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Monday, September 30, 2013

Andrew and Fergie...Remarrying ??

Prince Andrew and Fergie in Toronto 1987

British tabloids are in a lather about the possibility that Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah, duchess of York, are getting back together. The couple have been dropping tantalizing clues all summer that their current arrangement—Sarah Ferguson has been living for years at Andrew’s house, Royal Lodge on the Windsor estate—could be getting upgraded to include a wedding ring.

In early August Fergie went to Balmoral to visit the Queen. It was the first visit by the scandal-plagued duchess since 2008. And unlike previous post-divorce stays, she slept in the main Balmoral Castle instead of an ancillary building. “It’s just like old times,” one source told the press. “The Duchess is being treated as if she and the Duke were still married.”

Then a month ago, a headline in the Telegraph—”Duke of York finds love again…with old flame the Duchess of York”—sent shockwaves through royal watchers. While Andrew has always been loyal to his ex-wife, even helping to pay off her debts after she was caught on camera attempting to sell access to him to an undercover reporter, the rest of the royal family largely shunned her. The article was full of unnamed sources promising that they were getting back together: Friends claim that the couple are so close that they will eventually formalize their reunion. “Mark my words, they will remarry,” said one friend. “It is only a matter of time.” Another said: “It wouldn’t surprise me at all. They are a wonderful couple together and, better still, pretty amazing parents.”

And it went on: In little-noticed comments in 2009, Prince Andrew, also 53, said he did not rule out remarrying the duchess. “Do we have to be married?” he asked. “Well, let’s put it another way, I can neither confirm nor deny the possibility. We have two great children. We still look after them.”
Now Sarah has added to the speculation. At yesterday’s Children’s Bath Literature Festival, she pointedly commented, “He’ll always be my handsome prince,” and then adding, “It’s really lovely that we are still a family and the story has a happy ending all the time.”

Yet there could be a few obstacles to such a fairy tale ending to their romance. Chiefly it’s Fergie herself, whose actions over the years have made her toxic to a royal family wanting to keep the bad old days of the 1990s firmly in the past. If it was just her “toe-sucking” behaviour from that era, then likely the Queen could forgive and forget. After all, she gave Charles permission to marry his old mistress Camilla Parker Bowles after their relationship passed from scandal-filled to boring. But Fergie never got to that second stage. As late as 2010 she was blatantly attempting to cash in on her royal connections by marketing her relationship to Andrew.

And that has earned her a foe in Prince Philip, who reportedly can’t stand Sarah. Pointedly, she was gone from Balmoral before he drove through the gates after recovering from surgery earlier in the summer. According to the Express,  he thinks she’s “pointless” and “odd” and has laid down the law—no remarriage. So all the gossip and speculation could be just that.... to judge exactly how opposed Philip is to his son remarrying. Haven't you heard Phil ?.....True love finds a way.

Andrew and Fergie today

They're Watching

Privacy issues have never been of much interest to the public, scarcely a raised eyebrow but a couple of weeks ago, everyone decided to finally give a damn about privacy.

The inciting incident was the news of PRISM, a massive National Security Agency surveillance effort, which was leaked to the press by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden revealed that the U.S. federal government has been bulk-spying in realtime on our e-mail, web searches and other Internet traffic. Subsequent revelations exposed other efforts, such as: MARINA, which collects Internet metadata, NUCLEON, with records phone calls en masse, and MAINWAY, which spies on phone metadata.

There is much debate and murkiness about who the NSA is spying on, to what degree Canada’s CSEC is doing the same, and which Internet and phone companies are complicit. The confusion is intentional and transparency is unlikely. These are spy agencies, after all, and they don’t care what you think of them.

More concerned about public outrage is Barack Obama, whose reassurance to Americans that the NSA is not listening to their phone calls without warrants has been exposed in detail as a patent falsehood—the NSA is most certainly doing so to many Americans, and they’re not saying who these targets are. The only reasonable assumption we can make from all this is that until we learn otherwise, everything and everyone is being spied on, all the time.

Why collect information in such an indiscriminate manner? The answer, it seems, is why not?  No legal barriers prevent the NSA from doing so, following post 9/11 amendments to the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act.  Technological barriers to bulk surveillance have also been removed — our data is almost exclusively digital now, and the cost of storing unfathomable troves of it drops each day.  We know a little about the scale of this. (Via Wired,) the Washington Post reported that in 2010 the NSA intercepted and stored 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other communications. This figure is already wildly out of date—last week’s coverage in the Guardian had it that in March of this year alone, the NSA collected three billion pieces of intelligence, just counting U.S. communications.

This all leads us to another question: How could they possibly make sense of so much information?
Because of Big Data. Drastic increases in processing power and the development of sophisticated data mining/data crunching techniques magically allow authorities to sift through our stuff with algorithms that can locate that needle in the haystack—a terrorist plot in the making.

