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Los Angeles Times
Politically correct history
May 9, 2006
IT IS, FORGIVE US, A TEXTBOOK LESSON in political meddling. State Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) has introduced a bill, SB 1437, that would require California textbooks to tell the stories of the contributions made to history by gays and lesbians. If we didn't know any better, we'd say that Kuehl, a talented legislator who was the first openly gay member of the Legislature, was trying to write herself into the history books.
Under her proposal, textbooks would have to "accurately portray in an age-appropriate manner the cultural, racial, gender and sexual orientation diversity of our society." They also would have to include "the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the total development of California and the United States."
It's a twisting of what history textbooks are supposed to do: tell about the most important contributions, and misdeeds, of people in history, regardless of their beliefs and orientations.
Instead, under Kuehl's proposal, books would recount history in part through a gay and lesbian prism. This is as misguided in its way as the state Board of Education in Texas two years ago insisting that middle-school textbooks define marriage as the "lifelong union between a husband and wife," which, aside from its anti-gay slant, chose to ignore the existence of divorce.
California already has among the strongest social studies curriculums in the nation and is considered a model for its balanced and comprehensive approach to history lessons. The state also has an 18-member curriculum commission — made up of educators, subject experts and even a couple of politicians — that sets standards for textbooks and reviews them before they're adopted by the state school board. The commission makes mistakes, but the process it follows is thoughtful and deliberate.
The commission should be allowed to do its job without interference from legislators. And Kuehl should return to the kind of worthwhile legislation, on such issues as family leave, for which she is justly known.
Gay marriage shapes up as election issue
By Christi Parsons and John Chase, Tribune staff reporters. Tribune staff reporters Tim Jones and Maura Possley contributed to this report
Published May 9, 2006
SPRINGFIELD -- Kicking off a symbolic campaign against gay marriage, conservative groups filed petitions Monday calling for a statewide vote to change the Illinois Constitution to define marriage as a relationship between "one man and one woman."
Gov. Rod Blagojevich took a different political stand on the rights of same-sex couples Monday by extending benefits to the domestic partners of most state employees.
In a preview of the political battles to come, leaders of the Protect Marriage movement said actions like the governor's make it more important than ever to officially affirm the tenets of traditional marriage.
The result of the referendum they hope to place on the November ballot would only be advisory, but conservative leaders believe the results would send a clear message to the Illinois General Assembly to let voters cast a binding vote on the question in the future.
Acknowledging that state law already defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, a spokesman for the organization Protect Marriage Illinois said a constitutional amendment is a more permanent way to protect the institution of marriage from the "infection" of same-sex unions.
But the petition drive to place the question on the ballot also is an effort at grass-roots building at a time when Illinois conservatives are recovering from electoral losses, most recently the Republican nomination of moderate state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka to run for governor against Democrat Blagojevich this fall.
Supporters say the petition drive already has beefed up their database of voters friendly to their cause--a success for conservatives even if they don't actually have enough valid signatures to fend off attempts by opponents to keep the question off the ballot.
Ironically, the referendum effort by the conservative groups could actually end up helping Topinka. Despite her opposition to same-sex marriage, Topinka is already perceived as gay-friendly by many for her early support of the state's new gay-rights law. A hot-button gay-marriage question on the ballot could potentially draw to the polls more conservatives likely to vote Republican as long as they're there.
"The conversation needs to start in Illinois," said Cathy Santos, spokeswoman for the Family Taxpayers Network, which helped lead the drive. "We need to start this debate. This is the very beginning of a conversation that I think obviously Illinois residents want to have."
Eighteen states have constitutional amendments that explicitly bar recognition of same-sex marriage and more than 40 states, including Illinois, have statutes that limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.
In contrast, Massachusetts explicitly recognizes same-sex marriage. And California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Vermont grant people in same-sex unions a legal status similar to that of married heterosexual couples.
While the ballot measures had the effect of mobilizing many conservative voters in 2004, post-election analyses showed support for the bans cut across party, racial and ethnic lines. And evidence that gay-marriage bans increased voter turnout varied from state to state, studies showed.
In Illinois, the Protect Marriage groups have tried but failed to get state lawmakers to put the question on the ballot. In order to get the advisory question on the ballot, petitioners need to have just more than 283,000 valid signatures from Illinois voters.
Protect Marriage representatives said they filed nearly 345,200 signatures before Monday's deadline, significantly short of their 500,000 goal. Still, group leaders predict the signatures will hold up to scrutiny under a promised challenge from opponents.
The measure filed Monday calls for a change to the Illinois Constitution that would state that "a marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state." If passed, the referendum would advise the General Assembly to submit the amendment to voters for consideration at the next general election. State lawmakers are free to disregard an advisory referendum.
