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It's time to talk about mental illness

It's time to talk about mental illness | In and About the News |
Friday’s horrific national tragedy—the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut—has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Mental health services in this country were gutted since the Reagan administration. For all the advances we've made in this country, we still pretend that mental illness isn't "real." Until a mentally ill person does something horrendous and suddently, everyone is appalled. For a few days, until they forget again.

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Could You Survive on $2 a Day?

Could You Survive on $2 a Day? | In and About the News |
Nearly 1.4 million American households live on that much per person. Gabriel Thompson reports from one of the nation's poorest areas.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

If this doesn't alarm you, you are missing a piece of your soul.

Sharla Shults's curator insight, December 15, 2012 8:21 PM

If this doesn't open eyes, then nothing will for they are truly blind!

Marilyn Armstrong's comment, December 15, 2012 8:22 PM
None so blind as those who will not see. Most people do not want to see the poverty ... so they don't.
Rosemary J. Adkins's curator insight, December 16, 2012 3:14 PM

Imagine surviving like this! We need to help our own citizens.

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Fuck Everything, Nation Reports

Fuck Everything, Nation Reports | In and About the News |
WASHINGTON—Following the fatal shooting this morning at a Connecticut elementary school that left at least 27 dead, including 20 small children, sources across the nation shook their heads, stifled a sob in their voices, and reported fuck everything. Just fuck it all to hell.

All of it, sources added.

“I’m sorry, but fuck it, I can’t handle this—I just can’t handle it anymore,” said Deborah McEllis, who added that “no, no, no, no, no, this isn’t happening, this can’t be real.” “Seriously, what the hell is this? What’s even going on anymore? Why do things like this keep happening?”

Continued McEllis, before covering her face with her hands, “Why?”

Despairing sources confirmed that the gunman, armed with a semiautomatic assault rifle—a fucking combat rifle, Jesus—walked into a classroom full of goddamned children where his mother was a teacher and, good God, if this is what the world is becoming, then how about we just pack it in and fucking give up, because this is no way to live.

I mean, honestly, all 315 million Americans confirmed.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

You may not like the cursing, but I can't help but entirely echo and agree with the sentiment. Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

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Obama's Victory -- The Landslide You Couldn't See

Obama's Victory -- The Landslide You Couldn't See | In and About the News |
If we fail to summon the courage necessary to identify racial animus where it exists, and to in turn adjust our approach to policy-making accordingly, all Americans will pay a price, not just those who are the typical targets of racial animus.

Via Kenneth Weene, Sharla Shults
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

For all those who keep saying that "race didn't have anything to do with it," yes. It did. It had everything to do with both the 2008 and 2012 elections. 

Kenneth Weene's curator insight, December 13, 2012 12:49 PM

This is an important analysis. Even if you don't agree with it, and I do, it is something you should read and think about.

Sharla Shults's curator insight, December 13, 2012 1:38 PM

This is a thought-provoking article regardless of party affiliation or voter preference in the presidential election.

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All the World’s a Stage?

All the World’s a Stage? | In and About the News |
That guy Willie Shakespeare knew a thing or two. Not only could he make a mean pair of gloves, but he could write plays till the cows came home. What a guy.

Take for example his play, As You Like It. The All the World’s a Stage monologue was just genius. He imparts the wisdom of life and all it’s stages. He also sums up in one line, life itself. “And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances;…”

We do indeed. Shakespeare then goes on to talk about the seven stages of man, or to be more modern and succinct the seven ages of man. I suppose that I am at the stage of justice all frowns and severely cut beard bordering on the slippers and pantaloon stage.

Thankfully due to modern diet and medicine, I’m not in the running for “shrunk shank” and reedy voice just yet.

I’ve always had a cock-eyed view of this monologue. When Shakespeare said seven stages (ages) I always felt that this could be changed to read parts or roles. Most of us find a role that we are comfortable in and we pretty much try to stay within the boundaries of that role. Sort of like actors who have to stay out of the stage wings and also have to avoid getting in another actors way.

