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Monday, April 25, 2011

Reading fulfils psychological need to belong

Given a chance, many of us would happily spend an entire day curled up with a book. But researchers say reading is not just a hobby, it satisfies a deeply human, evolutionarily requirement -- the need to belong.

"The study explains how this everyday phenomenon - reading - works not just for escape or education, but as something that fulfils a deep psychological need," says psychologist Ariana Young, from the University of Buffalo, US.

Shira Gabriel, who led a study with Young, surveyed 140 undergraduates about their need for staying connected by identifying with groups, reports the journal Psychological Science.

Some students were made to read a passage from the novel "Twilight", in which Edward describes what it feels like to be a vampire and his romantic interest Bella, according to a Buffalo statement.

Others read a passage from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", in which Hogwarts students are separated into 'houses' and Harry meets potions professor Severus Snape.

Participants were given 30 minutes to read the passages and were instructed to simply read for their own pleasure. Then, two measures gauged the participants' psychological affiliation with vampires or wizards.

As predicted, on both measures, Harry Potter readers "became" wizards and the Twilight readers "became" vampires.

Besides, participants who were more group-oriented in life, showed the highest assimilation effects. Finally, "belonging" to these fictional communities delivered the same mood and life satisfaction people get from affiliation with real-life groups.

When last did you read a book comprehensively?Please send your responses and questions to track2311@yahoo.com and track2311@counsellor.com.You are also encouraged to made your comments and views heard by posting them in the comments' column below...........


Friday, April 22, 2011

Study: Barcelona players best paid in world sport

Barcelona and Real Madrid have overtaken the New York Yankees as the best-paid global sports teams, according to a British study.

The review published Wednesday showed annual average pay during the 2009-10 season was $7.9 million at Barcelona and $7.4 million at Real Madrid.

The Yankees are paying their players an average of $6.8 million this season. The team last year topped the review which is compiled by www.sportingintelligence.com and is being published by ESPN The Magazine.

The NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic occupy the fourth and fifth spots, followed by English Premier League champion Chelsea.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal also are among the 30 best-paid teams, making the Premier League the richest soccer league in the world. In the top 30, there are 10 NBA teams and eight MLB clubs.

The report looked at average first-team pay in 14 of the world's leading sports leagues, including Aussie Rules Football and cricket's Indian Premier League.

"We've know for years that the biggest bucks have been in American basketball and baseball but the rise and rise in wages among the elite of European football continues, closing that gap," said Nick Harris, the report's author.

That, however, could change with new regulations from the Union of European Football Associations that starting next season will force clubs to stop spending more than they earn.

"Financial Fair Play regulations may act as a brake on this inflation in football pay in a few years' time, but for now the big guns in Europe are still splashing out," Harris said.

Do we really believe in diversity?

What do you look like? And when was that impression formed in your mind?

Chances are that some of the negative terms you use to describe yourself date back to the playground, when critical peers first found your unique points and made you notice them.

'I’m a shorty.'

'My nose is big and ugly.'

'I’m fat and my bum is too flat.'

It’s pretty unlikely that you are so different or unattractive that you stand out in the crowd. But as a society we expend an awful lot of energy trying to persuade ourselves – and our children – that it’s best to conform to a norm that doesn’t exist.

Your body is a problem
It starts really young and getting younger all the time. Even US first lady Michelle Obama has been encouraging people to measure their children’s BMIs (body mass index) to see if they could be spiralling towards being overweight. In Malaysia, there’s a move to put children's BMI's on their report cards.

In a brilliant blogpost on the subject, food activist Liz Snyder sums up the damage done to naturally plumper children by categorising their different body shape as a problem:

'Fat kids spiral – many of them perfectly healthy to begin with (those naturally on the right end of the curve) – into social isolation, eating disorders, and a cycle of failed diets that sets them up for a LIFETIME of struggle.'

It’s a pattern I recognise with pain, having gone down exactly that road myself from plump childhood to obese adulthood to an uneasy middle-aged truce with my body.

For others it's a struggle about not having the right accent, speaking English with a Model C accent or Afrikaans with an English accent, or coming from the wrong side of town.

When we’re not judging our weight or our voices, we fall back on the question of skin pigment – and for every little black girl hankering after blue eyes, there’s a white teen spraying herself orange in an effort not to look so unattractively white.

