Wednesday, February 11, 2015

75 Years In The Making: Harvard Just Released Its Epic Study On What Men Need To Live A Happy Life

In 1938 Harvard University began following 268 male undergraduate students and kicked off the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development in history.  The study’s goal was to determine as best as possible what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.  The astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits — ranging from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum” — indicates just how exhaustive and quantifiable the research data has become.  Recently, George Vaillant, who directed the study for more than three decades, published the study’s findings in the 2012 book Triumphs of Experience (Amazon) and the following is the book’s synopsis:
“At a time when many people around the world are living into their tenth decade, the longest longitudinal study of human development ever undertaken offers some welcome news for the new old age: our lives continue to evolve in our later years, and often become more fulfilling than before.  Begun in 1938, the Grant Study of Adult Development charted the physical and emotional health of over 200 men, starting with their undergraduate days.  The now-classic ‘Adaptation to Life’ reported on the men’s lives up to age 55 and helped us understand adult maturation.  Now George Vaillant follows the men into their nineties, documenting for the first time what it is like to flourish far beyond conventional retirement.  Reporting on all aspects of male life, including relationships, politics and religion, coping strategies, and alcohol use (its abuse being by far the greatest disruptor of health and happiness for the study’s subjects), ‘Triumphs of Experience’ shares a number of surprising findings.  For example, the people who do well in old age did not necessarily do so well in midlife, and vice versa.  While the study confirms that recovery from a lousy childhood is possible, memories of a happy childhood are a lifelong source of strength.  Marriages bring much more contentment after age 70, and physical aging after 80 is determined less by heredity than by habits formed prior to age 50.  The credit for growing old with grace and vitality, it seems, goes more to ourselves than to our stellar genetic makeup.”
As you can imagine, the study’s discoveries are bountiful, but the most significant finding of all is that “Alcoholism is a disorder of great destructive power.”  In fact, alcoholism is the single strongest cause of divorce between the Grant Study men and their wives.  Alcoholism was also found to be strongly coupled with neurosis and depression (which most often follows alcohol abuse, rather than preceding it).  Together with cigarette smoking, alcoholism proves to be the #1 greatest cause of morbidity and death.  And above a certain level, intelligence doesn’t prevent the damage.
With regards to income, there was no noticeable difference in maximum income earned by men with IQs in the 110-115 range vs. men with IQs above 150.  With regards to sex lives, one of the most fascinating discoveries is that aging liberals have way more sex.  Political ideology had no bearing on overall life satisfaction, but the most conservative men on average shut down their sex lives around age 68, while the most liberal men had healthy sex lives well into their 80s.  Vaillant writes, “I have consulted urologists about this, they have no idea why it might be so.”
In Triumphs of Experience, Vaillant raises a number of factors more often than others, but the one he refers to most often is the powerful correlation between the warmth of your relationships and your health and happiness in your later years.  In 2009, Vaillant’s insistance on the importance of this part of the data was challenged, so Vaillant returned to the data to be sure the finding merited such important focus.  Not only did Vaillant discover that his focus on warm relationships was warranted, he placed even more importance on this factor than he had previously.  Vallant notes that the 58 men who scored highest on the measurements of “warm relationships” (WR) earned an average of $141,000 a year more during their peak salaries (between ages 55-60) than the 31 men who scored the lowest in WR.  The high WR scorers were also 3-times more likely to have professional success worthy of inclusion in Who’s Who.
One of the most intriguing discoveries of the Grant Study was how significant men’s relationships with their mothers are in determining their well-being in life.  For instance, Business Insider writes“Men who had ‘warm’ childhood relationships with their mothers took home $87,000 more per year than men whose mothers were uncaring.  Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old.  Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers — but not their fathers — were associated with effectiveness at work.  On the other hand, warm childhood relations with fathers correlated with lower rates of adult anxiety, greater enjoyment on vacations, and increased ‘life satisfaction’ at age 75 — whereas the warmth of childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on life satisfaction at 75.”  
In Vallant’s own words, the #1 most important finding from the Grant Study is this: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points to a straightforward five-word conclusion: Happiness is love.  Full stop.” You can purchase your own copy of Triumphs of Experience at your local independent bookstore (I edited out their stupid plug for Amazon).
HarvardHappinessSources: Business InsiderThe Take Away, and The Atlantic

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What's all the Rushin' Fer?

