Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yesterday: afternoon at MMA, Turkish dinner, shiva call & home

Tuesday night Shoshana volunteered at the homeless shelter in the basement of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and took Wednesday off from work, so we spent the afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we saw contemporary paintings by Australian Aborigine artists (mostly acrylic on canvas).

"Awelye, Bush Melon, and Bush Melon Seed Dreamings" by Minnie Pwerle (Australian, Anmatyerre/Alyawerre people)"Awelye, Bush Melon, and Bush Melon Seed Dreamings" by Minnie Pwerle

"Yarla Yam Dreaming" by Lorna Fencer Napurrula (Australian, Walpiri/Ngaliya people)"Yarla Yam Dreaming" by Lorna Fencer Napurrula

"Bush Fire Dreaming" by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa (Australian, Pintupi people)"Bush Fire Dreaming" by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

"Winpa" by Daniel Walbidi (Australian, Mangala people)"Winpa" by Daniel Walbidi

We also saw the Samurai Arms and Armor exhibit (more Japanese swords than you're likely to ever see in one place--a must for Kill Bill fans) and the American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915 exhibit (most of which I had seen before at the Met, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Smithsonian's National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Museum of American Art, and other east coast art museums), as well as parts of the permanent collection. Of the latter I especially enjoyed Giacometti's Cat:
Giacometti's cat

We stayed in Manhattan, walked five blocks east and seven blocks south, and had dinner at A La Turka where we enjoyed the combination appetizer platter, the vegetable casserol, and a candied pear for dessert. Having missed the evening rush hour while we dined we walked nine blocks south and two blocks west and caught the F train for a one seat ride back to Brooklyn where we paid a shiva call at the home of a friend from shul who lives two blocks from us before returning home. This evening we made another shiva call at the home of another friend and shul member who also lost his mother (we've reached the age where our peers are burying their parents--fortunately ours are still alive and healthy). Tonight we'll stay in and listen to the authorized fireworks from the park as well as the neighborhood adolescents' illegal ones.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Afternoon Moon Amid Branches, 12/29/09

Afternoon Moon Amid Branches, 12/29/09

Best wishes for a healthy and peaceful 2010!

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

RIP Rachel Wetzsteon (1967-2009)

Poet Rachel Wetzsteon died yesterday (December 30, 2009) in what may have been a suicide.  Here are some of her poems.


Manhattan Triptych

i. Café Pertutti

Being here now be damned,
there is a motion in the passersby
that troubles comfort and brings on longing.
Midsummer evening, women drifting by

in peacock colors; what fitter thought
than Watching them pass, I am happy?
But summer is framed by ardent spring and dense autumn.
Where are they going in their emerald scarves?


ii. Skater's Waltz

This was the challenge: not to succumb,
that late gray afternoon in Port Authority,
to easy fury at the piped-in music —
such carefree, glittering sound must surround

much happier commutes than mine —
but to let the lushness pierce the grayness,
discover myself gliding in
an indoor rink with all the other skaters.


iii. Grove Street

Out on a limb, I liked the breezes
but feared the storms. Succeeding days
saw me stubbornly moving through crowds
with wide grin or vacant gaze — two sides

of the same page, for either way I was martini-dry,
incapable of bruising, noticing flecks on necks
rather than eyes, their daggers and their vistas.
And then a tree wept! The petals at my feet . . .


Sakura Park

The park admits the wind,
the petals lift and scatter

like versions of myself I was on the verge
of becoming; and ten years on

and ten blocks down I still can't tell
whether this dispersal resembles

a fist unclenching or waving goodbye.
But the petals scatter faster,

seeking the rose, the cigarette vendor,
and at least I've got by pumping heart

some rules of conduct: refuse to choose
between turning pages and turning heads

though the stubborn dine alone. Get over
"getting over": dark clouds don't fade

but drift with ever deeper colors.
Give up on rooted happiness

(the stolid trees on fire!) and sweet reprieve
(a poor park but my own) will follow.

There is still a chance the empty gazebo
will draw crowds from the greater world.

And meanwhile, meanwhile's far from nothing:
the humming moment, the rustle of cherry trees.


Gold Leaves

Someone ought to write about (I thought
and therefore do) stage three of alchemy:
not inauspicious metal turned into
a gilded page, but that same page turned back
to basics when you step outside for air
and feel a radiance that was not there
the day before, your sidewalks lined with gold.


from "Three Songs"


How did you feel when you entered the church?
Left in the lurch!
What did they say when you brought back the ring?
Poor jilted thing!
Why did they laugh when they looked up its make?
It was a fake!

How did you spend your time out of town?
Tracking him down.
How did he look when you raided his room?
Pale as a groom.
What were the words the coroner used?
Vilely abused.

How many mourners can fill a hall?
Room for them all.
What are the songs the organist plays?
Dolorous lays.
What do you drop as you head for the bier?
Never a tear.

Have the embalmers earned their pay?
Pink hides the gray.
How does he look who did not survive?
Almost alive.
What does the crowd remark upon?
That he is gone!

How do you feel among these men?
Jilted again.
What do his benefactors sense?
Wasted expense!
Where is the world's most wanted dun?
Still on the run.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Monday, December 28, 2009

Health Bill Benefits for the Impatient - NYTimes Prescriptions Blog

WASHINGTON — Some immediate benefits from the health care legislation advancing on Capitol Hill will ease the minds of parents who may have hit up against limitations of their existing health insurance.

