Dan Dzurisin, a Yellowstone expert with the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory in Washington State. "There has to be magma in the crust, or we wouldn't have all the hydrothermal activity that we have," Dzurisin added. "There is so much heat coming out of Yellowstone right now that if it wasn't being reheated by magma, the whole system would have gone stone cold since the time of the last eruption 70,000 years ago."

The large hydrothermal system just below Yellowstone's surface, which produces many of the park's top tourist attractions, may also play a role in ground swelling, Dzurisin said, though no one is sure to what extent. "Could it be that some uplift is caused not by new magma coming in but by the hydrothermal system sealing itself up and pressurizing?" he asked. "And then it subsides when it springs a leak and depressurizes? These details are difficult." And it's not a matter of simply watching the ground rise and fall. Different areas may move in different directions and be interconnected in unknown ways, reflecting the as yet unmapped network of volcanic and hydrothermal plumbing.

The roughly 3,000 earthquakes in Yellowstone each year may offer even more clues about the relationship between ground uplift and the magma chamber. For example, between December 26, 2008, and January 8, 2009, some 900 earthquakes occurred in the area around Yellowstone Lake. This earthquake "swarm" may have helped to release pressure on the magma reservoir by allowing fluids to escape, and this may have slowed the rate of uplift, the University of Utah's Smith said. (Related: "Mysterious 'Swarm' of Quakes Strikes Oregon Waters.")

"Big quakes can have a relationship to uplift and deformations caused by the intrusion of magma," he said. "How those intrusions stress the adjacent faults, or how the faults might transmit stress to the magma system, is a really important new area of study." Overall, USGS's Dzurisin added, "the story of Yellowstone deformation has gotten more complex as we've had better and better technologies to study it."
- http://www.sott.net/
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Related articles:

Biocentrism: "Five Reasons You Won't Die"

"Five Reasons You Won't Die"
by Robert Lanza, M.D.

"We've been taught we're just a collection of cells, and that we die when our bodies wear out. End of story. I've written textbooks showing how cells can be engineered into virtually all the tissues and organs of the human body. But a long list of scientific experiments suggests our belief in death is based on a false premise, that the world exists independent of us, the great observer. Here are five reasons you won't die.

Reason One. You're not an object, you're a special being. According to biocentrism, nothing could exist without consciousness. Remember you can't see through the bone surrounding your brain. Space and time aren't objects, but rather the tools our mind uses to weave everything together.

"It will remain remarkable," said Eugene Wigner, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 "in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of the consciousness is an ultimate reality."

Consider the uncertainty principle, one of the most famous and important aspects of quantum mechanics. Experiments confirm it's built into the fabric of reality, but it only makes sense from a biocentric perspective. If there's really a world out there with particles just bouncing around, then we should be able to measure all their properties. But we can't. Why should it matter to a particle what you decide to measure? Consider the double-slit experiment:  if one "watches" a subatomic particle or a bit of light pass through slits on a barrier, it behaves like a particle and creates solid-looking hits behind the individual slits on the final barrier that measures the impacts. Like a tiny bullet, it logically passes through one or the other hole. But if the scientists do not observe the trajectory of the particle, then it exhibits the behavior of waves that allow it pass through both holes at the same time. Why does our observation change what happens? Answer: Because reality is a process that requires our consciousness.

The two-slit experiment is an example of quantum effects, but experiments involving Buckyballs and KHCO3 crystals show that observer-dependent behavior extends into the world of ordinary human-scale objects. In fact, researchers recently showed (Nature 2009) that pairs of ions could be coaxed to entangle so their physical properties remained bound together even when separated by large distances, as if there was no space or time between them. Why? Because space and time aren't hard, cold objects. They're merely tools of our understanding.

Death doesn't exist in a timeless, spaceless world. After the death of his old friend, Albert Einstein said "Now Besso has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us... know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." In truth, your mind transcends space and time.

Reason Two. Conservation of energy is a fundamental axiom of science. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can't be created or destroyed. It can only change forms. Although bodies self-destruct, the "me'' feeling is just a 20-watt cloud of energy in your head. But this energy doesn't go away at death. A few years ago scientists showed they could retroactively change something that happened in the past. Particles had to "decide" how to behave when they passed a fork in an apparatus. Later on, the experimenter could flip a switch. The results showed that what the observer decided at that point determined how the particle behaved at the fork in the past.

Think of the 20-watts of energy as simply powering a projector. Whether you flip a switch in an experiment on or off, it's still the same battery responsible for the projection. Like in the two-slit experiment, you collapse physical reality. At death, this energy doesn't just dissipate into the environment as the old mechanical worldview suggests. It has no reality independent of you. As Einstein's esteemed colleague John Wheeler stated, "No phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon." Each person creates their own sphere of reality- we carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which energy just dissipates.

Reason Three. Although we generally reject parallel universes as fiction, there's more than a morsel of scientific truth to this genre. A well-known aspect of quantum physics is that observations can't be predicted absolutely. Instead, there's a range of possible observations each with a different probability. One mainstream explanation is the 'many-worlds' interpretation, which states that each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe (the 'multiverse'). There are an infinite number of universes (including our universe), which together comprise all of physical reality. Everything that can possibly happen occurs in some universe. Death doesn't exist in any real sense in these scenarios. All possible universes exist simultaneously, regardless of what happens in any of them. Like flipping the switch in the experiment above, you're the agent who experiences them.

Reason Four. You will live on through your children, friends, and all who you touch during your life, not only as part of them, but through the histories you collapse with every action you take. "According to quantum physics," said theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, "the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities." There's more uncertainty in bio-physical systems than anyone ever imagined. Reality isn't fully determined until we actually investigate (like in the Schrödinger's cat experiment). There are whole areas of history you determine during your life. When you interact with someone, you collapse more and more reality (that is, the spatio-temporal events that define your consciousness). When you're gone, your presence will continue like a ghost puppeteer in the universes of those you know.

Reason Five. It's not an accident that you happen to have the fortune of being alive now on the top of all infinity. Although it could be a one-in-a-jillion chance, perhaps it's not just dumb luck, but rather must be that way. While you'll eventually exit this reality, you, the observer, will forever continue to collapse more and more 'nows.' Your consciousness will always be in the present- balanced between the infinite past and the indefinite future- moving intermittently between realities along the edge of time, having new adventures and meeting new (and rejoining old) friends.
 •
 "Biocentrism" (BenBella Books) lays out Lanza's theory of everything.