But we also play many different parts in our life’s role. I will talk about man in the generic, i.e. it means both sexes, you remembe,r I’m sure, back in the old days before political correctness and having to spell out each and every time what gender the subject was.

We play husband or wife. We play parent and child. We are the job holder, the wise one, the jape and the naysayer – or in some instances – the yes man. We are the older retired individual who must scrape by on a pittance. We are the injured, the wounded, the dying.

When the world was less technologically advanced and theoretically simpler, we had one job that we strived to be the best at. If we could not do that, we did the best we could at not losing our job. Some people move from job to job, trying to fit in; trying to find that round hole that they can fit or, failing that, making themselves fit in a square hole.

Men change partners, introduce more babies into the world, or they practice an odd sort of hermitage. Evolution has demanded that we adapt to our constantly changing world. Men who cannot be flexible are doomed to fail. We must learn many different jobs and tasks as we all move to our inevitable end.

We learn, through trial and error, that not all plans work. We also learn that life is a crap shoot. The dice roll and fall where they fall. We cannot “load” the dice or cheat the numbers when they come up. Snake eyes still equals snake eyes when the dice stop moving. Men just have to learn to duck and dodge, serpentine if you will all the variants that life throws at us.

Some will decide that they cannot do it. They will opt for a deadly early retirement from life. The challenges prove to be overwhelming and unbeatable.

I have, in my short somewhat unremarkable life, been many things, done many jobs and had a great many injuries. Some of the injuries were of the physical sort and some were of the emotional sort. Both are extremely painful and once or twice I looked very hard at a deadly early retirement as a possible option.

A lot of people do and they will either discover that they do have it them to play one more role. It may take them a little longer to learn the blocking and the lines, but they will try and succeed or not.

My year, so far, has been one of wounding and injury. I have just managed to overcome both with a lot of help from modern medicine, and my daughter and my family. I have had yet another role in my life come to an end. I will now have to find out what happens next.

Another role is opening up to me. I will need to learn everything I can to make this new role work. Will I succeed? I hope so. I think that Shakespeare’s stage of justice and pantaloons allows you to view any new “life changing” events with a cool head and a resoluteness that isn’t possible when you are younger.

So even though I am in imminent danger of having another “stage” thrust upon me before I was ready and I will have to learn (or rewrite) my life story yet again, I will not be frightened or uncomfortable about it.

Life is as stage just as the world is. I have made a few exits from roles and entrances as a new character, a new role, many times before. I will, no doubt, do so a few more times before I reach the “sans” stage of the Bard’s monologue...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

I have a phoenix tattooed on my left calf. I thought it an apt symbol of my life. It's an apt symbol for many of us. Life never stops happening. Here's to my fellow phoenix. One day, you will look up, and realize you're happy. Just like that.

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Helen Mirren Q&A: Oscar winner talks 'Hitchcock,' real-life meeting with icon

Helen Mirren Q&A: Oscar winner talks 'Hitchcock,' real-life meeting with icon | In and About the News |
The movie universe certainly works in strange ways, and we can only imagine the path acclaimed actress Helen Mirren's career might have taken if she had hit it
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

I would have liked to be a fly on the wall for this encounter,

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SEE AMERICA | THE AMERICAN GUIDE | In and About the News |

THE AMERICAN GUIDE is a revival of the Depression-era guidebook series by the same name. It’s a travel project to keep a state by state record of an America coming out of the Great Recession and beyond: to document people and places both pretty and hard because, all things being equal, that’s what makes America, America.

Via Sharla Shults
Louise Malbon-Reddix's comment, January 3, 2013 3:58 PM
Yes, that’s what makes America, America.
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HBO: Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again: Homepage

HBO: Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again: Homepage | In and About the News |
The official website for Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again on HBO, featuring videos, images, schedule information and episode guides.


9PM tonight on HBO (EST), but check ... it's on  lot of the HBO channels at various times during the next week.



