Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why we should be okay with being bored…

                              Good Day World!

Growing up, whenever I got bored it usually led to trouble. True story. I had teachers in elementary school make a point of not letting me be bored by keeping me in sight at all times. I was social kinda kid and liked to make funny faces to entertain others every chance I got.

Mimicking teachers behind their back was my specialty. Until my 4th-grade science teacher caught me in the act! I got a couple of swats for that prank, a common practice back when I was in school for miscreants such as myself.

Anyway…this group of psychs got together recently and came to the conclusion it’s good to be bored. Who knew?  

“Don’t dread tedious workplace assignments like reading reports or sitting through meetings — they’re making you more productive.

Boring, monotonous tasks help you become a better problem-solver, new research finds, because our brains use that unstimulating “down time” to branch out and think in more creative ways. 

“Boredom has always had such bad press, but some boredom is possibly good... especially if it gives us the opportunity to daydream,” said Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire in the U.K. Mann's research was presented this week at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology.

“Being able to have that down time when you let your mind wander can be great for creativity,” Mann said.

Americans are getting less creative overall, according to a landmark 2010 study. Kyung-Hee Kim, an associate professor at the college of William & Mary’s , analyzed results from creativity tests and found that our creativity has been on the wane for more than 20 years now, even though IQ scores are climbing.” (Read the rest here).

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, January 11, 2013

Astronomers discover the largest structure in the universe!

This is big stuff (pun intended). It seems like every time scientists and astronomers get together they have to re-write one space theory or another. Right now there’s some giddy astronomers running around England with the exciting news.

The newly discovered large quasar group is so enormous, in fact, that theory predicts it shouldn't exist, according to researchers. Now, that’s big:

“Astronomers have discovered the largest known structure in the universe, a clump of active galactic cores that stretches 4 billion light-years from end to end.

The structure is a large quasar group (LQG), a collection of extremely luminous galactic nuclei powered by supermassive central black holes. This particular group is so large that it challenges modern cosmological theory, researchers said.

"While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe," lead author Roger Clowes, of the University of Central Lancashire in England, said in a statement. "This is hugely exciting, not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe."

Quasars are the brightest objects in the universe. For decades, astronomers have known that they tend to assemble in huge groups, some of which are more than 600 million light-years wide.” (Read the rest here)

Just What’s Needed These Days in America…a New Rifle That Makes Anyone a Sniper

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Just think…you can kill someone 7 football fields away now.

 Good Day World!

In this violent country we love so much, new weapon capabilities grow every day. With this latest innovation to sights on rifles someone who has never fired a real weapon before can make a kill shot.

Wow! Just think about that. Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and cuddly?

“It all goes back to "Top Gun." In the heads-up display on Maverick's Tomcat, you can see a computer compensate for human aim with precision laser guidance and careful calculations. How long before that technology made its way to to a conventional hunting rifle? It's here now, with a price tag of $17,000 to $21,000.” (read the story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another classroom shooting today in California!

The big question is: how did someone just stroll into a classroom with a loaded 12-gauge shotgun? With all the awareness on school shootings, you’d think there was additional security. Here’s what happened:

A high school teacher and a campus supervisor talked a student into surrendering after he opened fire in a classroom, wounding a classmate at a school in California's southern San Joaquin Valley on Thursday morning, police said.

The student had intentional targets when he brought a 12-gauge into the Taft Union High School classroom halfway through the first period, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said in a news conference. The incident happened around 9 a.m. local time and students were evacuated to the football field, NBC affiliate KGET of Bakersfield reported. (Source)

Guess which state is having a python hunting contest this weekend?

Good Day World!

Reptile haters rejoice! It’s open season on pythons in Florida’s Everglades this weekend. Saturday’s scheduled competitive snake slaughter is supposed to raise awareness of the threat Burmese pythons pose to the Everglades ecosystem.

The whole competition sounds like an opportunity for a bunch of crazy people to get lost while hunting snakes as big as themselves in the snake’s turf. Crazy stuff. Only in America:

“A python hunting competition starting on Saturday is drawing hundreds of amateurs armed with clubs, machetes and guns to the Florida Everglades, where captured Burmese pythons have exceeded the length of minivans and weighed as much as grown men.

Python Challenge 2013, a month-long event sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is open to hunters and non-hunters alike.

But the idea of luring weapon-wielding amateurs into the harsh environment of the Everglades has raised some alarms.