"How It Really Is"


"12 Potential Economic Scenarios For 2011"

 "12 Potential Economic Scenarios For 2011"
 by The Economic Collapse Blog

"What could cause an economic collapse in 2011? Well, unfortunately there are quite a few "nightmare scenarios" that could plunge the entire globe into another massive financial crisis.  The United States, Japan and most of the nations in Europe are absolutely drowning in debt.  The Federal Reserve continues to play reckless games with the U.S. dollar.  The price of oil is skyrocketing and the global price of food just hit a new record high.  Food riots are already breaking out all over the world.  Meanwhile, the rampant fraud and corruption going on in world financial markets is starting to be exposed and the whole house of cards could come crashing down at any time.  Most Americans have no idea that a horrific economic collapse could happen at literally any time.  There is no way that all of this debt and all of this financial corruption is sustainable.  At some point we are going to reach a moment of "total system failure".

So will it be soon?  Let's hope not.  Let's certainly hope that it does not happen in 2011.  Many of us need more time to prepare.  Most of our families and friends need more time to prepare.  Once this thing implodes there isn't going to be an opportunity to have a "do over".  We simply will not be able to put the toothpaste back into the tube again. So we had all better be getting prepared for hard times.  The following are 12 economic collapse scenarios that we could potentially see in 2011...

#1 U.S. debt could become a massive crisis at any moment.  China is saying all of the right things at the moment, but many analysts are openly worried about what could happen if China suddenly decides to start dumping all of the U.S. debt that they have accumulated.  Right now about the only thing keeping U.S. government finances going is the ability to borrow gigantic amounts of money at extremely low interest rates.  If anything upsets that paradigm, it could potentially have enormous consequences for the entire world financial system.

#2 Speaking of threats to the global financial system, it turns out that "quantitative easing 2" has had the exact opposite effect that Ben Bernanke planned for it to have.  Bernanke insisted that the main goal of QE2 was to lower interest rates, but instead all it has done is cause interest rates to go up substantially.  If Bernanke this incompetent or is he trying to mess everything up on purpose?

#3 The debt bubble that the entire global economy is based on could burst at any time and throw the whole planet into chaos.  According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, the total amount of credit in the world increased from $57 trillion in 2000 to $109 trillion in 2009.  The WEF says that now the world is going to need another $100 trillion in credit to support projected "economic growth" over the next decade.  So is this how the new "global economy" works?  We just keep doubling the total amount of debt every decade?

#4 As the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve continue to pump massive amounts of new dollars into the system, the floor could fall out from underneath the U.S. dollar at any time.  The truth is that we are already starting to see inflation really accelerate and everyone pretty much acknowledges that official U.S. governments figures for inflation are an absolute joke.  According to one new study, the cost of college tuition has risen 286% over the last 20 years, and the cost of "hospital, nursing-home and adult-day-care services" rose 269% during those same two decades.  All of this happened during a period of supposedly "low" inflation.  So what are price increases going to look like when we actually have "high" inflation?

#5 One of the primary drivers of global inflation during 2011 could be the price of oil.  A large number of economists are now projecting that the price of oil could surge well past $100 dollars a barrel in 2011.  If that happens, it is going to put significant pressure on the price of almost everything else in the entire global economy.  In fact, as I have explained previously, the higher the price of oil goes, the faster the U.S. economy will decline.

#6 Food inflation is already so bad in some areas of the globe that it is setting off massive food riots in nations such as Tunisia and Algeria.  In fact, there have been reports of people setting themselves on fire all over the Middle East as a way to draw attention to how desperate they are.  So what is going to happen if global food prices go up another 10 or 20 percent and food riots spread literally all over the globe during 2011?

#7 There are persistent rumors that simply will not go away of massive physical gold and silver shortages.  Demand for precious metals has never been higher.  So what is going to happen when many investors begin to absolutely insist on physical delivery of their precious metals?  What is going to happen when the fact that far, far, far more "paper gold" and "paper silver" has been sold than has ever actually physically existed in the history of the planet starts to come out?  What would that do to the price of gold and silver?

#8 The U.S. housing industry could plunge the U.S. economy into another recession at any time.  The real estate market is absolutely flooded with homes and virtually nobody is buying.  This massive oversupply of homes means that the construction of new homes has fallen off a cliff.  In 2010, only 703,000 single family, multi-family and manufactured homes were completed.  This was a new record low, and it was down 17% from the previous all-time record which had just been set in 2009.

#9 A combination of extreme weather and disease could make this an absolutely brutal year for U.S. farmers.  This winter we have already seen thousands of new cold weather and snowfall records set across the United States.  Now there is some very disturbing news emerging out of Florida of an "incurable bacteria" that is ravaging citrus crops all over Florida.  Is there a reason why so many bad things are happening all of a sudden?

#10 The municipal bond crisis could go "supernova" at any time.  Already, investors are bailing out of bonds at a frightening pace.  State and local government debt is now sitting at an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP.  According to Meredith Whitney, the municipal bond crisis that we are facing is a gigantic threat to our financial system... "It has tentacles as wide as anything I’ve seen. I think next to housing this is the single most important issue in the United States and certainly the largest threat to the U.S. economy." Former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan is convinced that things are so bad that literally 90% of our states and cities could go bankrupt over the next five years.

#11 Of course on top of everything else, the quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble* could burst at any time.  Right now we are watching the greatest financial casino in the history of the globe spin around and around and around and everyone is hoping that at some point it doesn't stop.  Today, most money on Wall Street is not made by investing in good business ideas.  Rather, most money on Wall Street is now made by making the best bets.  Unfortunately, at some point the casino is going to come crashing down and the game will be over.

#12 The biggest wildcard of all is war.  The Korean peninsula came closer to war in 2010 than it had in decades.  The Middle East could literally explode at any time.  We live in a world where a single weapon can take out an entire city in an instant.  All it would take is a mid-size war or a couple of weapons of mass destruction to throw the entire global economy into absolute turmoil.

