Thursday, January 24, 2008

Does "creative chaos" mean that Richart is in control of the destruction?

The "creative chaos" that former MiraCosta president Victoria Richart approved of seems to mean is in control of the destructionut if someone attacks Richart, she calls it "terrorism."

Here's an article about the two concepts by Logan Jenkins of the San Diego Union:

"Richart, who has espoused chaos as a “creative force,” fought back tears Tuesday as she accused the faculty and other critics of conducting a campaign of “terrorism at its worst."

Let's get the devil expelled from college
by Logan Jenkins
June 7, 2007

Click HERE for original article.

MiraCosta can't be saved by practical legal advice, something it's sorely lacked in the past year.

The coastal community college is too far over the top for psychological counseling to restore its sanity.

As it stands, the campus afflictions are beyond the scope of familiar remedies.

If it's to return to normalcy, MiraCosta must adopt radical means to flush out the demons occupying, and torturing, its psyche.

In short, MiraCosta needs an . . . exorcist.

What not long ago was North County's model of academic collegiality has descended into a head-spinning projectile-vomiting horror show.

Where's Father Damien when you need him?

OK, I'm kidding. Sort of.

Advertisement Call it gallows humor, a protective reflex when faced with Silly String hate crimes, the specter of Ku Klux Klansmen hunting for green-braceleted dissidents on campus, and loaded guns under long coats in Oceanside.
The Tuesday meeting of the MiraCosta board was, as local government goes, a veritable Grand Guignol, a venom-letting featuring death threats to college President Victoria Muñoz Richart, lesser threats to a trustee, and the hateful letters “KKK” written on the home of Charles Adams, the black president of the board.

Ugly, scary stuff.

No joke, Richart and the board's four-member majority have been, figuratively speaking, beaten up over their politically and financially disastrous Palmgate investigation. In the wake of lunatic threats, however, Richart and Adams are framing themselves as victims, not of demented crimes but of a campus culture of “hate.”

Richart, who has espoused chaos as a “creative force,” fought back tears Tuesday as she accused the faculty and other critics of conducting a campaign of “terrorism at its worst.”

As for Adams, he translated his rightful anger at an unidentified racist vandal(s) into a livid indictment of anyone wearing a green rubber wristband, a symbol of anti-Richart solidarity inscribed with the words, “Restore Our MiraCosta.”

Adams' tongue-lashing, unlike anything I've heard from an elected official, is worth quoting at length:

“My world was shattered Friday morning when my wife walked in the door and said someone has put 'KKK' on the front of my house. . . . This is considered a hate crime. (Investigators) asked me who did I think. I immediately named you, you (he pointed at Classified Senate President Abdy Afzali and Academic Senate President Jonathan Cole).

“Because I named the Academic Senate with their hate-filled propaganda, their green bracelets that they're wearing here, the letter that was sent to the president and to my fellow board member Carolyn Batiste, and I said to them, 'anybody did this, that's who did it.'

“It's ironic that my neighborhood hangs together. I've got 30 people walking around my block. Some of these people are retired Marines. They're wearing long coats. Understand something. Those long coats aren't to keep them warm. . . . You woke up a blood-sucking angry dog. . . .

“Guess what? The Ku Klux Klan called my house – would you believe that? – to tell me, 'We did not touch your house,' that it was someone else. Now I don't know if you know the Ku Klux Klan, but those who are from the East, we know them. They do not appreciate you messing in their name or putting their letters on there. They're going to be looking for you, yes, sir, they're going to be looking at you. I told them who I think. That's my prerogative. You make innuendos, I'm going to make mine. I told them about green armbands. You want to know who they are, walk on campus, they've got green armbands. Those are the ones promoting hate.

“I'm tired. You woke up a sleeping dog. . . . I unlocked my gun cabinet and that's what I'm carrying. Not now. But if you come to my neighborhood, that's what you're going to walk into. I'm not threatening anybody. African-Americans do not threaten; we prophesy. Come into my neighborhood with your crap and they're going to to carry you out. Trust me. . . . This is the animal you have unleashed. Repercussions are about to come down. Had you not brought this hate to this campus and this community, you wouldn't be having the problem you're going to be having.”

