Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Genetic Knowledge Grows Yet Again...

A Hunt for Genes That Betrayed a Desert People

I remember talking with a woman who was very interested in Genetics, and she asked me what groups I would think would have genes worth studying. My answers were the usual ones:

  1. Iceland, where the people can be traced to a specific group of people
  2. The Amish, whose separation has led to them escaping certain diseases around them and having diseases no one has, and
  3. The Mormons, another small group with Polygamy included.
She took me to task with the last answer, stating that the genetic group has been expanding over the past fifty years. I reminded her that the original group itself was smallish, plus their history includes lots of polygamy, leading to a narrower genetic base than would be normal.

Turns out my thoughts were a bit limited. Now I'd include a few other groups:
  1. The Australian Aboriginies, as they've lived separated from the rest of humanity long enough to show up genetically
  2. The European Jewish populations, who like the Amish have been separated long enough to avoid the usual diseases and suffer from others.
  3. The Negev Bedouins (see link above), whose inbreeding is causing problems.
I'm sure there's many others. After all, things keep being learned.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Programmable Soda Pop???

Ipifini's Programmable Liquid Container Technology


Okay, maybe it's a decent idea. But I'm not sure the customer would want something that they'd have to make choices on. That's why there's a large choice in Sodas right now: You want what you want, not necessarily a choice once you have it.

Besides, I get the feeling the taste of the included flavors would suffer. Think of it: you get your choice of four different flavors, instead of a good flavor you get sixteen mediocre flavor possibilities. The formulation for a straight Cola soda will be different from lime-flavored cola flavor will be different from cherry-flavored cola, while something made to cross-flavor will end up either uninspired or unbalanced.

Not only that, but imagine if you could pop the caffeine button separately. I could see someone saving eight or ten of these, then popping the caffeine buttons and pouring the liquid into another beverage for a super-caffeine buzz.

Like I said, a decent idea. Now work on it and make it better. Or better yet, let it be -- usually we KNOW what we want.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

My Beefs With Greyhound

OK, what do I NOT like about Greyhound?
  1. To start with, their busses are small, dingy and generic. Even their new busses.
  2. They try to get away with as few busses as possible. That means: instead of adding a bus when it's needed, a bunch of people run late as the company hopes things settle down a bit.
  3. Their new terminals suck. They're too small, their roofs are too low, and every time there's more than two busses waiting to get filled the lines bisect the stations. The old stations may never have been the cleanest buildings in town, but their high roofs and softer lines made them welcoming; the new statins focus more on making the passenger want to get out of their buildings as soon as possible
  4. If you're going to cut back on your services (which I understand is necessary), when why not add flexibility to your schedule. Not everyone wants to go from Chicago to New York, why not allow for busses to go through but allow for the occasional stop with a call from the intermediate terminals/businesses? That way the bus can go straight through when it can, will pull aside to stop when there's the need.
And they wonder why no one wants to ride their busses anymore.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Amerindians Again Take The Hit...

...For Yet Another Euro-American Grasp At Pseudo-Holiness

But then, what do you expect from a people pushed to the sidelines and made to profit off our vices and troubles?

I'm serious. I'd like to see some industries developed that allow a blue-collar working class to develop amongst the American Indians, or at least drive them to become more like the rest, but instead we seem quite content (okay, distrubed in this case, although for the wrong reason) that the group of americans has again found itself taking the detrius of American life and forced to make a living from it.

I wonder what will happen elsewhere as other states become "abortion free" only to find the Amerindians filling the gap their vindictive laws open up. First it's them allowing gambling, now this.

I'd say "get a life, fundies" but people tend to get high off the fumes of their self-righteousness. Blinded to other's sufferings by their victories, their navels become the limits of their gaze. Others suffer, yet they celebrate, willfully unaware of the carnage they cause.