Our actions as parents are the most important. If your teenager sees you hating your large breasts or frizzy hair every day, why would she think hers is lovable? It takes an effort of will to say: 'Here I am. My hair curls like this, my hips curve like that and I speak with a slightly nasal twang.'

But it’s worth doing, to give our children a mirror to look in and see the good, normal and desirable variation that makes us human.

And beautiful.

What’s the best way to keep children healthy and fit while embracing diversity?

Protest against Egypt Christian governor

TENS of thousands of protesters massed in a southern Egyptian city yesterday and cut off a major railway to demand the exit of a Christian governor as the government sought to resolve the crisis, police officials said.


The protests began last Friday after Emad Mikhail, a former Cairo police commander, was appointed governor of Qena, the second Coptic Christian governor in a row.
The protesters' motivations appear to vary but the presence of hardline Islamists has raised sectarian tensions in the province, which has a large Christian population and a history of religious strife.
Police officials said the protesters gathered in front of the governor's headquarters and reinforced demonstrators already camped out on a railway track after Friday prayer sermons exhorted them to end the sit-in.
Some of the protesters said they should have been consulted in the appointment of a new governor, especially one with a background in the country's vilified police force.

State television aired interviews with protesters who denied they were Islamists, but a Coptic Bishop in the province said the demonstrators have been heard chanting anti-Christian slogans.
"The protests are sectarian," Bishop Kirilos of the nearby town of Nagaa Hammadi told AFP.
"They are led by Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood, and they are chanting: 'We won't leave until the Christians leave,'" he said.

The bishop, who was present when Muslim gunmen killed six churchgoers after an evening mass in January 2010, said parishioners were fearful of further attacks.

But a prominent Salafi cleric in Cairo, Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, denied that his sect, which advocates a return to early Muslim practices, was spearheading the protests.

"People object to him because he has a security background, and also because he was appointed as though for a Coptic quota, and Qena always gets the quota Christian," he said."My religion forbids me from being ruled by a Christian, but if he were popular I would be willing to set aside my religious objection," he said.
Many traditional Muslim scholars believe a Christian or a woman may not rule a Muslim country.
The government has unsuccessfully tried to persuade the demonstrators to disperse by sending two prominent Salafi clerics to negotiate with them along with the interior minister.

State television reported that Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was preparing to head a delegation to the southern city to defuse the crisis.Copts make up about 10 per cent of the country's 80 million people and have been the targets of attacks.

The protests in Qena have served as a stark reminder to some of the persistence of sectarian tensions after a popular revolt ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February.
Telecoms billionaire Nagib Sawaris, who launched a liberal party after Mubarak's ouster, wrote on his Twitter account that the protests showed a Christian would stand little chance of becoming the country's president.
"To those who said I should run for president: if we can't even have a Copt as Qena governor, what about Egypt?," he wrote.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wonderful and yet stresful-1st day of preschool

So we've finally ventured into the school zone.

If you’ve ever wondered if you should be sending your child to school – the answer is yes. I held off for as long as I could with seeing my twins boys Er (Ernest) and Ea (Earnest) off to nursery school because of all the usual fears – will they spend all morning standing at the window crying for me? What if the other kids don’t want to play with them? Will they feel like I’ve abandoned them? Though their nursery school was just a stone throw away from our home yet I could not stand seeing them wailing and screaming as I turned my back.At that point,I had the stunning flashback about my own experience as my mum Sarah took me to school on that fateful day........


The truth is – they probably will cry a little but their nurses and teachers will know what to do to get them distracted; after all we all at some point in our academic lives trek that same route. Er was very upset the first few days and the best advice we got was – just carry on! As for the master Ea, though a bit reserved by then,he found it cool easily being at school and always look up to thier early morning preparation for school.Eventually your little one will realise that they are not going to get out of going to school (regardless of the wailing and tears) and begin to settle in.

And sure, the other kids might not like him straight away, but eventually he will make a friend and then they’ll probably never leave each other’s side. And while you may feel like you’ve abandoned him, I can guarantee that 5 minutes after you’ve left he’ll be just fine!

Be prepared for day one
 

Er and Ea favourite thing in the world is being neatly and colorfully dressed up by elders, so on their first day they were neatly dressed and their back packs tugged on their backs, filled with toys,lunch boxes, juice bottles and pencil cases, oh yes, and their towels and extra clothes just in case.

Don’t be alarmed if your kid wants to take something with him from home, it acts as a safety blanket. Just let the teacher know what he’s got so it at least comes home with him and doesn’t end up finding a new owner by the end of the day.