Blagojevich said he thinks putting the question on the ballot is unnecessary and even harmful.
"[T]hese are the kinds of sort of divisive issues that the right-wing political practitioners bring to the table," Blagojevich said. "It has less to do with the merits and everything to do with the politics of division."
The administrative order that Blagojevich signed Monday means that starting in July, same-sex domestic partners will be eligible for the same health benefits that married employees receive. The governor's action extends to managers and other employees not covered by the contract of the largest state employees union, which negotiated domestic partner benefits a year ago.
But the benefits only apply to the agencies that answer to the governor. In order for their workers to be eligible, Topinka and the other constitutional officers would have to opt into the program, aides to the governor said.
A spokesman for Topinka said she made a commitment in the campaign that there will be no expansion of benefits for anyone "until we get the state's budget nightmare under control." Topinka said she opposes the constitutional amendment because state law already bans same-sex marriage.
David E. Smith, project director for Protect Marriage Illinois and senior policy analyst for the conservative Illinois Family Institute, said he thinks state officials should take a leadership role in the cause.
"This is an infection that is dangerous to the absolute institution of marriage," Smith said. "Government policy shouldn't be promoting or protecting a dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle and it shouldn't be promoting something that is not normal."
Hunter vs. gatherer (and then some)
Men and women handle multi-tasking differently, scientists say. What they won't say, though, is who's better at it.
By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 8, 2006
PAM LOGAN is a multi-tasker by nature, by circumstance and by profession.
An air traffic controller based in San Diego, Logan shepherds jetliners into and through the airspace of Riverside County, routing them around swarms of small planes that operate from local airstrips. She is also a new wife, mother to a 13-year-old son, chief bill payer and procurement officer for her family, cleaner of all in her home but the bathrooms, and a student finishing her bachelor's degree. Just as she does with planes in her airspace, Logan often juggles the demands of her many roles simultaneously.
"I just need to do more than one thing at the same time," says Logan, 34. "I've always been that way."
Logan's husband of 18 months, John, "is not that way," Pam says simply. While she whirls like a dervish through the house, talking, putting away laundry, helping her son with his schoolwork, organizing her family's social life and completing her own classwork, John Logan cooks dinner. Or he checks his e-mail. Or he cleans the bathroom. "He focuses on one thing at a time," Pam Logan says.
The Logan household could be the epicenter of a scientific discussion on men, women and multi-tasking. Whether and how the sexes cope differently with multiple demands on their brainpower has become a hot topic around water coolers, at dining tables and in classrooms. For many women, female superiority in this realm is an article of faith.
"Not even close," says Cynthia McClain-Hill, a Los Angeles attorney, mother, community activist and legendary multi-tasker. "Most men I know would completely blow up or come unglued if they were challenged to get through the day of many working women."
But ask a roomful of scientists to pick a winner in the latest skirmish of the gender wars and most will simply venture that women and men multi-task differently. It may be the way their brains work, the way their hormones flow or the sheer weight of practice that makes some people more unflappable in the face of competing mental demands, they say.
Like parents refusing to pick favorites among their children, that is as far as most will go.
"I'd like to think women are better at things," says Melissa Hines, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at City University London. "But that doesn't seem to be one of them, at least not one we can measure in the lab."
Still, as neuroscientists peer into the brains of men and women, some have begun to see differences they think are revealing.
Different brain patterns
Husband-and-wife team Raquel and Ruben Gur study gender differences at the University of Pennsylvania. Ruben Gur says that in studies that compare the structure of men's and women's brains and in those that watch their brains at work, the genders tend to see the world differently and respond in different patterns.
In the lab, when men and women perform language tasks (in which women perform better) or spatial tasks (in which men outperform women), women's brains are activated widely, with much sharing of information between the hemispheres, Gur says. Women, he says, are naturally multi-tasking, sweeping in a wide array of details before they draw a conclusion.
When men are given the same tasks, their brains tend to "light up" more selectively, largely using those areas of the brain that specialize in the task at hand. And these components work together differently than in women. Men's brains are more richly connected by so-called "white matter" between the back of the brain, where information is received and processed, and the front, where responses and actions are formulated. By default, Gur says, men's brains are primed to act — often before priorities have been set and the whole of a situation is assessed and analyzed. Their approach to tackling many tasks at once may, in effect, be to roll up their mental sleeves and get working on them — one at a time but as fast as possible.
"In a stressful, confusing multi-tasking situation, women are more likely to be able to go back and forth between seeing the more logical, analytic, holistic aspects of a situation and seeing the details," Gur says. "Whereas men will be more likely to deal with [the situation] as, 'I see/I do, I see/I do, I see/I do.' "
That might make men, overall, a little faster at completing some tasks that involve mental juggling and women a bit more accurate. And it fits with the findings of a 2000 study of short-term, or working, memory conducted by UCLA researchers and published in the publication Neuroreport.