(You want me to say they're celebrating BECAUSE OF the carnage? I'm not THAT mean.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Megabus Challenges Greyhound

Megabus Dot Com Website: Open April 10th

For years after Greyhound bought out Trailways of Oklahoma City, bus service was like Bill Maher's view of airflight: You didn't choose the carrier, the carrier chose you. Most of your riding was done via Greyhound and its helper services, unless you lived on the East Coast and wanted to go up and down the Megalopolis.

Now, finally; some competition where it belongs. Granted, it's limited service to eight large cities with Chicago as its center (and it seems more focused on competing against Amtrak), but it's a start. I could forsee a system of such connections all over the midwest, from Minneapolis to Cincinnati and Saint Louis to Pittsburgh with every semi-major city served (even if once a day each way). I could see four different routes of service from Detroit to Chicago:
  • Detroit-Chicago nonstop
  • Detroit-Ann Arbor-Jackson-Battle Creek-Kalamazoo-Saint Joe-Highland-Chicago
  • Detroit-Flint-Lansing-Battle Creek-Chicago
  • Detroit-Lansing-Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland-Saint Joe-Chicago
  • Detroit-Toledo-Elkhart-South Bend-Highland-Chicago
If you're wondering, Highland isn't a major city, it's a place where Coach USA has a stop. I figure might as well have a couple stops serving Northwest Indiana.

Anyway, food for thought. Welcome food for thought, considering that Greyhound's been disassembling its network.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Old Projects Done; On To The Next Projects

Metra Connects: The Proposed New Starts

With three projects done and out of the way, they're now planning for four newer projects. Two of them are new rail lines (STAR Line and the South East Service) and two of them are upgrades of presently-running lines (UP-Northwest and UP-West).

I'm not sure about the STAR Line. While we're dealing with a couple of good ideas, right now it's just two lines looking each other as their excuse to be built. While it's supposed to be a bypass line, it only connects directly with three other rail lines (and a forth via an odd offset), and the connection to the airport doesn't look like it really serves anything other than the expressway. Maybe if they extended the southern branch to Joliet proper (instead of leaving a forlorn tail just off I-55 north of Joliet) would the line start to make sense as a bypass. Further expansion (which was built into the planning process) also adds to the line and will probably insure that at least the EJE bypass section will be built. I could also see the I-90/O'Hare branch as a hookover towards the UP-Northwest's McHenry branch, turning that into a full line instead of the stump it presently is.

The South East Service is interesting (especially as a relief valve for the Metra Electric), but I doubt it will be built. Proffered as a peace offering to the southern suburbs for the strangely mutated STAR Line and kept from going as far south as it should have (Beecher should have been included in the line), it's too much a stump for Metra to be serious about. If this line gets built, I'll be surprised.

The UP-Northwest is the busiest line in Metra. Even now, Metra wants to expand service on the line. They also want to build new train yards to replace some of the older stuff, and expand the line slightly to the north on the McHenry branch (while adding a rail yard and making the branch a full sister in the line).

The UP-West is interesting in that, even if not everything is done on this line, there's stuff that can be done to improve service both on this line and on some others. The A2 crossing is slow, instable and needs plenty of effort during severe weather to keep working; moving the crossing to a closer spot (the new A1 crossing) would make for a more stable crossing, giving other northern lines better service as well and making space for other improvements. Indeed, were it not for the STAR Line (and credulous Southern Republicans wondering what happened to all that money they spent on the line already), I'm sure this line would get its whole needs funded for the upgrades.

My guess as to what Metra really wants to see happen:
  1. STAR Line "as is"
  2. Replace A2 crossing with A1 crossing on UP-West line, related improvements
  3. Other UP-West improvements
  4. UP-Northwest's structure and line improvements
  5. The South East Service stub line
And what would I like to see happen?
  1. Work on the UP-West, with replacing the A2 as Job #1, other stuff should be done as they're also worthy of doing.
  2. The South East Service given full service, along with other items along the Metra Electric to shift traffic over and make room for South Shore expansion.
  3. A modified STAR Line going from Joliet to the UP-Northwest line. Leave the O'Hare/I-90 stuff to the CTA (or figure a way of linking that section to the McHenry branch of the UP-Northwest line.
  4. UP-Northwest's structure and line improvements; moving of and combining of rail yards is key here.
And that's my two cents on Metra's future plans.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Would I REALLY Want To Be "Wanted" If I Were A Child?

