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IN FRATERNAM MEAM
Saturday, July 29, 2006
THE U.S. DOLLAR
A GLOWING EYE, HIDDEN NUMEROLOGY, OBSCURE LATIN --
WHAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT OUR MOST COMMON CURRENCY.


** It costs 5.7 cents to produce a single note.

** The dollar is made of cotton and linen with red and blue synthetic fibers running through. After bills are printed, they are starched to make them water-resistant and then pressed.

** More than 4 billion dollar bills are in cicrculation.

** The dollar represents 45percent of all bills printed each year.

** Average note life spans:
$1 : 22 months
$5 : 24 months
$10: 18 months
$20: 25 months
$50: 55 months
$100:60months

** The phrase "IN GOD WE TRUST" was first printed on the dollar in 1957. Before that, it was printed on coins.

** The EYE is a symbol of Divinity.

** "ANNUIT COEPTIS" Latin for 'God has favored our undertaking'.

** "NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM" Interpreted to mean 'A new Order for the World'.

** The PYRAMID represents strength and duration. The lack of a finished top signifies that the U.S. was a new and unified country at the time the seal was created. At the base is the Roman numeral for "1776".

** The Number 13 Despite its reputation as unlucky, the number 13 (which represents the original 13 colonies) figures in elements throughout the dollar bill.
13 Arrows
13 Stripes on the Flag
13 Steps on the Pyramid
13 Plumes of feathers on each of eagles' wings
13 Leaves on the Olive branch

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the National Institute of Environmental Heatlh Sciences.)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:49 PM   0 comments
Friday, July 28, 2006
DOES ACUPUNCTURE REALLY WORK?
Millions are convinced it relieves pain and helps other conditions.
Research indicates that the brain reacts to needle pricks.

MORE THAN 8 MILLION Americans at one time or another have turned to acupuncture theraphy for relief from pain or other distress. Today, thouands of acupuncturists -- as well as medical doctors, dentists and other health professionals who have learned this technique -- are using it to treat everything from migranes to nausea, menstrual cramps to tennis elbow, asthma to addiction.

In 1996, the Food and Drug Adminsitration approved acupuncture needels for leicense praticitioners, with the requirements that the needles be sterile, nontoxic and disposed of after a single use.

The needles are hair thin and introduced under the skin at one or more specific sites. When properly done under sterile conditions, accupuncture is safe and relatively painless.

Some insurers reimburse for prescrined acupuncture -- even though its effectiveness remains controversial and its presumed mechanism of action unclear. In my own practice, it has helped some patients but not others.

According to Chinese practitioners, the body's vital energy (qi) is carried by two opposing forces - yin and yang - that flow though specifici pathways called meridians. Yin reflects that are cold, slow and passive; yang's qualities are hot, excited and active. When the balance between them is disrupted, sumptoms develop. It is believed that acupuncture neeldes, when placed at the appropriate site, alleviate symptoms by restoring normal flow within the meridians.

One widely accepted medical explanation of acupuncture's claimed efficacy is that when needles prick the skin, they cause the brain to release a variety of pain killing neural chemicals, such as endorphins, encephalin and otehr epioids. The expection of relife alone may induce the same response in the brain -- the placebo effect. By whatever mechanism, modern imaging techniques have shown that acupuncture does stimulate certain areas within the brain and suppress others.

Clinical studies of acupunctures' effectiveness over the years have yielded varied results. For examples, 300 migraine patients in Germany were divided into three groups. In one, acupuncture needles were placed at the prescribed stires; the second group also was "needled", but randomly (a procedure known as sham acupuncture). The third group received no treatment. All the needeled patients underwent 12 treatment sessions, each lasting 30 minutes. The researchers found that both the real and the sham acupuncture recipients reported 50 percent fewer hadache days., while only 15percent of those untreated felt better. In this study, placement of the needles apparently made no difference.

