Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The bane that is Internet: Drugs online

Perhaps another one technology that has become both a blessing and a curse is internet: being a mine for online marketers, legally, that is, the internet is now a big mine of gold for illegal online marketers - they not only take your money away from you with both eyes wide open - they do so with your "willingness and open participation"!

And with parents not at home, the supposedly 'safe abode' is easily penetrated and invaded by predators - all through the thin wire (literally) of internet.

Parents, beware.

With the internet wide open through our computers portal, no home is safe.

Read on...

Keeping Your Child from Internet Drugs

James D. Zirin,

The drug culture of the fabled 1960s has now assumed a stark, contemporary reality. At the top of The New York Times Best-Sellers List this week is Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, a sadly typical tale of a father's "struggles with his son's meth addiction."

Nic Sheff's drug problems began at age 12, when his father found a bag of marijuana in his backpack. In high school, Nic, who has also just published a book about his addiction, learned to shoot up by studying a diagram on the Internet. By age 17, Nic was hooked on crystal meth; he fell into a decade-long boiling cauldron of substance abuse where he almost died. The account is sobering.
Slideshow: Keeping Your Child from Internet Drugs
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Slideshow: Top 10 Solutions for Educating Our Children

Although data shows the use of hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin has trailed off in recent years, the abuse of prescription drugs, particularly by children, and many freely available online, has soared. According to the National Institute of Health, 20% of Americans have used prescription drugs for recreational purposes.

The number of Americans involved in abuse of controlled prescription substances has more than doubled over the past decade or so, to nearly 17 million. Teenagers abusing prescription drugs number around 2.7 million, according to the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA).

CASA reports that more than half the nation's 12-to-17 year olds are at greater risk of substance abuse because of high stress, frequent boredom, too much spending money, or some catastrophic combination thereof.Abuse among college students is estimated at 20%, and not much is being done about it.

"It's time to get the 'high' out of higher education," declares CASA Chairman and Founder Joseph A. Califano Jr.

The trend toward early substance abuse is a cause for special concern. Young teens often start off with prescription drugs such as pain killers, tranquilizers and sedatives to relax, cope with stress or reduce inhibitions. They then graduate to alcohol abuse and even illicit drugs. It is beyond controversy that early abuse of any addictive substance spikes the chances of long-term dependence.

Studies conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America show that 40% of American adults believe it is safe to take prescription drugs without a prescription. Why else would doctors prescribe them?

The problem is intensified by the widespread availability of drugs on the Internet. As every Web surfer knows, rogue Web sites are proliferating, along with their offerings of opiates, stimulants, downers, uppers and performance enhancers carefully crafted to appeal to the youngest and most vulnerable.

"The easy availability of addictive opioids, depressants and stimulants on the net has, for many children, made the Internet a greater threat than the illegal street drug dealer," says Califano.

One need not actively surf the Web to find these sites. Many of them solicit, via spam e-mails that invite the consumer to buy prescription drugs without a prescription. If you didn't get an e-mail, a Google search for "opiates but no prescription" produces over a million hits for sites, many of them offshore, offering controlled substances delivered to your door in a plain wrapper. All you need is a credit card.

The dangers of Internet-transmitted substance abuse are not limited to Web sites selling the substances. Recipes and "how-to" instructions abound. A savvy teenager can readily find on the net manuals for how to grow marijuana, get high on household goods and mix dangerous drinks such as Purple Haze, a potent alcoholic concoction named after a song written by Jimi Hendrix and performed by Britney Spears. Hendrix died in London of a drug overdose. And we don't need to tell you about Britney Spears.

The problem illustrates the dangers lurking within a free Internet. While normally, our preference is for less, rather than more, government regulation, some legislation may be necessary in this case. First, we need laws requiring all ISPs--any organization that provides Internet access--to screen out illegal content, or content soliciting an illegal transaction, once they are notified of its existence.

Google routinely removes specified pages from its search results, mainly because of claimed trademark or copyright infringement. Why can't it remove rogue drug Web sites? Or at least provide stern and familiar warnings as to the consequences of illegal abuse?

This effort will also require the cooperation of financial intermediaries such as PayPal and credit card companies. Without access to credit card payment, illegal drug dealers are out of business.

Of course, neither legislation and regulation nor more vigorous law enforcement provide the complete answer. The most effective approach is to stamp out demand--it is far more effective to kill the message than the messenger or the intermediary. Parents are key here. Warning ads at sites where drugs are purchased could also be quite effective. Nothing could be more important than talking to children early and often about drugs and how dangerous substance abuse is.

