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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Some things change, others don't

Thanksgiving

The wind is howling, bringing in what looks to be a small storm. Perhaps this will be the first white Thanksgiving in a long time.

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Angelina Jolie, cockroaches, and murder by MySpace

Culture

Playing pretend can be confusing, even for cockroaches, computers and celebrities. Sometimes, for ordinary people, it can be deadly.
 
Researchers created teensy robots that look a little like Matchbox RVs, and found they could influence the behavior of real cockroaches. At least, they could once saturated with a little Eau de Cockroach to make them more alluring.

More interestingly, the cockroaches were able to override the comput-roach's programming 39% of the time, according to today's Journal Sentinel.

Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie, who has never been know for her modesty or demureness, told the press that her nudity in the new film sensation Beowulf made her blush. Nevermind that it's virtual nudity brought to us by Animatrix technology.  Somehow, it's more real than real nudity.

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Oh, grow UP redux

Snarky

I know I said I wasn't stupid enough to watch the Forty-somethings Behaving Badly show "Private Practice." Apparently, I have no more self-control than the denizens of Oceanside.

Tonight's segment was called "In Which Sam Gets Taken For a Ride." But as usual, it's the hapless viewer who gets caught up in traffic.

No surprise here, but Dr. Addison, the neonatal surgeon who now delivers babies in swimming pools, and Dr. Violet, the neurotic shrink (shrinking Violet?!), have decided to have no-strings, sport sex with inappropriate men who also happen to be partners in their practice (Dr. Pete, crunchy granola alternative medicine man, and Dr. Cooper, whose specialty seems to be having sex with women he meets on the Internet).

The contorted logic Addison and Vi use to justify these decisions make it clear why they are in a medical show and not a legal one.

Meanwhile, other women who had sex nine months earlier are having babies.

The first, an immense fertility goddess with three hyperactive sons and a giant sloth for a husband, placidly pops out her baby with barely a grunt. So far, so good. But when it turns out that the baby is not the girl she expected but another boy, she shifts gears.

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All these blessings

Spirituality

What a difference a day makes.

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Objectivity? Consider the source

Aging, Beauty, Politics

Nearly everyone "frames" what they report, putting it in a particular context of belief that favors their own viewpoint.

For example, a tax that only affects the very rich sounds like a good idea for the rest of us when it's called "the estate tax." Call it the "death tax," however, and we're all against it because, well, it sounds like those taxes are going to hit the rest of us just like death will.

The big buzz around a new health science report published Nov. 7 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that suggests that Vitamin D may slow aging and prevent aging related diseases is a case study in framing.

“These results are exciting because they demonstrate for the first time that people who have higher levels of vitamin D may age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D,” says team leader Brent Richards, an endocrinologist. “This could help explain how vitamin D has a protective effect on many age-related diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. What's interesting is that there's a huge body of evidence that shows sunshine ages your skin—but it also increases your vitamin D levels. So, like many times in medicine, we find there's a trade-off.”

Dozens of sources reported the study this weekend, and nearly all reports clearly come from the same original source, probably a wire service, and included the paragraph above. But however similar the words may be, the headlines make us see different meanings and implications.

The most neutral headline from a Google search came from France, where Food Navigator.com (Europe)  proclaimed:
Live longer with vitamin D, study says

Most reports from the US and England jumped on a weird take best exemplified by Fox News:
Women Who Spend Time in the Sun May Age More Slowly, Study Says. (No mention that the researchers are talking about 10-15 minutes only of direct sun exposure.)

The American FoodConsumer.org missed a bet when they delivered this pitch:
Wanna live longer? Take vitamin D pills

Fortunately, the Times of India got the Wisconsin frame right:
Milk may provide aging benefits

Now you know why so many scientists hate the news media: they just can't avoid the sexy frame that distorts the facts.

However, I'm sure the Times of India, my new source for all information, is the absolutely objective and just plain. . .right. Here's another health story they report, this time from the Universities of Pittsburgh and California:

Curvy women are cleverer, too: study

Curvy women have been admired for their sensual figures. But, a new study has found that ladies with large hips and small waists are cleverer too, than those with apple-shaped bodies. In fact, according to international researchers, women with an hourglass figure are not only intelligent, they also give birth to brighter children, The Sunday Times reported in London on Sunday.

"The fat around fuller hips and thighs holds higher levels of omega3 fatty acids which are essential for the growth of the brain during pregnancy," the researchers were quoted as saying.

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