In a small group, Oliver Speck and colleagues observed different strengths, as well as different patterns of brain activation, in men and women as they performed working memory tasks — a cognitive skill that is key to multi-tasking. On average, women showed higher accuracy, but men had slightly faster reaction times, the group found.
Such gender-specific cognitive styles, says Boston psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, also may be key to why women appear to cope differently with the stresses of multi-tasking than men often do. Women tend to be more verbal — to talk about their challenges and stresses more readily than men, says Hallowell, author of "Crazy Busy: Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD."
Faced with multi-tasking overload, men "tend to cope with it badly: by pushing harder, by honking the horn," he says. Their impulse to "do something" often leads men to respond to such stresses with aggression and that's usually "the worst thing to do," he adds.
The "just do something" response is something Gur says he sees in himself. And it's a stark contrast to his wife's approach to multiple demands, he acknowledges. A practiced multi-tasker, Gur believes he's become pretty good at it. But his wife, he says, has him beat by a mile.
When both come home from work together and face the task of whipping up dinner for a hungry family, he says, "I just ask her, what do you want me to do?"
Finally, if practice makes perfect in the art of multi-tasking, then most of those who study gender roles agree that women should have an edge on the basis of experience alone.
Since the earliest days of human society, the female of the species has carried on multiple activities simultaneously. While caring for children, they cooked and tended the fire, raised crops and cured skins to furnish the dwelling. Men's roles in early society consistently required more singular focus, says Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher. "His basic job for millions of years was to sit behind a tree and hit the buffalo over the head with a rock," adds Fisher, author of "The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World."
As women have added paid work to their mix of familial duties, they have gravitated toward jobs that require multi-tasking as well, experts say. Even as women rise through the ranks in the labor market, they remain, as a group, more clustered in lower-paid jobs, says Ellen Galinsky, executive director of the New York-based Families and Work Institute. In the paid labor force, more of women's work is "invisible," focused on process and maintaining relationships, she adds. "It's work to make work work," Galinsky says.
As a result, women's work responsibilities are multiple, though often hard to identify or quantify. And because women are more likely than men to fill lower-level jobs, they tend to have less autonomy and less influence over work schedules and work demands.
"We can all see it around us, that women are the ones juggling more balls than men," says Hines, of City University London. "Usually if we do things more, we get better at it." But the evidence that women win this contest, she cautions, remains elusive.
For those intent on keeping score, however, one line of research appears to grant females a small victory. Speaking last April to fellow cognitive neuroscientists in San Francisco, multi-tasking researcher Marcel Just described gender differences observed in a screening test he gave to a group of prospective study subjects — most of them students at Carnegie Mellon University, where he teaches.
Twice as often as males, Just reported, female subjects were able to listen to two distinct voices and accurately answer questions about the content of their spoken messages. Such skills could give those who have them an important edge in certain settings, such as airline cockpits and air traffic control towers, Just says. But he cautions that his findings fall far short of suggesting "something universal" about women's multi-tasking skill.
A Natural Force
Through the ages, women's strength has been rooted in resilience. Is there a biological and social edge at work?
By Susan Brink, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 8, 2006
SOMEWHERE, in most women's conscious or unconscious minds, is the unspoken expectation that, if their marriages or relationships last, they will most likely outlive their partners. They know that their children, for whom they're primarily in charge, will grow up and leave. And they face a barrage of advertising and other societal cues that subtly but ever so steadily suggest that they're not getting older, they're getting invisible.
But whether expected or a bolt from the blue, each loss, each change, each transition, offers a woman the chance to slightly alter course — or even try an entirely new path.
Credit stamina, stoicism — or what researchers call resilience, meaning the ability to come back from serious adversity such as war, rape or the devastation of a hurricane. Regardless of the name, science is beginning to examine its source — a powerful combination of biology, social behavior and psychology, all of which conspire to give women some boosts that men don't have.
Certainly, suffering and change aren't the exclusive domain of women. But this mix of physical and mental stuff that makes a female, combined with a woman's typical life experiences, helps explain how some teenage, poverty-stricken mothers get an education, a job and raise the kids; how some mid-life dumpees and young widows are able to dry their tears, roll up their sleeves and learn to change a tire; how some long-cared-for wives learn, when their husbands die, where the money is and how to balance a checkbook.
"I always told my husband, I want to go first. I don't want to live without you," says Florence Halpern, 76, of Woodland Hills, whose husband, Philip, died 18 months ago. "And yet here I am."
She's hardly alone.
Those 5.3 bonus years that women, who live to an average age of 80.1, have over men are a mixed blessing, often leading to decreased mobility and increased loneliness. "It's the price we pay for survival," says Barbara Migeon, geneticist at Johns Hopkins University Medical School.
