Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Identical Strangers

'Identical Strangers' Explore Nature Vs. Nurture

by Joe Richman of Radio Diaries

All Things Considered, October 25, 2007 ·

What is it that makes us who we really are: our life experiences or our DNA? Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were both born in New York City. Both women were adopted as infants and raised by loving families. They met for the first time when they were 35 years old and found they were "identical strangers."

Unknowingly, Bernstein and Schein had been part of a secret research project in the 1960s and '70s that separated identical twins as infants and followed their development in a one-of-a-kind experiment to assess the influence of nature vs. nurture in child development.

Now, the twins, authors of a new memoir called Identical Strangers, are trying to uncover the truth about the study.

'I Have a Twin'

In 2004, Paula Bernstein received a phone call from an employee of Louise Wise Services, the agency where she had been adopted. The message: She had a twin who was looking for her.

The woman told Bernstein her twin's name.

"And I thought, I have a twin, and her name is Elyse Schein," Bernstein says.

Schein, who was living in Paris at the time, had been trying to find information about her birth mother when she learned from the adoption agency that she had a twin sister.

The two women met for the first time at a cafe in New York City — and stayed through lunch and dinner, talking.

"We had 35 years to catch up on. How do you start asking somebody, 'What have you been up to since we shared a womb together?' Where do you start?" Bernstein says.

Separated at Adoption

Soon after the sisters were reunited, Schein told Bernstein what she had found out about why they were separated: They were part of a study on nature vs. nurture. It was the only study of its kind on twins separated from infancy.

Neither parents nor children knew the real subject of the study — or that the children had been separated from their identical twin.

"When the families adopted these children, they were told that their child was already part of an ongoing child study. But of course, they neglected to tell them the key element of the study, which is that it was child development among twins raised in different homes," Bernstein says.

A 'Practically Perfect' Study

Peter Neubauer, a child psychiatrist, and Viola Bernard, a child psychologist and consultant to the Louise Wise agency, headed up the study.

Lawrence Perlman, a research assistant on the study from 1968 to 1969, says Bernard had a strong belief that twins should be raised separately.

"That twins were often dressed the same and treated exactly the same, she felt, interfered with their independent psychological development," Perlman says.

Lawrence Wright is the author of Twins, a book about twin studies.

"Since the beginning of science, twins have offered a unique opportunity to study to what extent nature vs. nurture influences the way we develop, the people that we turn out to be," Wright says.

Wright notes that the Neubauer study differs from all other twin studies in that it followed the twins from infancy.

"From a scientific point of view, it's beautiful. It's practically the perfect study. But this study would never happen today," Wright says.

Finding the True Story

The study ended in 1980, and a year later, the state of New York began requiring adoption agencies to keep siblings together.

At that point, Bernstein says, Neubauer realized that public opinion would be so against the study that he decided not to publish it. The results of the study have been sealed until 2066 and given to an archive at Yale University.

"It's kind of disturbing to think that all this material about us is in some file cabinet somewhere. And really for ourselves, we had to figure out what the true story was," Bernstein says.

The sisters attempted to reach Neubauer, a distinguished and internationally renowned psychiatrist who serves on the board of the Freud Archives. Initially, he refused to speak to them.

No Remorse, No Apology

Eventually, he granted the women an unofficial interview — no taping or videotaping allowed.

Bernstein says she had hoped Neubauer would apologize for separating the twins. Instead, he showed no remorse and offered no apology.

Neubauer has rarely spoken about the study. But in the mid-1990s, he did talk about it with Wright, the author of Twins.

"[Neubauer] insisted that at the time, it was a matter of scientific consensus that twins were better off separated at birth and raised separately," Wright says. "I never found anything in the literature to support that."

The author also says Neubauer was "unapologetic" about the study, even though he admits that the project raised ethical question about whether one has a right to or should separate identical twins.

"It is very difficult to answer. It is for these reasons that these studies don't take place," Neubauer told Wright.

Wright says that no such study will ever be done again — nor should it. But he acknowledges that it would be very interesting to learn what this study has to teach us.

'Different People with Different Life Histories'

As for Bernstein and Schein, getting to know each other has raised its own questions.

"Twins really do force us to question what is it that makes each of us who we are. Since meeting Elyse, it is undeniable that genetics play a huge role — probably more than 50 percent," Bernstein says.

"It's not just our taste in music or books; it goes beyond that. In her, I see the same basic personality. And yet, eventually we had to realize that we're different people with different life histories."