Similarly, in another study, 43 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (which causes a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, inclduing caramping and diarrhea) improved after both true and sham acupuncture.

However, it was reported earlier this year in The Lance Neurology that 960 migraine patients responded to acupuncture and conventional drug theraphy. And, in recent research done at the Mayp Clinic, acupuncture was found to ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia (a chronic disorder characterized bymusculoskeletal dsicomfort) much more so than did a simulated procedure in which needles touched the skin but did not penetrate it.

The National Institute of Health continues to evaluate acupuncture using both traditional Oriental and Western scientific methods. Licensed acupuncturists are comfortable with this approach and confident that it will clarify how the procedure works. Many schools of acupuncture also are conducting independent research programs.

My personal experience with acupuncture helps me keep an open mind. In 1978, I was invited to China to witness an open heart procedure on a yong woman. She remained wide awake and smiling throughout the operation even though the only anesthesia administered was an acupuncture needle placed in her ear.

Obviously,more research is needed before we can draw any form conclusions. In the meantine, if you are responding to acupuncture theraphy, you should probably continue it. There's little downside to doing so, and feeling better is what counts.


(Source: PARAGEMAG by Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:21 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
REAL HEROES OF THE MIDDLE EAST
"Its the dissidents, not the terrorists, who speak for the people" -- Tom Melia, Freedom House.


During the Cold War, dissidents like Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa put a human face on the struggles of millions of freedom in Eastern Europe. Today, it's in the Middle East where thousands are agitating for basic human rights. "It is not the unelected rulers or terrorists who speak for the people," says Tom Melia of the humand-rights group Freedom House. "Advocates for democracy are the true voices of the Middle East."

In many nations, holding a political meetings is grounds for torture. In Lebanon, intellectuals are assasinated by the Syrian regime. In Egypt, judges are jailed for questionaing election results. In Iran, demonstrators for women's rights are arrested. Here are some of the heroes in this struggle for freedom:


1). OMID MEMARIAN,
32 years old, a former city council candidate in Tehran, was arrested for "conveying a dark picture of Iran and stoking women's issues" on his Internet blog. He was placed in solitary confinement for 55 dyas and repeatedly beaten. He has found refuge in the U.S.

2). NEILA CHARCHOUR HACHICHA
50 years old, founded the Liberal Mediterranean Party, which is seeking political freedom in Tunisia. Her husband has been jailed and her daughter harassed by security agents.

3). AYMAN NOUR
41 years old, challenged President Mubarak in Egypt's 2005 election and was runner-up. Aftererward, Nour was convicted of forging documents, although him main accuser later recanted. Nour is now serving a five year jail term.

4.) ANWAR al-BUNNI
a lawyer and human rights activist, was arrested for criticizing Syria's conduct in Lebanon. His family members have spent a total of more than 60 years in Syrian prisons.

5.) HAMZA al-MAZAINY
58, years old, a university professor, wrote about the spread of "fanaticism" in Saudi Arabia and extrmism in the schools. He was sentenced to 200 lashes and four months in jail but spared following international protests.

6). FATHI ELJAHMI
65 years old, spent 18 months in prison after calling for free speech in Libya. He was arrested again for supporting a constitution. He has life threatening health conditions but is allowed little contact with his family.

7). RANA HUSSEINI
38 years old, is an outspoken activist for women's rights in Jordan. She reports on violence against women such as "honor killings" by relatives of those accused of aultery.


(SOURCE: Intelligence Report by: Lyric Wallwork Winik/visit:parade.com)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:35 PM   0 comments
ARE YOU A GEO-GENIUS?
1). What is the thick layer of Earth's interior that lies between the crust and the core?

2). Which country lies between Norway and Finland?

3). Which mountain system provides much of the spectacular scenery in Yosemite National Park?

4). What is the official language of the Persian Gulg country of Qatar?

5). Which state capital city in New England is located in the Green Mountains?