Not only do women live longer than men in the United States, this year, for the first time, the longevity gap will likely become a worldwide phenomenon.
Thanks to advances in maternal care, women in every corner of the globe will outlive their male compatriots, according to projections published in the April 8 issue of the British Medical Journal.
Their health advantage has long been chalked up to hormones. Now scientists are starting to explore the DNA within each cell, and they're finding some protective benefits to having a double dose of the X chromosome, as females do, compared with the X-Y combination that males have.
But biology alone can't keep a human being moving forward through heartbreak. Social and behavioral scientists, too, are finding that the networking skills first picked up in caves and passed on through millenniums of grain- and berry-gathering serve women today in getting through abuse, abandonment, infertility, divorce, widowhood — even the collapse of a nation.
The fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991 gave social scientists a tragic laboratory of research material to study gender differences. "They found that single men were the most vulnerable. On average they lived about six or seven years shorter than before the fall. Most of these men couldn't find work, they hung out with each other, they drank and smoked and were belligerent," says Shelley E. Taylor, social neuroscientist at UCLA and author of "The Tending Instinct."
Times were just as tough for the women, but, while there was a slight drop in their life expectancy, females didn't die off in droves. Nor did they drink, smoke and fight. "The women created informal social networks. One person would stand in line for bread, another would take care of children while another looked for work," says Taylor. "These networks were very sustaining for mental and physical health."
A female's biological advantage begins in the womb.
There, the fertilized egg that becomes a girl gets a double dose of the X chromosome, while the egg that becomes a boy gets an X and a Y chromosome. In both sexes, each cell carries the individual's genetic code. In men, that's made up of genes on 22 pairs of chromosomes, and one pair of mismatched sex chromosomes, an X and a Y. It's the same for women, except each cell carries two copies of the X chromosome. Yet no one can survive with two working versions of the X.
"Females aren't allowed to have twice as much gene product, so we turn off one chromosome," says Migeon, whose work on the topic was published in the March 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. "It's random. In half your cells, it's the mother's X, in the other half it's the father's."
So women end up with two types of cells. A number of genetic diseases originate on the X chromosome, such as color blindness, muscular dystrophy and hemophilia. With only one X, boys might get just the defective cells, while girls get a mixture of normal and defective cells — a kind of backup system to prevent some diseases.
The system that protects women from some disorders can also backfire. If one of the two types of cells comes to dominate, the other type might escape recognition by immune system cells that recognize "self," triggering an internal attack. That might be why women are more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases such as lupus. "There's no proof of this yet, but this is the implication," says Migeon.
Though autoimmune diseases, depression and connective tissue disorders are more common in women, more lethal problems hit men earlier and more often: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, alcoholism, duodenal ulcers and lung cancer.
Whatever the health problem, women almost invariably discover it sooner. Their bodies send them to doctors' offices regularly for Pap tests, contraception prescriptions or prenatal care.
"Women look after themselves from the age of 11 because they start to bleed," says Sebastian Kraemer, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in London whose research on the flip side of resilient females, "The Fragile Male," was published in the British Medical Journal in December 2000. "A tendency for care is really forced on a woman."
Men, short of accidents or health crises, are traditionally no-shows in doctors' offices. Women early on establish lifelong patterns of attention to their bodies, including check-ups, preventive screenings and ears tuned to medical advice.
Mixing instinct and know-how
BIOLOGY and medical visits get women off to a good start. Then a woman's psychological need to "tend and befriend," Taylor found, can protect her through hard times far more effectively than the much-studied counterpart impulse in men: "fight or flight." The lucky children benefit from the caretaking. But some of those less than lucky, remarkably, figure out how to compensate.
It was Evelyn Gonzalez-Figueroa's mother who tended her two children during a long journey through Mexico from El Salvador, calmed their fears as they were smuggled over the border in a bus and reunited the family with their father in Los Angeles. It was her mother, who, as a housekeeper, networked her way into better housing. She befriended a client who offered a house for rent in a safe neighborhood so that the family could move from the crime-infested neighborhood at 23rd and San Pedro. Gonzalez-Figueroa could leave behind memories of the sounds of violence and the need to step over people in drug and alcohol stupors.
It was her mother, too, who insisted her children learn English within six months, and pounded the message like a drumbeat that there were reasons they took the risks of immigration: a good education and better life for the children.
"We were here to make ourselves better. It was expected. It wasn't an option," Gonzalez-Figueroa says. She now holds a doctorate and does research at UCLA on cultural barriers. She and her family are U.S. citizens. To call her mother's contribution "nurturing" is an understatement.
