eruditional

One of the best hobby you can have is gardening. It will teach you patience as well as a lot of plant names . Your backyard will also look more beautiful.

Andy Puzder Is On The Ropes, May Be First Trump Nominee To Go Down

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2017/02/15/andy-puzder-labor-nomination_n_14774912.html

WASHINGTON ― Uncertainty about whether the Senate will confirm Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor continues to grow, with at least seven Republican senators now unwilling to say they will support him.

Most of those lawmakers have not actually ruled out voting for the fast-food CEO, but say they are waiting to see his testimony on Thursday. But that’s a far different stance than Republican senators took with the vast majority of President Donald Trump’s other nominees, for whom they voiced support while blaming Democrats for obstruction.

CNN’s Manu Raju reported Wednesday that top Republicans were even asking Trump to drop the nomination. And he suggested that behind the scenes, even more GOP senators were raising doubts:

On Tuesday, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of Republican leadership, said he was one of those taking a wait-and-see approach. Later that day, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told The Huffington Post that he, too, was withholding support for the moment. On Wednesday, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) cited Puzder’s employment of an undocumented immigrant as household help, which was first reported by HuffPost, as a decisive factor in his own indecision.

Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate and can lose only two votes if they are still to confirm Puzder.

Adding to Puzder’s problems, Politico on Thursday obtained a copy of a 1990 “Oprah Winfrey Show” episode in which Puzder’s former wife said he was physically abusive and had “vowed revenge” on her for speaking out. She has since retracted the allegation, but the video is emerging for the first time.

Previously, HuffPost reported that Puzder’s company, CKE Restaurants ― which owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. ― has been found guilty of a long stream of labor law violations. 

“I’m not a ‘no.’ I’m a ‘listen,’” Thune told reporters on Wednesday. 

The GOP whip, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) was far more bullish on Wednesday. “He’s gonna be confirmed,” Cornyn told reporters, without hesitation.

But when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a famously gifted vote-counter, was asked on Tuesday if he was confident that Puzder would be confirmed, he conspicuously avoided the question. “I’m a strong supporter of Andy Puzder,” McConnell replied.

Thune, Portman and Tillis join GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Tim Scott (S.C.) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.), who reportedly have their own trepidations about Puzder. Collins told reporters on Monday that she is “going to wait until the issues that have arisen are fully explored” at Thursday’s confirmation hearing.

Among those issues are fresh allegations of widespread employment discrimination at fast-food chains owned by CKE Restaurants. Since Puzder took over in 2000, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have been hit with more federal racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits than any other major burger chain in the country, according to an investigation published last month by Capital & Main, a California-based investigative news outlet.

Even the conservative National Review came out against Puzder. In an unsigned editorial Wednesday, the magazine praised his staunch opposition to minimum wage hikes and “unsympathetic” deflection of “bullying by organized labor,” but railed against his long-standing support for increased immigration.

“Not only is Puzder a representative of the worst reflex of corporate America on one of Trump’s signature issues, he is now significantly weakened,” National Review wrote. “We understand the impulse of the White House and the Senate to try to bulldog through rather than to give obstructionist Democrats a scalp. Yet, all the major Trump nominees have won their confirmation battles. The country, and the administration, can weather a re-do on this one.”

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Greek economy shrinks between October and December

The Greek economy unexpectedly went into reverse at the end of last year.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38967131

Renewable Energy With or Without Climate Change

The new administration in Washington is dominated by fossil fuel interests and has resumed the mantra of “Drill, baby, drill!.” Deep sea drilling, mining in protected and sometimes fragile environments, mountaintop removal, fracking, and massive pipeline projects are all back on the table. It’s America first, fast, and fossil-fueled. Meanwhile, Germany goes solar, China is investing major resources in renewable energy, and homeowners all over America are saving big money with rooftop solar arrays.

Burning fossil fuels is bad for the environment. Extracting it, shipping it, and burning it all damage the planet. Since almost all human activity damages the planet though, the question is, how much? How irreversible? And can we achieve the same ends with less damage? This last question is one of the arguments for renewable energy. Our economic life is built on energy. It has made human labor less important, human brainpower more important, and made it possible for us to live lives our great-grandparents could not have imagined. The energy use is not going away; most people like the way they live. But our use of energy needs to be made more efficient and less destructive.

Even without environmental destruction such as ecosystem damage and climate change, renewable energy is clearly the next phase of human technological evolution. Just as we went from human-pulled carts to animal labor and from animals to fossil fuels, the next step is electric vehicles powered by renewable energy stored in high-tech batteries. Part of the argument for renewables is price. Even without damaging the environment, and even though the technology of fossil fuel extraction is advancing rapidly, fossil fuels are finite. That means over time they become less plentiful. That time may or may not come soon, but it will come. Demand will continue to rise but at some point supply will drop and prices will soar. The technology of extracting and storing energy from the sun will become cheaper over time. We have already seen this with computers and cell phones. The price of energy from the sun remains zero, and human ingenuity and the advance of technology is inevitable. Someone soon is going to solve the problem of generating and storing renewable energy. If done correctly, the leader of that effort will be the Bill Gates or Steve Jobs of the next generation.

The nation that develops renewable energy that is cheaper than and as reliable as fossil fuels will dominate the world economy. Reducing climate change and air pollution is a beneficial byproduct of this technology, but cheaper and more reliable energy is the main outcome. In the past century, America’s research universities and national laboratories, funded by the federal government and often by the military, have been an engine of technological innovation: transistors, semi-conductors, satellite communications, mini computers, GPS, the internet… The list is virtually endless.

America’s scientific research dominates because it is competitive but collaborative, creative, free, peer-reviewed, and because our immigration policy and quality of life has always allowed us to recruit the best scientists from all over the world. Every top science department in this country is global by birth. We need to maintain this research capability for our own sake and for the world’s. Other nations may have education systems that test better, but American education and lifestyles promote creativity and innovation. Today, some of our best minds are working on energy: nanotechnology applied to solar cells and batteries, wind energy, geothermal, carbon capture and storage, and innovations hard to explain to nonscientists like me. This research is largely funded by the federal government and its defunding would be an act of national economic suicide. It also requires recruitment and collaboration from nations all over the world. An “America First” approach is self-defeating here. The benefits of these new technologies will not be “shared” or given away, but sold by companies like Apple, Microsoft and Tesla–or at least the next decade’s versions of these companies.

It is unfortunate, outdated, and a little idiotic to allow energy policy to be dominated by the fossil fuel industry. It’s an industry with a fabulous present and a declining future. It’s not going away anytime soon, but then again, Kodak thought that people would always want to print all their photos; AT&T used to run the telegraphs; IBM stopped making laptop computers. Technology marches on, and companies, even great ones, are often bought, sold, transformed or destroyed.

Climate change requires renewable energy. But so do does an expanding economy highly dependent on inexpensive, reliable energy. Technological innovation and globalization has allowed America’s economy to grow while pollution is reduced. The damage from fossil fuels is global and so the urgency of its replacement should be apparent. But since it is clearly not apparent in our congress, there remains a good argument for making our energy system renewable, decentralized, computer-controlled, and updated for the 21st century. We need energy too much to leave it in the hands of companies that are more concerned with protecting their sunk costs than in updating our outmoded energy system.