Within six months, the Senate bill approved last week would allow dependent, unmarried children to remain on their parents’ policies until their 26th birthday; the House bill would allow an additional year of dependent coverage, until the 27th birthday. Right now it varies from state to state.

The Senate bill would also bar insurers from denying coverage to children under 19 years of age based on pre-existing medical conditions. And the House bill would require insurers to cover reconstructive surgery for children born with deformities.

In many cases, the requirements, including the extended coverage for adult children, would apply only to new insurance plans, though insurers could apply the changes to existing policies.

Many major provisions in the health care legislation would not take effect for several years. New federal subsidies to help moderate-income Americans afford coverage would not begin until 2013 under the House bill, and 2014 under the Senate bill. A new requirement that nearly all Americans obtain insurance would take effect at the same time that the subsidies become available.

On the flip side, many of the new taxes and fees that will help pay for the legislation would take effect much sooner. For this reason, some Republicans have criticized the bill as akin to legislation on a layaway plan: pay now for benefits later.

The concept, however, is not unprecedented. In 1965, when Medicare was created, the payroll tax began six months before the insurance coverage began for Americans age 65 and over.

Still, the lengthy gap between the expected completion of the legislation in early 2010 and the effective date of many major provisions has left Democrats working to answer the criticism with lists of “immediate deliverables.”

Here are some of the benefits that Democrats say would be available soon after the legislation is adopted:

No annual or lifetime limits Both the Senate and House versions of the legislation ultimately seek to prevent insurers from imposing annual or lifetime limits on coverage in new health policies. In the final package of amendments to the Senate bill, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, added new language giving the secretary of health and human services the authority to regulate annual limits from six months after the bill is enacted until the broader insurance provisions take effect in 2014. Such limits are a serious concern to people with chronic illnesses like cancer that can require expensive treatments within a relatively short period of time, and the change proposed by Mr. Reid was prompted by inquiries from the American Cancer Society.

Limits on insurance company profits Beginning in 2011, the Senate bill would set tight restrictions to force insurance companies to spend the bulk of their revenues on providing medical care to beneficiaries. The legislation would require insurance companies in the large group market to spend at least 85 percent of their revenues on care and insurers in the individual market to spend at least 80 percent of revenues on care. Critics of the private health insurance, including Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, and Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said setting such requirements on what insurers call “medical loss ratios” was needed to tamp down on profiteering.

Short-term expansion of state high risk pools To help people who cannot obtain insurance because of pre-existing conditions, both the Senate and House bills would provide $5 billion to increase the availability of coverage through state high-risk insurance pools. This provision would take effect 90 days after enactment of the legislation, but many details remain to be worked out.

New financing for community health centers The House bill provides $12 billion in additional financing for community health centers, which serve needy populations, particularly in rural areas. Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, won the inclusion of $10 billion in financing for community health centers in the Senate bill. The final dollar amount will be decided in negotiations between House and Senate leaders, but the money would be available for five years beginning in the current fiscal year.

Closing the Medicare drug “doughnut hole” The legislation would increase the amount of drug costs covered by Medicare by $500 in 2010. And beginning on July 1, 2010, the bill would provide 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs and biologics that low- and middle-income beneficiaries have to pay for themselves once the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole begins.

Prohibition on rescinding existing coverage Both the House and Senate bills would bar insurance companies from rescinding existing coverage other than “in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact.”

Small business tax credits The Senate bill would offer tax credits to small businesses beginning in 2010 for up to 35 percent of premium costs. The full credit would be available to firms with 10 or fewer employees and average annual wages of $25,000. Reduced credits would be available to firms with up to 25 employees and with average annual wages of up to $50,000.

Patient protections For new health plans, beginning six months after enactment of the legislation, the Senate bill would prohibit insurers from requiring prior authorization before a woman sees an obstetrician or gynecologist. The bill would also require coverage for emergency care.

Discrimination protections for lower-income workers The Senate bill would bar group health plans from setting any eligibility rules for coverage that favor higher-wage employees. This provision would take effect six months after enactment of the legislation.

Cobra extension through 2013 Anyone currently paying for an extension of health benefits as permitted under federal law — for instance, after a loss of employment — would be permitted under the House legislation to continue Cobra coverage until the major insurance coverage provisions of the legislation take effect in 2013.

Reinsurance program for early retirees Both the House and Senate bills would provide federal financing for a new reinsurance program to encourage employers to maintain health benefits for employees and early retirees age 55 to 64.

Consumer assistance provisions
Both the House and Senate bills would begin to impose new requirements aimed at making it easier for consumers to interact with insurers, including a requirement that health plans adopt uniform descriptions of plan benefits and appeals procedures and that they begin using identical forms.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Judaism 101: Tsedakah--end of year charity recommendations

Jews traditionally use the Hebrew word tsedakah which means righteousness (and implies an obligation) rather than the English word charity (which connotes optional) to refer to helping the less fortunate. The tax code provides incentives to donate, but there are only five days left to make 2009 charitable donations. If you have been waiting until the last moment to chose which Jewish organizations to support take a look at the list in the right hand margin under the heading Recommended Jewish Charities. I first mentioned several of these almost eight weeks ago in my article on the Goodstock charity fair in Brooklyn.