MiraCosta, the North County college that once had it all, has turned, literally it seems, into armed camps.

Unfortunately, air-clearing elections aren't scheduled until 2008.

In an ideal world, which MiraCosta's clearly is not, moral bankruptcy would be declared today. President Richart, a radioactive lightning rod, would quit as an altruistic gesture. The board would resign en masse, all seven of them. All the active faculty reps would resign to focus on teaching. A clean sweep. An interim board would serve until the next election.

Of course, egos being what they are, that won't happen. Adams, for one, doesn't sound like he's about to give in to his tormentors. As for Richart, she has self-serving leverage. Before skipping out on the chaos she's helped create, Richart could demand a 24-carat golden parachute or, if she's fired without a plush severance, she could sue for damages to her standing as a college administrator.

Meanwhile, the faculty, supported by a cadre of former faculty and trustees, will keep up the political pressure to oust Richart and, over time, change the board's balance of power.

Without Father Damien giving it the old college try, it's going to be one long, hot, tense summer at MiraCosta.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hate crimes in San Diego

Hate Crime Spikes, According to Latest Figures
By WILL CARLESS Voice Staff Writer

BLINKLISTMonday, Jan. 21, 2008 | The number of hate crime offenses reported in San Diego County increased by 23 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to figures from the California Attorney General's Office, which tallies hate crime statistics in the state.

AUDIO: Talking Hate Crime
The statistics, the most recent figures available, also showed that the number of hate crime offenses reported against Hispanics in San Diego County tripled from 2005 to 2006, and that more hate crimes were reported against Hispanics in 2006 than in any of the last five years. In California, the number of hate crimes committed against Hispanics also jumped 16 percent from 2005 to 2006.

The statistics have led some local experts on hate crime to conclude that San Diego crime surge could be tied to an increasingly intense immigration debate raging in the region. The immigration debate, which reignited with a force in early 2006, could have increased both the number of crimes being committed and the awareness of hate crime issues for citizens and law enforcement officers alike.

"When you read some of the terms that are being used by otherwise legitimate spokespeople which categorize undocumented individuals as vermin, the bringers of disease, pedophiles, thieves, it dehumanizes them," said Morris Casuto, regional director of the San Diego Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit group that promotes civil rights.

"The increase in hate crimes against Latino and Hispanic community suggests that this type of dehumanization is having an impact on other people that are prepared to take the law into their own hands," Casuto added.

Hate crimes are distinguishable from other property or violent crimes because they are motivated by bias against a certain social group. Most hate crimes in San Diego are committed on the basis of a victim's ethnicity or race.

Related Links

A Year of Legal Woes for Minutemen (March 30, 2007)

The Forbidden City (April 2006)

In Videos, Minutemen Shown Damaging Migrant Camp (Aug. 11, 2007)

Oscar Garcia, a deputy district attorney with the county's Special Operations Division, said that to be classified as a hate crime, the act has to be motivated by the bias itself. Hate crimes are offenses that strike fear into a certain segment of the community, he said, and prosecutors can potentially double an offender's sentence if they can prove hate of a certain group is the nexus for the crime.

Hate crime had been dipping in San Diego County for the early part of the decade. From 2002 to 2004, the total number of hate crimes reported fell almost 50 percent -- from 214 to 138 -- before staying almost level between 2004 and 2005. In 2006, the number increased to 181, still lower than 2002.

And hate crimes reported against Hispanics had remained fairly level between 2002 and 2004. Offences reported against Hispanics dropped sharply in 2005 before rising to a level far higher than any of the previous four years in 2006.

But because the overall number of hate crimes reported is relatively low, experts pointed out that any trends must be analyzed with caution. Overall, the 23 percent rise in hate crimes reported from 2005 to 2006 represented an increase of 42 crimes in a county with a population of almost 3 million.

Andrew Black, supervisory special agent in charge of the San Diego FBI Civil Rights Program, which aids local law enforcement in fighting hate crime, said the increasingly heated and public debate between anti-illegal immigration groups and immigrant rights activists could be one factor that's contributed to the crime spike from 2005 to 2006.

