Monday, January 24, 2011

Calling Cinderella--Para-Kin ...From Paris

By Carol Morello

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Call them blended families, bonus families or para-kin. Just don't call them stepfamilies. The term - seared into our consciousness through fairy tales and Disney movies - is falling out of favor, even as the ranks of nontraditional families are expanding.

A new poll estimates that at least four in 10 Americans consider themselves part of a stepfamily, but a growing number reject that label, saying it carries a stigma.
"There's no 'step' in my family," said Samantha Sweeney, a school psychologist who lives on Capitol Hill and feels fortunate to have had two fathers - the one who died when she was 2 and the one who raised Sweeney and her sister after their mother remarried. Sweeney gained two brothers as part of what she calls her blended family. "When we all are together," she said, "we feel very much like a family."

Many therapists also shun the term, which seems to confer second-class status on a stepparent or stepsibling.

It causes problems," said Mary Kelly-Williams, a therapist, mother of four and stepmother of one who runs the Web site "We're stuck with the language, but it doesn't resonate with people." The new terminology hasn't totally displaced the old. But many stepfamilies are groping for new ways to describe themselves at a time when half of first marriages end in divorce and four in 10 babies are born to unmarried women. As a result, children are more likely than ever to grow up around step-relatives.
Yet, 40 years after TV's "The Brady Bunch" became a symbol of the changing U.S. family, so little research has been done on stepfamilies that no one knows exactly how many there are today.

In an analysis of the living arrangements of children in 2004, the Census Bureau reported that 17 percent of all children younger than 18 lived in blended families. About 12 percent had at least one half-sibling, and 2 percent had a stepsibling.

But that likely underrepresents the phenomenon. Although the census estimated that about one in 10 households with children had a stepparent present, it counted only a child's primary residence, not the other parent's new family. In a nationwide Pew Research Center survey released last week, 42 percent of 2,700 adults polled said they had at least one step-relative. Three in 10 have a step- or half-sibling, 18 percent have a living stepparent, and 13 percent have at least one stepchild. Stepfamilies are more prevalent among people younger than 30, blacks and people without a college degree, according to the poll, "A Portrait of Stepfamilies."

Kumbaya: Everyone choose dates for the Union speech

Rep. Joe 'You Lie!' Wilson to sit between Democrats at State of the Union - TheDC

South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson will be found sitting between two Democrats at the speech

Read more:

I'm a sucker for the Rat Pack

Every time I hear Frank belt out "Got You Under My Skin" I'm ready to hit the dance floor

Caught on camera: The Rat Pack in full swing [SLIDESHOW] - TheDC

What's better than fame, dapper suits, cigars and liquor? Nothing, if you're the Rat Pack

Read more:

A "squished" moon?

Space photos reveal the weird optical illusion of the squished Moon

These pictures offer a spectacular view of the rising Moon from the International Space Station. But look closely at the Moon in these photos and you can see how it appears to be strangely squished. What's causing this weird effect? More »

Relics look like props from the hit show "Lost"


The Eerie Abandoned Bunkers of WWII

Across wartime Western Europe, defensive bunkers sprung up to uneasily counter the constant threat of the enemy. Some on land, some by sea, but now, all derelict.Photographer Jonathan Andrew toured several countries to capture these haunting,dilapidated relics. More »

Apple continues to amaze


Apple Wants to Embed Motion Sensors in Your Keyboard

The latest Apple patent has surfaced, and it appears they like the idea of sticking motion sensors in a keyboard so that users can navigate their way through OS X without a separate mouse/trackpad. More »

The more I hear, the more I like him ... and New Jersey

Click here to read Chris Christie Won't Respond to State of the Union

Chris Christie Won't Respond to State of the Union

Top Republicans asked Governor Sandwiches of New Jersey, Chris Christie, to deliver their official response to the president's State of the Uniontomorrow, and he turned them down. Smart move on his part! He'd probably just yell at everyone.

"Really," he said incredulously

Click here to read Jared Loughner Pleads Not Guilty

Jared Loughner Pleads Not Guilty

Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old accused of attempting to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing several others in a mass shooting spree in Arizona earlier this month, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Phoenix on Monday. More »

Can you guess where this is?