After 25 years of research and analyzing more than 1,000 studies, Taylor found that early maternal nurturing, like Gonzalez-Figueroa received, can have an extraordinary effect on children.
"A mother's tending can completely eliminate the potential effects of a gene," she says. Risk for a disease, like depression, can fail to materialize, and so can an inborn propensity to crumble under stress.
But females themselves, as early as infancy, start acting in ways that could well protect them later. As babies, they send out stronger signals than males that they're open for communication. "Little girls raise their eyebrows, open their eyes wide, and give people the impression that they really want to talk," says Kraemer. Wanting to talk, and learning to speak about intimate feelings, serves women well for a lifetime, even in the most dire circumstances.
Angela Kennedy, assistant professor at the school of social work at Michigan State University, extensively interviewed 10 young women who grew up in Chicago's ghettos. All of them had witnessed violence, some had been its victims, all were teenage mothers and none had good family support. Yet four of the young women managed to go to school, get jobs and escape the cycle of poverty. One thing they had in common was an ability to connect with someone outside the circle of trouble.
"These are the kids that a teacher or a neighbor is drawn to," Kennedy says.
About the only thing Lisa Frutos' mother gave her was a lot to overcome. So Frutos looked elsewhere for help — and she also dug deep inside herself. Both of her parents were heroin addicts, in and out of jail. Two older sisters became prostitutes, one was murdered — left to die in a field — while hooking.
By third grade, Frutos was regularly accompanying her parents on shoplifting sprees. "They would use us as a coverup," says Frutos, 35, of Fresno. "We would go in the grocery store, steal whiskey. My mom had a great big purse, my dad would shove it down his pants. Then at the end of the day they would sell the items, and go get their heroin."
While her parents robbed and shot up and roaches scurried around the kitchen, Frutos memorized poems, such as "A Psalm of Life," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She recited them in her head like a mantra.
In high school, a teacher noticed her. He gave her information on financial aid, got money from a parents' fundraising bingo group to help prepare her for advanced placement courses, and told her over and over that she was university material.
The message resonated. "I think, deep in my core, I knew my parents' way wasn't for me," says Frutos. Today she is a nurse practitioner, married and expecting her first child. An innate belief that one is somehow special, Kennedy found, was also a common element in children who work their way out of terrible circumstances.
Genetic research is confirming that some people are, indeed, special. They may have inherited a particular gene that programs them for added resilience in the face of adversity. Simply put, those with advantageous DNA, including what's called the 5HTT gene, bounce back better.
But for those who lack the gene, all may not be lost. MarySue Heilemann, professor in the school of nursing at UCLA, studied 315 women who had emigrated from Mexico. If resilience is in part an inborn personality trait, attitude and circumstance can give it a shot in the arm. "What some theoreticians imply is that you either have it or you don't," says Heilemann. "Even if that's the truth, what if you have a little bit of resilience? Is there something that can boost it?"
Her study found, not surprisingly, that money is a resiliency booster. But the amount necessary to keep on truckin' doesn't conform to the usual definitions of poverty or wealth. "Women who said that their finances were adequate to meet their needs during the last month coped well," she says. Enough money to meet monthly obligations, whether that's a $500 rent check or a $5,000 mortgage payment, can ignite a spark of resilience.
Biology, psychology and instinct can take women a long way. But Heilemann's research is a reminder that, though friends, support and nurturing count a great deal, when a crisis intrudes, even strong, resilient women have to be able to cover the bills.
The friendship factor
IT takes only casual observation and a modicum of life experience to see that women are good at making friends, and that their friendships are important to them. Women are nurturers, caretakers and talkers. Science, says Taylor, has charted the benefits of nurturing throughout the brain.
The female instinct to call in the helper troops, that network of girlfriends, sets up a chemical cycle unique to women. When females feel stress, Taylor says, the hormone oxytocin is released. That encourages them to protect the kids and start the telephone tree going. Contact with children or friends releases more oxytocin, further calming them and everyone around them.
The hormone works better at reducing stress for women, Taylor says, because estrogen apparently enhances the action of oxytocin, while testosterone seems to reduce its effect.
"What you see in the brain is lower activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, greater activity in prefrontal cortical regions and lesser activity in the hypothalamus among people with strong networks," says Taylor. Other researchers have connected those areas to heart rate and blood pressure regulation, as well as to emotions and empathy. Women literally carry around a network of support in their heads.
That may be why those supportive girlfriends that women so famously cultivate don't have to be next door, down the block or even in the same city. Women just have to believe the network is there, and will rally when the SOS sounds.
With America's mobile society, Tanya Finchum, professor at Oklahoma State University, wondered how important proximity was to friendship. She talked to 25 women, age 45 and older, who had relocated across state lines several times in their lives and kept in touch with old friends. It takes, she found, at least once-a-year contact such as a Christmas card, for the relationship to continue — two missed years, and the friendship is history.