To update our energy system we need to fund more basic and applied energy research. This is a difficult time for America’s research universities, as scientists fear that the federal grant support they compete for will either shrink or disappear. Science spending is a tiny proportion of the federal budget, but it has enormous multiplier effects throughout the economy. Students are trained to conduct research. Knowledge is developed that in many cases will eventually be commercialized. The benefits dramatically outweigh the costs. And the federal role cannot be replaced by companies focused on quick results or even private philanthropy. Even the largest private foundations in the world cannot reach the funding scale of the U.S. federal government. Better knowledge of the causes of climate change, better understanding of climate impacts and adaptation strategies, and the basic science that will lead to renewable energy breakthroughs all require federal funding.

In a political world where facts themselves have become open to dispute, peer-reviewed, competitive science holds out the hope of retaining and advancing the scientific base for economic development. Virtually all of the economic growth America has enjoyed over the past two centuries has been the direct result of technological innovation. Much of that innovation takes place in businesses that find ways to monetize the new knowledge and technologies that are developed in government-funded laboratories. The relationship between university and national lab basic research and commercial innovation is well known. Cutting that funding would be foolish.

If America sacrifices its scientific leadership and institutions because of the political views of scientists or out of an anti-intellectual bias, our ability to compete in the technological, global, brain-based economy will be impaired. Coupled with limits on immigration, defunding science will virtually guarantee that some other nation or nations will fill the vacuum we will leave behind. An America without well-funded, well-functioning research universities is a nation in decline.

Climate change is a test of the vibrancy of that science establishment. Will we continue to learn more about climate impacts and methods of adaptation built on risk assessments and impact models? Will we develop and implement the technologies needed to maintain economic growth while reducing greenhouse gases? In the past, we were able to take on these grand challenges, from polio and cancer treatment to building a global communications network.

While renewable energy will go a long way to addressing the climate change issue, its development does not require a concern for climate change. The argument for renewable energy is that it is the logical next phase of technological development. It is being held back in this country by fossil fuel subsidies, propaganda, and politics. That appears to have accelerated under our new president. But looking back to old industries and old energy technologies for economic growth is a losing strategy. Looking forward to a new, cleaner, and sustainable energy system is a much better idea, no matter what you think about climate models and climate science.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/renewable-energy-with-or_b_14683016.html
he new administration in Washington is dominated by fossil fuel interests and has resumed the mantra of “Drill, baby, drill!.” Deep sea drilling, mining in protected and sometimes fragile environments, mountaintop removal, fracking, and massive pipeline projects are all back on the table. It’s America first, fast, and fossil-fueled. Meanwhile, Germany goes solar, China is investing major resources in renewable energy, and homeowners all over America are saving big money with rooftop solar arrays.

Burning fossil fuels is bad for the environment. Extracting it, shipping it, and burning it all damage the planet. Since almost all human activity damages the planet though, the question is, how much? How irreversible? And can we achieve the same ends with less damage? This last question is one of the arguments for renewable energy. Our economic life is built on energy. It has made human labor less important, human brainpower more important, and made it possible for us to live lives our great-grandparents could not have imagined. The energy use is not going away; most people like the way they live. But our use of energy needs to be made more efficient and less destructive.

Even without environmental destruction such as ecosystem damage and climate change, renewable energy is clearly the next phase of human technological evolution. Just as we went from human-pulled carts to animal labor and from animals to fossil fuels, the next step is electric vehicles powered by renewable energy stored in high-tech batteries. Part of the argument for renewables is price. Even without damaging the environment, and even though the technology of fossil fuel extraction is advancing rapidly, fossil fuels are finite. That means over time they become less plentiful. That time may or may not come soon, but it will come. Demand will continue to rise but at some point supply will drop and prices will soar. The technology of extracting and storing energy from the sun will become cheaper over time. We have already seen this with computers and cell phones. The price of energy from the sun remains zero, and human ingenuity and the advance of technology is inevitable. Someone soon is going to solve the problem of generating and storing renewable energy. If done correctly, the leader of that effort will be the Bill Gates or Steve Jobs of the next generation.

The nation that develops renewable energy that is cheaper than and as reliable as fossil fuels will dominate the world economy. Reducing climate change and air pollution is a beneficial byproduct of this technology, but cheaper and more reliable energy is the main outcome. In the past century, America’s research universities and national laboratories, funded by the federal government and often by the military, have been an engine of technological innovation: transistors, semi-conductors, satellite communications, mini computers, GPS, the internet… The list is virtually endless.

America’s scientific research dominates because it is competitive but collaborative, creative, free, peer-reviewed, and because our immigration policy and quality of life has always allowed us to recruit the best scientists from all over the world. Every top science department in this country is global by birth. We need to maintain this research capability for our own sake and for the world’s. Other nations may have education systems that test better, but American education and lifestyles promote creativity and innovation. Today, some of our best minds are working on energy: nanotechnology applied to solar cells and batteries, wind energy, geothermal, carbon capture and storage, and innovations hard to explain to nonscientists like me. This research is largely funded by the federal government and its defunding would be an act of national economic suicide. It also requires recruitment and collaboration from nations all over the world. An “America First” approach is self-defeating here. The benefits of these new technologies will not be “shared” or given away, but sold by companies like Apple, Microsoft and Tesla–or at least the next decade’s versions of these companies.

It is unfortunate, outdated, and a little idiotic to allow energy policy to be dominated by the fossil fuel industry. It’s an industry with a fabulous present and a declining future. It’s not going away anytime soon, but then again, Kodak thought that people would always want to print all their photos; AT&T used to run the telegraphs; IBM stopped making laptop computers. Technology marches on, and companies, even great ones, are often bought, sold, transformed or destroyed.

Climate change requires renewable energy. But so do does an expanding economy highly dependent on inexpensive, reliable energy. Technological innovation and globalization has allowed America’s economy to grow while pollution is reduced. The damage from fossil fuels is global and so the urgency of its replacement should be apparent. But since it is clearly not apparent in our congress, there remains a good argument for making our energy system renewable, decentralized, computer-controlled, and updated for the 21st century. We need energy too much to leave it in the hands of companies that are more concerned with protecting their sunk costs than in updating our outmoded energy system.

To update our energy system we need to fund more basic and applied energy research. This is a difficult time for America’s research universities, as scientists fear that the federal grant support they compete for will either shrink or disappear. Science spending is a tiny proportion of the federal budget, but it has enormous multiplier effects throughout the economy. Students are trained to conduct research. Knowledge is developed that in many cases will eventually be commercialized. The benefits dramatically outweigh the costs. And the federal role cannot be replaced by companies focused on quick results or even private philanthropy. Even the largest private foundations in the world cannot reach the funding scale of the U.S. federal government. Better knowledge of the causes of climate change, better understanding of climate impacts and adaptation strategies, and the basic science that will lead to renewable energy breakthroughs all require federal funding.

In a political world where facts themselves have become open to dispute, peer-reviewed, competitive science holds out the hope of retaining and advancing the scientific base for economic development. Virtually all of the economic growth America has enjoyed over the past two centuries has been the direct result of technological innovation. Much of that innovation takes place in businesses that find ways to monetize the new knowledge and technologies that are developed in government-funded laboratories. The relationship between university and national lab basic research and commercial innovation is well known. Cutting that funding would be foolish.

