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Ralph Nader visits Bethesda, Maryland

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader was at the Bethesda Barnes & Noble bookstore promoting his book "The Seventeen Traditions". The book describes the family relationships that became the foundation of his beliefs and his ethics. Nader's parents came to the United States from Lebanon when they were very young. All their children, including Ralph, were born in the United States. It was interesting to hear Ralph speak about growing up in Winsted, Connecticut where his father owned a restaurant. Ralph said that the interaction of the community and the values passed down through example by his parents molded his character.

Ralph is dismayed seeing that television, movies, i-pods, and computers are eroding the community and family relationships that shape the values of the next generation. He proposes that parents should play a more active role guiding their children by good examples and good deeds. Some of the seventeen traditions include listening, health, history, education, discipline, charity, work, and patriotism.
Bethesda Barnes and Noble bookstore

Bethesda Barnes & Noble

See more watercolors of Bethesda

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2007-06-19 

Avoiding the Hydrogenated Chocolate Sauce

Hydrogenated Chocolate Hot Fudge

How do you politely refuse to eat something that is bad for you, when a hostess prepares it so proudly and offers it so gracefully? If you refuse, you offend the hostess. If you eat it, your conscience will bother you for days. You will not die if you eat it -- at least not right away. Eventually we will all die, so what is the harm of eating a little hydrogenated chocolate sauce?

Generally, big problems result from the accumulation of small problems that are easily ignored. When the problem is big enough, sometimes it cannot be fixed. A little mole that gets irritated and bleeds occasionally, may turn out to be fatal melanoma which would not have been fatal if the mole had been removed in time. Gaining one pound of weight per year may not seem too bad, but by avoiding this gain of 1.3 ounces per month we may be able to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease when we get older.
The Horseshoe Nail

For want of a nail the shoe is lost
For want of a shoe the horse is lost
For want of a horse the rider is lost
For want of a rider the battle is lost
For want of a battle the kingdom is lost
And all for the loss of a horseshoe nail

-- George Herbert (1633)

Learn about Hydrogenated Fats

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2007-06-17 

Summer is about to start

View from the Penthouse

The flowers of spring are turning into seed pods. It is a pleasant time of the year. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold. The trees are covered with green leaves and all the landscape is green. From the penthouse, only a few rooftops can be seen through the thick canopy of leaves. Huge white magnolia blooms are a sure sign that summer will soon be here. Clusters of tall buildings can be seen in the distance, but most of the houses in Bethesda do not rise above the tree tops.
Take a tour of the Penthouse

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2007-06-14 

Lower your Cholesterol through Diet

Cholesterol

One of the main causes of high cholesterol is an imbalance of dietary fats. In particular, a high cholesterol level is frequently due to excessive intake of hydrogenated and saturated fats, combined with inadequate intake of polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Since the Food and Drug Administration required reporting the amount of trans fats in foods, manufacturers have been scrambling to replace partially hydrogenated fats, which contain heart-damaging trans fats, with saturated fats that do not spoil. Ingredients like palm kernel oil and coconut (copra) oil are appearing more frequently in food labels, but these saturated oils will also increase your cholesterol.

Your cholesterol level can improve by reducing saturated fats, and including foods with polyunsaturated fats such as fish and nuts in your diet. However, only nuts that are high in polyunsaturated fats will help to lower your cholesterol. Besides eating the right proportions of fats, other dietary and life style changes, such as exercising, quitting smoking, and increasing soluble dietary fiber can help to lower cholesterol. The following link points to a 3-page article that explains this in detail:
Lower Your Cholesterol

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2007-06-12 

Killer Asteroids and Comets

Wooly Mammoth

At 7:17 AM on the morning of June 30, 1908, an asteroid entered the earth's atmosphere in Russian Siberia causing a great explosion at an altitude roughly ten kilometers in the atmosphere.[1] Witnesses in the nearby towns saw a luminous trail across the sky followed by a brilliant fireball. The force of the impact flattened trees 30 kilometers from the central point in the Stony Tunguska River Valley and trees were burned as far as 60 kilometers away. The blast destroyed over 6,000 square kilometers of forest.

A similar but more powerful event may have wiped out the North American megafauna and the Clovis people. Some scientist have theorized that the demise of the mammoth, the saber-toothed cat, and the American camel was due to the hunting skills of the Clovis people and weather changes. However, Richard B. Firestone of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, thinks that a 10-kilometer-wide comet could have hit North America 12,900 years ago.[2] This event was preceded by an intense blast of iron-rich grains from a supernova explosion that impacted the planet roughly 34,000 years ago.

