I am pleased to welcome you to my personal blog, which I started in March 2009. I first became interested in blogging about five years ago, using old "blogger.com", which was cumbersome to use and I never mastered. About a year ago I discovered that Google had bought "blogger.com" and had revised it considerably, making it fun to use, so much so that I have devised at least 15 blogs on various subjects and frequently add posts and Gadgets to them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New flu-fear hand-washing habits possible,

 New flu-fear hand-washing habits possible, it just takes the right amount of motivation
By KIP BURKE news editor

They say that old habits are hard to break, and that's true. I've had more luck substituting one habit for another, replacing a bad habit with a good one, or at least a better one.

It may be a sign that I'm not yet set in my ways, but I've gradually become a hand-washing fool and for the first time in my life, a slightly germophobic cleaner of nasty surfaces where other folks have carelessly slung their germs.

Now, properly motivated, anybody can change any habit. I remember when I was a Navy photojournalist, we called what we did "shooting" photos. That was the standard term - we'd do a photo shoot, we'd shoot this ceremony and shoot that exercise. We had shooting scripts and shooting schedules and shooting assignments. Then in 1989, the President of the U.S. came to our ship to meet with Soviet President Gorbachev, and I found out I had a bad habit.

Members of President G.H.W. Bush's Secret Service detail used our office just prior to the boss's arrival, and pointed out my bad habit. "Chief," one agent said, "we know what you mean, but could you please avoid using the word 'shoot' and 'the president' in the same sentence? It makes us a little twitchy."

Gulp. Well, after the blood returned to my head, I readily agreed, and changed that habit instantly. We "covered" the president's summit, we "documented," but we did not "shoot." Given enough motivation, we can all change.

In the past, when it came to washing hands, I was often hit-or-miss. Since I have a robust immune system and seemed to be largely impervious to most germs, although I preferred to wash up before eating, I didn't make a big deal of it if I couldn't. I was aware that all the money we handle and most public surfaces like doorknobs and handrails harbor a variety of germs, theoretically, but I wasn't motivated to do much about it unless it was convenient.

Until flu season. For the last few seasons, I've been getting better and better about realizing that, if a flu germ is going to enter my body, chances are it's going to come from my hand after that hand touched a surface on which someone has carelessly left their germs. Since I've always preferred to avoid the catching the flu, I've been more aware of that process, and had gradually become a sporadic flu-season hand-washer and nasty-germ avoider.

Now, with the swine flu seeming to affect every family in some way or another, and flu germs being slung willy-nilly all about us, I'm strongly motivated to start a new habit. I have become a hand-washing fool, washing my hands several times a day and using alcohol wipes whenever I couldn't wash.

More than that, I've become aware of when my hands have touched germ-laden surfaces and manage to keep my hands away from my face until they're clean. They say that things we touch repeatedly, like this keyboard I'm typing on, the mouse I use, my car's steering wheel and shifter, can harbor all the infectious nastiness required to get sick as dogs. So I use hand-sanitizing wipes on those surfaces every day I remember to.

Now, I'm not particularly concerned with the swine flu since it doesn't seem to be much worse than the seasonal flu, and I wouldn't take a vaccination even if I were in a qualifying group, so this new handwashing habit is pretty much my only line of defense against getting the flu this year.so far, it's working. If it doesn't, if somebody's dedicated swine flu germs penetrate my defense, I promise to keep the flu to myself and not share.

Y'all wash up for dinner, ok?
Reader Comments

Sunday, November 15, 2009

101 Nutrition Tips for a Longer, Better Life

101 Nutrition Tips for a Longer, Better Life
Nov 2nd, 2009
Scientific and technological advances have made it so that people are living longer than ever. Unfortunately, advancements have also made it much easier to eat unhealthy foods that can have a pretty negative impact on your overall health and well being. Here are some tips to help you embrace good nutrition and eating habits so you can live longer and look good well into old age.

Check out these basic tips to get started on improving your diet and your overall well-being:

  • Use common sense. You know what’s good to eat and what’s not, so use your common sense when it comes to nutrition. You might enjoy eating fast food every day, but you know when enough is enough.
  •  Listen to your body. If you’re feeling run down and less than healthy, take a look at what you’re eating. It may be that you’re not getting the foods you need to feel your best.
  •  Get enough water. Getting enough water can help ensure you stay hydrated and healthy as well as helping you feel fuller faster.
  • Eat fresh. While you don’t need to avoid all processed foods (we all have our lazy days) you’ll get a lot more out of fresh, unprocessed foods.
  • Think before you eat. Don’t just eat blindly. Take time to consider whether or not you’re really hungry or are just eating because you’re bored.
  • Fix meal times. One way to help yourself eat healthier is to have set meal times and stick to them so your body will have a schedule and you’ll know when you’ll be getting hungry.
  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar to drop and cause you to get extremely hungry and willing to eat anything, however unhealthy, in sight.
  • Learn the food pyramid. If you want a guide for your food choices, check out the guidelines set out by the government.
  • Eat for your needs. Not everyone has the same nutritional needs. Those who are more active need more calories, those less active need fewer. Find out where you fall.
  • Work together. Eating well shouldn’t be an individual effort. Involve your whole household in your healthy food choices. It’ll be beneficial and help you all stay on track

Avoiding the Bad Stuff  
Those empty calories may taste good but they could be clogging your arteries and setting you up for health problems down the road. Try out these tips to keep the indulgences to a minimum:

  • Eat fruit rather than fruit drinks. While you might think you’re being healthy by consuming fruit drinks, these concoctions usually have more sugar and less nutrients than the real deal.
  • Don’t avoid things you crave. If you totally banish those sweet and fatty foods from your life you may be doing more harm than good and end up binging on them in the end. Having a little bit won’t kill you.
  • Try dark chocolate. Those who have a serious chocolate addiction can have a sweet treat and still be (semi) healthy by having dark chocolate full of antioxidants.
  • Don’t buy it. One way to keep those pesky unhealthy foods out of mind is to keep them out of sight. Don’t buy them when you’re at the store. If it’s a pain to get them, you’re much less likely to eat them.
  • Keep treats a luxury, not a routine. Having a piece of cake or some french fries now and again won’t doom you to an unhealthy life. Just make sure these treats are occasional instead of regular.
  • Eat good fats. Not all fats are bad fats, so choose yours carefully. Avocados are chock full of fats–the unsaturated variety–giving you the fats you need to be healthy without the unhealthy side effects.
  • Turn off the TV. Ads are designed to get you to buy products, which very often are unhealthy fast foods, sweets and processed, salty, pre-packaged concoctions. Turn off the TV and cut out the chance to get those foods in your mind.
  • Fill up on good food first. If you’re craving unhealthy foods, try eating something healthy like veggies or fruit first. If you’re still hungry after the healthy snack then consider those other foods.
  • Be honest. Many times we crave bad foods not because we need them but because we had a bad day, are lonely, bored or some other emotional issue. Learn to recognize when you’re using food to fill a void rather than satisfy a nutritional need.
  • Find healthy alternatives. Just because you’re eating healthier doesn’t mean you have to give up desserts. Fruit with yogurt can be a satisfying alternative to more calorie-laden and unhealthy options.