If America sacrifices its scientific leadership and institutions because of the political views of scientists or out of an anti-intellectual bias, our ability to compete in the technological, global, brain-based economy will be impaired. Coupled with limits on immigration, defunding science will virtually guarantee that some other nation or nations will fill the vacuum we will leave behind. An America without well-funded, well-functioning research universities is a nation in decline.

Climate change is a test of the vibrancy of that science establishment. Will we continue to learn more about climate impacts and methods of adaptation built on risk assessments and impact models? Will we develop and implement the technologies needed to maintain economic growth while reducing greenhouse gases? In the past, we were able to take on these grand challenges, from polio and cancer treatment to building a global communications network.

While renewable energy will go a long way to addressing the climate change issue, its development does not require a concern for climate change. The argument for renewable energy is that it is the logical next phase of technological development. It is being held back in this country by fossil fuel subsidies, propaganda, and politics. That appears to have accelerated under our new president. But looking back to old industries and old energy technologies for economic growth is a losing strategy. Looking forward to a new, cleaner, and sustainable energy system is a much better idea, no matter what you think about climate models and climate science.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

fabre

Our mattress is so much more comfortable than our old mattress over near . We sleep much better on the new one.

Day Care Done Right

2017-02-06-1486379028-7623912-IMG_0890.JPG
There’s a Catch-22 for low income families when it comes to day care. Two incomes are essential for any quality of life and that means finding affordable day care. Like most parents, families with limited resources want the best for their children. The state and federal government has made subsidies available. But according to the Center for American Progress:

“Only about 22 percent of children in low-income families currently receive federally subsidized child care, and while preschool enrollment has increased nationwide in recent years, the lowest-income children are the least likely to participate in preschool programs. Twenty-eight percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs, and only 4 percent of 3-year-olds were similarly enrolled. Forty percent are not enrolled in any pre-K program at all. Clearly, the publicly funded services that are available are lacking, insufficient, or both.”

The Lanza Learning Center in Yonkers, New York is a stunning option for financially challenged families. In 2011, Ray Thomas, a social entrepreneur, who had already established the Xposure Foundation for after school programs for underserved students, acquired a struggling daycare center in a poor area of Yonkers. He had a benefactor, Patricia Lanza, who gave him sufficient resources to do major renovations on the building and to start the operations anew. He also had a vision that this would be a “science and technology” daycare center and he asked me to do some staff development based on my Science Play books, which would become the core of the curriculum. That was five years ago.

Last week, I visited the Lanza Learning Center for the first time, since my long-ago involvement. The space is colorful and inviting; the staff welcoming. There is a quiet hum to the building. I didn’t hear any crying. I was given a tour of the rooms, all large, bright, open spaces beginning with the infants (starting at three months), the early toddlers, the late toddlers and finally the pre-K. Everywhere, there were signs of engagement and activity. The staff was attentive and affectionate with their charges. They gathered in an upstairs room (pre-K) to have refreshments and to show me how they’ve used my books with the children and to hear a word or two from me.

The audience was a mix of children and adults, some with children on their laps. But it was hard to figure out whether it was a parent or a teacher holding the child. The children were exceptionally attentive and a little shy about showing me what they had learned from my books. When it was my turn to speak, I did a hands-on interactive demonstration. Every eye was on me. No crying! No running around! No adults admonishing anyone! Everyone was up for the challenge, including the adults and those younger than two. How does such a thing happen in a daycare center? It was like we were one huge functional family.

Make no mistake, Lanza operates on a shoestring. Mrs. Lanza died in 2014 and her financial support came to a halt. But this was not before the center had been named in her honor and the basic instructional systems had been established. Currently the enrollment is 90 children of which 85% are government subsidized; Lanza is now fiscally sustainable and there is a waiting list.

The director, Janea Powell, is hands-on with staff and students. The most important quality she looks for in potential teachers is love of children. All of the teachers must be high school graduates with at least 12 credits in early childhood education. These are low paying jobs, but well above the minimum wage. Most of the staff is young and this job can be entry-level to careers in education.

The days are well-scheduled, activities are developmentally appropriate (key to optimizing learning) and many lessons are book related (not just to mine). There are lots of science activities and they even have a science song, which they sing with gusto, the words are above.

The Lanza Learning Center is a model for what is doable–creating a cost-effective, experientially enriched environment that honors the humanity of our precious, youngest human beings.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vicki-cobb/day-care-done-right_b_14630812.html
a href=”http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2017-02-06-1486379028-7623912-IMG_0890.JPG”>2017-02-06-1486379028-7623912-IMG_0890.JPG
There’s a Catch-22 for low income families when it comes to day care. Two incomes are essential for any quality of life and that means finding affordable day care. Like most parents, families with limited resources want the best for their children. The state and federal government has made subsidies available. But according to the Center for American Progress:

“Only about 22 percent of children in low-income families currently receive federally subsidized child care, and while preschool enrollment has increased nationwide in recent years, the lowest-income children are the least likely to participate in preschool programs. Twenty-eight percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs, and only 4 percent of 3-year-olds were similarly enrolled. Forty percent are not enrolled in any pre-K program at all. Clearly, the publicly funded services that are available are lacking, insufficient, or both.”

The Lanza Learning Center in Yonkers, New York is a stunning option for financially challenged families. In 2011, Ray Thomas, a social entrepreneur, who had already established the Xposure Foundation for after school programs for underserved students, acquired a struggling daycare center in a poor area of Yonkers. He had a benefactor, Patricia Lanza, who gave him sufficient resources to do major renovations on the building and to start the operations anew. He also had a vision that this would be a “science and technology” daycare center and he asked me to do some staff development based on my Science Play books, which would become the core of the curriculum. That was five years ago.

Last week, I visited the Lanza Learning Center for the first time, since my long-ago involvement. The space is colorful and inviting; the staff welcoming. There is a quiet hum to the building. I didn’t hear any crying. I was given a tour of the rooms, all large, bright, open spaces beginning with the infants (starting at three months), the early toddlers, the late toddlers and finally the pre-K. Everywhere, there were signs of engagement and activity. The staff was attentive and affectionate with their charges. They gathered in an upstairs room (pre-K) to have refreshments and to show me how they’ve used my books with the children and to hear a word or two from me.

The audience was a mix of children and adults, some with children on their laps. But it was hard to figure out whether it was a parent or a teacher holding the child. The children were exceptionally attentive and a little shy about showing me what they had learned from my books. When it was my turn to speak, I did a hands-on interactive demonstration. Every eye was on me. No crying! No running around! No adults admonishing anyone! Everyone was up for the challenge, including the adults and those younger than two. How does such a thing happen in a daycare center? It was like we were one huge functional family.

Make no mistake, Lanza operates on a shoestring. Mrs. Lanza died in 2014 and her financial support came to a halt. But this was not before the center had been named in her honor and the basic instructional systems had been established. Currently the enrollment is 90 children of which 85% are government subsidized; Lanza is now fiscally sustainable and there is a waiting list.

The director, Janea Powell, is hands-on with staff and students. The most important quality she looks for in potential teachers is love of children. All of the teachers must be high school graduates with at least 12 credits in early childhood education. These are low paying jobs, but well above the minimum wage. Most of the staff is young and this job can be entry-level to careers in education.

The days are well-scheduled, activities are developmentally appropriate (key to optimizing learning) and many lessons are book related (not just to mine). There are lots of science activities and they even have a science song, which they sing with gusto, the words are above.

