Category Archives: Lifestyle

White House not happy with school lunch ads starring Obama girls

There were 14 ad banners at Washington D.C.’s Union Station on August 4 that the White House wanted to disappear. A young girl is featured asking, “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?”
The White House may want the ads gone but they are within the right of free speech. While the administration has said that using the daughters of President Obama infringes on their private life, the ads only ask a legitimate question. ABC Blogs reports:

“We’ve been very clear I think from even before the administration started that their two girls would have a very private life, and we want to protect that private life and their privacy,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said this morning when asked about the PCRM posters. “And we hope that others will be respectful, as many in the media have been, about not using the girls as a publicity stunt.”

No one though is speaking on behalf of the eight-year-old Jasmine Messiah of Miami-Dade who is featured in the ad asking a very real question of the government. Why do some children reap the benefits that all children deserve? The ads are from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) who are lobbying for healthy lunch programs within the nation’s school systems. CBS Blogs reports:

“The contrast is not with the daughters,” Dr. Neal Barnard says of the controversial poster, pointing out that Sasha and Malia’s names and pictures are not in the ad. “The contrast is with the school the president’s daughters are able to patronize. Sidwell Friends is able to offer health nutritious meal options.” Veggie burgers are offered alongside hamburgers, vegetarian chili is served next to meat chili with higher cholesterol, he says. “Go a mile away to any school in the district” and what options are there to a bologna-and-cheese sandwich? he asks. “What’s left? Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Little Jasmine brings her own lunch to school by the way in order to have fruits and vegetables. MSNBC quotes the young girl:

“Sometimes I bring in broccoli and carrots and my friends are like, ‘Ewww, this is disgusting,’ ” she told The Miami Herald. “But I think if they tried it more, they’d like it.”

Jasmine is wise. The United States is dealing with a nation of children that have unhealthy diets. At this point one in three will deal at some point in their lives with diabetes. Changing the diets of children in the school could lead to a healthier nation. The campaign by PCRM points out the fact that the average school is pushed to serve high-fat, high-cholesterol foods. This is in spite of the knowledge that a low fat, vegetarian diet helps prevent obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The federal child nutrition legislation does not have provisions in place to support vegetarian meals in schools. News 8 reports that the ads will remain in place at Union Station until August 31.

Computers are becoming the standard text book

Millions of trees could be sighing a breath of relief in the future as computers become the standard in schools instead of textbooks if some reports are correct. Still those mighty oaks will have to wait a while before they are in the clear.
Not everyone is in favor of textbooks going the way of the dinosaur but it does make ecological sense. Textbooks are quickly outdated while computers are updated within minutes. Still it depends on what level of education to understand the near future trends when it comes to textbooks vs. computers. It may be many years before the companies that make those heavy textbooks delve into a world without pages to turn. In college those tomes are a money maker. Students generally spend over $1,000 a year for their books. As professors demand the latest editions the used books are worthless for the next year’s students. Delaware Online reports:

“It’s safe to say that paper, printed texts continue to be the bulk of the demand,” said Elio DiStaola, spokesman for the Follett Higher Education Group, which manages 800 bookstores in North America, including those at Delaware State University and St. Mark’s High School. “But we’re seeing more of those texts available in the electronic format. Our bookstores are preparing for that shift to accelerate. We have to assume that it will.”

There are about 4,500 college stores in the United States that survive because of those heavy tomes. With average sales hovering around $3 million the owners are unlikely to push for computers being the new textbooks. Computer teaching has a more self-study approach than standard textbooks approach. Information on the computer is grasped in a different way than when it is obtained by reading a book. It’s hard to write in the margins of a computer after all. While higher learning institutions don’t see the textbook being replaced by computers United States school systems may be nudging towards that day. A report in The New York Times shows that many school districts are providing their students with computers for lessons and homework assignments. Some teachers see the day when the computer is the textbook.

“Kids are wired differently these days,” said Sheryl R. Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish school system in Lake Charles, La. “They’re digitally nimble. They multitask, transpose and extrapolate. And they think of knowledge as infinite. “They don’t engage with textbooks that are finite, linear and rote,” Dr. Abshire continued. “Teachers need digital resources to find those documents, those blogs, those wikis that get them beyond the plain vanilla curriculum in the textbooks.”