Answers:

1. Mantle
2. Sweden
3. Sierra Nevada
4. Arabic
5. Montpelier, Vermont


(Source: NATIONALGEOMAG)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:29 PM   0 comments
Friday, July 14, 2006
VINEGAR CAN BE USED FOR WHAT???
CHICAGO --- Research from centers around the world report what ancient healers knew thousands of years ago -- that vinegar is the wonder elixir for a healthier life.

Since ancient times a daily dose of apple cider vinegar has been taken to control appetite and maintain well-being.

Even Japan's feared Samurai warriors of years ago relied on a vinegar tonic for strength and power. A tonic you can make in your kitchen.

Vinegar is nature's own drug free anti-inflammatory.

Scientific tests show organiz vinegar is a natural storehouse of vitamins and minerals, including beta carotene -- over 93 different components -- to fight what ails you.

More than 70 different research studies have verified that beta carotene lowers the rish of getting cancer and it boosts the body's immune system.

When fresh apples are allowed to ferment organically, the result is a vinegar that contains natural sediment with pectin, trace minerals, beneficial bacteria and enzymes.

And pectin helps your body reduce cholesteraol levels to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Vinegar can:

* Improve your metabolism
* Aid digestion
* Help lower cholesterol
* Uses for middle ear problems
* Fight age and live spots
* Gain soft and radiant skin
* Amazing hair treatments
* Relieve nightime leg cramps
* Soothe sprained muscles
* Fight headaches fade away
* Corn and calius relief
* Aid to maintain health
* Skin rashes, athlete's foot
* Relieve insect bites
* Remedy for urinary problems
* Use for coughs and colds
* Destroy bacteria in foods
* Heart and circulatory problems
* Fight high blood pressure
And many more.

(Source: http://www.jamesdirect.com)
*
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:04 AM   3 comments
Saturday, July 08, 2006
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR OF 1898-1899
APOCALYPSE THEN: THE BATTLE FOR MANILA, 1898-1899
Philippine-American relations began with a guerilla wa whose goal was to deny the Americans access to the prized city of Manila.

"He who success becomes an emperor.
He who fails becomes a bandit
."
- An ancient Chinese saying -

In 1898, fresh from its near-victory against colonial Spain, a fledgling Filipino nation deared to take on a rising western power, the United States. THe prize, independence. The sacifice, over a million civilian casulaties and the loss of independence for another 50 years.

Filipino success would have dealth a symbolic blow to American prestige and colonial ambitions in Asia. The first blood was spilled in Manila, when Filipinos tried to wrest it back from the Americans.

The battle for Manila was the culmination of events that began in August 1896, when Andres Bonifcaio's Katipunan launched an armed struggle against the Spanish who had ruled the Philippines for over 300 years. After a few unsuccessful skimishes in the outskirts of Manila, Bonifacio retreated tot he surrounding countryside, from where the poorly armed rebels fought hit-and-run battles with the Spanish.

As the conflict shifted towards the provinces south of Manila, the prominence of Emilio Aguinaldo of the Kaptipunan's Cavite Magdalo branch grew. In 1897, he seized leadership from Bonifacio, presiding over a new government and army. When Bonifacio rejected the new order, he was arrested by Aguinlado's men, tried and executed.

Under Aguinaldo's leadership, the Spanish were brought to a stalemate. To gain respite for his army and to collect more arms and funds, Aguinaldo agreed to a ceasefire and self-exile in Hong Kong. His army was to be disbanded and allowed to rejoin colonial society without fear of reprisals.

As Aguinaldo bided his time in Hong Kong, some of his officers reverted to guerilla activity. The secret Katipunan organization was reactivated and harassed the Spanish in the provinces. Thus, when Aguinaldo returned, Spanish rule was all but ended, its remaining power confiend to the walled city of Manila.