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Rhys's Pieces: Royal Hoax

Rhys's Pieces: Royal Hoax | In and About the News |

Royal Hoax

Did you see on the news today that two Australian DJs put in a prank call to Kate's hospital, pretending to be the queen and Prince Charles. The nurse who answered the phone was completely fooled even though the accents were terrible and they both used language no royal would ever use.

When the queen said something about "walking the bloody corgis" that should have been a red flag.


I grew up in a genteel household in England and nobody in the queen's generation would use the word bloody. When I came home from my new job at the BBC and said airily that something was "a bloody nuisance" there was silence in the room and one of my aunts said, "So--you've taken to swearing now, have you?"


Luckily the hoax was discovered before they were put through to Kate's room. Another dead giveaway might have been that it was five in the morning--Australians never able to get their times right, as I can attest after some weird calls from my family members.


But really the nurse must have been clueless. It is highly unlikely that a royal would put through the call. A secretary would establish the contact and then put the queen or Prince Charles on the line. But it does show how easily security can be breached, doesn't it?

And it makes me wonder whether I could make use of a royal hoax in a future Lady Georgie book.

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June Buggie Says End the Violence!

June Buggie Says End the Violence! | In and About the News |

Animal cruelty is a problem in our society.


Domestic violence is a problem in our society.


But did you know the two often go hand-in-hand?


Indeed, 68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals; 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women, and 75% in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them (NCADV).


Disturbed children kill or harm animals to emulate their parents’ conduct, to prevent the abuser from killing the pet, or to take out their aggressions on another victim more helpless than themselves.


So those animals that are found horribly mutilated? Animals abandoned in deserted areas or the middle of an Interstate? Animals found dead and stuffed in trash bins? Those could be beloved pets of victims of domestic violence.


It’s frightening. Also upsetting is the fact that many women remain in the home with an abuser because they don’t want to leave the animals behind. She fears what will happen to them should she leave, and she has nowhere for her beloved animals to go.


For those of us who want to see an end to animal cruelty, we must embrace the magnitude of the problem. If you want to help, here are some things you can do:


Find out if domestic violence shelters in your area provide care for pets. If not, help them find a way to get those animals cared for, perhaps through partnerships with animal rescue groups or through the community Humane Society.

If you suspect abuse in a family, offer to care for the pets if she leaves if you’re able to do so for an extended period of time.
Often victims will not talk about abuse inflicted in themselves, but will tell of abuse inflicted on a beloved animal. Start by asking about the pets.

If you work in a vet clinic and you suspect animal abuse, don’t be silent. You will help more than just the animal. You may save a human victim as well.


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The End of the World in 2012 | Top Secret Writers

The End of the World in 2012 | Top Secret Writers | In and About the News |

End of Days. Ragnarok. Armageddon. We have heard all of these terms before. These are the terms used throughout the generations to describe the end of the world.


Men and women have been prophesizing about the end since the beginning. Each ?prophecy? claims a new era will be ushered in through massive change and, usually, massive loss of human life.


The first of these theories started to appear with the emergence of organized religion. It seems that every major religion as an end of the world theory. Even science as had its own end of the world theories, such as millennium bug, giant asteroids, and global warming.


The newest theory is the 2012 theory. This theory states that the world will end or, at the very least, drastically change on December 21, 2012. The end of the world in 2012 theory is based on the 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mayan Long Count calendar.


The calendar, widely used on Mayan and other Mesoamerican monuments, uses a modified base-20 count to identify a single day by counting the total number of days that has passed since the creation. This creation is given in detail in the Mayan book Popol Vuh.


However, this end-of-the-world in 2012 theory is not detailed anywhere on the Mayan Long Count or in the Popol Vuh. The ?end? referred to in these Mayan writings simply mark the end of one count and the beginning of another.


