Friday, July 27, 2012

Moving Animals Up the Family Hierarchy

Conventional wisdom for many people is that if they are having children, they should get rid of their animals. Viewing pets as disposable family members pushes animals to the bottom of the family hierarchy quickly!

But wait on that move, for, as usual, those on the bottom of hierarchies have very much to contribute.

Researchers followed 397 children from pregnancy through their first year of life, and found that those living with dogs developed 31 percent fewer respiratory tract symptoms or infections, 44 percent fewer ear infections and received 29 percent fewer antibiotic prescriptions.Contact with cats was also linked with fewer infections, but the effect was not as drastic as contact with dogs — for example, infants living with cats were 2 percent less likely to need antibiotics.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gold Outside the Olympic Spotlight

The Olympic Games in London are in the news, but we're not hearing as much about the London Paralympic Games that begin Wednesday, August 29, 2012, and end Sunday, September 9, 2012. We expect that the Olympic Games – being on top of the athletic hierarchy – gets publicity, but there's much to follow when you look elsewhere than the top.

Charlotte attended the Paralympic Games in Atlanta, and she got to see fabulous athletic events without all the hype, money, and crowds of the previous week's Olympics. When she saw people with one leg do the high jump, the two-leggeds that competed the week before paled in comparison.

Oscar Pistorius, commonly called "Blade Runner," is expected to take center stage in the Olympics. But just a week later, you can see plenty of other athletes whose diversity of body and skill make watching the games fascinating in an entirely different way.

Last month, Spencer West scaled Mount Kilimanjoro using only his hands, as he doesn't have legs. Look at the pictures - your eye will be drawn to his personal feats, with the climbers with legs looking all the same.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Only One of Many

This week's Penn State University's report brought verification of the involvement of the football coach and university administrators in the cover-up of the sexual crimes of Jerry Sandusky. This type of "image and power at any cost" is typical of many people who feel they must do anything to maintain their hierarchies.

We pass on the comments made by our local sports columnist, George Schroeder, as a reflection of what can happen when we are living in a hierarchy.

"We should all consider, again, whom we’ve placed on a pedestal, and the potential for moral corruption inside any closed culture. If we’re being honest, the culture that allegedly allowed Sandusky to operate unchecked for years exists at other places.
           "We put our heroes on a pedestal. They’re considered irreproachable, and sometimes unapproachable, and too often unassailable. And it’s in that atmosphere that the culture can become corrupted, and morality becomes relative.
           Paterno’s power was consolidated over almost a half-century in a very isolated atmosphere. Penn State is perhaps a special case. Let’s hope so. But let’s not kid ourselves. It could happen anywhere else."

This scandal illustrates how the people who live and thrive on the top of hierarchies are working towards goals that are opposite to a vision of equality, fairness, and justice for all. We've gotten a glimpse inside the Penn State hierarchy. From our experience, it would be equally as shocking to learn what atrocities, personal and financial, are keeping numerous other powerful hierarchies intact.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who's Benefitting from Our Long Work Weeks?

A new report indicates that the average Swedish workweek hit an historic high – 26.2 hours. Yet, they have one of the lowest gaps in the rich and the poor in the world. So here in the United States, which has one of the highest income gaps in the world, most of us are working way more hours than the Swedes just to send our money up the hierarchy to the wealthy.

Viewed comparatively, U.S. income inequality is severe. Income inequality can be measured and compared using the Gini coefficient, a century-old formula that measures national economies on a scale from 0.00 to 0.50, with 0.50 being the most unequal. The U.S., with a Gini coefficient of 0.450, ranks near the extreme end of the inequality scale. China, for example,  is significantly more equal than the U.S. with a Gini coefficient of 0.415. Sweden has a Gini coefficient of 0.25.