Unted States intervention provided Spain a n honorable exit from this debacle. When the USS Maine mysteriously blew up in Spanish Havana, war was declared between the two nations. Admiral Dewey was sent to Manila to neutralize the Spanish armada and secure Manila. The "Battle of Manila Bat" was fought near the Cavite Naval Base, where Dewey's modern fleet made short work of Admiral Montojo's againg armada. The capture of Manila gave the Americans the chance to do a little saber-rating and proclaim its interest in the Pacific and the Far East.

Aguinaldo had returned to the Philippines under Dewey's auspices. He had been led to believe that American arms and recognition of his government were forthcoming in exchange for his coopeation. It was a fatal assumption, one that Aguinaldo held for so long it dulled his sense of tactics.

Aguinaldo's army controlled most of the town of Luzon and the areas outside of Manila's walls. On June 12,1898, he procalimed the independence of the Philippines, but the Americans officially ignored the event. To have Spanish Manila surrender to the Filipinos would have been a symbolic prize.

On August 14, however, Soabnish Manila surrendered to the American instead. As part of the surrender terms, the American barred Aguinaldo's army from marching victorioulsy into the walled city. Instead he was forced to march his troops in review on the street outside the walled fort. Deprived of Manila, Aguinaldo set up his government in Malolos, a few miles north. He now had to play a waiting game with the Americans. In the meantime, he had to ensure the loyaltyo the wealthy and educated Filipinos, some of whom where already collaborating with the Americans. He also had to control the impetousness of his officers, who were finding the American presence more intolerable day by day. Most of all, he had to prepare for the inevitable confrontation with the American army.

POPULAR COMMITTEES
Manila was the focus of Aguinaldo's preparation. ON advice from Teodoro Sandiko, he souhgt to organize upper-class Filipinos into "popular committees" that would raise funds and provide recruits for the Filipino army. By November 1898, the suburb of Tondo had been organized by Rudiguindo Simon; Trozo, by Vicente Reyes; Bindo, by Luis Yangko; Kiapo, by Guidencio Elesgue; Sampaloc, by Bonifacio Arevalo; San Miguel, by Martin Garcia, and Ermita, by Leon Guerrero. Each committee had about 26 members. Meetings were disguiesed as athletic (swordsmanship to disguise arnis) or cultural events, and American officers were even inivted to improve their cover. The "Committees" were to serve as a Manila-based underground leadership structure in the event of open conflict with the Americans.

The Americans, who had spies everywhere, knew of the committees. However, General Otis, commander of the American forces, was less concerned witht he educated class than with the "worst social elemnets in the city"-- the Sandatahan who were, in Otis words, "the radical characters" organizing within the city.

The Sandatahan were part of the early Katipunan. When the army was organized, they became auxilliaries who dug trenches and hauled ammunition and supplies without pay. On September 10, Aguinaldo ordered General Pantaleon Garcia to organize the Sandatahan. By November, some 4,000 Sandatahan organized in branches called "Armas Blancas" with full complement of officers, cooled their heels in Manila's suburbs.

Meanwhile, the city, according to longtime British resident John Foreman, became a place of incenssant street brawls, drunkenness and orgies under the Americans. Natives were insulted and called "gu-gu". The privacy of homes were violated with impunity.

Occassionally, the Filipinos resorted to "dukut"-- the kidnapping of stray soldiers. Tnesion in the city increased when in December 1898, Spain officially ceded the Philippines to the United States under the Treaty of Paris. On January 4,1899, McKinley issued his "Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation", its announcement posted in the streets of Manila. The two events confirmed Aguinaldo's worst fears. He denounced America's imperialistic ambitions.

The battle lines were drawn, but neither party was anxious to begin hostilities. Otis needed more men and Aguinaldo, more preparation. ON January 9 Aguinaldo issued secret instructions to the Sandatahan.