Once again, let us hope that none of these economic collapse scenarios happens in 2011. However, we have got to realize that we can't keep dodging these bullets forever. As bad as 2010 was, the truth is that it went about as good as any of us could have hoped.  Things are still pretty stable and times are still pretty good right now. But instead of using these times to "party", we should be using them to prepare. A really, really vicious economic storm is coming and it is going to be a complete and total nightmare.  Get ready, hold on tight, and say your prayers."

George Carlin

"When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. 
When you’re born in America, you get a front-row seat."
- George Carlin

James Quinn, “The Ethanol Scam"

 “The Ethanol Scam: 
How Many U.S. Senators Does It Take To Screw A Taxpayer?”
by James Quinn

“When bipartisanship breaks out in Washington DC, check to make sure your wallet is still in your pocket. Every time you fill up your car this winter you are participating in the biggest taxpayer swindle in history. Forcing consumers to use domestically produced ethanol is one of the single biggest boondoggles ever committed by the corrupt brainless twits in Washington DC. Ethanol prices have soared 30% in the last year as the supplies of corn have plunged. Only a policy created in Washington DC could drive up the prices of gasoline and food, with the added benefits of costing the American taxpayer billions in tax subsidies and killing people in 3rd world countries.

Corn is the most widely produced feed grain in the United States, accounting for more than 90% of total U.S. feed grain production. 81.4 million acres of land are utilized to grow corn, with the majority of the crop grown in the Midwest.  Although most of the crop is used to feed livestock, corn is also processed into food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners, corn oil, beverage and industrial alcohol, yogurt, latex paint, cosmetics, and last but not least, fuel Ethanol. Of the 10,000 items in your average grocery store, at least 2,500 items use corn in some form during the production or processing. The United States is the major player in the world corn market providing more than 50% of the world's corn supply. In excess of 20% of our corn crop had been exported to other countries, but the government ethanol mandates have reduced the amount that is available to export.

This year, the US will harvest approximately 12.5 million bushels of corn. More than 42% will be used to feed livestock in the US, another 40% will be used to produce government mandated ethanol fuel, 2% will be used for food products, and 16% is exported to other countries. Ending stocks are down 963 million bushels from last year. The stocks-to-use ratio is projected at 5.5%, the lowest since 1995/96 when it dropped to 5.0%.  Poor developing countries are most dependent on imports of corn from the US. Food as a percentage of income for peasants in developing countries in Africa and Southeast Asia exceeds 50%. When the price of corn rises 75% in one year, poor people starve.

The combination of an asinine ethanol policy and the loosest monetary policy in the history of mankind are combining to kill poor people across the globe. I wonder if Blankfein, Bernanke, and Grassley chuckle about this at their weekly cocktail parties while drinking Macallan scotch whiskey and snacking on mini beef wellington hors d'oeuvres. The Tunisians aren't chuckling as food riots have brought down the government. This month, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that its food price index jumped 32% in the second half of 2010 - surpassing the previous record, set in the early summer of 2008, when deadly clashes over food broke out around the world, from Haiti to Somalia.

Let's Starve a Tunisian: "What is my view on subsidizing ethanol and farmers? Under the constitution, there is no authority to take money from one group of people and give it to another group of people for so called economic benefits. So, no, I don't think we should do that. Besides, bureaucrats and the politicians don't know how to invest money." - Ron Paul

The United States is the big daddy of the world food economy. It is far and away the world’s leading grain exporter, exporting more than Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Russia combined. In a globalized food economy, increased demand for corn, to fuel American vehicles, puts tremendous pressure on world food supplies. Continuing to divert more food to fuel, as is now mandated by the U.S. federal government in its Renewable Fuel Standard, will lead to higher food prices, rising hunger among the world's poor and to social chaos across the globe. By subsidizing the production of ethanol, now to the tune of $6 billion each year, U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing skyrocketing food bills at home and around the world.

The energy bill signed by that free market capitalist George Bush in 2008 mandates that increasing amounts of corn based ethanol must be used in gasoline sold in the U.S. This energy legislation requires a five-fold increase in ethanol use by 2022. Some 15 billion gallons must come from traditional corn-blended ethanol. Nothing like combining PhD models and political corruption to cause worldwide chaos. Ben Bernanke and Charley Grassley have joined forces to bring down the President of 23 years in Tunisia. People tend to get angry when they are starving. Bringing home the bacon for your constituents has consequences. In the U.S. only about 10% of disposable income is spent on food. By contrast, in India, about 40% of personal disposable income is spent on food. In the Philippines, it’s about 47.5%.  In some sub-Saharan Africa, consumers spend about 50% of the household budget on food. And according to the U.S.D.A., “In some of the poorest countries in the region such as Madagascar, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, and Zambia, this ratio is more than 60%.”

 The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year. With 200 ethanol distilleries in the country set up to transform food into fuel, the amount of grain processed has tripled since 2004. The government subsidies led to a boom in the building of ethanol plants across the heartland. As usual, when government interferes in the free market, the bust in 2009 when fuel prices collapsed, led to the bankruptcy of almost 20% of the ethanol plants in the U.S.

The amount of grain needed to fill the tank of an SUV with ethanol just once can feed one person for an entire year. The average income of the owners of the world’s 940 million automobiles is at least ten times larger than that of the world’s 2 billion hungriest people. In the competition between cars and hungry people for the world’s harvest, the car is destined to win. In March 2008, a report commissioned by the Coalition for Balanced Food and Fuel Policy estimated that the bio-fuels mandates passed by Congress cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion from 2006 to 2009. The report declared that “The policy favoring ethanol and other bio-fuels over food uses of grains and other crops acts as a regressive tax on the poor.” A 2008 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.) issued its report on bio-fuels that concluded: “Further development and expansion of the bio-fuels sector will contribute to higher food prices over the medium term and to food insecurity for the most vulnerable population groups in developing countries.” These forecasts are coming to fruition today.