The Lanza Learning Center is a model for what is doable–creating a cost-effective, experientially enriched environment that honors the humanity of our precious, youngest human beings.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

outchidden

They all got pensions after working for the company for many years in For any resistant lice oral medication could be the best head lice treatment.. It was one of the perks of working there.

Day Care Done Right

2017-02-06-1486379028-7623912-IMG_0890.JPG
There’s a Catch-22 for low income families when it comes to day care. Two incomes are essential for any quality of life and that means finding affordable day care. Like most parents, families with limited resources want the best for their children. The state and federal government has made subsidies available. But according to the Center for American Progress:

“Only about 22 percent of children in low-income families currently receive federally subsidized child care, and while preschool enrollment has increased nationwide in recent years, the lowest-income children are the least likely to participate in preschool programs. Twenty-eight percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs, and only 4 percent of 3-year-olds were similarly enrolled. Forty percent are not enrolled in any pre-K program at all. Clearly, the publicly funded services that are available are lacking, insufficient, or both.”

The Lanza Learning Center in Yonkers, New York is a stunning option for financially challenged families. In 2011, Ray Thomas, a social entrepreneur, who had already established the Xposure Foundation for after school programs for underserved students, acquired a struggling daycare center in a poor area of Yonkers. He had a benefactor, Patricia Lanza, who gave him sufficient resources to do major renovations on the building and to start the operations anew. He also had a vision that this would be a “science and technology” daycare center and he asked me to do some staff development based on my Science Play books, which would become the core of the curriculum. That was five years ago.

Last week, I visited the Lanza Learning Center for the first time, since my long-ago involvement. The space is colorful and inviting; the staff welcoming. There is a quiet hum to the building. I didn’t hear any crying. I was given a tour of the rooms, all large, bright, open spaces beginning with the infants (starting at three months), the early toddlers, the late toddlers and finally the pre-K. Everywhere, there were signs of engagement and activity. The staff was attentive and affectionate with their charges. They gathered in an upstairs room (pre-K) to have refreshments and to show me how they’ve used my books with the children and to hear a word or two from me.

The audience was a mix of children and adults, some with children on their laps. But it was hard to figure out whether it was a parent or a teacher holding the child. The children were exceptionally attentive and a little shy about showing me what they had learned from my books. When it was my turn to speak, I did a hands-on interactive demonstration. Every eye was on me. No crying! No running around! No adults admonishing anyone! Everyone was up for the challenge, including the adults and those younger than two. How does such a thing happen in a daycare center? It was like we were one huge functional family.

Make no mistake, Lanza operates on a shoestring. Mrs. Lanza died in 2014 and her financial support came to a halt. But this was not before the center had been named in her honor and the basic instructional systems had been established. Currently the enrollment is 90 children of which 85% are government subsidized; Lanza is now fiscally sustainable and there is a waiting list.

The director, Janea Powell, is hands-on with staff and students. The most important quality she looks for in potential teachers is love of children. All of the teachers must be high school graduates with at least 12 credits in early childhood education. These are low paying jobs, but well above the minimum wage. Most of the staff is young and this job can be entry-level to careers in education.

The days are well-scheduled, activities are developmentally appropriate (key to optimizing learning) and many lessons are book related (not just to mine). There are lots of science activities and they even have a science song, which they sing with gusto, the words are above.

The Lanza Learning Center is a model for what is doable–creating a cost-effective, experientially enriched environment that honors the humanity of our precious, youngest human beings.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vicki-cobb/day-care-done-right_b_14630812.html
a href=”http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2017-02-06-1486379028-7623912-IMG_0890.JPG”>2017-02-06-1486379028-7623912-IMG_0890.JPG
There’s a Catch-22 for low income families when it comes to day care. Two incomes are essential for any quality of life and that means finding affordable day care. Like most parents, families with limited resources want the best for their children. The state and federal government has made subsidies available. But according to the Center for American Progress:

“Only about 22 percent of children in low-income families currently receive federally subsidized child care, and while preschool enrollment has increased nationwide in recent years, the lowest-income children are the least likely to participate in preschool programs. Twenty-eight percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs, and only 4 percent of 3-year-olds were similarly enrolled. Forty percent are not enrolled in any pre-K program at all. Clearly, the publicly funded services that are available are lacking, insufficient, or both.”

The Lanza Learning Center in Yonkers, New York is a stunning option for financially challenged families. In 2011, Ray Thomas, a social entrepreneur, who had already established the Xposure Foundation for after school programs for underserved students, acquired a struggling daycare center in a poor area of Yonkers. He had a benefactor, Patricia Lanza, who gave him sufficient resources to do major renovations on the building and to start the operations anew. He also had a vision that this would be a “science and technology” daycare center and he asked me to do some staff development based on my Science Play books, which would become the core of the curriculum. That was five years ago.

Last week, I visited the Lanza Learning Center for the first time, since my long-ago involvement. The space is colorful and inviting; the staff welcoming. There is a quiet hum to the building. I didn’t hear any crying. I was given a tour of the rooms, all large, bright, open spaces beginning with the infants (starting at three months), the early toddlers, the late toddlers and finally the pre-K. Everywhere, there were signs of engagement and activity. The staff was attentive and affectionate with their charges. They gathered in an upstairs room (pre-K) to have refreshments and to show me how they’ve used my books with the children and to hear a word or two from me.

The audience was a mix of children and adults, some with children on their laps. But it was hard to figure out whether it was a parent or a teacher holding the child. The children were exceptionally attentive and a little shy about showing me what they had learned from my books. When it was my turn to speak, I did a hands-on interactive demonstration. Every eye was on me. No crying! No running around! No adults admonishing anyone! Everyone was up for the challenge, including the adults and those younger than two. How does such a thing happen in a daycare center? It was like we were one huge functional family.

Make no mistake, Lanza operates on a shoestring. Mrs. Lanza died in 2014 and her financial support came to a halt. But this was not before the center had been named in her honor and the basic instructional systems had been established. Currently the enrollment is 90 children of which 85% are government subsidized; Lanza is now fiscally sustainable and there is a waiting list.

The director, Janea Powell, is hands-on with staff and students. The most important quality she looks for in potential teachers is love of children. All of the teachers must be high school graduates with at least 12 credits in early childhood education. These are low paying jobs, but well above the minimum wage. Most of the staff is young and this job can be entry-level to careers in education.

The days are well-scheduled, activities are developmentally appropriate (key to optimizing learning) and many lessons are book related (not just to mine). There are lots of science activities and they even have a science song, which they sing with gusto, the words are above.

The Lanza Learning Center is a model for what is doable–creating a cost-effective, experientially enriched environment that honors the humanity of our precious, youngest human beings.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

nonrepairable

We are thinking of getting a little piggie to play with the animals near A head lice removal company in Columbus helped me get rid of my lice.. They are so cute and we cannot wait.