As much as she thinks the researchers did the wrong thing by separating the twins, Bernstein says she can't imagine a life growing up with her twin sister.

"That life never happened. And it is sad, that as close as we are now, there is no way we can ever compensate for those 35 years," Bernstein says.

"With me and Paula, it is hard to see where we are going to go. It's really uncharted territory," Schein says. "But I really love her and I can't imagine my life without her."

Neubauer declined to be interviewed for this story. Of the 13 children involved in his study, three sets of twins and one set of triplets have discovered one another. The other four subjects of the study still do not know they have identical twins.

Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell Video

The dancers are Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell.

The year: 1940 (67 years ago).
The introductory narrator's voice is Frank Sinatra's.
It was filmed in one unedited camera shot.

Click here to watch video.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rising gas prices could take a bite out of obesity epidemic

Rising gas prices could take a bite out of obesity epidemic, graduate student says

By Gerry Everding

Just as rising gasoline prices are forcing many Americans to tighten their financial belts, new research suggests higher fuel costs may come with a related silver lining — trimmer waistlines.

"An additional $1 in real gasoline prices would reduce obesity in the U.S. by 15 percent after three years," said Charles Courtemanche, an economics doctoral student in Arts & Sciences.

"In fact, about 13 percent of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to falling real gas prices during the period."

Courtemanche's conclusions are based on a comparison of average state fuel prices with health behavior trends documented in government surveys covering two decades, 1984-2004. He provides evidence for two direct and causal links between gasoline prices and obesity.

"If the price of gas rises, the cost of driving also rises, which may affect body weight in two ways," Courtemanche said.

"First, people may substitute from driving to walking, bicycling or taking public transportation. Walking and bicycling are forms of exercise, which increase calories expended, decreasing weight.

"If a person uses public transportation, such as subways, buses, trolleys or rail services, the need to move to and from the public transit stops is likely to result in additional walking, again decreasing weight.

"Second, since the opportunity cost of eating out at restaurants rises when the price of gas increases, people may substitute from eating out to preparing their own meals at home, which tend to be healthier. People may also eat out less in an effort to save money to pay for the increased cost of gas."

Titled "A Silver Lining: The Connection Between Gas Prices and Obesity," Courtemanche's study touched off a lively debate in online economics groups this summer when findings from his working paper were cited in an article published in The New York Times.

Some suggested that Courtemanche was politically incorrect to suggest a gasoline tax as a means of addressing a larger societal problem, such as an individual's obesity.

"I'm afraid my findings are being a bit misinterpreted," Courtemanche said. "I did not intend to imply that additional gasoline taxes would be beneficial for society, just that additional gasoline taxes would reduce obesity."

Courtemanche points out that his current study makes no attempt to determine whether increased fuel costs would have a positive or negative net impact on social welfare. He sees this question as a possible direction for future research, but cautions that such studies must be careful to take into account all the consequences of increased fuel costs.

"Research shows that reducing people's incomes would worsen obesity, so any increase in the gasoline tax should be accompanied by mass transit subsidies, payroll tax reductions, or some other policy that replaces the lost income," he said.

Courtemanche stands behind his numbers and their potential implications for policy decisions. As a health economist, he argues that such potential is too important to be overlooked.

According to his analysis, the reduction in obesity caused by a $1 increase in gasoline prices would save 16,000 lives and $17 billion a year.

While classical economic theory suggests that welfare is maximized by staying out of people's way, Courtemanche argues that some policy intervention may be necessary in dealing with the obesity epidemic, in part, because the problem falls into a special category known to economists as a "market failure."

"One of the most common market failures is an externality, which is where your action affects others," he said. "This is why we have cigarette taxes — secondhand smoke creates a negative externality, so it is possible that government intervention would improve social welfare."

Despite the fact that eating and exercise are personal choices, intervention may be justified because an individual's obesity may have a negative impact on society, he said.

"With obesity, the most obvious negative externality is medical expenses," Courtemanche said. "Because of public insurance (Medicare and Medicaid), the medical expenses of obese people are often paid for by taxpayers. For people with private insurance, their medical expenses increase everyone's premiums.

