Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Power of the Doodle: Improve Your Focus and Memory

The Power of the Doodle: Improve Your Focus and Memory


Research Shows That Doodling Helps People Stay Focused, Grasp New Concepts and Retain Information


By Sue Shellenbarger  in the Wall Street Journal

Long dismissed as a waste of time, doodling is getting new respect.

Recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts and retain information. A blank page also can serve as an extended playing field for the brain, allowing people to revise and improve on creative thoughts and ideas.

Doodles are spontaneous marks that can take many forms, from abstract patterns or designs to images of objects, landscapes, people or faces. Some people doodle by retracing words or letters, but doodling doesn't include note-taking.

"It's a thinking tool," says Sunni Brown, an Austin, Texas, author of a new book, "The Doodle Revolution." It can affect how we process information and solve problems, she says.

Doodling in meetings and lectures helps ease tension for Samantha Wilson, a high-school teacher and graduate student from Southborough, Mass. Drawing squiggly patterns that are "very vegetal, scrolling and organic," with shaded blocks and spirals in red and blue pen on paper, also allays boredom, she says.

"It looks like I'm spacing out when I'm doodling, but I'm actually making my thoughts come together, solidifying my own ideas," Ms. Wilson says. Doodling recently helped her come up with a theme for a paper in a graduate-school course she is taking, she says.

Scientists in the past thought doodles provided a window into the doodler's psyche, but the idea isn't supported by research, says a 2011 study in The Lancet, a medical journal.

Some researchers suspect doodling may help the brain remain active by engaging its "default networks"—regions that maintain a baseline of activity in the cerebral cortex when outside stimuli are absent, the Lancet study says. People who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of people's names being read were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later, according to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Jesse Prinz draws people's heads to help himself pay attention during lectures and speeches at conferences he attends. The head usually has "something happening to it—an animal on top of it or something coming out of it," says Dr. Prinz, a distinguished professor of philosophy at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

When Dr. Prinz returns to the doodle later, "I can reconstruct a lot of what I heard" in the lecture. He compares it to a post card: A traveler may forget specifics about a trip, but "if you look at that post card, a lot of things that aren't depicted in it come back to you," he says.

Ms. Brown, the author, says doodling provides an alternate route to learning for some people. Her professional work includes training company managers to translate ideas and concepts into sketches and drawings in order to spark ideas and improve communication.

Michiko Maruyama, a medical-school student, says she writes down key words during class lectures and later draws "daily doodles" that bring together what she learned. Ms. Maruyama, who attends the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says she fills gaps in her understanding while she draws images of gastric secretions, hernias and other subjects of study.

"It's not until I doodle that I think about how everything comes together. I find out what I know and what I don't know," she says. When she stopped doodling for a week, her grades went down.

The appearance of a doodle can stimulate ideas for improvement, according to a 2014 study by Gabriela Goldschmidt, a professor emeritus of architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and a researcher on learning techniques of design. A doodle can spark a "dialog between the mind and the hand holding a pencil and the eyes that perceive the marks on paper," the study says.

The study discussed an architecture student who became stalled in his efforts to design a new kindergarten and started a habitual doodle he found pleasurable—writing his signature over and over.

The student soon began to see between the letters of the doodle the outline of a layout for the kindergarten's three activity spaces. He drew progressively larger versions that eventually became an architectural sketch, the study says.

A doodle also can express emotions too complex for words. Ten doodlers in a four-week study were equipped by researchers to share their sketches on social media, using digital pens and Bluetooth-equipped phones.

Many of the participants' doodles expressed complex emotions they wouldn't have shared via written posts or texts, according to the study, presented in 2011 at a Stockholm conference on human-computer interaction.

One 37-year-old teacher, the father of a newborn baby, drew a frazzled-looking brain to convey a feeling of being overwhelmed. A 27-year-old graduate student drew a towering obelisk looming over a childlike figure, to convey the pressure she felt over a deadline for a paper, according to the study, which was led by Lisa Cowan, who earned a Ph.D. in computer science at University of California San Diego and now works as a software developer in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

The opportunity to doodle "changed the way people expressed their feelings," says Nadir Weibel, a research assistant professor in computer science at UCSD and a co-author of the study. "Their pictures communicated more than just a text or a regular photo. They were more personal, more intimate."

Doodling doesn't work for all tasks. People who were asked to view and remember a collection of images struggled at the task if they were asked to doodle at the same time, according to a 2012 study published by the University of British Columbia. The likely reason: Doodlers' visual-processing ability was split between two visual tasks, says the study's author, Elaine Chan, a former psychology student at the university who is now a researcher at a Vancouver children's hospital.

