Archive for September 2011

The Climate Post Cutting Oil Use Should Be Focus of US Energy Research New Roadmap Says

A major study modeled after goal-setting reports from the Departments of Defense and State, the first Quadrennial Technology Review by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), called for a shift in energy research and development priorities to reduce America’s dependence on oil.
“Reliance on oil is the greatest immediate threat to U.S. economic and national security and also contributes to the long-term threat of climate change,” the report said.
The DOE spends about $3 billion annually on research and development, with about three-quarters of that going toward “stationary energy” technologies — such as power plants and buildings — and one-quarter allotted for transportation. The report’s release could shift the funding balance more toward transportation, in particular more efficient cars and electric cars.
It will likely shape the 2013 fiscal year budget request from the Obama administration, due to be sent to Congress in February 2012.
Big Dreams
But a longer-term view isn’t synonymous with funding blue-sky ideas, as in the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which Time dubbed “the Department of Big Dreams.” The Quadrennial Technology Review criticized the DOE for placing too much emphasis on technologies “multiple generations away from practical use.”
Instead, the report called for greater focus on integrated energy systems and deployment over the medium to long term Read more

2011 NFL Season Week 4 Picks

This week, the Eagles host the 49ers. Working in the Eagles favor will be the fact that kickoff will feel like 10 a.m. to the 49ers. Right now, it feels like there’s not a whole lot else is going the Eagles way Read more

Innovative University

Recently the trustees of my university were in town for their annual retreat. Our theme this year was “the innovative university,” and we worked together to think through how Wesleyan might get out in front of some of the major changes in higher education. Technology, of course, is driving many of these changes, as is a strong desire (for many) to lower the cost of education while making it more vocational. In this context, how could our university preserve and build upon some of its great traditions of scholarship and learning while also creating opportunities for new modalities of education in the future? How do we expect student learning and faculty research to change over the next decades, and in what ways can the school contribute to making those changes as positive as possible? These were some of the broad issues the Board discussed with faculty, staff and student representatives Read more

Two Buffalo Bills Snag NFL Honors

The NFL named Ryan Fitzpatrick AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September and Rian Lindell AFC Special Teams Player of the Week following the still-makes-me-excessively-overwhelmed win over the Patriots. Bills players on the radar…finally!
It’s been clear to Buffalo Bills fans (and those open-minded, logical non-Bills fans) that regardless of a losing record, the team has had legit talent. No, they may not be attention craving… I mean.. Read more

The End of Men From One Lesbians Perspective

As a lesbian, it is always an interesting experience to join a conversation on changing gender roles and the future of the role of men. Quite reliably, these conversations usually only occur with straight female friends who are somewhere in their 30s. Men have never brought this topic up to me, and older and younger women seem to have figured out alternate ways of making peace with the subject. And if someone in the LGBT community starts talking about changing gender roles, well, it’s usually a whole different conversation!
Despite how much I have in common with many of my 30-something straight lady friends, these conversations always leave me feeling a bit bewildered and a bit like an anthropologist Read more

Geek Identity Crisis

This is one in our ‘Geek Like Me’ series of columns exploring the nuances of geek culture.
Lately, I’ve been having somewhat of a geek identity crisis. “Why?” you may ask. “Geeks rule the school these days! We got an X-Men movie, a Green Lantern movie, a Thor movie and a Captain America movie all in one summer! We’ve finally inherited the earth!”
I know, I know. And I never could have dreamt in my comic book-collecting, D&D playing, Doctor Who convention-attending youth that this day would actually come, no matter how many times I prayed to the Elder Gods for it to happen Read more

Media Squawked When It Should Have Jumped on Oil Market Speculation Coverage

Faced with some hot data on oil speculation, the media squawked when it should have jumped.
After firebrand Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders leaked confidential data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to the Wall Street Journal last month — data that dramatically illustrated how speculators were dominating the oil futures market during the 2008 spike in oil prices — other news outlets jumped on the story.
In the worst possible way.
The data, which exposed precisely how much Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other Wall Street speculators dominated the crude oil futures market, was a big new lead reporters could have used to further explore the dynamics behind the staggering gas price increase that resulted in a huge transfer of wealth from ordinary Americans to the very rich.
Another valid response to the story would have been to examine why data this revelatory isn’t routinely made public.
But several news outlets instead focused on comments by one supposedly outraged futures trader. Sarah N. Lynch of Reuters reported that Sanders’s leak was “sparking broader concern about industry confidentiality.” The story quoted John Damgard, president of the Futures Industry Association, as saying: “This type of incident will have a chilling effect on derivatives trading in the U.S Read more