"In short, then, the argument that weight is a personal choice and should not be interfered with breaks down because of our insurance system. Other market failures that may also apply to obesity are addiction and lack of perfect information, such as not knowing how many calories are in the food you eat at restaurants. Again, that doesn't necessarily mean the gas taxes are the best policy, just that some obesity-reducing policy may be appropriate."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

First U.S. baby boomer applies for Social Security

First U.S. baby boomer applies for Social Security

October 15, 2007

By Donna Smith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Retired school teacher Kathleen Casey-Kirschling on Monday became the first ripple in a "silver tsunami" of retiring baby boomers applying for pension benefits that threatens to overwhelm U.S. government finances.

Casey-Kirschling was born one second after midnight on January 1, 1946, and will receive her first Social Security check in February 2008 as the first wave of baby boomers turns 62 next year and becomes eligible for early retirement benefits.

Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said the agency is bracing for some 80 million Americans to apply for retirement benefits over the next two decades.

"We are already feeling enormous pressure from baby boomers being in their peak disability years and now we're preparing for so many of them to file for retirement," Astrue said at a press conference with Casey-Kirschling.

The system also includes benefits for disabled workers.

Part of that preparation is to encourage boomers to apply for benefits online at :

Astrue said the roughly 40 minutes it takes to apply from home is more convenient and less time-consuming than traveling to the local Social Security office.

Because Casey-Kirschling is retiring early, her monthly benefit is reduced to 75 percent of what she would have received had she waited for full retirement at age 66.

The age of full retirement for Social Security is gradually rising from 65 for those born before 1938 to 67 for people born after 1959 under a 1983 law that was enacted to shore up the pension program's finances.

Social Security, which referred to the looming crisis as a "silver tsunami," is facing enormous financial pressures from the generation born in the aftermath of World War Two. The latest report by the program's trustees said by 2017, Social Security will begin to pay more benefits than it receives in taxes. By 2041, the trust fund is projected to be exhausted.

Lawmakers have been talking about fixing the problem for years, but failed amid partisan bickering over a plan by President George W. Bush to partially privatize Social Security.

"There is no reason to have any immediate panic," Astrue said. "I and most people who are really familiar with the situation are confident that there will be some pain along the way, but we will get there and Social Security will be there for future generations."

Casey-Kirschling, who taught food and nutrition to seventh-graders in New Jersey, said she is also confident lawmakers will eventually tackle the retirement program's long-term financial problems.

"I do think they will come up with a solution," she said.

Budget-watchers in the U.S. Congress have been contemplating forming an independent bipartisan commission to review ways to fund the growing number of pensioners. So far the idea has not gotten off the ground and no decisions on program changes are expected at least until the next president takes office in January, 2009.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan)

N.J. woman enjoys celebrity of being 1st baby boomer

By William M. Welch and Emily Bazar, USA TODAY

Kathleen Casey-Kirschling says she's hardly a spokeswoman for her generation. But she has gotten used to being treated like one.

Kathleen Casey-Kirschling plays with her grandchildren.
She is the nation's first baby-boomer.

By Denise Henhoeffer, Courier-Post

Kathy, as she prefers to be called, has become celebrated as the nation's first baby boomer — born, as The Philadelphia Inquirer heralded at the time, a second past the stroke of midnight in Philadelphia on Jan. 1, 1946.

As her 60th birthday approaches this New Year's Day, she's juggling newspaper and magazine interviews and delighting her five grandchildren with appearances on network TV. She has already taped segments for NBC's Today show and the CBS Evening News, and she is scheduled to go live on CNN on New Year's Day.

"I had no idea turning 60 was going to be so big," says the Cherry Hill, N.J., resident. "I guess the baby boomers turning 60 is a big milestone."

Demographers cite her birthday as the start of the post-World War II baby boom generation, a society-changing cohort of 79 million Americans born from 1946 through 1964 that was half again the size of the generation it followed.

For the past quarter-century, since a writer declared her the first boomer and described her as representative of the nation's most documented generation, Casey-Kirschling has seen her life story recounted with each new milestone of the population wave she leads.

While perhaps not a spokeswoman, she is at the vanguard of her generation's progress through life. She has shared much of its joy as well as pain — marriage, career, children, divorce, remarriage.

"I don't feel like I am a spokesman for the generation," she says. "But I have just a little part of every part of the generation in me. I am definitely a baby boomer, in the true sense of the word — the good and the bad."



She has become accustomed to reflecting on the times in which she has lived — the Vietnam War, assassinations, television, rock 'n' roll, drugs, the sexual revolution, Watergate, Iran, Enron, Iraq.