GUERRILLA WAR
The Sandatahan should watch out for American symphatizers. Their leaders must reconnoiter the weak points in the American positions that could be used in a suprise attack. Before this attack, four guerillas should divert suspicion by presenting the American commander with a gift. A Sandatahan dressed as a woman should then approach a sentinel and silence him. Compete surprise was necessary.

The attackers must be resolute. They should slash their bolos left and right and not even pause for the rifles of the fallen. In case bolos was not available, lances and arrows should be used. "Experience has taught me", Aguinaldo's instructions went, "that rifles are useless in this kind of combat".

From the rooftops, the Americans should be assaulted with stones, timber and red-hot iron. Heavy furnitutre, boiling water, oil and molasses, rags soaked in coal oil should be thrown at American soldiers passing below. Throwing glass must be avoided -- the Sandatahan went barefoot. Women and children should pass on hot liquids to Sandatahan who would hurl these as bombs or pour these over the heads of the enemy by using bamboo tubes.

The combat should be short, Aguinaldo's instructions went on. Prisoners should be respected. The property of foreigners, including Chinese, should be respected. Officers and men must set the examples for good comduct.

Manila was brought to a panic as these instructions spread through the grapevine. Rumor was that 200,000 rebels and former employees of American and Europeans would commence as attack on January 15, 1898. At that appointed date, the rumor went, the rebels would cut the electrical lines and massacre the Americans.

The situation made everyone jumpy. When someone shot a dog in the Divisoria district, a report sent to Aguinaldo read like this: "Americans much alarm ran aimlessly with fright, appearing where they could, some from fear of throwing themselves into the river".

Fearful for their safety, Filipinos began an exodus from the city. Even the railroad had to run a special train on an hourly schedule and in 24 hours served a traffice of 5,000 people headed north.

CAUGHT BY SURPRISE
The long drawn tension finally came to a head on Febraury 4,1899, when an American sentry fired on Filipino soldiers. Caught by surprise, the Filipino lines were quickly psuched back by superior American arms. Otis, however, proceeded caustiously and waited for more reinforcements from the United States. Aguinaldo used this lull in American activity to reorganize and discuss plans for taking Manila. An attack by the regular army under General Antonio Luna would keep the Americans engaged in the nOrthern Manila while other units would infiltrate the city through the swamps of Tondo and link up with the Sandatahan to sabotage American defenses. To signal their advance, Tondo, Santa Cruz, and Malate were to be set on fire.

Luna planned to attack at 8PM. The Sandatahan were to take up positions on San Pedro street. The Zorilla barracks housing American soldiers would be attacked. Simultaneoulsy, allies from inside would liberate the prisoners in Bilibid prison and given them arms. Meanwhile, the Filipino servants of American and Europeans were to set fire to their master's houses. Two red balloons and rockets would signal this. Tondo sharpshooters would then open fire, catching American soldiers in their crossfire, while the Sandatahan from Tondo, Binondo, Kiapo and Sampaloc would follow the attack from the streets. By midnight, the Sandatahan from Paco, Ermita, Malate, Santa Cruz and San Miguel were to send reinforcements. At 3AM, Spanish vounteer soldiers would attack Fort Santiago.

The actual attack occurred on Febraury 22. On the appointed hour, the Sandatahan went to work. Fire broke out in the wealthy quarter of Santa Cruz. John Bass, a correspondent from Harper's Magazine, describes the events as "Manila's night of terror."

Fire spread towards the Escoplta business area, and firemen had trouble containing it. John Bass reported: "Someone was cutting the hose. The firemen were suspected. At last a soldier caught a Malay bending over the hose and prodding it with a large knife. The soldiers bringing his rifle down with violent blow, broke the native's back".

Hardly had the fire been subdued when another one broke out in Tondo. Luna's men led by Colonel Franciso "Paco" Roman had infiltrated the rest of the American lines and pushed towards Tondo. Another element from Roman's group rushed deep into Calle Jolo (now Juan Luna st.) The fire, the blare of guerilla bugles and the shooting confused the Americans. Gathering their wits about, they make their stand on Calle Iris (now Claro M. Recto st.) near the Bilibid Prison and waited for reinforcements.

