Stress speeds up aging
Some highly-stressful events seem to turn a person's hair gray almost overnight. New research shows that there is indeed a link between stress an aging:
severe emotional distress - like that caused by divorce, the loss of a job, or caring for an ill child or parent - may speed up the aging of the body's cells at the genetic level.
The findings, being reported today, are the first to link psychological stress so directly to biological age.
There are on-going investigations into how tension damages tissue. This new research indicates that it may be occurring at the genetic level. The good news is that it also gives some insights into how the damage might be reversed.
"When people are under stress, they look haggard, it's like they age before your eyes, and here's something going on at a molecular level" that reflects that impression, said Dr. Blackburn, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics.
Kind and attentive rearing helps protect against these genetic vulnerabilities; stress management not only aids in overall health, it appears to protect against tissue damage and biological aging at the gene-level, too.
Ever thought of going to Nauru?
That's the point. U.S. citizens know little about geography. Very little, in fact -- the U.S. team came in 88th in the most recent Geography Olympics. You can try your hand by going to the Geography Olympics site.
Nauru is an island in the South Pacific.
The benefits of Sarbanes-Oxley
Does this act really aid shareholders and prompt more accurate and transparent financial reporting? One consequence the act may be at least partially responsible for is the very large increase in the number of firms that a de-listing their stock -- that is, the number of firms "going dark."
In April 2004, minutes after posting healthy increases in sales and earnings, the publicly traded Niagara Corp. announced it was "going dark," delisting its common stock. The company, a steel manufacturer with sales last year of nearly $300 million, was hardly alone: During 2003 for example, 198 firms went dark, up from only 67 in the previous year. While most companies say they are deregistering from major exchanges to escape the steep costs associated with regulatory filings, some investors and others see darker reasons, rooted in serving insiders' self interest. A new study co-authored by Wharton accounting professor Christian Leuz entitled, Why Do Firms Go Dark? Causes and Economic Consequences of Voluntary SEC Deregistrations, analyzes this recent trend.
Read more about trend that some see as very troubling.
A new business model for news gathering and reporting?
Here's a relatively lengthy discussion of the changes that are taking place in news reporting and what the future model might look like.
Here is an excerpt discussing the role of the internet in today's journalism:
"For all the bad things that bloggers put out there [during the election], they have one really significant advantage over the dinosaur networks, which is their relationship to accuracy," Socolow said. "The bloggers' power is in their ability to fact-check mainstream journalism in a new way."
The fallout from Rather's Bush report is proof of that power: It was bloggers - not television or print journalists - who first questioned the authenticity of the documents on which 60 Minutes II based the segment.
"What's more basic to journalism than fact-checking and accuracy?" Socolow says. "That's what bloggers are providing, as the Bush-Rather story illustrates. CBS News - or The New York Times for that matter - never had to worry about its journalism being independently evaluated the way it is today on the Internet."
Read the whole article [via Glenn Reynolds].
Bridging a cultural divide
"Studies find" that there are far more registered Democrats in universities than there are registered Republicans. These "studies" showed that Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a ratio of 9 to 1 at Berkeley and Stanford. Other studies showed a 7-to-1 ratio for professors in the humanities and social sciences.
In Evangelical Protestant churches, the ratio is tilted more toward Republicans, though not quite as heavily.
Can these two groups profit by mixing? A professor at Harvard thinks so:
The past few months have seen a lot of talk about red and blue America, mostly by people on one side of the partisan divide who find the other side a mystery.
It isn't a mystery to me, because I live on both sides. For the past twenty years, I've belonged to evangelical Protestant churches, the kind where George W. Bush rolled up huge majorities. And for the past eighteen years, I've worked in secular universities where one can hardly believe that Bush voters exist. Evangelical churches are red America at its reddest. And universities, especially the ones in New England (where I work now), are as blue as the bluest sky.
Not surprisingly, each of these institutions is enemy territory to the other. But the enmity is needless. It may be a sign that I'm terminally weird, but I love them both, passionately. And I think that if my church friends and my university friends got to know each other, they'd find a lot to like and admire. More to the point, the representatives of each side would learn something important and useful from the other side.
Read the whole article. [via Glenn Reynolds]
Here's more on the lack of political diversity in academia with examples from past administrations.
My wife just put up a set of bookshelves in our basement using books themselves as the building blocks. I thought this was a bit odd since it makes some of the books a little harder to get to but, on the other hand, it increased the amount of books that could be stored in that space. And it looks kind of neat. Now I see that it isn't really odd at all; it's "cutting edge:" we are part of a larger trend using books for building.
Civil liberties vs national security
This chilling note in today's New York Times:
People . . . can be imprisoned [merely] for association with terrorists; a woman has been in jail for nearly a year awaiting trial on charges of knowing of a plot by her son, who is still under investigation.
Worried that you might be next? You probably won't be if you don't live in France where the incident above took place and where such tactics are not only relatively routine but are also non-controversial, according to the Washington Post:
Armed with some of the strictest anti-terrorism laws and policies in Europe, the French government has aggressively targeted Islamic radicals and other people deemed a potential terrorist threat. While other Western countries debate the proper balance between security and individual rights, France has experienced scant public dissent over [its] tactics. . . .
. . .
France has embraced a law enforcement strategy that relies heavily on preemptive arrests, ethnic profiling and an efficient domestic intelligence-gathering network. French anti-terrorism prosecutors and investigators are among the most powerful in Europe, backed by laws that allow them to interrogate suspects for days without interference from defense attorneys.
Once a person is in the French judicial system there are fewer checks and balances because the judges work closely with the investigators putting the prosecution's case together.
You can read some discussion of this here.
iPod battery restoration
A heavy user tells how to restore and fully recharge your iPod battery when it looks like the battery life is degenerating. He took his from a normal-recharge life of about 1.5 hours back up to 8 full hours of play time.
SI Sportsman of the Year
Pat Tillman is in the running and something of a favorite at Sports Illustrated's "fan's poll."
Further evidence of the U.N.'s role in mismanaging Iraq's oil-for-food program
Although there had been suspicions that Kofi Annan's son played a more central role in the mismanagement of this program that allowed the Hussein family to skim over $20 billion during the program's operations, now there appears to be real evidence.
The secretary-general's son, Kojo Annan, was previously reported to have worked for a Swiss-based company called Cotecna Inspection Services SA, which from 1998-2003 held a lucrative contract with the U.N. to monitor goods arriving in Saddam Hussein's Iraq under the oil-for-food program. But investigators are now looking into new information suggesting that the younger Annan received far more money over a much longer period, even after his compensation from Cotecna had reportedly ended.
The new information shows that although Kojo left the company in 1998, he continued to get paid right up until February of 2003 when the program was terminated. Both the Secretary General and Mr. Koho Annan have acknowledged that these payments continued, although they were unreported during that time.
The question now is whether Mr. Volcker, whose investigative brief includes not only criminal acts such as graft, but also U.N. maladministration under oil-for-food, will look closely at the evasions and contradictions that have come from the secretary-general himself regarding the money received by his son from Cotecna.