"I think our generation did many great things," she says. "And there are a lot of great people in our generation. They also did a lot of very negative and selfish things. We were self-absorbed. We had a lot of issues."

"I think we were lied to a lot along the way by our leaders," she says. "And something was happening all the time."

She doesn't have to be reminded that she shares a birth year with both President Bush and former president Bill Clinton, the first baby boomers to occupy the Oval Office and political bookends for their generation thus far.

She says she is neither a conservative nor a liberal but in the middle of American politics, a Democrat opposed to abortion who saw her first husband fight in Vietnam and who opposes the war in Iraq.

"I don't like the way the country's going right now," she says.

Casey-Kirschling never asked for the honor of representing her generation. The attention began with a book, Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation, published in 1980. Author Landon Y. Jones, who found her after seeing old newspaper accounts of her birth as a New Year's Day baby, depicted her as the face of a social phenomenon.

"She was my ur-boomer," Jones says in an article in the January 2006 Smithsonian magazine. Both acknowledge there may be others who claim or share the distinction of first boomer.

Her 40th birthday was recounted in Money magazine. Since then, the cardinal anniversaries of her birth have been preceded by media calls. Her latest birthday also led to a retelling of her life story by her local paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"For the nation, the baby boomers turning 60 is monumental because of all the issues of health care and Social Security and nursing homes," she says.

The attention this time around has been easier to handle, because she's experienced at it and because age has brought perspective.

"My children and grandchildren told me, "Please do this, Mom,' " she says of the television attention.

"I think they think that it's kind of a neat thing. And also it'll be documented, so they'll have it when I'm not around, and that's kind of nice," she says.

"When I was 40, it was overwhelming," she says. "Now I'm old enough to know I can control it, who I talk to and what I say. When you're 60, you don't care. It's kind of fun. It really is."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Portland Art Museum Receives Gift of van Gogh Painting

Portland Art Museum Receives Gift of van Gogh Painting

After four generations in a private collection, this masterpiece will be on public view.

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 – 1890), The Ox-Cart, (Charrette de boeuf), 1884, oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 31 1/2 inches (56 x 81 cm), Gift of Fred and Frances Sohn.

The Portland Art Museum received a major gift of an original canvas by Vincent van Gogh, The Ox-Cart (Charrette de boeuf). For nearly 50 years, this painting has resided with a family in Roseburg, Oregon.

"This is a defining moment in the history of the Portland Art Museum," said Brian Ferriso, the Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr. Director. "It is the ultimate philanthropic gesture when individuals choose to donate a priceless work of art to a public institution so that future generations can experience it. This is truly a gift to our children and the many generations to follow."

Fred and Frances Sohn are giving the painting to the Museum for the benefit of future generations. The Sohns have been Oregon residents since 1949 when they moved to Roseburg where Fred built a successful lumber business. The Sohn’s five sons and their families, including nine grandchildren, have grown up around the painting.

"Four generations of our family have had much pleasure from this painting. It seems to be a painting everybody likes, whether or not they know of the famous painter," said Fred Sohn. "The intimate experience of art in our home helped our children and grandchildren learn to appreciate good art. It is now time for a wider audience to enjoy and learn from this special painting."

Painted in Nuenen, The Netherlands, early in van Gogh’s career, The Ox-Cart (1884) is part of his exploration of peasant life, which included dozens of studies of peasants, farm work, and the rural landscape. Van Gogh had returned to his father’s home in Nuenen, after he had failed at the clergy and given away all of his possessions. He rented studio space from the local church and seriously pursued his career as an artist.

Intrigued by the work of Rembrandt, the great Dutch genre traditions, and Millet, van Gogh’s paintings from Nuenen show his deep identification with the simple, yet difficult life of peasants eking out a humble existence on the land. This exploration of the dank and dark landscape is a sharp contrast to his later work produced in southern France where he was inspired by the bright colors of the region and the work of fellow artists Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin.

Van Gogh’s visual expression of emotions through color and the physicality of the brushstrokes redefined art making practices and have influenced generations of artists. The Ox-Cart represents a critical step in his artistic journey, and helped to set the stage for his seminal painting, The Potato Eaters of 1885 and for his later work produced in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise.

Van Gogh produced two versions of The Ox-Cart, one with a black ox and the other with a red ox. (Ref: Letter to Theo #373). The second version with a red ox is part of the Rijksmuseum’s Kröller-Müller Foundation collection, and The Ox-Cart (featuring the black ox) will now be a permanent part of the Portland Art Museum’s collection and will be on display on the first floor of the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art in conjunction with the Museum’s Impressionist and School of Paris early modernist works.