By now the Binondo market was on fire, but Lucio Lucas' men retreated towards Calle Azcarraga but found their route blocked. In hand to hand combat they broke through the American detachment and managed to disappear into the night.

COUNTER ATTACK
The Americans counter attacked the next day. Reinforced with fresh troops and gunboats, they pushed the Filipino into Tondo. At the Pritil tramway station. Paco Roman's men resisted until late in the morning. Others were able to hold a block house but had to withdraw for lack of ammunition. General Luna assessed the situation and on the 24th reported to Aguinaldo that hat it not been for the refusal of the Cavite soldiers to attack when ordered, "our victory would have been complete."

General Otis, horrified by Luna's bold plan, admitted that the attack was "successful in its inception and primary stages". Aguinaldo took propaganda advantage of the small victory even as lUna accused him of holding back the Cavite soldiers (Aguinaldo's provincemates.) Insulted by the breach of discipline, Luna later resigned his post.

Sensing disarray in his opponents ranks, General Otis pushed his advantage. With fresh troops from the U.S. mainland, his forces captured Aguinaldo's capital in Malolos by the end of March.

The battle of Manila illustrated the problems that beset Aguinaldo's campaing to win independence for the Philippines. First, there was the issue of secrecy, on which successful military action is premised. Lucio Lucas attack on the Meisic police station was thwarted because as easly as Febraury 15, Otis had known about the plan. On the basis of this information, General Hughes the Provost Marshall, was able to round up 125 leaders of the underground. Obviously, someone from Aguinaldo's camp provided the information.

In 1901 Colonel Crowder received a letter from the soldier whose assignment was to free the Bilibid prisoners. This officer served as the prison surgeon at the time of the Manila attack.

"Luckily, not only the same measure prescribed was never carried into execution, but it was impossible to attack the American army, the men who have been detailed to do it in Manila having only a gew hundred bolos as arms, and the chiefs of the militita understood that with such arms they could not think of resisting the rifles and cannons of the Americans."

No doubt, this awe for American militaty superiority also reflected the feelings of many among the Filipino intelligentsia. This thinking weakend the resolve of the educated class that Aguinaldo had hoped to keep loyal. But Luna, Aguinaldo and other leaders were not easily intimidated by American power. Aguinaldo naively failed to seriously turn to unconventional warfare against a superior foe, Luna, a student of military science, was more flexible and believed they had a chance against Americans by waging a guerilla war. A letter sent to him by a certain A. Guzman advocated "guerilla warfare for the space of six months" This, Guzman said, countering Aguinaldo's preference for conventioal warfare, "would inrritate the Americans and perhaps, justify powerful reasons would compel the nations to definitely resolve the recognition of our nation".

Luna even asked the aid of Aguinaldo's adviser Apolinario Mabini as early as April to convince the leader to adopt guerilla warfare. Mabini wrote hsi friend Galiciano Apacible on the issue: "The people greatly desire guerilla warfare, in the hope of infiltrating the provinces. Since they are more or less scattered, it will be easy to destroy,(the Americans) troop by troop."

Aguinaldo chose to fight with a regular army as a sovereign nation would, only to be forced to revert to secret guerilla units by the end of 1899. By then the Americans in full offensive. Their effective military tactics and counterinsurgency policies soon defeated the Filipinos. Those who chose to remain in the fills to figt, men like Macario Sakay who fought until 1906, was branded as "bandits"

Aguinaldo was captured in 1902 by the Americans, effectively ending the "insurgency" that to the Filipinos known as the Philipine-American War.


