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Ritalin Gone Wrong

Published: January 28, 2012

THREE million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s functioning.

But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled?

In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.

As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs.

Just Don’t Call Her Che

Santiago, Chile

LATE last month the British newspaper The Guardian asked readers to vote for its person of the year. The candidates included household names like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Egyptian techno-revolutionary Wael Ghonim and the Burmese pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. All placed far behind a striking, nose-ringed student from Chile named Camila Vallejo.

Though far from a familiar face in the United States, the 23-year-old Ms. Vallejo has gained rock-star status among the global activist class. Since June she has led regular street marches of up to 200,000 people through Santiago’s broad avenues — the largest demonstrations since the waning days of the Pinochet regime in the late 1980s. Under her leadership, the mobilization, known as the Chilean Winter, has gained nationwide support; one of its slogans, “We are the 90 percent,” referred to its approval rating in late September.

Ms. Vallejo’s charismatic leadership has led commentators to make the obligatory comparisons to other Latin American leftist icons like Subcomandante Marcos and Che Guevara. Yet “Commander Camila,” as her followers call her, has become a personality in her own regard. She skewers senators in prime-time TV debates and stays on message with daytime talk-show hosts hungry for lurid details about her personal life, while her eloquence gives her a preternatural ability to connect with an audience far beyond her left-wing base.

In perhaps the most poignant set piece in the year of the protester, Ms. Vallejo addressed a dense ring of photographers and reporters in August while kneeling within a peace sign made of spent tear-gas shells, where she calmly mused about how many educational improvements could have been bought with the $100,000 worth of munitions at her feet.


Toon: Newt Gingrich's Science Fiction!


Contradictions of the Heart

Published: January 27, 2012

JONATHAN GALASSI likes to say that he has “backed into” most of the things he has wound up doing in life. If that’s the case, he has reversed himself into some pretty nice spots. He is the president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, a trustee of Phillips Exeter Academy and an acclaimed translator of the Italian poets Eugenio Montale and Giacomo Leopardi. In New York publishing circles he is greatly admired for running a publishing house that is both commercially viable and a home for Nobel Prize winners and books of high literary quality.

Mr. Galassi is also a poet, and his new book, “Left-handed,” will be released by Alfred A. Knopf in March. If you read it carefully enough, “Left-handed” has a plot of sorts, the same one that propels the recent movie “Beginners,” and is an important subtext of Chad Harbach’s best-selling novel “The Art of Fielding.” “Left-handed” is the story of a married, middle-aged man who backs into being gay.

“It’s about me,” Mr. Galassi said last month over lunch at the Union Square Cafe, where he presides almost daily at a corner table. “I’m not hiding behind a persona. The story is the change in the speaker — in his mind. In a way nothing happens, and yet everything happens.” He added: “I’ve always used poetry to explain myself to myself. These things just sat in my psyche and then came out.”

The first part of the book, “A Clean Slate,” is about middle-aged feelings of regret, longing and a sense of impending mortality. “I want spring to come because/I want upheaval, flooding/the excitement of the primal rite,” the speaker says in one poem, and then adds: “And I don’t want spring to come/because it means another, one less spring.”


Majority of Americans want to vote out every single member of Congress


Published: Friday, January 27, 2012, 11:56 AM

America wants to give all of Congress a pink slip.

The majority of registered voters — 56% — would vote out every single member of the House and Senate if there was a ballot measure to do so, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The resentment is bipartisan, with 55% of liberals, 55% of moderates and 58% of conservatives wanting to wipe the slate clean of current legislators — even their own.

Just 13% of those surveyed said they approved of the job Congress was doing, with 80% disapproving.

That could mean bad news for incumbents on Nov. 6. In the Senate, 33 seats are up for grabs: 23 for the Democrats and 10 for the GOP. In the House, elections will be held for all 435 seats.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election-2012/majority-americans-vote-single-member-congress-poll-article-1.1012892

Newsflash: Majority of Americans are liars. They will happily vote for THEIR incumbent and at least 80% will be returned to office. My prediction.

Fran Drescher: I was abducted by aliens and they implanted a chip in my hand

Fran Drescher is out of this world. At least, she claims she once was.

The former star of “The Nanny” says not only was she abducted by aliens during her youth, she claims to have also had a chip implanted in her hand during the experience.

Recalling the story to The Huffington Post this week, the actress said her ex-husband, producer and writer Peter Marc Jacobson, also had an eerily similar experience.

"You know, it's funny because Peter and I both saw (aliens) before we knew each other, doing the same thing, driving on the road with our dads," Drescher, 54, told the website in all seriousness.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/fran-drescher-i-abducted-aliens-implanted-a-chip-hand-article-1.1013081

Why a Bearcat’s Butt Smells Like Popcorn

[link:http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/01/why-your-popcorn-smells-like-a-bearcat’s-butt/ |By Brian Switek January 27, 2012

Binturongs smell like popcorn. Or popcorn smells like binturongs. I guess it depends on your perspective. Either way, when I stopped by the enclosure of the large, blue-grey bearcat at the San Diego Zoo last month, the warm, buttery scent was unmistakable. What I heard celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna say on television for so many years was true — the big viverrid smelled like a movie theater lobby.

Binturongs, a cousin of civets and found in the rainforests of Asia from Nepal to Java, aren’t the only mammals with perplexingly familiar scents. Before I started wondering about butter-scented binturongs, my attention was drawn to the pee of maned wolves. The urine of these stilt-legged canids is redolent of marijuana. The reason why has to do with organic compounds called pyrazines which are often used for communication in both plants and animals — in milkweed and maned wolves alike, pyrazines create long-lasting, smelly “Get lost!” signals. After I caught a whiff of the captive binturongs, I wondered if something similar might be behind their unique odor.

Finding a precise answer has been difficult. Everyone knows that binturongs smell buttery, but the relatively small literature on their scent primarily deals with behavior rather than chemistry. While not the first to identify where the scent emanated from, in 1945 zoologist H. Elizabeth Story described the binturong’s anal glands as the major odor-producing centers in the almost-euphemistically-titled “The External Genitalia and Perfume Gland in Arctictis binturong.” (Names can make all the difference. The reaction to “anal glad” is “EWWW!”, while “perfume gland” sounds fairly pleasant, as if the animal exuded a scent concocted by Calvin Klein.)



(copy and paste whole link)

Toon: GOP reaction to good economic news

Red, White, or Scaly?

Snakes in a wine chiller
No, it's not a horror movie. It's a successful wildlife rescue in Lake County

By Sheryl DeVore, Chicago Tribune
January 29, 2012

Dozens of snakes slumbering the winter away underneath abandoned railroad tracks faced a wake-up call that could have proved fatal.

A construction crew was preparing to repair the tracks near the decommissioned Zion Nuclear Power Station — work that would have disrupted their hibernation and exposed them to the frigid cold of a winter's morning.

But thanks to two biologists and a schoolteacher with a warm spot for reptiles, nearly 200 garter, brown and western fox snakes have a new temporary home — a 6-foot-tall wine chiller in Lake Forest. The snakes now occupy the dark cool spaces usually reserved for fine chardonnays and cabernets.

"The wine chiller acts as an artificial hibernating den," said Rob Carmichael, curator of the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest. "It can be set right at the temperature snakes need to survive in winter — about 48 degrees."



A week of Doonesbury- The GOP Debate

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