 It all sounds neat in a Bourne Identity kind of way, but I’ve often wondered just how effective Big Data is, especially in these cases, where the cost of a false positive (erroneously identifying an innocent person as a terrorist) is high, but not nearly as high as the cost of a false negative (erroneously identifying a real terrorist as an innocent).

 William Binney, a retired NSA analyst says Big Data is no great shakes.  It seems  the NSA was, in fact, recording Tamerlan Tsarnev’s phone calls, but the Boston Marathon bomber fell through the cracks—nobody got around to transcribing or analyzing the tape.  According to Binney, Big Data is worse than ineffective — it actually renders the NSA “dysfunctional,” as real leads get lost in oceans of irrelevant snoopage.  This helps the NSA perpetually demand (and receive) ever-increased funding to buy more and more transcribers and analysts, but it does little to keep America safe.

The final question to emerge and the most saddening, is “why should I care?” Having just learned that their own government has secretly and perhaps totally disregarded their right to privacy, many have shrugged, claiming they have nothing to hide.  Some have even suggested we’re all getting our just desserts for participating in social media, as if signing up for a GMail account is somehow a tacit invitation for government spooks to read your letters. Really??  A Pew Center poll revealed that 56 per cent of Americans are okay with the NSA listening to their phone calls in the name of security, and 45 per cent don’t mind if their emails are being read.

Why should we care ?  It sort of feels like Grade 8 civics.... eg: explaining why freedom is important or why voting is a good idea.  Let's stick to practicalities: you should care because the government is always losing data, and eventually they will lose yours. Cory Doctorow provides another good reason to care by illustrating the difference between privacy and secrecy. “I know what you do in the toilet,” he writes, “but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to close the door when you go to the stall.” Here’s another one: You might be the next false positive, your life ruined in an instant because some algorithm flagged you as a terrorist based on a data glitch.

Above all, we should care because  your government, your boss and your would-be identity thief all might desire access to such a database.  It’s hard to think of any application that would be more  harmful to you.  It’s similar to how lawyers advise clients to never say anything to police until they show up, whether or not the client has done anything wrong.  What you say might be used against you, but it’s sure as hell not going to be used to help you. If you have nothing to hide, you also have nothing gain by being spied on. They’re not looking for people to send money to.

Well, the public outrage seems to have passed on this issue. If the NSA or CSEC have learned anything from this, it might be that they can probably get away with more than they’re already doing.  The only saving grace here is, there will, we hope, always be an Edward Snowden or a Bradley Manning, a free-thinking individual whose ethics simply do not allow them to stay silent and complicit, no matter the personal cost. These souls will always be one click away from telling us the truth.
Can't say they didn't warn us.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My wife invited her 56-year-old-sister  to stay at our house  for a couple of days  and we gave her total access to the house . I needed to check my emails  and I went to the reading room where  the family computer  is located  . When I open the door , I was shocked to see what was on the computer . My sister-in-law was eatching  an adult movie . I wanted to yell at her  , but my mouth shut beccause of the shock . After I got my composure  , I told my sister-in-law  that she cannot use our family  computer  without supervision . I do not have the time  to supervise  an adult  while she  surfs the Internet .I like my sister-in-law  and I want her  to continue  to feel comfortable in our home . How can I prevent anyone  from visiting  inapropriate  adult content  on my family's computer ? My wife and I do not appreciate  porn  and do not ever have it in out home .
Computer blue
Dear Computer Blue ,
You can put parental controls  on your computer  to ensure that no one can access adult content  or any other content  that you deem inappropriate for your  home . Go to  for instructions . if you regularly have houseguests , you may want to tell them to bring their own computer. Or, you can put  a label on the home computer  saying  "Please limit your Internet usage  to X,Y, and Z."
These measures could be extreme though . It could be that your sister-in-law is an anomaly . You may simple need  to deal with her directly  and make it clear  to her that she crossed the line  and you do not appreciate it . Chances  are she is embarrassed  by being caught  watching pornography , so you do not need  to beat her over  the head with he transgression .

Dear Maxy ,
My threee-year-old son is starting pre-school in a few weeks  and he is excited  about going  to school . He can use the bathroom  on his own  , but I am wonfering  if I should pack a few diapers  in his book bag  to prevent  any potential accidents .
Momma's Boy
Dear Momma's Boy
Contact the preschool  and ask what the policy is . They may suggest that you not send diapers  and talk to your son  about being  a big boy  and remembering  to ask to  go to the bathroom . Or they may suggest  that you pack  diapers  and give them to the teacher  without your son seeing them  , so that extras  are on hand  in case  of an accident  but your child  doesn't know that crutch is there . Most important  is for you  to make sure your son is comfortable  as he takes  this big step .