This painting by van Gogh, creates a strong visual connection with the Museum’s Cezanne painting from 1872, Paris: Quai de Bercy – La Halle aux Vins (Paris: Bercy Quay – The Wine Depot), and the birthing of modernism through the artist’s experimentation with the combination of color, paint, and simplification of form. These works, in combination, give viewers the first sense of the psychological below the reference of image, and suggest the synthesis of structure and materials that is a modern picture. This is the first work by van Gogh to enter the Museum’s collection.

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous artists of modern times, and among a handful of artists, such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Rembrandt, who have achieved universal recognition across cultures and time. Although van Gogh’s career was short, he has influenced and inspired artists as diverse as Max Beckmann, Chaim Soutine, Marsden Hartley, Henk Pander, and Robert Colescott, all of whom are represented in the Museum’s collection.

"Art, as one of the ultimate expressions of our human experience, is an inspiration for us all," said Ferriso. "The addition of this original, simple painting by van Gogh to the collection will give our visitors the opportunity to study and reflect on the genius of van Gogh. It will surprise and delight our citizens. The Museum is grateful to the Sohn family for their generous gift and this model gesture of civitas."

In mid-November, this treasure will go on public display on the first floor of the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art.


From a friend in California


When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine...

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff.

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. Do one more run down the ski slope. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend."

Mary's Woods 6th Annual Resident Art Show

Creativity in Retirement: Mary's Woods 6th Annual Resident Art Show

Open to Public Saturday, October 27

10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Holy Names Heritage Center

17425 Holy Names Drive at Highway 43

Lake Oswego, OR 97034

"Awaken the partnered powers of age and creativity to find a new sense of possibility."

- Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD, The Creative Age

LAKE OSWEGO, OR – In Portland's ever-shifting art scene, one never knows where the newest, on-the-edge emerging artist might debut. Look no further! Mary's Woods at Marylhurst, Oregon's premiere retirement community on the banks of the Willamette River, celebrates the arts in a showcase of talent featuring works by over forty residents. Hosted in the spectacular, newly opened Holy Names Heritage Center, this is the first year Creativity in Retirement will be open to the public.

Amateur art - The stamps - La République des Femmes

Artists in this show work in a wide variety of media. The works range from charming to astonishing, museum-quality. Some artists have made art all their lives. Others have come to it only recently in their retirement and still others have switched to new media because of physical changes that can accompany aging.

Margery, 88, is an accomplished painter who has made art her entire adult life. Event chair Donna Brinati, took up painting several years ago following retirement from a full career in interior design. Within the last year Carol, 85, discovered an enormous talent for watercolor. Tentative when she took her first class last winter, Carol now proudly proclaims, "I can really paint!" Lisa, 81, a life-long painter, made the happy switch this year to ceramics as her vision deteriorated. John, 68, a retired physician startled himself with the success of his first attempt at sculpture – a realistic self-portrait bust in clay.

In addition to paintings and ceramics, the exhibit includes exquisite examples of woodworking, stained glass, quilting and embroidery. Beautiful handmade paper, jewelry and knitware will also be on display.

An essential part of Mary's Woods comprehensive approach to wellness and healthy aging, creativity reverberates throughout Mary's Woods and lends the community a life-affirming energy and vitality. Please join us on Saturday, October 27, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm for an opportunity to discover some great new local artists.

"Being creative is not the preserve of youth . . . in fact the creative journey can get deeper and richer as we get older." - Mamo McDonald, Age & Opportunity Ireland

Three Cups of Tea

From a friend in Iowa.

With all the negatives present in our world today, I want to recommend to all of you a book of remarkable value. I am sure it is not the best written, but it certainly is about a life best lived. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin is a remarkable story of an extraordinary man who as we live our daily lives is accomplishing the impossible in the Middle East.

Wherever this man does his work, village after village of Muslims recognize his goodness and through him the potential for good of the United States. I would go on and on about him, but each of you deserves to meet him on your own and experience his unique goodness and ability to understand and relate to other humans, seemingly without an effort. It seems natural to him.

His work continues, and as his reputation grows, his support grows. Even the four minute shot on NBC, Brian Williams’ News on Friday, October 12, was likely the beginning of something new. Read the transcript and see for yourself. Read the book and recommend it to any and all.

