Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year from the PICs

Happy New Year  to  all our  readers  and  friends .

The PICs

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I got the most baffling birthday party invitation . My friend , in an effort to reclaim her youth , has decided to throw herself a 45th birthday --- at a strip club ! I had no idea this was an option , let alone an appealing one for a birthday party , I am conflicted about whether to attend . I didn't expect the invitation to have the entire printed schedule , but just noting that we are celebrating youth at a strip club brought up some questions for me . Will we be dancing to reclaim our youth ? Is the entire club rented out for this party , or will there be gentlemen at this gentlemen's club as well ? Part of me wants to go to see the spectacle , but part of me worries this will be harmful to my reputation . Am I over reacting ? Is it rude of me to ask questions to the host about the activities ? I have never been invited to a party of this sort before , or been aware they exsist .
Not Dancing , Jackson Mississippi
Dear Not Dancing ,
Your friend is getting sassy, eh? Good for her . Having fun and celebrating your birthday is a healthy outlet. And it's perfectly  fine for you  to feel  apprehensive about it if you are un-used to this kind of entertainment. Of course you should  ask her about the details of going to this club . You can probably look it up online, too . Some strip clubs are set up  to have large group parties and are largely harmless  events  with a bit of  sexy dancing by the employees and tossing of dollar bills by the patrons . It's only at seedier  locations  that more lewd behavior occurs .
Ultimately, you  have to decide  your own level of comfort . If you choose not to attend, try not to pass judgement on those who do, when you decline  the invitation. Simply tell your friend  that you feel uneasy  about  a strip club .

Dear Maxy ,
My co-worker received a bouquet of flowers at work from her fiance a month ago . These flowers are long gone rotten , and I don't think she realizes the difference between "rotten" and "dried." The flowers are turning black and the stems are shriveling up and causing an eyesore for the company and our clients . I have considered getting her a new arrangement of flowers myself , but this won't be cherished like the flowers from her fiance . Usually , people are allowed to decorate their desks as they please and no one comments , but you can tell from puzzled glances that these rotting flowers are drawing negative attention . I love to garden , so I was thinking of suggesting I use them as fertilizer or offer to teach her how to dry flowers so future flowers do not rot . Am I sticking my nose where it dosen't belong ? 
Rotten Flowers 
Dear Rotten Flowers ,
Go to your co-worker  privately, and tell her   that her  bouquet  has gone bad  and is now an eyesore . Suggest  that she throw it away, but  hold onto the memory . If  she balks, tell you believe the rotten flowers are bad for business  and you know she wouldn't want that .

Dear Maxy ,
After my dad died , my mom went to live out of state with my brother and his wife . My brother took control of everything . He convinced her that she was incapable of making her own decisions and had her open joint bank accounts that he had full access to .
Recently , Mom confided that she has no idea why she can never get over a certain amount of saving in her account . She knows she should have more money put away , but fully trusts my brother and will not confront him about it . My brother has also pushed me out of Mom's life . He will not let me visit her or allow her to come to my home . I am lucky if I get to speak to her once a day on the phone .
My children miss their grandmother and don't understand why there is such a drastic change in her behavior . Family is just not family anymore and the holidays seem sad . I don't know what to do . My brother and his wife want nothing to do with their niece and nephew . 
Please Help --- Missing Mom 
Dear Please Help ,
While it's possible  that your mother  simply  doesn't remember  what money is being put into her account , it is more likely  that your  brother  is taking advantage of her  account --- especially  if he  will not  permit  you to visit or communicate with her . This is very worrisome . If you  believe your brother  is being abusive toward your mother, either  by stealing  her money  or preventing  others from   from checking on her well being , please contact Adult Protective  Services  in the city  where she lives or get  information  on local state  resources  through the National Center on Elder Abuse  at  (
This is putting a heavy responsibility on you but who else will protect her?

Dear Maxy ,
I read the letter from "lonely Not Lust," the 67-year-old woman who went on a date with a man who seemeed nice , but who grabbed her breast after saying goodnight . It reminded me of the comments that my doctors always made after my exams .
I am in my 60s and single . Both doctors always ask if I'm sexually active . Then they warn me to make sure that my partner has been to his doctor and tested for STDs . This is the age of viagra and a large percentage of their practice is devoted to men with STDs , especially those living in asisted living and senior residences where the women outnumber the men . The men I have been with lately think the women are all waiting for them to ravish us . How stupid can they be ? Please consider educating people on this subject .
Dear N .
According  to the CDC, the incidence of syphilis  among seniors  is up by 52 percent , and the number of chlamydia  cases has risen  32 percent  since 2007, many of these  cases  in retirement  communities  . The increase  is attributed  to living  longer, healthier  lives, along with  the accessibility of erectile  dysfunction  drugs . Many seniors  seem to believe  that if pregnancy  is not an issue, condom  use is unimportant  . But as we get older, our immune systems weaken, making seniors  much more  susceptible  to becoming infected  by STDs.
I commend  your  doctors  for discussing STDs with you . Medicare offers free STDs screening for seniors  and low cost  treatment  for those who need it .

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Events that shaped the world in 2015


10. The Saudis Intervene in Yemen
Saudi Arabia launched air strikes in late March against its neighbor Yemen with the help of nine other, mainly Arab, countries. The move came after Houthi rebels captured Yemen’s capital Sanaa and drove Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis, who belong to a minority Shiite sect, receive support from Iran, Saudi Arabia’s mortal enemy. The Houthis also have the support of forces loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted during the Arab Spring and who once had good relations with Riyadh. The Saudi-led intervention put the United States in a bind. Washington feared that the intervention could become a quagmire and worried that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), an enemy to the Houthis as well as the United States, would benefit from the ensuing chaos. But the desire to prevent a rift with Riyadh prevailed, and Washington provided intelligence information, weapons, and aerial-refueling capabilities while urging the Saudi-led coalition to minimize civilian casualties. The civilian toll in Yemen has nonetheless been substantial, as air strikes and a maritime blockade have intensified Yemen’s many existing problems. As predicted, AQAP has used the fighting to its advantage, as has ISIS. In a potentially positive development, a seven-day ceasefire went into effect this month so that peace talks could begin.

9. China Builds Islands in the South China Sea
China claims much of the South China Sea—the bulk of which lies far from the Chinese mainland—through its so-called nine-dash line. Beijing is trying to give substance to its claims, which the five countries with coastlines on the sea vigorously dispute, by creating artificial islands around reefs and submerged rocks. It is in turn building airstrips and military installations on the newly formed islands. The United States takes no position on the merits of China’s claims in the South China Sea. But the U.S. insists China’s claim that the 12-mile zone around these new islands constitutes its territorial waters has no basis in international law. Washington—and most governments in Southeast Asia—worry that Beijing will eventually use the new islands to choke off freedom of navigation in the area. In October, after repeated official statements about how “the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed through waters China claims as its own in a freedom-of-naval-operations (FONOPS) mission. China protested the maneuver as “a very serious provocation politically and militarily.” The stakes in the dispute are enormous. More than $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea each year, and its waters contain rich fisheries and potentially vast oil and mineral deposits. And then there is the question of whether China will supplant the United States as the dominant power in the region.