(Source: FILIPINASMAG by: Michael Gonzalez First published in Katipunan Newsmagazine. A former history professor of the University of the Philippines, Michael Gonzalez is now with Stanford University.)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:46 PM   0 comments
Friday, July 07, 2006
MIGRANE SUFFERERS ARE MORE IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, STUDY SAYS
IT'S SCIENTIFIC: "Sorry, honey, I hae a headache" may have to be replaced with "Yes, please, honey, I have a headache".

A study of 20-something in Chicago shows that migrane sufferers wants sex more than people with other kinds of headaches.

"Our study suggests that sexual desire and migraine headaches maybe influenced by the same brain chemical", lead author Tmothy Houle of the Wake Forest University medical school said in a realeas this month.

Researchers, who also included Thomas Remble from Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, investigated a hypothesis that the brain chemical serotonin, was connected to amorous impulses.

Because high levels of serotonim are associated with low sexual desire, and migraine sufferers have low levels of the chemical, it was predicted that they would report a highest sex drive.

The research appearing in the hournal Headacxhe, involved 68 audlts with an averae age of 24. Participants who reported at least 10 headaches a year, underwent interview to diagnose their headache type -- either migraine or tension -- and filled out a 14 item questionnaire to measure desire.

Migraine sufferers reported levels of desire that were 20 percent higher than those suffering from tension headaches.

"This opens the door to consider other phenomenona that have a similar neurochemical basis". Houle said.

Although the study was not able to address wherther the link may apply to older adults with migraines. Houle said the finding appears to be general and is likely to be found in older patients as well.

(SOURCE: CHICSUNTIMES)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:41 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
YOU GOTTA HAVE FRIENDS
A study finds that Americans are getting lonelier.

AMERICANS ARE MORE SOCIALLY ISOLATED TODAY THAN WE WERE RARELY TWO DECADES AGO. The latest evidence of that comes from a topflight team of sociologists who, after comparing national surveys in 1985 and 2004, report a one-third drop in the number of people with whom the average American can discuss "important matters".

That startling report raises four questions:
1). Is it true?
2). Why has it happened?
3). Does it really matter?
4). If so, what can we do about it?

I confess a personal stake in the first questions. Six years ago in a book I wrote called Bowling Alone, I argued that the fabric of American communities had frayed badly since the mid-1960s. I traced plummeting membership in PTAS, unions and clubs of all sorts, long term declines in blood donations, card games and charity, and drops of 40% to 60% in dinner parties, civic meetings, family suppers, picnics and, yes, league bowling.

Just as the debate about global warming began with controversial claims made by a few iconolclasts, so too were many sociologists skeptical of my findings about lonely bowlers. No complex issue is ever settled by a single study. Advancing the global warming argument has required decades of research, and it may take another decade to convince the final doubters that social connectivity in the U.S. had, in fact, disintegrated. But that latest study is an important milestone.

Ironically, the authors began their work deeply skeptical about my argument. To their credit, when the unexpected results came back, they scratched their heads, kicked the tires really hard to ensure there was no mistake and last week reported their findings in a paper aptly called "Social Isolation in America".

Why this sharp increase in social isolation? Both the new study and mine found sharp generationl differences -- baby boomers are more socially marooned that their parents, and the boomers kids are lonelier still. Is it because of two-career families? Ethnic diversity? The Internet? Suburban sprawl? Everyone has a favorite culprit. Mine is TV, but the jury is still out.

Does it really matter? As a friend said, "So what if the average American now has two close friends, not three? Two is plenty". But that's exactly like saying, "If global temperatures reise from 65 degrees F to 70 degrees F, I wouldn't even notice", That's fine, as long as you ignore the indirect effects, like mega hurricanes in the Gulf.

Social isolation has many well documented side effects. Kids fall to thrive. Crime rises. Political coarsens. Generosity shrivels. Death comes sooner (social isolation is as big a risk factor for premature death as smoking). Well connected people live longer, happier lives, even if they have to forgo a new Lexus to spend time with friends.