"Art from the Dreamtime," an Australian Aboriginal art exhibition

Mark your calendar for October 25

The Sixth Annual
"Art from the Dreamtime,"
an Australian Aboriginal art exhibition and sale

The sale, which will benefit the OHSU Heart Research Center, is being presented from 11 am - 8 pm on October 25, 2007 at the South Waterfront OHSU Center for Health & Healing. For PDF file directions to the center click here.

OHSU's Heart Research Center has teamed with Mbantua Gallery of Alice Springs, Australia, to bring some of the best contemporary Australian Aboriginal art from the Utopia region in the Northern Territory. Sales of these paintings enable the artists to earn a living and care for the health of their families.

Additionally, the proceeds from this sale will benefit the OHSU Heart Research Center. The scientists and physicians of the Heart Research Center are working to prevent and treat heart disease, the number one cause of death in the US. Your support is vital to this mission.

The exhibition, in the lobby area of the Center for Health & Healing, will be open from 11 am - 8 pm. A public reception with brief presentation begins at 6 pm.

Contact : Lisa Rhuman at 503-494-2382 or

Heidi McBride Gallery & Art Consultancy by appointment (flexible hours)
South Waterfront at The Meriwether West bld
3570 SW River Parkway no.313
Portland.OR 97239 503 887 3093

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Google Street VIew

From Wikipedia

On May 25, 2007, Google released Street View, a new feature of Google Maps which provides 360° panoramic street-level views of Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, New York City, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Tucson, Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, and their surrounding metropolitan areas.

This feature has raised some privacy concerns, with views found to show men leaving strip clubs, protesters at an abortion clinic, sunbathers in bikinis, and other activities. Google maintains that the photos were taken from public property.

Before launching the service, Google removed photos of domestic violence shelters, and allows users to flag inappropriate or sensitive imagery for Google to review and remove. The process for requesting that an image be removed is not trivial.

Images of potential break-ins, sunbathers and individuals entering adult bookstores have, for example, remained active and these images have been widely republished.

Google has plans in the near future to add other U.S. cities to Street View, including Richmond, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Jacksonville and Seattle. It is not known when other parts of the U.S. and world will be included.

Here's PSU from Market St. at the Park Blocks. Click on photo to enlarge.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore

What if Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore were also the President?

The following is a transcript of "President" Al Gore's address to the nation on Saturday Night Live.

clipped from

Good evening my fellow Americans. In 2000 when you overwhelmingly made the decision to elect me as your 43rd President, I knew the road ahead would be difficult. We have accomplished so much, yet challenges lie ahead.

In the last six years, we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack. As you know, these renegade glaciers have already captured parts of upper Michigan and northern Maine. But I assure you, we will not let the glaciers win.

Right now in the second week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history. We have way too much gasoline! Gas is down to nineteen cents a gallon and the oil companies are hurting. I know that I am partly to blame, by insisting that cars run on trash.

I am therefore proposing a Federal bail-out to our oil companies because hey, if it were the other way around, you know the oil companies would help us.

On a positive note, we worked hard to save welfare, fix Social Security, and of course, provide the universal health care we all enjoy today. But all this came at a high cost. As I speak, the gigantic National Budget Surplus is down to a perilously low 11 trillion dollars. And don't get any ideas. That money is staying in the very successful lock box. We're not touching it. Of course, we could give economic aid to China or lend money to the Saudis again, but right now we are already so loved by everyone in the world that American tourists can't even go over to Europe anymore without getting hugged.

There are some of you would like to spend our money on some made-up war. To you I say, "what part of lockbox don't you understand?" What if there's a hurricane or a tornado? Unlikely I know, because of the anti-hurricane and tornado machine I was instrumental in helping to develop…but what if? What if the scientists are right and one of those giant glaciers hits Boston? That's why we have the lockbox.

As for immigration, solving that came at a heavy cost, and I personally regret the loss of California. However, the new Mexifornian economy is strong and El Presidente Schwarzenegger is doing a great job.

There have been some setbacks. Unfortunately, the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Michael Moore was bitter and divisive. However, I could not be more proud of how the House and Senate pulled together to confirm the nomination of Chief Justice George Clooney.

Baseball, our national pastime, still lies under the shadow of steroid accusations. But I have faith in Baseball Commissioner George W. Bush when he says, "we will find the steroid users if we have to tap every phone in America."