In California some science and math texts are being replaced with open source digital versions. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hopes that this initiative could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The computer is not a reliable text tool though unless every student is equip with not only their own device but also with Internet access.

“A large portion of our kids don’t have computers at home, and it would be way too costly to print out the digital textbooks,” said Tim Ward, assistant superintendent for instruction in California’s 24,000-student Chaffey Joint Union High School District, where almost half the students are from low-income families.

The fairly near future though may see kids toting their computer bags instead of backpacks jammed full of books weighing half of what they do. The future student may not understand how their parents sat in a class listening to a teacher lecture and then going home to read chapters at a time. They are liable to ask, “But what program did you use to store the information in so that you could use it later Mom?”

Zinc pill can stop childhood diarrhea deaths

One pill can save a child in Africa suffering from diarrhea. The hand of death takes 1.6 million children under the age of 5 world-wide from the ravages of the bowel condition according to the World Health Organization.
In Africa and Asia millions die each year from the affects of diarrhea. That seems a high figure to those in those in the West. More children die from the disease than from malaria or AIDS. That could end if children are given a single Zinc pill. It appears the medication stops diarrhea in its tracks. That appears to be the findings in many studies, including one done in New Delhi, India. With charity support some villages are seeing a turn around because of the pills. Bill and Melinda Gate’s charity work along with the Idol Gives Back program are just two that are helping supply village medical clinics with zinc pills. Time reports:

“Before, we were terrified when children’s stomachs began running, because we knew some of them would die,” says Sata Djialla in the Malian village of Morola. “Now our children are not dying of diarrhea.”

The reason the pill works is because many in undeveloped nations have zinc deficiencies. Zinc deficiency lowers the immune system making children and adults more susceptible to infections that cause diarrhea. Zinc has also been shown to increase the activation of T cells that destroy viruses and bacteria. With this new awareness it is possible that childhood deaths may decrease in the near future.

Gibson, world’s tallest dog, dies in California

Gibson, who gained fame as the world’s tallest dog has died in California. Gibson, a certified therapy dog dedicated his life to giving comfort and happiness to everyone along his path.
Gibson was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. After the diagnosis his owner and Gibson startted a campaign to spread the awareness of canine cancer, Three Paws for the Cause. One of Gibson’s front legs had to be removed because of the cancer. Last week the cancer spread to Gibson’s lungs and spine. Gibson’s sad owner had to make the hard decision to put his beloved friend down. Gibson was seven years old. NBC Bay Area reports:

“Last week Gibson began having trouble using his back legs,” said Dr. Peter Walsh, Gibson’s veterinarian, in a prepared statement. “X-rays showed that the cancer had spread to his spine and his lungs. Ms. Hall made the very difficult decision based on her concern and love for Gibson to have him humanely euthanized. Gibson died peacefully in the loving arms of Ms. Hall.”

Gibson was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s tallest dog. He was 42.2 inches tall, and when standing on his hind legs is over 7 foot tall. Gibson appeared on the Larry King Live show and worked in the entertainment field. Gibson also released a book, “Gibson Speaks.” His owner Sandy Hall admits that Gibson had help with writing the book of Gibson’s feats. Zoo Too reports:

“Gibson was destined to be, and still is, he’s a certified therapy dog,” Gibson’s owner, Sandy Hall, told Pet Pulse. “He does wheelchair assistance and he does special needs work. But he did nothing but train and go into practical applications for the first two and a half years of his life. “We started off with little nursing homes and our hospital here is only two floors. We live in a small community.”

His memorial site is online.

Women Eat Less When On a Date

Perhaps the best dieting tool for ladies is to eat out with single men. A study by Canada’s McMaster University shows women eat less calories when dining with men than alone or with other women.
Scientists have confirmed what men have known all along, women order a salad instead of a steak when they are on a date. The study was recently published in the international journal Appetite. When women are dining out with men, either alone or in a mixed-gender group they order smaller caloric meals than when they are dining with other women. The less men in the dining picture the more hearty a meal will be ordered by a lady. When dining with men in a group the average woman’s meal was 450 calories compared to the 700 to 750 calories when dining with other women. Canada.com reports:

“It seems to fit with our intuition. We always hear advice about going on a first date and only eating salad,” said Young, a PhD candidate with the university’s department of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour. “Our hypothesis was that we use food to signal attractiveness: ‘We’re healthy. We’re in good shape. we’re pretty.”