Put another way, when doodling and another task use the same cognitive pathways, "you have a traffic jam," says Ms. Brown.

American Civil War

American Civil War

A long wiki link on the subject can be found at:



A wiki link on this kind of food can be found at:

Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh

Here is a wiki link on this northern state in India:

Cruise missile

Cruise missile

Here’s a background bit of information on the subject using a wiki link:

Slide rule

Slide rule

A wiki link on the subject can be found at:

Killing, Dying, and Death – Part II, by M.H.

 Are fighters born or made? Who knows. That has been well analyzed by many psychiatrists who generally lack the key ingredient of first hand combat experience. Research that on your own if you choose. I will tell you it does not matter. If you were born that way, good for you; if not, MAKE yourself the fighter!

What does it take to become the fighter though? It takes mental training, physical fitness, and of course both general and specific training.

Mental training.

Some call it visualization training. You go over the scenario of choice in your head and examine the ways to make the outcome in your favor, and then you make them work. It is used as positive imagery, to help you think you can defeat Goliath rather than be overcome by fear. Visualizing yourself getting defeated is a sure way to make sure you get defeated. God’s will aside, and faith in God aside, David had an “I will kill this giant” attitude. Do you think the outcome would have been the same if he would have thought like every man in King Saul’s army?

Every day in Iraq, I would mentally go over possible scenarios that could happen, and in those scenarios I would always make myself win. When I say win, I mean that I and mine live and my enemies die. To this day, I still use this method of mental training. If I am walking through the woods with my wife and kids and a black bear runs into us and does not run away instantly, I will be dropping my ruck/daughter for my wife to grab, and I will be going head on, running fast, into the animal. However, what if there is no time to drop my ruck that I carry my daughter in? Well, I may not charge the animal, but rather I’ll go lateral to it while instructing my wife the other direction as I shoot. What if, for some retarded reason, I don’t have my gun? I will dump my ruck, regardless of it all, and go at the animal with my knife or whatever weapon of opportunity I can grab, so my family can get to safety. Is that likely to result in my getting mauled rather than my kicking a bear’s butt? It’s likely, but I’d rather get eaten fighting than never think about it and stare in panic, or try to outrun a bear while carrying my three-year-old and my wife carrying our two year old. The key is that I will make the most aggressive, violent action possible to the point that that bear wonders what is happening to him, as I stab him in the eye with a stick, repeatedly. I do not let anything but my winning enter my mind, no matter the odds. If I had the thought that there was no possible way I’m going to fight off or kill a bear with my pocket knife, then I have already accepted defeat and may as well lie down in the trail and let him eat me and my family. (This is just an example. If you live in Alaska and want to fake dead for a grizzly, work through that in your own mind.)

Throw an angry squirrel into a van full of linebackers. That little guy, through rapid aggressive action, will have big “tough” men jumping out the doors in no time. One good smack is all it would take to kill the squirrel, but the squirrel does not care. All he knows is he wants to destroy everyone in the van, and he will.

What choice should you make? Is there a right choice or a wrong choice? No. Just make a choice, and make it fast, aggressive, and violent. Hesitation will get you killed. Having already lived through similar scenarios in your mind will help your auto pilot work how you taught it to work. All the while, you know if you do die, it will be taking as many of your enemies with you as humanly possible, before you choke to death on your own blood.

Physical fitness.

This may seem insensitive and harsh, but if you are obese, all the mental visualization training will not get you whopping up on anybody who requires you to do much more then throw your weight on them. Get off your butt, and go hike up a mountain. Don’t give me that “I’m putting on fat for food when the supply dwindles down” excuse. Do you need to look all muscular and fit? No, nor should that be a goal. It may be a byproduct of your training, dependent on your body type, but it is secondary to the focus of being strong, fast, agile, and having endurance. You need endurance to thrown on a ruck and go hiking for ten miles in the dark because your retreat was burned to the ground and half your friends were killed. You need speed to run into firefights or away from firefights, depending on the situation (that is another topic). You need strength to grab your buddy and throw him on your shoulders because his leg just got blown off, or to pull something up a cliff. You also need agility as you run through the woods or walk over rough terrain with your weapon at the ready. Some are born for more of one then the other, but don’t excuse yourself because of your body type. Work is the key word here folks. Do the best with the body type God gave you. If you are truly “big” boned, you should be stronger than an ox without much trouble, but you may have to work for endurance. Smaller builds may have to work more for strength, but you will have better speed and agility. We are all here for different reasons and with different gifts, just make sure you don’t so limit yourself to one thing that you are hopelessly lacking in another.