Probably one of the biggest cries in the "pro-choice" crowd (the idea being that the people having the children should CHOOSE to have the children, not so much that they should enjoy their butchering from within their bodies) is "Every Child a Wanted Child"

You sure you want that? Not so much because supposedly children have been getting more and more abused (There's other reasons for that -- divorce, constant moving, class and other things), but because of who's wanting the kids and who's not wanting them.

First, let's look at the statistics. In "Freakonomics" it is noticed that since abortion became bulletproof the number of conceptions grew 30%, but births only fell 6%. In other words, the action itself tended to inflate its own importance. Granted, there were people born who probably shouldn't have been, but one would think that, with one out of four babies/fetuses forced out of the womb before they could survive on their own, you'd see more than a 6% drop-off in births.

Second, let's consider who'd be likely to want a kid, and why. Not a complete list, mind you, but a parcel of people who you might not want to have children but will have them anyway:
  • Teenaged girls looking for a way out of the home, knowing they'll get a place and enough $$$ to live independently
  • Teenaged girls rebelling against their mothers
  • Women looking for someone to love, who won't leave them (because they can't)
  • Women (or Girls) who, having lived a few years of a self-centered relationship, find themselves suddenly with a purpose and reason in life because of an accident (the "Pappa Don't Preach" effect)
  • Girls who've become so ensconced in a relationship with their father or uncle that they couldn't think of saying "no" if they wanted to (every so often there's a story about a woman having borne 22 children (10 who've survived with genetic damage intact) and it turns out the children's father is also their grandfather)
And what about those who wouldn't want a kid? Those who you'd want to breed, but choose not to:
  • Smart women after a career more than a family
  • Women who should be able to find a man except they want something more than a man's going to give them.
  • Rich woman more into buying stuff than raising children
Or, as a song pointed out, "looked around and noticed only stupid people were breeding." (or words to that effect)

It is a concern. While I'm not worried about replacing myself in the future (THAT'S been taken care of already, by proxy if not directly), there is something to be said about the quality of the replacements. Since the same book notes that oftentimes how one's life turns out is based on the conditions one was born into, the fact that the wombs of the well-to-do and well-done are being kept barren while the troubled and struggling are fruitful is troubling on its own level.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Missouri Valley Conference Cries To The Big Ten and Big Twelve:

Overated (clap clap clapclapclap)
Overated (clap clap clapclapclap)

Look at the brackets for the NCAAs Sweet 16 and you will find:
  • Teams from the Missouri Confrence: 3
  • Teams from the Big Twelve: 1
  • Teams from the Big Ten: 0
Now as it happens, the two Missouri Conference teams will have to face each other for their chance to make it to the Elite Eight, but that means the Missouri Conference will have at least one team in the Elite Eight, at least equal to the Big Twelve and more than the Big Ten can muster.

While not necessarily indicative of the talent historically (Big Ten teams have regularly made it to the final four, sometimes two at a time), it is definitely indicative of how things went this year. Not Big Ten team was able to win on the road -- usually a sign of a team able to handle the pressure of win-or-die games which is the hallmark of the NCAA basketball tourney.

Maybe next year will see the Big Ten teams return to their usual form. Or maybe not -- depending on which team you're talking about. While many of the other teams will probably continue with their intra-conference strength, MSU has a threat coming from Ann Arbor.

That's right: The ever present Wolverines.