It Costs What? The average American has no clue about the true cost of ethanol. They probably don't even know there is ethanol mixed in their gasoline. The propaganda spread by the ethanol industry and their mouthpieces in Congress obscures the truth and proclaims the clean energy mistruths and the thousands of jobs created in America. The truth is that producing ethanol uses more energy than is created while driving costs higher. The jobs created in Iowa are offset by the jobs lost because users of energy incur higher costs and hire fewer workers as a result. It takes a lot of Saudi oil to make the fertilizers to grow the corn, to run the tractors, to build the silos, to get the corn to a processing plant, and to run the processing plant. Also, ethanol cannot be moved in pipelines, because it degrades. This means using thousands of big diesel sucking polluting trucks to move the ethanol - first as corn from the fields to the processing plants, and then from the processing plants to the coasts.

The current ethanol subsidy is a flat 45 cents per gallon of ethanol usually paid to the an oil company, that blends ethanol with gasoline. Some States add other incentives, all paid by the taxpayer. On top of this waste of taxpayer funds, the free trade capitalists in Congress slap a 54 cent tariff on all imported ethanol. Ronald R. Cooke, author of Oil, Jihad & Destiny, created the chart below to estimate the true cost for a gallon of corn ethanol. Cooke describes a true taxpayer boondoggle:

“It costs money to store, transport and blend ethanol with gasoline. Since ethanol absorbs water, and water is corrosive to pipeline components, it must be transported by tanker to the distribution point where it is blended with gasoline for delivery to your gas station. That's expensive transportation. It costs more to make a gasoline that can be blended with ethanol. Ethanol is lost through vaporization and contamination during this process. Gasoline/ethanol fuel blends that have been contaminated with water degrade the efficiency of combustion. E-85 ethanol is corrosive to the seals and fuel systems of most of our existing engines (including boats, generators, lawn mowers, hand power tools, etc.), and can not be dispensed through existing gas station pumps. And finally, ethanol has about 30 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline. That means the fuel economy of a vehicle running on E-85 will be about 25% less than a comparable vehicle running on gasoline.”

Real Cost For A Gallon Of Corn Ethanol: 
• Corn Ethanol Futures Market quote for January 2011 Delivery: $2.46
• Add cost of transporting, storing and blending corn ethanol: $0.28
• Added cost of making gasoline that can be blended with corn ethanol: $0.09
• Add cost of subsidies paid to blender: $0.45
• Total Direct Costs per Gallon: $3.28
• Added cost from waste: $0.40
• Added cost from damage to infrastructure and user's engine: $0.06
• Total Indirect Costs per Gallon: $0.46
• Added cost of lost energy: $1.27
• Added cost of food (American family of four): $1.79
• Total Social Costs: $3.06
• Total Cost of Corn Ethanol @ 85% Blend: $6.80

Multiple studies by independent non-partisan organizations have concluded that mandating and subsidizing ethanol fuel production is a terrible policy for Americans: In May 2007, the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University released a report saying the ethanol mandates have increased the food bill for every American by about $47 per year due to grain price increases for corn, soybeans, wheat, and others. The Iowa State researchers concluded that American consumers face a “total cost of ethanol of about $14 billion.” And that figure does not include the cost of federal subsidies to corn growers or the $0.51 per gallon tax credit to ethanol producers.
In May 2008, the Congressional Research Service blamed recent increases in global food prices on two factors: increased grain demand for meat production, and the bio-fuels mandates. The agency said that the recent “rapid, ‘permanent’ increase in corn demand has directly sparked substantially higher corn prices to bid available supplies away from other uses – primarily livestock feed. Higher corn prices, in turn, have forced soybean, wheat, and other grain prices higher in a bidding war for available crop land.”

Mark W. Rosegrant of the International Food Policy Research Institute, testified before the U.S. Senate on bio-fuels and grain prices. Rosegrant said that the ethanol scam has caused the price of corn to increase by 29 percent, rice to increase by 21 percent and wheat by 22 percent. Rosegrant estimated that if the global bio-fuels mandates were eliminated altogether, corn prices would drop by 20 percent, while sugar and wheat prices would drop by 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively, by 2010. Rosegrant said that “If the current bio-fuel expansion continues, calorie availability in developing countries is expected to grow more slowly; and the number of malnourished children is projected to increase.” He continued, saying “It is therefore important to find ways to keep bio-fuels from worsening the food-price crisis. In the short run, removal of ethanol blending mandates and subsidies and ethanol import tariffs, in the United States—together with removal of policies in Europe promoting bio-fuels—would contribute to lower food prices.”

The true cost of the ethanol boondoggle is hidden from the public. The mandates, subsidies and tariffs take place out of plain view.  The reason blenders (and gas stations) will pay the same for ethanol is because they can sell it at the same price as gasoline to consumers. A consumer will pay the same for ten gallons of E10 as for ten gallons of gasoline even though the E10 contains a gallon of ethanol. Consumers pay the same for the gallon of ethanol for three reasons. (1) They don't know there's ethanol in their gasoline. (2) There is often ethanol in all the gasoline because of state requirements, so they have no choice. (3) They never know the ethanol has only 67% the energy of gasoline and gets them only 67% as far. The result is that drivers always pay much more for ethanol energy than for gasoline energy, simply because they pay the same amount per gallon. When gasoline prices are $3.00 per gallon, Joe Six-pack pays $4.50 for the same amount of ethanol energy.

You know a politician, government bureaucrat or central banker is lying when they open their mouths. Whenever evaluating a policy or plan put forth by those in control, always seek out who will benefit and who will suffer. Who benefits from corn based ethanol mandates and subsidies? The beneficiaries are huge corporations like Archer Daniels Midland and Monsanto, along with corporate farming operations (80% of all US farm production), and Big Oil. The mandated ethanol levels are set in law. By providing tax subsidies we are bribing oil companies with taxpayer dollars to do something they are legally required to do, resulting in a $6 billion windfall profit to oil companies.  The other beneficiaries are the Senators and Representatives from the farming states who are bankrolled by the corporate ethanol beneficiaries and their constituents who will re-elect them. The environment does not benefit, as many studies have concluded that it requires more fossil fuel energy (oil & coal) to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy created. The jobs created in the farm belt at artificially profitable ethanol plants are more than offset by job losses due to the added costs in the rest of the economy. When subsidies are removed or oil prices drop, the ethanol plant jobs disappear, resulting in a massive capital mal-investment.