And nothing could be more poignant than a parent's story of a child who lost his or her life to drugs. The recent tragic deaths of Daniel Smith, the 20-year-old son of Anna Nicole Smith (herself the victim of an overdose), and Academy Award winner Heath Ledger, at age 28, are but two examples of the horrific consequences of substance abuse. Nic Sheff is one of the lucky ones--he is still alive.

From; source article is below:Keeping Your Child from Internet Drugs

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

When Help How To results in Help How Not To

Light Amongst The Shadows: How to Help Those You Care for When Suicide Occurs [VHS]I love this one!

I remember years ago when my instructor in assembly language pointed out that one article on how to detect and combat computer viruses produced a contrary result: it instead taught how to create viruses - the very thing that it attempted to destroy.

However, this one thing that is freely available in the web - I kinda endorse sites like this: a would-be suicidal person looks for 'how-to' on carrying out the suicide, but finds help instead. Now that's something!

Read on...

'Suicide' Internet search turns up 'how to' advice: study

PARIS - People searching the Internet for information about suicide methods are more likely to find sites encouraging suicide than those offering help or support, according to a study released Friday.

Researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Oxford and Manchester found that nearly half of websites showing up in queries of the four top search engines gave "how to" advice on taking one's own life.

Only 13 percent, by contrast, focused on suicide prevention or offered support, while another 12 percent actively discouraged suicide.

Previous studies have shown that media reporting of suicide and its portrayal on television influence suicidal behaviour, particularly the choice of method used, but little is known about the impact of the Internet.

Aftershock: Help, Hope and Healing in the Wake of SuicideThe study, published in the British Medical Journal, replicated a typical search that might be undertaken by a person looking for instructions and information about methods of suicide.

The same set of search terms were fed into Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask.

The researchers then analysed the first ten sites from each search, giving a total of 480 hits.

Just under half of the sites provided some information about methods of suicide, while almost a fifth were for dedicated suicide sites, half of them actively encouraging, promoting, or facilitating the taking of one's life.

Overall, Google and Yahoo retrieved the highest number of dedicated suicide sites, whereas MSN had the highest number of prevention or support sites and academic or policy sites.

Surviving Suicide: Help to Heal Your Heart--Life Stories from Those Left BehindIn addition, the three most frequently occurring sites were all pro-suicide, while the information site Wikipedia was fourth.

"How to" sites are not illegal in most countries, and are not often caught by search engine filters. - AFP/fa

From; source article is below:'Suicide' Internet search turns up 'how to' advice: study

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Save Money By Your Arts And Crafts Style

Small wooden sculpture depicting a Native Amer...Image via Wikipedia
Talking about arts and crafts, kids are a natural. Why? Because they feel no shame in doing what they want to do, and in expressing themselves.

Why do we lose this reckless abandon as we grow older?

It's a shame, I think. Anyway, here's some tips to keep that 'child in you' alive, especially if you are now a parent and have real kids to 'play with'.

Read on...

Figure Out Your Arts And Crafts Style To Save Money!
By Melissa Hash Platinum Quality Author

When you are trying to live a more frugal life and you enjoy being creative then it is important to set up a craft budget. Crafts and supplies can be very expensive but by learning your personal arts and crafts style you can better distribute your craft allowance.

Craft or Art?

Many who do crafts believe that they are an art form and some who produce art call it their craft. Generally, a work is considered a craft when there is a set of rules you follow and when others follow those rules they end up with a similar product. Art is more distinctive. If you give a group of people each a lump of clay the end products may look nothing alike.

Scratch Magic Deluxe KitThis may not help you know where to place your money but it will help narrow down what your arts and crafts style is. Also, do not be surprised if you enjoy doing a little (or a lot!) of both crafts and art.

One style or multiple styles?

Some people only do one arts and crafts. They may only cross-stitch or only draw. Most people who are creative have many outlets in which they enjoy creating things. If you have only one creative interest then it is very easy to decide what craft to put your money towards but what if you quilt, paint, knit, decoupage, cross-stitch and whatever else you come across?

If you have multiple craft and art interests then you have to be even more cognizant of how much money you are spending. What arts and crafts style do you enjoy doing the most? Can you narrow your interests down to one or two that you do more often than the others? Your craft budget can be allocated to allow more for that one craft you enjoy the most. You can then allocate a portion of your craft budget to projects that you complete only when you can find cheap craft supplies.

Make Your Own Cards by Made By HandsHow much do the arts and crafts supplies cost?