The huge glasses should be a giveaway

Buddy didn’t need glasses quite this big (outside the Buddy Holly Center) to be a pop music visionary.

All in Africa or Moslem areas. (These two were countries set out below were once the breadbaskets of Africa.)

The 10 least prosperous countries in the world – in pictures

Five years ago researchers at the Legatum Institute, a London think tank, set out to rank the happiest countries in the world. To avoid the touchy-feely connotation of the word "happy", they use the term "prosperity".

Legatum recently published its 2010 Prosperity Index, which ranks 110 countries – covering 90pc of the world's population. Each nation is evaluated according to 89 variables sorted into eight subsections: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.

Here are the bottom 10, along with their rankings in each category:

End of year travel quiz: win a holiday in Kenya

104) Kenya

Economy: 107

Entrepreneurship & Opportunity: 90

Governance: 100

Education: 98

Health: 99

Safety & Security: 109

Personal Freedom: 77

Social Capital: 77

110) Zimbabwe

Economy: 110

Entrepreneurship & Opportunity: 110

Governance: 110

Education: 101

Health: 107

Safety & Security: 110

Personal Freedom: 104

Social Capital: 88

Why England is doomed, cont…

British Children Not Allowed in British Playgroup

Britain under the rule of the left is not the best place to be British:

Emma Knightley, 25, and Kimberley Wildman, 27, turned up at the 'Making Links' playgroup with their children Imogen, 21 months, and Olivia, 18 months.
But they were stunned when organisers at the centre in St Neots, Cambs., ordered them to leave after being asked 'what country are you from' and they answered "British".
The best friends were told that only foreign mums and children are welcome at the council-funded playgroup…

Local mothers try to get their kids into the playgroup because it is free — i.e., financed through taxes by the very Britons who are not allowed to take part.

Making Links, which is based at the Priory Centre in St Neots, is funded by a £1,000 annual grant from St Neots Town Council. …
The aims of the project are to "develop cross-cultural friendships", "promote cultural identity and self-esteem" and "promote community relationships with local service providers".

Evidently "cross-cultural friendships" are not to include friendships with the Britons being displaced from their own country with the aggressive assistance of their own government.


Emma and Imogen. Tolerating blue-eyed kids would be discriminatory.

George Orwell smiles

Mayor 'Honoring' Vets with Jane Fonda Anti-War Films


Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne decided to "honor" the Vietnam Vets by reaching out to Quaker House, an anti-Vietnam war protesting outfit. And Quaker House said they are glad to participate and intend to show two anti-war films that include Jane Fonda. As in "Hanoi Jane." This is how they plan to "honor Vietnam vets."

GW: another myth shot down. Himalaya’s Glaciers are stable.

An important portion of the Himalaya’s glacier cover is currently stable and, thanks to an insulating layer of debris, may be even growing, a new study finds. The study’s conclusion contradicts a portion of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that had to be retracted last year because it could not be substantiated.

sciencenewsThough the IPCC report stated that the risk of the region’s glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high,” the new study finds that ice cover is stable in the Karakoram mountains, a northern range that holds about half of the Himalaya’s store of frozen water.

Indeed, for much of the past century Karakoram’s glaciers were in retreat. A 2005 paper by Hewitt described a turnaround that commenced only in the late 1990s.

The Big One?

Yellowstone Has Bulged as Magma Pocket Swells

Some places saw the ground rise by ten inches, experts report.

Steam rising from Castle Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

Steam rises from Castle Geyser in Yellowstone National Park (file photo).

Yellowstone National Park's supervolcano just took a deep "breath," causing miles of ground to rise dramatically, scientists report.

The simmering volcano has produced major eruptions—each a thousand times more powerful than Mount St. Helens's 1980 eruption—three times in the past 2.1 million years. Yellowstone's caldera, which covers a 25- by 37-mile (40- by 60-kilometer) swath of Wyoming, is an ancient crater formed after the last big blast, some 640,000 years ago.

(See "When Yellowstone Explodes" in National Geographic magazine.)

Since then, about 30 smaller eruptions—including one as recent as 70,000 years ago—have filled the caldera with lava and ash, producing the relatively flat landscape we see today.

