Dying for a better life: South Koreans fake their funerals for life lessons

SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean service is offering free funerals – but only to the living.

More than 25,000 people have participated in mass “living funeral” services at Hyowon Healing Center since it opened in 2012, hoping to improve their lives by simulating their deaths.

“Once you become conscious of death, and experience it, you undertake a new approach to life,” said 75-year-old Cho Jae-hee, who participated in a recent living funeral as part of a “dying well” program offered by her senior welfare center.

Dozens took part in the event, from teenagers to retirees, donning shrouds, taking funeral portraits, penning their last testaments, and lying in a closed coffin for around 10 minutes.

University student Choi Jin-kyu said his time in the coffin helped him realize that too often, he viewed others as competitors.

“When I was in the coffin, I wondered what use that is,” said the 28-year-old, adding that he plans to start his own business after graduation rather than attempting to enter a highly-competitive job market.

South Korea ranks 33 out of 40 countries surveyed in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index. Many younger South Koreans have high hopes for education and employment, which have been dashed by a cooling economy and rising joblessness.

“It is important to learn and prepare for death even at a young age,” said Professor Yu Eun-sil, a doctor at Asan Medical Center’s pathology department, who has written a book about death.

In 2016, South Korea’s suicide rate was 20.2 per 100,000 residents, almost double the global average of 10.53, according to the World Health Organization.

Funeral company Hyowon began offering the living funerals to help people appreciate their lives, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with family and friends, said Jeong Yong-mun, who heads the healing center.

Jeong said he is heartened when people reconcile at a relative’s funeral, but is saddened they wait that long.

“We don’t have forever,” he said. “That’s why I think this experience is so important – we can apologize and reconcile sooner and live the rest of our lives happily.”

Occasionally he has dissuaded those contemplating suicide.

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“I picked out those people who have asked themselves whether … they can actually commit suicide, and I reversed their decision,” Jeong said.

The message of personal value resounded with Choi.

“I want to let people know that they matter, and that someone else would be so sad if they were gone,” he said, wiping away tears. “Happiness is in the present.”

Reporting by Daewoung Kim and Youngseo Choi. Writing by Minwoo Park. Editing by Josh Smith and Karishma Singh

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Swimming Lessons a Must for Everyone

SUNDAY, July 14, 2019 — Swimming lessons can lower the risk of drowning, but black kids often miss out on learning this lifesaving skill, a leading pediatricians group says.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to learn to swim,” said Dr. Kyle Yasuda, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“This is an essential life skill for children, teens and adults. It’s an important part of the ‘layers of protection’ that families and communities can put in place to protect children and teens around water,” Yasuda said in an AAP news release.

Not everyone has the same access to swimming lessons. Historically, black Americans have faced barriers to learning to swim, and black teen boys have the highest drowning risk of any age group, according to the academy.

Rates of drowning among children aged 11 to 12 are 10 times higher for black kids than for whites, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Dr. Nia Heard-Garris, “This is a problem we can solve.” She is chair of the AAP Section on Minority Health, Equity and Inclusion.

“Some communities have created innovative solutions to provide free or low-cost swim lessons, and others have developed culturally sensitive lessons, and lessons for children with developmental disabilities or special health care needs. All children should have access to these potentially lifesaving skills,” Heard-Garris said.

In 2017, nearly 1,000 children in the United States died of drowning, the leading cause of injury-related death among children aged 1 to 4.

Overall, black children have the highest drowning fatality rates, followed by American Indian/Alaskan natives, whites, Asian American/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.

Dr. Benjamin Hoffman is chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence & Poison Prevention. He said, “Drowning is fast, silent, and can happen even when it is not swim time. It happens to real families, families with good, attentive parents who never thought it could happen to them. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have many layers of protection to prevent drowning.”