Eating out  
It’s easy to know what goes into your food at home but it becomes much more complicated when you go out. Here are some tips to help you eat healthy no matter where you’re at:

  • Choose healthy establishments. Usually you know going into a restaurant what kind of foods they offer. If you don’t want to eat fried chicken, don’t head into a place where you know that’s the main offering. Instead, choose a location you know has healthy options.
  • Eat half. Restaurant portions are notorious for being too large for one person to consume. Solve this problem by halving your food and only eating that one part and having the rest boxed up to take home.
  • Research ahead of time. The vast majority of restaurants have online menus and nutrition facts available, and if not, you can usually get a close approximation. Use this information to educate yourself on the healthiest choices at each establishment before you go. It can also help you choose a restaurant that will offer you the most choices for your healthy eating.
  • Share. If you don’t want to bring restaurant food home with you, you can always share with a friend, and that way you can eat what you’d like without having to worry about overdoing it.
  • Look at the nutrition facts. It’s not hard to find out the nutritional information for most restaurant offerings these days, letting you know if your choices are truly healthy or if they just appear to be that way.
  • Get sauces and dressings on the side. Many times it can be better to control just how much of those calorie- and fat-laden dressings and sauces you get on your dish. Simply ask if you can get yours on the side instead.
  • Ask for healthier sides. While french fries might come with your meal, many places are more than happy to accommodate a request for a side salad or grilled veggies instead. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Limit fried foods and sweets. It might seem obvious, but it’s much easier to fall into the trap of eating unhealthy foods when they are readily available in a restaurant. Avoid them or share them if you must indulge.
  • Ask about healthy options. Not everything a restaurant offers is always on the menu. You may be able to have your food prepared in a healthier manner or get it with different ingredients. It never hurts to ask.
  • Investigate the menu. Many menus offer a wealth of health advice if you’re willing to look for it. Most chain restaurants label what dishes are on the lighter side helping you narrow down your choices.

Losing Weight  
While having a little extra weight might not kill you, having a lot greatly increases your chances of developing chronic and potentially fatal diseases. These tips are designed to help you shed those pounds and live healthier:

  • Drink water before you eat. Having a full glass of water before you eat can help you feel more full when you sit down to eat your meal.
  • Consider smaller, more frequent meals. Because your body doesn’t have a chance to get super hungry, eating smaller meals may help you eat less over the course of a day.
  • Don’t eat out of boredom. At work or at home, eating because you don’t have anything else to do isn’t uncommon. Remind yourself that eating isn’t a pastime.
  • Limit snacks. While having snacks in between meals can be good, try to limit it to one or two a day or eating super healthy snacks so you’re not sneaking in loads of extra calories between meals.
  • Take a hard look at your beverages. Many beverages are packed with calories, sugar and other substances that can contribute to weight gain. Try to stick with water or, if you must, diet or low-cal options.
  • Keep track of what you’re eating. It can be a big help in weight loss to know just how much you’re taking in on a daily basis. Use an online tracker to monitor your daily intake and track it over time.
  • Avoid crash diets. There are few things less helpful to long term weight loss than crash diets. Make a real change in your lifestyle if you want to see sustainable change.
  • Enjoy your meals. When you sit down to eat, it shouldn’t be a race to see how fast you can polish off your food. Give yourself time to slow down and really enjoy what you’re eating. You’ll eat less and have more fun while doing it.
  • Eat appropriate portions. Many people eat far more than they really should when it comes to portion size. Check with nutritional guidelines to see how much you should be eating of each part of your meal.
  • Plan your meals. One thing that can be a big help in keeping you on track is planning out your meals for the week. It will help you balance your nutrition and ensure you have a set plan for eating right.
  • Bring healthy food with you. If you have to run errands or are just stuck at your desk all day, make sure you have at least one healthy snack with you so you won’t be tempted to consume the less healthy options from a vending machine.

Eating Right  
These tips will help you learn the basic principles of maintaining a nutritious and healthy diet:

  • Stay away from sweetened drinks. Sodas, fruit drinks and even juices aren’t doing you any favors. Cut back on the sugar-laden beverages if you want to cut out a major calorie source.
  • Aim for a balance. Despite what some diets might say, eating all of one thing or another isn’t good for your overall nutrition. Try to maintain a balance of proteins and carbs and vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat less meat. While lean meats are a great addition to the diet, try to eat less meat and have at least one veggie meal a week to cut back on fat and cholesterol.
  • Go for whole grains. Eating whole grain breads and pastas can give your body the nutrition it needs and keep you fuller for longer.
  • Limit the salt you eat. There is no doubt that salt is tasty, but it can have some pretty negative effects on the body if not eaten in moderation.
  • Cook with care. Just because you’re not frying foods doesn’t mean you’re cooking them in a healthy way. Stick to steaming or sauteing in olive oil.
  • Carry water with you. Often people eat when they are thirsty, not hungry, so carry a bottle of water with you everywhere to stay hydrated and on track.
  • Try something new. You may have been a veggie hater your whole life, but the reality is that tastes change and evolve over time and some healthy foods you think you hate might taste different to you now. Try something new to expand your palate.
  • Make eating right fun. Eating right doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it fun and get your family and friends involved as well.
  • If you must, hide healthy foods. If you can’t bear to eat a piece of broccoli or a carrot, you can always chop it up super fine and hide it in a sauce so you’re getting your nutrition without the taste.
  • Eat the rainbow. When you want to eat healthy, it’s best to eat a wide variety of colors of foods, from leafy greens to bright red tomatoes.
  • Go lean. If you do want to indulge in some beef, choose the most lean and healthy cuts available.