One of the reasons Spartan fans try to minimize the school to the southeast is simply because whenever that school has decided to pay attention to something, it has effortlessly bypassed MSU. It happened with football in 1968, it happened with Hockey in the late eighties, and it looks like it might happen with basketball, with UofM getting more mentions on the radio as being on (or near the) top of the Big Ten conference. While I hope it doesn't mean the end of Tom Izzo's tenure at MSU, it would appear he may have to work harder to keep the team competitive.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

MSU Basketball Team Loses, Local Police Relieved.

George Mason Butchers Michigan State University

At least there won't be any riots at East Lansing this year.

But seriously, it's sad that one can see a silver lining in something as disasterious as a first-round loss to some third-level basketball team playing badly.

Having attended Michigan State University and lived in and around East Lansing for a few years after that, I would love to be able to consider their winning a good thing, but there's been this undercurrent of riots during March Madness for the past seven years.

I could give you a history of the MSU "riots" from the 1983 "Sorry Cops, You're Not allowed" bottling to the 1986 Cedarmess (where they listened to the city and cops saying "you're going to shameful" and took the words to heart) to the events leading to the 1999 Final 4 loss riot (from a spontanious block party and its aftermath to a protest gone wild from lack of an allowed venue). All those I understood.

But the shit that started happening after the final four loss in 1999...sickens me to no end.

To the people at Michigan State University: You're under a stronger microscope than that other college to the south and east of you. Always have been, always will. That means you have a higher set of standards to live up to, not the freedom to crap yourself in the pants when you get the chance.

I should be proud every time the MSU football and basketball teams do good. I shouldn't have to sigh with relief when MSU loses to Northwestern or George Mason, nor should I be ashamed by the actions of its students when the teams do well.

Understand this: most people in the United States base their opinion of colleges on how sports teams do and how their students express their school spirit. Potential students may make an effort to look at what a school can get them, but most of the decision has already been made thanks to the sports teams and ran reaction.

And in the last seven years, MSU students have made a case that they deserve second-class status for themselves. And guess what -- the teams have responded in kind. The football team has entered the lower half of the Big Ten standings, and the basketball team has started to get bad. Coincidence? I think not.

Thus ends my (what would probably be annual, had this thing been out for a few years) end-of-the-basketball-season rant on MSU fans' behavior. I would love to have been able to sing the praises of a happy celebration after a championship (or a semifinal loss), but at this point I'll have to settle for sarcasm over a quasi-dissapointing ending.

Edited post, original (much smaller) posting done 10pm March 17th, full posting 10am March 18th.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Abortion Supported By 70% In The U.S.? Not So Fast...

One statistic I keep running into that desperately needs looking at is the stat used by pro-abortionists that 70% of the people in the United States strongly support the right to abortion. Not so much because, given the right massaging of words and an unknowing audience of questionees you can create a 90-100% support or opposition rate, but because of how people believe and why.

More to the point: when I read a book on alternative history ("Lies They Taught Me"), they talked about the Bombing in North Vietnam. Interesting, the majority of Americans (US) supported the bombing UNTIL the bombing stopped, at which point the majority opposed the bombings.

Now, this was not due to some great awakening. More to the point, it's because a sizeable portion of people have little opinion (outside of the idea that whatever's now popular is okay by them) on any subject. It's not necessarily the same people, but any question will have that portion of respondents who go the way the wind's blowing.

How does that impact on the Abortion issue?

Right now, about seventy percent agree with or accept the present situation -- abortion being legal with some limitations. Now the question that comes to my mind is: How much of that is bedrock support, and how much of it is support for whatever is legal at the time.

A Prediction: If the anti-abortionists get most or all of their wish -- Roe v Wade adjusted or inverted to the point where the courts use it to ban abortion -- there will be a sizeable amount of newfound support coming from those who show up on the 70% pro-abortion rights side because right now the laws are pro-abortion (with limits). In short, the anti-abortionists will get their majority thanks to people who, upon seeing the abortion laws change, justify the changes to themselves.