Dear Maxy,
I witnessed a huge argument  between my brother and his wife when we last visited. What was weird is that the next day  they acted like nothing had happened . I am single , in part because this kind of stuff runs me crazy . How can you love someone  one minute  and hate her guts the next minute . I don't understand it . I want to ask my brother  but I know that their marital issues are none of my business . Do you understand this ?
Single and Perplexed
Dear Singlr and Perplexed.
Married people  argue  just like friend argue . For those  who have been married long enough , it is likely that they have weathered any number of storms  where they did not agree . What happens afterwards  is what truly counts  after an argument . How people address the issue  that brought on the flare  , how they talk to each other  in the heat of the moment  and how they mend fences  are the key . You argue without being mean which is ideal . It is possible to apologize  and make up . Further  , you can love someone forever  but not like the person from time to time . As you look for a healthy  bond , pay attention  to how you disagree  and come back to a loving place . If you cannot do that , you will not be successful in the long term .

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Judge says...Tennessee Baby can Keep the Name Messiah

WBIR-TV image shows seven-month old Martin DeShawn McCullough, formerly Messiah DeShawn Martin, being held by his mother Jaleesa Martin

The judge said the name Messiah could put the boy "at odds" with people

A child in the US state of Tennessee may retain his given name Messiah, a judge has ruled, overturning a lower court's order from August. In Cocke County on Wednesday, Chancellor Telford Forgety ruled a child support magistrate had acted unconstitutionally.

Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew had ordered seven-month old Messiah DeShawn Martin's given name changed to Martin.  She said Jesus Christ was the only true messiah and the name might offend.
Last year more than 700 babies were named Messiah in the US, according to the Social Security Administration.

Christianity sees Jesus as the Messiah, while Judaism uses the term to mean an anticipated saviour of the Jews. Dictionary definitions say the word can mean anyone seen as a saviour or a liberator.

Messiah's parents had appeared before Ms Ballew in a dispute over the boy's surname - his mother Jaleesa Martin wanted him to take hers, while father Jawaan McCullough wanted him to take his.
Ms Ballew surprised them by ordering his name be changed to Martin, ruling, "Labelling this child Messiah places an undue burden on him that as a human being, he cannot fulfil.''

A Wisconsin-based organization called Freedom From Religion filed a complaint against Ms Ballew.
At an appeal hearing on Wednesday, Mr Forgety ruled there were no legal grounds for changing the baby's given name when the parents were in agreement on it.

He also ruled Ms Ballew's decision violated the US Constitution's guarantee of the separation of church and state. He ordered that the boy's name be changed to Messiah Deshawn McCullough.
That kid got some big shoes to fill. Good luck with that Sweetie.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fertility Statistics in use Today are 300 Years Old

Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones

Most women over the age of 25 will be familiar with those concerned looks from older relatives followed up by a whispered: "Isn't it about time you started thinking of having a baby?" But what if much of what we have been led to believe about the impact of age on fertility is not true?

Take this often-cited statistic: one out of three women over the age of 35 will not have conceived after a year of trying.  Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, was 34, recently remarried, and looking to start a family, when she heard it from her doctor.
"That was very frightening to me, as it is to many women who are in their 30s," she says.

Confronted with those odds, she wanted to find out where the statistic had come from. And she discovered something quite amazing.
"The data on which that statistic is based is from 1700s France. They put together all these church birth records and then came up with these statistics about how likely it was someone would get pregnant after certain ages."

These are women who had no access to modern healthcare, nutrition or even electricity. Why would any researcher think they can tell us something useful about modern-day fertility?

Idealised depiction of family life in 1700s

Well, actually, they do have one big advantage. They weren't using effective methods of birth control.

"I can empathize slightly with the researchers in this area," says Twenge, who traced the source of the data as she researched her book, An Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant. "It is difficult to draw conclusions about age and fertility from modern populations where birth control is widely used."
But there are some studies which have looked at modern couples, and these do paint a rather different picture.

The most widely cited is a paper by David Dunson published in 2004,  which found that 82% of women aged between 35 and 39 fell pregnant within a year. That's significantly better than the two-thirds chance drawn from the 300-year-old birth records.  But can we be confident it's more accurate?

Graph from Nice 2013 fertility guideline
  A graph based on 17th-19thC birth records still features in the "Figures and Tables" section of the 2013 Nice fertility guideline

It was a single study undertaken relatively recently of about 780 women, in seven different European centres. The important point about that was that these were women who were trying to conceive.
The main problem with the historic data is that the women may not have been trying to conceive.
Indeed, they may have been actively trying to avoid becoming pregnant. They may not even have had intercourse.

There's no doubt that intercourse becomes less frequent the older the couple are. And in the 1700s, people aged more quickly than today.

Another finding of the Dunson study was that, while fertility declines with age, it does not appear to do so as quickly as we have been led to believe.  Among women aged 27-34, the study showed that 86% will have conceived within a year of trying. So the 82% figure for women aged 35 to 39 is only a little lower.

