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June 26, 2006, 7:48 PM CT

Greater Snake Danger This Year

Greater Snake Danger This Year
Bob Norris has a rattlesnake named Jake in his office, along with some other slithering companions. Yes, he likes them, but they also serve an educational purpose: it could be a big season in Northern California for these and other poisonous critters. Bob Norris pointed to a bag under the reporter's chair.

"Sure, I've got a rattlesnake with me today I could show you," said Norris, MD, associate professor and director of the division of emergency medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. His name is "Jake the Snake" and he was apparently sleeping peacefully in a well-secured bag under the unsuspecting visitor's chair in Norris' office, a visual aid for a presentation earlier in the day to a group of doctors about the dangers of spring.

Rattlesnakes, spiders, bees, ticks - when it comes to anything that bites or stings during the spring, Norris is the medical expert. And after several rainy years in a row in the Bay Area, there may be even more of this worrisome wildlife out this season. An expert in environmental toxicology, in particular snake venom poisoning, Norris virtually oozes helpful information for the average wilderness lover.

"Don't ever pick up a rattlesnake. If you get bit by a rattlesnake, don't wait to get medical care; the venom starts working its adverse effects immediately, though the average death usually doesn't occur until sometime between 12 and 48 hours," he said. "Wear light-colored clothing when you're out hiking in the wilderness so you can spot the ticks more easily; bees prefer bright colors. Use tweezers to remove a tick, lighting a match under its rear won't work. Apply ice to bee stings and spider bites".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

June 25, 2006, 3:18 PM CT

Light Pick from Santa Cruz Wells

Light Pick from Santa Cruz Wells
Light Pick is a nice cool gadget from Santa Cruz Light Wells, it's a metronome and a guitar pick, all-in-one. It has a features called "Kick The Light Pick" that gives light on the down stoke when picking adjacent string sets. This means that those who play fast just between two strings will be able to play even faster than before!

Light Pick has three modes of operation: blink mode, metronome mode and hold mode. When it is in hold mode, it will automatically turn off when your thumb is removed from the contact screws for more than 16 seconds. When it is in metronome mode, the Light Pick acts as a metronome, you can set the tempo, as well as the number of beats per measure and the light will flash accordingly. Blink Mode is primarily used as a visual light display, it flash according to the tempo that you set. The LEDs are synchronized to the music or can be set up to flash at random. Price: USD60.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

June 25, 2006, 0:02 AM CT

Americans' Circle Of Friends Is Shrinking

Americans' Circle Of Friends Is Shrinking
Americans' circle of close confidants has shrunk dramatically in the past two decades and the number of people who say they have no one with whom to discuss important matters has more than doubled, as per a new study by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona.

"The evidence shows that Americans have fewer confidants and those ties are also more family-based than they used to be," said Lynn Smith-Lovin, Robert L. Wilson Professor of Sociology at Duke University and one of the study's authors.

"This change indicates something that's not good for our society. Ties with a close network of people create a safety net. These ties also lead to civic engagement and local political action," she said.

The study, reported in the June 2006 issue of American Sociological Review, the flagship journal of the American Sociological Association, is based on the first nationally representative survey on this topic in 19 years.

The study compared data from 1985 and 2004 and found that the mean number of people with whom Americans can discuss matters important to them dropped by nearly one-third, from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004.

Scientists also found that the number of people who said they had no one with whom to discuss such matters more than doubled, to nearly 25 percent. The survey found that both family and non-family confidants dropped, with the loss greatest in non-family connections.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

June 22, 2006, 6:21 PM CT

Hurricanes And The Happiness Index

Hurricanes And The Happiness Index
With another hurricane season underway, a University of Michigan study shows how Hurricane Katrina affected the happiness of a nationally representative sample of 1,105 U.S. adults.

Not surprisingly, average happiness levels in the U.S. dipped significantly right after Katrina hit. But within two weeks-three for residents of the battered South Central region-average levels of happiness had rebounded to pre-storm levels.