Ladies, you too can be much stronger than you think. Will you match the strength of a man? No, but that does not mean you should limit yourself to elliptical machines and long walks. Do some pull ups and squats!

I currently work in the medical field, and I can tell you that overweight and obese patients cannot hardly help themselves out of bed when they are remotely sick. Healthy-weighted, 90 year old ladies may have a horrible pneumonia, but they can still walk around. Fat is also harder to grab onto. Take two unconscious men– one who is 200 lbs of muscle, at 5’8′, and the other who is 200 lbs of fat at 5’8″. The fat guy is twice as hard to pick up and move around as the other. So, in addition to making yourself more useful in general, by having a healthy body fat percentage, you make it easier for your buddy to help you if needed.

You will be a better fighter if you are fit. No question about it. Your body will handle stress better. You will live longer, if you don’t get killed first, and you will feel better, sleep better, and even look better. You can get more work done. In general, it just makes sense, but it’s hard to workout. Cry me a river. You think TEOTWAWKI is going to be easy? Your 1-week practice run of living out of the pantry was easy; try doing that while running security patrols in 0 degree temperatures, getting your compound shot to bits, carrying buckets of water ½ mile since the well went dry, explaining to your kids that Grandma and Grandpa’s house just got burned down since there will be no “sheltering” your children from what will become the new norm. It’s all hard. So go do something that gets/keeps you in shape.

With all that being said, I’m 30 years old. A 50 year old may have a hard time doing what I do. Recognize your limitations but don’t use that as an excuse. I would not currently go on an event that involved swimming a mile. I know that I would be a hazard at this time, since I have not been keeping up on my swimming! Don’t be the one who becomes a liability because you can’t physically do something you should have known was impossible or too difficult for you. If you cannot do a pull up, perhaps you should avoid the event that would require a lot of rope climbing or rock climbing, eh?


Training is getting up and doing it! That is the only way you will learn new things and perfect them. Ever hear about the guy who buys all the latest gear to go hiking with and ends up dumping it or quitting, because he never tried it in the field before he went out on a seven day hunt? The same applies for preparedness. You have a state of the art piston driven AR15 with a $2000 Nightforce scope and Surefire flashlight that you have only shot 40 times out to 100 yards with plinking ammo instead of your “survival” ammo. So, let’s say I come along at 400 yards with my spray painted, scuffed up, AR with a $800 scope with ammo that I know what it does and have it written on my gun because my gun is a tool, not a pretty thing to look at. I am going to kill you and give your fancy AR15 to one of my buddies. Not really, because I am not a murderer, but you get the point, I hope.

I hand-built a child carrier for my 35-pound daughter to attach to my Kifaru ruck, and I have since built a second one that works better. Why? Because I noticed on a 12-mile hike that it did not ride quite right, and I knew I could make it better. The better it rides me, the further I can go and the more useful I am when I get where were going. I no longer wear hoodies with the pass through waist pocket or leave my right lower pocket unzipped on my coats, if I’m openly carrying in the woods, because I’ve noticed a tendency for that little bit of material to stick out enough to catch my muzzle as I draw. How do I know that? I know that from experience drawing in different clothes. If somebody would have told me that, it would have made sense. However, nothing is as good as doing it yourself to figure things out.

Thinking I’m just going to shoot bad guys from my retreat hill top without getting on said hilltop, with my rifle of choice and ranging stuff out and making range cards so I KNOW I can shoot bad guys from said hilltop, is foolish at best. Reading about how to start an IV because your kid got a gut bug and is severely dehydrated is great. Try doing it sometime, because it’s not as easy as it looks on YouTube. If you can’t get it, get an ER nurse to teach you, lest the time you really need it, you cannot do it. Doing mag changes standing in your living room watching a Die Hard 3 is better than nothing, but how about magazine changes while lying in the mud or snow? Or while running? Or after a max set of pullups? Better yet while your buddy throws a bucket of sand or mud on your face?