Assuming There Remains a National Endowment for the Arts…

Every new presidential administration offers a fresh opportunity to rethink the purpose, value and budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, the federal government’s arts funding agency since its establishment in 1965. In 2016, Congress allotted the NEA $147,949,000, below its 1992 high of $175,954,680 but better than the $97,627,600 appropriation in 2000 when what were then called the “culture wars” was at its height and the agency was punished by conservative legislators for its direct and indirect support of more edgy art forms. President Ronald Reagan vowed to “abolish” the NEA but didn’t and, since its days as a punching bag for the right wing, it largely has been forgotten.
The agency’s stated goals are “supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.” More money for the agency would be good to help those efforts, and I especially would like to see much more done to make the arts a greater part of public school education: More opportunities to learn a musical instrument, the reintroduction of art and music appreciation classes, more required arts classes on the curriculum, theater and dance performances in the schools. We live at a time when symphony orchestras, opera companies, dance and theater troupes around the country are struggling financially due to diminishing attendance, the result of an aging audience. Shut down permanently over the past 15 years are the Florida Philharmonic, San Jose Symphony, Tulsa Philharmonic, Colorado Springs Symphony and the San Antonio Symphony, while bankruptcies have afflicted the New York City Opera and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Miami, Milwaukee, New Mexico, Philadelphia and Syracuse. I’m certain some have been overlooked. Orchestral music, older and more contemporary, is not on the radar of young people who only hear what their pop, country, rap, rock or alt music networks are promoting.
According to a 2010 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics of elementary and secondary schools around the country, 91 percent offer music instruction and 84 percent provide visual art classes, with drama and dance far less frequently available. Those percentages do not seem so bad, but what one finds upon closer inspection is that generally there is one music instructor and one visual arts instructor in a given school, regardless of size, doing all the teaching, which results in the choral class or the art class available just once a week. Seventy percent of the surveyed secondary schools required only one credit in some music or art class for graduation, which means that students take their once-a-week chorus in ninth grade and then they are done with the arts.
More congressionally appropriated money for the National Endowment for the Arts could be used to pay conservatory students to perform and give talks at public schools. Aren’t we tired to see tributes to Misty Copeland as the first Black prima ballerina? We should be encouraging more students to try dance than just to praise the one. We could send dancers, musicians, actors and writers into schools, using federal dollars to pay for in-school and after-school programs.
If we want cultural institutions to survive and not just rely on grandparents and the richest donors on the planet, we need to make the arts a priority for the young during the years we have their attention in our public schools. As much as any one-time project grant that the National Endowment for the Arts makes to some nonprofit organization, this focus on arts education will help ensure that the totality of the arts survive and prosper.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-grant/assuming-there-remains-a_b_14490852.html

Costs and Consequences of South Korea’s Political Vacuum

People attend a protest demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's resignation in Seoul, South Korea, December 31, 2016. The signs read

On December 9, the South Korean National Assembly passed a motion of impeachment against Park Geun-hye. The ROK (Republic of…

The post Costs and Consequences of South Korea’s Political Vacuum appeared first on Asia Unbound.

.http://feeds.cfr.org/~r/AsiaUnbound/~3/5eiAoWz8sIQ/
div>People attend a protest demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's resignation in Seoul, South Korea, December 31, 2016. The signs read

On December 9, the South Korean National Assembly passed a motion of impeachment against Park Geun-hye. The ROK (Republic of…

The post Costs and Consequences of South Korea’s Political Vacuum appeared first on Asia Unbound.

uncloudy

Our church is really great at equipping us with the latest in teachings over near Professional lice removal and treatment is not the most fun thing to do when you are on vacation. We are happy that we’ve found it.

The Age You Begin Menopause Could Be Influenced By Your Reproductive History

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2017/01/30/the-age-you-begin-menopause-could-be-influenced-by-your-reproductive-history_n_14498370.html

The age at which women get their first period, along with the number of children they have, may influence when they enter menopause, a new study from Australia finds.

Women in the study who got their first period before age 12 and had no children were five times more likely to experience premature menopause, and twice as likely to experience early menopause, than were women who got their first period at age 12 or later, and who had two or more children. Women are considered to have premature menopause if they stop menstruating before age 40; they’re considered to enter early menopause if they stop menstruating between ages 40 and 44.

A woman’s age at her first period and age at menopause are both markers of reproductive health, and while it’s not clear what the link between the two may mean for women’s overall health, a better understanding of the possible link between them “will provide us with the opportunity to monitor and intervene as early as possible,” to prepare women for the possibility of things like ovarian failure or early menopause, said Gita Mishra, the lead author of the paper and an epidemiology professor at The University of Queensland. [Wonder Woman: 10 Interesting Facts About the Female Body]

In the study, the researchers looked at data that was drawn from nine previous observational studies about 51,450 menopausal women in the U.K., Scandinavia, Australia and Japan. The researchers looked at the self-reported age of a woman’s first period as well as how many children she had.

The median age of menopause was 50, the researchers found. Among all women in the study, 2 percent experienced premature menopause and 7.6 percent experienced early menopause. But among the women who got their first period before age 12 and who also had no children, 5.2 percent experienced premature menopause and 9.9 percent experienced early menopause, according to a statement about the study from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

When analyzing their data, the researchers adjusted for factors that could influence women’s age at menopause, including their education level, marital status, smoking status, body mass index (BMI) and year of birth.

The researchers noted that most women in the study self-reported their age at their first period, however, and it’s possible that the participants might have recalled the age incorrectly. In addition, they said that more studies are needed to tease apart the effects of genes and the environment on the age of a woman when she has her first period and her age at menopause. [Conception Misconceptions: 7 Fertility Myths Debunked]

“To improve health outcomes in later life, we need to be thinking of the risk factors through the whole of the woman’s life, from the early years and the time of their first period, through to their childbearing years and the menopausal transition,” Mishra told Live Science.

The researchers wrote in their findings that they hope that the study will help shape clinical guidelines for reproductive health. For instance, doctors may decide to prepare women with no children, who had their first period before age 12, for the possibility of early menopause, to help them make informed decisions about their reproductive health.

Originally published on Live Science.

Editor’s Recommendations

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nuclei

We are going to be going on a sea voyage over the next year next to . It will be a great experience to see too.

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The birds were sitting on the wire over by . They seemed to be really enjoying the day out with each other.

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Our daughter is understanding her school very well by . She is really doing such a great job in school.

Malia Obama Looks Awesome In Mom Jeans

Activist, style icon and intern Malia Obama started working in New York City this week, and boy, do we wish the dress code was this laid back in our own internship days. 

The 18-year-old looked super casual and super cute as she arrived at her gig working for Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in a crop top, belted high-waisted jeans, lace-up boots and a big shearling coat. 

If the coat looks familiar, perhaps it’s because it looks an awful like the coat she was spotted wearing while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline last week.

We have to hand it to Malia for making mom jeans look this cute. Just think how proud her backwards hat-wearing fellow normcore enthusiast Barack Obama must be right about now. 

Sigh. Though mom jeans have been trendy for a bit, they can be a bit tricky. Our advice is to avoid pleats at all costs, and take some inspiration from Malia and these other style stars, perhaps in one of the pairs below?

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2017/02/02/malia-obama-internship_n_14576074.html
p>Activist, style icon and intern Malia Obama started working in New York City this week, and boy, do we wish the dress code was this laid back in our own internship days. 

The 18-year-old looked super casual and super cute as she arrived at her gig working for Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in a crop top, belted high-waisted jeans, lace-up boots and a big shearling coat. 

If the coat looks familiar, perhaps it’s because it looks an awful like the coat she was spotted wearing while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline last week.

We have to hand it to Malia for making mom jeans look this cute. Just think how proud her backwards hat-wearing fellow normcore enthusiast Barack Obama must be right about now. 

