Monthly Archives: February 2011

Real Life Lois Lane Dies

Joanne Siegal, the model for Superman’s love Lois Lane, passed away Monday at age 93.

Siegel used to delight in telling the story of meeting the Superman co-creators when she was a teenager in Depression era Cleveland, Ohio. She placed an ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer offering to model. Joe Shuster answered her ad, and she became the model for Lois Lane.

Siegel also found her own Superman: Jerry Siegel, who created the Superman character with Shuster. Jerry and Joanne Siegel married in 1948.

Via The Plain Dealer.


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Drug Combinations Have Fatal Effects on Troops

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

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This weekend, the New York Times reported a tragic problem with drugs many troops have when they return from service.

Over 300,000 troops have returned from Afghanistan or Iraq with depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or a combination of those afflictions. The Pentagon has largely treated these problems with prescription drugs. An Army report released last year stated that one-third of the force was on at least one prescription medication.

Use of psychiatric and narcotic drugs is being linked to a number of other problems, including accidents, drug dependency, and suicide. Accidents involving fatal mixtures of prescriptions are increasingly common. Over 100 soldiers died from mixing prescriptions between 2006 and 2009. All of these deaths were ruled accidents, not suicides.

The dangers of overmedicated troops has prompted the Department of Defense to better monitor and restrict prescription medications. The Army and Navy are also offering a broader spectrum of non-drug treatments such as acupuncture, therapy, and yoga. However, shortages of mental health professionals has hampered their efforts of providing adequate therapy.

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Justice Thomas’ 5 Years of Silence from the Bench

Official portrait of Supreme Court Justice Cla...

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One week from Tuesday, it will have been five years since Justice Clarence Thomas has spoken during a Supreme Court argument. His last question from the bench was February 22, 2006.

As the New York Times reports, no other Justice has gone a single term without speaking once during oral arguments. Justice Thomas has remained silent for five terms.

Justice Thomas has given several reasons for his silence. Frankly, they’re all unsatisfactory.

He has said that he is self-conscious about the dialect with which he speaks. He has complained about the difficulty he has getting a word in edgewise, as the current court is the most talkative bench to date. He has said he finds the courtroom distressing. (Isn’t he in the wrong profession, then?) He has also said he remains silent out of courtesy: “If I invite you to argue your case, I should at least listen to you,” he once said.

Still, since his job is to listen, understand the litigants’ points as well as possible, and analyze their answers to his questions, wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask those questions? Keep in mind that when he hears a case, he has already read both lawyers’ briefs. If the Justices do not ask lawyers questions during oral argument, the litigants will merely repeat the arguments in their briefs aloud.

Of course, I don’t want to give the impression that Justice Thomas never speaks from the bench. He does, when it’s his turn to read majority opinions. He reads from a prepared statement, and he takes no pains to explain the legalese to the courtroom, as his colleagues do.

Justice Thomas does, however, often address in his opinions and dissents issues that did not arise during oral argument. If these are the issues he finds important, he should raise them during oral argument!

I know I’m not alone in my opinion that Justice Thomas is a waste of a Supreme Court seat. I just wish he would acknowledge his apathy for his profession and resign. I’m sure he can get by on his wife’s lobbying salary, right?

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Women Earn More Doctorates Than Men

American women are now earning more doctoral degrees than men, according to a new enrollment study by the Council of Graduate Schools. During the 2008-2009 academic year, 28,962 women earned PhDs, as did 28,469 men.

In the last ten years, women have also become the majority in both law schools and medical schools.

Many undergraduate major areas that were once dominated by men are now dominated by women. In 1970-1971, 9% of business majors were women; by 1984-1985, women were 45% of business majors. Currently, 58% of all undergraduate business majors are women.

Men continue to earn more graduate degrees in computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physical sciences.

Via Newsweek.

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Ohio Supreme Court Sets Seven Execution Dates

Supreme Court of Ohio

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Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court set execution dates for seven convicted murderers, bringing the total number of 2011 executions scheduled in that state to nine.

Two weeks ago, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced that it was changing its execution protocol. The state is switching to pentobarbital from sodium thiopental, which has been in high demand since the sole U.S. manufacturer stopped producing it. The maker of the new drug, meanwhile, has protested its use for executions.

The new drug is scheduled to be used for the first time on March 10, 2011. Executioners will use the last of the sodium thiopental on February 17 for the execution of Frank Spisak.

Here are the scheduled executions for the remainder of the year:

Clarence Carter, April 12;

Daniel Bedford, May 17;

Shawn L. Hawkins, June 14;

Kenneth W. Smith, July 19;

Brett X. Hartman, August 16;

Billy Slagle, September 20; and

Joseph D.Murphy, October 18.

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Caught between Supporting the People and the President

Logo of NPR News.

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In this NPR News article and audio clip, we hear about the American President caught – as one so often is – “between the natural desire to support the demonstrators” in Egypt “and long-standing U.S. support for an autocrat.” It’s a really good article. You should check it out.




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Man Sues Drug Company for Gambling and Sex Addiction


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Didier Jambart, a 51-year-old French man, is suing GlaxoSmithKline for the consequences he suffered while taking Requip, a drug that treats Parkinson’s disease.

Jambart claims he became a “compulsive gay sex addict and began exposing himself on the Internet and cross-dressing” after he started taking Requip.

According to his attorney, Jambart tried to commit suicide three times after losing his family’s life savings online gambling.

GlaxoSmithKline added the following warning label to Requip in 2006, a year after Jambart started taking it:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had an urge to gamble that was difficult to control and if you have or have ever had unexpected daytime sleepiness or a sleep disorder other than restless legs syndrome; high or low blood pressure; a psychotic disorder (mental illness that causes abnormal thinking or perceptions); or heart, liver, or kidney disease.

You should know that some people who took medications such as ropinirole developed gambling problems or other intense urges or behaviors that were compulsive or unusual for them, such as increased sexual urges or behaviors. There is not enough information to tell whether the people developed these problems because they took the medication or for other reasons. Call your doctor if you have an urge to gamble that is difficult to control, you have intense urges, or you are unable to control your behavior.

Jambart is seeking $160,000 in damanges.

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