Train with your gear on that you plan to use! A popular movement now is the IPSC-style shooting. Running from obstacle to obstacle, shooting around stuff, under stuff, and so on is great, right? Aside from the fact that there are some incredible shooters doing these events, let’s look at it in terms of combat patrolling, climbing up mountains or buildings, crossing rivers, and riding horses and four-wheelers, while snowshoeing, and so on: Do you plan to put on a belt that pushes your mags and pistol 2″ out from your body with no form of retention other than friction? What happens when you put on a chest rig for that AR you plan on carrying? What about the body armor and plates you plan on putting on before you hike to your retreat? What about putting on a ruck with all your gear to get from A to B? While not trying to take away any value from IPSC events, I want you to train how you plan to fight. I love friction retention mag holders, for the SPEED and simplicity. Would I jump out of a plane, rappel a cliff, or cross a raging river with such a device? Let me see… No way. Would you? I really like the buckle on my drop holster right in front of my thigh, right until I lay down and it makes more noise than needed by hitting/scraping the floor. So, I move the buckle more to the inside of my thigh and I use retention mag pouches. Is it slower, yes, but they are always there.

Do I like all my gear on my waist? Of course. Well the waist belt on my ruck doesn’t do much good if it has to go around a pistol, three mags, a flashlight, and a knife. Not too long ago, in the Marine Corps as a Scout Sniper, I never used a waist belt with a very heavy ruck at times, just so I could dump that thing faster than a hot potato, if need be. Now I’m not so tough, and my scapula’s hurt from all that abuse, so I use a waist belt most of the time. Other gear is adjusted accordingly. Occasionally, in getting off my rear and putting my gear on, I find the shortcomings in both my setup and my training, so I know what to adjust and/or practice more.

You must also continually train. This may be hard to do, but I think of all the times I have sat on my rear and watched a movie when I could have been training, even in a small way. What a waste. People often think that the military’s special forces are just super human and have so much cool gear that they can’t help but be awesome. Not really, they just train more than the conventional military. Training will make you learn what works and what does not. Head knowledge is nothing, if you have not tested and proven it.

Put the big three together and you will be better at killing the enemy and protecting the good people– family or not, whomever that may be. A fit, trained guy scared of dying is worth little when the going gets rough. A mentally prepared fit guy with no training is worth a little more. A mentally prepared, trained, fit guy or gal is priceless. Remember though, just because you train hard and prepare does not mean you won’t end up crawling through a ditch holding your bowels in with your foot blown off and no ammo left. However, you still have a knife that will take one more evil guy out, right?

A sidebar

As I mentioned earlier, I would return to a certain point about the so called “tough” guys in the Marines I dealt with. They were pansies, thugs, disgraces to the real fighters. Sure, not everybody was a motivated fearless fighter, but at least some did not run from trouble. Remember, that Nazi storm troopers or typical thugs are tough when the odds are in their favor. One thug by his lonesome is going to try to blend in, so he can live another day. He is not likely so dedicated to his cause that he is willing to die for it. A perfect example of this mindset, politics aside, is the Bundy Ranch incident. All the BLM guys were real tough and aggressive until they were massively outnumbered. All of a sudden a bunch of guys “just doing their jobs” were not so anxious to do their jobs any more. Currently, we have SWAT teams taking down one man in one house with MRAPs and 20 officers. If they know the guy is a potential fighter, they up that significantly, like in Waco Texas. I am not using these examples to encourage anything lawless but rather to demonstrate the very common lack of combat mindset that individuals have.


From the Survival Blog



Animal fat

Animal fat

In America many people still use cooking oil from animal fat to both cook and add flavor to a meal. Much of this oil is from left over earlier cooking, like cooking bacon or hamburgers.

But really about any animal fat will do as a start point.

And one can even make a meal that includes animal pieces (like bacon pieces) that generate their own oil during the preparation of the meal. One can even cook rumaki style:   For example, wrap a mushroom cap with a piece of bacon held on with a toothpick; or use your imagination and ingenuity and local food and go from there.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: 'Word of Mouth' by Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson

Book Review: 'Word of Mouth' by Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson

People talk about the dinner they had last week and the dinner they'll have next week as they photograph the dinner they're having now.

By Moira Hodgson in the Wall Street Journal

Americans have gone food mad. In restaurants, we take pictures of our meals and post the photos to Instagram before taking a bite. We binge on "Top Chef" and watch shows on the Food Network about striving home cooks. We splurge on expensive cookbooks gorgeously illustrated with dishes so complex only a madman would try to make them at home. Food has become an object of fascination over the past two decades, and we discuss it—endlessly.

The ex-chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain remarked recently that when he grew up in the 1960s he'd go to a movie and afterward have dinner in a restaurant where he and his friends would talk about the movie they'd just seen. These days, people talk about the dinner they had last week and the dinner they'll have next week as they photograph the dinner they're having now.