But Black said the increase could also partly be due to increased awareness of law enforcement officers to the existence of hate crime legislation. Outreach by local law enforcement agencies and effective training of officers in the use of hate crime laws means crimes that years ago wouldn't have been classified as hate-driven are now properly identified for what they are.

Timothy Cabal would disagree.

Cabal is currently incarcerated in the George Bailey Detention Facility in Otay Mesa. He recently pleaded guilty to two separate hate crimes that occurred about a year apart. Both involved altercations at bars in East County and both involved Cabal allegedly attacking victims and sending them to the hospital.

One of the victims was black, another, prosecutors argued, was attacked because Cabal thought the victim was gay.

Cabal, who will be sentenced to 17 years in prison, said his case was wrongly classified as a hate crime. Though prosecutors found a money clip at his home that bore an embossed image of a Ku Klux Klan figure and Cabal sports a tattoo of an iron cross, a symbol that is sometimes associated with the neo-Nazi movement, Cabal maintained his innocence during an interview at the jail.

"I'm not a racist. I have black friends. I'm an honest, church-going man and I didn't mean that to happen to that guy," Cabal said.

But the Cabal case has been held up by the County District Attorney's Office as an example of another dangerous trend in hate crimes within San Diego. Extremist white supremacist groups in East County have become increasingly violent in recent years, said Garcia of the District Attorney's Office.

"California is the center of the neo-Nazi movement in the United States and Southern California is the hotbed of that movement," Garcia said.

And as the immigration debate continues to boil, the number of hate crimes reported in the county is likely to continue to climb, said Stuart Henry, a professor of criminal justice and director of the School of Public Affairs at San Diego State University.

Whether that increase in reported crimes is because of a true rise in the number of crimes committed or is the result of heightened sensitivity of the latest politically charged issue -- in this case immigration -- is anyone's guess, Henry said.

With the immigration debate high on everyone in law enforcement's radar, there's a greater likelihood not only that more cases of racial bias arise, but also that more cases are identified as hate crimes, Henry said.

"Are they real hate crimes, or are they just seen as hate crimes because of the ongoing immigration debate?" Henry said. "I think there's got to be some degree of amplification just because this debate exists."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens/AP

Scientists Discover Self-Destructing Tree

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (Jan. 17) - A self-destructing palm tree that flowers once every 100 years and then dies has been discovered on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, botanists said Thursday.

Scientists say they have found a new species of palm tree on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. It's no wonder it went undiscovered for so long: The tree flowers once every 100 years and then dies.

The name of the giant palm and its remarkable life cycle will be detailed in a study by Kew Gardens scientists in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society published Thursday.

"It's spectacular. It does not flower for maybe 100 years and when it's like this it can be mistaken for other types of palm," said Mijoro Rakotoarinivo, who works for the London botanical gardens in Madagascar.

"But then a large shoot, a bit like an asparagus, grows out of the top of the tree and starts to spread. You get something that looks a bit like a Christmas tree growing out of the top of the palm," he said.

The branches of this shoot then become covered in hundreds of tiny white flowers that ooze with nectar, attracting insects and birds.

But the effort of flowering and fruiting depletes the tree so much that within a few months it collapses and dies, said botanist Dr. John Dransfield, author of the study.

Dransfield noted that "even for Madagascar this is a stupendous palm and an astonishing discovery."

The world's fourth largest island, Madagascar is renowned for its unusual flora and fauna, including 12,000 species of plant found nowhere else in the world. Indeed 90 percent of its plant species are endemic.

The palm tree, which grows to 66 feet in height and has about 16-foot leaves, is only found in an extremely remote region in the northwest of the country, some four days by road from the capital. Local villagers have known about it for years although none had seen it in flower until last year.

The bizarre flowering ritual was first spotted by Frenchman Xavier Metz, who runs a cashew plantation nearby. After seeing it he notified Kew Gardens.

Puzzling Dransfield is how botanists had missed such a "whopping palm" until now. According to him it is the largest palm species in the country but there appear to be only about 100 in existence.

He also questions how the palm got to Madagascar. The tree has similarities to Chuniophoeniceae palms, however these are only found in Asia, more than 3,700 miles away.