The end of the world theory derived from these is actually a modern interpretation. However, this modern interpretation has split into to factions. One faction interprets the ?end? as new era where the world and the beings living in it will experience a change equivalent to a new enlightenment. The other faction is not so optimistic. It is this faction that receives all the media hype with its tales of global destruction and mass human extinction.


Who?s right? Well, mainstream science and most Mayan scholars agree: neither. Mainstream science actually views the theories that the Mayan Long Count will usher in a world ending cataclysm are contradicted by simple scientific observations.


Mainstream Mayan Historians view theories as a gross misunderstanding of Mayan history and culture. Mayan writing and documents are very hard to come by and the ones that are available do not shed much light on the subject.


Neither science nor Mayan history seems to view December 21, 2012 any more significant than December 20 or December 23.

The only significance that December 21, 2012 holds is that it marks the date of the winter solstice. On this day, the shortest day, longest night, and the sun's daily maximum position in the sky is at its lowest can be observed. It could be possible that this was a day of celebration for the ancient Mayans. The winter solstice is a day of celebration for many cultures (ancient and modern) around the world. However, there is no such celebration in present day Mayan culture, and modern-day Mayans do not view the day as significant in any way.


Modern day scientists and scholars say that the end-of-the-world in 2012 theory is nothing more than a sensationalized rumor created to sell books, newspapers, and television ads. Believers of the 2012 theory argue that science has been wrong before and December 21, 2012 will throw the Earth and its inhabitants in a period of change and destruction.


Who should we believe? Should we go on about our daily lives? Should prepare for the end? With all of the contradictions and hype, what is the average human being to do?


My advice: remember Y2K.

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Using Just 10% of Your Brain? Think Again!

Using Just 10% of Your Brain? Think Again! | In and About the News |
Pop quiz: Which of these statements is false?


1. We use only 10% of our brain.

2. Environments rich in stimuli improve the brains of preschool children.

3. Individuals learn better when they receive information in their preferred learning style, whether auditory, visual or kinesthetic.


If you picked the first one, congratulations. The idea that we use only 10% of our brain is patently false. Yet it so permeates popular culture that, among psychologists and neuroscientists, it is known as the "10% myth."


Contrary to popular belief, the entire brain is put to use—unused neurons die and unused circuits atrophy. Reports of neuroimaging research might perpetuate the myth by showing only a small number of areas "lighting up" in a brain scan, but those are just areas that have more than a base line level of activity; the dark regions aren't dormant or unused.


Did you agree with the other two statements? If so, you fell into our trap. All three statements are false—or at least not substantiated by scientific evidence. Unfortunately, if you got any of them wrong, you're hardly alone.


These "neuromyths," along with others, were presented to 242 primary and secondary school teachers in the Netherlands and the U.K. as part of a study by Sanne Dekker and colleagues at VU University Amsterdam and Bristol University, and just published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. They found that 47% of the teachers believed the 10% myth. Even more, 76%, believed that enriching children's environments will strengthen their brains.


This belief might have emerged from evidence that rats raised in cages with amenities like exercise wheels, tunnels and other rats showed better cognitive abilities and improvements in brain structure compared with rats that grew up isolated in bare cages. But such experiments show only that a truly impoverished and unnatural environment leads to poorer developmental outcomes than a more natural environment with opportunities to play and interact. It follows that growing up locked in a closet or otherwise cut off from human contact will impair a child's brain development. It does not follow that "enriching" a child's environment beyond what is already typical—for example, by constant exposure to "Baby Einstein"-type videos—will boost cognitive development.


The myth about learning styles was the most popular: 94% of the teachers believed that students perform better when lessons are delivered in their preferred learning style. Indeed, students do have preferences about how they learn; the problem is that these preferences have little to do with how effectively they learn.


Cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham explained this conundrum in his 2009 book "Why Don't Students Like School?" In the best tests of the learning-styles theory, researchers first ascertain students' preferred styles and then randomly assign them to a form of instruction that either matches their preferences or doesn't. For example, in one study, students were randomly assigned to memorize a set of objects presented either verbally (as names) or visually (as pictures). Overall, visual presentation led to better memory, but there was no relationship between the learners' preferences and the instruction style. A study comparing "sensing" to "intuitive" learners among medical residents being taught new procedures reached a similar conclusion.


