The Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette – from The New York Times

❝ Republicans used to care a lot about how a president comports himself, and whether he acts at all times with the dignity his station demands.

“Is President Obama Disrespecting the Oval Office?” Fox News asked in 2010, with a link to images of Mr. Obama and his aides tossing a football, or eating apples just inches from the Resolute desk.

“Wear a suit coat and tie,” said Andrew Card Jr., President George W. Bush’s former chief of staff, in reaction to pictures of Mr. Obama in shirtsleeves in 2009…

On the other hand –

❝ Call for the firing of “son of a bitch” athletes who choose to exercise their right to free speech

❝ Welcome into the Oval Office a man who threatened to assassinate your predecessor, whom he called a “subhuman mongrel,” and who referred to your political opponent as a “worthless bitch”

❝ Grant temporary White House press credentials to a website that, among other things, claims that Sept. 11 was an “inside job” and that the massacre of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax

This is how the Liar-in-Chief and Fake President modifies prior standards – as overly conservative as they may have been – to reflect the insanity and corruption he now expects from the established Republican Party.

Yes, It’s happening before the eyes of the gullible fools who voted for him.

Dogs Who Live With Smokers Die Younger

How to kill your best friend

❝ Dogs are like small children. They tend to explore their environments by putting whatever they can find in their mouths, as well as sniffing about your carpet, your furniture, and your lap. It’s no surprise, then, that your canine friend can be harmed by toxic chemicals in your environment. New research confirms that dogs living in smoking homes are more likely to suffer from DNA damage and show signs of premature aging than those living in non-smoking homes.

❝ In people, the potential health risks of smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke are well documented. But to understand how environmental tobacco affects our pets, Natalie Hutchinson, a veterinary researcher at the University of Glasgow, recruited 42 dogs and their owners, approximately half of whom lived in smoking homes and half in non-smoking homes. Each of the dog owners completed a survey about their smoking habits, frequency, and whether they smoked indoors or stepped outside. Then researchers collected blood, hair samples, and cheek swabs from the dogs during a health checkup. They also offered free-of-charge neutering, and collected spare tissues for genetic analysis.

❝ A year later, Hutchinson followed up with 25 of the pet owners and conducted some more tests. She found that certain biological markers, such as the presence of nicotine in dogs’ hair, were much higher in dogs exposed to smoke at home and were related to the amount of smoking going on. “The fact that we found significant increases in various biomarkers over just a year’s worth of data is the most worrying part for me,” she says. “Dogs can live up to 10 to 15 years with us, which means they could be exposed to even more harmful effects over time.”

But dogs that came from smoking homes were already showing signs of DNA damage that could lead to shorter lives, Hutchinson says. Their telomeres, which cap and protect the ends of chromosomes, were much shorter compared to dogs from non-smoking homes. Telomeres not only protect DNA from oxidative stress, once they reach a critically short length, cells stop dividing and may even die, Hutchinson explains.

No surprise to me. Still, it’s nice to see the beginnings of scientific research validating what lots of folks know anecdotally.

Wolves cooperate, dogs submit

Click to enlarge

A new dog research study suggest dogs submit while wolves cooperate.

Comparative psychologists Friederike Range and Zsófia Virányi at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna have an upsetting conclusion for dog lovers.

The two scientists studied lab-raised dog and wolf packs, they found out that wolves were the tolerant, cooperative ones.

A lot of researchers think that as humans domesticated dogs they became keen to to pitch in on tasks with humans. But, this is apparently not the true nature on today’s dogs…The dogs formed strict, linear dominance hierarchies that demand obedience from subordinates, says Range.

She thinks that as wolves became dogs, they were bred for the ability to follow orders and to be dependent on human masters…

The more dominant wolves were “mildly aggressive toward their subordinates, but a lower ranking dog won’t even try” when paired with a top dog, Range said…

Wolves also beat the dogs on tests assessing if they were able to follow the look of their fellows to find food. “They are very cooperative with each other, and when they have a disagreement or must make a group decision, they have a lot of communication or ‘talk’ first,” Range said.

The dogs, on the other hand were far more authoritarian and aggressive. A higher-ranked dog “may react aggressively” toward one that is subordinate for even the smallest transgression.

Range and Virányi suspect that the relationship between dogs and humans is hierarchical, with humans as top dogs compared to the cooperative wolf packs.

The idea of “dog-human cooperation” needs to be reconsidered, Range said, as well as “the hypotheses that domestication enhanced dogs’ cooperative abilities.”

Interesting conclusions – and more studies to follow.

I expect anthropomorphic ideologues will either fall apart in disbelief – or leap into predictable fundamentalist rapture over this report.