"I just thought it was as exciting as could be. It's a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity," said contestantRon Polster, a retired salesman from Ohio whose closest encounter with the swamp has been from the highway heading south for the winter.

Participants pay a $25 entry fee and take an online training course, which consists mostly of looking at photographs of both the targeted pythons and protected native snakes to learn the difference.

The state wildlife agency is offering prizes of $1,500 for the most pythons captured and $1,000 for the longest python.

A Burmese python found in Florida last year set records as the largest ever captured in the state at 17-feet, 7-inches (5.4 meters). The snake weighed nearly 165 pounds (75 kg).

FWC spokeswoman Carli Segelson said the number of registered contestants reached about 500 this week and was growing, with people coming from 32 states.

The stated goal of the competition is to raise awareness of the threat Burmese pythons pose to the Everglades ecosystem. The snakes are native to Southeast Asia and have no known predators in Florida.

The contest also serves as a pilot program to determine whether regular hunting competitions can cull the growing population of the invasive species, said Frank Mazzotti, a wildlife expert from the University of Florida who helped create the competition.

Python Challenge rules require contestants to kill specimens on the spot in a humane fashion, recommending shooting the snakes precisely through the brain.

"I was hoping there would be a lot of machetes and not a lot of guns," said Polster, the retired salesman. He said he worries "these idiots will be firing all over the place."

Shawn Heflick, star of the National Geographic "Wild" television show "Python Hunters," told Reuters that despite the formidable size of the snakes, he expects the swamp itself, with its alligators, crocodiles and venomous snakes, to pose a greater threat to the contestants.

"You get these people going down there, they'll get lost, they'll get dehydrated, they'll get sucked dry by mosquitoes," Heflick said.

Segelson said the wildlife agency will provide training on the use of GPS devices and on identifying venomous snakes at the kick-off event. In the meantime, she said, contestants should be familiarizing themselves with the Everglades environment, just as they should before entering any other strange territory.

Heflick said most of the contestants likely were drawn to the Python Challenge by the romantic mystique of bagging a giant predator. He expects few will last long in the hunt."The vast majority of them will never see a python. The vast majority of them will probably curtail their hunting very quickly when they figure out there's a lot of mosquitoes, it's hot, it's rather boring sometimes - most of the time really, and I think a lot of them will go home," Heflick said.” (source)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Shock of the Day: Drinking diet soda linked to depression

               Good Day World!

Lately (it seems) everything we eat and drink causes some ill effect upon us. Soda pop has been under extreme scrutiny this past year, and now it turns out even fruit drinks may give us grief. As in depression. No really.

I’m about to lay another one of those studies upon you. As always, I suggest taking the study (like all studies) with a grain of salt. It may be that diet soda is the worst in the soda class. The irony of a diet soda always amused – and disgusted – me. Did the drinkers of diet soda really think believe in the fuzzy math of the soda corporations? C’mon! Seriously?   

“Diet drinks may taste good, but they might not bring happiness. A new study finds that people who drink diet sodas or fruit drinks are more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

The study doesn't show that diet drinks and the researchers stress their findings don't provide an explanation. They looked at more than 263,900 U.S. adults ages 50 to 71 who answered questions about their beverage consumption between the years 1995 and 1996. About 10 years later (from 2004 to 2006), the same people were asked if a doctor had diagnosed them with depression since the year 2000.

People who regularly drank four or more cans of any type of soda a day were 30 percent more likely to have received a diagnosis of depression than people who did not drink soda, said  Dr. Honglei Chen of the National Institutes of Health, who led the study. The risk of depression was especially high for people who drank diet soda — a 31 percent increased risk compared to a 22 percent increased risk for those who drank regular soda, the researchers said. 

Those who drank four or more cans of diet fruit drinks were 51 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to those who did not drink diet fruit drinks.

By contrast, people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have been diagnosed with depression compared to non-coffee drinkers.” (read the rest here)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hot Topic: 17th-century 'Aristotle' sex manual to be auctioned

Image: "Aristotle's Compleat Master-Piece"

A sex and pregnancy manual from 1680 that was incorrectly attributed to Aristotle is going up for auction this month at Lyon & Turnbull in England.

"Aristotle's Compleat Master-Piece" may have been banned in Britain until the 1960s, according to some sources, though that is uncertain. One thing is for sure: "It was taboo and a lot of people didn't want their name on it," said Lyon & Turnbull book specialist Cathy Marsden, during an interview.

