Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Science Update!

Tidbits you may have missed in ScienceTimes today:

A roundworm common in stray cats and dogs poses risks to children.

Hops – the flowers that are added to beer – grow well in Martian soil (or at least a reasonably good reproduction of it).

This year’s flu season, considered “moderately severe,” has left Missouri and Iowa the sickest states in the country.

On Sept. 27, a 6-month-old fetus underwent surgery while still in his mother’s womb to treat a severe form of spina bifida, in which the tissue that should enclose and protect the spinal column does not form properly.  Final results are not in, but so far it looks like the surgery was successful.

Want to look younger?  Exercise your face.

A gluten-free or grain-free diet can pose risks and is not recommended for someone who is not highly sensitive to gluten.  Indeed, it is unlikely that such a diet will provide any benefits.

Contrary to earlier conclusions, for most women undergoing in vitro fertilization fresh embryos work just as well as frozen ones.

Using antacids during pregnancy is linked to asthma in offspring.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Good News!

Nick Kristof’s column in yesterday’s Times was a breath of fresh air – and worth noting.  Titled “Why 2017 Was the Best Year in History,” it is an antidote to the resignation and cynicism so many of us feel these days.

He pointed out that “A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before.  A smaller proportion of children died than ever before.  The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell.”

Specifically, every day the number of people living in extreme poverty (less than $2 a day) goes down by 217,000.  Every day, 325,000 people gain access to electricity.  And every day 300,000 more have clean drinking water.  Since 1990, “the lives of more than 100 million children have been saved by vaccinations, diarrhea treatment, breast-feeding promotion and other simple steps.”

These are extraordinary positive accomplishments that get lost in the gloom and doom of our 24/7 news cycles.  It is worth remembering that in a large global context all is not going to hell in a handbasket.  I will be reminding myself to remember more often.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Russian Trolls!

A feature of this blog site for the blogger is the statistics that are available to me.  I can find out pageviews by operating systems, browsers and countries on a daily, weekly, monthly or all time basis.

Over the last year or so I’ve been aware that my viewers reside mainly in two countries, the U.S. and Russia.  This has puzzled me because as far as I know none of my followers live in Russia.  Yet, there it is, pretty much every day is like today’s report – Russia leads the pack, followed by the U.S. and then France, Ukraine, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Portugal and Romania.

Finally, it dawned on me.  Russian trolls are doing their job, checking out blogs and social media postings to see if there is anything being said that interests them.  My blog is swept up with all the rest.  All time my viewers are mostly American.  In the past year, however, the U.S. is neck and neck with Russia.  Obviously they have increased their trolling – a lot.

I wonder if the Russkies have used anything I’ve written.  I’ll probably never know.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


I recently received Ashoka’s yearly publication highlighting some of the work they and their Fellows are doing around the world.  I’ve been an Ashoka supporter since my friend Bill Drayton inspired its creation more than 35 years ago.  Their commitment was and is to find and empower social entrepreneurs to create lasting positive change in their communities and countries.  Ashoka has been brilliant in staying true to their mission, and the results that have produced are extraordinary.

So far Ashoka has worked with more than 3,500 social entrepreneurs in 93 countries.  Once Fellows are elected Ashoka makes sure they have the freedom to work full time on realizing their vision.  They provide a launch stipend for an average of 3 years and introduces them to a local-to-global collaborating fellowship of their peers.  Evaluations show that 10 years after their election, 83% of Ashoka Fellows have changed to pattern in their field at the national level.  This is an amazing accomplishment!

In this year’s report, the Fellows are grouped into six broad fields:  civic engagement, environment, full economic citizenship, health, human rights, and learning/education.

I invite you to take a look at Ashoka and see for yourself.  They are at www.ashoka.org

Monday, December 18, 2017

Take a Break!

Give yourself a Xmas/Chanukah present and take a break from some or all of the following:

Trying to figure out whether the new tax bill will help or hurt you.  Spoiler Alert:  You won’t be helped.

Trying to determine the logic behind Trump’s tweets.  A rational analysis of an irrational mind is doomed to fail.

Trying to guess who will be the next big name to be accused of sexual harassment.  Give it time – there are many more to come.

Wondering whether Mueller’s investigation will be over soon.  Too bad, White House, he’s got a long way to go.

If you are one of the few who care about the upcoming Winter Olympics, wait another month before getting serious about it.

Death, destruction, and inhumanity are daily occurrences – in Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, etc., etc., etc.  Take a break over the holidays and don’t dwell on them.  Don’t empower the bad.  Focus, instead, on acts of loving kindness.  They get less attention, but still happen frequently. Loving kindness has not disappeared – we just need to look for it.