What exactly they're talking about is the subject of Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson's new book "Word of Mouth." A professor at Columbia University, she approaches her topic as a sociologist, peppering her text with wide-ranging references to literature and popular culture. In addition to the obvious choice of Marcel Proust, her list includes everyone from the Greek historian Athenaeus, author of "The Deipnosophists," 15 volumes written in late second-century and early third-century Rome that give an account, filled with lore and anecdotes, of a banquet held by a patron of the arts, to Mrs. Ramsay of Virginia Woolf's novel "To the Lighthouse," who casts a spell on her dinner guests with a triumphant boeuf en daube. The author points out that Winnie the Pooh and the Dagwood character in "Blondie" are both "happy gluttons" (no mention of my beloved Homer Simpson) and discusses the finer points of such films as "Chocolat" and "The Big Night." She even provides us with the lyrics from the Newbeats' 1964 hit "Bread and Butter"—"He likes bread and butter / He likes toast and jam / That's what his baby feeds him / He's her lovin' man"—noting solemnly that she found them while surfing the Internet in search of a song about mashed potatoes.

Amid all these references (and some arcane jargon) one can trace the story of the radical change in Americans' perception of the food they eat over half a century.

Ms. Ferguson, who is the author of "Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine" and other works on French culture, makes no secret of her reverence for French gastronomy and her belief that the French have perfected the art of food talk. She loves the animated film "Ratatouille," which tells the story of Remy, a rat who becomes a celebrity chef in Paris. "The film reenacts the primal encounter of the New World and the Old," she writes. "The fairy-tale ending notwithstanding, it presents a model of culinary connection that is simultaneously a paradigm for cultural understanding." It was France, Ms. Ferguson argues, that set the standard that became the model for Americans.

But Ms. Ferguson never touches upon the current decline of French food, and she passes over nouvelle cuisine in silence. Instead she quotes Julia Child's preface to "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," published in 1961: "The Frenchman takes his greatest pleasure from a well-known dish impeccably cooked and served." Compare that with Americans during the same period who, she points out, were far more interested in quantity than quality. (Remember those "all you can eat" buffets where you'd be lucky to could find anything you'd even want to taste?) Ms. Ferguson tells us that Ms. Child had to adjust her recipes for American cooks, doubling the amounts she'd have given for the average French meal. Since then, of course, we've witnessed the far-reaching effect Alice Waters has had on the American palate beginning in the 1970s: Now, even McDonald's MCD in Your Value Your Change Short position boasts that its potatoes are farm-to-table.

Today, just over 50 years since Julia Child's first book came out, American cuisine has gone global; our most celebrated chefs travel around the world picking up new flavors and techniques. "Creativity is the watchword, innovation the goal, endless reinvention the motto," Ms. Ferguson writes. We have seen, she says, a shift from haute cuisine to "haute food," including such ground-breaking delicacies as tacos with kimchee and ice cream flavored with Earl Grey tea, both served daily out of trucks in New York City. "Haute food chefs do not need to set their sights on the familiar classics. They want, and the restaurant needs, to come up with the unexpected."

To describe what they do she comes up with an awful word: "chefing." "Chefing turns the material to aesthetic and intellectual account, precisely the transformation that food talk is all about." She writes that "chefing makes cooking part of the show. Production becomes as conspicuous as consumption." Mastery of the media is essential to "chefing," as these cooks try to communicate, via television and memoirs, the sensual pleasure of working with food.

The idea of "chefing" raises the question: Is the food being produced what you really want to eat? Not always. "Whether the diner likes the dish or not is of little concern," writes Ms. Ferguson, a trifle snippily. As for the modernist cuisine of a chef such as Ferran Adrià, she sees nothing more destructive of Brillat Savarin's idea of the dinner table as a place of conviviality where decent food and good wine are served and guests given time to enjoy the meal and conversation uninterrupted. I never ate at El Bulli, Mr. Adrià's restaurant in Spain, which is now closed (nor, I gather, did the author). But I have eaten at Alinea, Grant Achatz's Chicago restaurant that is based on a similar modernist concept. The food—generally unrecognizable as such, and served on sticks, pins and metal racks—was thrilling on an intellectual level, a show directed by the chef, with audience participation. But the experience, which jolts you out of your comfort zone, isn't the same as the one you'd have eating a familiar dish such as Mrs. Ramsay's boeuf en daube.

Does talking about food trump consumption? I'm not sure about that. But Ms. Ferguson is correct when she writes that today's chefs have transformed what it means to dine out.

Ms. Hodgson is the author of "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: My Adventures in Life and Food."


Tunnels Lead Right to the Heart of Israeli Fear

Tunnels Lead Right to the Heart of Israeli Fear

The above link is from the New York Times newspaper.

