Friday, September 23, 2011

  Pondering the science of Happiness! Learning tingles!
The happiness of people in our social networks is much more significant than you think.  Our friends influence what we think of as normal, and that influences our habits, feelings, and behavior, which, in turn, make us happy. Or unhappy. As Christakis and Fowler have found in their research in "Connected"  only 50% of happiness is genetically based, 10% about life circumstances and the rest from our social network. research shows  that our colleague's next-door neighbor's best-friend or office mate --someone we have never met... influences how happy we are!   Isn't that amazing?

“Changes in individual happiness can ripple through social connections and create large-scale pattern in the network,” write Christakis and Fowler, “giving rise to clusters of happy and unhappy individuals.” 3 degrees of separation.

 Dr. Christine Carter from UC Berkeley sums it up really well:
"Research suggests that happiness is a set of skills we can teach and practice with our children. But, it turns out, the people in our social networks—in schools, especially, because proximity plays a role—are also teaching and practicing things that influence how happy our kids are.
Think about your friends. Are they a little weak in the happiness department? Are they super-busy and talking obsessively about our country’s leadership problems? Are they always complaining about how they hate their boss and how their son’s teacher is an idiot? Are they burdened by a classmate’s peanut allergy or whiny about a hubby who never gets his socks in the hamper?
Or maybe you have friends with excellent happiness habits. Perhaps they are more grateful for what they have than whiny about what they don’t. Maybe your friends get lots of exercise, and enough sleep, have tight connections to friends and family, and these things make them frequently cheerful.
Our habits make us happy—or not. And our habits are influenced, in large part, by our friends’ habits. What do we see as normal? Busyness and cynicism? Or gratitude and mindfulness? Materialism and fancy vacations? Or time with close friends and dinner at home? 
Make no mistake: Our social connections influence our happiness. While all three of those choices in the above pop quiz do affect how happy we are, the one we often overlook is the invisible ties we have to everyone in our social networks. This means that increasing your own happiness, and the happiness of your children, is a great way to contribute to the greater good.  And encouraging happiness habits among your friends has positive ripple effects throughout their social networks, your family included. I hope you will join our discussion about this!
"© 2011 Christine Carter, Ph.D  Greater Good the science of a meaningful life."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Surprise, I am still alive!

         Checked my pulse this morning.  Still alive on this birthday, wow...Really? It has been too rough in my head, brain bruise you know,  too many questions bouncing about,  too many raised eye brows when  I would constantly ponder  the meaning of life, the future of humanity.... why are we so violent, why do we destroy others, why and why .... tiring..blablabla.. too many this and thats. 
I mean it.  

        You ask how I made it this far?  I do too,  quite often..
I have made it because of  the loving people in my life without whom I would not exist. Thanks for all of your love and good wishes. I am so deeply grateful......

        but left to my own devices, humm,  
looking to the right, to the left, index finger to chin,  
index finger to temple, .............pretty questionable.

        I think I am figuring it out .... Curiosity does kill the cat, but, CURIOSITY , LEARNING & REFLECTION has kept me alive. 
Literally, alive... so I would like to share one small example with you.

          This morning as is my inner 24/7 ritual even during my sleep, I was occupied by the incredible process of evolution, the human condition... blabla...this computer that is built out of a bunch of outdated refurbished parts belonging to other outdated operating system,  a primitive fight or flight software contained in a fancy high tech state of the art cortex package, lugging around ten or more different body parts that not only unnecessary, but causes of terrible misery, high medical expenses and tons of antibiotic usage... have you had a sinus infection lately? Appendicitis? Tonsillitis? Strep Throat?  

             Up and off to work, I noticed so much activity in my email boxes... just to find out that my own email accounts were beeping me, notifying me of my birthday and wishing me a happy birthday... having many accounts, this was a mess... 

             Then dozens of seemingly loving birthday notes from any entity that I had ever purchased from, written to, talked to, or barely checked out.. So, the fascinating part is that Godaddy, Amazon, Microsoft, Aol , the local Pilate studio, the local Dermatologist, ... etc.  can actually become your friends & make you feel special....  Think about it, you can definitely count on them like a secure and stable parent.  They never ever forget your birthday, they always provide you money as a birthday gift, I could be a rich woman if I could cash out all the gifts I got today!   they are very validating and appreciative of your attachment and loyalty.  Most importantly, they never judge or criticize you. .........