Of course, good teachers sense when students are struggling or progressing, and they adjust accordingly. Students with disabilities have individual needs that should be addressed. But a comprehensive review commissioned by the Association for Psychological Science concluded that there's essentially no evidence that customizing instruction formats to match students' preferred learning styles leads to better achievement. This is a knock not on teachers—we are teachers ourselves—but on human intuition, which finds the claim about learning styles so self-evident that it is hard to see how it could be wrong.


Our own surveys of the U.S. population have found even more widespread belief in myths about the brain. About two-thirds of the public agreed with the 10% myth. Many also believed that memory works like a video recording or that they can tell when someone is staring at the back of their head.


Ironically, in the Dekker group's study, the teachers who knew the most about neuroscience also believed in the most myths. Apparently, teachers who are (admirably) enthusiastic about expanding their knowledge of the mind and brain have trouble separating fact from fiction as they learn. Neuromyths have so much intuitive appeal, and they spread so rapidly in fields like business and self-help, that eradicating them from popular consciousness might be a Sisyphean task. But reducing their influence in the classroom would be a good start.


—Mr. Chabris is a psychology professor at Union College. Mr. Simons is a psychology professor at the University of Illinois. They are the authors of "The Invisible Gorilla, and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us."

A version of this article appeared November 17, 2012, on page C3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Using Just 10% of Your Brain? Think Again.


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An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore | In and About the News |

By Michael Moore, Michael
20 November 2012


Good luck on your journeys overseas this week, and congratulations on decisively winning your second term as our president! The first time you won four years ago, most of us couldn't contain our joy and found ourselves literally in tears over your victory.


This time, it was more like breathing a huge sigh of relief. But, like the smooth guy you are, you scored the highest percentage of the vote of any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson, and you racked up the most votes for a Democratic president in the history of the United States (the only one to receive more votes than you was ... you, in '08!). You are the first Democrat to get more than 50% of the vote twice in a row since Franklin D. Roosevelt.


This was truly another historic election and I would like to take a few minutes of your time to respectfully ask that your second term not resemble your first term.


It's not that you didn't get anything done. You got A LOT done. But there are some very huge issues that have been left unresolved and, dammit, we need you to get some fight in you. Wall Street and the uber-rich have been conducting a bloody class war for over 30 years and it's about time they were stopped.


I know it is not in your nature to be aggressive or confrontational. But, please, Barack - DO NOT listen to the pundits who are telling you to make the "grand compromise" or move to the "center" (FYI - you're already there). Your fellow citizens have spoken and we have rejected the crazed ideology of this Republican Party and we insist that you forcefully proceed in bringing about profound change that will improve the lives of the 99%. We're done hoping. We want real change. And, if we can't get it in the second term of a great and good man like you, then really - what's the use? Why are we even bothering? Yes, we're that discouraged and disenchanted.

At your first post-election press conference last Wednesday you were on fire. The way you went all "Taxi Driver" on McCain and company ("You talkin' to me?") was so brilliant and breathtaking I had to play it back a dozen times just to maintain the contact high. Jesus, that look - for a second I thought laser beams would be shooting out of your eyes! MORE OF THAT!! PLEASE!!


In the weeks after your first election you celebrated by hiring the Goldman Sachs boys and Wall Street darlings to run our economy. Talk about a buzzkill that I never fully recovered from. Please - not this time. This time take a stand for all the rest of us - and if you do, tens of millions of us will not only have your back, we will swoop down on Congress in a force so large they won't know what hit them (that's right, McConnell - you're on the retirement list we've put together for 2014).


BUT - first you have to do the job we elected you to do. You have to take your massive 126-electoral vote margin and just go for it.