In 2001, when I came into office, our national security was the most important issue. The threat of terrorism was real. Who knew that six years later, Afghanistan would be the most popular spring break destination, or that Six Flags Tehran is the fastest growing amusement park in the Mideast, and the scariest thing we Americas have to fear is … Live From New York, It's Saturday Night!


Aah, aah-choo!

OSU student first flu victim

Let the high fever, headache, sore throat, cough and muscle aches begin: Oregon has its first confirmed influenza case of the season, state officials said Friday.

The case occurred in an Oregon State University student, who is recovering.

"Flu has arrived in Oregon, and we expect more cases in the coming weeks," said Dr. Susan Allan, a public health director in the state Department of Human Services. "This is a good time to seek vaccination, which is the best protection against influenza."

Oregon has received more than 700,000 doses of flu vaccine, and a record supply is expected this season, Allan said.

Health officials advise everyone to get vaccinated, especially:

Children age 6 months to 5 years and school age

Pregnant women
People age 50 and older
People with chronic medical conditions

People in nursing homes and other care facilities

People who live with or care for people at high risk of complications
Health care workers

Almost 450 Oregonians die of flu every year among 36,000 deaths nationally.

-- Lynne Terry

Friday, October 12, 2007

Select a Presidential Candidate

Select A Candidate - President

Find candidates that most closely match your political views by taking the survey below. When finished, you'll be given a listing of all candidates in the order in which their stances on the issues match yours. Then, learn more about the specifics of each candidate through our campaign profiles, archived debates and audio, and links to candidate Web pages.

Instructions: On each question you'll be given the opportunity to rank the issue. If it is an issue which will not affect your voting decision, marking "Ignore this issue" will remove the question from the scoring process that determines the candidates who most closely match your views. Indicating those issues which are of most concern to you will not affect the scoring, but will be used to show which issues are resonating with the voters.

To take the poll click here:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why I Have A Crush On You, UPS Man

Poem: "Why I Have A Crush On You, UPS Man"

by Alice N. Persons, from Don't Be A Stranger.
© Sheltering Pines Press, 2007.

you bring me all the things I order
are never in a bad mood
always have a jaunty wave as you drive away
look good in your brown shorts
we have an ideal uncomplicated relationship
you're like a cute boyfriend with great legs
who always brings the perfect present
(why, it's just what I've always wanted!)
and then is considerate enough to go away
oh, UPS Man, let's hop in your clean brown truck and elope !
ditch your job, I'll ditch mine
let's hit the road for Brownsville
and tempt each other
with all the luscious brown foods —
roast beef, dark chocolate,
brownies, Guinness, homemade pumpernickel, molasses cookies
I'll make you my mama's bourbon pecan pie
we'll give all the packages to kind looking strangers

live in a cozy wood cabin
with a brown dog or two
and a black and brown tabby
I'm serious, UPS Man. Let's do it.
Where do I sign?

Health Care Fraud Acute in South Florida

Health Care Fraud Acute in South Florida
by Greg Allen

Morning Edition, October 11, 2007 ·

There's a nationwide crime epidemic going on that rakes in $35 billion or more each year. Exactly how much is being stolen is impossible to say, because the federal government doesn't try to measure it.

It's Medicare fraud. The $368 billion federal program is a tempting target for crooks and there are signs the problem is growing. It is particularly acute in South Florida, where is seems to be replacing drug trafficking as the crime of choice for those who want to get rich quick.

The smart action is in something called "durable medical equipment," which includes items such as wheelchairs, back braces, canes, walkers, electric beds and shower-transfer tubs.

It sounds mundane, but the numbers involved are mind-boggling. Fraudulent Medicare claims estimated at between $300 million and $400 million were prosecuted in just two South Florida counties in the past year. And those are just the cases that have drawn the attention of the courts. Estimates of total losses range as high as 10 times that much.

Medicare fraud has now become a favorite career path of many former drug dealers. The FBI has interviewed drug dealers and asked them why they're moving from cocaine to wheelchairs and walkers.

Why the Shift?

Malcolm Sparrow, of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, says they give three reasons:

"There's more money, there's much less chance of being caught and if I do get caught, I'll be treated like a white-collar criminal, not like a drug dealer," Sparrow says.

There's also a fourth reason: They're less likely to be killed in a drive by shooting.

Tim Delaney runs the white-collar crime program at the FBI's Miami office. He has 27 agents working just on health-care fraud and they stay busy. Since March, when a new Medicare Strike Force went into operation in Miami, 120 people have been charged.