Our supposedly wise PhD and MBA leaders have created a perfect storm. The unintended consequences of government intervention in the markets are causing havoc, food riots, starvation and intense suffering for the poor and middle class. Brazil produces sugar cane ethanol in vast quantities and can export it to the U.S. much cheaper than we can produce corn ethanol. Fuel prices would be lower without tariffs on Brazilian ethanol imports. The average cost of food as a percentage of disposable income for an American is 10%. Averages obscure the truth that the cost is probably .0001% for Lloyd Blankfein, Ben Bernanke and Chuck Grassley, while it is 30% for a poor family in Harlem. America's horribly misguided ethanol policy combined with Ben Bernanke's Wall Street banker subsidy program are resulting in soaring fuel and food prices across the globe. Poor people around the world suffer greatly from these policies. Below are two assessments of ethanol.    

"Everything about ethanol is good, good, good." - Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa

"This is not just hype - it's dangerous, delusional bullshit. Ethanol doesn't burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper. Our current ethanol production represents only 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption - yet it consumes twenty percent of the entire U.S. corn crop, causing the price of corn to double in the last two years and raising the threat of hunger in the Third World." - Jeff Goodell

Who do you believe?"

The Mogambo Guru, "Why the Fed Creates So Much Money"

"Why the Fed Creates So Much Money"
By The Mogambo Guru

"One of the reasons behind the Federal Reserve creating so many trillions and trillions of dollars in new money is so the stock market will go up so that more taxes will be collected, and the bond market will go up so that more taxes will be collected (and less interest paid by issuers, too!), and the housing market will go up so that more taxes will be collected, and prices of everything will go up so that more taxes will be collected, so that massive, backbreaking, bankrupting deficit-spending by the government can continue going up.

The astute Junior Mogambo Ranger (JMR) senses, as do I, an ominous theme in there somewhere, although any snap judgment may be hasty, as it is entirely possible that an alternative reason for the Federal Reserve creating so much money is that the Federal Reserve is, in a word, evil. Or perhaps the Federal Reserve is filled with robots under the control of beings from outer space. Creatures from another planet are “softening us up” before their main battle forces get into their flying saucers and come eat us, enslave us, or (as seems to be their usual practice) probe our orifices. So far, there is nothing about “monsters from outer space” at zerohedge.com, although you will notice that I said “so far.”

But I did see at zerohedge.com that Tyler Durden quotes SocGen’s Albert Edwards as saying, “I would suggest that although GDP growth may be more closely related to the absolute growth of the working population, asset price inflation may be more closely related to the proportion of workers in the general population.” Of course, speaking as I do as a guy who invests solely to make a lot of money fast with minimal work, I have no idea what this would mean, or why I would even mention it at all, except as a question on the mid-term exam, such as:

Question #1: “GDP growth is to absolute growth of the working population as asset price inflation is to (blank).” The exact answer is, of course, “proportion of workers in the population,” but I will also accept “We’re freaking doomed!” or anything along the lines of, “The damned Federal Reserve creating So Freaking Much Money (SFMM) that the prices of a lot of things will increase.”

I will also accept the answers, “The evil Federal Reserve destroying us,” “The loathsome neo-Keynesian econometric idiot-savants at the Federal Reserve are ruining the value of the dollar,” or anything that suggests that instead of taking some stupid test, they should be out buying gold, silver and oil with a frantic, manic hyperactivity as desperate protection against the catastrophic inflation in prices that will result from the Federal Reserve creating so monstrously much money.

But I soon saw that I was wrong in interpreting the importance of this interesting face, being blinded by my impatient greed, thus being so shortsighted that I missed the long-term implications of things, in a kind of “tendency” and “gravity” and “inevitability” kind of way. He explains, “If that is the case, as the former baby-boomers start to retire, this burgeoning cohort will tend to liquidate assets. This only exacerbates the secular bear market for property prices (which have already begun to decline again), as well as the equity market.”

Hmmm! Fewer buyers, more sellers? It is the old supply/demand dynamic, and it’s pointing to lower prices, but – and probably very importantly! – curiously being offset by the Federal Reserve creating so much new money, to monetize so much new debt, so that all of this sheer, overwhelming tonnage of new money has to end up somewhere, and the stock, bond and derivatives markets are the only things which can absorb So Freaking Much Money (SFMM). In practice, Mr. Edwards says, “This means that Bernanke for all his efforts may not be able to prevent the secular valuation bear market fully playing out until rock bottom valuations are reached.” Mr. Durden says, “oops.”

I, on the other hand, say, “Whee!” because at stock market bottoms, one ounce of gold is about all it takes to buy the Dow, or buy the S&P500, or a few ounces for houses, or cars, or anything you can name, all because of the incredible rise in the price of gold, all because of the incredible rise in inflation, all because of the incredible rise in the money supply, all because of the evil Federal Reserve creating so incredibly much more and more money.

And with gold and silver still hovering incredibly at these low, low, bargain-basement prices, at the same time as so incredibly, outrageously much money is being created by the Federal Reserve and spent by the odious Obama administration, buying gold and silver is so glaringly obvious and childishly simple that you can’t help saying, “Whee! This investing stuff is easy!”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Mundus Vult Decipi..."

"Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur," a Latin phrase, means "The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived." The saying is ascribed to Petronius, a Roman satirist from the first century, CE. "The pontifex maximus Scævola thought it expedient that the people should be deceived in religion; and the learned Varro said plainly, that "there are many truths, which it is useless for the vulgar to know; and many falsities which it is fit the people should not suppose are falsities." Hence comes the adage "Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur."

"545 People"

"545 People"
by Charlie Reese

"Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them. Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are really against deficits, WHY do we have deficits? Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are really against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

•  You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does.
• You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of representatives does.
•  You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.
•  You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.
•  You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices. 545 human beings out of the 309 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 309 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted - by present facts - of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

•  If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.
•  If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.
• If the Army and Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan.
• If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way. If they were on Social Security then they would fix it fast.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do. Change the law so that it is unlawful for quasi public companies (like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) to donate to politicians or political parties etc and unlawful for those persons/organizations to accept donations from those over which they have oversight.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses... provided the voters have the interest and incentive to manage their own employees."

Psychology: "What Is the 'Sleeper Effect'?"

