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Monday, June 27, 2011

In the News: June 27, 2011

California Approves Gay Marriage!
(See: Every news source)

Perhaps more surprisingly...
Conservative Changes Opinion on Gay Marriage!

Interesting article from David Frum, former special assistant to President George W. Bush:
I was wrong about same-sex marriage

"I was a strong opponent of same-sex marriage. Fourteen years ago, Andrew Sullivan and I forcefully debated the issue at length online (at a time when online debate was a brand new thing).

Yet I find myself strangely untroubled by New York state's vote to authorize same-sex marriage -- a vote that probably signals that most of "blue" states will follow within the next 10 years.

I don't think I'm alone in my reaction either. Most conservatives have reacted with calm -- if not outright approval -- to New York's dramatic decision.


The short answer is that the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test.

Since 1997, same-sex marriage has evolved from talk to fact.

"If people like me had been right, we should have seen the American family become radically more unstable over the subsequent decade and a half.

Instead -- while American family stability has continued to deteriorate -- it has deteriorated much more slowly than it did in the 1970s and 1980s before same-sex marriage was ever seriously thought of.

By the numbers, in fact, the 2000s were the least bad decade for American family stability since the fabled 1950s. And when you take a closer look at the American family, the facts have become even tougher for the anti-gay marriage position.

Middle-class families have become somewhat more stable than they used to be. For example: College-educated women who got married in the 1990s were much less likely to get divorced than equally educated women who got married in the 1970s.

"How would it even work that a 15-year-old girl in Van Nuys, California, becomes more likely to have a baby because two men in Des Moines, Iowa, can marry?

Maybe somebody can believe the connection, but I cannot.

Disgruntled Employee Replaces Boss's Big Presentation With Porn


"Imagine you're the CEO and you're giving an important presentation to your board. The last thing you want is for your computer to lock up and project porn to the assembled board.

Yet that's what happened to the CEO of the Baltimore Substance Abuse System, the Baltimore Sun reports, because of a disgruntled worker who hacked into the company's system. The worker also distributed some of his boss's confidential emails.

The man was charged and indicted with numerous counts of computer hacking--as well he should be. This is much more serious than a prank.

As its name indicates, the Baltimore Substance Abuse System distributes funds to substance abuse programs that help thousands of people, so disrupting its operations is a pretty nasty thing to do. The CEO told the Baltimore Sun that fixing the consequences of the hack cost $80,000 in overhauling security and upgrading software and the like.

Felonies aside, this is awesome.
(Business Insider)


Type 2 diabetes in newly diagnosed 'can be reversed'
The cure seems to be similar to the prevention technique...

"An extreme eight-week diet of 600 calories a day can reverse Type 2 diabetes in people newly diagnosed with the disease, says a Diabetologia study.

Newcastle University researchers found the low-calorie diet reduced fat levels in the pancreas and liver, which helped insulin production return to normal.

Seven out of 11 people studied were free of diabetes three months later, say findings published in the journal.

More research is needed to see whether the reversal is permanent, say experts.

"After one week of the diet, researchers found that the pre-breakfast blood sugar levels of all participants had returned to normal.

MRI scans of their pancreases also revealed that the fat levels in the organ had decreased from around 8% - an elevated level - to a more normal 6%.

Three months after the end of the diet, when participants had returned to eating normally and received advice on healthy eating and portion size, most no longer suffered from the condition.

Speaking of obese...
How does a baby get to be obese?

"A 4-year-old lumbered into a Boston pediatric clinic. He walked with a limp.

"He was carrying so much weight, he displaced his hips," recalled Dr. Elsie Taveras, co-director of the Obesity Prevention Program at Harvard Medical School.

The boy, an extreme example of childhood obesity, carried more than 100 pounds and had a body mass index that was over the 99th percentile for his age group.

He is part of a disturbing trend among the youngest Americans.

Poor diet, huge portion sizes, lack of physical activity, inadequate sleep and uninformed parents are contributing to larger numbers of overweight or obese young children.

Last week, the Institute of Medicine released its first report focusing on obesity prevention policies for children under the age of 5.

Almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers carry excess weight for their length. Their growth is measured using charts that compare them with peers.