            So, for today, I  am speculating that evolution is taking us to new human condition frontiers of secure attachment, love and safety. May be a few thousand years from now, anxiety and depression will be no longer since we can feel noticed, adored, mirrored, remembered, gifted, talked to, appreciated, validated, on every special occasion or every day for that matter... that would be interesting to ponder!  Here I go pondering and speculating yet again.  I bet tomorrow another evolutionary matter will come up. Keep u posted.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Before DADT Repeal, Gay Soldier Comes Out on YouTube

ABC News’ Elizabeth Kreutz reports:
Just hours before the official end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military, a U.S. solider decided to come out in perhaps one of the most open ways imaginable: YouTube.
In the video he posted Monday, 21-year old, Randy Phillips, under his handle “AreYouSurprised,” calls his father to tell him — as the video description says — “the hardest thing that gay guys will ever have to say.”
“You promise you’ll always love me? Period?” he asks his father, his voice shaking.
He takes a beat, and then says it: “Dad, I’m gay. I always have been. I’ve known for … forever.”
But this video is not his first. The “faceless soldier,” currently serving in the Air Force in Germany, has been garnering Internet fame since April, when he first began chronicling his experiences coming out, while serving abroad.
Six months ago he wouldn’t even reveal his face. But with last night’s midnight appeal of DADT, he’s slowly revealing much more.  And using the power of the Internet as his guiding tool.
If there’s one thing he hasn’t been secretive about though, it’s his mission online, openly describing himself on Twitter as a “military member in the closet, using social media to build up the courage to come out to family, girlfriend, friends, and coworkers.”
“I am tired of hiding this,” he says.
And while he no longer has to, his story — and courage —  has already touched thousands along the way. And as of 2 p.m. today, his video already had more than 3,000 likes and 30,000 views. And counting.
SHOWS: World News

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Want to know what you think?

Question:  What color is your brain?     Does your brain get more wrinkled with age or are you born with wrinkles?

Lerning Rocks!Evolution and useless body parts we are stuck with, Did you know?

Hey everyone, just like our funny brains, our body is also a mess of an evolutionary process. Our brain is layered with a primitive fight or flight system super imposed with a cortex of a rational thinking human. On an hourly basis we are completely and utterly conflicted between primitive emotional overwhelm and what we know to be the fact.  Yet we cannot reconcile the two systems because the operating mechanism is build with old refurbished parts that don't communicate too well yet, may be in a couple of million years it will get better. Anyway, here are some useless body parts we are still stuck with and suffer from, just four reflection and fun:
Erector Pili: Body hair sticking up to intimidate others but now just irritating goose bumps

Wisdom Teeth: Yanking meat off the bone and losing them through time with rough usage
but now every poor college student spends one summer vacations recuperating from
wisdom teeth removal...

Appendix: Early roughage processor, can burst and kill you

Male nipples:   Have no idea?

Plica semilunaris - Third eye lid:  Left over from the lizards, just to get red and irritated

Body hair: Just to make human miserable. Men and women lasering, tweezing, shaving and  waxing their legs, faces, backs, private parts, arms, faces etc…

Sinuses:  Purely for painful sinus infections, otherwise not needed any longer

and of course, Tonsils,  Coccyx, adenoids and many more.....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Learning Rocks!! Did you know?

Hello my friends, I have been so obsessed about our brain, the funny layering of the old brain, the frontal, the pre-frontal, and the amygdala,  the fight and flight verses the rational human and on and on and on that I have neglected to share some basics of life matters.

For example:   I just learned something very important. I had never heard of this before, and could not believe how ignorant I am.  Ok,  ready ? here we go:  Do you know how often you need to change your tooth brush? Now, do you know why?  Forget bacteria build up from your own mouth......but focus and please listen carefully:  just think of fecal matter on your tooth brush! YES THAT IS WHAT I SAID.

OMG, have never thought of that. Have you? Here are your choices, do not every flush the toilette without closing the lid, keep your tooth brush in a sealed box or get a new one every 3 months. With this knowledge, I think we are all going to get one every day, you think?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A few amazing facts about your Brain!