Dransfield suggests the plant has been quietly living and dramatically dying in Madagascar since the island split with mainland India 80 million years ago.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-01-17 09:12:50

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A vast cloud of antimatter lurks in space

Source of Mysterious Antimatter Found
Posted: 2008-01-16 16:45:01
Filed Under: Science News
Click HERE to see the original article.

Antimatter, which annihilates matter upon contact, seems to be rare in the universe. Still, for decades, scientists had clues that a vast cloud of antimatter lurked in space, but they did not know where it came from.

The mysterious source of this antimatter has now been discovered — stars getting ripped apart by neutron stars and black holes.

Photo Gallery
NASA/JPL Out-of-This-World
Space Photos1 of 25 For years, astronomers have been baffled by the source of antimatter. Now, researchers say the matter-annihilating material is generated when stars get ripped apart by black holes or neutron stars. In this image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, thousands of stars swirl around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

While antimatter propulsion systems are so far the stuff of science fiction, antimatter is very real.

What It Is

All elementary particles, such as protons and electrons, have antimatter counterparts with the same mass but the opposite charge. For instance, the antimatter opposite of an electron, known as a positron, is positively charged.

When a particle meets its antiparticle, they destroy each other, releasing a burst of energy such as gamma rays. In 1978, gamma ray detectors flown on balloons detected a type of gamma ray emerging from space that is known to be emitted when electrons collide with positrons — meaning there was antimatter in space.

"It was quite a surprise back then to discover part of the universe was made of antimatter," researcher Gerry Skinner, an astrophysicist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told

These gamma rays apparently came from a cloud of antimatter roughly 10,000 light-years across surrounding our galaxy's core. This giant cloud shines brightly with gamma rays, with about the energy of 10,000 suns.

What exactly generated the antimatter was a mystery for the following decades. Suspects have included everything from exploding stars to dark matter.

Now, an international research team looking over four years of data from the European Space Agency's International Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) satellite has pinpointed the apparent culprits. Their new findings suggest these positrons originate mainly from stars getting devoured by black holes and neutron stars.

As a black hole or neutron star destroys a star, tremendous amounts of radiation are released. Just as electrons and positrons emit the tell-tale gamma rays upon annihilation, so too can gamma rays combine to form electrons and positrons, providing the mechanism for the creation of the antimatter cloud, scientists think.

Billions and Billions

The researchers calculate that a relatively ordinary star getting torn apart by a black hole or neutron star orbiting around it — a so-called "low mass X-ray binary" — could spew on the order of one hundred thousand billion billion billion billion positrons (a 1 followed by 41 zeroes) per second. These could account for a great deal of the antimatter that scientists have inferred, reducing or potentially eliminating the need for exotic explanations such as ones involving dark matter.

"Simple estimates suggest that about half and possibly all the antimatter is coming from X-ray binaries," said researcher Georg Weidenspointner of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany.

Now that they have witnessed the death of antimatter, the scientists hope to see its birth.

"It would be interesting if black holes produced more matter than neutron stars, or vice versa, although it's too early to say one way or the other right now," Skinner explained. "It can be surprisingly hard to tell the difference between an X-ray binaries that hold black holes and neutron stars."

Weidenspointner, Skinner and their colleagues, detailed their findings in the Jan. 10 issue of the journal Nature.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Time makes more converts than reason

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor...Time makes more converts than reason.

Modern History Sourcebook:
Thomas Paine (1737-1809):
Common Sense, Jan, 1776

Friday, January 04, 2008

Teachers should cover fewer topics with more depth

College freshmen are not ready because K-12 education contains too much rote learning, not enough teaching of concepts.

High school failing to teach right subjects
By Sherry Saavedra
April 10, 2007

What students learn in high school doesn't match with what they need to know as college freshmen, according to a national study released yesterday.

Professors believe high school teachers should cover fewer topics with more depth to prepare students for college. That is one of the findings of the survey by ACT, a nonprofit educational and testing organization.

“A really common complaint from (college) faculty is students not being able to put together a complete sentence properly,” said Erin Goldin, director of the Writing Center, which provides tutoring at Cal State San Marcos. “When students come in here, . . . I try to explain the rules, but they don't seem to have learned the structure of a sentence.”