One in five kids (ages 2 to 5) is overweight or obese before entering kindergarten.

"This is not school lunch causing this," said Dr. Sandeep Gupta, director of Pediatric Overweight Education and Research Program at Indiana University Health. "They're not in school yet."

So... Parents need to take accountability and not always blame others (i.e. school lunches)?
That doesn't seem right...

Glad they can cure some cases...
Diabetes rate 'doubles' - Imperial College and Harvard research suggests

If her hand weren't there, I'm not sure I would be able to tell if this was her front or back...

"The number of adults with diabetes in the world has more than doubled since 1980, a study in the Lancet says.

Researchers from Imperial College London and Harvard University in the US analysed data from 2.7m people across the world, using statistical techniques to project a worldwide figure.

The total number of people with all forms of the disease - which can be fatal - has risen from 153m to 347m.

The authors called for better detection and treatment to combat the rise.

Its authors said 70% of the rise was down to people living longer.

The rise has been most pronounced in the Pacific Islands. In the Marshall Islands a third of all women have the condition.

Majid Ezzati, of Imperial College London, said: "Diabetes is becoming more common almost everywhere in the world.

"Unless we develop better programmes for detecting people with elevated blood sugar and helping them to control their weight, diabetes will continue to impose a major burden on health systems around the world."

Everything Is A Ponzi Scheme!

"As Hunch co-founder Chris Dixon points out, people on popular news aggregator Hacker News like to call almost everything a "ponzi scheme".

A ponzi scheme is a more specific thing than a scam. It's an investment scam where the money from later investors is used to pay earlier investors.

Not everything is a ponzi scheme, guys.

(Business Insider)

Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' jacket sells for $1.8 million at auction
If only I had a spare million... or two.

"In an auction featuring memorabilia from the Beatles, Madonna and Elvis Presley, it was Michael Jackson who proved to be king.

The red and black jacket, winged shoulders and all, that the late pop star wore during his zombie-ridden "Thriller" video fetched a $1.8 million bid at this weekend's Julien's auction in Beverly Hills, California, according to the auctioneer's website.

The winning price was exponentially above the estimated bid of $200,000 to $400,000. Part of the proceeds will go toward the Shambala Preserve where Jackson's two Bengal tigers, Thriller and Sabu, have been living the past five years.

The jacket had been given to Dennis Tompkins and Michael Bush, the singer's longtime costume designers, to use as a reference for concert performances of the "Thriller" song. It includes an inscription to them on the jacket's lining, and the sleeve is signed, "Love Michael Jackson."

Is the US in denial over its $14tn debt?

"Is America in denial about the extent of its financial problems, and therefore incapable of dealing with the gravest crisis the country has ever faced?

This is a story of debt, delusion and - potentially - disaster. For America and, if you happen to think that American influence is broadly a good thing, for the world.

The debt and the delusion are both all-American: $14 trillion (£8.75tn) of debt has been amassed and there is no cogent plan to reduce it.

"The figure is impossible to comprehend: easier to focus on the fact that it grows at $40,000 (£25,000) a second. Getting out of Afghanistan will help but actually only at the margins. The problem is much bigger than any one area of expenditure.

The economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, is no rabid fiscal conservative but on the debt he is a hawk:

"I'm worried. The debt is large. It should be brought under control. The longer we wait, the longer we suffer this kind of paralysis; the more America boxes itself into a corner and the more America's constructive leadership in the world diminishes."

The author and economist Diane Coyle agrees. And she makes the rather alarming point that the acknowledged deficit is not the whole story.

The current $14tn debt is bad enough, she argues, but the future commitments to the baby boomers, commitments for health care and for pensions, suggest that the debt burden is part of the fabric of society:

"You have promises implicit in the structure of welfare states and aging populations that mean there is an unacknowledged debt that will have to be paid for by future taxpayers, and that could double the published figures."

Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations acknowledges that this structural commitment to future debt is not unique to the United States. All advanced democracies have more or less the same problem, he says, "but in the case of the States the figures are absolutely enormous".

Hooray! Politics getting in the way of prosperity and reason!
Term limits anyone?

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