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NRA Members Agree: More Gun Regulation Makes Sense

NRA Members Agree: More Gun Regulation Makes Sense | In and About the News |
It seems obvious to many that advocating for regulating the sale, ownership, and use of guns is a political loser.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

So why don't we have sensible gun control laws?

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Watch: The Year of Mass Shootings

Watch: The Year of Mass Shootings | In and About the News |
2012 was the bloodiest yet. Here's a video collection of our reports on gun atrocities. (The root cause of #shooting must be stopped. Not so rare.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

That we have such a data base is appalling. That we tolerate it is even worse. 

Marilyn Armstrong's comment, December 17, 2012 12:45 AM
Rosemary, let me ask you a question here: Why would you object to as much regulation for your guns as your cars? You register your car. You have to pass a test before you're allowed to drive it. You have to have a current license and insurance ... and you are responsible for making sure that you know where it is and who is driving it. Surely a gun is worthy of at least as much regulation as a motor vehicle, wouldn't you say? Really?
Rosemary J. Adkins's comment, December 17, 2012 12:53 PM
Marilyn, Perhaps I did not state my position correctly. I indeed agree we need to register, be investigated and pass the vigors of the law to own hand guns, etc. I merely meant "NO gun" as to being told we could not own them. We definitely need to know who owns them and what they own. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I also meant to say that no one needs to own assault weapons in the private sector and that being said, the one that have them and are unregistered should receive no mercy when found guilty of a crime.
Marilyn Armstrong's comment, December 17, 2012 8:20 PM
I think most people agree ... which makes me wonder how come we never seem to get any of these basic, sensible measures turned into law. I've heard from NRA members, hunters, gun collectors -- no one seems to feel that complete lack of regulation makes any sense. But yet, that's what we have. Who's pulling the strings?
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Slaughter in a quiet suburb

Slaughter in a quiet suburb | In and About the News |
Yesterday, while putting together awards, a too-long deferred project, I happened to click onto WBZ radio, Boston‘s CBS affiliate. The events in Newtown were just being broadcast. They didn’t know exactly how many children and adults had died. The massacre had just ended — to the degree that such tragedies really ever end. I’m sure that for all the families who lost loved ones, it will never end. There’s no “over” for the slaughter of innocents.

This is the kind of horror story that leaves you with questions that can’t be answered. Even if you know everything there is to know, you still couldn’t make sense of it because it doesn’t make sense and can’t make sense. There is nothing sane, sensible, reasonable or explicable about it. What could possible make someone — anyone — think murdering children is an acceptable or sane response to anything? No matter what dark secrets or strange thoughts are tangled in the head of the kid who took all those lives … nothing makes it more understandable because our minds reject any answer. There is no reason good enough. Nothing makes it comprehensible nor should it.

I can and will say that had the shooter not had guns, this would NOT have happened...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

It happened because we didn't prevent it. And it will keep happening until we DO prevent it.

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The irrepressible evolution of the PC mouse | PCWorld

The irrepressible evolution of the PC mouse | PCWorld | In and About the News |
A half-century old and still going strong, the mouse has seen its ups and downs. Here's its history, from inauspicious beginnings to the essential peripheral we use today.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Mouses mouses mouses ... they crawl into our houses and live on our desktops ... the myriad mouses we love and we hate.

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U.S. announces will not sign ITU treaty, period | ZDNet

U.S. announces will not sign ITU treaty, period  | ZDNet | In and About the News |
The U.S. has just announced that, "U.S. cannot sign revised telecommunications regulations in their current form."
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

This, although written without any kind of detail, is much more important than it sounds and could potentially affect many people, from small businesses that advertise on the Internet, to bloggers.

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Spamglish… | In and About the News |
We westerners love to make fun of foreigners who have difficulty with the English language. This “mickey-taking” (English slang for making fun of) does not limit itself to making fun of the Japanese’s confusion about English and its non-logical methods. Also known as Engrish, which to me sounds a little insulting; I have decided that in the world of blogging there is another kind of “Glish.”