...In writing, college instructors place more emphasis on the fundamentals – basic grammar, sentence structure and punctuation – than their high school counterparts.

High school teachers valued exposure to advanced math content to a greater degree than college faculty, who placed more emphasis on understanding the fundamental underlying math skills and processes.

[Blogger's note: I think this is one of the most harmful mistakes made by elementary and high school teachers. A long list of math procedures is taught, but the kids don't understand what they are doing. I suspect the teachers don't understand it very well either, so they simply teach the rule by rote. I think elementary and high school teachers should be taking the ACT to make sure that they know what they're doing.]

High school teachers rated knowledge of science content as more important than understanding the science process and inquiry skills. College faculty valued the reverse.

[Blogger's note: same as above.]

Both groups agree on the critical reading skills needed to enter college. However, the survey found a general lack of reading instruction in high school. More attention to reading complex texts is needed, according to the study, not just in English and social studies, but also in math and science.

[Blogger's note: Yes, elementary and high school teachers talk about critical reading skills, but are they actually able to teach them?]

ACT officials say the study suggests the culprit is partly state-adopted academic standards in English, math and other subjects. Often those guidelines are not aligned with what colleges expect students to know as entering freshmen.

Three-quarters of high school instructors believe that teaching their state's standards does prepare students well, but only one-third of college instructors agree, said Cynthia Schmeiser, president and chief operating officer of ACT's education division...

Fifty-three percent of San Diego County's students scored below proficient in language arts on the California Standards Tests, while more than 56 percent of local students lagged in math, according to results released in August.

Many of these students end up in college unprepared to do the work. Nearly one-third of new freshman required remedial help in English at San Diego State University in fall 2006, for example, while half were unprepared in the subject at Cal State San Marcos...

Dan Daris, principal of El Camino High School in Oceanside, said there's some truth to the report's findings.

“I've heard the statement many times that the English standards are a mile wide and an inch deep,” he said.

Consequently, Daris has encouraged teachers to home in on the most essential standards and provide more in-depth instruction, he said...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What Kucinich saw

What Kucinich Saw:
Witnesses Describe His Close Encounter
Candidate's Pals Recall Three Throbbing UFOs;
Outed by Shirley MacLaine
January 2, 2008

The 2008 presidential race has raised many questions about the candidates' personal histories. Will Barack Obama's past drug use preclude a White House future? Will Christian conservatives forgive Rudy Giuliani his two divorces? Will voters forgive Hillary Clinton for forgiving Bill?

And what exactly did Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich see hovering above actress Shirley MacLaine's house 25 years ago?

This fall, Ms. MacLaine revealed in her new book that the Ohio congressman had seen a UFO and felt "a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind." In a Democratic presidential debate in late October, Mr. Kucinich acknowledged seeing something airborne that he couldn't identify and then defused the issue with a joke about opening a campaign office in Roswell, N.M., the capital of unexplained sightings.

Since then, the long-shot candidate has refused to elaborate on the experience.

Now, after keeping quiet about the incident for a quarter of a century, the two people who say they were at Mr. Kucinich's side that evening have come forward to describe an event which they say left them convinced that there's intelligent life in outer space.

"At no time did I feel afraid, even though I felt very small," says one witness, Paul Costanzo. "I sensed that I was in the presence of a greater technology and intelligence."

The close encounter, says Mr. Costanzo, took place in September 1982 at Ms. MacLaine's former home in Graham, Wash. -- an expansive estate on a ridge above the Puyallup River, with a view of Mount Rainier.

The 61-year-old Mr. Kucinich, who declined several requests to comment for this article, had been the wunderkind mayor of Cleveland in the late 1970s and had met Ms. MacLaine through Bella Abzug, the late New York congresswoman and feminist. The actress says she quickly realized she and Mr. Kucinich were kindred spirits. Years later he asked Ms. MacLaine to be the godmother of his daughter.

"We just thought the same," Ms. MacLaine says in an interview. "We have the same political points of view."

When Cleveland voters ousted Mr. Kucinich after one tumultuous term, Ms. MacLaine offered him her home as a sanctuary where he could write his memoirs. He lived there for the better part of a year.