Good nutrition starts when you choose what foods to buy. These tips will help you shop smarter:

  • Look at serving sizes. Sometimes labels will trick you with abnormally small serving sizes. Make sure to check these to see the real nutritional value of a food.
  • Check out the ingredients. You want to look for foods with healthy ingredients listed first and few preservatives and chemicals.
  • Watch out for tricky advertising. Some foods aren’t exactly truthful in their advertising and it’s up to you to find out what is truly healthy and what’s just hype.
  • Shop the perimeter. The perimeter of the store is usually home to fresh baked goods, meats, and produce–foods you should be concentrating on the most.
  • Avoid pre-packaged and prepared foods. While you can indulge in these now and again, you’ll be much better off eating more fresh food instead.
  • Have a list and stick to it. Going to the store without a list can result in you buying things you don’t need or shouldn’t be eating, so make a list ahead of time.
  • Look for fewer ingredients. The ideal foods will have few ingredients or just contain the basic components without much added.
  • Go to a local market. If you want to find fresh, local and seasonal food, go to a farmer’s market in your area.
  • Buy organics. While you don’t need to buy everything organic, many people believe avoiding foods sprayed with chemicals can be a great health boon.

Disease Prevention  
Learn how eating right can help reduce your risk of developing potentially deadly conditions in these tips.

  • Eat nuts. While some nuts are better than others, all contain substances that will help you improve your heart heath.
  • Cut back on the cholesterol. Eating lots of red meat, eggs, butter and other cholesterol rich foods isn’t good for your body, so limit your intake and monitor your levels carefully.
  • Get folate and B6. These two substances, found in supplements and foods like orange juice, leafy green veggies and broccoli, were found to significantly reduce heart disease risk.
  • Consume the suggested levels of fruits and veggies. Eating right doesn’t just help you lose weight–these healthy foods are full of nutrients that help your body stave off everything from the common cold to cancer.
  • Up your vitamin D intake. Many people aren’t getting the levels of vitamin D that they should be, increasing their risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D can also protect against cancer, autoimmune diseases, arthritis and diabetes.
  • Watch your calories. Studies have shown that people who eat a low calorie diet actually live longer than those who consume more calories.
  • Consider a multi-vitamin. While you should be getting your vitamins from the foods you eat, if you’re worried you’re not getting enough, consider taking a supplement.
  • Eat complex foods. Preprocessed foods contain more vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that can help you stay looking and feeling young.
  • Visit your doctor. Making regular visits to your doctor to check your levels and make sure you’re healthy can help you tailor your diet to your needs.
  • Try soy. Some doctors believe that getting more soy may help lower your cholesterol.

Superfoods to Try
There’s a lot of news out there about superfoods, named because they offer numerous health benefits. Here are a few you can add into your diet:

  • Plain yogurt. With potassium, protein and calcium this super food is great on its own or can be enriched with other healthy foods for a balanced snack.
  • Eggs. The protein in eggs has been shown to go a long way, and people who eat them at breakfast often eat less throughout the rest of the day.
  • Nuts. Nuts may contain a good amount of fat but they also contain protein, heart-healthy fats, high fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Kiwi. Get your daily requirement of vitamin C from this super food as well as potassium, fiber, vitamin A and vitamin E.
  • Quinoa. This whole grain may not be part of many diets but it should be with loads of protein, vitamins and minerals. If you don’t like this grain, try oats, wild rice or barley instead.
  • Beans. Beans come in numerous varieties to suit different taste buds but all offer fiber, protein, magnesium and potassium.
  • Salmon. Fish that are rich in Omega-3s like salmon offer many benefits from lowering the risk of heart disease to fighting depression.
  • Broccoli. Try steaming some broccoli with your dinner to get ample servings of vitamin A, vitamin C, and bone-building vitamin K.
  • Sweet Potatoes. These tasty foods are full of vitamin A and are a great source of other vitamins as well. If you don’t like these root veggies consider pumpkin or carrots instead.
  • Berries. Foods like blueberries are packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids as well as potassium and vitamin C, lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer and reducing inflammation.
  • Tea. Teas, both black and green, offer loads of antioxidants helping lower cancer risk and reducing cholesterol.

Looking and Feeling Good  
Make sure your added years are good ones with these tips to keep you looking good and feeling great.

  • Get enough antioxidants. Antioxidants help rid your body of damaging free radicals, so getting enough will not only help you feel better but look younger as well.
  • Keep skin and hair looking good with protein. Your body needs protein to keep your skin looking supple and your hair looking lustrous.
  • Have enough calcium. No one wants to be hunched over with osteoporosis in their old age. That’s why getting enough calcium is essential.
  • Find foods that are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation in the body, not the visible kind, is the cause of many illnesses and premature aging. Eating foods that reduce this inflammation can be a big help.
  • Cut back on sugars. Sugars may taste yummy but studies have shown that they also age your skin.
  • Switch to tea. While the caffeine in coffee may not hurt you, it also contains organic acids that cause cortisol, the natural stress hormone in your body, to skyrocket.
  • Make your carbs count. Good carbs will give your body enough of an insulin response to have an anabolic effect on the muscles without storing excess body fat.
  • Use healthy oils. Using olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, instead of vegetable oil, which is a polyunsaturated fat that can make your body more susceptible to free-radical damage.
  • Get your Omega 3’s. These much touted substances have been found to help keep skin looking young and help reduce inflammation in the body.

Striking a Balance  
It’s important to maintain a balance of foods in your diet, and these tips explain how to do it.

  • Veggies and legumes should take up most of your plate. Try planning the rest of your meal around these all important, nutrient rich foods.
  • Eat a small serving of lean proteins. You don’t need much meat to get the benefits, so choose small, lean servings at your meals.
  • Make sure to eat whole grains. Grains are an important part of a healthy diet, but you should make sure you’re choosing those that are whole and not heavily processed.
  • Mix it up. Perhaps one of the most important things to do, however, is to make sure to eat a wide range of foods.
  • Ensure you’re getting enough fiber. Keeping your digestion going smoothly and your body happy means getting fiber which can be found in veggie and fruit skins, beans, brans, and oats.
  • Look at food pyramids. The food pyramid was designed to help you balance what you’re eating and get the right amounts of each thing. Consult it if you don’t know how to construct balanced meals.
  • Look to cultures with long life spans. If you want to create a diet that lengthens your life, look at what cultures with especially long life spans eat and use it as a model.
  • Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. The occasional glass of red wine won’t hurt you, but drinking a large amount of alcohol can pack in calories and hurt your body.
  • Have a plan. Don’t just go at nutrition willy-nilly. Come at what you eat with a plan of what you need, where you want to be, and a map of how to get there. If you need help, try consulting a nutritionist.