Improving odds
2004: With regular unprotected sexual intercourse, 94% of fertile women aged 35 years, and 77% of those aged 38 years, will conceive after three years of trying.
 2013: Over 80% of couples in the general population will conceive within one year if the woman is aged under 40 years and they do not use contraception and have regular sexual intercourse.
After that, the picture becomes a little less clear.

It would appear from the limited and poor quality data that the rate falls significantly at 40. But as we know from some notable celebrity cases, it is not impossible to get pregnant in the early or indeed late 40s. And, apparently, there is evidence that female fertility is improving.

The latest update of the guideline on fertility recognizes that the chances of women naturally conceiving at the age of 40 are much higher now than they were when the original guideline was written [in 2004].
But what about the risk of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down's syndrome?  The chance of any chromosomal abnormality at the age of 20 is one in 500. That increases to one in 400 at the age of 30, and one in 60-70 at age 40.

Down's syndrome

  • Caused by extra copy of chromosome 21 in a baby's cells - not known what causes this
  • Chance of having a baby with Down's syndrome increases with age, but can be born to mothers of all ages
  • About 6,000 babies born with the condition each year in the US

So while it's harder for older women to get pregnant, and the chance of a chromosomally abnormal child increases, these risks do not increase as sharply as feared - except perhaps for those trying IVF or artificial insemination.
"Those statistics are more discouraging for older women," explains Twenge. "The chances of success  in IVF between your early 30s and your late 30s is lower than success with natural conception."

Similarly with artificial insemination - the data shows that the success rates just are not as high as natural conception rates and can differ by as much as 20 percentage points. But many fertility problems that women over 30 experience have nothing to do with age. Had they tried to conceive in their 20s, they would have also faced difficulties.

The fact of the matter seems to be, the best way to have a baby is either in bed or by the fireside on the hearth rug with a  bottle of wine and romantic music. Works for me.

Monday, September 23, 2013


 Time can be a gentle thief; you barely feel his passage as he trails his fingers across
 your cheek to write the story of your journey and offer wisdom in his message.
No science can remove his stamp, nor can your travels be erased. He marches forward
 with resolve and writes the truth upon your face and steals away your youthful grace.
Don't leave your fate to happenstance but take it firmly in your hands and mould
it in an honorable way to brave the caprice of destiny and the test of time withstand.
 Fill your days with generosity and make your smile a gift; then time will be a steadfast
friend and make your hours of sadness swift and bring you peaceful resolution and in
all ways will uplift. Live each experience with joy and passion: make every moment count,
Don't spend them on contrition or regret; remember, there is little that love cannot surmount. And  though the universe is timeless and your place in it so small, he does not
forget you.  He awaits us all and steals away our days, quietly discreet,  then comes to write that
 final line upon the balance sheet.

The Genie

Modern Thieves Are Savvy....PROTECT YOURSELF

1.   A couple left their car in the long-term parking at San Jose while away, and someone broke into the car. Using the information on the car's registration in the glove compartment, they drove the car to the people's home in Pebble Beach and robbed it. So I guess if we are going to leave the car in long-term parking, we should NOT leave the registration/insurance cards in it, nor your remote garage door opener.
This gives us food for thought. 
2.   GPS.
Someone had their car broken into while they were at a football game.  Their car was parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans.  Things stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard.  When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.  The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house.  They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house.  The thieves knew the owners were at the football game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house.  It would appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.
Something to consider if you have a GPS - don't put your home address in it... Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know where you live if your GPS were stolen.
I never thought of this.......
This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her cell phone after her handbag was stolen. Her handbag, which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet, etc., was stolen.  20 minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling him what had happened, hubby says 'I received your text asking about our Pin number and I've replied a little while ago.'  When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn.  The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text 'hubby' in the contact list and got hold of the pin number.  Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.
Moral of the lesson:
    a.  Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.  Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart,
         Dad, Mom, etc....
    b.   And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back.
    c.   Also, when you're being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from
         them.  If you don't reach them, be very careful about going places to meet 'family and friends' who text you.
4.   Purse in the grocery cart scam...
  A lady went grocery-shopping at a local mall and left her purse sitting in the children's seat of the cart while she reached something off a shelf...wait till you read the WHOLE story!  Her wallet was stolen, and she reported it to the store personnel.  After returning home, she received a phone call from the Mall Security to say that they had her wallet and that although there was no money in it, it did still hold her personal papers.  She immediately went to pick up her wallet, only to be told by Mall Security that they had not called her.  By the time she returned home again, her house had been broken into and burglarized.  The thieves knew that by calling and saying they were Mall Security, they could lure her out of her house long enough for them to burglarize it. 
 I sure hope you learned a little something and are a bit more cautious from now on. Be safe.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weighing up the Smart Scales


 Tablets have long been considered a useful chef's companion for downloading recipes but now they are being pushed further, into the realm of food preparation.
Developers in California have created a $150 "smart scale". The Prep Pad communicates wirelessly with an iPad app containing detailed information on everything from fruit to fillet steak.
The idea is to help consumers to be more informed about what they are putting on their plate.
 Technology correspondent Richard Taylor weighs up the pros and cons of having the app as a kitchen companion.