Anwar al Awalki American Internet Terrorist Pioneer and Plotter Killed in Yemen

Anwar al Awalki, 40, an influential English speaking New Mexico born radical Yemeni cleric who harnessed the Internet to promote violent Jihad, most recently on behalf of his terrorist organization, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has been killed. His death reportedly came today through an aerial strike on his convoy in Yemen by American jets and drones with the support of the Yemeni government.
Yemen, whose president Ali Abdullah Saleh was injured in an attack earlier this year, is a poor unstable country of 24 million on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The nation, in the midst of a civil war, is a hotbed of extremism Read more

Friday Photo Roads

Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, John Denver. All, and many more, have crooned songs dedicated to it. Rascal Flatts went so far as to bless it, even when broken.
It’s the road. It calls us, guides us, provides for us Read more

All About Transferable Miles And What To Do When Your Program Changes

Diversify Your Portfolio
Miles and points are kind of like investments — you want to diversify your portfolio to hedge your risk and be sure you can reap the most value possible out of them. That may seem contrary to the common strategy of consolidating your points and miles in a single program. However, since programs can change at a moment’s notice, you don’t want to have all of your eggs in the same basket and be left with a points account that can’t get you where you need to go.
The best way to implement this diversification strategy is to accrue transferable points Read more

How to Stop Procrastinating

Do you tell yourself that you will get the things done you need to do, and then just end up procrastinating?
Sherry was behind on many important things in her life. She had unpaid traffic tickets, the insurance on her car had lapsed, she had a stack of unpaid bills and her apartment was a mess. Sherry was not happy with this situation, yet seemed unable to do anything about it. Even when she set aside the time to get these things done, something always got in the way Read more

The Beginning of the End of AIDS

Last week I spoke at the UN’s event on maternal and child health: “Every Woman, Every Child.” What struck me is how little the world knows about the progress made in the fight against AIDS since it started for real in the developing world less than 10 years ago. The work of the Global Fund, established in 2002, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), established in 2003, has saved the lives of over six million people with HIV. They’re alive because they now have access to life-saving anti-retroviral medication — an impossibility before 2002, when the cost of medication was driven down from between $10,000-$20,000 per year to $350 a year. That cost is now around $150 per year in the developing world — it costs just 40 cents a day for the medication needed to help someone with HIV stay alive.
It’s vitally important to tell the story of progress Read more

Gardens of Death and Other Horticultural Marvels PHOTOS

Extraordinary flora and fauna abound in our round-up of the globe’s most unusual gardens, greenhouses and Arctic Doomsday seed vaults.
The Atlas Obscura recently organized a trip to the gnarled remains of the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale in Paris for Obscura Day 2011. The site boasts a beautiful and overgrown expanse of wild flora and fauna and an incredible history. Inspired by the beauty and backstory of the garden we have assembled a short list of some of the Atlas Obscura’s favorite unusual gardens from around the world.
The Poison Garden – Alnwick, England
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Under no circumstances, nibble the plants.
“These plants can kill.” These ominous words welcome visitors to the Alnwick Poison Gardens. The gardens were established on a small patch of a palatial estate in 2005 by the Duchess of Northumberland who’s affinity for the apothecary gardens of yesteryear inspired the collection of nearly 100 deadly and hallucinogenic plants Read more

What Should Progressives Do About the President

Progressives may sometimes feel like they’re in a backdoor high-school affair with the President. You know the kind: The popular kid will make out with someone from the wrong side of the tracks. But he’ll only take a rich kid from “the right kind of family” to the school dance.
The President often courts the left when he needs it, only to pitch his actions to the right at clinch time. Right-wing ideology is often mistakenly called the “center” today, despite holding views that are so conservative they’re often rejected by Republicans as well as Democrats Read more


In the mysterious zone of things lost that re-emerge, a box of old family photos showed up one day. The pictures inside were loose and wonderfully unorganized. There we all were — my parents, their parents, siblings, all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and the memorialized unknowns, from every stage of our lives. Pivotal events were interspersed with random moments, all jumbled together, as though time itself was a big, open space of present, presence, and some of it had been captured and put into a box Read more

Clear a Drawer Change Your Life A Surprising Path to Reinvention

In 1996 I walked away from teaching at one of Boston’s preeminent schools at the height of a 20-year career. I was at the top of my game, and burned out. I didn’t know what I loved anymore, or who I was.
Teaching was my life. I had seniority, a fabulous community of students and faculty, a salary with full benefits Read more