Berber and Moorish Art Patterns

Berber and Moorish Art Patterns

Both kinds of art come out of Morocco in NW Africa, and just south of Spain in Europe.

Here are two samples of Berber art



Here samples of Moorish art

Liberia Closes Most Borders, Bans Large Gatherings as Toll Mounts; CDC Issues Health Alert, but Calls Risk to U.S. Low

West Africa Strains to Contain Ebola Virus


Liberia Closes Most Borders, Bans Large Gatherings as Toll Mounts; CDC Issues Health Alert, but Calls Risk to U.S. Low


By Drew Hinshaw in Gombe, Nigeria, and ·  @drewfhinshaw

Betsy McKay in Atlanta  in the Wall Street Journal

The worst ebola outbreak in history has prompted Liberian officials to close their borders, as the governments in several West African countries raced to convince many of their citizens that ebola is a real disease. What is Ebola? How is it spread?

Liberia closed most of its borders on Monday as West African governments struggled to prevent the spread of the extremely deadly Ebola virus, which has infected more than 1,000 people in three countries this year.

Closing a country's borders for an infectious disease is uncommon, but illustrates the level of frustration government and health officials are experiencing as the deadly outbreak rages through its fifth month, having infected at least 1,201 people and killing 672. The moves follow the death of one of Liberia's top doctors over the weekend, as well as news that two U.S. health-care workers working in Liberia have been infected.

Those cases and the continuing outbreak prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Monday to issue a health alert to U.S. health-care professionals to be on the lookout for patients who have traveled to West Africa recently and exhibit possible symptoms of Ebola—including fever, headache and diarrhea.

The agency also issued a "Level 2" travel notice warning visitors to avoid contact with the blood and bodily fluids of infected people—one level below a recommendation to avoid nonessential travel to the affected countries.

"It's a rapidly changing situation and we expect there will be more cases in the coming weeks and months," Stephan Monroe, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said of the latest outbreak.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered traffic to be channeled through a few entry points where people can be monitored and tested for Ebola. She said the airport would remain open, with passengers similarly screened. Arik Air Ltd., West Africa's largest carrier, canceled flights to Liberia on Sunday in response to the epidemic.

The president also banned large gatherings such as demonstrations. She is considering quarantining certain urban neighborhoods, said Tolbert Nyenswah, the assistant health minister.

Still, the CDC said there is little risk to the U.S.

"We do not anticipate this will spread in the U.S. if an infected person is hospitalized here, but we are taking action now by alerting health-care workers in the U.S. and reminding them how to isolate and test suspected patients while following strict infection-control procedures," CDC Director Tom Frieden said.

Ebola is spread through close contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person, or through indirect contact like a needle prick, the CDC said—meaning family members and health-care workers are most at risk. Infection as a fellow airplane passenger is unlikely. Moreover, the vast majority of flights to the U.S. from West Africa aren't direct, the CDC pointed out.

The two Americans, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, are experiencing body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and fever after testing positive for Ebola, according to a spokeswoman for Samaritan's Purse, a Boone, N.C., charity with which both have been working. Both are in isolation in a hospital near Monrovia, where they are receiving intravenous fluids and pain management, said the spokeswoman, Rachael Mills.

Early, aggressive treatment can improve the outcome for an Ebola patient, medical experts say.

It isn't known how the two became infected. Dr. Brantly, 33 years old, of Fort Worth, Texas, has been in Liberia since October as part of a postresidency program and was treating Ebola patients, Ms. Mills said. Ms. Writebol is a volunteer who was helping to spray down medical personnel as part of the decontamination process after visiting Ebola patients, Ms. Mills said. Ms. Writebol and her husband came to Liberia from Charlotte, N.C., in 2013 as part of a missionary group.

Dr. Brantly's wife and two children had been visiting him in Liberia and left before he began showing symptoms. While people aren't contagious until they develop symptoms, the family is being monitored for fever for 21 days, the incubation period for Ebola, Dr. Monroe said.

As for remaining staff in Liberia, "we are closely monitoring everyone working," said Ms. Mills, adding that Samaritan's Purse workers already take extensive precautions, including wearing spacesuit-like protective gear and a half-hour decontamination in bleach baths after patient visits.

A viral disease that can kill as many as 90% of those it infects, Ebola took root in Guinea roughly five months ago and spread quickly across West Africa's porous borders to neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The outbreak has been raging off and on ever since, frustrating health officials on the ground and internationally who are up against sizable populations that move between countries and cities and harbor suspicions of Western medicine. Local belief systems encourage family members to care personally for the infected sick and engage in burial rites that bring them in contact with the still-contagious deceased.