Also in residence was Mr. Costanzo, a Juilliard-trained trumpet player and jujitsu black belt, who worked as Ms. MacLaine's assistant, personal trainer and bodyguard. He and Mr. Kucinich became good friends, and Mr. Costanzo, now 55 years old, served as deputy campaign director and security chief for the congressman's unsuccessful 2004 presidential run.

Ms. MacLaine -- well-known for her fascination with things mystical and extraterrestrial -- was in Canada that weekend in 1982, performing her one-woman show. But Mr. Costanzo's girlfriend at the time, a model and actress who is now 50 years old, was visiting when the UFO incident took place. She spoke after Mr. Costanzo requested she do so, and on condition that her name not be published.

Here's what happened, according to separate interviews with Mr. Costanzo and his former girlfriend:

The day was strange from the start. For hours, Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Costanzo and his companion noticed a high-pitched sound. "There was a sense that something extraordinary was happening all day," says the girlfriend. She and Mr. Costanzo say that none of the three consumed alcohol or took drugs.

As they sat down to a dinner, Mr. Kucinich spotted a light in the distance, to the left of Mount Rainier. Mr. Costanzo thought it was a helicopter.

But Mr. Kucinich walked outside to the deck to look through the telescope that he had bought Ms. MacLaine as a house gift. After a few minutes, Mr. Kucinich summoned the other two: "Guys, come on out here and look at this."

Mr. Costanzo and his girlfriend joined Mr. Kucinich, where they took turns peering through the telescope. What they saw in the far distance, according to both witnesses, was a hovering light, which soon divided into two, and then three.

After a few minutes, the lights moved closer and it became apparent that they were actually three charcoal-gray, triangular craft, flying in a tight wedge. The girlfriend remembers each triangle having red and green lights running down the edges, with a laser-like red light at the tail. Mr. Costanzo recalls white lights, but no tail.

Mr. Costanzo says each triangle was roughly the size of a large van, while his former girlfriend compares it to a "larger Cessna, smaller than a jet certainly." Neither recalls seeing any markings, landing gear, engines, windows or cockpits.

The craft approached to within 200 yards, suspended over the field just beyond the swimming pool. Both witnesses say it emitted a quiet, throbbing sound -- nothing like an airplane engine.

"There was a feeling of wanting to communicate something, but I didn't know what," says Mr. Costanzo.

The craft held steady in midair, for perhaps a minute, then sped away, Mr. Costanzo says. "Nothing had landed," he says. "No strange beings had disembarked. No obvious messages were beamed down. When they were completely out of sight, we all looked at each other disbelieving what we had seen."

At Mr. Kucinich's suggestion, they jotted down their impressions and drew pictures to memorialize the event. Mr. Kucinich kept the notes, according to Ms. MacLaine, who said he promised her recently that he would try to find them.

In an interview with WSJ's Jeffrey Trachtenberg, actress and author Shirley MacLaine discusses the cosmic scope of her new book, "Sage-ing While Age-ing."
"It was proof to me that we're obviously not alone," says the girlfriend.

The next day, the group spotted what they thought to be military helicopters buzzing around the valley where they had made the sighting. And the high-pitched sound remained.

Mr. Kucinich called Ms. MacLaine in Canada to tell her what had happened. "He said it was beautiful, serene, and it moved him," says Ms. MacLaine, who is supporting Mr. Kucinich's candidacy. "He was not afraid of it, let's put it that way. Seeing something that close and sophisticated and gentle."

Ms. MacLaine says she has seen UFOs from a distance in New Mexico and Peru, but never up close. She was envious. "I'm the one who reports them, but they never make close visitation. What am I doing wrong?"

None of the three reported the incident to the authorities. And over the years that followed, they shared the story with very few people. "Unfortunately, people are ridiculed when they say they've had these kinds of experiences, which is why I never came forward with it," says the girlfriend.

Ms. MacLaine says she called Mr. Kucinich before she included his UFO sighting in her book, "Sage-ing while Age-ing," a recounting of her spiritual and professional journeys. "I can handle it," she says he told her.

More recently, Mr. Kucinich has dodged it. Approached by The Wall Street Journal for comment in December -- moments after he voted for a House resolution praising Christmas and Christianity -- Mr. Kucinich looked unblinkingly ahead: "I don't have any comment," he said.