Many of those arrests are for scams involving durable medical equipment. DME companies have been favorite fronts for people engaging in Medicare fraud for a long time because they're easy to set up.

"It's a field where you can be a relatively recent immigrant new to America and not know anything about the health-care system and open up your own company and start billing," Delaney says.

Investigators say they see start-up companies that immediately bill the government for tens of thousands of dollars a month for equipment and services that Medicare beneficiaries never receive.

In South Florida, a federal investigation earlier this year found that nearly half of the suppliers of durable medical equipment were not in compliance with Medicare rules. The problem of DME fraud is so bad that federal authorities revoked Medicare approval from every single company operating in South Florida and told them they would have to reapply for billing privileges.

Patients Join the Scam

But as federal authorities began to crack down on that kind of fraud, resourceful criminals moved into a new area. The new scam involves clinics that administer drugs intravenously to people with HIV and AIDS. Investigators call that "infusion therapy fraud."

These are drugs where a single treatment can cost thousands of dollars. The scam involves billing the government for the expensive drugs, then administering only saline solution — or nothing at all — to AIDS and HIV patients.

In one recent case, people behind the fraud went so far as to doctor blood samples — lowering platelet counts — to convince medical personnel that an expensive AIDS drug was needed.

A darker side of infusion therapy fraud is that people with AIDS or who are HIV positive are often in on the scam.

"They're often paid kickbacks," Delaney says. "Hundreds of dollars to sit in that chair and take that injection."

In many cases though, Medicare beneficiaries are the victims, not the perpetrators of the fraud. In one big case last year, an employee at the Cleveland Clinic in Naples, Fla., stole billing records for more than 1,000 patients.

Before long, one of those patients — Tom Bisceglia — received a notice from Medicare about treatment he'd supposedly received.

"It was for wound treatments, apparently for wounds that wouldn't heal," Bisceglia says. "And they were treatments I never had done."

The Medicare reimbursement for the treatment was $6.000. Bisceglia testified at a trial in which two people were convicted for identity theft and fraud.

In that case, the two people involved were cousins. That's not unusual. Medicare fraud often involves networks of acquaintances and family members.

"These kinds of frauds are conspiracies," says the Kennedy School's Sparrow. "You can't do them alone. You require lawyers, clinics, administrators, accountants ... You use an existing trusted network within which the loyalties are stronger than they are to the authorities."

A Trusting System

Medicaid and private insurance companies are also struggling with fraud. But there are a few factors that make Medicare almost a perfect target.

One is that it's a trusting system, set up to serve honest physicians…with few safeguards designed to weed out false claims. Also, most claims are paid automatically so there's little or no person-to-person contact.

The companies Medicare hires to handle its claims say they are working to improve fraud detection. But their main mission isn't to root out fraud, it's to pay claims quickly and smoothly.

One of the most surprising things about Medicare fraud is that no one actually knows how big the problem is.

The federal government does track the "error rate," but Sparrow says that's mostly a check of paperwork that misses outright fraud. In the early 1990's, at the behest of the Clinton administration, he spent months studying the issue and wrote a book, License to Steal.

In 1997, Congress responded with more than $100 million to combat health-care fraud — money that pays for 400 FBI agents, including those on the South Florida Strike Force.

But Medicare still winds up spending just 3/100 of 1 percent to ensure the integrity of the program.

"Why is this operation not 50 or 100 times the size?" Sparrow asks. "Why wouldn't we spend 1 percent of the Medicare budget on program integrity? Then we might get serious about controlling a problem that might be 15 percent or 20 percent of the budget."

If fraud and abuse account for 20 percent of the current Medicare budget, that would be more than $70 billion.

What's Greener — Flying or Driving?

What's Greener — Flying or Driving?

Morning Edition, October 11, 2007 ·

Many listeners ask about the effects of air travel on the environment. The questions come as part of our Climate Connections series with National Geographic.

Listeners want to know how much greenhouse gas is poured into the atmosphere by commercial flights.

Experts say that aircraft are a small but significant source of the warming gases created by humans, accounting for about 3 percent of the world's total emissions. A typical airliner flying across the United States produces close to three tons of carbon dioxide per passenger.

So would it be better to take that cross-country trip by car? Not according to the researchers at National Geographic's Green Guide. They say you will roughly double your emissions if you decide to drive.

Take the train, however, and you can cut your carbon footprint in half.