The study is a pilot project designed to provide high-frequency data on happiness by U-M economists Miles Kimball and Helen Levy, together with Osaka University economists Fumio Ohtake and Yoshiro Tsutsui.

"Just because happiness rebounded quickly after Katrina doesn't mean we should underestimate the importance of the event," said Kimball, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research. "That's just the nature of happiness; people adjust psychologically and cognitively to all kinds of events, from winning the lottery to the news that they have cancer. It's called hedonic adaptation".

Published as a working paper earlier this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the study tracked the week-by-week responses from July 29 to October 24, 2005 to the following question, widely used to measure positive and negative feelings:........

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June 22, 2006, 6:17 PM CT

Survey Documents Big Changes In Iraqi Attitudes

Survey Documents Big Changes In Iraqi Attitudes
Moods and attitudes can change in relatively short period of time. During the last two years, Iraqi political values have become more secular and nationalistic, even though attitudes toward Americans have deteriorated, according to surveys of nationally representative samples of the population conducted in November 2004 and April 2006.

The Iraqi surveys, part of the ongoing World Values Surveys, are a collaborative project between the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and Eastern Michigan University.

The percentage of Iraqis who said they would not want to have Americans as neighbors rose from 87 percent in 2004 to 90 percent in 2006. When asked what they thought were the three main reasons why the United States invaded Iraq, 76 percent gave "to control Iraqi oil" as their first choice.

But at the same time, significantly more Iraqis support democratic values, including the separation of religion and politics.

In 2004, 27 percent of the 2,325 Iraqi adults surveyed strongly agreed that Iraq would be a better place if religion and politics were separated. In 2006, 41 percent of 2,701 adults surveyed strongly agreed.

"The findings of this second survey show that even though Iraqis have a more negative attitude to foreigners, especially Americans, they are moving closer to American values and are developing a much stronger sense of national identity," said Mansoor Moaddel, a sociologist at Eastern Michigan University and at the ISR.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

June 22, 2006, 6:04 PM CT

Wolf Or A Sheep?

Wolf Or A Sheep?
People react differently to defeat. How one person reacts may be totally different from another person’s reaction. Does failure hurt some more than others? It may depend on whether you're a power-hungry wolf or a sheep, as per University of Michigan psychology researchers.

As per a research findings published in a recent issue of the science journal Hormones and Behavior, U-M's Michelle Wirth and co-authors, Katy Welsh and Oliver Schultheiss, looked at what happens to stress hormone levels when people are defeated in a laboratory contest.

Students competed against each other in pairs on several rounds of a speed-based contest task. Half of participants received feedback that made them believe they lost the contest decisively while the other half received feedback implying they won.

Wirth measured participants' levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released in the body in response to stress and has been implicated in depression and memory loss, in participants' saliva samples before and after the contest.

The U-M researchers also measured participants' non-conscious dominance drive, called the implicit power motive, at the beginning of the study.

Wirth and her colleagues found that cortisol did not go up in all losers. Only participants with a strong implicit power motive were really impacted by the defeat, as reflected in increasing stress hormone levels.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

June 21, 2006, 10:30 PM CT

Dancing Science

Dancing Science As Ferocious Beauty: Genome draws to a close, the dancers swirl, surrounded by deep blues, stark whites, and the sounds of the sea—symbolic of their species' origin.
Emily Jacobs-Palmer finds some of today's political and social attitudes toward science appalling. "I want to live in a world that respects scientists and values our work," says the molecular biology and biochemistry major, a senior at Wesleyan University. To create such a world, however, Jacobs-Palmer believes science must become more accessible-more comprehensible and interesting-to the general public.

It never occurred to her that one path to that goal might be through dance. Then she met Liz Lerman, winner of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award and founder of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Lerman was spending the year as an artist-in-residence at Wesleyan, while she choreographed Ferocious Beauty: Genome, a dance about the human genome.

One of Lerman's artist-in-residency projects was an HHMI-supported symposium on science and dance, in which Jacobs-Palmer participated. "Before that, the last way I would have thought to present science to the public was through dance," Jacobs-Palmer remarks.

