Brilliant laundry detergent ad urges men to do more housework

This ad from India for laundry detergent movingly shows how women deal with the “second shift” — working all day and coming home to even more household chores. And it shows how we could break the (laundry pun intended) cycle:

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 5.47.42 PM
Click through to the video and the article

The ad is going viral after Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg shared it on her profile, calling it “one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen.”

In the two-minute ad, a father visits his grown daughter and her family and watches her — after a day at work — juggle work calls and dinner preparations and her son’s stained shirt.

Meanwhile, her husband watches TV. “I am so proud. And I am so sorry,” her father says in voiceover. “Sorry that you have to do all this alone. Sorry that I never stopped you while you were playing house. I never told you it’s not your job alone, but your husband’s too. But how could I say it when I never helped your mom either?”

We later learn that the voiceover is a letter, and her father closes by promising to do better, starting with doing his own laundry from his trip to visit his daughter…

Own up, dudes!

Darwin Award winner of the year candidate — Suicide Bomb Instructor kills himself and 22 trainees

ISIS
Pay attention in class and follow instructions

A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives…

The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.

Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara…Eight militants were arrested when they tried to escape…

The militant who was conducting the training was not identified by name, but he was described by an Iraqi Army officer as a prolific recruiter who was “able to kill the bad guys for once…”

A State Department official, Brett McGurk, said that ISIS had about 2,000 fighters in Iraq, and that its longer-term objective is to establish a base of operations in Baghdad, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been officially designated as a global terrorist by the State Department.

The dude qualifies all the way round. Especially since he took out 22 candidates with himself, wounded 15 more and survivors were arrested. Phew.

Early music lessons boost brain development

If you started piano lessons in grade one, or played the recorder in kindergarten, thank your parents and teachers. Those lessons you dreaded – or loved – helped develop your brain. The younger you started music lessons, the stronger the connections in your brain.

A study published last month in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that musical training before the age of seven has a significant effect on the development of the brain, showing that those who began early had stronger connections between motor regions – the parts of the brain that help you plan and carry out movements.

The study provides strong evidence that the years between ages six and eight are a “sensitive period” when musical training interacts with normal brain development to produce long-lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. “Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli,” says Virginia Penhune. “Practicing an instrument before age seven likely boosts the normal maturation of connections between motor and sensory regions of the brain, creating a framework upon which ongoing training can build.”

With the help of study co-authors, PhD candidates Christopher J. Steele and Jennifer A. Bailey, Penhune and Zatorre tested 36 adult musicians on a movement task, and scanned their brains. Half of these musicians began musical training before age seven, while the other half began at a later age, but the two groups had the same number of years of musical training and experience. These two groups were also compared with individuals who had received little or no formal musical training.

When comparing a motor skill between the two groups, musicians who began before age seven showed more accurate timing, even after two days of practice. When comparing brain structure, musicians who started early showed enhanced white matter in the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibres that connects the left and right motor regions of the brain. Importantly, the researchers found that the younger a musician started, the greater the connectivity.

Interestingly, the brain scans showed no difference between the non-musicians and the musicians who began their training later in life; this suggests that the brain developments under consideration happen early or not at all. Because the study tested musicians on a non-musical motor skill task, it also suggests that the benefits of early music training extend beyond the ability to play an instrument…

But, says Penhune, who is also a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development, “it’s important to remember that what we are showing is that early starters have some specific skills and differences in the brain that go along with that. But, these things don’t necessarily make them better musicians. Musical performance is about skill, but it is also about communication, enthusiasm, style, and many other things that we don’t measure. So, while starting early may help you express your genius, it probably won’t make you a genius.”

The only analysis I can offer is subjective – and in agreement with the study. Second-generation American, I grew up in a factory town, downhill and downwind from 2 of the 3 factories that dominated the New England city where I was born.

My parents taught me to read by age 4. And I started piano lessons at 5. I studied and played through elementary school – and stayed in the top of my classes through graduation.

I never became a superior pianist. I played well enough through practice – and later became part of a different music scene because I loved to sing – not for the range of skills as a well-practiced guitarist. But, rhythms and music were as much a part of my mind as the words and tales and adventures that filled the books I read.