Did you enjoy this article? Bookmark it at del.icio.us »

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jimmy Doolittle, American Hero

Wars and Battle, 1896-1993

"Jimmy was a short, muscular fireplug of a man with a confident grin above his cleft chin. His nose was a little crooked from having been broken on his road to becoming a boxing champion. He was just five feet four inches tall and never weighed more than 145 pounds, but he was a giant who reached the clouds, a king of the sky."

From the novel, Fly Boys, by James Bradley.

The man famous for his daredevil B-25 bombing raid on Tokyo was none other than the "Babe Ruth of Flyboys," the boisterous "Jimmy" Doolittle. However, General Doolittle's aviation legacy is just a fraction of what he ultimately achieved in his near-century-long life.

Early years

Born in Alameda, California, on December 14th, 1896, James Harold Doolittle spent the first three years of his life in California with his mother. His father, inspired by a touch of "gold fever," left the carpenter trade for Alaska when Jimmy was an infant. At three and a half years of age, Doolittle's mother brought him with her to join his father in Nome, Alaska.

When he was 11, he moved with his mother to Los Angeles, where he developed an interest in flying. He became a professional boxer and entered the University of California's School of Mines, in 1915.

Learning to fly

Doolittle was a junior at the University of California when the United States entered World War I. He soon enlisted as a flying cadet in the Army Signal Enlisted Reserve Corps to train as a pilot, where he first earned his wings — quickly making second lieutenant in 1918. Doolittle served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1917 until 1930, eventually becoming promoted to major.

After he learned to fly, Doolittle served as an instructor pilot and began to engage in aerobatics, always with dreams of breaking aviation records. In 1922 he made the first cross-continental crossing in less than a day, taking 21 hours and 19 minutes to fly his De Havilland DH-4 from Pablo Beach, Florida, to San Diego, California — stopping only once to refuel.

Higher education

Jimmie Doolittle enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1923. He would systmatically obtain a master's degree and then a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering. After receiving his degrees in June of 1925, fewer than 100 people in the world held comparable credentials.

In his doctoral dissertation, "Wind Velocity Gradient and Its Effect on Flying Characteristics," he combined laboratory data with test flight data to determine that a pilot needed visual aids or instruments to know the direction and speed of the wind and the direction in which the plane was flying. His dissertation collided with the assumption of many other contemporary pilots that they could "know" that information instinctively.


In 1927, Doolittle was the first person to successfully execute an outside loop — previously thought to be a fatal maneuver. Carried out in a Curtiss fighter at Wright Field in Ohio, Doolittle executed the dive from 10,000 feet, reached 280 miles per hour, bottomed out upside down, then climbed and completed the loop.

As the first person to win all major aviation racing trophies, Doolittle also won the Schneider Trophy in 1925, for flying a Curtiss Navy racer seaplane the fastest it had ever been flown, averaging 232 miles per hour.

In April 1926, Doolittle got a leave of absence to go to South America to do airplane demonstration flights. At a party in Argentina, after a few too many drinks, he demonstrated handstands on a high balcony when the balcony gave way, and he broke both of his ankles. Despite the accident, Doolittle put his Curtiss P-1 through stirring aerial maneuvers the next day, with his casted ankles strapped to the rudders. Doolittle looked at the practical side: He could leave his bulky parachute behind since his feet were strapped in and he could not get out in an emergency.

Doolittle returned to the United States, and was admitted to Walter Reed Hospital for his injuries until April 1927. He was then assigned to McCook Field for experimental work, and additional duty as instructor with the Organized Reserves of the Fifth Corps Area's 385th Bomb Squadron.

In 1931, after leaving the Army Air Corps and going to work for Shell Oil Corporation, he won the Bendix Trophy by flying from Burbank, California, to Cleveland, Ohio, establishing a new speed record. He crossed the country in 11 hours, 16 minutes and 10 seconds, beating the record set earlier that year by one hour and eight minutes.

In 1932, he won the Thompson Trophy race at Cleveland in a Granville Gee Bee R-1 racer, averaging 252 miles per hour (reaching a top speed of 406 mph), and established the world landplane speed record of 296 mph.

World War II and the Korean War

Jimmy Doolittle became a national hero and received the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading an aircraft carrier-based bomber raid on Tokyo, Japan, on April 18th, 1942. The "Doolittle Raid" was the first attack on Japan by the U.S. in World War II, and occurred just four months after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.

Following the Tokyo raid, Doolittle returned to Washington D.C. and was picked up in a staff car by Hap Arnold and Army Chief of Staff George Marshall. As the car headed downtown, Doolittle asked where they were going. The question was greeted with a stare from Marshall and Arnold’s grin. Doolittle broke the silence. “I think there’s something going on that I don’t know about. I’m not a very smart fellow and if it involves me I think somebody had better tell me so they won’t be embarrassed.”
“Jimmy,” Arnold said, “we’re on our way to the White House. The president is going to give you the Medal of Honor.”

After his heroic displays of courage over Tokyo, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted Doolittle from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general — skipping the rank of colonel. He was then assigned as the commanding general of the 12th Air Force in North Africa, the 15th Air Force in Italy, the Eighth Air Force in England and then on Okinawa during the Island hopping campaign. While in command, Doolittle was promoted to major general, then lieutenant general.

At the start of the Korean War in March 1951, Doolittle was appointed as special assistant to the Air Force chief of staff, in which he served as a civilian in scientific matters that led to Air Force ballistic missile and space programs.

Postwar service

Doolittle entered his postwar service as an advisor to the Air Force, such intelligence agencies as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and presidents. From 1955 until 1958 he served as chairman of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), advising the U.S. Air Force on future aviation and space technologies.

From 1955 until 1965, Doolittle also was a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which evaluated intelligence operations. In 1958, he was offered the position of first administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which he declined.

Doolittle retired from Air Force duty February 28, 1959, then went on to become the chairman of the board of Space Technology Laboratories.

A legend in aviation

In 1985, although long retired from active duty, retired Lieutenant General James H. Doolittle became General James H. Doolittle, when President Reagan and Senator Goldwater pinned on the same four-star insignia that General George Patton had been given on the occasion of receiving his fourth star, more than 40 years earlier.

In addition to the nation's top award, Doolittle also received two Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, four Air Medals, and decorations from Great Britain, France, Belgium, Poland, China, and Ecuador.