8. China Devalues the Renminbi Amid an Economic Slowdown
Beijing sent shock waves through global financial markets in August when it devalued its currency, variously called the yuan or renminbi, against the dollar. Chinese officials said the move was intended to bring the yuan in line with its market value, something Western governments had been urging for years. Many investors took the devaluation as a sign that the Chinese economy was slowing down faster than reported and that Beijing was using its currency to try to reignite growth. The Shanghai stock market plunged in late August, further unsettling global markets and shaking confidence in China’s handling of economic policy. In October, China reported that third-quarter growth hit 6.9 percent, which was higher than expected but well below the 10-percent growth China has averaged over the past three decades. And doubts exist about the accuracy of the numbers that Beijing reported. Despite the bad economic news coming out of China, the International Monetary Fund in December designated the renminbi as a major world currency, which opens the door to its greater use in global financial transactions. But investors and governments remain nervous that China’s economy, which has been a major driver of global growth in recent years, will continue to slow, and as a result, so will economic growth around the world.The stakes in the dispute are enormous: More than $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea each year.

7. The World Strikes a Deal on Climate Change
The world’s climate is changing, in good part because of human activity. But governments around the world have been slow to address the potentially catastrophic threat. The landmark 1992 Kyoto Treaty failed to deliver its promised emissions cuts, and not just because the U.S. Senate declined to provide its consent. The 2009 Copenhagen climate summit opened to much fanfare but was laced with acrimony and produced little. The 195 countries that turned up in Paris in late November for a new climate-change summit avoided that fate. After two weeks of intense talks, they produced the Paris Climate Accord, the first to commit nearly every country to reduce its emissions of heat-trapping gases. The 31-page document hardly solves the climate-change challenge, however, which is why some climate-change activists criticized it for being too little, too late. To get the deal, negotiators left a lot of the details to be worked out later. Even if agreement is reached on those details, the success of the Paris Climate Accord ultimately depends on national governments taking, and enforcing, steps to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Domestic politics could be a major hurdle on that front.

6. Russia Intervenes in Syria
The four-year-long Syrian Civil War, which has killed more than 200,000 people and forced as many as 9 million to flee their homes, took a turn in September when Russia without warning began conducting air strikes from bases in Syria. Moscow insisted it intervened to join the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, but in practice its planes targeted Syrian rebel groups looking to topple Russia’s longtime ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s military operations were not coordinated with those the United States and its allies were conducting against the Islamic State, raising concerns about an unintended confrontation between the two sides. A version of those fears materialized in late November when Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian fighter jet, killing one of the pilots. Turkish officials insisted that the Russian plane had ignored repeated warnings not to enter Turkish airspace. Russian officials disputed those claims and accused Ankara of a “planned provocation.” On the diplomatic side, Russia’s intervention prompted an effort to find a negotiated settlement to the Syrian conflict. Despite significant fanfare and high-level participation on all sides, the talks stumbled over a core disagreement: Moscow wants Assad to stay, Washington and its allies want him to go.If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That old saying could be the motto of the Iran nuclear negotiations.

5. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Finally Gets Done
After seven years of negotiations, the United States and 11 other countries finally reached agreement in October on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest regional trade deal in history. The agreement, which is a critical part of the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia, would set trade rules governing roughly 40 percent of the global economy. The deal was made possible when the U.S. Congress voted in June to give President Barack Obama Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which among other things restricts Congress to a simple up-down vote on trade deals. U.S. negotiating partners had refused to make major concessions in the TPP negotiations until they knew that Congress could not revise the deal that they negotiated with the president. In a sign of how controversial trade deals can be on Capitol Hill, just 41 Democrats voted for TPA. Now that Obama has TPP, he has to persuade Congress to pass the bill to put it into effect. Critics are already marshaling their arguments for why Congress should vote down the implementing legislation. A vote on TPP likely won’t happen until after the 2016 elections, if it happens at all.

4. The EU Rebuffs Greece’s Demand for Austerity Relief
“I fought the law and the law won.” Alexis Tsipras learned the hard way what the Bobby Fuller Four only sang about. Tsipras became the Greek prime minister in January 2015 by pledging to get Greece better repayment terms on its massive debt. Despite appealing to other debt-burdened European countries for solidarity and trying to isolate EU power Germany by dredging up memories of Nazi atrocities, the European Union refused to give Tsipras what he wanted. He then tried to strengthen his hand by calling a July referendum in which 61 percent of Greeks voted against accepting the EU’s offer. The EU nonetheless held firm, insisting that Greece would get help only if it agreed to significant, and painful, economic reforms. Tsipras blinked. A week after the ‘no’ vote, and faced with the imminent collapse of the Greek economy, he accepted the EU’s offer. Despite not delivering the relief that he promised, Tsipras and his Syriza Party won new elections in September. But Greece’s economy remains troubled. It has shrunk by 25 percent over the past five years, official unemployment is nearly 25 percent, and doubts remain over whether Greece can ever repay its debts as long as it remains in the euro zone. So “Grexit,” and its possible shock to the global financial system, could soon be back in the news. In 2015, Europe hardly looked capable of handling its own problems, let alone running the world.

3. Negotiations on Iran’s Nuclear Program Produce a Deal
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That old saying could be the motto of the Iran nuclear negotiations. Conducted off and on since 2002, they finally produced a deal in July. Formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it wasn’t sealed until September, when 42 Democratic senators voted to block a resolution to stop it. Neither the P5+1 nor Iran got all it wanted in the JCPOA. Iran got sanctions relief, but it had to agree to give up 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, slash its number of centrifuges by two-thirds, and shut down a heavy-water reactor. Iran also had to agree to on-site inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. If Iran violates the JCPOA, sanctions can be reimposed. To extract these concessions from Iran, the P5+1 agreed to let the deal’s critical provisions expire after 10 or 15 years. The White House says the deal will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon for more than a decade and increase the “breakout time” should Tehran decide to acquire nuclear weapons. The deal’s critics—and there are many, both at home and abroad—say the deal failed to deliver the only acceptable outcome: dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program.

