Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why do hangovers seem so much worse as we get older?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

We all know that means it’s a day for green beer and cabbage. There’ll be parties in bars and on the streets. Better wear green today or get pinched (where did this ritual get started?).

“Sometime tomorrow, around the time your alarm clock rings, you will hate yourself for trying to keep up with your college self this St. Patrick's Day. You used to be able to bounce right back from hangovers; now, if you have more than two pints of Guinness tonight you know you'll feel it in the morning. What happened?

It's not your imagination. Our bodies really do start to lose the capability to process booze as we get older, an alcohol expert explains.”  Full Story

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

EPA adds seven more monitors, boosts radiation-sniffing system

Federal agencies are beefing up their radiation-monitoring capabilities at home and abroad, even as they insist that significant amounts of fallout won’t waft from Japan onto U.S. territory.

At home, the Environmental Protection Agency said it's adding seven monitors in Alaska, Hawaii and Guam to its RadNet radiation-tracking system, which operates about 100 air-sniffing stations nationwide. Putting in those extra stations "allows us to gather data from a position closer to Japan," EPA said in an online question-and-answer guide.

Looking beyond America's borders, the U.S. Air Force is sending out a high-tech aircraft to sniff the air over Japan for radiation. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration are also sending experts to Japan to help counter the growing crisis at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant complex.

The NRC and the NNSA have teams who track how hazardous materials spread through the atmosphere, based on computer modeling and other methods. It was the NRC's revised analysis that led to today's advisory telling Americans to evacuate the area within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the Fukushima reactors, or stay indoors if they can't get out of the area.

White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that the NRC's advice goes far beyond what the Japanese government is telling its own citizens — that is, to keep indoors within a 19-mile (30-kilometer) radius of the plant.

"The advice the Japanese government is giving — based on information it has — is different from the advice that we would be giving if this incident were happening in the United States of America," Carney said. "It is not about the quality of information. It is about the standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission here in the United States and the kind of advice it would be giving should this incident happen in the United States."

For what it's worth, the NRC calls for protective action when projected doses exceed 10 millisieverts (1 rem) or 50 millisieverts (5 rem) to the thyroid. Radiation levels at the damaged plants rose as high as 400 millisieverts per hour.

How the calculations are made and the rest of the story.

A weak Japanese government is out of the information loop –company controls media releases

Companies controlling the media. Sound familiar? BP basically tried to pull the same trick after the DeepWater Horizon disaster – and succeeded to a point.

Flaws in Japan’s leadership deepen sense of crisis

No strong political class has emerged to take the place of bureaucrats and corporations

Excerpts:

“Left-leaning news media outlets were long skeptical of nuclear power and its backers, and the mutual mistrust led power companies and their regulators to tightly control the flow of information about nuclear operations so as not to inflame a broad spectrum of opponents that include pacifists and environmentalists.

“It’s a Catch-22,” said Kuni Yogo, a nuclear power planner at Japan’s Science and Technology Agency.

He said that the government and Tokyo Electric Power, or Tepco, the operator of the troubled nuclear plant, “try to disclose only what they think is necessary, while the media, which has an antinuclear tendency, acts hysterically, which leads the government and Tepco to not offer more information.”

The wariness between the public and the nuclear industry and its regulators has proven to be costly during this nuclear emergency. As the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant unfolded, officials from Tepco and the Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency have at times provided inconsistent figures or played down the risks to the reactors and the general public. No person from either side has become the face of the rescue effort.

Politicians, relying almost completely on Tepco for information, have been left to report what they are told, often in unconvincing fashion.”  Full Story

FULL STORY       Image source

Talk about Tsunamis: Lost city of Atlantis believed found off Spain

Archaeologists and geologists use imagery to find site ravaged by tsunami

Image: Atlantis

With all the talk about tsunami’s right now, I thought this news story seemed appropriate to share.

The tsunami in this article went 60 miles inland!

Excerpt:

“A U.S.-led research team may have finally located the lost city of Atlantis, the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago, in mud flats in southern Spain.

"This is the power of tsunamis," head researcher Richard Freund told Reuters.” FULL STORY HERE.

Conference on Future of Marijuana Reform in California set March 19

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"Next Steps for Marijuana Reform in California," is a day-long gathering of marijuana reform advocates.

In the wake of Proposition 19's remarkably strong showing at the polls last year, this conference will address ongoing efforts to end failed marijuana prohibition in California, steps to reform the state's medical marijuana laws, and priorities for marijuana reform in the coming years.