James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle passed away at the age of 97 on September 27th, 1993.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hoover Dam Bypass and Bridge

The New Hoover Dam Bypass – Wider View
Posted in Crazy Pictures, Picture Worth 1000 Words • Tags: Hoover Dam Bypass • Author: HART (1-800-HART)

call HART crazy .. but


THE WIDER VIEW: Taking shape, the new bridge at the Hoover Dam
Creeping closer inch by inch, 900 feet above the mighty Colorado River, the two sides of a $160 million bridge at the Hoover Dam slowly takes shape.

The bridge will carry a new section of US Route 93 past the bottleneck of the old road which can be twisting and winding around and across the dam itself.

When complete, it will provide a new link between the states of Nevada and Arizona.

In an incredible feat of engineering, the road will be supported on the two massive concrete arches which jut out of the rock face.

The arches are made up of 53 individual sections each 24 feet long which have been cast on-site and are being lifted into place using an improvised high-wire crane strung between temporary steel pylons.

The arches will eventually measure more than 1,000 feet across. At the moment, the structure looks like a traditional suspension bridge. But once the arches are complete, the suspending cables on each side will be removed. Extra vertical columns will then be installed on the arches to carry the road.

The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
The bridge has become known as the Hoover Dam bypass, although it is officially called the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, after a former governor of Nevada and an American Football player from Arizona who joined the US Army and was killed in Afghanistan. Work on the bridge started in 2005 and should finish next year. An estimated 17,000 cars and trucks will cross it every day.

The Hoover Dam
The dam was started in 1931 and used enough concrete to build a road from New York to San Francisco. The stretch of water it created, Lake Mead, is 110 miles long and took six years to fill. The original road was opened at the same time as the famous dam in 1936.

An extra note: The top of the white band of rock in Lake Mead is the old waterline prior to the drought and development in the Las Vegas area. It is over 100 feet above the current water level.

Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada. When completed in 1936, it was both the world's largest electric-power generating station and the world's largest concrete structure. It was surpassed in both these respects by the Grand Coulee Dam in 1945. It is currently the world's 35th-largest hydroelectric generating station.[4]
This dam, located 30 mi (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, is named after Herbert Hoover, who played an instrumental role in its construction, first as the Secretary of Commerce, and then later, as the President of the United States. Construction began in 1931, and was completed in 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule. The dam and the power plant are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, Hoover Dam was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.[3][5]
Lake Mead is the reservoir created by the dam, named after Elwood Mead, who oversaw the construction of the dam.

The Incredible Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge Under Construction
Published by R J Evans
June 23, 2009, Category: Engineering
Announced in 2004, the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge has been five years under construction. Due to be completed in 2010, the bridge has slowly been taking shape. Here, with some amazing photographs is a record of this incredible bridge as it nears completion.
The people of Arizona and Nevada are patient folk. Since 1935 they have seen their local roads slowly but surely become more and more congested, most certainly at one particular point. The Hoover Dam. Since its inception it has been an important connection between the two states in terms of commerce and simply for the making the journey between the two considerably quicker. Let’s start with a money shot – even though you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Image Credit
A 2008 shots gives the imagination something to work on. As the Hoover Dam became more and more popular with tourists the local roads began to get more congested than people could really put up with. Their solution? Harking back to the huddled masses days when America really was considered to be the land where everything was super-sized (and not just the fast food) the good citizens of Arizona and Nevada decided to build a bridge. Not just any old bridge though, this one would have the longest concrete arch in the US. The arch would ultimately be finished in August 2000 – and you can see it in its entirety here.

Read more in Engineering
« Spectacular Dams Around the WorldDifference Between Diesel and Gasoline Engines »
Image Credit
In 2007, the tower structures, these known as approach spans, are beginning to take shape. It is known, in the briefest of terms as the Hoover Dam bypass and this much is true. There will be seven approach spans all in all, two on the Arizona side and five on the Nevada side. The bridge is enormous, but its proximity to the dam is less than half a kilometer. The longer, more proper and formal name is the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Perhaps it is already known as The Mike and Pat locally. O’Callaghan was the Governor of Nevada in the nineteen seventies as well as a veteran of the Korean War. Tillman is by far the more controversial choice. He gave up a millionaire lifestyle and superstar footballer status to serve in the US Army in Afghanistan where he was killed in 2004. His death has been subject to military investigations and more than the occasional conspiracy theory.

Image Credit
Back to 2005 and the bridge is in its infancy. It has a way to go, even yet, in its construction, even though the most recent pictures see the span almost conquered by one of the most amazing engineering feats of our times. It will cost a pretty penny, of course; estimates have it at upwards of two hundred and fifty million dollars. Patience, however. Try and resist the urge to scroll down and take in the images, if you… too late.

Image Credit
It won’t exactly be a slim bridge, either. It and the other new sections of Highway 93 will have two lanes going each way over its five hundred and seventy five meter span. It may not be an idea to look down either if you suffer from vertigo. The road itself will be a dizzying two hundred and fifty six meters above the Arizona River. Although people will still be able to park and walk across it (if they dare) drivers will not be able to see the Hoover Dam. It is too close and too below to be seen by them. The project suffered a serious setback in 2006 when four cranes collapsed. This caused a massive two year delay while the project recovered. It is now back on track and the next in this series of articles can be found here.

Image Credit
At night, in 2008, the construction work seems like some vast drawbridge in to some dark post apocalyptic fortress. Behind it, the Hoover Dam. Iconic as the dam is, the bridge itself will become an important route between two equally iconic American cities, Phoenix in Arizona and Las Vegas in Nevada. Since the Dam’s completion both cities have seen their population sky rise (perhaps the bridge is a good metaphor for the burgeoning number of their citizens).

Image Credit
By April of 2009 the bridge begins to look like a bridge – not to state the obvious. Suddenly, in the space of months a real shape begins to emerge. It looks as if plans are on schedule for the bridge to serve as the successor to the old road. Highway 93, which was as good as highways got back in 1935 is simply too old and, well, curvy to be adequate in this day and age for twenty first century traffic. Plus of course, it only has two lanes (that is counting both directions).

Image Credit

Image Credit
A closer look at the arches gives the onlooker a greater impression of the sheer scale of the project. Take a look at the moveable platforms where brave people perform their duties each day. A certain day in the September of 2001 made things worse for those who rely on the original road across the dam as a transport link. After the air attacks on the American mainland, no trucks have been allowed over the dam for fear they could be packed with high explosive. Instead the trucks have been sent south to a crossing near Laughlin (on the Nevada side). More disruptions, albeit for a very good security reasons. When you figure that there will be almost twenty thousand cars and trucks using the new bridge every day the enormous costs – and the security concerns – begin to make a lot of sense.