To read the rest of the article click here

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Thursday, December 24, 2009

NYC Jewish events tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday night

For NYC Jews: Xmas Eve NYC Jewish parties and concerts (scroll part way down the page) Xmas Day NYC Jewish events for kids and singles in Manhattan + Saturday night Jewish indie rock in Brooklyn

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Stephen Morse's poem “Back porch Synchronicity”: Maslow vs Jung

“Back porch Synchronicity”

Maslow vs Jung and lets just say that Maslow “studied” creativity
and Jung exercised it. Guess who I favor?”

A sharp bite of cold
snow lit by blue and gold
strings of light in the
Crab apple Bare, Brown
branches hang like clipped
fingernails over the asphalt
path to the back door.

Wind moves; playing its pattern
in brass chimes and the rustle
of a nylon wind sock cut
to suggest the American Flag.

Somewhere in the dark
a dog is barking at 
some undetectable presence
in the neighborhood . . .
out there in the dark
closer than the train
rumbling through Chanhassen

A dog is barking.
A sharp cold bites at
the partially opened backdoor
of the back porch where
The cat lives
In the summertime
Frozen white

In the wintertime
frozen white


Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Scientists find molecular trigger that helps prevent aging and disease

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2009) — Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine set out to address a question that has been challenging scientists for years: How does dietary restriction produce protective effects against aging and disease? And the reverse: how does overconsumption accelerate age-related disease?

An answer lies in a two-part study led by Charles Mobbs, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, published in the November 17 edition of the journal PLoS Biology. The study examines how dietary restriction and a high-caloric diet influence biochemical responses.

Dr. Mobbs and his colleagues unraveled a molecular puzzle to determine that within certain parameters, a lower-calorie diet slows the development of some age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, as well as the aging process. How the diet is restricted -- whether fats, proteins or carbohydrates are cut -- does not appear to matter. "It may not be about counting calories or cutting out specific nutrients," said Dr. Mobbs, "but how a reduction in dietary intake impacts the glucose metabolism, which contributes to oxidative stress." Meanwhile, a high calorie diet may accelerate age-related disease by promoting oxidative stress.

Dietary restriction induces a transcription factor called CREB-binding protein (CBP), which controls the activity of genes that regulate cellular function. By developing drugs that mimic the protective effects of CBP -- those usually caused by dietary restriction -- scientists may be able to extend lifespan and reduce vulnerability to age-related illnesses.

"We discovered that CBP predicts lifespan and accounts for 80 percent of lifespan variation in mammals," said Dr. Mobbs. "Finding the right balance is key; only a 10 percent restriction will produce a small increase in lifespan, whereas an 80 percent restriction will lead to a shorter life due to starvation."

The team found an optimal dietary restriction, estimated to be equivalent to a 30 percent caloric reduction in mammals, increased lifespan over 50 percent while slowing the development of an age-related pathology similar to Alzheimer's disease.

The first part of the study looked at C. elegans, a species of roundworm, that were genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's disease-like symptoms. Dr. Mobbs and his team reduced the roundworms' dietary intake by diluting the bacteria the worms consume. In these types of roundworms, human beta amyloid peptide, which contributes to plaque buildup in Alzheimer's disease, is expressed in muscle, which becomes paralyzed as age progresses. This model allowed researchers to readily measure how lifespan and disease burden were simultaneously improved through dietary restriction.

The researchers found that when dietary restriction was maintained throughout the worms' adulthood, lifespan increased by 65 percent and the Alzheimer's disease-related paralysis decreased by about 50 percent.

"We showed that dietary restriction activates CBP in a roundworm model, and when we blocked this activation, we blocked all the protective effects of dietary restriction," said Dr. Mobbs. "It was the result of blocking CBP activation, which inhibited all the protective effects of dietary restriction, that confirmed to us that CBP plays a key role in mediating the protective effects of dietary restriction on lifespan and age-related disease."

In the second part of study, Dr. Mobbs and his team looked at the other end of this process: What happens to CBP in a high-calorie diet that has led to diabetes, a disease in which glucose metabolism is impaired? Researchers examined mice and found that diabetes reduces activation of CBP, leading Dr. Mobbs to conclude that a high-calorie diet that leads to diabetes would have the opposite effect of dietary restriction and would accelerate aging.

Dr. Mobbs hypothesizes that dietary restriction induces CBP by blocking glucose metabolism, which produces oxidative stress, a cellular process that leads to tissue damage and also promotes cancer cell growth. Interestingly, dietary restriction triggers CBP for as long as the restriction is maintained, suggesting that the protective effects may wear off if higher dietary intake resumes. CBP responds to changes in glucose within hours, indicating genetic communications respond quickly to fluctuations in dietary intake.

"Our next step is to understand the exact interactions of CBP with other transcription factors that mediate its protective effects with age," said Dr. Mobbs. "If we can map out these interactions, we could then begin to produce more targeted drugs that mimic the protective effects of CBP."

Story Source:

Adapted from materials provided by The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Journal Reference:

  1. Zhang et al. Role of CBP and SATB-1 in Aging, Dietary Restriction, and Insulin-Like Signaling. PLoS Biology, 2009; 7 (11): e1000245 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000245

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Dietary restriction induces a transcription factor called CREB-binding protein (CBP), which controls the activity of genes that regulate cellular function. By developing drugs that mimic the protective effects of CBP -- those usually caused by dietary restriction -- scientists may be able to extend lifespan and reduce vulnerability to age-related illnesses.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Ex-President Carter offers apology to Jews - Yahoo! News

ATLANTA – Former President Jimmy Carter apologized for any words or deeds that may have upset the Jewish community in an open letter meant to improve an often-tense relationship.