Sigh. Though mom jeans have been trendy for a bit, they can be a bit tricky. Our advice is to avoid pleats at all costs, and take some inspiration from Malia and these other style stars, perhaps in one of the pairs below?

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

philoctetes

We always think back on the fond memories we had as kids over by Let the best head lice removal company in Newton solve your lice woes.. It’s good to be able to reflect on those.

Migrant crisis: EU summit seeks action plan with Libya

European leaders gather to find ways to tackle people smugglers in the North African country.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38850380

Turning to Twitter instead of the police

Why one Saudi woman turned to social media to help her regain custody of her baby.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-38848008

German Jihadists Robbed Churches to Fund Radical Islam

German Jihadists Robbed Churches to Fund Radical Islam
http://www.cbn.com/api/urlredirect.aspx?u=http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2017/february/german-jihadists-robbed-churches-to-fund-radical-islam

Five Things You Need to Know About Trump’s ‘Refugee Ban’

http://www.cbn.com/api/urlredirect.aspx?u=http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2017/january/five-things-you-need-to-know-about-trumps-refugee-ban

Five Things You Need to Know About Trump’s ‘Refugee Ban’

Today I am a Black Muslim

Today I am a Black Muslim.

I don’t mean that in the limited, historical sense of the specific African-American community that began in the 1930s in Detroit and then fractured in the ’70s to create the Nation of Islam. I am neither a black woman nor a Muslim one, and I’m certainly not an anti-Semite like Louis Farrakhan.

But yesterday I was awakened by a text from a very good friend, an African-American man of impeccable integrity, who was responding to a comment I had posted on Facebook. I had posted a question asking if people had finally reached their limit and were no longer proud of their country. I don’t recall the particular trumpian insult that inspired my comment, and since they come every hour or two, it doesn’t matter.

The text? “Exactly when was it that I was supposed to be proud to be an American, my friend?”

I have received such a kick in my gut a number of times since November 8th. I’m not alone in those experiences in blue America. For me, my intellectual commitment to liberty and equality had never been in question, but because of the settled life of our liberal democracy I had not had much of an emotional commitment. Emotion-driven Americans were those wearing flag pins and going to war, not those pushing for better education, reproductive and LGBT rights. I was proudly in the latter group, a rationally passionate advocate.

That all has changed. Not only is my granddaughter at risk, and my children at risk, but I’m no longer an emotionally detached bystander. Today, for the first time, I have some deep, visceral sense of what it feels like to be a black person in America. Worrying about the future of my progeny is not that different from the anxiety African-American parents feel every day for their children when they leave the house. I get it now.

And I am also a Muslim. It’s not a stretch for a Jewish woman to feel a deep sense of community with others who are being victimized because of their religious beliefs. Months ago Jewish leaders proclaimed that if a Muslim registry was instituted by the fascists in the White House, they would all sign up as well. We don’t have the registry – yet – but we have the Muslim ban. And make no mistake – this is the first act in President Bannon’s strategy to unleash a war against Islam on a planetary level. Fascists always go to war; Bannon is a self-described Leninist revolutionary. War is coming, and the Republicans in Congress, who have long claimed to be patriots, are now fully exposed as the traitors they are.

I have written for months that America is dead, but if I still believed otherwise, I would not be proud of America. Not at all. Now I understand how my parents and grandparents felt, when anti-Semitism was common in this country. Now I understand what it means to be black in America. What it has always meant to be black in America.

Thank you, my friend.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/today-i-am-a-black-muslim_b_14598284.html
oday I am a Black Muslim.

I don’t mean that in the limited, historical sense of the specific African-American community that began in the 1930s in Detroit and then fractured in the ’70s to create the Nation of Islam. I am neither a black woman nor a Muslim one, and I’m certainly not an anti-Semite like Louis Farrakhan.

But yesterday I was awakened by a text from a very good friend, an African-American man of impeccable integrity, who was responding to a comment I had posted on Facebook. I had posted a question asking if people had finally reached their limit and were no longer proud of their country. I don’t recall the particular trumpian insult that inspired my comment, and since they come every hour or two, it doesn’t matter.

The text? “Exactly when was it that I was supposed to be proud to be an American, my friend?”

I have received such a kick in my gut a number of times since November 8th. I’m not alone in those experiences in blue America. For me, my intellectual commitment to liberty and equality had never been in question, but because of the settled life of our liberal democracy I had not had much of an emotional commitment. Emotion-driven Americans were those wearing flag pins and going to war, not those pushing for better education, reproductive and LGBT rights. I was proudly in the latter group, a rationally passionate advocate.

That all has changed. Not only is my granddaughter at risk, and my children at risk, but I’m no longer an emotionally detached bystander. Today, for the first time, I have some deep, visceral sense of what it feels like to be a black person in America. Worrying about the future of my progeny is not that different from the anxiety African-American parents feel every day for their children when they leave the house. I get it now.

And I am also a Muslim. It’s not a stretch for a Jewish woman to feel a deep sense of community with others who are being victimized because of their religious beliefs. Months ago Jewish leaders proclaimed that if a Muslim registry was instituted by the fascists in the White House, they would all sign up as well. We don’t have the registry – yet – but we have the Muslim ban. And make no mistake – this is the first act in President Bannon’s strategy to unleash a war against Islam on a planetary level. Fascists always go to war; Bannon is a self-described Leninist revolutionary. War is coming, and the Republicans in Congress, who have long claimed to be patriots, are now fully exposed as the traitors they are.

I have written for months that America is dead, but if I still believed otherwise, I would not be proud of America. Not at all. Now I understand how my parents and grandparents felt, when anti-Semitism was common in this country. Now I understand what it means to be black in America. What it has always meant to be black in America.

Thank you, my friend.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Eugene Koonin:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-mazur/eugene-koonin-the-new-evo_b_14597840.html

2017-02-03-1486147004-170701-koonin_130531_3.jpg

Eugene Viktorovich Koonin

“They should have invited Eugene Koonin,” Canadian biochemist Larry Moran told me in the hallway during a break at the November Royal Society “new trends” in evolution conference in London — somewhat exasperated by the proceedings. And I agreed. But Eugene Koonin doesn’t quite see it that way, as he revealed during our recent conversation.

Eugene Koonin is a consummate scientist, Leader of the Evolutionary Genomics Group at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, NIH, who sees science scandals and controversy as unproductive. He prefers the lab to the battlefield and is regarded as one of the most qualitative and prolific thinkers in science today (H-index 177; author of more than 600 scientific papers).

But his numbers as a road runner are not bad either, per his Chevy Chase Turkey Chase stats.

2017-02-03-1486157674-8715614-EugeneKooninroadrunner.jpg

Eugene Koonin: #660 (photo by Antonio Estrada)

In our interview that follows, Koonin sorts out any confusion over his recent statements about the importance of population genetics — part of the Modern Synthesis — and his 2009 statement: “Not to mince words the Modern Synthesis is gone.” He agrees with Richard Lewontin that the term natural selection is metaphorical and goes further noting, “No one in the mainstream community now takes selection literally.” And he also agrees with the Woese-Goldenfeld perspective about biology as “the new condensed matter physics,” although Koonin thinks biology is still en route there.