The question, of course, is how many stand in support of abortion rights no matter what. If that number is in the forties a year after the change, there's a chance for a loosening of the anti-abortion laws. If the number drops into the mid-twenties or below the radical right may want to think about pushing through an amendment defining life as starting upon ejaculation of the male (can't risk condom use now can you -- oh, wait, that's pre-emptory abortions...), as the core support for an anti-conception amendment would prove bigger and stronger than the core opposition against such an amendment.

[And as for my use of terms: "life" and "choice" are but mis-defining euphamisms for what's being discussed here. A fetus can't survive outside the womb unhurt for most of its developmental period, but the act itself seeks to stop what would normally develop. I'm just talking about abortion and my surmise of those who support it; nothing else, nothing more.]

Monday, March 13, 2006

Faces Of Meth

Faces of Meth, from Partnership For a Drug Free America

Seriously, follow the link above. Click on the left, look at the pictures on the right.

Probably the most intriguing part of this for me is looking at the girl's hair color. Seems it gets wilder the longer they're on Meth. Brunettes and platinum blondes go redhead, and redheads go multi-colored. Sure, they mugs are uglier on the after side (and no, I wouldn't hit on them either before or (DEFINITELY) after), but the hair says more to me than most anything else.

And so what if the link site is a bit lame -- this page itself is worth seeing, if nothing else to see what you're about to get into if you actually decide to continue with the noxious habit. I don't think that even crack was as bad -- and it bitch-slapped the poorer urban neighborhoods like you wouldn't believe.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

On Saint Etienne (In Lieu Of Their Rumored Retirement)

There are different forms of music for different locations and viewpoints, and the moods they nurture. For the rebellious there's punk and ska, for the more laid back there's reggae. Rap, blues and R&B work well for those who identify with urban lifestyles, and there's country for those who identify more with farms, towns and the rural lifestyle.

And for Suburbia, there's pop.

Granted, much of that pop area has since been taken over by a country music industry hungry to own the nation's taste in music, but pop is still the proper sound for the miles and miles of lawns, shopping centers and parks that have developed around the city as the answer to the crowded, decrepit (or sanitized) business of too many people jostling in too little space. While many artistes freely depict the suburbs as soulless, lifeless wastelands of culture and humanity (to put it mildly), for more than half the United States they are the promised land to run to and/or live in.

And the music for such a space must be light, bouncy and pretty. Light because one runs here to escape the cares of the world, bouncy to keep you going (even in the depths of dispair) and pretty because good art is in some way agreeable. And (here's something most people never consider) you can pack in a lot of sadness in a space of a few happy minutes; watch It's A Wonderful Life for a good example.

And Saint Etienne? They've been doing pop since the early nineties. Sadly they've been a cult group of sorts, one which one has to know about stuff to find out about; but once you find out about them you fall for them.

I've read in the paper that Turnpike House may be their last release. If so, I wish the group well.

Although I will be much the sadder for it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Define "Dumb Punks." Define "Anything."

Okay, Jello Biafra.

I can understand you being pissed off over your band being taken away from you. I can understand you being pissed over their gleeful tone with every rebuffing of your actions. I can even understand your being pissed over the tour.

But let's face it: when you had the catalog all you did was let the same old five CDs all the time, it gets a bit tiresome. Maybe if you'd put out a live LP (Like Live At The Deaf Club), maybe you wouldn't have been in a position to LOSE the distribution rights to the music. Not only that, but maybe if you weren't as snide as usual. It's fun to hear you rip into every right-wing sacred cow, but it's a bit of a pain in the ass when you don't know when you're going too far.

I mean, here's these songs your average punker has only heard on CD (or cassette, or even vinyl) for years, finally being performed by most of the band. Okay, so the lead singer is different, but it's three quarters of the band and it's songs they've loved for many years. You expect them to say "Sorry, but Jello Biafra doesn't want me to see you guys, so I'll skip over the band's appearance?" Not the easiest thing to do. I'm old enough to know better (and don't get me started at that), but what about your average punker who got to know the DKs in 1995, or better yet, 2003?