Puritans upset — weedheads behave like angels compared to boozers

Marijuana advocates said the smooth rollout of legalized recreational pot smoking in Colorado could serve as a model for the country.

Some critics predicted in advance of Wednesday’s opening day there would be long lines of unruly customers fighting over a scant supply of pot at newly opened recreational marijuana stores, but advocates and those opposed agreed nothing of the sort took place.

Crediting a cooperative spirit that brought together marijuana industry leaders, police, elected officials and bureaucrats tasked with overseeing the rollout, those involved celebrated a problem-free start to recreational marijuana sales…

Among the outreach efforts the two sides undertook together were 50,000 flyers handed out Wednesday at pot shops, encouraging responsible use of the drug — including refraining from driving under the influence, restricting use to those 21 and older and not carrying marijuana across state lines.

The relative success of Colorado’s rollout has emboldened marijuana advocates in other states…

In Massachusetts, for example, pro-pot activists applauded Colorado — and argued it could serve as a model for their state.

“The essence of what’s happening is that people are getting educated,” said William Downing, treasurer of the pro-marijuana group Bay State Repeal. “People are learning. The rest of the nation is finding out that they have been lied to about cannabis by their government for many decades.”

Hypocrites are winding up to get ready to block anything approaching reason and law about pot use – and maybe even taxation. The leading example I’ve seen so far here in New Mexico has been in a response to Democrat Jerry Ortiz y Pino introducing a bill for legalized consumption similar to that beyond our northern border in Colorado.

The first conservative I saw interviewed on TV said, “collecting taxes and funding needs for the state isn’t sufficient reason to legalize marijuana” – I remember seeing the same dude on the tube touting his support for the legislation that legalized the state lottery which is taxed to provide college scholarships.

Frankly, we have sufficient cowards in the Roundhouse to keep any bill decriminalizing pot from even getting a vote on the floor of the legislature – much less bringing it to a state referendum.

Do you want the bad news or the good news first?

There’s good news and there’s bad news. Which do you want to hear first?

That depends on whether you are the giver or receiver of bad news, and if the news-giver wants the receiver to act on the information, according to researchers at the University of California, Riverside…It’s complicated.

The process of giving or getting bad news is difficult for most people, particularly when news-givers feel unsure about how to proceed with the conversation, psychologists Angela M. Legg and Kate Sweeny wrote…“The difficulty of delivering bad news has inspired extensive popular media articles that prescribe ‘best’ practices for giving bad news, but these prescriptions remain largely anecdotal rather than empirically based,” said Legg, who completed her Ph.D. in psychology in October, and Sweeny, assistant professor of psychology.

In a series of experiments, the psychologists found that recipients of bad news overwhelmingly want to hear that bad news first, while news-givers prefer to deliver good news first. If news-givers can put themselves in the recipient’s shoes, or if they’re pushed to consider how to make the recipient feel better, then they might be willing to give news like recipients want them to. Otherwise, a mismatch is almost inevitable.But that’s not the whole story. The researchers also determined that where good news is introduced in a conversation can influence the recipient’s decision to act or change his or her behavior…

Hiding bad news won’t be really effective if the desire is to change somebody’s behavior, such as encouraging them to get a prescription filled or lab work done, said Legg, the paper’s lead author…

“Doctors must give good and bad health news to patients, teachers must give good and bad academic news to students, and romantic partners may at times give good and bad relationship news to each other,” they wrote. “Our findings suggest that the doctors, teachers and partners in these examples might do a poor job of giving good and bad news because they forget for a moment how they want to hear the news when they are the patients, students, and spouses, respectively. News-givers attempt to delay the unpleasant experience of giving bad news by leading with good news while recipients grow anxious knowing that the bad news is yet to come. This tension can erode communication and result in poor outcomes for both news-recipients and news-givers.”

Or you can make the decision common to the media moguls who own most of the mainstream newscasts. Try to turn everything into entertainment and leave the average consumer as ignorant as they were beforehand.

Feeding stray cats and building sandcastles now banned in Italy

Mid-year is when lots of new laws seem to kick-in throughout the Industrial West. That includes silly as often as useful. It appears Italy is attempting to corner the market on not-very-useful:

“Castles made of sand slips into the sea – eventually”

Bans on kissing while driving a car, feeding stray cats and building sandcastles are among a rash of new laws Italians say threaten to turn the country into the ultimate nanny state.

More than 150 “public security” laws have been introduced since Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, granted extra powers to local councils to help them crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour.

In the latest episode in the fight to maintain “public decorum”, Vigevano, a town near Milan, this week slapped fines of €160 each on a young couple who dared to sit on the steps of a local monument.