The conference is presented by California NORML, Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access, and VibeNation MultiMedia. Confirmed participants include leaders of the Proposition 19 campaign and other ballot initiative proponents, Latino Voters League, California NAACP, United Food and Commercial Workers, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and California Church Impact as well as political consultants, attorneys, medical marijuana advocates, and public officials.

The event is open to the public, and the audience will have the opportunity to comment and weigh in on competing proposals. A party and reception, featuring live music, other entertainment and refreshments, will be held at the Montalban Theater immediately following the conference until 10 pm.

The conference follows up the sold out "Next Steps" conference in Berkeley in January (http://www.canorml.org/nextsched.html).

What: "Next Steps for Marijuana Reform in California"

When: Saturday, March 19th, 9 am to 6 pm

Where: Ricardo Montalban Theater, 1615 Vine St., Hollywood

Tickets: www.drugpolicy.org/nextsteps

Conference Schedule: www.canorml.org/LAConfSched_Online.html

Admission: $20 for the conference; $20 for the reception. A $30 discounted ticket for both events is available online in advance only.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ask yourself – ‘Why is there no looting going on in Japan?’

People walk along a flooded street in Ishimaki City, Miyagi Prefecture in Northern Japan, after an earthquake and tsunami struck the area.

I can’t help thinking about natural disasters in America and what usually follows in their wake. A lawless atmosphere that includes looting.

How has Japan managed to maintain order in the aftermath of last week's earthquake and tsunami?

The chaos and theft that have followed many earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis have been noticeably absent in the wake of Japan's 8.9-magnitude quake. Instead, people have formed long, orderly lines outside grocery stores, where employees try to fairly distribute limited supplies of food and water. "Looting simply does not take place in Japan," says Gregory Pflugfelder, an expert in Japanese culture at Columbia University, as quoted by CNN. "I'm not even sure if there's a word for it that is as clear in its implications as when we hear 'looting.'" How has Japan managed to avoid this common after-effect of disaster?

Flooded Streets in Ishimaki City (Kyodo Kyodo/Reuters)

PHOTO - People walk along a flooded street in Ishimaki City, Miyagi Prefecture in Northern Japan, after an earthquake and tsunami struck the area.

Japan isn't superior, just different: “Japanese people are "taught that conformity and consensus are virtues," says James Picht at The Washington Times. To Americans, who prize individualism, "those virtues sound almost offensive." In normal times, "concerns about appearance and obligation" may be stifling, but in adversity they may be what trumps "the urge to smash and grab." Japanese culture isn't "superior," it's just "well suited to maintaining public order immediately after a major disaster."   STORY HERE

New Study Says Gay Families More Accepted Than Single Moms

Image: Christopher Green, left, and Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, show with their twins Beckham and JuliaPew study find Americans are split evenly overall on accepting 'non-traditional families' but disparage single moms

“When Steve Pougnet was sworn in as mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., in 2007, his husband, Christopher Green, was at his side. In Pougnet's arms was his then 2-year-old son, Beckham, while Green held the other twin, Julia.

It was a moment neither man could have imagined possible when they met 19 years ago. Even then, they knew they someday wanted to have children, but they didn’t know if it would be possible and couldn’t be sure how their family would be viewed if they did.”

PHOTO - Christopher Green, left, and Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, right, shown with their 5-year-old twins Beckham and Julia, say gay families have become more public in recent years. When they first began talking about having children 19 years ago, “we didn’t see any gay couples with kids on the streets,” Pougnet said.

GO HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY.

Bottled water largely unmonitored - flush your habit and turn the tap

Image: Discarded water bottles

Bottled water? That's so '80s.

The $14.4 billion bottled-water market has come under fire for being environmentally incorrect as those discarded plastic containers keep piling up in landfills.

Meanwhile, decades of marketing that touted costly bottled water as cleaner, healthier and better tasting than tap water turned out to be a lot of hype. Not only is most good-old-fashioned tap water safe and clean, experts say, but swearing off the bottle also saves you a bundle.

Here's how to turn on the tap and let the savings pour in — without sacrificing flavor: Full Story

Monday, March 14, 2011

‘Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day’ slated for March 30th

vets logo

I’d like to remind my readers that March 30th is the 2nd Annual “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” for all Vietnam Veterans in California.

The following is a list of local cities that will be recognizing this law and honoring Vietnam veterans prior to March 30th:

The meetings will be held at each city hall, and the County Supervisor’s chambers.

The public is encouraged to attend and show their support for the men and women who served during a difficult time in our nation’s history:

   City of Arcata - March 16th at 6:00 p.m.

   City of Eureka - March 21st at 6;00 p.m.