Along with learning to swim, those layers of protection include close and constant supervision of children when they’re in and around water, pool fencing, learning CPR, and wearing life jackets when in open water or on watercraft, the AAP says.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on drowning prevention.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Lessons Learned from the Debacle in Ohio

Issue 3, the marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in Ohio this past Tuesday, was surprisingly unpopular with the voters, and lost the vote by 65 percent to 35 percent. It was an old-fashioned ass kicking – a drubbing that came despite polls indicating a slim majority of the public in Ohio favored legalizing marijuana.

That dramatic difference between the generic support for the concept of marijuana legalization, and the far lower support for the provisions contained in Issue 3, lead to a number of conclusions.

First, it suggests that unlimited amounts of money may not be the magic bullet for enacting legalization in a traditionally conservative state. Obviously a fat wallet makes it possible to collect the signatures to qualify he proposal for the ballot, and to hire campaign workers to canvas eligible voters door-to-door, to encourage their support. But in the end, if specific provisions of the proposal are unpopular, money alone cannot overcome substantive weaknesses.

Investor Driven Initiatives

Clearly the fact that this initiative was investor driven, and would have enriched those who put up the money for the initiative, raised serious issues that were likely fatal to this initiative. Even many who favored marijuana legalization were unwilling to support this version, because of the oligopoly of commercial growers that would have been established for the state, assuring financial rewards for decades to come for those who were rich enough be part of the investment team.

In the run-up to the election in Ohio, the opposition focused far less on an argument that legalization was bad public policy that would somehow harm residents of the state (the traditional arguments favored by opponents to legalization), and far more on the fact that the small group of investors were guaranteed to get rich. There was significant opposition to allowing this small group of people to use the voter initiative process for such obvious self-enrichment.

Voter initiatives were a creation of the Progressive era, a method for average citizens to adopt public policy change without the involvement of the elected legislature, and the public perceived this effort in Ohio as a perversion of the voter initiative process. And they refused to permit that to occur, even though a slim majority supported the basic change that was being proposed.

No one, except that small group of investors, liked the self-serving provisions contained in the language of the proposal, and even those of us who endorsed the proposal, because we felt it would stop the arrest of marijuana smokers years earlier that would likely happen if the change has to come through the state legislature, did so with strong reservations about that part of the proposal.

NORML begrudgingly endorsed the initiative, because we are a single-issue organization and the proposal did contain the basic changes we have been fighting for, for more than four decades. But we underscored our dislike for the self-enrichment terms in the language, and said we did not consider it a model that should be considered by other states.

But clearly a majority of the voters in Ohio put a higher priority on opposing those troublesome economic provisions, and were willing to continue prohibition rather than permit this attempt to pervert the initiative process to succeed. Whether this same conclusion will be shared by voters in other states is uncertain, but it surely should cause would-be investors hoping to cash-in in other states to proceed cautiously.

Some Problems Were Self-Inflicted

And frankly, some of the problems leading to this result had to do with the seemingly cluelessness of Ian James and the others at Responsible Ohio, who were in charge of the campaign. When opponents began to focus on the economic interests of the initiative funders, the sponsors attempted to sell what was an obvious liability as the price one had to pay to move the marijuana issue out of the hands of hippies and the counter-culture, and into the political mainstream. They insulted those who had worked long and hard to move public policy towards legalization for decades, and suggested they were doing us all a favor by agreeing to embrace our basic political goal of legalization, for a price.

Similarly, apparently unaware of the traditional low voter turnout by young voters in non-presidential election years – the strongest group of supporters for legalization — Responsible Ohio chose to run their initiative in 2015, rather than waiting for 2016 (as proponents have done in California, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Maine and Massachusetts). Again, instead of learning from the many marijuana initiatives that have occurred in this country going back to 1996, this gang who could not shoot straight claimed they preferred to run it in 2015, because of the usual low voter turnout, thinking their money could somehow invigorate the youth vote and they could sneak in a victory while the older voters were not paying attention. Talk about arrogance and hubris. These guys make Donald Trump seem humble!