Researchers observed 469 people dining alone, couples and larger groups over four weekdays during one week at three different large cafeterias in Hamilton, Ontario. The observers did scan sampling, observing the room and gathering the data that happens at that moment. The researchers recorded the food items in front of each person other than beverage choice. The teams then converted the caloric information of each meal using data from the dining management of each cafeteria. The researchers at McMaster University believe that this act is a subconscious way to attract a mate. Newslite reports:

“It is possible that small food portions signal attractiveness, and women conform, whether consciously or unconsciously, to small meals in order to be seen as more attractive,” says researcher Meredith Young.


Ontario Living Pink Balloon Event is Slated for September 5

On September 5 The Living Pink Balloon Event will take place at Alderville First Nation Ball Diamond. The goal is 500 people wearing pink t-shirts forming a giant pink balloon in order to give Sick Kid’s Foundation $10,000 for brain research.
The Living Pink Balloon comes from two families dealing with the effects of brain disorders and their want to give back to Sick Children’s Hospital. Last September Hollie Gray, 10, was found unresponsive at her home. Her parents called for help and paramedics quickly took the little girl to the hospital. On route to Northumberland Hills Hospital Hollie’s heart stopped. Hollie was revived. At the hospital a mass was found on her brain. That discovery lead to a quick transfer to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto where her parents were told that their little girl was brain dead. The parents were approached by Trillium Gift of Life to discuss organ donation. Hollie’s parents decided that her spirit had to live on in others. Tanya Gray told Digital Journal that the day before her daughter Hollie died from a brain aneurysm she was joking and laughing while watching television with her family. “She had a mild headache the day before. I thought maybe she had the flu. Hollie was such a go-getter kid. She went to bed and just never woke up.” Brenna was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma or pituitary tumor in 2008. She had early symptoms that were unexplained until she had a CT scan after a third seizure. The little girl was taken to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. There she received treatment and is living a near normal life today. The families are asking people to purchase a pink t-shirt by August 20 from The Scissors Edge (1-905-352-2211) and Our House Snack ‘n’ Go in Alderville and at Herbal Magic in Cobourg, Ontario that will be on hand at Sick Kids on September 5 at the hospital. The goal is that 500 people in the t-shirts will help to form a human pink balloon to show recognition for the staff at the hospital. All proceeds will go to brain and behaviour research. Daryl Crowe says, “We understand that there are many causes and people are stretched thin but Sick Kids has touched everyone in some way. So please come out and help us give back.” On September 5 The Living Pink Balloon is hoping to gather 500 people in one place as a symbol of solidarity of support for Sick Kids Foundation wearing pink t-shirts. One giant pink balloon. The September 5 event will feature prizes, BBQ and Pony Rides. The cost is $25.00 a person which includes a Living Pink Balloon T-shirt. The shirts will be available for pick-up at the event. Please reserve your spot by August 20. Tanya Gray is encouraging companies to have teams register along with individuals. All proceeds from the event will go to Sick Kids Foundation.

Central Park Hosts Bed-In For World Peace

The World March for Peace and Nonviolence is holding a bed-in on August 16 for world peace. The celebration is the 40th anniversary of Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s famous bed-in.
The August event is a tribute to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s cause for world peace. The event will take place at the Cherry Hill Fountain in Central Park at 1 PM. A “Peace Bed” will be in place for musicians and those in attendance to express their thoughts on peace and violence the same way Lennon and Ono did 40 years ago. Yoko Ono has endorsed the project.

Yoko Ono sent this message to the organizers, “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world. Power works in mysterious ways. You don’t have to do much. Visualise the domino effect. And just start thinking PEACE. The message will circulate faster than you think. It’s Time For Action. The Action is PEACE. Spread the word. Spread PEACE.“

Press representative for World Peace March Nicole Myers told Digital Journal that a new peace song will be recorded live at the event. We Want Peace on Earth will be performed by Mark Lesseraux. The song will be in a special double CD of peace songs being produced by Sony, Myers said. “The new song was written and dedicated to the World March for Peace,” said Myers. Myers was very excited about the event and the upcoming global march for peace. She said that there will be music at the Central Park event. The World March will be held in seven continents starting October 2 in New Zealand. It will go around the world ending on January 2, 2010 in Argentina. If you’re in New York City on August 16 check out this special and timely event.