He said he was offering an Al Het, a prayer said on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It signifies a plea for forgiveness.

"We must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel," Carter said in the letter, which was first sent to JTA, a wire service for Jewish newspapers, and provided Wednesday to The Associated Press. "As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so."

Carter, who during his presidency brokered the first Israeli-Arab peace treaty, outraged many Jews with his 2006 book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Critics contend he unfairly compared Israeli treatment of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza to the legalized racial oppression that once existed in South Africa.

Israeli leaders have also shunned him over his journey to Gaza to meet with Hamas, considered a terror group by the U.S., the European Union and Israel.

Carter's apology was welcomed by Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a vocal critic of Carter's views on Israel.

"When a former president reaches out to the Jewish community and asks for forgiveness, it's incumbent of us to accept it," he said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. "To what extent this is an epiphany, only time will tell. There certainly was a lot of hurt, a lot of angry words that need to be repaired. But this is a good start."

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee could not immediately be reached for comment.

The letter comes weeks after his grandson, Jason Carter, said he would run for a Georgia state Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore. If David Adelman is confirmed as ambassador in January, Jason Carter will be a candidate in a March special election in the northeast Atlanta district.

Jason Carter, who is running in a district with a vocal Jewish population, said in a statement that his grandfather's letter was unrelated to his campaign and hailed the apology as a "great step towards reconciliation."

President Carter's letter said he hopes bloodshed and hatred will yield to mutual respect and cooperation between Israel and its neighbors. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has long said bringing peace to the Middle East remains one of his unfulfilled goals.

In a recent appearance at Emory University, he said if he had one more day as president he would use it to bring the "full weight of the White House" to the peace process.

"That's what I'd do with my one day in the White House," he said. "Bring peace to Israel and its neighbors."

His son is planning to run for office to represent a district with a large number of Jewish constituents.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Are you Jen's potential bone marrow donor?



Read her story, and if you haven't already done so join the bone marrow registry.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Returning to the Kotel - Israel Opinion, Ynetnews

Women of the Wall member Haviva Ner-David writes about Jerusalem as seen through her eyes

Check out this website I found at

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not our holiday week NYC Jewish events Part 2: Xmas Day

Mostly music events for Jewish kids and their parents, as well as movies and comedy for singles in NYC on Friday December 25th, and indie rock music for young adults Saturday night December 26th. To read the article click here

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not our holiday week NYC Jewish events Part 1: Xmas Eve


By now it's a cliche that American Jews celebrate Christmas by going to the movies and then eating out at a Chinese restaurant. There is no shortage of other Jewish events this week, especially for young singles.

Read the rest of the article

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sweat glands are secret sensory organs - Behavior

updated 12:12 p.m. ET Dec. 8, 2009

The human body may be equipped with a separate sensory system aside from the nerves that gives us the ability to touch and feel, according to a new study.

Most of us have millions of different types of nerve endings just beneath the skin that let us feel our surroundings. However, the once-hidden and recently discovered skin sense, found in two patients, is located throughout the blood vessels and sweat glands, and most of us don't even notice it's there.

"It's almost like hearing the subtle sound of a single instrument in the midst of a symphony," said senior author Frank Rice, a neuroscience professor at Albany Medical College in New York. "It is only when we shift focus away from the nerve endings associated with normal skin sensation that we can appreciate the sensation hidden in the background."

Sensitive skin
Our skin, the body's largest organ, seems to have some extraordinary qualities, as another recent study showed skin can hear.

The new finding, detailed in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal Pain, could help scientists to understand mysterious pain conditions such as migraine headaches and fibromyalgia. The study, and others by the team, was supported by the National Institutes of Health and several pharmaceutical companies.

The research team discovered the sensory system when studying two patients who were born with very little ability to feel pain — an extremely rare condition called congenital insensitivity to pain. Other individuals with this condition have excessively dry skin, often mutilate themselves accidentally and usually have severe mental handicaps, the researchers say.

It wasn't their pain-free lives that brought the patients into the lab, but rather excessive sweating.

"Curiously, our conventional tests with sensitive instruments revealed that all their skin sensation was severely impaired, including their response to different temperatures and mechanical contact," said study researcher Dr. David Bowsher, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool's Pain Research Institute.

"But, for all intents and purposes, they had adequate sensation for daily living and could tell what is warm and cold, what is touching them, and what is rough and smooth."

Surprise results
Bowsher took skin biopsies and sent them to Rice's lab for microscopic analyses of the nerve endings.

"Much to our surprise, the skin we received from England lacked all the nerve endings that we normally associated with skin sensation," Rice said. "So how were these individuals feeling anything?"

The answer: While the patients lacked the usual nerve endings in the skin, Rice and colleagues found sensory nerve endings on the small blood vessels and sweat glands embedded in their skin.

"Apparently, these unique individuals are able to 'feel things' through these remaining nerve endings," Rice said. "For many years, my colleagues and I have detected different types of nerve endings on tiny blood vessels and sweat glands, which we assumed were simply regulating blood flow and sweating."

Rice added, "We didn't think they could contribute to conscious sensation. However, while all the other sensory endings were missing in this unusual skin, the blood vessels and sweat glands still had the normal types of nerve endings."