Eugene Koonin is the author of several books, among them The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution; and Sequence — Evolution –Function: Computational Approaches in Comparative Genomics (with Michael Galperin). He is also founder and editor-in-chief of the journal Biology Direct. In 2002, Koonin and NCBI colleague Kira Makarova identified the genetic region now known as CRISPR-Cas.

I spoke by phone with Eugene Koonin at his lab in Bethesda, Maryland.

Suzan Mazur: Do you have any thoughts about the recent Royal Society meeting on new trends in evolutionary biology?

Eugene Koonin: Yes. Perhaps there is a need to make some comment. I was quite unhappy reading at and around this public evolutionary meeting at the Royal Society. Frankly, I think that the less sensationalism, the less controversy brought into these discussions the better. It’s really important that we try at all costs to do normal science rather than some sort of scandalous activity. I was happy about one thing, though — that I was not there and was not directly involved.

Suzan Mazur: Why is it so difficult to pull together the most compelling ideas in evolutionary biology and come up with an approximate understanding of how it all works? Michael Lynch once told me it was because reaching out to other fields is a “daunting task.” But if scientists across the board won’t come together to give us a coherent understanding of how it all works — however approximate — the public will lose confidence in the science establishment’s ability to deliver. This is already beginning to happen. Would you comment?

Eugene Koonin: First of all, I think the public may not have much to lose in terms of confidence in the scientific establishment in this case because the public is already extremely skeptical about the value and the scientific nature of evolutionary biology. It’s not quite that way about science in general but I think largely so when it comes to the study of evolution. Much of the public is poorly informed about it, poorly understands it and is highly skeptical for various reasons. So I would frame the discussion a little differently, in the sense that evolutionary science may not be doing the best possible job to convince the public of the true importance of evolutionary biology. That said, I do believe that a coherent understanding of “how it works” is slowly but steadily emerging in evolutionary biology. However, one has to face the facts: first, it is a slow process, and we are still far from the goal; second, the emerging picture is highly complex and, furthermore, makes little sense without mathematical theory. Thus, communicating modern evolutionary biology (as opposed to deceptively simple antiquated ideas) is indeed a daunting task.

Suzan Mazur: If you were organizing a public evolution summit, what discoveries in biology would you showcase?

Eugene Koonin: I would try to focus on two aspects. One is genomics, and in particular, comparative genomics and metagenomics discoveries — all this comes under the wide umbrella of genomics. That’s one. The other is the existence of solid theory in evolutionary biology. I’ll elaborate on both aspects.

The first aspect, genomics, has in roughly the last 25 years completely transformed the ability to investigate, assess and measure evolutionary processes. All our conclusions on the course of evolution until the advent of genomics had been indirect. It’s remarkable how many of these conclusions and findings remain relevant, but the fact is that all our ways to peer into the evolutionary process and evolutionary past had previously been indirect.

Genomics now provides us windows into the evolutionary past by which we can compare directly the DNA and protein sequences from a rapidly widening range of organisms and thereby make solid conclusions about evolution.

Suzan Mazur: Are you saying this is the top discovery in evolutionary biology in the last 50 years?

Eugene Koonin: The word “discovery” may not apply quite directly here. It’s a transformation of the whole science, which is based on a variety of discoveries. The very approach to evolutionary studies has changed completely. Not only the fact of evolution itself but the existence of deep evolutionary connections between different domains of life — to be concrete — evolutionary connections between, let us say, mammals, such as humans, and prokaryotes, bacteria and archaea, have become indisputable. These findings make questioning not only the reality of evolution but the evolutionary unity of all life on earth completely ridiculous and outside of the field of rational discourse.

Then to be more specific, I would probably showcase the advances of metagenomics — you know, the genomic revolution continues in the sense that now through metagenomics scientists are able to obtain a less and less biased picture of the diversity and evolution of life on Earth. It’s becoming not so unrealistic to think about something approaching a complete picture of the evolutionary history of life.

And then I would showcase something very specific. That is the latest discovery of the particular group of archaea that was the direct ancestor of eukaryotes. And in this case, “discovery” is the right word.

There is a necessity to bring to the broader audience of biologists and lay public Mike Lynch’s reformulation of the principles of genomics in terms of population genetics. Paraphrasing the famous pronouncement of Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the Founding Fathers of the Modern Synthesis [“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”], Lynch wrote in one of his papers: “Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the sense of population genetics.” That is absolutely true. The details of population genetic theory are difficult to explain even to biologists who are not specially trained, yet we have to communicate these ideas to a broader audience, including the lay public, and in qualitative terms.

Suzan Mazur: How much of the research in your lab is bench experiments and how much is computer modeling?

Eugene Koonin: That’s easy, 100% of the research in my lab is computational, not necessarily modeling, but 100% is done by computer and 0% is done experimentally. Of course, we constantly collaborate with experimental laboratories.

Suzan Mazur: In a 2009 paper of yours commenting on the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species you make the following statement: “So, not to mince words, the Modern Synthesis is gone.”

Yet in your recent BioMed Central paper you write that it’s time for biologists to start paying attention to population genetics because of advances in functional genomes. But population biology IS part of the Modern Synthesis. So your current position has some in the science community confused. Would you talk about the evolution of your thinking about evolution and begin by how you define “gene” and “genome”?

Eugene Koonin: Such confusion makes one wish, at least for a moment, they never made such general statements aimed at a mass audience, yet I think such generalizations are necessary. There isn’t really much change in my thinking. There isn’t any dramatic change let alone a turn-around in my thinking. Population genetics is a mathematical framework that is essential for building evolutionary theory but it is not the theory itself. The Modern Synthesis does employ that framework and is a correct theory but only for a narrow range of evolutionary processes in certain groups of organisms. It is quite a typical situation in science, actually.

Suzan Mazur: There’s also a lot of confusion in the evolutionary biology community about what a gene is. For instance, Jim Shapiro says he doesn’t think in terms of genes as entities. He thinks in terms of systems all the way down.

Eugene Koonin: This is a completely different level of discussion. Let’s try to separate it, whatever. I know exactly what Jim Shapiro said and a lot of people say. It’s just a translation into a different language, from a somewhat different viewpoint. I do not disagree, genomes are dynamic systems evolving in space and time not static collections of genes. But it is also OK to view them as entities, information storage devices. These viewpoints are complementary.

Coming back to the evolution of my thinking from 2009 to 2016, which really hasn’t been much. Quite frankly, if I were writing what I wrote back in 2009, I would have been even more cautious and non-combative than I was then. I don’t think I was ever really bombastic. But I would have been even less demonstrative and maybe I would not have written that the Modern Synthesis is gone.

Suzan Mazur: I think your paper in 2009 does sort of leave the door open for the paper that you just published in BioMed Central.

Eugene Koonin: Absolutely, all the doors were open. I would not say that it’s [Modern Synthesis] gone just like that. It has to be understood in context. I think now any actively working scientist in evolutionary biology probably realizes that the Modern Synthesis or neo-Darwinism, or whatever the name is, is insufficient in the post-genomic era. This is a set of concepts that is insufficient for understanding the entirety of evolution. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s only becoming wrong if someone claims that they need nothing past the concepts in the Modern Synthesis.

Suzan Mazur: Again, there are complaints in the evolution science community that nothing ever seems to get solved. You’ve commented in the BMC paper that there continues to be a parade of just-so narratives and that “if biology is to evolve into a “hard” science with a solid theoretical core, it must be based on null models, no other path is known.” You note further that null models are standard in physics but not in biology. Would you say more, beginning with your definition of “null model.”