Your brain uses less power than your refrigerator light
The brain uses 12 watts of power. Over the course of a day, your brain uses the amount of energy contained in two large bananas. Curiously, even though the brain is very efficient, it's an energy hog. It is only 3 per cent of the body's weight, but consumes 1/6 (17 per cent) of the body's total energy. Most of its energy costs go into maintenance; the added cost of thinking hard is barely noticeable.

You can't tickle yourself
When doctors examine a ticklish patient, they place his or her hand over theirs to prevent the tickling sensation. Why does this work? Because no matter how ticklish you may be, you can't tickle yourself.
This is because your brain keeps your senses focused on what's happening in the world; important signals aren't drowned out in the endless buzz of sensations caused by your actions. For instance, we are unaware of the feel of a chair and the texture of our socks, yet we immediately notice a tap on our shoulder.
To accomplish this goal, some brain region must be able to generate a signal that distinguishes our touch from someone else's. The cerebellum, or “little brain”, may be the answer. It is about 1/8 of our total brain size - a little smaller than our fist - and weighs about 4oz (113g). It is also the best candidate that scientists have for the part of the brain that predicts the sensory consequences of our own actions.
The cerebellum is in an ideal location for distinguishing expected from unexpected sensations. If a prediction matches the actual sensory information, then the brain knows that it's safe to ignore the sensation because it's not important. If reality does not match the prediction, then something surprising has happened - and you might need to pay attention.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Man is deeply FLAWED, let us just stop fooling ourselves.

"Arnold, Chaney, Water Boarding VS. Human used as Guinea Pigs VS. a child left to die without water for a week?" and millions of other examples, all proof of the human flaw.The following article is true just as is the Tuskegee and there are hundreds more.

U.S. scientists knew Guatemalan STD studies were unethical, panel finds
Washington Post By Rob Stein, Published: August 29

U.S. government researchers who purposely infected unwitting subjects with sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala in the 1940s had obtained consent a few years earlier before conducting similar experiments in Indiana, investigators reported Monday.

The stark contrast between how the U.S. Public Health Service scientists experimented with Americans and Guatemalans clearly shows that researchers knew their conduct was unethical, according to members of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, which is investigating the experiments.

“These researchers knew these were unethical experiments, and they conducted them anyway,” said Raju Kucherlapati of Harvard Medical School, a commission member. “That is what is reprehensible.”

At least 5,500 prisoners, mental patients, soldiers and children were drafted into the experiments, including at least 1,300 who were exposed to the sexually transmitted diseases syphilis, gonorrhea and chancroid, the commission reported. At least 83 subjects died, although the commission could not determine how many of the deaths were directly caused by the experiments, they said.

“This is a dark chapter in our history. It is important to shine the light of day on it. We owe it to the people of Guatemala who were experimented on, and we owe it to ourselves to recognize what a dark chapter it was,” said Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, the commission’s chairwoman.

The revelations came on the opening day of a two-day hearing the commission convened to review the findings of its investigation. President Obama ordered the probe when the experiments were revealed in October. Investigators reviewed more than 125,000 documents from public and private archives around the country and conducted a fact-finding trip to the Central American nation.

The Guatemalan government is conducting its own investigation. The experiments were approved by some Guatemalan officials.

“Actually cruel and inhuman conduct took place,” said Anita L. Allen of the University of Pennsylvania. “These are very grave human rights violations.”

In one case described during Monday’s two-hour hearing, a woman who was infected with syphilis was clearly dying from the disease. Instead of treating her, the researchers poured gonorrhea-infected pus into her eyes and other orifices and infected her again with syphilis. She died six months later.

The ultimate goal of the Guatemalan research was to determine whether taking penicillin after sex would protect against syphilis, gonorrhea and chancroid. The question was a medical priority at the time, especially in the military. The Guatemalan experiments, carried out between 1946 and 1948, aimed to find a reliable way of infecting subjects for future studies.

The research included infecting prisoners by bringing them prostitutes who were either already carrying the diseases or were purposely infected by the researchers. Doctors also poured bacteria onto wounds they had opened with needles on prisoners’ penises, faces and arms. In some cases, infectious material was injected into their spines, the commission reported.

The researchers conducted similar experiments on soldiers in an army barracks and on men and women in the National Mental Health Hospital. The researchers took blood samples from children at the National Orphanage, although they did not purposely infect them.

