Saturday, September 12, 2009

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IS PARENTING GETTING HARDER? According to a study in the “Journal of Human Capital”, there is evidence breast-fed babies are more likely to do well in high school and go on to college than bottle-fed babies. Comparing 126 siblings in 59 families allowed researchers to account for such variables as parental intelligence, home environment and socioeconomic status. The researchers concluded an additional month of breast-feeding was linked to an increase in high school grade point averages of .019 points and an increase in college attendance of .014 points. This is information that parents – especially mothers – should stay abreast of. According to a study done in the Netherlands, children who are overweight at age 6 to 7 have an increased risk of having asthma symptoms when they’re 8 years old. Each year until their children were 8 years old, parents of 3,756 children reported their children’s weight, instances of breathing difficulties and use of steroid inhalers. Children who were overweight between the ages of 6 to 7 were 68% more likely to have asthma symptoms at age 8. However, children who developed normal weight by this age didn’t experience increased risk. This study puts more weight on parents’ – shoulders. According to a study done at Florida State University, boys who have the “warrior gene” – variants of a specific MAOA gene – are more likely to join gangs. Previous research linked low-activity MAOA variants with a range of antisocial and violent behavior. In fact, variants of this gene can predict which gang members are more likely to act violently and use weapons. The MAOA gene affects levels of neurotransmitters - such as dopamine and serotonin - that are related to mood and behavior; and unfortunately, those variants related to violence are hereditary. They represent a violent cry for more DNA research. According to a study published in “Child Development”, the more parents know about their teenagers’ friends and activities, the less likely their teens are to have sexual activity. Researchers surveyed 3,206 teenagers yearly for 4 years. All were ages 13 to 18 and from 2-parent families. The researchers asked about sexual and parental relationships. On a 5-point scale, each point higher of personal knowledge for mothers equaled a 3% lower rate of teenage sexual activity. Each point higher of personal knowledge for fathers equaled a 7% lower rate of this activity. However, one extra family activity a week equaled a 9% lower rate. Parenting requires “twogetherness”.
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DO GOOD IDEAS KEEP GETTING BETTER? The DARE project was the 1950’s idea of well-known linguist Frederick Cassidy, who sent field workers across the country to record obscure, regional expressions. In Maine “monkeys’ weddings” are chaotic situations. In New Jersey “cockroach killers” are pointed shoes. In North Carolina “mumble squibbles” are noogies. The first volume of DARE – “Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume 1: Introduction and A-C” - was published in 1975, with additional volumes following. After 50 years of research the final volume “S-Z”, completing 75,000 entries, will be published in 2010. Because Cassidy died in 2000, his gravestone reads, “On to Z!” Car manufacturers are having difficult times because of the recession, but sales remain strong for the nation’s best selling car – Little Tykes Cozy Coupe. The Little Tykes factory in Hudson, Ohio runs 24-hours-a-day, turning out one molded-plastic, yellow and red, sub-subcompact every minute. The biggest design change was made in 2009 when a happy face was added to the car’s front end. While celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Cozy Coupe was inducted into the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland. Considering the Little Tyke costs a very reasonable $49 and doesn’t need gas or batteries, hopefully Detroit will soon pedal cars that are as fuel efficient. Air New Zealand developed a unique way to make certain that all travelers on their Boeing 737 domestic service flights watch the pre-takeoff, safety video. In the video the pilot and crew are wearing only body paint. Nevertheless, carefully chosen camera angles managed to provide the video with a “G” rating. The same attention-getting tactic was used in Air New Zealand’s marketing campaign for its low-priced fares. This video includes staff, as well as the chief executive officer, wearing only body paint. This must be new, light-weight packaging for a body of knowledge. Scientists use weather satellites to track cloud cover and the sea’s surface temperature. Both are indicators of heavy rain, which can be an indicator of disease. In September 2006 Dr. Assaf Anyamba, who tracks climate data at NASA’s Goddard Earth Science Center, predicted heavy rain over east Africa. Heavy rain causes flooding, which causes the hatching of a specific type of mosquito eggs, which contain Rift Valley fever. The first case of this fever occurred in mid-December, giving authorities almost 4 months for mosquito control, public education and vaccination – which prevented an epidemic. Sometimes even scientists have to look high and low for answers.

Knight Pierce Hirst

I may be the only writer who has moved to Los Angeles for the weather.

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