2. ISIS Terrorists Strike on Three Continents
When Obama told an interviewer on November 12 that “we have contained” the Islamic State, he had in mind its geographical ambitions in the Middle East. A day later, the world discovered that the Islamic State was taking its fight beyond its home territory. Three teams of ISIS terrorists struck at four locations in Paris, killing 130 people. But ISIS’s efforts to take the fight to its enemies had begun even earlier. In July, a suicide bomber loyal to the Islamic State killed 33 people in Suruc, Turkey, not far from the border with Syria. Three months later, two suicide bombers, one the brother of the Suruc bomber, killed 102 people at a peace rally in Ankara. On October 31, a bomb brought down a Russian passenger airliner over the Sinai, killing all 224 people on board. And then on December 2, a husband and wife who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State’s caliph, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, killed 14 people in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. The attacks prompted renewed Western air strikes against the Islamic State, redirected domestic politics in France and the United States, and raised ominous questions about what 2016 might bring.1. A

1. Refugee Crisis Roils Europe
A decade ago, experts were writing books with titles like Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century. In 2015, Europe hardly looked capable of handling its own problems, let alone running the world. Still struggling to emerge from a deep economic recession, it was hit by a wave of nearly a million refugees. Most were seeking to escape the horrors of the Syrian Civil War or instability and violence elsewhere. Others, however, were economic migrants seeking better job opportunities. The influx of refugees provided heart-wrenching images of people desperate to reach Europe, sometimes failing with deadly consequences, but more often succeeding. The influx exposed Europe’s porous borders, highlighted differences within Europe over how to handle immigrants, and gave new life to Europe’s many nationalist and anti-immigrant parties. The refugee crisis also created political problems across the Atlantic. The Obama administration announced in September that it would take in “at least 10,000” Syrian refugees in 2016. But in the aftermath of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, compassion quickly swung to concern, and federal, state, and local politicians moved to block Muslim refugees from entering the United States or relocating to their communities. As long as Syria’s civil war persists and the European economy attracts job-seekers, the refugee and migrant pressure on Europe will continue.

Other stories of note in 2015 included Obama’s decision to reverse course and keep U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan through the end of his presidency, ongoing peace negotiations in Colombia, escalating tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the discovery of debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Reunion Island, a collapsed crane in Mecca and a deadly stampede at the Hajj, China’s decisions to abandon a one-child policy in favor of a two-child policy, and the arrests (yes, there were more than one) of senior officials at FIFA, the organization that oversees soccer (or “football”) around the world.
OMG! what a year this has been! Any predictions for 2016? Maybe it will be the year that fixes everything, brings about brotherhood and sisterhood around the world, establishes world peace and a stable global economy and abolishes world hunger. Okay, it's too much to ask for; just pick one.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas  from the PICs

'The Genie'  &  Witchy 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I am a 51-year-old attractive professional , divorced twice and currently engaged to a 58-year-old man who is also twice divorced . We met online and hit it off pretty quickly . He has a magnetic personality , and sex is great between us . He moved in and I am supporting him financially until he gets his business in order . He has has four DUIs and recently spent some time in jail . I have stood by him through this .
He has always been upfront that he likes to view porn a lot and wants to experiment sexually . This doesn't bother me . But he posted an ad online asking another woman to join us for sex . While we may fantasize about this in the bedroom , he wants to make it real and this makes me uncomfortable . But he gets angry if I say so . (He also doesn't like when I mention money issues between us .)
I have been through a lot over the years , including getting out of an abusive marriage . I also have a young daughter at home . Am I being unreasonable about a threesome or should I rethink this situation ?
Dear Confused ,
This guy is unreliable financially and emotionally . He wants you to support  him while he indulges himself. His sexual interests  do not coincide  with yours . He is manipulating  and pushing  you do do something  you don't  want to do . Worse, when you  express  yourself, he becomes angry .
Based on your history, you might  not recognize  an unhealthy relationship, so please allow me to point  it out: This guy is not partner material . He is not going to be a positive influence on you or your daughter and there is great potential for abuse . The sex may be great, at the moment, but it's not enough  to make up for his shortcomings .  He will continue  to pressure you until it escalates into emotional abuse. And he will continue to be a drain on you financially. He has no intention of working while you support his lifestyle. It's quite possible he has done this sort of thing before, with other women. 
I urge you to get away from this  guy, if not for yourself, do it for your daughter. This guy is completely lacking in principles and you don't want him being a big influence in her life. Neither would you want her to see you being verbally abused. I am sure you both suffered enough in your previous marriage.

Dear Maxy ,
I used to think there was a social etiquette regarding headphones. Specifically that if someone had his headphones on , he did not want to spoken to unless it was absolutely necessary . I guess I must have made that up , because my girlfriend will speak to me regardless of what I am doing at home and expect me to listen . It's been driving me nuts ; I like to have my personal time , but if she wants to tell a story or speak to me for whatever reason , she will say it from across the apartment and get peeved that I didn't listen . I didn't even hear her speaking ! I told her I'd like to have some quiet time when I have my headphones in , but she insists her stories and questions are quick and important . I have wanted to bring up the fack that it is unspoken social etiquette not to bother someone when he has headphones on .
Am I in the wrong , or is my girlfriend in the wrong ?
Quiet Time 
Dear Quiet Time ,
In order to have peaceful quiet time, you and your girlfriend  need to talk about boundaries, expectations and ways of living  together that are agreeable for both of you.
A relationship requires compromise from both partners if it has a hope of succeeding. As much as people may love each other, learning to live together requires a lot of work and give and take. 
Schedule a time when the two of you can sit down together and discuss your needs, desires, your likes and dislikes, habits and preferences. And be prepared to listen to hers and make compromises.  She should do the same. Find that middle zone where you are both comfortable . You are right in as much as everyone needs some space and private time, but not to such an extent that you are excluding or offending your partner.

Dear Maxy ,
My wife's niece has a 3-year-old child whom we love dearly . We help take care of this child and pay for a great deal of the baby's care . 
The problem is , my wife frequently offers advice to her niece . The niece cusses her out and my wife ends up in tears . But my wife insists she has to to keep doing this in order to help the baby. 
I disagree with her logic . I told her simply repeating the same pattern over and over , setting herself up for misery . This niece is not a nice person . She treats her own mother (my wife's sister) poorly .
Her crying is disturbing to me . My wife is a social worker and says that she helps strangers , so why can't she help her own family ?
Stop Already
Dear Stop ,
 She can't help her own family because she is too involved and cannot be objective enough . She also believes her background in social work will somehow  give  her more authority or influence over her niece , when it obviously does not .
She is meeting with such resistance from her niece it is plain to see that avenue is a dead end. And if she persists, you may lose access to the child you both love and the child will lose the love and care of extended family, that she plainly needs.
Your wife seems like a very concerned and caring person but my best advice is that she give the constant advice a rest, and simply transfer  her professional skills toward the care of the little girl, who will benefit  from being loved by someone who has a great deal to give .