But letters, telephone calls and e-mail updates, detailed and honest about bad news as well as good, were a fine substitute for what might have once been a face-to-face coffee break or shopping expedition. "They don't just paint a rosy picture," she says. "They share intimacies, right down to the nitty gritty."
Far-away friends have helped sustain Halpern through the grief of widowhood. Her best friends go back decades and most of them live in New York.
"I'll call Shirley and talk for two-and-a-half hours. Sisterly things. Motherly things," she says. "And Gloria, she's a friend from the third grade. I sat behind her in class, and I'll never forget, she had pigtails. And Irene — I worked with her in a bank at the Empire State Building. When I feel a need to talk, I'll call any of these people."
Men, women and children, for the most part, seek their comfort from women. And, unless the demands become overwhelming, the nurturer's health and well-being are aided by the very act of helping. "If you look at people who give a lot of social support and compare them over time, the givers as well as the recipients are healthier," says Taylor.
So a woman with young ones in tow, or aging parents who need help, or a husband who depends on her for his social and conversational support is getting back at least some of what she's giving.
Giving — to her 18-month-old daughter — was life-saving, says Ingrid Weiss-Salveson, 45, of Mt. Baldy. That's how old her child was when her husband, a firefighter, died in 1995. The shock of young widowhood sent her into despair.
But she always knew she had to get out of bed each morning. "What kept me grounded was my daughter," says Weiss-Salveson. "Ashley made me smile every day. She gave me the will to live and move on."
Later in life, grown children often return the favor, providing support to mothers left alone. A year and a half after her husband's death, Halpern still mourns and continues to miss the companionship of the man who always had a smile for her. But her sons are good weekend company, and her five grandchildren are potential companions for the travel she still wants to do. She keeps her calendar filled with volunteer work at the Jewish Home for the Aging, lectures, games of mah-jongg and an occasional bus trip to see an opera.
"I cry. And then I make a plan," she says. "I do things I've never done before."
Clarification: Lesbian Brains Story
Fri May 12, 2:36 PM ET
WASHINGTON - In a story May 8, The Associated Press reported on the perceptions of lesbian women and heterosexual men and women when sniffing chemicals derived from human hormones. That report was based on a chart in a research study which indicated different perceptions of the chemicals, such as pleasantness, familiarity and irritability.
While there were differences in how the brains of homosexual and heterosexual participants reacted to the chemicals, the story should also have included the conclusion that indicated differences in individual perceptions were not statistically significant.
Study: Lesbians' Brains React Differently
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
Mon May 8, 11:18 PM ET
Lesbians' brains react differently to sex hormones than those of heterosexual women, new research indicates. That's in line with an earlier study that had indicated gay men's brain responses were different from straight men — though the difference for men was more pronounced than has now been found in women.
Lesbians' brains reacted somewhat, though not completely, like those of heterosexual men, a team of Swedish researchers said in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A year ago, the same group reported findings for gay men that showed their brain response to hormones was similar to that of heterosexual women.
In both cases the findings add weight to the idea that homosexuality has a physical basis and is not learned behavior.
"It shows sexual orientation may very well have a different basis between men and women ... this is not just a mirror image situation," said Sandra Witelson, an expert on brain anatomy and sexual orientation at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
"The important thing is to be open to the likely situation that there are biological factors that contribute to sexual orientation," added Witelson, who was not part of the research team.
The research team led by Ivanka Savic at the Stockholm Brain Institute had volunteers sniff chemicals derived from male and female sex hormones. These chemicals are thought to be pheromones — molecules known to trigger responses such as defense and sex in many animals.
Whether humans respond to pheromones has been debated, although in 2000 American researchers reported finding a gene that they believe directs a human pheromone receptor in the nose.
The same team reported last year on a comparison of the response of male homosexuals to heterosexual men and women. They found that the brains of gay men reacted more like those of women than of straight men.
The new study shows a similar, but weaker, relationship between the response of lesbians and straight men.
Heterosexual women found the male and female pheromones about equally pleasant, while straight men and lesbians liked the female pheromone more than the male one. Men and lesbians also found the male hormone more irritating than the female one, while straight women were more likely to be irritated by the female hormone than the male one.
All three groups rated the male hormone more familiar than the female one. Straight women found both hormones about equal in intensity, while lesbians and straight men found the male hormone more intense than the female one.
The brains of all three groups were scanned when sniffing male and female hormones and a set of four ordinary odors. Ordinary odors were processed in the brain circuits associated with smell in all the volunteers.
In heterosexual males the male hormone was processed in the scent area but the female hormone was processed in the hypothalamus, which is related to sexual stimulation. In straight women the sexual area of the brain responded to the male hormone while the female hormone was perceived by the scent area.