So what can be done? Unlike global warming, we can solve this problem, fairly with family and friends. Family friendly workplaces would help too. Reaching out to a neighbor or conncecting with a long lost pal -- even having a picnic or two, could just save your life.

(Source: TIMEMAG/by Robert Putnam/a professor at Harvard University and author of the book "Bowling Alone")
posted by infraternam meam @ 11:06 PM   0 comments
JULY FOURTH. AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE: STUDY FINDS AMERICANS THE MOST PATRIOTIC
USA! USA! When it comes to national pride, Americans are No. 1 in the world, according to a survey of 34 countries released Tuesday.

Venezuela came in a close second for having the most patriotism, according to the report from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. People rated how proud they were of their countries in areas such as political influence, economic success, sports and history.

"The two things we (Americans) rank high on are what we think of as the political or power dimension," said Tom W. Smith, who wrote the report and directs the General Social Survey at the univesity's research center, "Given that we're the one world superpower, it's not that surprising."

Patriotism is mostly a "New World" concept, the survey said. Ex-colonies and newer nations were more likely to rank high on the list, while Western European, East Asian and former Socialist countries usually ranked near themiddel of the bottom.

The report was based on a survey in 34 countries conducted by the International Social Survey Program. People rated how proud they were of their countries in 10 areas: political influence, social security, the way their democracy works, economic success, science and technology, sports, arts and literature, military, history and fair treatment of all groups in society.

The U.S. ranked highest overall and in five categories: pride in its democracy, political influence, economy, sicence and ,military. Venezuela came in the second ranking highest in sports, arts and literature, history and fair treatment of all groups in society.

Eric Wingerter, a Washington D.C. based spokesman for the Venezuelan government, said the country previously imported much of its television programming, movies and pop music from the U.S., but that has changed President High Chavez's leadership.

"There's been a real emphasies on rediscovering what it means to be a Venezuelan". he said.

The debate in Venezuela over Chavez, who makes headlines for nationalistic, anti-U.S. rhetoric, might account for the country's No. 2 ranking. Smith said.

Ireland came in at No. 3 followed by South Africa and Australia.

Cultural difference might lower rankings for the three Asian countries on the list -- Japan (18th), Taiwan (29th) and Korea (31) Smith said.


MOST PATRIOTIC
Overall rank of countries in patriotism survey.
1. United States
2. Venezuela
3. Ireland
4. South Africa
5. Australia
6. Canada
7. Philippines
8. Austria
9. New Zealand
10.Chile
11.Great Britain
12.Israel
13.Uruguay
14.Finland
15.Spain
16.Denmark
17.Switzerland
18.Japan
19.France
20.Portugal
21.Hungary
22.Bulgaria
23.Norway
24.Russia
25.Sweden
26.Slovenia
27.Germany (West)
28.Czech Republic
29.Taiwan
30.Latvia
31.Korea
32.Slovakia
33.Poland
34.Germany (East)

(Source: The National Opinion Research Center and Associated Press/Links dailyherlad.com/ez)
posted by infraternam meam @ 12:21 AM   0 comments
Monday, July 03, 2006
THE HIGH COSTS OF GASOLINE
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Gas prices too high? Here's how to use less and save money.

* Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

* Get regular oil changes and fuel checks.

* Use clean air and fuel filters.

* Use the air conditioner conservatively, using the "economy" or "recirculation" setting, which reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled.

* Don't top off your gas tank.

* Dont waste more gas driving to a distant location for cheaper gas that will only save you a few cents.

* Keep track of gas mileage. If you notice a steep drop in fuel economy, your car may need to be serviced.

* Don't drive over the speed limit, and do use cruise control to maintain a constant speed.

* Get rid of that unused roof rack - it causes wind drag and uses extra gas.

(Source: AAA Chicago:"Beat High Gas Prices Now! The Fastest, Easiest Ways to Save $20 - $50 Every Month on Gasoline" by Diane MacEachern.)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:20 AM   0 comments
About Me

Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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