 "What Is the 'Sleeper Effect'?"
 by PsyBlog

"In the 1940s during WWII, the US Department of War wanted to know if their propaganda films were really working. So they carried out a series of experimental studies into how they affected soldier's attitudes. The complacent assumption was that the films should easily influence the average GI. Producers and psychologists alike expected to see a huge shift in attitudes towards the war after they were viewed. What they found was nothing of the sort and the results came as a bitter blow to propagandists everywhere. While the films were informative and did strengthen some existing attitudes, experiments showed they were extremely unlikely to make soldiers more optimistic about the war in general (Hovland et al, 1949). In retrospect this should have come as little surprise since the soldiers knew these were propaganda films designed to change their attitudes, so their defenses were up.

What they did discover, though, was that some of the films did have an effect on soldiers after months had passed. While attitudes didn't change immediately, subtle shifts were picked up nine weeks later. US soldiers who watched one film about The Battle of Britain showed little extra sympathy towards the British five days later, but, after nine weeks, they had softened. Yale University's Carl Hovland and colleagues called this the 'sleeper effect'.

Big Impact: Since then the sleeper effect has had a rockier history than the average soap opera character. It has gone up and down in the esteem of psychologists over the years as some experiments have confirmed the effect and others have found nothing. Quite naturally many people wondered whether the sleeper effect really exists, especially as it goes against common sense. Persuasion should really be strongest just after a message is delivered. Over time the persuasive effect should weaken as people's attitudes return to how they were before—and this is what many other studies have shown.
Nevertheless when researchers have weighed up all these studies, it seems likely the effect does exist (Kumkale & Albarracin, 2004). It's just it only appears under two circumstances:
  1. Big initial impact: the sleeper effect only emerges if the persuasive message has a major initial impact. If it isn't powerful enough, it won't hunker down in our minds, biding its time before it boomerangs back.
  2. Message discounting: it should be obvious that the source of the message can't be trusted so that we discredit it; like when the soldiers were watching the propaganda film.
What seems to be going on is this: people are convinced by the arguments until they see that the source of the message can't be trusted. But people don't tend to process the discounting cue very thoroughly. So, over time, people forget they discounted the information and the content of the persuasive message, which was processed thoroughly, does its devilish work. 

Know the source before the message: The sleeper effect isn't the great news for advertisers (and advertising agencies) you might imagine. The effect is strongest when the message is discounted afterwards. When we watch adverts, we usually know beforehand that they can't be trusted, so our minds are already on alert for the distinctive smell of half-truths.

There are all kinds of everyday situations where the sleeper effect occurs. Like when the travel supplement recommends a great resort, then we read at the bottom the trip's cost was covered by the resort. Or there's an article telling us about the health benefits of milk and then we read at the bottom that the author is the head of the Milk Marketing Board. Any time we receive a persuasive message before we find out who the source is, the sleeper effect can come into play. Naturally, then, canny information consumers will want to know the source of a message before they read it."

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Do you see it? This common question frequently precedes the rediscovery of one of the most commonly recognized configurations of stars on the northern sky: the Big Dipper. This grouping of stars is one of the few things that has likely been seen, and will be seen, by every generation. 
Click image for larger size.

The Big Dipper is not by itself a constellation. Although part of the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major), the Big Dipper is an asterism that has been known by different names to different societies. Five of the Big Dipper stars are actually near each other in space and were likely formed at nearly the same time. Connecting two stars in the far part of the Big Dipper will lead one to Polaris, the North Star, which is part of the Little Dipper. Relative stellar motions will cause the Big Dipper to slowly change its apparent configuration over the next 100,000 years."

"Does Long-Term Cell Phone Use Lead to Brain Tumors?"

 "Does Long-Term Cell Phone Use Lead to Brain Tumors?"
by ScienceDaily

"The highest-quality research data available suggests that long-term exposure to microwaves from cellular phones may lead to an increased risk of brain tumors, reports a paper in the November/December issue of "Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography." Although debate continues, independent studies with long-term follow-up strongly suggest an increased risk of brain tumors related to the use of cellular or cordless phones. "We conclude that the current standard of exposure to microwave during mobile phone use is not safe for long-term exposure and needs to be revised" conclude the study authors, led by R.B. Dubey of Apeejay College of Engineering, Sohna, Gurgaon, India.
 
There is increasing public concern about the potential cancer risks from microwave emissions related to wireless phones - not only cellular phones and base stations (transmission tower antennae), but also home cordless phones. Some studies have reported that long-term wireless phone users have increased rates of brain tumors, including malignant gliomas and benign acoustic neuromas. However, other studies have found no association.

To gain insight into the controversy, Dubey and colleagues performed an in-depth analysis of research on the health risks associated with microwave exposure from wireless phones. To date, only eleven published studies have provided data on the risk of developing brain tumors in long-term cell phone users - ten years or longer. The largest data source was a series of studies called the Interphone studies, which were largely funded by the wireless communications industry. Based on data from thirteen countries, the Interphone studies concluded that cell phone exposure did not increase the risk of brain tumors. In addition to possible bias associated with industry funding, the studies had some important flaws, including relatively short durations of cell phone use.

However, an independent series of studies led by Swedish cancer specialist Dr. Lennart Hardell reached a different conclusion. Dr. Hardell's studies included more patients who had used a cell phone for ten years or longer and were performed without financial support from the wireless industry. The findings suggested that the more hours of cellular phone use over time, the higher the risk of developing brain tumors. Risk also increased along with the level of power from the wireless device, years since first use, total exposure, and younger age when starting wireless phone use.

Based on an analysis of pooled data from different studies, researchers write, "Long-term cell phone usage can approximately double the risk of developing a glioma or acoustic neuroma in the more exposed brain hemisphere" - that is, on the side where the user typically holds the phone to the ear. That conclusion is consistent even with data on the long-term cell phone users from the Interphone studies. It's unclear exactly how exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones may increase brain cancer risk. However, studies have shown that the cell signal is absorbed up to two inches in the adult skull. There is special concern about the risks in younger age groups, as cell phone signals penetrate much deeper into the brain in children.

Further studies are needed to definitively determine the risk of brain cancer and other health effects related to long-term use. Meanwhile, Dr. Dubey and coauthors suggest some steps that cell phone users can take to reduce exposure. These include limiting the number and length of calls, restricting children's cell phone use, communicating by text instead of voice, and wearing an "air tube" headset (not a regular wired headset) rather than holding the phone to the ear.