“It was really hot, so we just sat down for a moment,” said Giada Carnevale, 24. “The only other alternative in the piazza is to go to a bar but there they charge you €5 just for a drink. We were just chatting – we weren’t eating or drinking or smoking.”

But the town’s mayor justified the fine, saying the council spent precious time and money each month cleaning up after idlers on the steps.

Passionate Italians caught kissing in a moving car in the town of Eboli, south of Naples, face a €500 fine.

The coastal town of Eraclea, near Venice, prohibits the building of sandcastles on the beaches because they can “obstruct the passage” of people strolling along the strand…

On the island of Capri, wearing noisy wooden clogs is banned.

In Bergamo, you can be fined €333 for feeding the pigeons, while Venice punishes the same offence with a €500 penalty. The town of Cesena on the Adriatic Coast extends the ban to feeding feral cats.

The Italian press has slammed what they claim is a return to the bureaucratic straightjacket of the Mussolini era.

The chuckle for me has been the erratic attempt by rightwingers to characterize nanny state laws and political correctness as a leftwing phenomenon.

While both sides of the aisle have their petty adherents to PC, the lead in “moral rearmament” has been a steady theme of rightwing politics for centuries. Especially with dependence on fundamentalist religion.

Using bone marrow transplants to cure mental illness?

Scientists in the US claim to have used a bone marrow transplant to cure mental illness in a study that could have profound implications for patients with psychiatric problems.

Bone marrow transplants are routinely used to treat leukaemia and other life-threatening diseases, but have never been used to treat mental health problems.

The team, led by a Nobel prizewinning geneticist, found that experimental transplants in mice cured them of a disorder in which they groom themselves so excessively they develop bare patches of skin. The condition is similar to a disorder in which people pull their hair out, called trichotillomania.

A lot of people are going to find it amazing,” said Mario Capecchi at the University of Utah, who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 2007 for his work on mouse genetics. “That’s the surprise: bone marrow can correct a behavioural defect.”

The team said their work is the first to reveal a direct link between a psychiatric disorder and faulty immune cells, which grow in bone marrow before moving to the brain to protect nerve cells from damage.

Capecchi said the condition the animals develop is comparable to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and could shed fresh light on the roots of the disorder. Other illnesses including depression, schizophrenia and autism might also be linked to problems with the immune system, he added…

“This is immensely important and incredibly exciting. It’s definitely something people will want to follow up,” said Douglas Blackwood, professor of psychiatric genetics at Edinburgh University. “Current treatments for these kinds of conditions are not incredibly effective and there’s a massive need for alternatives.”

Other researchers were more cautious about the work. Paul Salkovskis, clinical director of the Maudsley Hospital Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma in London, said it was impossible to draw strong conclusions about the role of the immune system in human mental illnesses from the study. “Excessive grooming in mice is not a good model for obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, a condition that can be treated effectively with cognitive behavioural therapy,” he said.

RTFA. The analyses parallel my first reactions – in that I wondered if the behavior related to allergies and immune systems?

Dogs can develop a behavioral reaction to allergies that looks like OCD, compulsively licking their forelegs and paws. While humans – well, humans make the definition.

For the love of a stork

Vets who saved a female stork, shot by hunters in Croatia, thought her days were numbered – but reckoned without the devotion of her mate.

The vets knew the female, which they called Malena, would never fly again but put her back on her nest thinking she would not survive the winter.

When her partner, named Rodan, flew south with their young they expected that she would eventually die and certainly never mate again.

But their predictions were proved wrong after the Vokic family where she had a nest helped to feed her through the long winter months and she survived.

And – even more amazingly – Rodan has returned every year to mate with his partner and rear another clutch of chicks.

Every year Rodan flies 13,000 kilometres to South Africa to spend winter in the warm and then the same distance back again to be back with his injured love.

I always find these tales interesting, though I can’t speak to storks. Squirrels I can speak to.

Study finds that cats don’t sleep much with bulky cameras strapped to their necks

If you look real carefully, you can see the camera.

Fifty house cats were given collar cameras that took a photo every 15 minutes. The results put a digital dent in some human theories about catnapping.

Based on the photos, about 22 percent of the cats’ time was spent looking out of windows, 12 percent was used to interact with other family pets and 8 percent was spent climbing on chairs or kitty condos. Just 6 percent of their hours were spent sleeping.

“What surprised me was how active the cats were. I believed my three cats were sleeping during the day,” said Jill Villarreal, an animal behavior scientist who collected the data for Nestle Purina PetCare’s Friskies brand of cat food.