When is a Weight Scale Not a Scale ??
When it's a Body Analyzer
What Next?


Even Minions Want to Lose Weight


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Caramel Pumpkin Italian Cream Cake

2 cups pecan halves
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
6 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup pure canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Caramel frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cup sifted powdered sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant.  Reserve 8-10 halves for decorating the top, then finely chop the remainder.  Set aside 1 cup chopped for the cake batter, then place the remaining chopped pecans in a small bowl.  Toast 1 cup coconut in a nonstick skillet over high heat until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, stirring often.  Reserve remaining coconut for cake batter.  Place the toasted coconut in the bowl with the pecans and mix.  Set aside.
Cream the shortening, butter, sugar, and 1 cup light brown sugar together until fluffy on medium speed.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated.  Beat in the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well mixed.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Stir 1 cup reserved (untoasted) coconut and the reserved 1 cup chopped pecans.
Beat the egg whites until stiff in a medium bowl.  Gently fold into batter.  Divide the batter equally among 3 (9-inch round) cake pans that have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and lined with parchment paper or wax paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire rack.
When cakes are completely cool, make the caramel frosting.  Place 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup heavy cream and the fleur de sel in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to rapid boil and boil for 1 minute while stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 cups powdered sugar with a handmixer on medium speed until mixture is thick and spreadable.  Immediately spread half of the frosting on the first cake layer that has been placed on cake plate or cardboard cake round, bottom side up (flat side up).  Place the second layer on top, bottom up, and spread the remaining frosting to the edges.  Place the third layer on top, bottom side up.
Make the cream cheese frosting.  Beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and fluffy with the whisk attachment on high speed.  Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until fluffy and smooth.  Beat in vanilla.  Frost the outside and top of cake with frosting.  Carefully press the reserved coconut-pecan mixture into the sides of cake, then place pecan halves on top for decoration.
 This cake requires a little more effort than most but it is worth it. It is delicious and decadent.
You will definitely be hailed as the 'Cake Queen'

In Vitro Fertilization by Three persons to Produce One Baby

Fertilised egg

Concerns about the safety of a pioneering therapy that would create babies with DNA from three people have been raised by researchers.

The advanced form of IVF could eliminate debilitating and potentially fatal mitochondrial diseases.
However, writing in the journal Science, the group warned that there was a small risk the mix of DNA could lead to damaging side-effects. The expert panel that reviewed the safety of the technique said the risks described would be "trivial".

The UK is leading the world in the field of "mitochondrial replacement". Draft regulations to allow the procedure on a case-by-case basis will be produced this year and some estimate that therapies could be offered within two years.

Mitochondria are the tiny, biological "power stations" that provide nearly every cell, which make up the body, with energy. They are passed from a mother, through the egg, to her child.

But if the mother has defective mitochondria then it leaves the child starved of energy, resulting in muscle weakness, blindness and heart failure. In the most severe cases it is fatal and some families have lost multiple children to the condition.

The proposed therapy aims to replace the defective mitochondria with those from a donor egg.

Method one: Embryo repair

  1) Two eggs are fertilized with sperm, creating an embryo from the intended parents and another from the donors 2) The pronuclei, which contain genetic information, are removed from both embryos but only the parents' is kept 3) A healthy embryo is created by adding the parents' pronuclei to the donor embryo, which is finally implanted into the womb

Method two: Egg repair

 1) Eggs from a mother with damaged mitochondria and a donor with healthy mitochondria are collected 2) The majority of the genetic material is removed from both eggs 3) The mother's genetic material is inserted into the donor egg, which can be fertilized by sperm.

But mitochondria have their own DNA, albeit a tiny fraction of the total. It means a baby would have genetic information from mum, dad and a second woman's mitochondria. The studies on fruit flies suggested that a poor match of genetic information between the nucleus and mitochondria could affect fertility, learning and behavior.

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, who was on the review panel, disagreed. He said humans had diverse mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, so any consequences of poor matches would have already become apparent. He said, "Humans are breeding between races and producing healthy children all the time. If there is an effect then it must be very trivial since it has not been noticed so far." However, he has called for further research into the risks posed by any defective mitochondria which might still be passed onto a child.

Prof Doug Turnbull, who is developing the mitochondrial replacement therapy at Newcastle University, insisted: "One of our prime interests is about the safety of these techniques.
"It's perfectly reasonable to draw some of these concerns, I just don't share the same concerns.

"Mismatch between the mitochondrial and nuclear genome is a potential risk, but I don't think it's personally as big a risk as they're saying."