© 2009 All rights reserved.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

word fun (thanks, Kit B)

Here is the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house beyond ability to pay, which renders the subject financially
impotent for an indefinite period of time.

Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Intaxicaton: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts
until you realize it was your money to start with.

Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future. (tell me you don't know some these people...)

Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right?
And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that
are good for you.

Glibido: All talk and no action.

Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked
through a spider web.

Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in
the morning and cannot be cast out.

Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest,
in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

And the winners are:

Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a

Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline..

Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men

LiveScience: Young women prefer "real" men: Geeks Drive Girls Out of Computer Science

The stereotype of computer scientists as geeks who memorize Star Trek lines and never leave the lab may be driving women away from the field, a new study suggests.

And women can be turned off by just the physical environment, say, of a computer-science classroom or office that's strewn with objects considered "masculine geeky," such as video games and science-fiction stuff.

"When people think of computer science, the image that immediately pops into many of their minds is of the computer geek surrounded by such things as computer games, science-fiction memorabilia and junk food," said lead researcher Sapna Cheryan, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington. "That stereotype doesn't appeal to many women who don't like the portrait of masculinity that it evokes."

The upshot: Women don't feel they would fit in and so steer clear of computer-science majors and jobs, the researchers say. Such avoidance could help to explain why just 22 percent of computer-science graduates are women, a percentage that has been steadily decreasing, according to 2008 data from the National Science Foundation.

Not only are women missing out on some of the "best career opportunities, but computer science is missing out on female perspectives," Cheryan and her colleagues wrote in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Geeky objects

The results come from four studies with more than 250 students who weren't studying computer science.

In the first experiment, about 40 male and female students entered a small classroom that either contained objects stereotypically associated with computer science, such as Star Trek posters, video game boxes and Coke cans, or non-stereotypical items such as nature posters, art, a dictionary and coffee mugs. (The students were told to ignore these objects because the room was being shared with another class.)

Then, the students filled out questionnaires about their attitudes toward computer science.

In the geeky environment, women were significantly�less interested than men in computer science, while there was no gender difference for the non-stereotypical classroom. Female students in the stereotypical environment said they felt less similar to computer-science majors than did those in the classroom that wasn't geeked out.

In three other experiments, two of which involved about 90 students each, participants were told to imagine stereotypical and non-stereotypical objects in various environments. Here are some of the results:

  • When women were given the choice of joining one of two all-female teams at a company, with the only difference between the teams being the objects found in respective workrooms, 82 percent of the women picked the team with the non-stereotypical workroom.
  • Male and female participants were given the choice between similar jobs at one of two companies with the only difference being the description of objects (either nerdy or generic) for each company. Both genders preferred the job in the non-stereotypical work environment, but women's preferences for the non-geeky environment were significantly stronger than men's.
  • In another similar job-position experiment, women were more likely to accept an offer with a neutral Web-design company while men had the opposite preference, choosing the stereotypically nerdy company. The more women perceived the stereotypical environment as masculine, the less interested they were in that company.

Changing computer science

There was a subset of women in the study who didn't view the stereotypical objects as masculine and geeky and aren't turned off by the associated office or classroom.

"That tells me that it's a cultural phenomenon," Cheryan told LiveScience.�"These objects are not inherently masculine or geeky; they've been constructed that way. That means to me we can reconstruct the objects or more importantly the whole field."

Cheryan added one way to change the lopsided field would be, "broadening the image of computer science to make it so that other people feel a connection to the field."

An interesting example of stereotyping and prejudice. Read the comments as well as the article.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Friday, December 18, 2009

personal update

Had a lovely lunch at the restaurant in Fairway with our friend Suzanna today. The conversation was engaging and an hour flew by quickly. Foodwise I had a yogurt with granola, which was not sufficiently filling by itself, but afterward I stopped at various tasting stations while doing the grocery shopping, and that made up the difference.


I got my blood work back from my annual physical, and all the numbers are normal. My cholesterol is still very low, but my PSA (prostate serum antogen) score jumped a point, though it's still within the normal range. Because my dad is a prostate cancer survivor I pay particular attention to my PSA result; anything below 4 is considered normal, but the amount of change from year to year is also significant. In the winter of 2004-2005 my PSA was 1.5. A year later (winter 2005-2006) it jumped to 2.5. In the next three years it stayed in the same range (2.1 to 2.27), but this year it jumped up to 3.3.  I'm trying to think what has changed in my lifestyle the past year, and one change was that I switched from making my breakfast oatmeal with soy milk to cows milk; starting tomorrow I'm going back to soy milk. I'll see a urologist in two and a half weeks, and in addition to the finger exam I'll discuss getting an ultra-sound of the prostate.


Work wise I have more ideas for examiner stories than I have time to research and write. I last posted a week ago, but illness was also a factor this week. After having I Am My Beloved's rejected by all the coffee table book and Jewish publishers I'm thinking about publishing the interviews as a website instead of a book (which would probably reach more readers), and seeing if Jewish non-profits dealing with issues of continuity would be interested in participating. For example, three of the couples I've interviewed so far met at their college Hillel; I could offer Hillel the opportunity to use those interviews for fund raising purposes if they would help defray IAMB's expenses.