If you do not have a large arts and crafts budget then you may have to choose your creative outlet based on how much cash you have to work with while you save for bigger purchases. If you cannot afford a sewing machine then instead of hand sewing large quilts perhaps you could make some pillows instead and while it may not be as comfortable as painting on a sturdy easel you can spread an old sheet on the floor and paint away.

Selling your work

If you believe that others would like to buy what you are making then you may be looking into ways to sell your work. This can be very expensive, such as the costs associated with producing a large quantity of work and renting a booth at an arts and crafts fair, or hard to break into, such as selling your work in an art gallery. It is also important to realize your arts and crafts style so that you know where to try and sell your work. A contemporary painter or sculptor may not do very well at an arts and crafts fair while you do not tend to find crocheted afghans in galleries.

Alex Toys Paper Plate Bugs, Alex Little Hands Art SeriesIf you are looking to see if there is a market for your work then you might try starting on a smaller scale. or are excellent ways for you to sell your product. You can produce only one or two items and try to sell them before spending the money to make large quantities.

By asking yourself these questions you can get a better idea of your arts and crafts style which can help you when you make up your arts and crafts budget.

Article Supplied By: M. Kaye Hash, Co-owner and photographer of the nature photography and Eco-friendly gifts and family living articles website She is a contributing editor and co-webmaster at Melissa has a degree in Art History from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has been writing and taking pictures since she was young. Melissa is also an avid animal lover and she raises four dogs of her own while being creative in as many ways as possible.

Article Directory: EzineArticles

Alex Super Art Table with Paper Roll and Two BenchesLifted from Ezine article directoy with the same title:
Figure Out Your Arts And Crafts Style To Save Money!

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Poor driving or poor manners?

This is one of those areas where the difference in the sexes is highlighted or played down. Man or woman, anger is a problem. And road rage? Even more a deadly expression... errhh... I won't say that again. It is something that shouldn't be expressed while on ramming machine speeding at 100kmph.

Time for some diversion.

Read on...


Women are calmer drivers? Not when I'm behind the wheel
Road rage is just as much a problem for mums as it is for dads

by Erin Baker
The Daily Telegraph
"Calm down," I mutter, as I ease my car between the bus lane and the fat SUV that's trying to force me into it.

"Calm down," I repeat, as the traffic light turns green but I can't move because there's an idiot in a van blocking the junction.

"Calm down!" I shriek, as another idiot in a BMW, who knows he's in the wrong lane but reckons he can carve me up, edges forward.

Invariably, the mantra wears a bit thin about half an hour into my morning commute.

By the time I arrive at work, my blood is fairly fizzing. You see, I'm not very good at handling road rage.

Road Rage: Own the Road with Defensive DrivingJust ask my mother - she's still sweating from the time we had to drive at speed around the supermarket car park, slaloming through the trolleys to escape a large and surprisingly fleet-footed man whom I had called a "bloody idiot" for honking at her when she tried to reverse into a space.

So, I find it hard to believe that women are statistically less likely to succumb to road rage than men.

However, a survey this week of children aged between five and 16 found more than half think they have a calmer, safer journey when their mother is driving.

Fathers are accused of being more aggressive and driving too fast.

This, despite the fact that seven out of 10 children said their mothers were more likely to stall the car when pulling away from a junction, and 64 per cent claimed that reverse parking was beyond Mummy's capabilities. Ouch.

Most of the children questioned about road rage won't realise that low speed doesn't always equate to safety (few adults seem to get this point, either).

Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway WarfareIt might feel safer to have Mummy sing a song with you while pottering down the road at 40kmh in a 60kmh zone, but Daddy's more aggressive progress could be more appropriate for the road conditions. That's why it's female drivers who incite my road rage more than male ones.

At least men know they're carving you up. Women, generally, have no idea of the chaos they're leaving behind.

It's not that we're less intelligent than men - and we're certainly more capable of multi-tasking. It seems we just can't be bothered.

Take that puerile "Baby on Board" sticker, for example.

You know the one: It makes you want to jump out at the lights, knock on the window and say: "I was about to ram your car from behind, but thank goodness I saw the sticker."

How many men would display that sign?

The Simpsons Road RageThere's a difference, too, when it comes to how we exhibit our road rage.

Mothers aren't any calmer behind the wheel than fathers - they're simply more subtle. Instead of shouting and swearing, we silently seethe, and enact our revenge in more elegant ways (unless you're my friend Jo, whose child's first words, picked up after months of her driving, were "****ing moron").

Instead of shouting at Mr Carve-You-Up, a canny woman will beat him away from the lights, thus forcing him to drop in behind, then briefly slow down to make her point.