Hundreds of mitochondria in every cell provide energy

The idea has also raised ethical concerns from groups concerned about the impact of altering human genetic inheritance and integrity.

In a statement, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority said: "The panel of experts convened by the HFEA to examine the safety and efficacy of mitochondria replacement carefully considered the interaction between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA and concluded that the evidence did not show cause for concern"

As in every area of medicine, moving from research into clinical practice always involves a degree of uncertainty. Experts should be satisfied that the results of further safety checks are reassuring and long term follow-up studies are crucial.

The woman who lost all her children

Sharon Bernardi and her son Edward, who died last year aged 21
Every time Sharon Bernardi became pregnant, she hoped for a healthy child. But all seven of her children died from a rare genetic disease that affects the central nervous system - three of them just hours after birth.
When her fourth child, Edward, was born, doctors discovered the disease was caused by a defect in Sharon's mitochondria. Edward was given drugs and blood transfusions to prevent the lactic acidosis (a kind of blood poisoning) that had killed his siblings.
Five weeks later Sharon and her husband, Neil, were allowed to take Edward to their home in Sunderland for Christmas - but his health slowly began to deteriorate. Edward survived into adulthood, dying in 2011 at the age of 21.
Now Sharon is supporting medical research that would allow defective mitochondria to be replaced by DNA from another woman.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Andre Rieu....A little music for the soul

Beautiful rendition of Franz Schubert's Ave Maria

Andre's  most recent  world concert tour comes complete with three hundred Scottish pipers. We saw him perform in Toronto but I believe this video was filmed in Australia

Odd Coincidence

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I have been concerned about a possible  water shortage in the U.S. and around the world . I recently  stayed  with a friend  and was amazed how much water  she wasted . She would keep the kitchen faucet turned  on for several minutes  while working in another area . I didn't say anything  , but it sure  hit me  that we waste this  precious  resource .
I am not perfect with my water  usage , but I hardly would have let my water run while I didn't need it . Specialists on water shortage have written articles  on how soon  our water  supply  could run out .
I am hoping  you will print  this  and it will save  water in  some households .
Concerned  Water Conservator
Dear Concerned ,
We don't always  appreciate  that we have  finite  resources  on this planet , including water  . Please folks , don't run the faucet  if you don't need the water . Use cold water when you can . Lets not take our blessing for granted .

Dear Maxy ,
I really like the man I am dating  and I feel  like it is time  for him to meet  my parents . I ran the idea by them  and they agreed ... under one condition . My parents  would like to meet him at church . I told my boyfriend  their request  and he was not pleased with the idea . He is not the church going type  and when I told my parents  that my boyfriend  would not be attending church  service  , they were upset . Now my parents are giving me grief  because my boyfriend  will not come to church  to see them  and my boyfriend is upset with me . All I want  is for them  to revolve  peacefully in  my universe  and need your health  to find a happy  medium .
What a Girl Wants
Dear What a Girl Wants ,
I am sure  you know  that religion  can be a stumbling block  for young love  . Your parents want to see  what your boyfriend is made of  and they are trying to control  their meeting  to that end . That  would not be strategy . I would choose  straight  out the gate . There is time to meet  him , get to know him  a bit  and talk about religion rather than force him into a religious environment .
Ask your parents and your boyfriend  to reach a truce  . Suggest to your  parents  that they meet him at their home  for the first visit . Tell your boyfriend  that you  do want him  to visit  your parents church  at least once . Tell everyone  that it is very important to you that  they all meet . Ask for thier hearts  to help  soften the way .
Know that if you two  get serious , you will need  to adress  how you will handle  your religious  differences .

Dear Maxy ,
As a 34-year-old employee of the U.S. Postal Service  , it gets old  hearing  it referred  to as "snail mail."
Please do not encourage  your readers  to use it  if you can't call it by its proper name .
Dear Disappointed ,
I really  appreciate  your note .. It has  become so easy  to be unconsciously dismissive  of the traditional  delivery  of mail  through  the United States  Postal Service . Your words  serve  as a wake-up call  to be respectedful  of this treasured  agency of our  country  that has  for so many  generations kept us in touch with each other .
Now that the internet  seems to be king  and other courier  options  promise to deliver more quickly , the value of the USPS has  diminished  ... hence  the moniker "snail mail," whish I was not meaning  in a disparaging  way . I understand  that it implies  less-than-competent  service . So , my sincere apology !

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Photo Series Captures the True Beauty of Motherhood

When it comes to losing baby weight after giving birth, celebrities these days set an unrealistic ideal that is impossible for most women to live up to. In an effort to combat this, Chicago-based photographer Ashlee Wells Jackson, herself a mother-of-three, has launched the 4th Trimester Bodies Project, a photo series that will see her travelling across the country capturing real mothers in their natural state, stretchmarks and all.
Ashlee hopes her project will debunk the celebrity-driven idea that baby weight should be dealt with immediately, and in turn inspire society to celebrate the real beauty of motherhood. A series, perhaps inspired by Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, who did not hide her post baby body from the public as previous generations of royals have. She did not wear long, loose smocks as Diana (Prince William's mother) sported after both her babies. Kate was proud of her baby son and herself and her positive body image remained intact.