In the studies conducted in Indiana, researchers exposed 241 inmates in Terre Haute to gonorrhea in 1943 and 1944. But there, the researchers explained the experiments in advance in detail and experimented only on the prisoners who volunteered. In contrast, many of the same researchers who began experimenting on Guatemalans a few years later actively hid what they were doing and never tried to obtain permission, the commission found.

About 700 of the Guatemalan subjects were treated for the sexually transmitted diseases, but it remains unclear whether they were treated adequately or what became of them. Gonorrhea can cause a variety of complications, including infertility. Chancroid can cause painful ulcers. Syphilis can cause blindness, major organ damage, paralysis, dementia and death.

Susan M. Reverby, a historian at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, discovered the Guatemalan experiments while doing research for a book on the infamous Tuskegee studies in Alabama. Reverby found papers from John C. Cutler, a doctor with the federal government’s Public Health Service. Cutler had participated in the Tuskegee experiment, in which hundreds of African American men with late-stage syphilis were left untreated to study the disease between 1932 and 1972. Cutler died in 2003.

After sending Obama a report in September, the commission will meet again in November to discuss whether current protections are adequate for research subjects internationally and in the United States and will issue a final report in December.

USA is too young to loose its edge!

Please help change our educational system. There are reasons why the concept of "math anxiety" is non existent in Europe, the middle east, India and China. We can change the system, our educational system is a problem, who is in charge? Soon, we may have a situation that only private school kids get to go to college, to function in society or to compete in the world. That would be about 1 or 2% of the us population! A very sad day for this nation that was and is the land of my opportunities, that gave me the chance to build on what I was taught as a child, that provided me with possibilities I would have never had in any other country. What has happened?

U.S. must improve math grade to retain global edge

Dave Schechter
Senior National Editor

The 7th-grader was struggling with a homework project, creating a PowerPoint presentation on the origins of mathematics. One requirement was to note similarities between Babylonian and Chinese math. I helped him research this question, all the while assuming that his teachers had good reason for its inclusion.

But it did make me think about what math skills are being taught and remember my own less-than-stellar math grades.

Math may have been my least favorite subject. I concurred with a yearbook entry that mocked a slogan on our high school’s walls: “Two years of mathematics is not a service to mankind.”

I suffer from “math anxiety,” a malady that affects not only students, but also some teachers and clearly parents who squirm when their children ask for help with math homework. “People are very happy to say they don’t like math,” said Sian L. Beilock, a University of Chicago psychology professor and the author of “Choke,” a 2010 book on brain responses to performance pressure. “No one walks around bragging that they can’t read, but it’s perfectly socially acceptable to say you don’t like math.”

Even with my math deficiency, I recognize the truth of the following statement, drawn from a report on how American students compare with their counterparts in other nations: “Maintaining our innovative edge in the world depends importantly on developing a highly qualified cadre of scientists and engineers. To realize that objective requires a system of schooling that produces students with advanced math and science skills.”

Based on the proficiency of the high school graduating class of 2011, the United States ranked 32nd out of 65 industrialized countries. “Performance levels among the countries ranked 23rd to 31st are not significantly different from that of the U.S. in a statistical sense, yet 22 countries do significantly outperform the United States in the share of students reaching the proficiency level in math. Six countries plus Shanghai and Hong Kong had majorities of students performing at least at the proficiency level, while the United States had less than one-third.”

Of the individual states, only Massachusetts had more than half (51 percent) of its students score at or above the proficient mark. Minnesota was second (43 percent), followed by Vermont, North Dakota, New Jersey and Kansas. [Note: Massachusetts also topped the states in reading proficiency.]

How to improve this situation? There are debates over how much math students need to know, what parts of the subject should be given more emphasis and how fast students should be allowed to progress. There are some who say the current teaching methods are inadequate to the task.

In some states, including the one in which my children attended public schools, test results prompted discussion of whether students are being taught more forms of math than reasonable and more in later grades than they will need for their futures, aside from those who will go on to study math or other fields in which advanced knowledge is critical. Is a class that includes algebra, geometry and statistics of greater value than one that focuses solely on algebra?