Lack of Deep Sleep contributes to Diabetes

Shortage of Deep Sleep May Increase Diabetes Risk
medpage TODAY

By Judith Groch, Senior Writer, MedPage Today
January 02, 2008
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

CHICAGO, Jan. 2 -- Sleep quality appears to play a role in diabetes risk, according to researchers here. Action Points

Explain to interested patients that, in this experimental study with healthy young adults, suppression of restorative "slow-wave" sleep without any change in sleep time, reduced their ability to regulate blood sugar levels, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
When in an experimental setting, deep, restorative slow-wave sleep (stages 3 and 4) was suppressed in healthy young adults, there was a 25% decrease in insulin sensitivity, with a rise in the risk of type 2 diabetes, found Esra Tasali, M.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues. There was no change in total sleep time.

The findings were comparable in diabetes risk to gaining 18 to 29 pounds, and the sleep quality of volunteers in their 20s was that of those in their 60s, Dr. Tasali and colleagues reported in the Dec. 31 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Slow-wave sleep is associated with transient metabolic, hormonal and neurophysiologic changes, all of which could potentially affect glucose homeostasis, the researchers wrote.

They studied nine normal-weight, healthy adults -- five men, four women -- ages 20 to 31. At baseline, the volunteers spent two consecutive nights in the sleep lab where they were monitored but slept undisturbed for 8.5 hours.

After that, they were studied for three consecutive nights, but when brain waves indicated they were drifting into slow-wave sleep, they were subtly disturbed by sounds about 250 to 300 times a night, administered through bedside speakers.

The sounds were loud enough to disrupt deep sleep but not enough to cause awakening. With this technique the researchers disrupted slow-wave sleep by about 90% (88 ± 3%, P<0.0001). The volunteers required more interventions as slow-wave pressure, the body's need for deep sleep, accumulated with each night.

After three nights, the decrease in insulin sensitivity was remarkably consistent for eight of the nine participants. Under normal circumstances, when insulin sensitivity decreases, the insulin response should increase reciprocally so that glucose tolerance is maintained.

However, after slow-wave-sleep suppression, the decrease in insulin sensitivity was not compensated for by an increase in insulin release, because the insulin response remained virtually unchanged, they said.

Consistent with an increased diabetes risk, daytime glucose tolerance measured after each night was reduced by 23% to within the range reported in older adults with impaired glucose tolerance, the researchers reported.

The researchers noted that the size of the decrease in insulin sensitivity was not correlated with measures of sleep fragmentation, including the total number of microarousals on the third night of the intervention (r=0.31, P=0.42).

Inadequate beta cell compensation for a given decrease in insulin sensitivity results in a fall in the so-called disposition index (insulin sensitivity times insulin response), which is a validated marker of diabetes risk. Indeed, they said, this measure was 20% lower after slow-wave sleep suppression.

The decrease in slow-wave sleep is similar to that occurring over four decades of normal aging. Normal young adults spend 80 to 100 minutes a night in slow-wave sleep, whereas those older than 60 generally have fewer than 20 minutes of slow-wave sleep.

Thus, Dr. Tasali said, "in this experiment, we gave people in their 20s the sleep of those in their 60s."

In exploring possible mechanisms for the decreased insulin sensitivity, the investigators wrote that insulin resistance can develop rapidly when circulating levels of cortisol are elevated.

However, they found that mean plasma cortisol profiles at baseline and after slow-wave suppression were essentially identical (P=0.92). Thus, they said, the decrease in insulin sensitivity cannot be attributed to increased cortisol concentrations.

There is an alarming rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes that is generally attributed to the epidemic of obesity and the aging of the population. As the burden of diabetes on public health continues to rise, so does the need to understand its pathogenesis, the researchers wrote.

The current evidence demonstrates a clear role for slow-wave sleep in the maintenance of normal glucose homeostasis. Chronic shallow non-REM sleep, decreased insulin sensitivity, and elevated diabetes risk are typical of aging, they said.