Leaving your child with someone new is never easy! I was nervous that whole morning but I don’t think it really hit me until I had to walk away from their class while they screamed and leave my babies behind. I felt like 'this is it - my little boys have got to wail today like I did when Mother Sarah left me on my 1st day at school with a sored heart yet determined that I stay to become what I am today...'

I felt emptied as I drove to work that morning -even at work I was not that bright and optimistic guy.Surely,an integral part of me was missing. And even though I knew I’d see them again when I got home, it felt like a lifetime till then. Frankly, I opted to have left my office and came home even before midday. Only to find myself peeping in their class.I was later told that it took those little rascals just five minutes after I’d left and were happily doing their art works and writing their languages only their teacher did understand.Hahahahahaha. 


Er and Ea’s routine before starting school was very relaxed – they had their mom,brothers and nurse at home and they were being showered with excessive love and care.So it was playing, eating, watching DVDs and playing with other kids that kept them busy. So the school routine of sitting and doing tasks was quite a shock to the system.

What I found helps in the mornings is that after they have gotten dressed and had breakfast is to just sit and model up and down the living room – even if it’s just for 5 minutes. 


Although nothing can fully prepare you or your child for their first day, it is a necessary step in their development.

How quickly did your child adjust to preschool? Comment below or mail us on track2311@yahoo.com.

Film claims discovery of nails from Jesus's cross

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Could two of the nails used to crucify Jesus have been discovered in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem?

And could they have mysteriously disappeared for 20 years, only to turn up by chance in a Tel Aviv laboratory?

That is the premise of the new documentary film "The Nails of the Cross" by veteran investigator Simcha Jacobovici, which even before its release has prompted debate in the Holy Land.

The film follows three years of research during which Jacobovici presents his assertions -- some based on empirical data, others requiring much imagination and a leap of faith.

He hails the find as historic, but most experts and scholars contacted by Reuters dismissed his case as far-fetched, some calling it a publicity stunt.

Many ancient relics, including other nails supposedly traced back to the crucifixion, have been presented over the centuries as having a connection to Jesus. Many were deemed phony, while others were embraced as holy.

Jacobovici, who sparked debate with a previous film that claimed to reveal the lost tomb of Jesus, says this find differs from others because of its historical and archaeological context.

"What we are bringing to the world is the best archaeological argument ever made that two of the nails from the crucifixion of Jesus have been found," he said in an interview, wearing his trademark traditional knitted cap.

"Do I know 100 percent yes, these are them? I don't."

CONSPIRACY, SLIP-UP OR BASELESS?

The film begins by revisiting an ancient Jerusalem grave discovered in 1990 which was hailed by many at the time as the burial place of the Jewish high priest Caiaphas, who in the New Testament presides over the trial of Jesus.

The grave, along with a number of ossuaries, or bone boxes, was uncovered during construction work on a hillside a few kilometers south of the Old City. It has since been resealed.

Caiaphas is a major figure in the Gospels, having sent Jesus to the Romans and on to his death, and one of Jacobovici's assertions is that the high priest was not such a bad guy.

Two iron nails were found in the tomb, one on the ground and one actually inside an ossuary, and, according to the film, mysteriously disappeared shortly after. Jacobovici says he tracked them down to a laboratory in Tel Aviv of an anthropologist who is an expert on ancient bones.

And if they are indeed the same nails -- eaten away by rust and bent at the end, almost purposefully -- was their disappearance a conspiracy or a logistical slip-up?

No definite answer is offered.

Either way, Jacobovici shows why those nails could have been used in a crucifixion, which was a common practice two thousand years ago. He then offers his theory about why they may have been used in the most famous crucifixion in history.

"If you look at the whole story, historical, textual, archaeological, they all seem to point at these two nails being involved in a crucifixion," he said. "And since Caiaphas is only associated with Jesus's crucifixion, you put two and two together and they seem to imply that these are the nails."

The Israel Antiquities Authority, which oversaw the Jerusalem excavation, said in reaction to the film's release that it had never been proven beyond doubt that the tomb was the burial place of Caiaphas. It also said that nails are commonly found in tombs.