Tomorrow (well actually today since it's now after sundown) is Shabbat, the last day of Hanukkah, and my Jewish birthday (which is the one I celebrate). Snow is in the forecast. I'm dreaming of a white Shabbat, last day of Hanukkah, and Jewish birthday! Maybe I'll wear my new boots.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Jay Michaelson views mutability with equanimity in his beautiful essay Impermanence


Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Maariv editor: Settler terrorists and their rabbis are Neonazis « Coteret

The past two days have witnessed some Israeli reaction to settler fundamentalism. On Sunday (December 13 2009) evening, Defense Minister Ehud Barak finally stood up to a mutiny-inciting IDF-affiliated rabbi. This morning (December 15 2009) Haaretz published a scathing exposé of how Israeli and US taxes fund Yitzhar’s Od Yosef Hai yeshiva, publisher of Baruch Hagever, an ode to Cave of Patriarchs murderer Baruch Goldstein, and, more recently, the “Handbook for the Killing of Gentiles.”

Most startling, however, is an op-ed by Ben Dror Yemini, a senior editor at Maariv, known as a leading crusader against anti-Israeli propaganda and ‘Islamofascism.’ Enraged at the damage done to his efforts by Friday’s (December 11 2009) torching of a mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf, he penned a full frontal assault on the attackers, the rabbis sanctioning them and the government’s of Israel lack of action on the issue (full text after the jump.)

Israel-haters worldwide were quick to celebrate the pictures of the burned mosque in the village of Yasuf…The hooligans who desecrated a mosque are the enemy because they contributed the most to the delegitimization campaign of the international radical left, led by Ahmadinezhad and Hugo Chavez.  In their acts, they actually helped bolstering those who want to turn Israel into an illegitimate, leper state.  Healthy states know how to curb such phenomena, but here, it seems, we refuse to get the point.  We exercise forgiveness instead.  Sure, the prime minister and the defense minister condemned the act, but where are their acts?  What happened to the basic understanding that the arsonists who torched the mosque are terrorists, and that the harm they inflict on Israel is as grave as terror attacks by Hamas members?  Why do we fail to realize that this is a Jewish mutation of Neo-Nazism?  Why do we not see that they are the enemy, dangerous warriors in the battle against the legitimacy of the State of Israel?…We must not refer to them as a small and marginal minority.  These people are supported by the highest echelons.  Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the spiritual leader of the religious-Zionists, issued an edict that practically allows Jews to pick olives in plantations that belong to Arabs.

Note that Yemini neglects to address the fact that the some of the Rabbis inciting these actions are recipients of generous government funding. This is not surprising, however, because a frequent source of his, Israel’s premier expert on NGO funding, Prof. Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, contends that the practice is just a fact of life in Israel, as normal as the funding of youth movements, and does not warrant any extraordinary action. Responding to a direct question on Od Yosef Hai, he tells the Jerusalem Post’s Shmuel Rosner that

the state is used to funnel large sums of money to various sectors and institutions related to political parties  – from kibbuzim to youth movements and yeshivot —  with numerous stops in between.

Here is the Rabbi Eliyahu ruling referenced in the op-ed (quoted by Haaretz on October 25 2002)

Since the land is the inheritance of the People of Israel, planting on this land  by gentiles is planting on land that does not belong to them. If someone plants a tree on my land, both the tree and the fruit it yields belong to me.

Neo-Nazis among us

The mosque desecraters are dangerous enemies who defeat Israel in its struggle for legitimacy.  They are not alone.  Their ideology comes from the top.  Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu allowed Jews to pick the Olives of Arabs.  Those who authorize olive thefts may be comfortable when mosques are desecrated

Op-ed, Ben-Dror Yemini, Maariv, December 15 2009

They are “our boys.”  They are pioneers, salt of the earth, our own flesh and blood.  They sacrificed a life of convenience just to be out there, first in the field.  Yes, they are sometimes naughty and step out line here and there, but this no reason to make a fuss.  After all, they are on our side.

Too many among us maintain this view.  We may find it hard to conceive of the threat they post, but we are looking at a cancer.  People who act like Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, or Jihadists are just that, regardless of their faith.  There are such Christians, there are such Muslims and, in case we have not yet realized – and we should – there are such Jews too.

People like that exist in every nation.  In Hungary, France, and Ukraine we witnessed sickening phenomena where swastikas were painted on walls, synagogues were torched, and cemeteries desecrated.  These acts were perpetrated by racists, and there are such racists among us too.  Are they a small and marginal minority?  Possibly, but it does not take more than a small minority to start a fire.  They are not “ours” and they are no pioneers.  They are our enemies.  Israel-haters worldwide were quick to celebrate the pictures of the burned mosque in the village of Yasuf.  We have no idea how these pictures are viewed worldwide.  Anti-Semites, left and right, had a field day.  In case we did not yet realize that, the war for the State of Israel is not waged just against Qassam and Katyusha rockets.  The most important ring is where we fight for our legitimacy.

The hooligans who desecrated a mosque are the enemy because they contributed the most to the delegitimization campaign of the international radical left, led by Ahmadinezhad and Hugo Chavez.  In their acts, they actually helped bolstering those who want to turn Israel into an illegitimate, leper state.  Healthy states know how to curb such phenomena, but here, it seems, we refuse to get the point.  We exercise forgiveness instead.  Sure, the prime minister and the defense minister condemned the act, but where are their acts?  What happened to the basic understanding that the arsonists who torched the mosque are terrorists, and that the harm they inflict on Israel is as grave as terror attacks by Hamas members?  Why do we fail to realize that this is a Jewish mutation of Neo-Nazism?  Why do we not see that they are the enemy, dangerous warriors in the battle against the legitimacy of the State of Israel?