In lesbians, both male and female hormones were processed the same, in the basic odor processing circuits, Savic and her team reported.
Each of the three groups of subjects included 12 healthy, unmedicated, right-handed and HIV-negative individuals.
The research was funded by the Swedish Medical Research Council, Karolinska Institute and the Wallenberg Foundation.
On the Net:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: http://www.pnas.org
Revealed: how scent of a woman attracts lesbians
Ian Sample, science correspondent
Tuesday May 9, 2006
Sex pheromones, the chemicals some scientists believe waft off the body to help attract sexual partners, are processed differently in the brain depending on our sexuality.
Using a brain scanning technique called positron emission tomography, scientists found that a potent chemical lurking in male sweat causes a rush of electrical activity in the brains of straight women and gay men, while lesbians and straight men treat it like any other common odour.
Ivanka Savic, a neuroscientist at the Stockholm Brain Institute who led the study, said the finding suggested specific brain circuits were engaged when we were exposed to chemicals we found sexually stimulating. She added that the scans did not reveal whether sexual behaviour was learned or hard-wired in our brains at birth.
In the study, three groups of 12 volunteers, including lesbians, heterosexual women and straight men, were asked to sniff a variety of odours. They included odourless air, four common scents and a chemical, known as androstadienone (AND) that is 10 times more abundant in male than female sweat and is suspected of acting as a male pheromone.
After smelling the odours, the volunteers were given brain scans that revealed which regions of their brains had the greatest increase in blood flow, a measure of how much they had been stimulated. The scans showed that after sniffing AND, a region of the brain called the anterior hypothalamus lit up in heterosexual women and gay men.
The brain scans of lesbian women and straight men showed a marked difference after sniffing the male sweat chemical, however. Brain scans revealed activity increasing in parts of the brain called the piriform cortex and amygdala, which are believed to light up when the brain processes any odour.
The researchers also found that lesbians and heterosexual men responded in the same way to a potential female pheromone called EST. Brain scans showed that clusters of neurons lit up in the brains of both groups when they smelled the odour, which were not activated in heterosexual women.
"This is the first study to show that these chemicals can activate specific brain circuits," Dr Savic said. The study appears today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
TOBW-3576 ￥3,800（Tax in）
オープニング・テーマ曲～アイネ・クライネ・ナハトムジーク ト長調 K.525 第3楽章：メヌエット
01. ディヴェルティメント ニ長調 K.136 （125a) 第2楽章：アンダンテ
02. クラリネット協奏曲 イ長調 K.622 第2楽章：アダージョ
03. アイネ・クライネ・ナハトムジーク ト長調 K.525 第2楽章：ロマンツェ アンダンテ
04. 歌劇「フィガロの結婚」序曲 K.492
05. ピアノ協奏曲 第20番 ニ短調 K.466 第1楽章：アレグロ[カデンツァ：ベートーヴェン]
06. アヴェ・ヴェルム・コルプス K.618
07. ヴァイオリン、ヴィオラと管弦楽のための協奏交響曲 変ホ長調 K.364 第2楽章：アンダンテ
08. ホルン協奏曲 第4番 変ホ長調 K.495 第3楽章：ロンド アレグロ・ヴィヴァーチェ
09. フルートとハープのための協奏曲 ハ長調 K.299 第2楽章：アンダンティーノ
10. 交響曲 第41番 ハ長調 「ジュピター」 K.551 第4楽章：アレグロ
【以前発表された収録予定曲】ディベルティメント ニ長調Ｋ．136（通称ザルツブルク・シンフォニー）／チェンバロ作品Ｋ．1-5／交響曲第１番変ホ長調Ｋ．16より／交響曲２５番ト短調Ｋ．183第１楽章／ヴァイオリン協奏曲第５番イ長調Ｋ．219「トルコ風」／ピアノ協奏曲第７番へ長調Ｋ．242「ロードロン」／ピアノ・ソナタ第７番ハ長調Ｋ．309／フルートとハープの協奏曲ハ長調Ｋ．299／交響曲第３１番Ｋ．297「パリ」より／レチタティーヴォとアリア「テッサリアの民よ」〜「不滅の神よ 私は求めはしない」Ｋ．316
人気歌手のユーミンこと松任谷由実と脳科学者の茂木健一郎博士の公開対談が8日、東京・銀座のアップル直営店「アップルストア」で行なわれた。これは、フリーペーパー「dictionary」とポッドキャスト「media CLUBKING」で展開中の公開対談シリーズ「TALK dictionary」の第3回で、茂木博士がホストを務めている。今回のゲストは、シンガーソングライターの松任谷由実。
清酒：モーツァルト生誕２５０年記念し販売「蔵粋」、全国から注文相次ぐ (毎日・福島版 2006/05/09朝刊)
The danger of trying to put a 'positive' face on the past
- Jonathan Zimmerman
Sunday, May 7, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle
In 1950, a U.S. Senate committee released a report on the "employment of homosexuals and other sex perverts" in the federal government. The report warned that gays "lack the emotional stability of normal persons," so they could be easily blackmailed by Communist spies. Newspapers claimed that 10,000 gays had infiltrated federal agencies, posing what Sen. Joseph McCarthy called a "homosexual menace" to national security.