Scroll down for video
Anna Fritz and Ethan
Beauty of motherhood: 4th Trimester Bodies Project is a photo series launched by photographer and mother-of-three Ashlee Wells Jackson, which captures real mothers in their natural state, scars and all
The look of love: Expectant mom Jessica Ewald gave birth to her two-and-a-half-year-old Bennett by C-section because he was breech. She is due in early November
The look of love: Expectant mom Jessica Ewald (pictured) gave birth to her two-and-a-half-year-old Bennett by C-section because he was breech. She is due in early November
'We live in a society obsessed with perfection,' Ashlee says in her video posted on Vimeo. 'The goal of this project is to shift that focus to the beauty of who we really are.'
The women featured in the series so far put all their motherhood-related scars and imperfections on show, including C-section scars, stretchmarks and post-partum depression.
 Each of the stunning photographs, in which the mothers pose in black underwear, with or without their children, is accompanied by a vignette explaining their own personal stories.
One example is Linny Foerg, who strikes a pose with a breastfeeding three-month-old Willow, who was born by caesarian.

Michelle Rossini, mommy of three, photographed with her youngest, Reznor
Exposed: The women featured put all their motherhood-related scars and imperfections on show, including C-section scars, stretchmarks and post-partum depression (pictured: Michelle Rossini with son Reznor)
Beth Carp and 10 month old Willa. Beth is the mother of two (Quinn, 3, not pictured) with an early pregnancy loss in between.
Tell-all: Each of the stunning photographs, in which the mothers pose in black underwear with or without their children, is accompanied by a vignette explaining their own personal stories
Linny Foerg and sweet 3 month old, Willow born by cesarean. Linny has a condition known as Uterus didelphys meaning she has a double uterus with two separate cervices. Thankfully Linny was able to conceive naturally and Willow only came 3 weeks early
Overcoming obstacles: Linny Foerg, with three-month-old Willow (pictured). Linny has a condition that means she has a double uterus and two separate cervices.
Linny's accompanying story explains that she has Uterus didelphys, a condition that means she has a double uterus and two separate cervices. Fortunately, her condition didn't negatively impact the birth of Willow, who was born naturally just three weeks early and is now a healthy baby.
4th Trimester Bodies Project
Inspiring mission: Currently shooting in Chicago, the photographer (pictured) and her team will be touring the country in the coming months to capture more mothers

WATCH: 4th Trimester Bodies Project by Ashlee Wells Jackson

Maternal instinct: After undergoing breast reduction surgery which severed her milk ducts, mother-of-two Natasha Tunnison (pictured) was still able to breastfeed both her babies
Maternal instinct: After undergoing breast reduction surgery Natasha Tunnison (pictured) was still able to breastfeed both her babies
Natasha Tunnison's story is inspiring for her fellow mothers. After undergoing breast reduction surgery which severed her milk ducts, the mother-of-two was still able to breastfeed both her babies.
Allison Kaputanoff with 6 week old Henry. Allison is also mama to Eddie (14 months). Allison has had two amazing, natural hospital births
Future plans: The completed photo series will be turned into a published book with the vignettes and images, as well as a gallery show and an online community for mothers across the nation
Unconditional love: Dorie Morgan and Jean Ulkloss (pictured) have been best friends for 17 years and have three babies between them
Unconditional love: Dorie Morgan and Jean Ulkloss (pictured) have been best friends for 17 years and have three babies between them
Big family: Christine Costabile (right) has had five children, all born via cesarean birth
Big family: Christine Costabile (right) has had five children, all born via cesarean birth
Sharing the love: Monica Zibutus, with 21-month-old son Henry, had a home birth and is also a milk donor
Sharing the love: Monica Zibutus, with 21-month-old son Henry, had a home birth and is also a milk donor
Currently shooting in Chicago, the photographer and her team will be touring the country in the coming months to capture more mothers.  Planned stops include Philadelphia, Portland, Los Angeles and Kansas City, with more dates to be announced.
The completed photo series will be turned into a published book with the vignettes and images, as well as a gallery show and an online community for mothers across the nation. Ashlee invites mothers who want to be photographed to get in touch with her via her website.