In support of the supernova and comet impact theory, Firestone and Arizona geologist Allen West have found 34,000-year-old mammoth tusks that are peppered with tiny impact craters apparently produced by iron-rich grains traveling at an estimated 10,000 kilometers per second. These grains may have been emitted from a supernova that exploded roughly 7,000 years earlier and about 250 light years from Earth. Also, the scientists found magnetic metal spherules in the sediment of nine 13,000-year-old Clovis sites in Michigan, Canada, Arizona, New Mexico and the Carolinas. Low-density carbon spherules, charcoal, and excess radioactivity were also found at these sites.
Take a trip on a Time Machine

[1] Chyba, C., P. Thomas, and K. Zahnle 1993. "The 1908 Tunguska Explosion: Atmospheric Disruption of a Stony Asteroid". Nature 361, p. 40-44. [abstract]

[2] Supernova Explosion May Have Caused Mammoth Extinction, Berkeley Lab, [News Release]

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2007-06-09 

Are you Fat or Overweight?

Body Fat is mostly under the skin

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 2 out of 3 U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Being overweight poses an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.

The Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference provide useful estimates of body fat distribution. Fat around the waist is more likely to result in health problems than fat carried mainly in the hips and thighs. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches usually have a higher disease risk than people with smaller waist measurements.

BMI does not take into consideration the distribution of the fat. A more accurate estimate of the percentage of body fat can be obtained with the U.S. Navy Circumference Method which takes into consideration the height, neck, waist, and hip measurements.
Calculate your Percent Body Fat and Body Mass Index

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2007-06-08 

How much should you exercise?

Creme-filled doughnut= 300 Calories = 1 hour of brisk walking

Exercise is good for you. Exercise has been shown to help mangage weight and stress, prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and extend life. Isn't that great? All you need to do is invest 30 minutes a day performing moderately vigorous activities that make you breathe hard.

Regular exercise strengthens your muscles, your heart, and your lungs. The rhythmic deep breathing from vigorous exercise develops greater lung capacity, and the increased muscular strength will give you mobility and independence into your old age. Your bones also benefit. Weight-bearing exercise and a proper diet help to preserve and build bone mass. You may already be getting enough exercise if you have a job that demands physical strength, but if you have a job where you are sitting most of the time, you definitely need to make the time to exercise.

Exercise can burn calories that may help you to lose weight. One hour of walking at a brisk pace will burn about 300 calories which is the equivalent of a creme-filled doughnut. If you want to lose weight, you cannot do it only through exercise. You have to cut out the junk food too.
Learn how to exercise at home

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2007-06-07 

Folic Acid Does Not Prevent Colorectal Tumors

Folic acid is an essential vitamin involved in the maturation of red blood cells and the development of the fetal nervous system. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)[1] suggests that folic acid supplementation does not reduce the risk of benign colorectal tumors and may even increase the risk of higher grade tumors when administered at the upper recommended limit.

Dr. Bernard F. Cole of Dartmouth Medical School, one of the authors of the study, was surprised to find more adenomas in the patients who had received folic acid although the risk did not differ significantly between the experimental and control groups. Cole and his colleagues concluded that: "our study indicates that folate, when administered as folic acid for up to 6 years, does not decrease the risk of adenoma formation in the large intestine among individuals with previously removed adenomas." The researchers also suggested further study: "In view of the fortification of the US food supply with folate, and some suggestions that folate could conceivably increase the risk of neoplasia even outside the colorectum, this line of investigation should have a high priority."
Learn more about vitamins and minerals.

[1] "Folic Acid for the Prevention of Colorectal Adenomas: A Randomized Clinical Trial."
JAMA 2007 297: 2351-2359, Vol. 297 No. 21, June 6, 2007 [Article]

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2007-06-06 

Paris Hilton jailed for her crimes against society

Paris Hilton Mug Shot

Paris Hilton, the hotel heiress who built a high-profile modeling career after a tape of her bedroom activities was posted on the internet, started serving a 45-day prison term for violating the terms of her probation by driving with a suspended license following a drunk-driving plea. Paris Hilton was arrested in Hollywood on suspicion of driving under the influence at about 12:30 a.m. on September 7, 2006 after driving erratically and failing a field sobriety test. The media frenzy focuses on the fashion and the glamor while winking at the issue of alcohol and drug abuse.

A more tragic case of driving under the influence of drugs was reported in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 2007. Tonya Bell, a receptionist in the office of City Councilman Marion Barry, drove through a church-sponsored street festival in southeast Washington at speeds up to 70 mph after "smoking crack all day long", according to Police Chief Cathy Lanier. At least 40 people were injured as the car sent people and baby strollers flying. Some witnesses said that Bell appeared to be laughing as she drove the car with flattened tires and broken windows into the crowd.

Learn about Alcohol and Drug rehabilitation

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Bipedalism and apes

evolution

British researchers found that orangutans walked on all fours when moving on thick branches, but walked upright using their hands to maintain balance on thin branches. The scientists think that this finding further blurs the distinctions between early humans and apes because bipedalism has long been a key criterion for distinguishing human ancestors.

Standing on two legs gives the apes a distinct advantage by enabling them to gather fruit from thinner branches. Isn't this how Adam got in trouble?

Learn about evolution and earth's geological history.

Upright Walking May Have Begun in the Trees [AAAS News Release]

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