Spamglish, like its distant cousin, Japanglish has the same illogical application of nouns, verbs, pronouns, subjects, adjectives and tenses. The notion that there is a world of blog writers who don’t have enough of a command of the English language to spam properly tickles me. So, in my mind at least, I’ve created a new sort of language. One that is spoken and written in Spamglish.

I don’t know if I’m just easily amused or if I have a “cracked” sense of humour; but, I just adore spam comments. You know the ones I mean. The ones that akismet take and put in their spam folder in order to show how good they are at protecting your blog from unwanted sales oriented spammers.

Most of them can make me laugh until I cry. They are truly hysterical. I know that a contributing factor is that the spam comes from countries where English isn’t even a second language and they have to rely on Google Translate or other similar programs.

A lot of the time these “spam” comments start with the words “Hi, I do believe your website has browser compatibility problems.” This statement or the not too dissimilar, “I see you are lacking some factors on your site’” and the many variants of the same message make me groan and quickly empty my spam bin.

Some, though, are worth a read. They invariably make me laugh and wonder if the person writing the comment has editing problems or if they were inebriated or stoned while writing their “comments.”

Here are a few examples:

Excellent publish, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!|What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to contribute & help different customers like its helped me. Good job.

*This was from a Polish site…I think.*

your posts gives me motivation to keep on my intention to create a blog one day. thank you for all


i didn’t even see something like this before because of the scarcity of this type of information *Portuguese*

*Now this one is Chinese (basic Han, whatever that is) and it translates to – Analysis is very thorough, appreciate your views, learning* amusingly the page view shows an advert for Babylon Translator something they did not bother to use.

I have had a lot of other amusing comments all by “sales sites” and they vary. Some start as a sort of mangled congratulatory message. For example: “I used to really like reading your blog but now not so much”. Another one is: “You used to be expert at this subject now I think don’t have enough knowledge.”

Of course the comments are amusing by themselves but the blog post that they appear on usually highlights the comedic element of the comments.

I would like to think that the problem is just translation, but after reading a few young people’s letters (where they use “text speak and spell”) and the horrendous sentence structure – I know, I’m no champ myself – I am beginning to believe that the art of communication via the written word is a dying art. It also appears to be contagious.

Some spammers though are trying to appear legitimate with the elegant and downright flattering tone of their comments. I actually got halfway through an entire paragraph of praises when I realised that the comment was from a “sex aid” company. The blog post in question was one of my Quorn articles.

But my all time favourite has to be the last Portuguese comment I got today: haha! i agree with you! This was in reference to a book review I did on The Unlucky Lottery. This one at least “looked” like it could be a legitimate comment.

I guess that the more illiterate or garbled comments make me think of the character Manuel from Fawlty Towers (played to hilarious perfection by the English actor Andrew Sachs) whose attempts at communication in English were classic comedy. In my mind I see a score of Manuel’s all sitting in front of a laptop adding what they know are pertinent comments on blogs that they are attempting to spam.

Of course were it not for askimet and their wide spam catching net, most of these would be read anyway, but, because askimet have rounded all the “offending” spam into one easy to access folder it makes reading them less annoying and more entertaining.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

I've also written about this and I never get tired of these hilarious messages. My question remains unanswered: does anyone actually respond to these messages?

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Earth at Night 2012

Earth at Night 2012 | In and About the News |
This site not only allows you to look at the lights across the earth at night, but also to drill down to specific areas, and to see a map image and then overlay the night view.
This map is a great way to explore population across the world. What do the night lights tell us?
According to the website the images were taken over nine days in April 2012 and thirteen days in October 2012. To get the clarity required took 312 orbits. For more information check out the website.
Via Beth Dichter
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Boston Children’s Hospital supplies hope to children from all over the world.   It’s vital that we support this incredible institution so that research, treatment and care for our kids may continue.


In return for your kindness, I’ll send you a copy of “For the Children XII,” my latest booklet of inspiring stories, poetry, recipes and illustrations by celebrated artists.