The researchers also urge adoption of newer phones and other technologies to reduce exposure, and call for government action to revise standards for microwave exposure. "The precautionary principle clearly applies in this case, since the problem is possible but not certain and low cost ameliorating actions are easily implemented by industry," Dubey and coauthors conclude. "With over 3 billion people using cell phones and with children among the heaviest users, it is time for governments to mandate precautionary measures to protect their citizens."
- http://www.sott.net/ 
 
Related articles:
"Cell Phones More Dangerous Than Cigarettes"
 
"Cell Phones Dangerous - New Studies, Old Manufacturer Tricks"

Leo Buscaglia

"Don't smother each other. No one can grow in the shade."
~ Leo Buscaglia

Psychology: "The 12 Worst Relationship Mindsets"

"The 12 Worst Relationship Mindsets:
Which Are YOU Guilty Of?"
by Robert Leahy, Ph.D.

"In cognitive therapy we focus on the way that you think about things. When we are distressed, we have automatic thoughts - that is, thoughts that come to us spontaneously, seem true and generally go unexamined. Sometimes your thoughts are accurate; sometimes they are biased. But the first thing to do is to identify what you are thinking. Look at the list of typical thoughts that distressed couples have and ask yourself if any of these are true for you. You can also consider alternative ways to view what is going on - as I suggest below. Sometimes we get stuck in the way we think and then withdraw, attack or give up. The first question to ask is, "Is there a different way to think about this?"

Labeling: You attribute a negative personality trait to your partner, leading you to believe that he or she can never change: "He's passive-aggressive"; "She's neurotic." As an alternative, rather than label your partner, you can look for "variability" in his behavior. "Sometimes he withdraws and sometimes he interacts with me. Let me ask him what might lead him to withdraw."

Fortune-telling: You forecast the future and predict that things will never get better, leaving you feeling helpless and hopeless: "He'll never change"; "I'll always be unhappy in my marriage." An alternative to this is to focus on specific things that you can say or do now - such as the exercises described in this piece. Another good option is to look back at positive experiences that you have to challenge your idea that nothing will improve. You can also play a little game called "Catch Your Partner Being Good." Just list every positive every day and then share it with each other. You might be surprised what you are doing that is working already - if you only noticed.

Mind-reading: You interpret your partner's motivations as hostile or selfish on the basis of very little evidence: "You don't care how I feel"; "You're saying that because you're trying to get back at me." Rather than engaging in mind-reading, you can ask your partner what he meant or how she is feeling. Sometimes it's beneficial to give your partner the benefit of the doubt: "She's simply taking a little time to unwind" is a better interpretation than "He doesn't find me interesting."

Catastrophic Thinking: You treat conflict or problems as if they indicate that the world has ended or that your marriage is a disaster: "I can't stand her nagging"; "It's awful that we haven't had sex recently." A better way of looking at this is that all couples face problems - some of them quite upsetting. Rather than look at an obstacle or a problem as "terrible," you might validate that it is difficult for both of you but that it is also an opportunity to learn new skills in communicating and interacting. Problems can be learning experiences and can provide some new ways to grow.

Emotional Reasoning: You feel depressed and anxious, and you conclude that your emotions indicate that your marriage is a failure. "We must have a terrible marriage because I'm unhappy"; "I don't have the same feelings toward him that I used to; therefore, we're no longer in love." A better way of looking at your emotions is that your feelings may go up and down, depending on what you and your partner are doing. Emotions are changeable and don't always tell you about how good things can be. It's also important to ask yourself, "What are we doing when we feel better together?" Then do more of those positives.

Negative Filter: You focus on the few negative experiences in your relationship and fail to recognize or recall the positives. You probably bring up past history in a series of complaints that sounds like you're putting your partner on trial: "You were rude to me last week"; "You talked to that other person and ignored me entirely." This is where "Catch Your Partner Doing Good" is so helpful - it allows you to look at things without the dark lens on. You can also keep a list of positives about your partner to remind you to put the "negatives" in perspective. We all do dumb things at times, but it's useful to take off the negative filter and remind ourselves of the positives.

All-or-Nothing Thinking: You describe your interactions as being all good or all bad without examining the possibility that some experiences with your partner are positive: "You're never kind toward me"; "You never show affection"; "You're always negative." Whenever you use the words "always" and "never," try assuming that you are wrong. For example, when Phyllis began looking for positives from Ralph, she realized that he was affectionate at times and that he was rewarding to her as well. The best way to test out your distorted and biased negative thinking is to look at the facts. Maybe the facts aren't as terrible as they seem to be.

Discounting the Positive: You may recognize the positive things in your relationship but disregard them: "That's what a wife or husband should do"; "Well, so what that he did that? It means nothing?"; "These are trivial things that you're talking about." Every positive should be counted - it's the only way to build up good will. In fact, if you start counting the positives rather than discounting them, they will no longer seem trivial to both of you. Vinnie was happy to learn that the very little things that he was doing, like complimenting Cynthia, made a big difference to her. This in turn made him less critical. And Vinnie began keeping track of Cynthia's positives, which helped him recognize that an occasional negative - which was probably due to depression - was outweighed by the many good things in their relationship.

Shoulds: You have a list of "commandments" about your relationship and condemn yourself (when you're depressed) or your partner (when you're angry) for not living up to your "should." There is no end to these nagging negative thoughts. Here are a few typical examples:

• "My partner should always know what I want without my asking."
• "If my partner doesn't do what I want her to do, I should punish her."
• "I shouldn't ever be unhappy (bored, angry, etc.) with my partner."
• "I shouldn't have to work at a relationship; it should come naturally."
• "I shouldn't have to wait for change; it should come immediately."
• "My partner should change first."
• "It's all his fault, so why should I change?"
• "If I don't get my way, I should complain (pout, withdraw, give up, etc.)."
• "Our sex life should always be fantastic."
• "If I'm attracted to other people, it means that I shouldn't stay in this marriage."
• "I should try to win in all our conflicts."
• "My partner should accept me just the way I am."
• "If we're having problems it means we have an awful relationship."