So if California passes a bill requiring instruction about gays in history, will students hear about this sordid chapter of our past? I doubt it. That's because the bill's supporters -- like so many of us -- regard history as therapy. They want the gay kids to feel good.
Listen to the bill's author, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, one of the Legislature's six openly gay lawmakers: "Teaching materials mostly contain negative or adverse views of us, and that's when they mention us at all." By requiring schools to teach about the "role and contributions" of homosexuals, Kuehl argues, her bill will help gay kids overcome the stigmas that surround them.
Maybe so. But it will also distort the past, exaggerating the exploits of heroic gays and neglecting the continued discrimination against them. Most of all, this approach will allow all of us -- straights as well as gays -- to evade the complex and painful history that we share.
It has happened before. In the 1920s, when anti-immigrant sentiment was at its zenith, a wide range of ethnic groups fought to insert their own heroes into America's grand national narrative.
Polish Americans demanded that textbooks include Thaddeus Kosciusko, the Polish nobleman who aided our revolution; Jewish-Americans pressed for Haym Solomon, a merchant who helped finance it; and blacks celebrated Crispus Attucks, the first American to die in it.
Oh, yes, and German Americans wanted textbooks to include Molly Pitcher. Why? You guessed it: she was German! Her birth name, some said, was Maria Ludwig; and eventually, thanks to German pressure, the textbooks said so as well.
Germans also claimed Abraham Lincoln as one of their own, providing an easy target for satirists in the press. "The German origin of Honest Abe clashes with the Italian theory (of) L'Inchiostro, meaning 'the ink,' '' one newspaper teased. "The Chinese theory proves direct descent from the famous Lin family. Abraham Llyncollyn was Welsh beyond a doubt, and the origin of Abraham Linsky-Cohen needs no further explanation."
Worst of all, these ethnic groups helped block a more critical, complicated reading of the Revolution itself. During these same years, historians began to question the longstanding myth of freedom-loving continentals against tyrannical Redcoats. Roughly a third of Americans fought on the British side, we discovered, while many people in England supported the Revolutionary cause. Even more, the leaders of America's freedom struggle often practiced -- and defended -- the enslavement of African Americans.
But very little of this complexity entered the textbooks, thanks to the combined efforts of our newly multicultural patriots. If we rejected the glorious tale of America's birth, ethnic activists said, we would diminish ethnic contributions to it. Each group "could have its heroes sung," as one editorialist observed, but no group could question the underlying melody that united them all.
Fast-forward to the 1960s and 1970s, when blacks and Latinos inserted a whole new set of great men -- and even a few great women -- into our history texts. Crispus Attucks took a bit part, or disappeared altogether; leading roles went to Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez.
Even as textbooks included these new activists, however, the books gave little sense of what the heroes were acting against: white racism.
A real examination of racism would interfere with the optimistic themes that still permeated the texts, as reflected in their sunny titles: "Quest for Liberty," "Rise of the American Nation," and so on. Nor did the books discuss the less-than-heroic involvement of Africans in the slave trade, or of Latinos in the genocide of Native Americans. After all, the purpose was to make the kids feel "positive" about themselves. And only "positive" information would do the trick.
So if the bill about gay history passes, we can expect another round of heroes -- this time, of course, gay heroes -- to enter the books.
But that won't help us address the really tough questions about American history, writ large. Why have gays suffered so much discrimination, during the McCarthy era and into the present? What does that say about our nation -- about its conceptions of love, of family, and of "freedom" itself?
Nor can we expect any criticism of homosexuals: once heroes enter the pantheon, they become as sacred as all of the other gods. So the texts might discuss how gays bravely fought AIDS during its early years, promoting education and safe sex. But we'll never hear the unlovely coda to this happy tale: in the era of protease inhibitors and the Internet, some gays have reverted to the destructive practices that spread the disease in the first place. It happens to be true, but it isn't nice. Forget about it.
So say it loud, and say it proud: Walt Whitman! James Baldwin! Harvey Milk! But please, don't say anything bad about these gay Americans -- or about anyone, really. Remember, the first goal here is to feel good. The truth comes second.
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is author of "Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century," scheduled to be published in the fall by Harvard University Press.
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