We must not refer to them as a small and marginal minority.  These people are supported by the highest echelons.  Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the spiritual leader of the religious-Zionists, issued an edict that practically allows Jews to pick olives in plantations that belong to Arabs.  Though many among us deny that Jews cause damage to Palestinian plantations, claiming that this is leftist provocation, the religious ruling sets the tone.  Rabbi Eliahu did not say a word about mosques, but those who authorize olive thefts may be comfortable when mosques are desecrated.

Rabbi Eliyahu is not yet another rabbi.  He is the spiritual leader and guide of the religious-Zionist movement.  In the 1950’s, Eliahu was a member of the Pact of the Zealots, an underground movement that wanted to violently impose the rules of the Bible on the State of Israel.  I fail to see how such a person could ever be appointed a chief rabbi, but it happened.  His ruling, which approves of theft, shows that this spiritual leader did not really change much.

When will the State of Israel wake up and realize that it is facing a real threat from an enemy within?  When will the national Zionist camp rise from its slumber and see that lethal cancer nests in our midst?  When will we all see that these Jihadist- and Neo-Nazi-compatible hooligans must be stopped while they are still small?  Let us pray this happens before it is too late.

The comparison to neo-Nazis and skinheads is not hyperbole. Internal terrorists pose as great a danger as external ones, and that applies to all countries.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

CNN: Loneliness spreads in social networks (thanks, Brian)

Loneliness is defined as perceived social isolation, and it's not based on the number of people around you.
Loneliness is defined as perceived social isolation, and it's not based on the number of people around you.
  • Study: Loneliness spreads more quickly among friends than family
  • Like happiness, loneliness can spread out three degrees of separation
  • Loneliness spreads much more easily among women than among men

(CNN) -- Have you ever felt cut off from other people, even if there are plenty around you? Maybe you felt all alone in the world, but you were making other people feel lonely without even realizing it.

New research suggests loneliness can actually travel from person to person, spreading up to three degrees of separation. That means if your neighbor's cousin's friend is lonely, you may have a good chance of being lonely, too.

The results, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, were also mentioned in the recent book "Connected" by Dr. Nicholas Christakis at Harvard University and James Fowler at the University of California, San Diego. The book explores how happiness, obesity, smoking and a slew of other behaviors and habits are contagious among groups of people who know one another.

Read more about the book

John Cacioppo, a psychologist at the University of Chicago who has written a book called "Loneliness," teamed up with Christakis and Fowler to study the effect of this phenomenon in social networks.

The authors focused on data from the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed thousands of people in Framingham, Massachusetts, since 1948. The loneliness research looked at the second generation in the study, which includes 5,124 people.

In the heart study, researchers kept in touch with participants every two to four years, asking them about depression, loneliness and other issues. They also kept a record of their friends. This allowed Christakis, Fowler and Cacioppo to look at the subjects' social networks over time.

If a direct connection in your social network is lonely, you are 52 percent more likely to be lonely, the researchers found. At two degrees of separation -- a friend of a friend -- it's 25 percent. At three degrees, someone who knows your friend's friend, it's 15 percent.

By helping lonely people on the periphery of a social network, "We can create a protective barrier against loneliness that will keep the whole network from unraveling," Christakis and Fowler wrote in "Connected."

The results are surprising because "we think of loneliness as something that affects a person who is by himself or herself," Ed Diener, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in an e-mail. He was not involved in the study.

But it makes sense that the way a lonely person behaves could influence others, and those people could respond in kind to more friends, social scientists say.

"If lonely people act out behaviors that alienate others, some others will learn to enact those same behaviors, sometimes in reaction against the lonely person," Diener said.

Loneliness is defined as perceived social isolation, and it's not based on the number of people around you, Cacioppo said. Evolutionarily, it was important for early humans to know how many peers they could count on, work with and survive with, as well as who would betray them, he said.

"That's why the quality, not the quantity, of relationships is what's related to whether someone feels isolated or feels satisfied with their relationships," he said.

Cacioppo's earlier research says people have different baseline levels of loneliness, meaning some people have a greater need than others for social connection. From that perspective, it follows that someone who is highly sensitive to disconnection would more strongly promote lonely feelings in the network, he said.

Both lonely and nonlonely people prefer nonlonely people, and sometimes the lonely are even harsher to others who feel disconnected than the nonlonely people. This helps leave the lonely people with fewer friends, Cacioppo said.

In the social network study, mood did not affect how loneliness was transmitted, he said. Participants were asked how depressed they were, and this did not seem to affect whether they passed loneliness along the network.

The study also found that loneliness spreads much more easily among women than among men, citing the idea that women may be more likely to express and share emotions, as well as the observation that there may be greater stigma associated with loneliness among men. Happiness, by contrast, does not seem to have gender distinctions in the way it spreads, according to Christakis and Fowler's research.

People who are lonely may be motivated to seek social connection, increasing the likelihood that others around that person will be exposed to loneliness, the authors said.

Loneliness spreads more quickly among friends than family, but this finding may be limited to older people, as the average age in the sample was 64 years old, the authors said. Cacioppo, though, said the pattern generally makes sense because the cost of leaving a friendship is less than cutting off a family member, so people are more likely to isolate themselves from friends than close relatives or spouses.