While Ebola has caused more than 20 outbreaks in central Africa since it was first identified in 1976, it is new to West Africa and has proved to be a much greater challenge to control. President Sirleaf Johnson's moves will be difficult to enforce in a country where even many government workers haven't accepted the existence or epidemiology of the virus as scientific fact.

Local pastors and medicine makers have all claimed the power to cure the disease, facilitating its spread. Liberian officials on Monday were hoping that the rising death toll had begun to persuade Liberians otherwise.

"I'm not sure people are prepared to stay in a state of denial for much longer," said the president's spokesman Jerolinmek Piah. "There'll be a change in attitude."

Funerals in particular are a point of transmission: Custom among West Africa's Muslim population holds that bodies should be buried within 24 hours of death, with family members often handling the corpse.

Government attempts to alter funeral rites meet resistance from Liberians who refuse to let doctors in protective suits deal with the bodies of their loved ones. Quarantining sections of the capital, Monrovia, a densely packed city of 1.2 million people, would prove difficult as neighborhoods blend together, demarcated from one another by hard-to-police back alleys cutting between shacks.

And even convincing Liberians that Ebola exists remains a challenge in a country where rumors fill the void left by the lack of formal education. Large numbers there believe Ebola is an evil spirit. One Liberia senator recently called it a scam by his government.

"People love rumors," said Mr. Nyenswah, the assistant health minister. "We're trying to do what we can."

Liberian government workers have been screening videos showing the effects of the disease in local movie theaters. The government has been airing constant radio spots explaining the Ebola virus. It has helped to change minds, Mr. Nyenswah said.


Foster care

Foster care

A wiki link on the subject can be found at:

As to kinship care (, what happens, from a kid’s point of view, when the grandparents they live with get old and die?

Where I live enough single mom’s overdose and die, and many of their kids end up with their grandparents as a start. Now that gets my attention.

And for those parents and single moms who live, do their kids want to, or even thrive under, growing up living with Cheech and Chong?

Now life is never perfect and is often downright ugly, but is the present situation the best way to handle the what is going on these days?

Ley line

Ley line

A wiki link on the subject can be found at:

A similar subject (Feng shui) has a wiki link at:

Adam's Bridge

Adam's Bridge

A wiki link on the subject can be found at:'s_Bridge

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Compared to what?

Compared to what?

I believe that sometimes in some situations, having the “best” military gear is the best way to go.

I also believe that often less than the “best” is good enough, even sometimes better.

And there are practical effects, too.  Like the USA (really NATO) and the Russians for decades reinforced bridges in the central European area so their heavy armored equipment, both the present gear and future “guessed at” gear, could get around.  That made sense to me.  Think Fulda Gap and even the path Napoleon took on his way to Moscow. But then the “gear” later often became too heavy to deploy to the Balkans area (for example) where the bridges had not been reinforced, like many of these bridges would collapse over time when using them for getting heavy gear around (like often these tanks ride on low boy trailers behind prime movers (driven by local people or brought in people)); hence these bridges were unreliable and should not be planned on. So military units with “lighter” gear were sent in as part of what the politicians and diplomats did for their part.

The Navy and Marines and Army “light” units (like the 82nd Airborne or the 10th Mountain Division) routinely face this dilemma all the time. To “heavy up” is generally smart, but there are just limits to how heavy and how many. It only takes more limited gear, or limited numbers, to take over many third world countries if even we wanted to. They usually have the same problems on their end, too. So USA military units with “lighter” gear were sent in as part of what the politicians and diplomats did for their part during their time.

So then there is corruption on purchases, too. The reasons are many, but the human factor comes into play, also. Said another way, one must consider the human element, too; to include all the many people that depend on our defense system to support them and their Families. Here’s one link on this subject:   Now how this came to pass is another subject in its own right, but certainly is a factor that must be considered.

And of course, there is competition between different elements of any nation’s defense department over limited funds. One obvious example is do we buy more airplanes, or more Family housing maintenance?

And last, most countries can only afford “so much” for their own defense. Now from a gunfighters’ point of view it matters little to me whether the 25mm gun (one inch equals 25.4 mm) shooting at me is second generation or third generation. Sometimes I have less than that on my side, or have another way to defeat that weapon and its people that operate it, but it does take time to use, like getting limited airplanes with bombs hanging under them diverted.

So this post is not some article suggesting unilateral disarmament, like trying to do more with less beyond being smart. Every nation I know of will defend itself and its citizens as best it can, as well as advance its interests as best it can. And this does require a national defense that does cost money to its citizens.