Dear Maxy ,
I keep reading letters from women who are concerned that their husbands of many years look at porn , go to strip clibs or have affairs . That sounds awful . But guess what can happen after 25 years of marriage ? Husbands look forward to the last 25 years of their lives with their loving wives , and all of a sudden , the wives act as though they don't like their husbands anymore . All affection stops and some wives even announce that there will be no more sex ever .
We men wonder what is going on and then realize that this is menopause . So now , the last 25 years are not going to be nearly as good as anticipated .
More than half of my male friends got divorced when their wives were in their late 50s and sometime the wife initiated the divorce . I have not had sex with my wife in years . Please don't advice counseling or hormones . The women don't believe anything is wrong , and they are justifiably reluctant to take drugs that have serious side affects .
So , ladies , decide which is better : Men viewing porn and masturbating (which the medical community agrees is healthy for men who aren't having sex with their partners) or getting a divorce because the husbands are starved for affection or sex . There are two sides to every story .

Dear S.
You have made a valid point  that a lot of  women will not  like . But several things can cause the loss of libido in women: childbirth, menopause and recently researchers have discovered that drops in a woman's testosterone level cause a drop in libido. Contrary to common belief, testosterone is not just a male hormone. It is testosterone that influences sex drive in women as well as men.
Testosterone levels fall as people age.  By the time a woman is 45 she has lost around fifty percent of the hormone.  Nature designed her that way because she is past child bearing years and no longer needs to feel that drive. Some women experience a more dramatic loss than others. It is not something she chooses to do, it just happens. Interest  in sex just doesn't exist any more. And with the loss of testosterone and estrogen, in many cases, intercourse can become uncomfortable.
But everyone needs intimacy, affection, the comfort of touching and most women continue to enjoy that side of marital sex if is has been nurtured and demonstrated over the years. And she should be as sensitive to her husband's needs as he should be to hers. I understand why a guy can be bewildered by this turn of events, but you also have to ask yourself  if you played a part in this situation too. How did you handle it ? Did you become resentful ?
Have you really sought a healing solution or too readily turned to other means of gratification? Both  husbands and wives  need to be  educated  about these  changes and understand  how to best  handle them. As you say, there are two sides to every story.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Junior scientists...This is what Hubble saw right here in the milky way

An image recently captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the power of a young star, obscured in a shroud of smoky dust, twin jets of cosmic material blasting out of either side. And it looks remarkably like a lightsaber. According to NASA, "This celestial lightsaber lies not in a galaxy far, far away, but within our home galaxy, the Milky Way. More precisely, it resides within a turbulent patch of space known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, which is located just over 1350 light-years away." 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hubble Spots a Mysterious Beam

Embedded image permalink

. found what looks like a cosmic lightsaber in our Milky Way galaxy

Friday, December 18, 2015

Astronomers Have Discovered The Closest Potentially Habitable Planet

Australian scientists have spotted the closest potentially habitable planet yet.
‘Wolf 1061c’ is around 14 light years away, or around 126 trillion km, and is located in the constellation Ophiucus.
The newly discovered planet’s star is the 35th closest to Earth - that has so far been discovered.
Wolf 1061c is orbiting a red dwarf ‘M-type’ star - Wolf 1061 - alongside two other planets, according to Researchers at the University of New South Wales.
All three planets are thought to feature rocky terrain, similar to Mars.
“It is a particularly exciting find because all three planets are of low enough mass to be potentially rocky and have a solid surface, and the middle planet, Wolf 1061c, sits within the ‘Goldilocks’ zone where it might be possible for liquid water - and maybe even life - to exist,” says lead study author UNSW’s Dr Duncan Wright.
Most of the rocky exoplanets discovered so far are hundreds or thousands of light years away.
“While a few other planets have been found that orbit stars closer to us than Wolf 1061, those planets are not considered to be remotely habitable,” Dr Wright says.
The new planet is 4.3 times bigger than Earth and orbits its star every 18 days, though the Wolf 1061 star is much cooler than our Sun.
In future, it is hoped that the planets can be studied to see if they would be able to sustain humans.
“The close proximity of the planets around Wolf 1061 means there is a good chance these planets may pass across the face of the star. If they do, then it may be possible to study the atmospheres of these planets in future to see whether they would be conducive to life,” says team member UNSW’s Dr Rob Wittenmyer.


One of my junior scientists, also a devoted  environmentalist, Jenny 11 years old, had a few terse comments to make about the search for an earth-like exoplanet. I quote:

"Potentially habitable planet" - did others than I think this would be about the Earth yet some time after the Paris-summit? Lets inhabit it and screw it up like Earth with religion politics and wars.
With all the money and research spent on looking for another planet, why not just restore this one back to nature, as so we can continue.What is the purpose of finding a supposedly habitable planet that is 14 light years away; when we have two perfectly habitable planets right here in our own solar system; the first being Earth and the second Mars.
If this planet has life on it, do you really think they would want humans to inhabit it? It would be ruined within a couple of months, and end up being ruined like the earth already has. My god who would want humans to occupy anything?
As a species and Human race, look what have we done to the planet in the last 200 years and made it so toxic that existence is threatened, not just the human, but all life forms, and now we are looking for greener pastures to do the same all over again?
Bravo Jenny! Bien joue'! Those are my sentiments too.

In time the earth will be completely destroyed. Partly from what we did to ourselves, but mostly because when our sun starts dying in about ten billion years, it will burn brighter and hotter and cook the earth along with every species on it. We'll need places to go, long before that happens. So, for that reason and simply because we are just curious to know if we are alone out here, we search the cosmos. Humans have always been explorers. It's in our bones.

Jenny's brother and cousin, Jonny and Chris added:
Pretty bold assertions - when will all this technology & expertise translate into being able to get the local weather forcast right more than half the time?
14 light years? That would be 6 trillion X 14 or 84 trillion miles away (8230000000000 miles) Only a multi-generational trip would make it with our current technology.

Quite right boys, sometimes you could get better weather information by looking out your window. And deep space travel is a long way off. Maybe a couple of hundred years. We would, at least, have to travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second). The nearest star to us is Proxima Centauri. It is 4.243 light years from earth.  The fastest outward-bound spacecraft yet sent, Voyager 1, has covered 1/600th of a light-year in 30 years and is currently moving at 1/18,000th the speed of light. At this rate, a journey to Proxima Centauri would take 80,000 years. Don't hold your breath.

These kids are very bright and very conscious of what is happening in the world around them and beyond.  They make me feel a bit simple. At their ages, I think I was still learning how to tell time.
Thank you Jenny, Jonny and Chris

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Friend of gunman is charged - San Bernardino shooting

Enrique Marquez

A friend of one of the San Bernardino attackers has been charged in connection with the mass shooting that killed 14.
Enrique Marquez, 24, is the first person arrested in the deadliest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11. Mr Marquez is charged with plotting with gunman Syed Farook to attack a university in 2011 and 2012. He is also accused of illegally purchasing the two rifles that were used by Farook and Tashfeen Malik.
"While there is currently no evidence that Mr Marquez participated in the December 2nd attack or had advance knowledge of it, his prior purchase of firearms and ongoing failure to warn authorities about Farook's intent to commit mass murder had fatal consequences," US Attorney Eileen Decker said.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr Marquez called emergency services hours after the San Bernardino shooting and told the dispatcher that the attackers "used my gun".