"There is no doubt that the talented director Simcha Jacobovici created an interesting film with a real archaeological find at its center, but the interpretation presented in it has no basis in archaeological findings or research," it said.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

REMEMBERING THE HORRORS OF 'OPERATION APRIL 6'

Yesterday marked 15 long yet memorable years since Mama Liberia,her enfants and humanity at large witnessed some of the most gruesome atrocities inflicted upon the helpless Liberian populace at the hands of those bandits and bloodthirsty 'self style liberators'..............As we stroll down memory's lane,I vividly remember seeing (on CNN) Monrovia and her suburban ablaze and thousands wandering up and down the emptied streets of Monrovia.............

Oh little did I know that my very loving dad like many hundreds more affectionate dads was a victim of the imfamous and power rapaciuos April 6.In an earnest effort to remember the day and all those who lost thier lives,loveones,properties and those whose lives(I'm inclusive) have  never been the same since that fateful day,I chose to re-publish this article written by a brother the Comrade Emmanuel Heroditus Payne,Jr.

REMEMBERING THE HORRORS OF 'OPERATION APRIL 6'
By: Emmanuel H. Payne Jr.

What I saw as the tragic paradox of the Liberian civil war occurred on the morning of April 6 , 1996 , when an unholy matrimony between two foes - Alhaji kromah and Charles Taylor - was formed and sought to eliminate one of the main variables in the Liberian political equation , Mr. Roosevelt Johnson.

On this day , panic-stricken residents were awakened by loud reports of machine gun fire and the 'kpa--kpa- gbo-- gbos ' of AK47 Riffles as the drugged libertines and urchins and armed bandits , some of them wearing masks and synthetic hair, commandeered private and business vehicles to the scene of contention in the Sinkor district of eastern Monrovia. Within days Monrovia and it suburbs were infested with thousands of 'killing machines' and looters from the bushes of rural Liberia.

For several weeks to come this evil marriage, acting under the pretense of enforcing justice, was to rain havoc on the city of Monrovia and its inhabitants while the peace keepers and a detachment of US MARINES protecting the American diplomatic mission near Monrovia , stood aloof and served as mere spectators of this bloody military drama. Monrovia became a Mogadishu on the West coast and out of the desperation , hundreds could prefer the risk of sailing in rotten vessels than to be killed for no apparent reason by blood-thirsty and trigger-happy criminals on both sides.



Exactly a decade afterwards , I remember the horrors of April 6 and pay tribute to those who were fallen by the bandits swords and arms.

But I must confess the degree of relief I also feel on this tenth year memorial, that the senior architect and partner in the evil marriage that unleashed terrors on us , DAHKPANA , is facing the weight of justice abroad. I am reminded of a parable " a child who refuses cool advice at home will get harsh correction outside."

I hope that Kromah , Gen. Butt-Naked(who is currently disguised as an evangelist , though evangelism does not provide escape from the wrath of justice) and others , will realize that they owe sincere apology to the Liberian people for their roles in the ATROCITIES of April 1996 in particular and the civil war as a whole.

About the Author:
EMMANUEL H. PAYNE JR.
A LIBERIAN WRITER AND STUDENT ADVOCATE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Should I wait? Ladies' duo puzzle.

You've resolved to wait a few years to have a baby, but is that a wise choice? Is it possible to fool Mother Nature into disregarding the ticking of our biological clocks?

Women used to start families when they were in their late teens and twenties. Nowadays, many are choosing to postpone motherhood until they're well into their thirties. Have we managed to slow down our biological clocks or are we simply learning to ignore the ticking?
Born at the right time
Our biological clocks are definitely not slowing down, nor can we turn back the hands of time to make more space in our busy schedules for having babies, says Dr Johan van Rensburg, a fertility specialist at Medfem Clinic in Johannesburg.
"The biological clock is similar to an ATM at the bank. Every month we withdraw money. Unfortunately, the body cannot issue transaction slips telling us that there are so many ova remaining and how much time we have left to have babies. One day we will simply discover that there are no more reserves left."
Van Rensburg says the general rule, which applies to 90% of all women, is that you should have fallen pregnant by 35. "For many women, 35 is already too late, however, and they only find out once they unsuccessfully try to have a baby."
It is possible to determine your chances of having a baby via a series of hormone tests. "Prior to undergoing these tests, a woman should stop taking oral contraceptives for at least a month and the tests need to be done on the third day of her menstrual cycle," according to Van Rensburg.
He warns that the results of these tests are merely an indication of what's going on in a woman's body at that particular time. They are not a reliable measure of future fertility.
The average woman is born with 150 000 to 400 000 ova in her Fallopian tubes and 20 to 50 of these are released every month. Only one of them develops sufficiently to stand a chance of being fertilised. A couple in their twenties stands a 20-25% chance of conceiving during a normal cycle. The number of times they have sex, stress and the physical condition of each partner are the major factors that influence the likelihood of having a baby. As time goes by, the probability decreases.
What can I do?
You can protect your biological clock with sound lifestyle choices, according to Van Rensburg. "Regular exercise, a healthy and balanced diet and low stress levels can help preserve the ova left in your body."