But beginning in 2004, scientists saw the ground above the caldera rise upward at rates as high as 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) a year. (Related: "Yellowstone Is Rising on Swollen 'Supervolcano.'")

The rate slowed between 2007 and 2010 to a centimeter a year or less. Still, since the start of the swelling, ground levels over the volcano have been raised by as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) in places.

See below

Frances Fox Piven: Advocate of Violence. Plus, “The New York Times’s dishonest campaign for ‘civility.’ . . . Why is a newspaper that has been posturing as the scourge of violent rhetoric now siding with a purveyor of such rhetoric, and blatantly slanting the news as it does so? Because her opponent is a prominent media figure from outside the old media establishment.”

Beheaded his wife, founded TV network to better the image of Moslems after 9/11.

New York Judge Allows Beheading Suspect to Be Own Attorney

Jan. 18: Muzzammil Hassan listens during opening statements during his trial in Buffalo, N.Y. Hassan is accused of stabbing and decapitating his wife, Aasiya Hassan, in 2009 inside the studios of Bridges TV. The Pakistan-born couple founded the station to counter negative images of Muslims after 9/11. (AP)

Jan. 18: Muzzammil Hassan listens during opening statements during his trial in Buffalo, N.Y. Hassan is accused of stabbing and decapitating his wife, Aasiya Hassan, in 2009 inside the studios of Bridges TV. The Pakistan-born couple founded the station to counter negative images of Muslims after 9/11. (AP)

A former New York TV executive accused in the gruesome beheading his estranged wife has been granted permission to act as his own defense lawyer for the rest of his murder trial.

In a reversal Monday, a judge allowed Muzzammil Hassan to take over as lead counsel from attorney Jeremy Schwartz. The two have been at odds over Hassan's defense since the trial began in Buffalo last week. Schwartz will stay on to help.

Judge Thomas Franczyk initially denied Hassan's request, but relented when Schwartz brought up their differences again Monday.

Hassan is accused of killing his 37-year-old wife Aasiya Hassan inside the offices of Bridges TV, the Muslim-oriented television station the couple founded to counter negative images of Muslims after the Sept. 11 attacks.

This is turning into a battle royal.

Tucson, Piven and the Left’s Strategic Blunder. “The hope of silencing Beck in the wake of Tucson has lured the left into a strategic blunder. They’ve decided to turn Piven into a martyr. Yet in doing so the left has tied itself to Piven’s wild writings and over-the-top radicalism. Dreier acts as though Piven’s scholarly work is somehow different from the calls for rioting, crisis, and polarization in her two notorious Nation articles. Actually, Piven’s scholarly writings are worse. . . . A quarter century later the Nation has embraced Piven’s call for Euro-style rioting in America, allowing her to speak with the magazine’s editorial voice. It’s not Beck who’s tarring the left with the brush of Piven’s radicalism. They’re doing it to themselves.”

Related, from Ann Althouse:

Do academics mean to have influence or not? Are we supposed to think of them as oversmart flakes who are tucked away in institutions where they won’t screw up real life for the rest of us? Because that’s the only way in which it makes sense to portray Glenn Beck as the villain. He took an academic seriously, as if she meant what she said and expected real people to hear and act.

Faster Please

Researchers have discovered that by blocking a rogue gene called WWP2, levels of a natural inhibitor in the body are boosted and cancer cells remain dormant.

Blocking Rogue Gene Could Stop Spread of Cancer, New Research Suggests

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2011) — Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have discovered a rogue gene involved in the spread of cancer in the body. By blocking the gene, they believe, cancer could be stopped in its tracks.

Published in the journal Oncogene, the discovery is a breakthrough in our understanding of how cancer spreads. It is hoped the research will lead to new drugs that halt the critical late stage of the disease when cancer cells spread to other parts of the body.

Italian Scientists Claim (Dubious) Cold Fusion Breakthrough


Good science is always rooted in good data, but the most entertaining science is the stuff that transcends the need for data by rooting itself in fantastical claims -- and a rejection of the idea that data is even necessary.

So naturally it’s a thrill to learn that two Italian scientists claim to have successfully developed a cold fusion reactor that produces 12,400 watts of heat power per 400 watts of input. Not only that, but they’ll be commercially available in just three months.