Mr Marquez plotted attacks on Tomlinson Avenue in Riverside

The charges against Enrique Marquez provide a chilling glimpse into an alleged terrorist cell on American soil.
According to the FBI, the details were obtained during 11 days of interviews with Mr Marquez in which he is said to have admitted his role in plotting murder.
Tomlinson Avenue in Riverside — where Mr Marquez and Syed Rizwan Farook once lived next door to one another — was the suburban street at the heart of the alleged plot.
It was here that Mr Marquez was introduced to Islam by Farook and it was here that the pair allegedly watched radical Islamist videos including lectures by a former Al Qaeda leader, Anwar Al-Awlaki.
Mr Marquez is also said to have viewed online videos produced by a "US-based tactical equipment manufacturer," to have trained at California gun ranges and to have studied an Al Qaeda magazine, written in English, on how to make bombs.
The extent of online plotting, undetected by the authorities, is sure to intensify the debate about the balance between liberty and security in the US.
Mr Marquez told authorities in detail about the earlier terrorist plots that were never carried out.
Mr Marquez and Farook planned to bomb a local university, where they had both been students, and shoot students as they ran away, according to court records.
They also had plans to attack a motorway during afternoon rush hour by dropping pipe bombs onto cars and shooting into cars and at law enforcement, the records said.
Although they did not explode, several pipe bombs were used in the San Bernardino attack.

Guns confiscated after the attack
Farook purchased his own handguns 

Police killed Farook and his wife in a shootout a few hours after they open fired inside a holiday party attended by Farook's co-workers. Mr Marquez told investigators he bought the weapons for Farook because he looked Caucasian while Farook looked Middle-Eastern.
In 2012, he and Farook visited firing ranges and continued to plot their attacks, authorities said, but then Marquez distanced himself from Farook, following the arrest of other suspected terrorists in the area.

Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik          

Authorities also charged Mr Marquez with entering a sham marriage with Farook's relative so she could gain legal status in the US. He was paid each month for his participation in the sham, according to court records.
Federal agents raided his mother's home in Riverside, California, where he had been living, three days after the attack. Mr Marquez worked as a security guard at Wal-Mart and dreamed of joining the US Navy, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He checked himself into a mental health facility shortly after the attack, posting a garbled message to Facebook: "I'm Very sorry guys. It was a pleasure."

Vladimir Putin praises 'outstanding and talented' Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as "a very outstanding person, talented, without any doubt".
The Republican has repeatedly praised Mr Putin's macho style and policies towards Syria, on the campaign trail.
The Russian president brushed off concerns about Mr Trump's controversial proposal to ban Muslims from the US. He said Russia was ready to work with whoever was elected the next president.
"It is not our business to determine his merits, that is up to US voters," Mr Putin told reporters after his annual televised news conference. "But he is the absolute leader in the presidential race."
"He is a very outstanding person, talented, without any doubt."

New York billionaire Mr Trump has spoken warmly about Mr Putin's tough approach to foreign policy in the past.
"I think that I would probably get along with him very well."

On Wednesday, he contrasted himself with President Obama when he said: "I will get along - I think - with Putin, and I will get along with others, and we will have a much more stable - stable world."
Relations between Mr Obama and Mr Putin have chilled in recent years following disputes over Ukraine and Syria.  Mr Trump has also backed Russian intervention in Syria, because Mr Putin said his target was Islamic State.
Donald Trump likes to issue boastful press releases whenever he receives a new endorsement, but it will be interesting to see how he handles kind words from Vladimir Putin. The Russian president has been a regular target of rhetorical heat from Republican candidates. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in the presidential debate earlier this week that he would impose a no-fly zone over Syria and shoot down any Russian planes that violated it. Former corporate chief Carly Fiorina has maintained that she would refuse to talk with the Russian leader, relying on US military force to speak for itself.
It is definitely too early to mark Mr Putin's comments as a negative for the New York businessman, however. The Russian leader has long been admired by conservatives who say his resolute demeanour and toughness are qualities lacking in the current White House occupant. Talk to Trump supporters, and they'll tell you those are exactly the kind of attributes they admire in their man.
If Mr Putin views Mr Trump as a political soul-mate, that's likely just fine with them.
The Russian president appeared to welcome Mr Trump's overtures.
"He wants to move to another level of relations, a closer, deeper level of relations with Russia," he said. "How can we not welcome this? Of course we welcome this."  And he was unfazed by Mr Trump's recently proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, which sparked condemnation from several world leaders. Mr Putin said, "his phrases that he uses to increase his popularity" was not of Russia's concern.
"It is not our business to rate this part of his work," he added.
Mr Trump, who leads the polls six weeks before Republican primary contests begin, has yet to respond to Mr Putin's praise.

Barack Obama Singing Hotline Bling by Drake

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I was expecting a package for a while and eventually got it delivered , by my sheepish neighbor , who had open it ! What ? I was not here when he dropped it off on my porch , but he left a note saying , "Sorry , I thought it was for me . ---Dave." I was so confused and I couldn't believed he had open my mail . Did he want to know what I was ordering ? Was he so excited to get a package that he didn't look at 'MY' name plastered on it ? I am not one for confrontation , but I am definitely fuming . I want to march right over there , but I do not want to accuse him of anything . Maybe he did make a mistake , but my mail has the right to remain private ! I'm worried about this happening again . Should I just leave a note with a response on the back of his door ? I want to tell him to check his mail , and I will check mine , too .
Mail Bandit
Dear Mail Bandit ,
Take a few deep breaths and calm down before you do anything . Understand that your neighbor could have opened your box, been embarrassed, and kept it  without ever telling  you of his error . Illegal, but it happens all the time .  At least he returned your package and apologized.
Take your neighbor at his word unless it happens again. 
You have to live next to this guy. Bad relations with a neighbor are very hard to live with and always tend to escalate, making you uncomfortable in your own backyard. The next time you see him , thank him for returning the box and for the note. If this is a one time offence, you'll be glad you didn't lose your cool. If it does occur again, then you will have speak to him and tell him to please read the label before he tears a package open next time. In fact, offer up that you both should be more mindful  before opening the mail .