Anna Kostopoulos Janusz, mama of beautiful boy / girl twins. William and Kendal 21 months.
It takes courage: On her website, Ashlee writes: 'It doesn't matter how you've come to motherhood or how old your children are. If you've the courage, we'd love to photograph you'

Allison and Olivia
Reaching out: She and her team are raising money through Fundraizer in order to afford travel, photography, editing, typesetting and production expenses involved with the project

Life's challenges: Cora Shaw (pictured with almost-two-year-old Micah) has battled bulimia for years, but got healthy for her pregnancy
Life's challenges: Cora Shaw (pictured with almost-two-year-old Micah) has battled bulimia for years, but got healthy for her pregnancy

Hands full: Erica Haggerman pictured with oldest child, four-year-old Leyla, and her littlest, nine-month-old Vera. She also has a three-year-old, and works as a Doula and childbirth educator
Hands full: Erica Haggerman pictured with oldest child, four-year-old Leyla, and her littlest, nine-month-old Vera. She also has a three-year-old, and works as a Doula and childbirth educator

She writes: 'It doesn't matter how you’ve come to motherhood or how old your children are. If you've the bravery, we'd love to photograph you.'
She's raising money through Fundraizer in order to afford travel, photography, editing, typesetting and production expenses involved with the project.
In her video, Ashlee says: 'The project is dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies through motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding.'

Strength: Mother-of-four Emily Farrell struggled with postpartum depression, and bravely put herself in the spotlight for the photo project
Strength: Mother-of-four Emily Farrell struggled with postpartum depression, and bravely put herself in the spotlight for the photo project
 Allison Prejna with her 5 month old daughter, Olivia
Celebrating life: In her video, Ashlee says: 'The project is dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies through motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding'
Proud to be a mother: Katie Seibel (pictured) has had two boys - four-and-a-half-year-old Max and Ethan, 15 weeks - via two cesarean deliveries
Proud to be a mother: Katie Seibel (pictured) has had two boys - four-and-a-half-year-old Max and Ethan, 15 weeks - via two cesarean deliveries

In it together: The photographer says she struggled with body image after giving birth to her own children. Discovering other women felt exactly the same inspired her to launch the 4th Trimester Bodies Project
In it together: The photographer says she struggled with body image after giving birth to her own children. Discovering other women felt exactly the same inspired her to launch the 4th Trimester Bodies Project
In it together: The photographer says she struggled with body image after giving birth to her own children. Discovering other women felt exactly the same inspired her to launch the 4th Trimester Bodies Project

Angie Melicher Pritchard mama of three boys. 8. 6. 2.
Need for a change in attitude: 'So much more needs to be done in our society to embrace body positivity and normalize breastfeeding,' says Ashlee. She explains that she had her own 'difficult pregnancy and childbirth experience' which found her unable to accept her new body.
After discovering that the country was filled with women who felt the same, she was inspired to launch her 4th Trimester Bodies Project.

'Boy, Howdy!' It's about time someone took on the project of returning people's images of post baby bodies to reality and making reality the yardstick we measure beauty by.  Well done Ashlee.

Monday, September 16, 2013

An Obituary to Common Sense.....Printed in the London Times

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense ,who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- And maybe it was my fault. 
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. 
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. 
Common Sense lost the will to live as corporators became business men; and criminals received better
Treatment than their victims. 

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. 
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of
Coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. 
Common Sense was preceded in death,
-by his parents, Truth and Trust,
-by his wife, Discretion,
-by his daughter, Responsibility,
-and by his son, Reason.

  He is survived by his 2 stepbrothers and 3 stepsisters;
- I Know My Rights
- I Want It Now
- Someone Else Is To Blame
- I'm A Victim
- Pay me for Doing Nothing

 Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
 If you still remember him, mourn him. If not, join the majority and don't give a tinker's damn.

Kate and Prince William's Anglesey cottage to be rented out....Royal Fans Welcome

Royal fans will soon have the chance to live in William and Kate’s first marital home. The cottage where the couple stayed during their time on Anglesey Island  in Wales will be rented out again once they move out.
It means the new tenants will be able to sleep in the same bedroom, cook in the same kitchen and even use the same toilet as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They paid a reported £750 ( $1196.77) a month for the home but the new occupants are expected to pay considerably more. Real estate agents expect there will be a hefty premium for the bragging rights of renting a property lived in by the future king.

Just last week William announced he was quitting his military duties and would be moving back full-time to London. The couple and baby George will move into apartments at Kensington Palace. One source said: “William and Kate really enjoyed their time at this house. They are sad to leave the cottage but I’m sure there will be plenty of interest in it.  It’s not every day a member of the public can live in the same house as royalty.”

The location of the property has been a closely guarded secret since they moved in. But it is off the beaten track and has access to a private beach and stunning views over Snowdonia ( National Park). The couple were often seen out and about on Anglesey. They were regularly seen at the award-winning White Eagle at Rhoscolyn  ( popular local pub) on the north western tip of the island.  And Kate was frequently found in the aisles of the local supermarkets in Holyhead ( local town on Anglesey).
 Here's your big chance folks. Make it your summer home in Europe. Just be prepared to pay through the nose.