Of course, it's not like you DON'T have a leg to stand on. While it's true that the other three guys have tried to do stuff, their reunion indeed smells of a selling out and cashing in on what was. While "Live At the Deaf Club" was a wonderful breath of fresh air (showcasing the early DKs live), THAT OTHER LIVE ALBUM WHICH I WON'T DIGNIFY BY NAMING was a crass collection of lame songs from the latter days. Lots of repackagings, lots of retrospectives, and nothing new has given the latest pseudo-incarnation of the band a stench that makes "Bedtime for Quality/DKs/Democracy" smell sweet, flowery and musky (that LP was rushed, but at least there was some good stuff on it. Now if it had been an EP, it would have been a great exit CD). In short, the other three seem content to be lame, generic cartoons of their younger selves.

But at the very least, make an effort to understand what's going on. And you have to admit: The DKs with Kenneth Lay would be VERY interesting, if nothing else for the sheer surrealism factor (on both sides: the "3/4 of the DKs" side is easy to understand, but what would Kenneth Lay be doing in a dive near a hundred violently moshing maniac, singing songs skewering himself and his friends/allies/family members?). I'd go see it for the surrealism alone.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Garfield Without the Cat's Thought Balloons:

Garfield without the cat's thoughts: random cartoons

Garfield without the cat's thoughts: Jon goes into Madness

Here's a couple of links which takes a look at that most generic of all comics: Garfield. Thing is, they take away Garfield's thought balloons and leave Jon talking to himself.

Very existential, and sometimes morbid. Can also be funny, with the right cartoons.

There's also been some odd items where Garfield was totally removed, and also a Garfield randomizer which was removed when Mr. Davis (owner of Garfield) realized it was funnier than he'd ever be and "Intellectual Property'd" it out of existence.

Do I hate Garfield? Nah. Could care less about it, as it's probably the blandest thing out there. I've seen much better, smarter, and more sensual comics die untimely deaths while stuff that makes pablum look tasty, juicy and colorful lives on and on.

Just my two cents worth.

2004: The year the moral shoe dropped

  1. Ronald Reagan was elected to office thanks so some dodgy activities by Iran and the good luck of running against a president who was both unlucky and bad. After getting shot by some lovesick dweeb (It makes total sense to me that Jodie Foster's queer. Thank you, Hinkley.), he was able to crush the PATCO union, setting off the persecution of workers that marked the Reagan Administration. The Minimum Wage becoming useless.
Thus the economic shoe was dropped. This is why CEOs get millions of dollars specifically for disinvesting in America and looting worker's retirement funds. This is why unemployment is now considered God's Justice. That's why Bankrupcy law now only exists for corporations (the bankruptcy law needed adjusting, not gutting and ruining).
  1. A president who got in thanks to his brother's fixing the vote in Florida (and a Democratic Candidate who chose to lose instead of admit the party's need for Black voters) gets a(n appearant) majority of the popular vote the second time. As such, it counts as a mandate (twice: first for gaining in percentage of votes, second because before he had the minority of votes and now he got the majority of votes) not just for him, but for the Xians who supported him at the pulpits and ballots.
Thus we see the moral shoe drop. How far this will go is not yet known, but already there've been changes: A historically conservative justice nominee was tossed aside for a known moral conservative. One state (admittedly the least important state in the union) has taken the two rulings (Roe v Wade: No Bans on Abortion; Doe v Bolton: Must Allow for Life and/or Health of Mother) to its most restrictive interpretation: Abortion allowed ONLY in cases where the life of the mother is in danger. Other states are jumping at the bit to take that step, and should the Supreme Court accept it (No need for reshaping precident -- as I stated above, it can be read as fitting in the Roe v Wade/Doe v Bolton mix) be assured that you'll be able to count the states with "liberal" abortion laws (allows for incest and rape, also some overly busy clinics for other cases) on two hands (although not with all fingers and thumbs).