The music helped.

US Navy has one of those expensive “Oops!” moments

Photos and video from submarine-cruiser collision off Florida coast


Click on photo to enlargeUS Navy photo by MC2 Mike DiMestico

USS MONTPELIER (SSN 765) runs on the surface Sunday, Oct. 14, a day after being hit while submerged by the cruiser SAN JACINTO. The upper vertical rudder normally visible right aft is missing.
 


Click on photo to enlargeUS Navy photo by MC2 Mike DiMestico

The cruiser SAN JACINTO underway off the northeast Florida coast on Oct. 14, a day after colliding with the submerged submarine MONTPELIER. No visible damage above the waterline. The damaged sonar dome is at the foot of the ship’s bow.

Photos of the two ships involved in Saturday’s collision off the northeast Florida coast were taken and released Oct. 14 by the U. S. Navy. Neither of the ships, the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS MONTPELIER (SSN 765) and the Aegis cruiser USS SAN JACINTO (CG 56), show any topside effects, but both ships have been damaged…

The incident is currently under investigation.

Both the submarine and the ship were conducting routine training at the time of the accident.

Like I said: Oops!

Auditors find US wasted millions on Iraqi police training facilities, billions on training!

Report from auditors finds that massive US programme to train Iraqi police was unwanted and led to ‘de-facto waste’.

More than $200m was wasted on a programme to train Iraqi police that the government in Baghdad neither needed or wanted, US auditors have found.

The Police Development Programme, which was to be the single largest programme launched by the US State Department anywhere in the world, was envisioned to be a five-year, multi-billion dollar effort to train local security forces after the US military pulled out last December.

A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, to be released today, found that the US embassy in Baghdad never received a written commitment from Iraq to participate in the programme.

Now, facing what the report called Baghdad’s “disinterest” in the project, the embassy is massively cutting what was planned to be the centrepiece of ongoing US training projects in Iraq.

According to the report, the embassy now plans to turn the $108m Baghdad Police College Annex over to Iraqis by the end of 2012, and will also stop training at a $98m site in the southern city of Basra…

“A major lesson learned from Iraq is that host country buy-in to proposed programmes is essential to the long-term success of relief and reconstruction activities”…auditors wrote in a 41-page summary of their inspection…

In ordinary English – understand we’re talking about a government made up of survivors of Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

The report concluded, “the decision to embark on a major programme absent Iraqi buy-in has been costly” and resulted in “a de-facto waste”…The findings have called into question funding needs at the US embassy in Baghdad, the largest such mission in the world…

In a July 26 letter responding to a draft of the report, Carol Z. Perez, an acting US assistant secretary of state, said that the embassy would be requesting additional funding for the police training programme in 2013…

Moreover, Perez said, the embassy had been assured by Adnan al-Asadi, the Iraqi principal deputy interior minister, that his country is committed to a streamlined version of the training programme.

The auditors, however, said that those assurances fall short of a written commitment. They quoted al-Asadi as telling US inspectors that the police training programme was “useless”.

Bush’s imperial adventure into the Middle East will go down in history as comparable to the political and military disaster that was VietNam. We weren’t wanted. We did nothing useful to improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

We convinced the few people who may have been sympathetic to the United States in the Middle East and the rest of the world – that our foreign policy is as backwards as the rules of order governing Congress. And our nation is run by liberals and/or conservatives who have learning nothing from our past – or the failures of every imperial nation that preceded us.

Cut taxes or build education — 2 states are ideological test cases


Martin O’Malley and Sam Brownback

As state governments begin to emerge from the long downturn, many are grappling with a difficult choice: should they restore some of the services and jobs they were forced to eliminate in the recession or cut taxes in the hopes of bolstering their local economies?

Maryland, a state controlled by Democrats that has a pristine credit rating, raised income taxes on its top earners this year to preserve services and spending on its well-regarded schools…Kansas, controlled by Republicans, decided to try to spur its economy with an income tax cut — which Moody’s Investors Service, the ratings agency, recently warned would lead to “dramatic revenue loss” and deficits that would probably require more spending cuts in the coming years.

Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland…asked. “How much less do we think would be good for our country? How much less education would be good for our children? How many fewer college degrees would make our state or our country more competitive?