Wesleyan, a small, private university in Middletown, Connecticut, led in commissioning the genome dance project after Pam Tatge, director of the university's Center for the Arts, saw Lerman's troupe perform. Lerman, known for her choreography of political and social issues and her intergenerational troupe of dancers, mentioned her desire to do a dance based on the human genome. So Tatge introduced her to Laura Grabel, a professor of biology who was then dean of natural sciences and mathematics at Wesleyan. Grabel danced professionally herself while she was in graduate school and as a postdoctoral fellow, and she was intrigued by the idea of using dance to communicate science to the public.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

June 20, 2006, 9:02 PM CT

Consumers Don't Pardon Advertisements

Consumers Don't Pardon Advertisements
A new study from the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research shows that the more consumers are absorbed in the narrative flow of a story - a process known as transportation - the less likely they are to respond positively to the intrusion of advertisements. These findings have interesting implications for advertisers, many of whom pay more for "premium" ad placement that may actually deter consumers.

"Media create the audience for most advertising. Consumers come to a medium for its content," explain Jing Wang (University of Iowa) and Bobby Calder (Northwestern University). "If the ad interrupts the transportation experience, this in itself creates a negative experience associated with the ad,".

When the story is personally relevant to the reader, these effects are increased. Conversely, ads that are relevant to the reader's personal goals are deemed the most intrusive. However, absorption in a narrative does not always cause the reader to view ads negatively. The researchers found that absorption in a story can enhance the effect of advertisements - if they appear after the story has ended.

"Transportation can have both negative and positive effects on advertising," write the authors. "If an ad does not interfere with this process, say by occurring after the story is completes, the positive experience of transportation will be associated with the ad".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

June 18, 2006, 11:25 AM CT

Alert after Sri Lanka fighting

Alert after Sri Lanka fighting A Sri Lankan Navy soldier stands guard on the coast at Bopitiya © AFP - Sanka Vidanagama
A mine attack blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels killed three Sri Lankan police following a day of fierce land and sea battles that left more than 50 people dead.

The constables died when a police water tanker was blown up by a Claymore mine in the north-central district of Anuradhapura, the military said.

A military spokesman said they believed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) carried out the bombing.

Also Sunday at least six guerrillas died when the Tigers clashed with a breakaway rebel faction in the island's east, military officials said, citing intercepts of rebel radio communications.

Security was further strengthened nationwide in the face of escalating violence in north and east Saturday that saw furious fighting between troops and the rebels.

"We have made sure that security is tight," inspector general of police, Chandra Fernando said Sunday. "We are seeking public cooperation to track down any suspicious activity".

Fernando said the LTTE had deployed a new type of sea mine along the northwest coast against a naval patrol, but five divers laying the mines were arrested. One died after committing suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule.

The arrests came as the LTTE said the country will be pushed back to a "fatal war" if the military resumes air strikes.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

June 18, 2006, 11:21 AM CT

Zapatero Facing Crucial Test

Zapatero Facing Crucial Test A woman casts her vote during the referendum in Barcelona ©AFP - Cesar Rangel
Catalans went to the polls in a referendum on giving their region increased autonomy, in a crucial test for Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as he seeks to rally support for peace talks with Basque separatists.

The referendum enjoys wide support among Catalans and is expected to pass easily, with a recent survey indicating that close to 75 percent of Catalonia's more than 5.3 million voters are in favour of a greater say in the coastal region's affairs.

Zapatero has weighed in heavily in support and became personally involved in working out a compromise in the Spanish parliament and in the subsequent political campaigning. Together with the Basque question, the vote has become one of the most perilous political issues of his time in power.

The only opposition to the referendum comes from separatists in the wealthy northeastern territory, for whom the text does not go far enough, and from conservatives fearing a violent breakup of Spain.

Polling stations opened at 0700 GMT and were to close at 1800 GMT. The first official results are expected 90 minutes after the polls close.

Turnout shortly after 1:00 pm was 20.84 percent of the 5.2 million eligible voters, with polls predicting a final participation figure of 50-55 percent.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

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