   City of Fortuna - March 21st at 6:00 p.m.

   City of Rio Dell - TBA

   Humboldt County Board of Supervisors - March 22nd at 9:00 a.m.

After March 30th – The City of Ferndale will present a proclamation on April 7th.

On September 25, 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, joined by Assemblyman Paul Cook and WHVVD founder Jose G. Ramos, signed AB 717, making it a law.

  According to latest veteran census statistics, there are an estimated 3,300 Vietnam Era veterans living in Humboldt County. For more information, or updates, contact Carl Young at carlhandup@att.net

Nuclear industry vows that lessons from Japan will make reactors 'even safer'

“Two days after the earthquake and tsunami pushed Japan into a nuclear emergency, the leading trade and lobbying group for the worldwide nuclear power industry has outlined its position on the future of nuclear energy: “When we fully understand the facts surrounding the event in Japan, we will use those insights to make nuclear energy even safer.”

The Nuclear Energy Institute posted 19 questions and answers on Sunday, apparently intended to reassure the public, the financial markets and legislators that "public support for nuclear power should not decline dramatically.”   FULL STORY

Sunday, March 13, 2011

As It Stands: Recognizing when not to 'die' over an issue

By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 03/13/2011 01:27:28 AM PST

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It's not worth dying for?” Basically, it means there's no use getting stressed out over things when you're the one who will suffer.

Not that politician who angered you. Not that jerk who cut you off on the freeway. Not that clown who claimed to be pious but was actually a child molester. You're the one who will suffer the consequences of increased blood pressure or heart attack when your anger gets the best of you.

I had to remind myself of that when I heard the Supreme Court's decision to allow the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) to continue picketing Army funerals. Watching that hate group taunt the families of dead American servicemen on TV practically sent me through the roof!

For days, I fumed over the decision, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the only decision the justices could make. Free speech was challenged and had to be upheld, regardless of how hateful that speech was. It still hit me hard.

As a Vietnam veteran (Army) I looked at the decision with biased eyes. Gut reaction. Those fallen men and women were my brothers and sisters, and the WBC is allowed to mock their deaths. To disrupt a sacred ritual of comfort for the living over their loss. How wrong was that?

Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq in 2006 and his funeral was picketed by Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, Albert Snyder, Matthew's father, told Katie Couric on CBS News.

He also said, “When the government won't do anything about it, and the courts give us no remedy, then people are going to start taking matters into their own hands. And believe me, someone is going to get hurt. And when the blood starts flowing, let it be on the Supreme Court Justices' hands.”

I feel Albert Snyder's pain. I didn't lose a son but I felt like the whole world was turned upside down, and wrong was right. The bad guys won. Chaos was creeping nearer. Then I heard Tom Brokaw say something that really struck a chord with me. He mentioned the veteran groups that were attending military funerals to shield the families from Phelps and his minions.

If anything, the WBC has caused attendance to increase at military funerals across the nation. The fallen are actually getting more recognition for their sacrifices than before the WBC started their vile campaign against them.

For years, I've read about low attendance at military funerals. They even had a hard time finding people to play taps and used tape recordings instead. The services were generally confined to immediate family and friends, in spite of being open to the public.

Look at what's happening now. Hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of strangers are going to military funerals to show their respect and solidarity against those who would profane such a sacred event. I wouldn't be surprised to see even more dramatic increase in attendance after the WBC promised to “quadruple” their demonstrations after the court's decision.

The mistake Albert Snyder makes is he's prepared to “die over something” that's not wrong according to our Constitution. The WBC is morally wrong, without a doubt, but the court can't use that as factor in its decision for freedom of speech. Hopefully, Snyder can take some solace since his son's funeral brought about an awareness of military deaths. The public needs to be reminded that Americans are dying in our never-ending wars. Matthew Snyder's legacy is that he died fighting for his country and his funeral became a wake-up call for America.

Violence at military funerals, as Snyder suggested may happen, is not the answer. Violence is never the answer. The Supreme Court's decision was the right one. Threatening the WBC members will accomplish nothing and will only keep them in the spotlight they crave.

To put things in perspective, a small cult/church is spewing hateful messages and will do or say anything to get attention. Most of the country disagrees with them, and the end result is an awareness of military deaths and a reaffirmation of free speech.

As It Stands, few things in life are really worth “dying for,” and the ability to recognize that means a longer and happier life.

6 Nominees for the Most Disgraceful Member of Congress Announced

I'm going to go with Lawerence O'Donnell's recommendation  on nominating Sen. Tommy Tuberville as the most disgraceful member i...