She will inch up alongside the SUV that is hogging her space because the driver has no lane discipline, thus alarming him/her into shifting back into the right lane.

Far more satisfying than a list of expletives.

Given that road rage affects both sexes - but in rather different ways - the real cause for concern should be the behaviour that incites it.

Why We Feel Road Rage And Why It's Your Fault!As a spokesman from the breakdown coverage company that carried out the survey said: "Kids exposed to poor driving could ... copy this action when they start to drive themselves."

That's "poor driving", not "poor manners".

Road hogs take note.

Lifted from TODAY, Commentary - Friday, 30-April-2010
Women are calmer drivers? Not when I'm behind the wheel

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ready to be a Parent?

Well, here is one article from one of the dailies that tells, or rather, narrates, what it is to be a parent. We went through an ordeal of raising a family about 8 years ago, when my wife gave birth to our third daughter, while the eldest was yet a mere 3-year old girl, and our second girl was just a 2-year old baby.

Admittedly, those past 8 years were tough times for us, my wife especially. We can only look back now.

And I am writing this post today, which means WE SURVIVED! WE MADE IT!

Are you ready to be a parent?
It's not quite the same as having kids, you know

Are you ready to be a parent?
RECENTLY, my son has been bugging my wife for a baby sister. And a kitten. I won't go into detail, suffice it to say that he has read Peter Mayle's Where Did I Come From and realised that daddy and mummy can produce one if they put their bodies together. A baby sister, that is - not the kitten.

When my wife told me about it, I had a look that said, "Oh no, not again!" Followed by nervous tick, hyperventilation and subsequent passing out. Just kidding.

It's not that I don't like children, I do. But it takes time to adjust. And I was just getting used to having kids around the house. I still get surprised when I come home and see two kids running around.

I jest, of course. There's no way you can live in my house and not know that there are two other guys living there. For one thing, their playroom always resembles a scene from 2012, complete with carnage.

Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your CoolAnyway, back to parenthood: Some people take to it like a duck to water, some people just ... duck. It's understandable. Having a child is easy: Impregnate wife, wait 40 weeks or so and, voila, a child is born.

But when you become a parent, life really isn't the same any more. For instance, there's no staying out late or sleeping in (unless you count waking up at 7am as "sleeping in"), there's no swearing whenever the kids are within earshot, and I can't even take a dump without one of them kicking on the toilet door going: "Daddy, what are you doing? What? What? Are you passing motion? What, daddy, what? Tell me!"

Of course, you can prepare for parenthood. Before my first son was born, I actually borrowed books from the library on the subject - okay, my wife borrowed those books - but I realised that those books left out some pertinent information.

Parenting With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition)Gina Ford, for example recommended having a routine for your child: When to wake, eat, sleep, etc. She didn't say how one should deal with the screaming match when they refused to sleep on cue.

Dr Ferber said let your child cry themselves to sleep. Didn't add "only if you want your house to resemble Guantanamo Bay's prison cells during torture time - and you're the prisoner".

But here's the funny thing: I can tell you that being a parent is one of the best things to happen to me. I'm probably looking at life through rose-coloured glasses, but nothing can describe that melt-your-heart feeling when your child smiles at you - heck, just looks at you - for the first time.

Nothing compares to the joy you feel when you see the proud satisfaction in his face as he completes a shapes puzzle for the first time. And when he hugs you and says: "Daddy, I love you." It's indescribable.

Playful ParentingJust the other day, my son broke a glass bottle on the kitchen floor. Of course, I was grumbling as I cleaned up the mess, but then I looked at my son who, teary-eyed and lips quivering said: "Daddy, I'm sorry, please don't be angry." And all that grumbling just dissipated.

I have never known the likes of this before. It's like every little thing they do is magic and it's a kind of magic that leaves you with the feeling that everything is beautiful in its own way. And what a feeling it is.

It makes you want to have another child immediately. Just kidding, wifey.

The writer is a senior reporter at TODAY.

Grace-Based ParentingTaken from TODAY, Kids - Monday, 26-April-2010

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Monday, April 12, 2010

All that junk you can't dump

The story as told below almost applies to me, and I was simply collecting things, and while doing it, I would always muse to myself that 'this thing' has some use in the future.

Well, almost always, about 1% - 5% really is having some use afterwards. And what better way to be able to throw out what isn't needed than to have a spouse who is always on the lookout for 'keeping and throwing' things?

We have moved from a 3-room to a 5-room flat, and I'm always thinking when she goes on to her 'spring-cleaning' spree, we already have 'some space' to spare, so what's all the fuss now?