Now, be honest with yourself. Are these "shoulds" helping or hurting you and your relationship? I guarantee that if you have a lot of them, you are pretty unhappy. Rather than talk about the way things "should" be, you might consider how you can make things better. Replace your shoulds with "how to" and "let's try." Rather than "We should have a better sex life," you might try action statements such as "We can give each other a massage" or "We can set up a time to be affectionate." You won't make progress by "shoulding" on each other. But you can make progress by acting differently and communicating in a caring way.

Personalizing: You attribute your partner's moods and behavior to something about yourself, or you take all the blame for the problems: "He's in a bad mood because of me"; "If it weren't for me, we wouldn't have any of these problems." It's almost never all about one person; it takes two to tango and two to be miserable. Phyllis was doing a lot of personalizing, thinking that Ralph wanted to be alone because he found her boring. But really Ralph was so burned out at the end of the day that he needed a little while to cool down. It wasn't about Phyllis; it was about Ralph's day.

Perfectionism: You hold up a standard for a relationship that is unrealistically high and then measure your relationship by this standard. "It's not like it was in the first year, so it's not worth it"; "We have problems, so our relationship can't work out." The problem with perfectionism is that it is bound to make you miserable. You may think that you are holding up your ideals, but you are really putting you and your partner down. No relationship is perfect - and no relationship needs to be perfect. Once Vinnie and Cynthia recognized how futile and depressing perfectionism was, they were able to work constructively on their relationship. "I realized that we would never have exactly what we wanted from each other, but we could still get a lot our needs met," Vinnie finally said. It was a breakthrough to give up on having to be perfect and demanding the same from Cynthia.

Blaming: You believe that all the problems in the relationship are caused by your partner: "If it weren't for her, we wouldn't have these problems"; "He argues with me; that's why we can't get along." Again, there is a grain of truth in almost any negative thought, but blaming your partner will make you feel helpless and trapped. A better way of approaching this is to take a "Let's fix it together" approach. You can validate each other, share responsibility for the problems, plan to catch each other being good, reward each other, plan positives together, and accept some differences. It sure beats blaming each other and becoming victims."

Anthropology: "Study IDs 9,400-Year-Old Dog- As A Meal?"

"Study IDs 9,400-Year-Old Dog, 
Earliest Evidence Of Domestication"
by Clarke Canfield

"Nearly 10,000 years ago, man's best friend provided protection and companionship – and an occasional meal. That's what researchers are saying after finding a bone fragment from what they are calling the earliest confirmed domesticated dog in the Americas.

University of Maine graduate student Samuel Belknap III came across the fragment while analyzing a dried-out sample of human waste unearthed in southwest Texas in the 1970s. A carbon-dating test put the age of the bone at 9,400 years, and a DNA analysis confirmed it came from a dog – not a wolf, coyote or fox, Belknap said. Because it was found deep inside a pile of human excrement and was the characteristic orange-brown color that bone turns when it has passed through the digestive tract, the fragment provides the earliest direct evidence that dogs – besides being used for company, security and hunting – were eaten by humans and may even have been bred as a food source, he said.

Belknap wasn't researching dogs when he found the bone. Rather, he was looking into the diet and nutrition of the people who lived in the Lower Pecos region of Texas between 1,000 and 10,000 years ago. "It just so happens this person who lived 9,400 years ago was eating dog," Belknap said.

Belknap and other researchers from the University of Maine and the University of Oklahoma's molecular anthropology laboratories, where the DNA analysis was done, have written a paper on their findings. The paper has been scientifically reviewed and accepted, pending revisions, for publication in the “American Journal of Physical Anthropology” later this year, said editor in chief Christopher Ruff. He declined comment on the article until it has been published.

Dogs have played an important role in human culture for thousands of years. There are archaeological records of dogs going back 31,000 years from a site in Belgium, 26,000 years in the Czech Republic and 15,000 years in Siberia, said Robert Wayne, a professor of evolutionary biology at UCLA and a dog evolution expert. But canine records in the New World aren't as detailed or go back nearly as far.

For his research, Belknap – who does not own a dog himself – had fecal samples shipped to him that had been unearthed in 1974 and 1975 from an archaeological site known as Hinds Cave and kept in storage at Texas A&M University. The fragment is about six-tenths of an inch long and three- to four-tenths of an inch wide, or about the size of a fingernail on a person's pinkie. He and a fellow student identified the bone as a fragment from where the skull connects with the spine. He said it came from a dog that probably resembled the small, short-nosed, short-haired mutts that were common among the Indians of the Great Plains. Judging by the size of the bone, Belknap figures the dog weighed about 25 to 30 pounds. He also found what he thinks was a bone from a dog foot, but the fragment was too small to be analyzed.

Other archaeological digs have put dogs in the U.S. dating back 8,000 years or more, but this is the first time it has been scientifically proved that dogs were here that far back, he said. Darcy Morey, a faculty member at Radford University who has studied dog evolution for decades, said a study from the 1980s dated a dog found at Danger Cave, Utah, at between 9,000 and 10,000 years old. Those dates were based not on carbon-dating or DNA tests, but on an analysis of the surrounding rock layers. "So 9,400 years old may be the oldest, but maybe not," Morey said in an e-mail.

Morey, whose 2010 book, "Dogs: Domestication and the Development of a Social Bond," traces the evolution of dogs, said he is skeptical about DNA testing on a single bone fragment because dogs and wolves are so similar genetically. Belknap said there may well be older dogs in North America, but this is the oldest directly dated one he is aware of. For many years, researchers thought that dog bones from an archaeological site in Idaho were 11,000 years old, but additional testing put their age at between 1,000 and 3,000 years old, he said. "If there's one thing our discovery is showing it's that we can utilize these techniques and learn a lot more about dogs in the New World if we apply these tests to all these early samples," he said.

The earliest dogs in North America are believed to have come with the early settlers across the Bering land bridge from Asia to the Americas 10,000 years ago or earlier, said Wayne, who has not seen Belknap's research. It doesn't surprise Belknap that dogs were a source of food for humans. A lot of people in Central America regularly ate dogs, he said. Across the Great Plains, some Indian tribes ate dogs when food was scarce or for celebrations, he said. "It was definitely an accepted practice among many populations," he said.”
- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
"We're having WHAT for dinner?"