Image Credit
Let us take to the air to see the bridge from a real vantage point and ponder the simply awesome highlights of the project. To begin with it will eventually take the removal and embankment of over three and a half million cubic yards of earth. The bridge itself will be made from two hundred and forty three million tons of concrete. The steel used to reinforce the concrete would, if put on a set of scales, weigh sixteen million pounds (some set of scales!). Plus it has brought many, many jobs in to the area, with over twelve hundred people being involved in its construction.

Image Credit
June 9, 2009 and the arch edges even closer to completion. The arch is more than fifty percent complete and it is hoped that the two sides will meet in the Fall of this year. Below, even more recent on June 18. What kind of party will be held on the day the two parts of the arch meet is anyone’s guess, but it is likely to be the biggest since the end of Prohibition. It can only be hoped that none of the revellers gets too tipsy and ends in the Arizona River.

Image Credit
It is hoped that the bridge will be complete some time in 2010. When it is complete it will look like something out of the space age (oh, shucks, yes, that’s our era after all). The impression below, with no disrespect to the artist (but one suspects he once worked for Gerry Anderson), gives away little of the grandeur and majesty that the final, finished bridge will possess in (millions of) tons.

Image Credit
The next in this series of articles, which covers July – October 2009 – when the arch becomes free standing can be found HERE.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dr. Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer (born March 13, 1950) is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and political commentator. His weekly column appears in the The Washington Post and is syndicated in more than 200 newspapers and media outlets.[1] He is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and The New Republic. He is a Fox News contributor, a regular panelist on Fox’s evening news programSpecial Report with Bret Baier and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.[2]
Dr. Krauthammer is on Fox News . He is an M.D. and a lawyer and is paralyzed from the neck down.  A friend went to hear Charles Krauthammer. He listened with 25 others in a closed room. What he says here, is NOT 2nd-hand but 1st. The ramifications are staggering for us, our children and their children. 

 Last Monday was a profound evening, Dr. Charles Krauthammer spoke to the Center for the American Experiment. He is a brilliant intellectual, seasoned & articulate. He is forthright and careful in his analysis, and never resorts to emotions or personal insults. He is NOT a fear monger nor an extremist in his comments and views . He is a fiscal conservative, and has received a Pulitzer Prize for writing. He is a frequent contributor to Fox News and writes weekly for the Washington Post.

The entire room was held spellbound during his talk. I have summarized his comments, as we are living in uncharted waters economically and internationally.  Even 2 Dems at my table agreed with everything he said! If you feel like forwarding this to those who are open minded and have not drunk the Kool-Aid, feel free. 

                     Summary of his comments:

                     1. Mr. Obama is a very intellectual, charming individual. He is not to be underestimated. He is a cool customer who doesn't show his emotions. It's very hard to know what's behind the mask.The taking down of the Clinton dynasty was an amazing accomplishment. The Clintons still do not understand what hit them. Obama was in the perfect place at the perfect time. 

                     2. Obama has political skills comparable to Reagan and Clinton . He has a way of making you think he's on your side, agreeing with your position, while doing the opposite. Pay no attention to what he SAYS; rather, watch what he DOES! 

                     3. Obama has a ruthless quest for power. He did not come to Washington to make something out of himself, but rather to change everything, including dismantling capitalism. He can't be straightforward on his ambitions, as the public would not go along.

He has a heavy hand, and wants to level the playing field with income redistribution and punishment to the achievers of society. He would like to model the USA to Great Britain or Canada . 

                     4. His three main goals are to control ENERGY, PUBLIC EDUCATION, and NATIONAL HEALTHCARE by the Federal government. He doesn't care about the auto or financial services industries, but got them as an early bonus. The cap and trade will add costs to everything and stifle growth. Paying for FREE college education is his goal. Most scary is his healthcare program, because if you make it FREE and add 46,000,000 people to a Medicare-type single-payer system, the costs will go through the roof. The only way to control costs is with massive RATIONING of services, like in Canada . God forbid! 

                     5. He has surrounded himself with mostly far-left academic types. No one around him has ever even run a candy store. But they are going to try and run the auto, financial, banking and other industries. This obviously can't work in the long run. Obama is not a socialist; rather he's a far-left secular progressive bent on nothing short of revolution. He ran as a moderate, but will govern from the hard left. Again, watch what he does, not what he says.

                     6. Obama doesn't really see himself as President of the United States , but more as a ruler over the world. He sees himself above it all, trying to orchestrate & coordinate various countries and their agendas. He sees moral equivalency in all cultures. His apology tour in Germany and England was a prime example of how he sees America , as an imperialist nation that has been arrogant, rather than a great noble nation that has at times made errors. This is the first President ever who has chastised our allies and appeased our enemies!

                     7. He is now handing out goodies. He hopes that the bill (and pain) will not come due until after he is reelected in 2012. He would like to blame all problems on Bush from the past, and hopefully his successor in the future. He has a huge ego, and Dr. Krauthammer believes he is a narcissist.

                     8. Republicans are in the wilderness for a while, but will emerge strong. Republicans are pining for another Reagan, but there will never be another like him. Krauthammer believes Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty & Bobby Jindahl (except for his terrible speech in February) are the future of the party. Newt Gingrich is brilliant, but has baggage. Sarah Palin is sincere and intelligent, but needs to really be seriously boning up on facts and info if she is to be a serious candidate in the future. We need to return to the party of lower taxes, smaller government, personal responsibility, strong national defense, and state's rights.

                     9. The current level of spending is irresponsible and outrageous. We are spending trillions that we don't have. This could lead to hyperinflation, depression or worse. No country has ever spent themselves into prosperity. The media is giving Obama, Reid and Pelosi a pass because they love their agenda. But eventually the bill will come due and people will realize the huge bailouts didn't work, nor will the stimulus package.These were trillion-dollar payoffs to Obama's allies, unions and the Congress to placate the left, so he can get support for #4 above.

                     10. The election was over in mid-September when Lehman brothers failed, fear and panic swept in, we had an unpopular President, and the war was grinding on indefinitely without a clear outcome. The people are in pain, and the mantra of change caused people to act emotionally. Any Dem would have won this election; it was surprising it was as close as it was.

                     11. In 2012, if the unemployment rate is over 10%, Republicans will be swept back into power. If it's under 8%, the Dems continue to roll. If it's between 8-10%, it will be a dogfight. It will all be about the economy. I hope this gets you really thinking about what's
happening in Washington and Congress. There is a left-wing revolution going  on, according to Krauthammer, and he encourages us to keep the faith and join the loyal resistance. The work will be hard, but we're right on most issues and can reclaim our country, before it's far too late.