Dear Maxy ,
One of my good friends , Kate , and I finished working on an island for the summer season . As the season ended , we had a talk about how although we love each other , we could never be in a relationship without everything going up in flames . We are great friends to each other and we keep in touch the whole year . This year ended any hopes that each of us had of being together . It feels like we always used to be each other's backups for life partners , but now that safety net has been cut . It's been a few months since this conversation , and I'm wondering if we had made a mistake . On one hand , we get along well and feel a deep connection to each other ; however , we are very similar and fight often . I don't want to string her along , but I always want to be close with Kate .
Is there any way to do that without falling back into the talks of being in a relationship ?
Summer Love
Dear Summer Season Love ,
Ask yourself if you sincerely  want to be in a relationship with Kate . In order  to consider  requesting  more from her , you have to be sincere about giving  this relationship a shot . If you are , contact her  and tell her  that you think  you two made a mistake  by putting boundaries around your bond . Tell her that you wants to see what comes of you two as a couple . Ask her  if she feels the same . The fact that you talked  about this summer  suggests that one of you was already  thinking about it .

 Dear Maxy ,
My 35-year-old son "Edgar," has been diagnosed with major depression and is receiving disability . He currently lives in an apartment on my parents property . 
Since Edgar is currently vehicle-less , I've been helping him with grocery shopping , etc . Last week , after a bout of extreme allergy symptoms , his depression escalated and he texted me , saying , "I don't care about anything anymore . My life is worthless ." He claimed he had no food left , but refused to let me bring over groceries . He said he didn't care if he wasted away , although he promised not to kill himself . 
Over the weekend I texted him , but there was no response . By Monday , I was frantic . I reached out to his physician , leaving a message with the assistant , emphatically stating that my son promised he would not harm himself . He just didn't want to eat . I told the assistant that it was crucial that I speak to the doctor before an intervention . Well , this inept nitwit conveyed the wrong information to the doctor , resulting in a call to the police inquiring about a welfare check . And instead of talking to me , the doctor phoned my parents. 
Then Edgar called , ranting that I have totally messed up his life because I told the doctor he was suicidal . I phone the doctor , who apologized profusely for the confusion her assistant had caused and assured me that she would call my son and straighten things out . I waited another day and then sent Edgar a text , wanting to open communication . He replied , "Forget it , the damage is already done. I can't go back to that doctor." He said he was going to move far away where no one could find him . What do I do ?
Dear Drama ,
You need to give Edgar some breathing room . Although he may actually be grateful that you care , this much attention to his health might be overwhelming him . Send a calm text , saying you love him , you're sorry you upset him  and that you hope he will get back in touch soon . I know you are worried , but there is only so much you can do  without his cooperation . 
You can contact the  National Alliance on Mental Illness  at 1-800-950-NAMI  ( ).
You mentioned  Edgar has  some rather serious allergies. If he has been treated for depression with drugs and the medication has not worked well, there is a strong possibility his depression is being caused by allergic reactions. 
Food allergies such as sensitivity to wheat and dairy can cause depression. Exposure to molds can cause depression. A nutritionally poor diet with high sugar content can affect the chemistry of the brain and cause depression. In fact new studies have shown that the body's response to all kinds of inflammation can and often does cause depression. All these things change the chemistry of the body and in turn, the chemicals passing through the brain.
 Do a little reading at the websites below. It gives you another avenue to try. I have a strong hunch Edgar's depression , at least in part, has a biological cause.

Dear Maxy ,
At a dinner celebrating my mother's birthday , one of her friends announced her opinion on the current refugee situation . Our opinions ate polar opposites and my mom's friend , Carol , believes no one should be let into the country . I was the youngest at the table and I did not expect to be brought into a conversation with people 2 to 3 times my age . However , Carol turned to me and asked me if I agree with her . I hate debating and political conversations around the dinner table . I did not want to engage her and was a bit surprised I was being brought into the conversation . I blunted out I that I didn't have an opinion . Carol seemed a bit confused , but i'm not sure what else I could've done to avoid a debate . I am not sure if there's a way to tell someone that I do not agree with them and end the conversation without explanations and rebuttals . Did I take the best route out of confrontation with Carol ? I think we all knew that I had an opinion I did not want to share .
Not a Fighter 
Dear Not a Fighter ,
While I tend to prefer testy conversations to occur after dinner . I do not think you should shy away  from expressing  your opinion about hot-button issues . You can do so in a calm manner . But you will have to explain  why you feel a particular way . You can say , "Carol , I respectfully disagree  with you because ..." It's best if you have concrete information to back up your thoughts .You don't have  to debate  your point , but stating  it simply is the best thing to do, even if it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable . You have to consider the thoughts and feelings of others around you in a social situation and respond. 


Dear Maxy ,
I was volunteering at a church sale my church hosts twice a year . It was a slow day and the head of the sale announced to all the volunteers , "Go out and buy something !" I construed this was an invitation to peruse instead of work , so I admired all of the products for the sale and returned to my station . Then the leader looked at me like I was a moron and said , "I told you to buy something . The day is slow !" Eventually , all the volunteers ended up making a purchase and then we was dismissed because it was evident no one else was coming . I feel used . I volunteered my hours and then was coerced into buying something . I did not like this and don't plan on returning to the sale . The purchases were for a good cause , but we were donating our time to the sale . We weren't planning on being forced to spend money . Should I ask the other volunteers if they feel the same way ? I think the head of the sale should be asked to step down .
How Rude 
Dear  How Rude ,
Speak to the head of the church  instead . 
Explain what happened  and  how you feel about it .


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Republican candidates let sparks fly over how to counter IS

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush (R) speaks as Donald Trump (L) and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) listen during the CNN Republican presidential debate on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Republican presidential candidates are sparring over national security issues and how best to counter the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the first debate since attacks in California and Paris.
A major fault line has formed between those favouring more surveillance and those concerned about civil liberties. Front runner Donald Trump has been on the defensive, with Jeb Bush calling him a "chaos candidate".
Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have also clashed on federal surveillance. Mr Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the US put Mr Trump on the defensive in the early minutes of the debate.
"We are not talking about isolation, we're talking about security," Mr Trump said. "We are not talking about religion, we are talking about security."
The conversation quickly broadened to broader issues of foreign policy and national security.
Going into the debate expectations were high for a showdown between Mr Trump and Mr Cruz, whose campaign has been gaining momentum in recent weeks. However, Mr Cruz and Mr Rubio's debate over surveillance and civil liberties has been the most heated thus far.