Although these effects are stronger in person, they also have implications for online social interactions, he said.

"If you have an important friend and they are really grumpy and say nasty things on email, you may walk into the next room and be grumpy to someone else," he said.

The findings have implications for communities, Cacioppo said. City planners and policymakers should consider interventions such as sidewalks that allow neighborhood residents to interact more in public spaces, so that if someone is feeling down, others can help bring that person out of it.

In terms of therapy, it's important for lonely people to understand the condition and what it does to the brain, he said. Those who are lonely tend to view things as more threatening, and if they understand that, they can help themselves temper such strong reactions.

"We can correct our tendency to want to act grumpy to others," he said.

Diener said the research is important, building off of the "Connected" authors' earlier work on social networks.

"This series of studies shows us that we don't just live in individual worlds, but are influenced often in unconscious ways of which we are not aware," he said.

479 shares | 163 comments


Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Monday, December 14, 2009

Haredi joke

Mark Ginsburg's comment on my article NY Jewish events: sex, Tamiflu, and Sephardic music: A young couple go to their rabbi for instruction. The young man addresses the rabbi: ‘Well, Rabbi, I know that in our sect, after the ceremony when there is music and dancing, it is customary for the men to dance with the men, and the women to dance with the women. But this, after all, the 21st century — a new, enlightened age — and I would like your permission to be able to dance with my wife.” The rabbi responds: “No, no, no! It is immodest for the man to dance with a woman.” So he asks the rabbi, hesitantly, “Well, I suppose that after marriage is it okay have sex?” The rabbi quickly respondis: “Of course! It is a mitsvah (a blessing). To have children.” The young man asks “Any position?” The rabbi responds: “Yes!” The young man asks: “And can we use whips and chains?" The rabbi answers: “Of course!" "Can we do it standing up?” “NO!” says the rabbi, "it might lead to dancing!"

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jacques Derrida on the whom vs. the what one loves (thanks, KK)

You Tube: Jacques Derrida On Love and Being

Derrida makes the distinction between the 'who' one loves - their singularity - and the 'what' - the specific qualities of the beloved; then, he states that philosophy's most basic question - 'What is ...

Sounds similar to Buber's "I Thou" vs. "I It."

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Reuters Health: Birth weight, early weight gain may hasten puberty (tx, novapsyche)

A relatively low birth weight and early-age weight gain may increase the likelihood of early puberty, hint findings from a German study. Earlier onset of puberty has been linked to certain cancers, high blood sugar and obesity. I reached puberty relatively late. Overall the onset age of puberty in the USA is trending younger.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Louisiana property title

NOLA property records were among the casualties of Katrina, and the FHA requires title documents to approve mortgage refinances necessary to rebuild and repair damaged homes. NOLA lawyer's correspondence with the FHA

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rate My Life Quiz (thanks, @beckyzoole )

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 8
Mind: 8.1
Body: 7.5
Spirit: 8.4
Friends/Family: 5.6
Love: 7.3
Finance: 6.6
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Your Life Analysis:

Life: Your life rating is a score of the sum total of your life, and accounts for how satisfied, successful, balanced, capable, valuable, and happy you are. The quiz attempts to put a number on the summation of all of these things, based on your answers. Your life score is reasonably high. This means that you are on a good path. Continue doing what is working and set about to improve in areas which continue to lag. Do this starting today and you will begin to reap the benefits immediately.

Mind: Your mind rating is a score of your mind's clarity, ability, and health. Higher scores indicate an advancement in knowledge, clear and capable thinking, high mental health, and pure thought free of interference. Your mind score is within a healthy zone. This means you have achieved a level of mental balance and harmony consistent with living a healthy, happy life. Continue doing what works, and keep your focus. In our fast-paced world, mental clutter is all too common. Be vigilant in maintaining healthy mental function.

Body: Your body rating measures your body's health, fitness, and general wellness. A healthy body contributes to a happy life, however many of us are lacking in this area. You have a rather good body score, which is an indication that you take care of yourself. There is room for improvement, however. Please keep doing what works. Eat right, exercise, reduce your stress, treat any illness. Doing these things will help ensure your body will be in good working order for a long time to come.

Spirit: Your spirit rating seeks to capture in a number that elusive quality which is found in your faith, your attitude, and your philosophy on life. A higher score indicates a greater sense of inner peace and balance. Your spirit score is relatively high, which means you are rewarded by your beliefs. Spirituality is clearly important to do. Never let it slip, and continue to learn and grow.

Friends/Family: Your friends and family rating measures your relationships with those around you, and is based on how large, healthy, and dependable your social network is. Your friends and family score is not bad but can be improved. Maintain your current social net, while you try to expand it. Try new things and form new friendships. You will be rewarded greatly.

Love: Your love rating is a measure of your current romantic situation. Sharing your heart with another person is one of life's most glorious, terrifying, rewarding experiences. Your love score is in good shape, meaning that things are going well. Do all you can to maintain it, and continue to grow and move ahead.

Finance: Your finance rating is a score that rates your current financial health and stability. Your finances are somewhat in the middle, neither bad or exceptional. Keep doing what works for you, and improve what doesn't. Focus on long-term financial stability as your goal.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

I'm test browsing Google Chrome for Mac

I'm test browsing Google Chrome for Mac. So far so good.

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous

NYTimes: Interactive Immigration Map of USA 1880-2000

Immigration Explorer

Posted via web from davidfcooper's posterous