As for why the book was pegged to Aristotle, "we think it was just to kind of raise the profile of the book," Marsden said. Also, there has been some suggestion that bits of the book, though not very much at all, could be attributed to Aristotle's work. Bits also seem to come from the work of 17th-century physician Nicholas Culpeper and 13th-century saint and grand thinker Albertus Magnus.

The book, though taboo, was by no means " The Joy of Sex," the 1972 cookbook-esque writing known for its explicit drawings of sex poses and the like. Images in this "master-piece" show a woman's torso and drawings of hairy children with extra limbs, and according to the Guardian, an image showing a woman's torso opened up to reveal a baby in her womb. But there are no actual explicit images, she said. [The Sex Quiz: Myths, Taboos & Bizarre Facts ]

"It kind of explains the approach to marriage and when young people should be getting married and then it goes on to try to explain why children have deformities; they call it monstrous births," Marsden told LiveScience. "They explain how to conceive children and how to conceive male and female children," said Marsden, adding the book describes what type of moon to lie under to conceive a male or female child.

(Read the rest of the story here)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

AS IT STANDS: ‘Crazy Wayne' won't bring NRA into 21st Century

By Dave Stancliff/for the Times-Standard

According to Wayne LaPierre, CEO and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, any attempt at gun control in this country is an “anti-American” attack that threatens all our rights.

Let's back up a moment and take a look at “Crazy Wayne.” He recently lashed out at the national media in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre declaring, “ ... call me crazy for wanting armed police in schools.”

I call him crazy for even suggesting that his rabid defense of guns is mainstream, and that he represents a majority in this country. That's a flat out lie. The NRA has four million members, hardly a majority in America. Furthermore, try polling those NRA members and see what they really think about compromising on gun control for the sake of their own families.

”Crazy Wayne's” main point, when addressing the press after this latest tragedy, was that the NRA would not even begin to think about compromising on gun control laws despite the increasing mass murders in our country. Flat out. Period. No compromise.

Don't be too surprised by “Crazy Wayne's” unyielding stance. The guy gets a million dollars a year to just say no. But it's deeper than that. He's a fanatic. All you have to do is turn the clock back to 1993 in the aftermath of Waco, and later the Oklahoma City bombing to see that .

”Crazy Wayne” sent out a fund-raising letter after Waco referring to federal agents as

“terrorists and jack-booted thugs who wear Nazi helmets and wear black storm-trooper uniforms.”

Former president and avid NRA member George H.W. Bush was so enraged over “Crazy Wayne's” anti-American stance after Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, that he publicly resigned his membership in the NRA.

Afterward “Crazy Wayne” insisted he only meant to criticize isolated incidents primarily involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). However, there was one section of the letter that offered a more sweeping condemnation of federal law-enforcement efforts.

Once again the “jack-booted thugs with Nazi helmets” theme was repeated and “Crazy Wayne” claimed that under the Clinton Administration, “ ... if you have a badge, you have the government's go-ahead to harass, intimidate, and even murder law abiding citizens.”

Even before President Obama was elected the first time, “Crazy Wayne” warned his membership that there was a conspiracy, and Obama would take their guns away.

You may remember there were record gun and ammunition sales right after Obama was elected. You can thank “Crazy Wayne” for that. I wonder if his corporate cronies gave him a bonus?

Despite his doomsday warning, Obama didn't pass one gun control law. If anything, he extended rights for gun ownership and armed our rangers in federal parks. It didn't matter though. “Crazy Wayne” kept beating the drums through this last election cycle with the same dire warnings of a coming apocalypse for gun owners if Obama was re-elected.

I call him “Crazy Wayne” for a reason. Based upon his own actions, the man is an extreme, unyielding fanatic who cares more about his twisted ideology and his allegiance to the corporations that produce weapons and ammunition, than he does about the American public's safety.

Once the NRA stood for gun safety. It still offers state-of-the-art gun safety classes for shooters of all ages. But common sense in other matters seems to have deserted it's leadership.

Under “Crazy Wayne” people wonder how any kind of gun control legislation can be passed when the NRA lobby is flush with corporate bucks, and has paid buddies in both houses.

However, I learned one thing from this last presidential election that gives me hope. Super PACS and million dollar donations from wealthy individuals couldn't buy the Presidency. Therefore, even “Crazy Wayne's” efforts to advance the NRA's power are eventually doomed to fail. Perhaps 2013 will be that year when the majority of people will have their say.

As It Stands, Americans demand change in our gun laws. The senseless slaughter of 20 children and six teachers with an assault-style weapon was the last straw.

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...