An interesting perspective from John W. Myres, a former teacher and superintendent in California schools: “No doubt, algebra is a steppingstone to higher mathematics and quite necessary in professions that require extensive knowledge of math. Too, it offers insights not only into numbers, but also into general problem-solving separately. It is also reasonable for most students to have some experience with it before they leave school. The difficulty, however, is assuming that algebra, in itself, will greatly increase everyone's ability to do the kind of mathematics that most people do in ordinary life. Most people add, subtract, multiply, and divide, using whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percentages. They purchase food and clothing, balance checkbooks, create budgets, verify credit card charges, measure the size of rooms, fulfill recipe requirements, and even understand baseball batting averages or horse-racing odds. These activities don't require a real knowledge of algebra,” Myres wrote in Education Week.

The debate over how much math to teach how fast took root earlier this year in Montgomery County, Maryland, when the state’s largest (and a well-regarded) public school system stopped advancing elementary and middle school students past their grade level in math. “Parents had questioned the payoff of acceleration; teachers had said students in even the most advanced classes were missing some basics.”

And if learning math is hard, teaching it can be difficult, as well. Interestingly, research shows that majoring in math in college may not of itself make a graduate qualified to teach. Math teachers need to “know the subject matter well and how to teach it,” said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean of the University of Michigan school of education, who has studied math education extensively. “The problem is that the math major is not a good proxy for that.” A report released last year by The National Mathematics Advisory Panel, on which Ball served, found no evidence of a link between teachers’ degree attainment in college and student academic gains in elementary and middle grades and a slightly stronger connection between math majors and students’ high school performance.

But there may be a link between math knowledge and future well-being. “. . . math appears to be the subject in which accomplishment in secondary school is particularly significant for both an individual’s and a country’s economic well-being. Existing research, though not conclusive, indicates that math skills better predict future earnings and other economic outcomes than other skills learned in high school,” reports a study titled “U.S. Math Performance in Global Perspective,” prepared by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and Education Next.

The EducationNext/Harvard study calculated that improving the math proficiency of American students could, over time, increase the U.S. Gross Domestic Product by 2 percent to 3 percent annually and, an 80-year period, be worth $75 trillion to the nation’s economy. “Even if you tweak these numbers a bit in one direction or another to account for various uncertainties, you reach the same bottom line: Those who say that student math performance does not matter are clearly wrong,” the report affirms.

And if math comprehension is that indicator of future well-being then it also may be worth noting a divide along racial lines. “While 42 percent of white students were identified as proficient in math, only 11 percent of African American students, 15 percent of Hispanic students, and 16 percent of Native Americans were so identified. Fifty percent of students with an ethnic background from Asia and the Pacific Islands, however, were proficient in math.”

A history of African-American students performing below their white counterparts has spurred discussion of math education as a civil right.

Earlier this year the government released data from more than 7,000 districts, representing at least three-quarters of American students. In 3,000 high schools, math classes went no higher than Algebra I, and in 7,300 schools, students had no access to calculus. Schools serving mostly African-American students were twice as likely to have inexperienced teachers as schools serving mostly whites in the same district. “These data paint a portrait of a sad truth in America’s schools, that the promise of fundamental fairness hasn’t reached whole groups of students that will need the opportunity to succeed, to get out of poverty, to ensure their dreams come true, and indeed to ensure our country’s prosperity,” Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, told the Christian Science Monitor.

Robert Moses was years ahead in recognizing this issue. A veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement (as field secretary for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), Moses’ experience teaching in an inner city school convinced him that mathematics literacy is as important for inner city and rural poor students as the right to vote was to sharecroppers and laborers in Mississippi in the 1960s. “Math illiteracy is not unique to Blacks the way the denial of the right to vote in Mississippi was. But it affects blacks and other minorities much, much more intensely, making them the designated serfs of the information age just as the people that we worked with in the 1960s on the plantations were Mississippi’s serfs then,” Moses wrote in “Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project.” In the mid-1980s, Moses used the proceeds from a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant to develop the Algebra Project, aimed at addressing the racial disparity.

As for my son’s PowerPoint project, should he eventually go into a field requiring an intimate knowledge of mathematics, knowledge of similarities between ancient Babylonia and China indeed may be valuable. As for me, since my years in school I’ve kept my use of math fairly basic, pleased to have avoided story problems or “unknown” numbers.