Republican rivals for shot at presidency

The so-called undercard debate is taking place before the main event

The so-called undercard debate is taking place before the main event

Mr Trump loomed large over the so-called undercard debate, with the four candidates split over the efficacy of his proposed ban.
Senator Lindsey Graham apologized to US-allied Muslim leaders saying: "I am sorry. He does not represent us".
However, it was the threat of the so-called Islamic State (IS) that dominated the first debate. The candidates argued at-length over whether US troops should be sent to Syria and Iraq to engage in direct combat with IS militants. Mr Graham led the rhetorical charge into battle, while former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said US troops were exhausted after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 WINNERS AND LOSERS - According to David A. Grogan CNBC:
With much of the crowded Republican presidential field in danger of becoming irrelevant, Wednesday's debate offered an important opportunity to shine. Some, however, just seemed to fade farther away.
Viewers of the debate, hosted by CNBC, got treated to a spirited exchange that at times saw the candidates tearing at each other and at others united against two common opponents: Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and a media they insisted is biased against the GOP.
In all, the night featured a decided set of winners and losers, built on moments golden and not-so-golden. A rundown:

ROCK 'N' ROLL RUBIO: The senator from Florida faced some fundamental character questions, namely about the votes he's missing while campaigning, and some personal finance missteps. Each time, Rubio deflected the challenges and focused on issues. "I'm not worried about my finances," he said in one exchange. "This debate needs to be about the men and women across this country who are struggling on a daily basis to provide for their families a better future that we always said this country is about."
Donald Trump and Ben Carson at the CNBC GOP Debate in Boulder, Colorado.

Donald Trump and Ben Carson at the CNBC GOP Debate in Boulder, Colorado.
"I still feel strongly the star of the night was Rubio. I think he did really well," said Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments. "He was quick to come back on this charge by Jeb (Bush) he should resign. Whenever he talks about his family narrative he seems to have a more upbeat message, more Reaganesque, not negative."
  [Score Rubio a winner.]

PAGING DR. CARSON: A recent CBS/New York Times poll has Carson leading the field, sending Donald Trump into second place for the first time in months. At the outset of the debate, Carson promised to follow Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill about other Republicans. Carson, though, took the admonition to an extreme, refusing to take the bait on multiple occasions to at least set himself apart from the field. Moreover, at one point, he took a softball question about whether government should clamp down on pharmaceutical companies that gouge on prescriptions and turned it into an academic discussion on overregulation. Trump has recently taken to calling Carson "low energy," the same as Bush. It was hard to dispute that on the debate stage.
[Score Carson a loser.]

CANTANKEROUS CRUZ: Sen. Ted Cruz has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind, but he seemed especially on point Wednesday. He was able to drive home how his own background helps him understand the plight of middle America. He also scored comity points by joining Rand Paul in wanting to audit the Federal Reserve, while striking a chord with the hard right on his desire to eliminate the IRS.
  [Score Cruz a winner.]

COMBATIVE CHRISTIE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was forceful and erudite in hitting a core GOP value — crime — as well as a non-core value of developing alternative energy, particularly solar. And he was one of a multitude of voices that lashed out at debate moderators for being either overly aggressive in their questioning or not focusing as clearly on the issues.
In response to a discussion about fantasy football regulation, Christie ranted, "We have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and Al-Qaeda attacking us, and we're talking about fantasy football? How about we get the government to do what we're supposed to be doing?"
Cruz earlier used a question on the debt ceiling to rip the debate panel, saying, "the questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media. This is not a cage match." Rubio pounced as well, accusing the media in general of being a "super PAC" for Clinton.
[Score Christie a winner] - and likely the only back-of-the-pack candidate with a chance, albeit low, to move up in the field.

TRUTH-CHALLENGED TRUMP: The Donald was there with all of his home-run lines about making the U.S. more competitive against China, Japan and Mexico. But all the notes he hit were familiar ones. Then, when challenged with statements he made in the past about making life tougher for immigrant workers, he denied criticizing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, despite this published report and statements on his own web site to the contrary.
  [Score Trump neutral.]

BELOW-THE-RADAR BUSH: The former Florida governor needed to deliver a knockout punch to re-establish himself at the front of the field. He did little to make that happen. He did, however, engage in one of the more memorable moments of the night. He and Rubio have been friends for years, with the latter calling Bush a mentor. That may have ended for good Wednesday. "Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term and you should be showing up to work. What is it, like a French work week?" Replied Rubio: "Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you." Ouch.
[Score Bush a loser] - and the Bush-Rubio friendship a loser as well.

THE FORLORN FIELD: The rest of the group — Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich— each had moments and didn't do anything necessarily to hurt their chances, but also did nothing likely to get them into the front of the pack. [Losers, all.]

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bill Cosby sues women who accused him of sexual assault

Mr Cosby, 78, is seeking unspecified monetary damages and said the women inflicted emotional distress. He called their accusations "nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to extract financial gain from him".
He filed the countersuit after seven of his accusers went to court seeking damages from the actor. Their lawsuit alleged Mr Cosby and his representatives sought to tarnish their reputations after they went public with their claims of sexual misconduct.
Mr Cosby has repeatedly denied the accusations and has never been criminally charged.
Cosby testified in 2005 that he had obtained the sedative drug Quaaludes, popular in the 1970s, with the intention of giving them to young women in order to have sex with him, according to court documents unsealed in July as part of a separate legal proceeding against him.
Since his accusers say Mr Cosby - over a period of decades - plied them with drugs and alcohol and then sexually assaulted them, it stands to reason that they are telling the truth. Why would 50 women who do not know each other come up with such an absurd conspiracy ?
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several women who have sued the comedian said,
 "Such a tactic will not deter courageous women from fighting the battle against him."
This is an important case, a landmark case, in regards to women's rights. There has to be some kind of justice meted out. Mr Cosby is a monster and I know what punishment he deserves. But Lorena Bobbitt is no longer in that line of work.

Witchy Has Her Say
Just putting my 2 cents in , listen up everybody , BAW here,
This man hasn't an ounce of dignity. He probably came forward now thinking there is so much in the news people wouldn't pay as much attention as they did before. Can you imagine trying to turn it all around on these woman, after what he's put them through and the public. He ruined his own reputation decades ago .
He USED to be entertaining... Now he's just another sexual predator
Countersuing for Defamation of Character?
What CHARACTER????????!!!!!!!!
Can't defame someone that lacks character!
There are witnesses. Almost 60. What sort of proof would you like? Cosby himself has admitted that he gave girls drugs for the purposes of sex. These people have been saying this same story for many many years. Only now has it finally taken hold.
Why has it taken so long for some to come forward? Because people like the Cosby lovers never believe them, even when there are over fifty of them.
If you've read anything about their accounts, and you STILL don't believe them... well, there is nothing that will convince you. But don't say there isn't overwhelming evidence because there is.

Cosby's stupid wife should have grown some balls 50 years ago, fed him some drugs and drinks, tied him up in a bed sheet then beat the holy hell out of him for cheating on her and taught the turd a thing or two long before his wanderings turned him into a sociopathic predator.
Nuff sez , but hey that's just me and the way I roll.

Gotta love Witchy, she tells it like it is. Well said my friend.
Thank you

Human Brains Are Not Distinctly male or Female

Scans show there's no such thing as a 'male' or 'female' brain, according to an Israeli research team.