                     Do yourself a long term favor, send this to all who will listen to an intelligent assessment of the big picture. All our futures and children's futures depend on our good understanding of what is really going on in DC, and our action pursuant to that understanding!! It really IS up to each of us to take individual action!! Start with educating your friends and neighbors!!! 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't take shopping money out of town because all our jobs may soon follow it

By KIP BURKE news editor

It's November now, and the Christmas season is near upon us. In our community, as it is all across America, thi s recession we're in means most folks are not going to be spending near as much this year. Unemployment is way up, and those of us with jobs are holding our breath and praying that we'll keep them. For that reason, I'm begging you not to take your Christmas shopping money out of town, because the next job that's lost might be yours.

Already, Americans' demand for cheap products from the big chain stores has destroyed millions of American factory jobs, and hundreds of factory jobs just in our county. Cheap and often unsafe products manufactured in China fill those stores simply because we've foolishly demanded the lowest price at the expense of quality. We've spent years refusing to pay a dollar more, and now we've chased all those good manufacturing jobs overseas. We did that, and we need to quit it.

I know we're all cutting back this year. What money you do spend, though, I'm begging you to spend with the local shops and stores who employ our families, who make donations to all our schools, our youth, and our community. It's the local merchants and factories who buy tickets to barbecues and car washes, who support our cancer patients, our civic groups and our churches.

The stores in Augusta, Thomson, and Athens don't do this. They don't care at all about you or your children. But our business owners, our friends and neighbors, they do care and they support our community with everything from ads for football programs and yearbooks, to radio spots and newspaper ads, even when they're on the edge of bankruptcy themselves.

You can find what you want here. You've probably noticed that smart shoppers from all over the state come to shop in Washington. They come from miles around, turning up their noses at big malls, Walmart, and all their local stores to come and wander around The Square and shop in our stores. That tells me that we do have great places to shop, that we can buy our Christmas gifts here, and only here.

It's been seven years since I darkened the door of a Walmart, so I know it can be done. I shop here first.

Now, we're still blessed to have many good jobs here. Agriculture is still king in Wilkes County, and manufacturing is still vital to our workforce, but it's undeniable that the retail and service economy here is an important source of Friday paychecks, especially for a family's second or third job.

Where we spend every dollar does make a difference. Every dollar taken out of town comes out of a Wilkes County pocket forever. Every dime and dollar could mean jobs lost here. What you do does make a difference.

Spend smart, spend with your heart, and shop at home. Please.

Remarks from today’s Ft. Hood press conference November 6th, 2009

Home >> Army News >>
Remarks from today’s Ft. Hood press conference

U.S. Army photo by Eric Martinez, 13th Public Affairs Detachment

I’m Army Secretary John McHugh. I want to make a few comments and then turn the microphones over to the Chief of Staff of the Army General George Casey.

All morning, the Chief of Staff, Mrs. Casey, myself, and other representatives from the Army Staff, from the Pentagon, have been here at Fort Hood – have had the opportunity to tour with General Cone and Mrs. Cone and his command staff. We have had the chance to go to the processing center, the site of the incident, and received a full brief from a variety of law enforcement agencies who have been involved in this situation – DES, CID, FBI, local police, Texas Rangers and others who are working seamlessly together and we so deeply deeply appreciate that. After that, our party traveled to Darnell (Army Medical Center), to hear from the medical staff as to the condition of those who have been wounded and those who are still in treatment . The Chief and I and Mrs. Casey had the chance to visit those both still in the intensive care unit and on the general ward, and thereafter, go visit with a grouping of those who were processing the Soldiers through the processing center at the time of this very very tragic incident. We thereafter went to one of the post chapels, had a chance to meet with the 36th Engineer Brigade, with the Soldiers who had an extraordinarily tough day amongst so many Soldiers who had a tough day – yesterday, 4 killed, 11 wounded, and tried to do our best to talk about how the Army Family will stand with them.

Obviously our thoughts, our prayers, are particularly with those of the fallen – the Families of the Soldiers who were killed, the Soldiers and the Families of those who were wounded in action. These are Soldiers who were preparing to do what they love, for the country that they love. And we wanted them to know, and we want America to know, that the United States Army, the United States Government writ large, stands ready to provide them every possible assistance not just today, not just through the weekend, but will undoubtedly be very troubling, very challenging times ahead.

I want to give a special thanks and a word of admiration to the first responders. Those who came when the call went out, within minutes of the shots being fired in the center. And those Soldiers who utilized their battlefield lifesaving training in the building, as the situation was still unfolding, to save lives. And we were told that those actions did indeed save lives.

A thanks to the medical personnel and professionals at Darnell, those who work at Scott & White (Memorial Hospital) and Metroplex (Adventist Hospital) and others, who have done just an incredible job pitching in and helping the Fort Hood community to respond to those challenges as well.

I want to say thank you to the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, all of whom have been personally involved with this situation from the first minute we were made aware of what was happening here in Texas and at Ft. Hood. And as the Secretary of Defense told the Chief and myself – every possible resource, every possible form of support will be made available to the Soldiers, the Famil(ies), the command staff here at Ft. Hood.

The Army Family is strong. But a great source of that strength is what we derive from each other. In times of crisis and challenge how we hold each other straight and how we make a difference. And we’re going to provide every necessary resource to ensure that those in need have what they need, that those in need are taken care of.

The full force of the Army stands behind General Cone. His command staff, I have to tell you, from my perspective they have done an incredible job responding to an incredibly difficult challenge. Most of all, we want the Soldiers and the Families here at Fort Hood and across every Army facility everywhere in the world to know this is a time for the Army Family to stand together. This is a time for “Army Strong” to mean what it says. And this is a time, to know that we are working, every moment, to ensure that their safety and security is met to the highest possible degree.

And with that I yield the microphones to the Chief of Staff of the Army.

Thank you Mr. Secretary. It’s been frankly an honor to accompany the Secretary to talk to the victims, their Families, and the care providers all around Fort Hood. I’ll tell you candidly this was a kick in the gut. Not only for the Fort Hood community but also for our entire Army. And the Secretary and I are here to ensure that Fort Hood has the resources they need to mount a sustained response. Because this is going to take awhile. And we want everyone here to know that the full resources of the Army and the Department of Defense are behind the men and women of the Fort Hood community.

I will tell you that across the Army in the last 24 hours, I’ve asked our leaders to come together behind the victims, their Families, and the Fort Hood community. I’ve asked them to examine their Force Protection measures, and to take appropriate action. I’ve asked them to keep their Soldiers informed, and not rush to judgment until the investigation is completed. And I’ve asked them to stay focused on their mission.