Cold fusion is a tricky business -- some say a theoretically implausible business -- and exactly zero of the previous claims of successful cold fusion have proven legitimate (remember when North Korea developed cold fusion?). Hypothetically (and broadly) speaking, the process involves fusing two smaller atomic nuclei together into a larger nucleus, a process that releases massive amounts of energy. If harnessed, cold fusion could provide cheap and nearly limitless energy with no radioactive byproduct or massive carbon emissions.

Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi claim to have done exactly that. Their reactor, they claim, fuses atomic nuclei of nickel and hydrogen using about 1,000 watts of electricity which, after a few minutes, is reduced to an input of just 400 watts. This reaction purportedly can turn 292 grams of 68 degree water into turbine-turning steam -- a process that would normally require 12,400 watts of electricity, netting them a power gain of about 12,000 watts.

We posted this last week, but worth a repost

Even a little meditation can change the structure of your brain

Even a little meditation can change the structure of your brain

Just a few weeks' worth of light meditation can change the structure of your brain, seemingly for the better. Thirty minutes a day can actually increase people's capacity for learning while shrinking the parts of the brain responsible for stress

Nicaragua's entry for: We Are the Craziest Drivers Competition.

 Click here to read Is This School Bus Driver Fearless or Just an Idiot?

Is This School Bus Driver Fearless or Just an Idiot?

Don't try this at home! Actually, don't try it anywhere—ever. Anyway, here's a four-minute video of a Nicaraguan school bus driver literally fording a raging river. Twice! (The bus is full, by the way.) Brave? Idiot? Brave idiot?

Art Deco Bike


The Picycle Bike Frowns In the Face of Bike Thieves

Isn't this just the most cheery bike you've ever clapped eyes on? Even if technically-speaking that red frame is actually the shape of a frown. Nonetheless! The electric PiCycle has an inbuilt theft-recovery service, updating its location on your smartphone.

Office Decorating. (Love the P90 on the left and 50 cal on the right.)


This Must Be the Craziest Computer Den In America

OK, Mr. Redneck. Even if our computer rig contest is long over, you win. You got the biggest computer desktop of them all. And even if that weren't the case, that giant anti-aircraft gun says you win anyway

The Best Apps for Snow Junkies

The Best Apps for Snow JunkiesCarrying a phone on the slopes isn't just a good way to make sure you don't freeze to death after careening off an unseen ledge. With the right apps, it can be helpful in non-emergency-related ways, too!


Snow Report
The Best Apps for Snow JunkiesIgnoring occasional glitchiness—particularly with remembering favorite resorts through updates—it's hard to fault North Face's Snow Report app. Its feature list reads like the results of a brainstorm session titled, "Why the hell would anyone want to bring a smartphone skiing with them?" which is actually, probably, pretty much this app's origin story. This means: quick weather updates for virtually any resort, trail maps for quite a few; on-the-ground details, like ski lift running times and snow totals; and a basic route tracking function. Free, iPhone.

Political Cartoon

Elite Law School Ideas Are ‘Catastrophically Bad for America’

Schools for Misrule Coverage of the forthcoming book by Walter Olson (Cato Institute), Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America (Encounter Books, Feb. 15, 2011):

From Barack Obama (Harvard and Chicago) to Bill and Hillary Clinton (Yale), many of our national leaders today emerge from the rarefied air of the nation’s top law schools. The ideas taught there in one generation often wind up shaping national policy in the next.

The trouble is, as Walter Olson explains in this book, our elite law schools keep churning out ideas that are catastrophically bad for America. Rights to sue anyone over anything in class actions? Hatched in legal academia. Court orders mandating mass release of prison inmates? Ditto. The movement for slavery reparations? Court takeovers of school funding, at taxpayers’ expense? It’s not by coincidence, Olson argues, that these bad ideas all tend to confer more power on the law schools’ own graduates. In the overlawyered society that results, they are the ones who become the real rulers. And the worst is yet to come, the book demonstrates, as a fast-rising movement in the law schools demands that sovereignty over U.S. legal disputes be handed over to international law and transnational courts.

John Edwards Film Shocker


AARON SORKIN, who's riding high with hit flick "The Social Network," is in secret talks with disgraced 2-time Presidential loser JOHN EDWARDS to tell HIS side of the story in forthcoming movie about the cover-up and conspiracy.