Eugene Koonin: Sure. In any field, null model is the simplest explanation of the available data that does not violate physical laws. Good and sensible scientific practice in physics but also in other sciences. Scientists first come up with the simplest rational explanation of the available data and then see if anything in the data refutes that explanation and requires a more complex model. And so on and so forth.

Suzan Mazur: Nigel Goldenfeld in recent years referred to biology as the “new condensed matter physics.”

Eugene Koonin: Yes. He wrote a paper with the late Carl Woese where they expressed this, and I agree. Maybe with a caveat. I would rather say biology has to become the new condensed matter physics.

Suzan Mazur: At the November Royal Society public evolution meeting mentioned above, Sir Pat Bateson cautioned about the overuse of the metaphor of natural selection. And Richard Lewontin has famously said in the New York Review of Books that Darwin never meant the metaphorical term to be taken literally by generations of scientists. You keep natural selection in your most recent BMC paper and identify a family of selection terms: “weak selection,” “purifying selection,” “positive selection,” “local selection,” and “global selection.” Aren’t these all metaphorical as well and contrary to your interest in seeing biology “evolve into a ‘hard’ science”?

Eugene Koonin: Well. Yes, these are metaphorical. From Darwin to this day. I also agree with Lewontin, Darwin did not mean natural selection to be taken literally. But we have to be, I guess, a little more specific about what it means to take natural selection or any kind of selection literally. It means, one would assume, the existence of a selecting agent. Perhaps making all these parallels between natural selection and artificial selection, the way Darwin does in his book, could be somewhat dangerous because in artificial selection there is someone who is selecting, even if unconsciously. In that respect, the evolutionary process is very different in nature where nothing is there to actually select. Darwin certainly realized this and wrote more precisely of “survival of the fittest.” In modern evolutionary biology, it is sometimes “random survival” but the key point remains the same: organisms survive and leave progeny differentially. I think it is quite alright to denote some forms of differential survival selection, metaphorically. And there is no confusion here, within mainstream thinking. No one in the mainstream scientific community now takes selection literally.

Suzan Mazur: You also say in the BMC paper: “Counterintuitive as this might seem, evolutionary reconstruction in my laboratory clearly indicates that the ancestral state in most major groups of eukaryotes and apparently the last common eukaryotic ancestor had an intron density close to that in extant animals.” You note that introns persist in eukaryotes because introns invaded their genomes as mobile elements early on and that selection was too weak to get rid of them. You also say “the substantial majority” of introns harbor no detectable gene.

What is the significance of this observation? And would you define, in this case, what you mean by intron because you cite two groups of introns in your October table of defined virus terms. Thank you for that paper, by the way — it’s very useful — the paper in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C.

Eugene Koonin: Thank you. I appreciate that. What was said there in the virus paper?

Suzan Mazur: You provide an extensive table of defined virus terms, and you identify two groups of introns: Group I and Group II.

Eugene Koonin: We are going into technicalities here, so just very briefly. Prokaryotes also have genetic elements that are called introns but they’re very, very different from eukaryotic introns. Prokaryotic introns are more like mobile elements, self-splicing introns, unlike the eukaryotic introns that just sit there and wait to be excised by the spliceosome.

Prokaryotic introns are active. They have the machinery to excise themselves and even to move to a different location. There are two classes of such self-splicing introns, Group I and Group II, but the distinctions between these groups are important only for those who study these things.

The point for the general reader is that the eukaryotic introns evolved from the Group II self-splicing introns, which invaded the genomes of early eukaryotes and then lost their mobility.

Suzan Mazur: Would you touch on the possible importance of stem-loop RNA in origin and evolution of life?

Eugene Koonin: It’s a bit of an unexpected turn. All RNAs contain stems and loops, all RNAs that exist in life forms, in organisms are stem and loop structures.

Suzan Mazur: Luis Villarreal is very keen on this idea.

Eugene Koonin: I cannot right now comment on the specific statements of Luis. I simply don’t remember them. Sounds very generic as long as one believes in the primordial RNA world, in some form. Yes, within the RNA world model, stem and loop structures are essential. But random stems and loops do not form the right structure, they cannot have ribozyme activity let alone complex ribozyme activity. So they are only starting material for pre-biological evolution, they do not solve any problems by themselves

Suzan Mazur: In a presentation last year in Tokyo at ELSI (Earth-Life Science Institute) on the emergence of the biosphere, Uppsala University scientist Ajith Harish pointed out that “advances in our understanding of protein evolution indicate that tertiary structures of proteins are the molecular fossils of evolution while coding sequences are transients.”

Harish also says the Universal Common Ancestor of the contemporary Tree of Life (TOL) “is distinct from any specific modern descendant, that the Universal Common Ancestor was not the first cell lineage and that the modern TOL is the crown of a “recently” rerooted tree, that “bottlenecked survivors of an environmental collapse, which preceded the flourishing of the modern crown, seeded the current phylogenetic tree.”

Harish concludes that the “new data raises questions about traditional hypotheses based on sequence-based gene trees as well as divergence time estimates based on limited information in gene sequences,” noting further that “there are so far no identifiable ‘universal’ viral genes that are common to viruses such as the ubiquitous cellular genes.”

Would you like to comment on this?

Eugene Koonin: The short answer is no, I do not want to comment on that, because it’s impossible to make any responsible comment on a long and complex quote like this unless I’ve heard the lecture (or much better yet, read the paper). There are a variety of things on which I would agree (for example, that protein structures are more conserved than sequences which is common knowledge) and a variety of things on which I cannot immediately agree. But the bottom line is I did not hear the lecture.

Suzan Mazur: At the same ELSI meeting, Hiromi Saito from Osaka University questioned whether the common ancestor of bacteria had a cell wall noting, “many bacteria can transform themselves to a cell-wall-deficient state” called an “L-form.” Do you have any thoughts about that?

Eugene Koonin: I know very well what L-forms are, in particular with respect to their simple cell division mechanism. And this is an interesting possibility when we think about early evolution of cells. The modern L-forms obviously are derived, and comparative genomics tells us that the last common ancestor of bacteria probably did have a cell wall. Wall-less forms might have been important in evolution of cells but at an even earlier stage.

Suzan Mazur: Would you like to make a final point?

Eugene Koonin: Yes. I would like to come back to this issue of the Modern Synthesis, population genetics theory and the like because it is true that population genetics theory is part of the Modern Synthesis. And that is great. That is part of the power of the concept and why it remains quite relevant in explanations of microevolution but also an important part of the new evolutionary biology. That’s what I wanted to convey in the BMC paper, that population genetics theory (in its modernized form because it too has not remained static over 50 years) has to be systematically applied in evolutionary genomics, which is the new mainstream of evolutionary biology. Indeed, it’s changed dramatically over the last 25 years, and as previously mentioned, has completely transformed the ability to investigate, assess and measure evolutionary processes. The modern version of population genetics theory (it too has not remained static over 50 years) has to be actively, constantly and systematically applied to our understanding of genome evolution. That is too often not the case.

The whole of Mike Lynch’s work on this, his talks, papers and books are of paramount importance, even if I sometimes disagree with Mike on specific issues. The foundation Mike Lynch laid for modern evolutionary genomics cannot be reasonably disputed and is of huge importance.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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