As I said, I have full confidence in the team here given the response that I’ve seen. And I have full confidence in the local community and the state and federal agencies that have fallen in here to help General Cone and to help the men and women here at Fort Hood.

Unfortunately over the past eight years, our Army has been no stranger to tragedy. But we are an Army that draws strength from adversity. And hearing the stories of courage and heroism that I heard today makes me proud to be a leader of this great Army.

I heard stories about medics, who were sitting in a graduation in a building next door, hearing the gunfire, and running to the sounds of the guns because they knew there would be wounded – in their caps and gowns.

I talked to a young private who was sitting in his pickup truck in the parking lot, who heard gunshots, went back after his buddies. And with the help of others, dragged four individuals – badly wounded individuals – into his pickup truck and drove them to the emergency room, saving their lives.

And I talked to numerous Soldiers who were wounded – giving First Aid to their fellow Soldiers. I’m very proud, not only of the men and women here at Fort Hood but of our whole Army. We take care of our own, we will grieve as a family, and we will maintain our focus on our missions around the world. And the Secretary and I would be happy to take your questions. I will tell you upfront that because of the on-going investigation, we will not be able to give particulars on the suspect or on the crime scene. So with that, (with) Mr. Secretary, we’ll take your questions.

Posted bylindykyzerinArmy NewsFort Hood, Fort Hood shooting, U.S. Army

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Marriage Index — A Revealing Look at the Nation

[This post is from Albert Mohler's blog.]

The Marriage Index — A Revealing Look at the Nation

Posted: Monday, November 02, 2009 at 2:14 pm ET

Why hasn't this been done before? That question comes immediately to mind in light of the release of "The Marriage Index," a project undertaken by the Institute for American Values in cooperation with the National Center for African American Marriages and Parenting. The Marriage Index is an instrument that, for the first time, offers a comprehensive view of the state of marriage in the nation.

Throughout most of the 20th century, economic policy has been informed by the "Leading Economic Index" calculated by The Conference Board. That index, designed to track economic trends and to warn of impending recession, utilizes ten components of data, ranging from the average weekly hours worked by manufacturing workers to the amount of new building permits for housing. Just about everyone -- including both government and the private sector -- utilizes the Leading Economic Index as an essential tool for evaluating the health of the economy and its future prospects.

Now, for the first time, The Marriage Index does for the health of marriage what the Leading Economic Index does for the health of the economy -- it provides essential data we ignore at our own peril.

The Marriage Index is a project of the Institute for American Values and the National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting. As their recently released report asks: "Why do we so carefully measure and widely publicize our leading economic indicators, and do everything we can to improve them, while rarely bothering to measure our leading marriage indicators, or try to do anything as a society to improve them?"

The availability of The Marriage Index as a means of assessing the health of marriage is a most welcome development.  As Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, comments, "It's a brilliant conceptual idea, long overdue. This is a GDP for marriage, a way to statistically sum up complex trends in a way that allows us to capture a core truth: Is marriage getting weaker or stronger?"

The Marriage Index is based on solid data and includes five major components: the percentage of adults ages 20-54 who were married, the percentage of married persons who are "very happy" with their marriage, the percentage of first marriages that are in tact, the percentage of births to married parents, and the percentage of children living with their own married parents.

The percentage of adults who are married is an obvious indicator of the health of marriage in society. The report considers this percentage among the population of adults who are most likely to be coupling and least likely to be widowed. This indicator is not encouraging. As the report reveals, "The trend in the last four decades suggests that many adults are less likely to find marriage an attractive choice. In 1970, 78.6 percent of adults age 20-54 were married. In 2008, it dropped to 57.2 percent."

"People still form relationships and still have children, but they are more likely to do so without marriage," the report summarizes. This trend is especially common among younger adults. These young adults have experienced a disillusionment about marriage due to the divorce rates of their own parents. They now "show a much more favorable attitude toward cohabitation than earlier generations."

The second indicator considers how many married persons report themselves to be "very happy" in their marriages. This measure of marital quality can be tracked through available data, and the trend is not positive. Though a clear majority of married Americans report their unions to be very happy, that figure has dropped from 67 percent to 62 percent in 40 years.

The marriage quality indicator is also important for children. As the report affirms, "when parents' marital relationship suffers, children also tend to suffer." The report also cites University of Texas sociologist Norval Glenn, who argues that the decline in marital happiness can be directly traced to the undermining of marital permanence by the availability of divorce.

The third indicator is the percentage of first marriages that are intact. In 1970, 77.4 percent of first marriages were intact, but only 61.2 percent were intact in 2007. There are signs that the percentage of intact first marriages may have actually increased in the last decade of this period, indicating that the divorce statistics are not inevitable. In other words, marital commitment can increase over time.

The percentage of births to married persons is the fourth major indicator. There has been a stunning increase in the percentage of children born to single parents or cohabiting couples. Today, only 60.3 percent of all babies were born to married couples, compared to 89.3 percent in 1970. Few statistics in social science reveal such a massive shift in the way human beings act and organize their lives. Marriage is the unique context in which children are most likely to flourish. Just one fact to keep in mind: Half of all children born to cohabiting couples see those unions end by age five.

The fifth indicator is the percentage of children living with their own married parents. "Marriage not only ensures that children are born into a stable family," the report argues, "it also intends that children are raised with their own biological or adoptive mother and father." The report cites family scholar David Popenoe, who stated, "Few propositions have more empirical support in the social sciences than this one: Compared to all other family forms, families headed by married, biological parents are best for children."

In contrast, children from divorced or single-parent families are more likely to drop out of school, to be unemployed, and to become teen mothers. Interestingly, recent research indicates that children raised in stepfamilies "look more like children of single parents and children being raised by their own married parents." In 1970, 68.7 percent of all children lived with their own mother and father. In 2007, that percentage had dropped to 61.0.

Taken as a composite, these leading marriage indicators reveal a score of 60.3 percent in 2008 -- a devastating drop from 76.2 percent in 1970. Clearly, the nation's marital health is in a free fall. This raises a frightening question: How low can these indicators fall and the society continue to survive?

The index of Leading Economic Indicators is understood to be a vital measure of America's health and future prospects. If anything, The Marriage Index should be understood to be even more important to the health and welfare of our society. How low can these indicators go and the nation survive? Let's pray we do not learn that answer the hard way.


Posted: Monday, November 02, 2009 at 2:14 pm ET