I've been looking for this for awhile. It's on an old framed picture at my father's cabin. I'll try to rustle up a photo.

Rushin' to the office, rushin' out to eat, 
Rushin, back an, rushin' home, Rushin' down the street 
Rushin' up an, rushin, down, rushin' in an' out, 
Say, what,s all the rushin' fer? VVhat's it all about? 

Rushin' after money, rushin' after fame, 
Climbin' pushin', shovin', It's a dizzy game. 
Steppin' on each other,s heels, let me by-lookout! 
Say, what's all the rushinl fer? VVhat's it all about? 

What's the use of rushin'? Let us loaf a while, 
VVatch 'em push, an' run any grab, We'll just sit an' smile. 
As they scramble down the road gaily we will shout, 
"Say, what's all the rushin' ferr, VVhat's it all about?"

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A bit of fiction to friction your brain against... #lastword

     Something smoke-like in his undulating thoughts clutched at him, making him think now of grasping her about the waist until something gave, but the only thing forgiving in the room were his calloused hands.
     The witch just sat simply, looking very witch-like in her beauty bereft of any indicators of age, timeless as a broken clock, her very countenance tick, tick, ticking towards trouble but influencing and inviting the inevitable storm of sensual self-reflection commonly found in these pawns of prophecy.
     His gaze, driven by a guilty conscience, darted round the room, lingering perhaps too long on various bits of its Spartan decor, deconstructing motives nonsensically as her votive candles flickered and the thin incense sticks drew a cloudy heaven amongst the cedar rafters above.
     How his thoughts could craft a sexy specter from the sad sorceress before him was the traffic of this stage, his rage and rancor settling to a mediocre malice as she spat blood onto bone and drew symbols in the dust with a single, long nail.
     Outside, the dark had dropped her skirts upon the town and bats divebombed their dinner while the streetlamps blinked their dusty orange lashes of light down streets empty save for the myriad unseen denizens of night.
     He pulled his fedora down a fraction of an inch, catching an almost invisible bead of sweat beneath the band before it trickled to tickle the tip of his nose. In his left hand, a lucky strike, sans filter, threatened the rug below with it's bayonet of ash.
     Everything was made of molasses, and he had a hard time judging how long he had been watching her perform this rite, or ritual, or whatever it and she purported to be, or be becoming.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dove Real Beauty Sketches & Always #LikeAGirl #Parenting #SelfImage #SelfConfidence

Thanks Charlotte, for showing me these. They're inspirational, as the father of twin young girls on the precipice of puberty and adolescence.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Always #LikeAGirl

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Free Range Kids Movement


good thing I don't obsess over parenting blogs anymore.

For to See

i wove you a garland of poems before we met
which you cobwebbed like yesterday's mothballs

as if cotton had crawled inside the mouth of god
and died there
and its name was me

of course, your petty sidesteps only served to invoke
in me a greater fervor
a fever matched only by our very memes
and fleeting memories of a night and a day
shared in ecstasy
and spared the longevity of heartache.

i think…

I pour a drink despite
a shaking hand
and head full of brass tacks
and bliss

i kiss my future and she tastes of you
and a mourning of spent cigarettes
and second-hand emotions

I ocean over your body
the sea I see
eyes closed
against this torrent

my head bent in prayer and retrospection
ever since you deigned
to darken my door

lady, shade, scant dream

this seam I preen and prod
a road trod in reverse
like a novel lived back words
plots spiraling inward
to knots and scars and stories
we need bear witness

flit feathers like the birdsong in my mouth
when I touched you in my mind a year
before our fear
came realized
out a gate of our own making

a lust must longing for release
when no port is home
and our stars are the only map to heaven


Monday, July 15, 2013

Apps for Yer Children Part One

Just found this one the other day, let me know if you find any that you or your child can't live without.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

the daily smatterings

mostly just the tabs I didn't get around to reading all the way, or closing, or doing anything more productive with than this: -

Google And Make Magazine Beat The Classroom With Virtual Science Camp For Teens

First Public Library to Hack a Maker Lab Together!

- Meet Makers @ Google

Google destroys boredom with summer ‘Maker Camp’ for kids 13 and up

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Your diet affects your grandchildren's DNA, studies say

Thanks for the link Sarah!