“How much less research and development would be good for the innovation economy that we have an obligation and a responsibility, a duty and an imperative, to embrace? How many fewer hungry Maryland kids can we afford to feed? Progress is a choice: we can decide whether to make the tough choices necessary to invest in our shared future and move forward together. Or we can be the first generation of Marylanders to give our children a lesser quality of life with fewer opportunities.”

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas…said…“My viewpoint, and the viewpoint of the majority of the Legislature, was we’ve got to change our tax policy to attract more people and attract more businesses”…

Mr. Brownback said that he initially had hoped to pay for some of the lost revenues…by ending a number of popular tax deductions, and by phasing in the cuts slowly. But he could not find support for that, so, even as other states are beginning to add spending again, he has been looking for savings and more cuts to offset the projected loss in tax revenues. “We are going to be going through everything with a fine-tooth comb,” he said…

You won’t hear any speeches from Brownback about raising education standards. He already opposes teaching science, evolution.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonprofit research organization in Washington…issued a report this year that found that the states with high income tax rates had outperformed those with no income tax over the past decade when it came to economic growth per capita and median family income.

The choices made by Kansas and Maryland could provide something of a real-time test of the prevailing political theories of taxing and spending — though it could be years before the results are in.

The results will verify what these competing systems have always proven…supply-side economics, dribble-down theorizing by Republican hack economists consistently proves to be a drag on the economy – only making life a bit easier for the country club set.

States that improve their economy do so by improving education, public health, a focus on building a work force capable of learning on their own and keeping up with a changing world. That costs money. It’s better spent on children who will become the next generation of wage earners than on providing aid and comfort to corporate pirates who would sail away on a whim if they thought they could make an extra dime profit in some other state, some other country or continent.

Why are young American women more ambitious than men?

In a headline that calls out for attention — “A Gender Reversal on Career Aspirations” — the Pew Research Center reports that two-thirds of young women now say “being successful in a high-paying career or profession” is one of the most important goals in their lives.

While it may not be surprising that these women express more ambition than their mothers and grandmothers, it is surprising when they also display more ambition than their male peers. Is this a sign, then, that we are witnessing “a gender reversal”? Or does it represent a kind of denial — on the part of young women and men — about the obstacles they will ultimately face at the workplace and in life..?

Yet…young people are not only postponing marriage, they are also far more likely than earlier generations to believe it is better to stay single than to enter or stay in a dissatisfying relationship. Moreover, while young women see marriage as desirable, they do not believe it is essential to their own happiness or to becoming a parent…

Women are particularly aware of how hard it is to sustain a relationship, especially in the context of persistent work-family conflicts and rising financial uncertainty. An egalitarian partnership may be the ideal, but most young women see self-reliance through paid work as essential to their survival, offering the option to choose the right relationship, maintain a measure of autonomy within it and go it alone if nothing better comes along…

Men’s prospects have dimmed in finding the kind of stable jobs and careers their fathers and grandfathers took for granted. With the uncertainties of the new economy, where few jobs offer lifetime security, men’s scaled back aspirations are as understandable as women’s rising goals. Men, too, are caught on the horns of a dilemma, torn between the difficulty of establishing a steady career and strong pressures to define their worth by the size of the paycheck.

As women’s career aspirations rise and men’s tumble, this declining gender gap should serve as a wake-up call. Younger generations want to combine the personal pursuit of challenging, well-rewarded paid work with the pleasures and responsibilities of a committed family life. In fact, earlier Pew surveys found 73% of Americans believe that women’s employment has been a “change for the better,” while 62% say that sharing the responsibilities of paid work and rearing children is “more satisfying than a more traditional marriage.”

RTFA. Combine this analysis with the number of women beginning to surpass men in collegiate training, learning – and we may well be seeing the start of something new in the character of our society.

I’ve actually witnessed something similar, a parallel in Eastern European countries as education freed up many young women from traditional definitions. I remember a party I attended after an opening night at the Warsaw Opera notable for a drunken lout, the male spouse of the lead soprano – who also had a second career as a physician. His friends referred to him in a newly-current phrase as “the husband of the wife”.