Thus, strategies to improve both sleep duration and also sleep quality should be considered as a potential intervention to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes in elderly individuals as well as the obese, Dr. Tasali and colleagues concluded.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Primary source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
Source reference:
Tasali E, et al "Slow-wave sleep and the risk of type 2 diabetes in humans" PNAS Early Edition 2008: DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0706446105.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Racial stereotyping in the Emergency Room

Study: Whites more likely to get narcotics in ER

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Emergency room doctors are prescribing strong narcotics more often to patients who complain of pain, but minorities are less likely to get them than whites, a new study finds.

Even for severe pain, narcotics such as oxycodone were prescribed less frequently for minorities.

Even for the severe pain of kidney stones, minorities were prescribed narcotics such as oxycodone and morphine less frequently than whites.

The analysis of more than 150,000 emergency room visits over 13 years found differences in prescribing by race in both urban and rural hospitals, in all U.S. regions and for every type of pain.

"The gaps between whites and nonwhites have not appeared to close at all," said study co-author Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco.

The study appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. Prescribing narcotics for pain in emergency rooms rose during the study, from 23 percent of those complaining of pain in 1993 to 37 percent in 2005.

The increase coincided with changing attitudes among doctors who now regard pain management as a key to healing. Doctors in accredited hospitals must ask patients about pain, just as they monitor vital signs such as temperature and pulse.

Even with the increase, the racial gap endured. Linda Simoni-Wastila of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Pharmacy said the race gap finding may reveal some doctors' suspicions that minority patients could be drug abusers lying about pain to get narcotics.

Don't Miss
Journal of the American Medical Association Pain Quiz
The irony, she said, is that blacks are the least likely group to abuse prescription drugs. Hispanics are becoming as likely as whites to abuse prescription opioids and stimulants, according to her research. She was not involved in the current study.

The study's authors said doctors may be less likely to see signs of painkiller abuse in white patients, or they may be undertreating pain in minority patients.

Patient behavior may play a role, Pletcher said. Minority patients "may be less likely to keep complaining about their pain or feel they deserve good pain control," he said.

Stricter protocols for prescribing narcotics may help close the gap.

A New York hospital recently studied its emergency patients and found no racial disparity in narcotics prescribed for broken bones. Montefiore Medical Center aggressively treats pain and is developing protocols for painkillers that dictate initial dosages and times to check with patients to see whether they need more pain medicine, said Dr. David Esses, emergency department associate director at Montefiore.

Such standards may eliminate racial disparities, Esses said.

In the study, opioid narcotics were prescribed in 31 percent of the pain-related visits involving whites, 28 percent for Asians, 24 percent for Hispanics and 23 percent for blacks.

Minorities were slightly more likely than whites to get aspirin, ibuprofen and similar drugs for pain.

Health Library Health Library
In more than 2,000 visits for kidney stones, whites got narcotics 72 percent of the time, Hispanics 68 percent, Asians 67 percent and blacks 56 percent.

The data came from a well-regarded government survey that collects information on emergency room visits for four weeks each year from 500 U.S. hospitals. The new study was funded by federal grants.

"It's time to move past describing disparities and work on narrowing them," said Dr. Thomas L. Fisher, an emergency room doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center who was not involved in the study.

Fisher, who is black, said he is not immune to letting subconscious assumptions inappropriately influence his work as a doctor.

"If anybody argues they have no social biases that sway clinical practice, they have not been thoughtful about the issue or they're not being honest with themselves," he said.

Our teachers' skills aren't being used effectively

Edgworthy said the following on Joanne Jacobs' website.

Feb 21st, 2006 at 10:56 am

"The only way Math teaching is useful on a mass scale is if it can be taught by an average math teacher. Any conceptual method that relies upon a highly skilled, creative and flexible teacher as a prerequisite for success is doomed to failure."

But what if we have highly skilled, creative and flexible master teachers spending time in every classroom, giving instruction, taking responsibility for children's learning, and guiding "average" teachers in how to follow up on those lessons? Some of the "average" teachers would become master teachers themselves. Some wouldn't. But every child would learn.

Of course, the highly skilled, creative and flexible individuals would have to be lured by higher salaries. I suggest double the salaries of average teachers. The master teachers would be responsible for several classrooms.

And Americans wouldn't have to be embarrassed by test scores that would embarrass the citizens of much of the rest of the world.