This is a no-shit, Sherlock sort of thing for me... and I hope a lot of you out there... but I suppose some folks haven't gotten the message yet.
Original Article

Christopher Wanjek

Your Diet Affects Your Grandchildren's DNA, Scientists Say
By: Christopher Wanjek, LiveScience Bad Medicine Columnist
Published: 07/27/2012 10:00 AM EDT on LiveScience
You are what you eat, the saying goes. And, according to two new genetic studies, you are what your mother, father, grandparents and great-grandparents ate, too.
Diet, be it poor or healthy, can so alter the nature of one's DNA that those changes can be passed on to the progeny. While this much has been speculated for years, researchers in two independent studies have found ways in which this likely is happening.
The findings, which involve epigenetics, may help explain the increased genetic risk that children face compared to their parents for diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
The punch line is that your poor dietary habits may be dooming your progeny, despite how healthy they will try to eat. [10 Worst Hereditary Conditions]

Epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression from outside forces. Different from a mutation, epigenetic changes lie not in the DNA itself but rather in its surroundings -- the enzymes and other chemicals that orchestrate how a DNA molecule unwinds its various sections to make proteins or even new cells.
Recent studies have shown how nutrition dramatically alters the health and appearance of otherwise identical mice. A group led by Randy Jirtle of Duke University demonstrated how mouse clones implanted as embryos in separate mothers will have radical differences in fur color, weight, and risk for chronic diseases depending on what that mother was fed during pregnancy.
That is, the nutrients or lack of thereof changed the DNA environment in such a way that the identical DNA in these mouse clones expressed itself in very different ways.
Of mice and humans
Building upon this Duke University work, a new study led by Torsten Plosch of University of Groningen, The Netherlands, delineated the numerous ways in which nutrition alters the epigenome of many animals, including adult humans. The paper has been submitted to the journal Biochimie with lead author Josep C. Jimenez-Chillarón of the Paediatric Hospital Sant Joan de Deu, in Spain.
The researchers said that the diet of human adults induces changes in all cells -- even sperm and egg cells -- and that these changes can be passed on to offspring.
Such effects on a single generation have been known: Children born to mothers during the Dutch famine at the end of WWII had susceptibilities to various diseases later in life, such as glucose intolerance and cardiovascular disease, depending on the timing and extent of the food shortage during pregnancy.
In 2010, Jimenez-Chillaron and his colleagues took this a step further and found that overfed male mouse pups developed the telltale signs of metabolic syndrome -- insulin resistance, obesity and glucose intolerance -- and passed some of these traits to their offspring, which then developed elements of metabolic syndrome without overeating.
But what still is missing, Jimenez-Chillaron told LiveScience, is an understanding of how such information is remembered from generation to generation. Unlike a gene mutation, all of the epigenetic inputs to the DNA environment should be forgotten when a newly formed embryo begins to divide.
"The dogma is that during the process of meiosis [cell division], all epigenetic marks are erased," said Jimenez-Chillaron. "But our work, as well as [the work] from many others, suggests that this is not completely true. Although the majority of epigenetic marks is erased, some marks are spared for unknown reasons."
Attack on the DNA
A second study, led in part by Ram B. Singh of the TsimTsoum Institute in Krakow, Poland, published this month in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, examined nutrients that affect the chromatin. The chromatin is like the chemical soup in which DNA operates.
Aside from creating epigenetic marks, Singh's group speculates that these nutrients also can cause mutations, both good and bad. But the evidence is still inconclusive.
Hints of this were reported in a 2011 paper in Nature by Stanford University scientists who found lingering, positive effects on longevity from nutrition on three generations of the C. elegans worm.
"It is possible that eating more omega-3 fatty acids, choline, betaine, folic acid and vitamin B12, by mothers and fathers, possibly can alter chromatin state and mutations, as well as have beneficial effects...leading to birth of a 'super baby' with long life and [lower risk] of diabetes and metabolic syndrome," Singh told LiveScience. "This is just a possibility, to be proven by more experiments." [10 New Ways to Eat Well]
Both teams of scientists said that cells in an early state of development are more prone to epigenetic changes from nutrition than adult cells, hence the most notable changes are seen fetuses and infants.
Yet it may be only a matter of time, they added, until there is evidence of how we pass along to subsequent generations the consequences of our own nutritional habits.
Christopher Wanjek is the author of a new novel, "Hey, Einstein!", a comical nature-versus-nurture tale about raising clones of Albert Einstein in less-than-ideal settings. His column, Bad Medicine, appears regularly on LiveScience.