Aging Disgracefully Sex as Discourse

I saw him pushing his walker, on wheels, down the steep public library ramp.
“Do you need help?” I asked.
He looked up at me quizzically, his weathered face more wrinkled as he squinted against the sun, his full head of grey hair waving slightly in the wind.
“Are you good?” I said, changing the way I phrased the question so as not to embarrass him if he should be so stubbornly self-sufficient as the elderly often are, as I hope to be Read more

Five SureFire Dating Tips for FrogKissing Boomers

Dating can feel like a contact sport with the bruises on the inside, and it’s an activity few boomers relish. With each mismatch, the pain takes longer to heal and there’s less margin for error. Here’s how you can avoid wasting time kissing frogs and hone in on your perfect boomer partner.
As a single, divorced boomer who dated for nearly 25 years, I believed that finding the woman of my dreams was a numbers game. If I kissed enough frogs I’d eventually discover my princess Read more

Family Vacation At the Beach With My Ex and Our Kids

Season 8 of “The Family Vacation” has ended. Back from The Hamptons to their everyday lives are “Family Vacation” stars: the exes — since 1998 — Steve and Susan (yours truly) and their three twenty-something daughters.
Let’s take a look back at Season 1, Summer of 2004.
“The whole family’s in the pool,” my oldest daughter observes in a tone as sparkly as the cool water after I ease in to join her, her two sisters and their dad, Steve.
Even though Steve and I divorced in 1998, the five of us are in East Hampton, New York on what we call The Family Vacation.
It started that summer of 2004, when camps, trips and jobs allowed only 9 days that all three girls were available at the same time. Steve called me to discuss how to divvy up the time.
I searched my mind for a way to get 5 days to his 4.
But then I had a eureka moment and suggested that rather than each of us taking a mini holiday with the kids, all 5 of us could go away together for twice as long. Without hesitation, Steve agreed.
I relished the novelty Read more

Marital Myths Maintaining Marriage Through Midlife

At age 58, I have now been successfully married to the same man for over 25 years. I write ‘successful,’ rather than ‘happy’ to emphasize that marriage through midlife is not just about blissful sailing, but about the ability to navigate the realities of long-term relationships over many years.
Sure we have our ups and downs — and our differences — but I can say with confidence that my husband and I will never part. Why such assurance when the divorce rate in this country is so high? How do we differ from the hundreds of couples described by Iris Krasnow in a recent piece here, who “have been married forever but think about divorce if not weekly, at least once a month?” Perhaps, both being psychotherapists, we have a heightened awareness of what it takes to keep marriage alive for all those ‘forever’ years. Perhaps it’s our work helping troubled couples that reminds us to appreciative the relationship we have Read more

Stay Healthy Save Money 5 Ways You Can Take Charge of Your Healthcare Costs

Current events come and go: liberation in Libya, the earthquake in Japan, floods from Hurricane Irene, Beyonc’s pregnancy — the news marches on. Yet the steep and seemingly endless rise of U.S. healthcare costs, particularly for post-50 Americans, remains a thorny and prevailing topic regardless your political persuasions.
President Obama spent a good deal of his political purchase on healthcare reform; history will decide the outcome Read more

Corporate Americas Looming Caregiver Crisis

I recently gave a keynote speech to a room comprised of 1,000 or so “C-level” female executives — the topic was how to balance caregiving and a career.
As take-charge women they were there to learn tools to help them cope with the arduous tasks associated with caregiving for an aging loved one while simultaneously keeping up with the intense demands of their careers. I decided to kickoff my presentation by asking the audience how many of them had employee benefit packages that included eldercare options.
To my absolute amazement less than 100 people raised their hand! A myriad of questions began racing through my mind.. Read more

My Parents Are Driving Me Crazy

Your parents have always been the adults. They raised you. They dealt with illnesses, job losses and money issues. They did it all.
Now you’ve become their caregiver because they can no longer maintain their house as easily, can’t drive or have trouble remembering things Read more

Are You Psychologically Ready to Be Old

Aging brings a number of virtually inevitable psychological challenges. Meeting them is often not easy. Preparing ahead of time can help.
The ultimate goal of old age, developmental psychologists tell us, is to achieve “integrity” and to avoid “despair.” What they mean, roughly speaking, is that, as you near the end of your life, you should be able to look back and feel that the life you lived is truly yours, that it was not a life forced on you, not a life that left behind your greatest potentials, and not a life you now regret. If you look back with an overwhelming sense of betrayed potential, you will not have achieved “integrity,” and you are not likely to be happy.
Achieving integrity also means that you can look back with pride Read more