Dubai opens 'world's highest' restaurant...

It appears there are some things can not be fixed in Chicago.

Breaking: Court boots Rahm off ballot

Breaking: Illinois court throws Rahm Emanuel off mayoral ballot

Wonder if O would be in favor of cutting this?

Why Does The U.S. Still Give China Aid?

Foreign Policy: While Chinese President Hu flaunted his country's power during his Western tour, his No. 2 economy raked in billions in Western aid. That's right. We're still subsidizing China. Why?

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, foreign aid to China totals $2.6 billion a year. The biggest donor is Japan, followed by Germany, France and Britain, then the U.S. All of these countries, meanwhile, are in debt to China and running massive deficits.

Oh my


Amateur video, taken moments after an explosion at Domodedovo International Airport and posted to YouTube, gives a graphic look at the aftermath of the blast that killed at least 31 and injured dozens.

Obama Turning State of the Union Into Something 'Grander,' a 'Second Inaugural Address'


When President Barack Obama steps into the House chamber Tuesday to deliver his second State of the Union address, ambience will trump substance. In his speech, the president will talk about jobs, the deficit and the future of the nation’s troubled economy, but most of the attention is going to be on the theatrics in the room. It will be a night defined by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and murder of six bystanders in Tucson less than a month ago and the highly public soul-searching that has played out since then on the need for greater civility in political debate…..Obama’s speech comes at an ambiguous moment for him, the country and Congress, and his staff, led by senior adviser David Axelrod, who is leaving the West Wing on Friday, has been groping for something beyond a typical State of the Union — something grander and more like a second inaugural address than a programmatic laundry list or partisan pep rally.

Unionized N.Y. Garbage Men Haul in $144K a Year


Health care and pension benefits for state and local government employees are out of control, experts are telling WND, and a new study by a think tank points to New York City as being emblematic of the fiscal crisis.

Taxpayers in the Big Apple are forced to pay $144,000 a year for salary, health and pension benefits for garbage workers, who are unskilled but unionized laborers.

Oil: It’s Good For What Ails Ya

Solving our budget problems through the miracle of oil:

The objective case for developing our oil and gas wealth is pretty straightforward. With the exception of climate change, pretty much everything the Obama administration considers a major problem would be improved by opening the floodgates to new exploration.

The deficit? The oil industry already pays the U.S. treasury more than $95 million a day in taxes, rent, royalties, and the like. If you expand exploration, you expand revenues. According to estimates, if America unlocked its oil and gas reserves, the government could take in somewhere between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in additional revenue over the coming years. And that’s not counting the increased revenues from the stimulus of lower fuel and energy costs.

Trade imbalances? Domestic oil and gas is, by definition, not imported. The more we produce here, the less we import, or the more we can sell overseas. Either way, the trade deficit goes down and GDP goes up.

Jobs? You can’t drill for American oil or natural gas in China, Saudi Arabia, or anyplace other than America. Oil- and gas-exploration jobs pay more than twice the national average.

Just take a gander at North Dakota, where oil production is up 138 percent since 2008. The boom “has helped make its economy almost recession-proof,” writes American Enterprise Institute economist Mark Perry. North Dakota’s “jobless rate never exceeded 4.4 percent even during the Great Recession when the U.S. rate hit 10.1 percent.” North Dakota, with a $1 billion surplus, and the lowest unemployment rate in the country, has more jobs today than it did when the recession started in 2007. Perversely, as AEI’s Steve Hayward notes, if trends continue, North Dakota may well out-produce California and Alaska (it’s already zoomed past Oklahoma), not because California and Alaska are running out of oil, but because the feds keep their oil reserves under lock and key.

All in all, the American Petroleum Institute believes we may have 100 billion barrels of untapped oil — that’s 10 million barrels a day for 30 years, or the equivalent of our total imports of foreign oil.

Not good

Breaking: Blast at Moscow airport reportedly kills 10; Update: 31 dead, 130 injured

Dozens more injured.

But it is good for you

CHICAGOLAND: 3 SEIU Locals Get HealthCare Waivers; SEIU Spent $28M on Obama Campaign...