And no, this isn't paranoia talking: Voting Christians are the most active group in politics (outside of the corporatistas, of course) in the United States. And while it's supposed to be majority rule (or consideration), usually it's those who shout the loudest that get what's theirs. And who was the largest group of voters in 2004? Voting Christians, with 22% of voters, 40+% of Bush's support. Needless to say, the loudest voice gets heard and listened to and obeyed; just watch the laws passed.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Just read "Why America Stopped Voting"

Okay, so I'm a bit late on this, but I finished reading the above listed book recently and found it a good, interesting read.

The gist of the book goes like this:
  1. In the last two decades of the 19th century almost everyone who could vote, voted. While this excluded most of the women, it included every man -- even those who had not yet become US Citizens. And they voted often, as votes were planned monthly and many seats were up for election every year.

  2. The two parties were a part of everyday life. Everything was done to whip up support for the party, every day. This, of course, included every tactic under the sun, from those supporting their people to those ripping at the other to activities now deemed illegal and immoral (many votes were paid for back in these days).

  3. The benefits of winning elections were enormous for the party faithful. The parties had control of where the money went, so many benefits that came from the Government (mail, roads, infrastructure, help) went to those who supported the winning side. This also led to a corruption society in government that led to instability at various points.

  4. The parties were wide-ranging collections of groups. Some groups were steadfast with one party, other groups went with parties depending on what was going on around them, still others could shift around at will. Many kept a watchful eye at what was going on, and were bound to jump if they didn't see enough benefit from their support.

  5. The result was a very instable government, in which seats weren't held for long and the balance of power could shift wildly every two or four years. Indeed, actions meant to extend the power of the party in power would often backfire, leading to an amazing amount of instability.

  6. Due to various forces (some not talked about in the book, as his focus are elections activites and their effects), voting begins to go down amongst the young.

  7. Reforms done in the early part of the 20th century add to the dropping rates of participation by making active participation harder and harder for many. From anti-immigrant activites to centralized (government-paid) ballots to measures meant to exclude blacks from voting (and reaching onto poorer, less literate whites) in the South to the expansion of an independent civil service, the reforms make it harder and harder for people to vote.

  8. As a result, the parties retreat to their spheres of influence: The North goes Republican and the South goes Democrat.
(Note that we're talking old Democrat vs old Republican. Changes have happened since then that have flipped the parties around, a change which has actually been reflected in the map colorations -- the party colors have been changed but the coloration based on regions has stayed consistent.)

It's interesting to hear the press complain about people not voting; while I'd like to see more Democratic voters (and maybe more reason to vote Democratic without holding one's nose), I wonder if anyone REALLY wants to see what it would take to get 80% or more of the voting public to actually vote.

Also leads to an understanding of how the Republicans see themselves (more on that later...).

Friday, March 03, 2006

Side Benefit to Pregnancy??

Babies' Cells Linger, May Protect Mothers

Interesting thought, that through childbirth a woman can gain protection and healing. Does sound too good to be true, but it would be an intriguing partial explanation as to married (i.e. with children) women living longer than single (i.e. childless) women.

(If you're talking men, that has a more straightforward answer: Married men eat better, sleep better, and are watched over more by their wives than single men are. The discipline from marriage also helps out. That's why most men joke about marriage but seek it out: we men know the benefits and want them for ourselves.)

Also leads me to some thoughts on another "Too Good To Be True" idea: Abortion Leads to Breast Cancer (Too Good To Be True means it's believed because it fits your beliefs, not because of any truth behind the claim.). If both end up proven to act in real life, I could see a link in the two: Breast cells that have changed partway to produce milk may be receptive to "foreign" stem cells which cause them to mutate.

But let's remember: we're talking possibilities, nothing even tested out. The Abortion/Breast Cancer link has been pretty much shown as almost nonexistent in studies (look at the link above; there's a hint at mid-term and late-term, but nothing solid yet), while the post-childbearing healing powers of pregnancy are merely (widely) whispered about. Still, they're ideas worth looking at, but only ideas. Nothing to base life choices around, yet.