But keep in mind there are many answers to the question “compared to what”.

The 10 Most Underrated Destinations in the South

Red Auroras

Red Auroras

A minor solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field today, and this is sparking auroras at high latitudes. Ray Stinson photographed the display during the morning hours of July 28th over Glacier National Park in St Mary, Montana:


"The auroras were weak, but I was able to record them using a 20 sec exposure at ISO 4000," says Stinson. "Also, a meteor streaked by during the exposure."

More auroras are possible tonight, albeit weak ones. Long exposures such as Stinson used will help bring out their color and underling structure. NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on July 28-29 as the solar wind continues to blow.

Wernher von Braun's V-2 Rocket

Wernher von Braun's V-2 Rocket

Although the Nazi "vengeance weapon" was a wartime failure, it ushered in the space age

By Owen Edwards in Smithsonian Magazine

In 1960, Columbia Pictures released a movie about NASA rocket scientist Wernher von Braun called I Aim at the Stars. Comedian Mort Sahl suggested a subtitle: But Sometimes I Hit London.

Von Braun, born in Wirsitz, Germany, in 1912, had been interested in the nascent science of rocketry since his teen years. In 1928, while he was in high school, he joined an organization of fellow enthusiasts called Verein für Raumschiffahrt (Society for Space Travel), which conducted experiments with liquid fuel rockets.

By the time Germany was at war for the second time in a generation, von Braun had become a member of the Nazi Party and was the technical chief of the rocket-development facility at Peenemünde on the Baltic Coast. There he oversaw the design of the V-2, the first long-range ballistic missile developed for warfare.

The “V” in V-2 stood for Vergeltungswaffe (vengeance weapon). Traveling at 3,500 miles per hour and packing a 2,200-pound warhead, the missile had a range of 200 miles. The German high command hoped the weapon would strike terror in the British and weaken their resolve. But though the successful first test flight of the rocket took place in October 1942, operational combat firings—more than 3,000 in all—didn’t begin until September 1944, by which time the British people had already withstood four years of conventional bombing.

England wasn’t the only target. “There were actually more V-2 rockets fired at Belgium than at England,” says Michael Neufeld, curator of the V-2 on view at the National Air and Space Museum and author of Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. “In fact, the single most destructive attack came when a V-2 fell on a cinema in Antwerp, killing 561 moviegoers.”

The Air and Space Museum’s V-2 was assembled from parts of several actual rockets. Looking up at it is not unlike looking up at a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex: each is a genuine artifact representing the most highly evolved menaces of their eras.

When the war ended in 1945, von Braun understood that both the United States and the Soviet Union had a powerful desire to obtain the knowledge he and his fellow scientists had acquired in developing the V-2. Von Braun and most of his Peenemünde colleagues surrendered to the U.S. military; he would eventually become director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. There he helped design the Saturn V (in this case, the V stood for the Roman numeral five, not vengeance), the rocket that launched U.S. astronauts toward the moon.

During the war the Nazi regime transferred thousands of prisoners to the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp to help build the V-2 factory and assemble the rockets. At least 10,000 died from illness, beatings or starvation. This grim knowledge was left out of von Braun biographies authorized by the U.S. Army and NASA. “The media went along,” says Neufeld, “because they didn’t want to undercut U.S. competition with the Soviet Union.” Von Braun always denied any direct role in prisoner abuses and claimed he’d have been shot if he’d objected to those he witnessed. But some survivors testified to his active involvement.

For many years the V-2 exhibit omitted any mention of the workers who perished. But in 1990, Neufeld’s colleague David DeVorkin created a whole new exhibit, including photographs and text, to tell the complete story.

The assembled rocket wears the black-and-white paint used on test missiles at Peenemünde instead of the camouflage colors used when the V-2 was deployed on mobile launchers. Museum officials in the 1970s wanted to underscore the rocket’s place in the history of space exploration and de-emphasize its role as a Nazi weapon.

Neufeld says that contrary to popular belief, the V-2 was more effective psychologically—no one heard them coming—than physically. “Because the guidance system wasn’t accurate, many [rockets] fell into the sea or on open countryside....In the end, more people died building the V-2 rockets than were killed by them.”

For all its political complexities, the V-2 remains historic, Neufeld says, “because, even though it was an almost total failure as a military weapon, it represents the beginning of space exploration and the dawn of the intercontinental ballistic missile.”


Owen Edwards is a freelance writer and author of the book Elegant Solutions.