Kindly send your donation of $20.00 (or whatever you can afford) payable to BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL to:

Jordan Rich

WBZ Radio

1170 Soldiers Field Rd.

Boston, Ma. 02134


Or, order online via PayPal at:

Have a great holiday season and thank you for your generosity and kindness. Your donation means healing and hope for our precious kids.




Jordan Rich


Jordan Rich
Chart Productions, inc
WBZ Radio

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FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered): Clinical Trials & Resesarch

FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered): Clinical Trials & Resesarch | In and About the News |
FORCE is a national nonprofit organization devoted to improving the lives of people and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.


Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Screening Mammography

by Sue Friedman

A recent research article has questioned the benefits while highlighting the potential harms of mammogram screening in women of average risk for breast cancer. The study raises some valid concerns; more research is needed to refine breast-screening guidelines to improve outcomes. But it does not provide the definitive answers needed to dismiss mammography as a screening tool.


The research report looked at large population-based statistics over three decades to determine if mammograms are leading to a decrease in later-stage cancers by detecting more early-stage cancers. The study found that although mammograms found more early cancers, they did not lead to a similar reduction in cancers diagnosed at a late stage. The authors conclude that while mammograms find more cancers, for most women, they do not improve survival or outcomes. The authors cite the concern that mammograms find breast changes that are precancers that may never actually develop into cancer or threaten a woman’s life. The authors go on to state that as many as one-third of breast cancers may be overdiagnosed and treated, leading to side effects and consequences that can impact women’s quality of life.

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10 Journalists Slain in Mexico in 2010

10 Journalists Slain in Mexico in 2010 | In and About the News |
Always a dangerous place to be an aggressive reporter, Mexico in 2010 became a killing ground, with 10 reporters slain and several more reported missing.


Clearly, freedom of the press is not quite the same everywhere.

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When a gadget elevates into a tool ...

The Olympus E-PM2 that I ordered on Black Friday is on the slow brown truck from the East Coast. It should get here early next week. That’s okay because I’m not particularly excited about the purchase. I came to this realization and it surprised me.


It’s not that I don’t want the camera. I do. It’s just that I already know what to expect. I know the interface. I know the menus and after owning 3 cameras, I know the Olympus Pens. I realize that for the first time, this camera has become a tool instead of just a gadget.


Gadgets are fun. I get them from time to time. The last camera gadget was my $70 Lumix point and shoot. I bought it because I wanted to figure it out — learn how to make good-looking photographs from a low-end camera. But the Olympus is different. I suspect I don’t need to figure anything out. In the store, I was able to reprogram the buttons and use it without a second thought. The gadget factor is not there.


Tools are productive. I bought this camera for a specific purpose. I wanted to add a stop or so of improved high ISO performance and perhaps a bit more dynamic range. I’m not going to be a better photographer with this camera. It’s not going to change my style. I’m just expecting this new tool to improve my technical image quality. ISO 1600 and perhaps ISO 3200 may now become common place. This is what I’m excited about — not the new camera.

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Dallas Icon Larry Hagman Dead at 81

Dallas Icon Larry Hagman Dead at 81 | In and About the News |

TV icon Larry Hagman, best known for playing the iconic J.R. Ewing on both the original Dallas on CBS and the current incarnation on TNT, passed away on Friday at Medical City Dallas hospital from cancer complications. He was 81.


Hagman — shortly after TNT’s update was announced in summer 2011 — revealed that he was being treated for “a very common and treatable form of cancer,” later specified as Stage II throat cancer. After enduring chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Hagman announced in mid-2012. “I beat that thing. I am in remission now. All good!”


Dallas is currently in production on its second season, scheduled to premiere on Jan. 28, 2013.


“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” the Hagman family said in a statement. “Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time.”


Hagman is survived by his wife of more than 58 years, Maj, who is currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and was relocated into a nursing home in 2011.


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