Turned out that our 'extra space' is really some extra space, and is not intended to be a storage for junk. So now, I'm also on the lookout now and then, so I don't 'contribute' to the trash build up.

Not to say that I don't have any 'collectibles' in the store room, but it is now down to minimum. Anytime you want to go in the storage, you can. And what you would find are usable and functional items.

I remember what one manager told about last time. A spare can of paint, if you want to store, you mark with a date. Put in a 'date of expiry'. The next time you visit the storage, check it out. If still not used by that time, then, though painful from the idea of 'separation and wastage', as is usually the internal battle that ensues in the mind, get on with it.

The satisfaction and freedom from doing so will have more beneficial effects later on.

For the news article, read the story below.

Feel free to leave a comment.

TODAYonline | Health | All that junk you can't dump

Blogged with the Flock Browser
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Friday, February 26, 2010



SYDNEY - A Malaysian consular employee was stabbed to death in a "ferocious attack" outside his Sydney home in a suspected road rage incident, officials said yesterday.

The 43-year-old man, who worked as a driver for the Malaysian consul-general, was beaten and stabbed in inner-city Leichhardt by two men late on Sunday despite an attempted intervention by a female passer-by.

"It was a ferocious attack, there's no doubt about that," said Detective Inspector Shane Woolbank.

The authorities said they were examining whether the attack stemmed from a road rage incident moments earlier involving a dark-coloured sedan, the police said.

Malaysian Consul-General Mohd Nasir Abu Hassan said the victim, a Malaysian who had recently become an Australian citizen, had worked as a driver for the consulate for three years.

"This is a very stressful time for all of us at the consulate," he told reporters.

"We got on very well with him and we were shocked when we heard this tragic news." AFP

From TODAY, Tuesday, 23-Feb-2010



FUNCHAL (Madeira) - Portugal was expected to announce three days of mourning after flash flooding on the island of Madeira killed at least 42 people.

Troops and other rescue workers on Sunday continued to dig through mud-filled houses to find those missing. "It is very probable that we will find more bodies," said Mayor Miguel Albuquerque.

A shopping centre in Funchal was also completely destroyed and firefighters feared there were people trapped in an underground parking lot which was still under water. The government rushed medical and rescue teams including divers and sniffer dogs and relief supplies to the Atlantic island.

A special Cabinet meeting was to be held yesterday to discuss the period for mourning as well as financial aid to rebuild Madeira's destroyed roads and bridges. The regional government says it has no estimate yet of its financial needs.

Madeira's social issues affairs secretary Francisco Ramos told reporters the disruption to phone lines had made it difficult to establish how many people needed to be rescued because many of them just could not be contacted.

A morgue has been set up at the airport, where local official said they had not yet been able to identify all the bodies.

Football star Cristiano Ronaldo, Madeira's most famous native, expressed shock and promised help for relief efforts. "It is a huge catastrophe," said the world's most expensive footballer, who was born in a poor district of Funchal.

Britain said a British national was among those who died on Saturday when torrents of muddy water swamped buildings and streets on the island. It was the first confirmed death of a foreign national in the disaster. AFP

From TODAY, Tuesday, 23-Feb-2010


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KL Skyline At Night in HDRImage via Wikipedia


KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia is considering allowing refugees to work while awaiting resettlement abroad, a report said yesterday, after an industry group said the measure could help ease a labour shortage.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told The Star newspaper he would discuss the proposal with the foreign ministry and foreign embassies. "The suggestion might work but we need to look at it from all angles," he said.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman agreed, saying: "We have to study this in detail. It will benefit the country if refugees with certain expertise are allowed to work while they are here."

The United Nations refugee agency said there are almost 80,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia, most of whom fled persecution in Myanmar. Its spokesperson told AFP the agency was ready to support the initiative: "We believe that this is in the long-term humanitarian, economic and security interest of Malaysia, and consistent with Malaysia's own humanitarian tradition in helping those in need."

Ms Florida Sandanasamy, an official with local refugee rights group Tenaganita, also welcomed the work proposal as a first "small step".

Several groups, including the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, have called on the government to allow refugees to work, particularly in labour-strapped sectors, instead of importing more foreign workers. The country depends heavily on foreign labour in industries such as construction, manufacturing and farming.

Earlier this month, Malaysia announced it planned to issue ID cards to refugees - in a first move toward recognising them and sparing them from being arrested with other illegals. Agencies

From TODAY, Tuesday, 23-Feb-2010

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