  • Stop smoking and double your chances of having a baby. If your partner smokes excessively, it could lower his sperm count, inhibit the movement of the sperm and adversely affect its quality.


  • Use antioxidants along with a multi-vitamin supplement to boost your immune system and limit the adverse effects of free radicals.


  • Limit alcohol, which could inhibit sperm production, and increases the chances of a miscarriage.


  • Reduce stress in your own life and encourage your partner to do the same.


  • Watch what you eat by avoiding too much sugar, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, fats and salt. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and include avos, olives, nuts, seeds and olive oil in your diet, to boost your intake of fatty acids. Eat complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, brown rice, maize meal and wheat, instead of processed or refined foods, to keep your blood sugar levels stable. High blood sugar can adversely affect the quality of your ova. The period when you're trying to conceive is not the time to try out a low-kilojoule starvation-type diet.


  • Maintain a healthy body weight because Van Rensburg says women should realise that they could become permanently infertile if they are too thin. "The hypothalamus sustains damage and even if your weight normalises, the effects could prove irreversible." (The hypothalamus is located in the brain and is responsible for vital bodily functions such as controlling your temperature, regulating hormone levels, blood pressure and the balance of fluids in the body.)
    Ideally, you should have approximately 20% body fat. This percentage affects the level of oestrogen in your body and oestrogen helps you ovulate.


  • Moderate exercise is sufficient – swim, run, walk or cycle. A heavy exercise regime can affect menstruation.
    Are you trying to avoid your biological clock ticking away?
    Please do post your comments below in the comments' space provided or send your thoughts to email address: track2311@yahoo.com/track2311@counsellor.com.

  • Twins conceived from 13-year-old sperm

    A Taiwanese woman’s pregnancy shows that sperm is never too old to do its job.

    A Taiwanese woman has given birth to healthy twins using the 13-year-old frozen sperm of a former testicular cancer patient, local media said on Saturday, setting a record for the island.

    The twin boys were born using the sperm taken from a man surnamed Chen, then 23, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer and told chemotherapy could make him infertile, Taiwan newspapers said, citing sources at a Taipei medical university.

    Chen, who is in good health at age 36 but cannot produce sperm naturally, got his wife pregnant with two of the four embryos used for artificial insemination, newspapers said. Last month's delivery followed a 37-week pregnancy.

    "Never before had a case involving such a long period of time between the freezing of male sperm and procreation been reported in Taiwan," the island's Central News Agency reported, citing the college of medicine dean at Taipei Medical University.


    Do it daily

    Keen to fall pregnant? Boost your partner's sperm count by having sex daily!
     
    Having sex every day improves the quality of men's sperm and is recommended for couples trying to conceive, according to new research.

    Until now doctors have debated whether or not men should refrain from sex for a few days before attempting to conceive with their partner to improve the chance of pregnancy.

    But a new study by Dr David Greening of Sydney IVF, an Australian centre for infertility and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, suggests abstinence is not the right approach.

    He studied 118 men with above-average sperm DNA damage and found the quality of their sperm increased significantly after they were told to ejaculate daily for seven days.

    On average, their DNA fragmentation index - a measure of sperm damage - fell to 26% from 34%, Greening told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

    Frequent sex does decrease semen volume but for most men this is not a problem.

    "It seems safe to conclude that couples with relatively normal semen parameters should have sex daily for up to a week before the ovulation date," he said in a statement.

    "In the context of assisted reproduction, this simple treatment may assist in improving sperm quality and ultimately achieving a pregnancy."

    Greening said it was likely frequent ejaculation improved the quality of sperm by reducing the length of time they were exposed to potentially damaging molecules called reactive oxygen species in the testicular ducts.

    Do you think doing it daily helps your chances?


    Please do post your comments below in the comments' space provided or send your thoughts to email address: track2311@yahoo.com/track2311@counsellor.com.