Human brains do not fit neatly into 'male' and 'female' categories but share a mix of male and female features, a study led by an Israeli researcher from Tel Aviv University said.

"It's very, very rare to find someone who has only masculine or only feminine characteristics and it's much more common to find people who have both masculine and feminine characteristics," said Professor Daphna Joel from the Tel Aviv University School of Psychological Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience.

Professor Joel, who led the group of researchers, set out to study whether the differences between male and female brains added up to create two distinct brains, either male or female.

She concluded that while genitals in almost all humans come in two types, human brains do not and are not distinctly male or female.

Furthermore, the binary assumption that if you are a female or a male it implies certain behaviors, character traits and attitudes have no scientific basis, Professor Joel said.

The research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) was based on an analysis of magnetic resonance images (MRI) of more than 1,400 human brains.  They showed that brains vary in their composition, regardless of their gender.

In the study, researchers defined a "male" zone and a "female" zone for each region of the brain based on data sets. They found that many more individuals had brains with both "male" and "female" features than people with only "female" or only "male" brain features.
On a group level, differences between male and females may be observed, but on the individual level it is very rare to find someone who has only masculine or only feminine characteristics.

The study, Professor Joel said, supports the idea that gender is non-binary and suggests that society "should stop treating people according to the form of their genitals and start treating people according to their specific characteristics and interests."
That concept in particular is receiving the attention of Hollywood in the new movie "The Danish Girl" which stars Oscar-winning British actor Eddie Redmayne and tells the story of 1920s transsexual pioneer Lili Elbe.

"What I learned from this experience is that gender is fluid in the way that sexuality is fluid and we have bits of everything in us," Redmayne said in a promotional interview about the movie.Professor Joel said she envisions a future where people are not so routinely classified on gender alone.
"Our assumption as a society that our sex category whether we have male or female genitals has implications to what we would love, what we would like to do and what type of person we will be that also people come in two types, male nature and female nature, this has no scientific basis and people are very different from each other so I try to move from the language of the two sexes are similar or different, to language which means we are all different," she said.

On some level, I think most of us have always been subliminally aware of these facts. Aware of our masculine/feminine side. And aware that every human being is completely discrete and individual. Layers upon layers of experiences, circumstances, environments and genetics shape us into who we are. Vive la difference !

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Climate Conference comes to agreement

UN climate conference 30 Nov - 11 Dec 2015

COP 21 - the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties - has seen more than 190 nations gather in Paris to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the threat of critical warming of the planet, due to human activity. They have authored an agreement which falls short of scientists hopes, but some positive progress has been made after 21 attempts.

 Negotiators aimed to clinch a strong and ambitious global climate deal, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said

Organizers of the climate talks in Paris say a final text has been agreed upon after nearly two weeks of intensive negotiations.
An official in the office of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the AFP news agency the draft would be presented to ministers at 10:30 GMT.
No details of the agreement have been released so far. The deal in the French capital was reached nearly 16 hours after the talks had been scheduled to close.
"We have a text to present," the official said, adding that the draft would be now translated into the UN's six official languages.
Mr Fabius, who has presided over the talks, had said earlier that the "conditions were never better" for a strong and ambitious agreement.
He added that he was confident of presenting the final draft early on Saturday morning.
Significant progress had been reported on a range of issues in the latest version of the document, with evidence of real compromise between the parties.
The countries supported a temperature goal of 2C but agreed to make their best efforts to keep the warming rise to 1.5C. However, the language on cutting emissions in the long term was criticized for significantly watering down ambitions.

1. What is the problem?
The world is getting warmer:The average temperature of the Earth's surface has increased by about 0.85° (1.4F) in the last 100 years. Thirteen of the warmest fourteen years were recorded in the 21st century. 2015 is set to be the warmest year on record.             
2. Why is this happening
Greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide....Scientists believe that gases released from industry and agriculture (known as emissions) are adding to the natural greenhouse effect, the way the Earth's atmosphere traps some of the energy from the Sun.

3. What are the effects?
Human activities such as burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Carbon-absorbing forests are also being drastically decimated. Hence, the CO2 remains static in the atmosphere and builds up. Forests not only absorbs CO2, they release oxygen back into the  atmosphere. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years and reached a record high in May this year.    

Arctic sea ice melt
Higher temperatures, extreme weather events and higher sea levels are all linked to a warming climate and could have a drastic effect on all the world's regions. Since 1900, sea levels have risen by on average about 19cm globally. The rate of sea-level rise has accelerated in recent decades, placing a number of islands and low-lying countries at risk.
The retreat of polar ice sheets is an important contributor to this rise. Arctic sea ice is also shrinking because of higher temperatures, though it makes little contribution to raised sea levels. An area of sea ice roughly 10 times the size of the UK has been lost when the current day is compared with average levels from the early 1980s.

Arctic sea ice min. extent: 1980, 7.8 million sq km.
2015, 4.6 million sq km

4. What does the future hold?
Higher temperatures and more extreme weather.
The scale of potential impacts is uncertain.The changes could drive shortages in freshwater, bring about major changes in food production conditions and cause a rise in the number of casualties from floods, storms, heat waves and droughts. This is because climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events .

Projected temperature change (1986–2005 to 2081-2100)

If greenhouse gas emissions peak between 2010-2020 and then decline substantially

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise throughout the 21st century

Source: International Panel on Climate Change - Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)

5. What can be done?
That depends on the world's top ten greenhouse gas emitters. The top 10  emitters make up over 70% of total emissions:
China 24%
USA 12%
EU 9%
India 6%
Brazil 6%
Russia 5
Japan 3%
Canada 2%
DR Congo 1.5%

Indonesia 1.5%
Source: Carbon Brief, figures are for 2012

6. Limiting the damage
By the end of October, 146 countries had submitted national climate plans on curbing emissions that are expected to form the cornerstone of a binding, global treaty on climate change. According to a UN report, submissions in their current form point to a rise of 2.7°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Scientists have determined that if temperature rises surpass 2°C, this will lead to substantial and dangerous climate impacts, which will hit the world's poorest population in particular. Droughts and unnaturally high temperatures will prevent indigenous crops from growing and lead to world starvation on a scale unimagined. Fresh water sources will evaporate leading to further hardship in developing countries and perhaps lead to mass migrations.
It's pretty clear what we must do. The problem is getting all the countries in the world to commit to a common goal for the common good. The next problem is getting them to keep their promises. Many heads of state still  have the attitude that this is the other countries' problem, not theirs. And their main concern is always the effects of emission controls on their economies. New controls and laws will naturally affect worldwide economy. At least we will all be in the same boat. If we do nothing, money will lose all value anyway. Food and water will be the currency of our dying world.