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Monday: Famous Last Words

Monday mornings are typically a slow news day. Whatever’s been going on has been happening behind the scenes and it’ll take a day or so before it’s revealed to us. And today isn’t just a regular Monday, it’s the Monday before The State of The Union Address by the President. So. With that in mind, here are some of the stories that caught my eye this morning:

The San Franciso Chronicle is looking for trouble. It seems to me we’ve seen political parties written off before :

The Republican Party, as a brand, is dead in California.

That’s the eye-opening consensus of a crowd of political observers, lawmakers and strategists – Democrats and Republicans – gathered at a UC Berkeley symposium this weekend to mull over California’s defiantly blue status in the wake of a conservative tide that swept the nation in November.

Stupid answers to tough questions?

Obama pledges to put ‘economy into overdrive’ by 2012

“We’re going to build stuff, and invent stuff,” Mr Obama said on Friday. Regarding China, he said: “That’s where the customers are. It’s that simple.”

But, I want to know who’ll be assigned to cover the red carpet:

State of the Union Bipartisan Seating: Comity Central for Lawmakers

Dozens of lawmakers eager to appear bipartisan, if only for a few hours, answered the call. They range from New York Reps. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, and Peter King, a Republican, whose wife called the duo the “biggest loudmouths” in the House, to the bipartisan Congressional Women’s Softball Team.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will attend with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D), while Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will become an item for the night.

“I think if Coburn and Schumer can sit next to each other, then probably just about everybody can,” Schumer said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

There were stories a few months ago about the relationship between lack of sleep & obesity in adults. It turns out there is a similar relationship in children.:

Catching up on Z’s could curb kids’ weight

In the study, researchers monitored the sleep patterns of 308 children between the ages of 4 and 10 and and recorded their Body Mass Indexes or BMIs. They found that children who had regular sleep schedules and slept the recommended number of hours per night had the least risk of being obese or having unhealthy blood markers. In contrast, children who slept the least and had irregular sleep schedules had more than a fourfold increase in the risk of being obese and having unhealthy blood markers that indicate the beginning of other conditions.

But investigators also found that sleep-deprived kids who catch up during the weekend reduce that risk from four times to slightly less than three times the obesity risk of kids who get adequate sleep

“Lack of sufficient sleep can have major adverse consequences to the body, such as reduced memory and cognitive performance, lack of attention and focus and in children hyperactivity and ADHD like behaviors.” says Dr. David Gozal, physician-in-chief, for the Department of Pediatrics at Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. “In addition helplessness and depression can develop,” he adds.

I am not at all surprised to see that they’ve found evidence that lack of sleep can affect memory and cognitive performance and other issues. One of the ways I know that I’m overtired from lack of sleep is that I forget the names of friends or common objects. It’s like there’s a hole where that information is — it’s gone. It totally freaked me out when it first happened. But, somehow I discovered that stepping back and getting sleep and rest pulled everything together again.

I hope this study gets the attention it deserves.

No details on this one but, it sounds horrible:

Domodedovo blast: Explosion rocks Moscow’s main airport

Moscow’s Domodedovo airport – the busiest in the Russian capital – has been rocked by an explosion that has killed at least 10 people.

Dozens more are thought to have been injured in the blast, which reports suggest may have been the work of a suicide bomber.

Emergency services are on the scene and tending to the wounded.

The airport is 40km (25 miles) south-east of the city centre, and is popular with foreign workers and tourists.

And you don’t need a link to Krugman but, this bit from today’s post fits into the discussions we’ve been having here:

The Competition Myth

But let’s not kid ourselves: talking about “competitiveness” as a goal is fundamentally misleading. At best, it’s a misdiagnosis of our problems. At worst, it could lead to policies based on the false idea that what’s good for corporations is good for America.

[Edited to add] And finally, the great Jack LaLanne died yesterday. He was a great man. As commenter, djmm said last night:

Mr. LaLanne changed everything when it came to how the American public viewed exercise.
1) He thought everyone should do it.
2) He showed them how to exercise with no special equipment (which made it affordable).
3) He encouraged both men and women to do weight training. (This is particularly helpful for women to lower bone loss.)
4) He made it fun.

He had a great life, apparently a great marriage and he was fit and active pretty much all of his 96 years. I wish we could all be so lucky!

RIP, Mr. LaLanne — bless you and thanks!

Here’s a clip from his early days. THIS is how I remember Jack LaLanne:

So that’s the news on my monitor — what’s going on in your stretch of the Internet?