A further example of their cluelessness was their use of a colorfully decorated bus and a silly mascot named “Buddy” – a sort of superhero with a big marijuana bud for the head – in a state-wide tour, as their primary tactic for getting the youth vote energized and excited about the upcoming chance to legalize marijuana.

Apparently they had never heard of “Joe Camel”, the cartoon camel that was used for years by big tobacco as a device to entice young Americans to try tobacco smoking, where once addicted, they would be tobacco customers for life, although that life would likely be cut short because of their use of tobacco. Following the discovery by Congressional investigators of documentation proving that was the intent of spending huge amounts of money to publicize Joe Camel, the tobacco companies were finally publicly shamed into ending the campaign and retiring Joe Camel.

But when confronted by NORML and others for their eerily similar use of “Buddy,” James and the Responsible Ohio campaign ignored our warnings that many Americans, even those who favor marijuana legalization, remain concerned about the risk that legalization might somehow lead to an increase in adolescent marijuana smoking, and that they were setting themselves up as an easy target by long-time opponents of legalization (which, of course, came almost instantly). James actually insisted that their “Buddy” campaign was popular, was gaining them great press exposure, and the campaign continued all across the state, right up to the election.

Again, the arrogance of this group was amazing, and their failure to understand the caution that is required when dealing with the marijuana issue, as contrasted to many other issues of public policy, was astounding.

It is impossible, without exit polling (and I doubt Responsible Ohio will share their exit polling, assuming they even made the effort to find out why opponents voted the way they did) to know which of these several tactical and strategic blunders was primarily accountable for their embarrassing defeat. My personal belief is the economic self-enrichment was the major flaw in the campaign, but the decision to mount the effort in an off-year election clearly contributed to their defeat (the youth vote turnout was low), as did their use of “Buddy” with a tin ear to the likelihood it would appear they were appealing to adolescents.

Responsible Ohio had this plan to legalize marijuana and get rich at the same time, and they were simply not interested in learning from the past, or even consulting with others who had far more experience in running marijuana-related initiatives.

As a result, only James came out ahead, as he was allegedly paid more than $ 4 million dollars to run the ill-fated campaign. And even James may well learn to rue the day he took on this badly conceived campaign, as he is a professional who has made his reputation running more traditional campaigns, and it is difficult to imagine that his reputation will not suffer from this unnecessary debacle. Issue 3 will forever be a case study for how NOT to run a marijuana initiative.

But the real losers are the marijuana smokers in Ohio, who will continue to be arrested for years to come – nearly 20,000 each year — when a better drafted and more professionally run campaign could have ended prohibition and stopped the marijuana arrests.


Year 1 of Legal Marijuana: Lessons Learned in CO

By R. Scott Rappold
WebMD Health News

Nov. 6, 2014 — When the first legal sales of recreational marijuana in modern history began Jan. 1 in Colorado, it was a bold experiment fraught with unknowns.

Would kids get easy access to the drug? Would stoned drivers make the highways more dangerous? Would drug addiction problems increase?

While there isn’t enough data yet to answer some of those questions, one thing is clear: There is a rising tide of public support for marijuana legalization in America. Voters in Washington State approved it in 2012, and earlier this week, voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., approved legalizing recreational marijuana. 

Some of the lessons being learned in the Rocky Mountains could be instrumental in other states, as public health officials figure out how to regulate a drug that has been illegal for 8 decades.

Commercialization of Marijuana

Even before the first recreational stores opened in 2014, marijuana storefronts were a presence in most Colorado communities.

Since 2009, a loosening of regulations led to a growing medical marijuana industry, in which residents who received a doctor’s recommendation and applied for a state license could walk in and buy marijuana. There are today nearly 500 such dispensaries in Colorado.

Since Jan. 1, another 212 recreational stores have opened. In these stores, state residents 21 and over can buy up to an ounce of pot at a time. Out-of-state residents can buy a quarter-ounce. While some cities, including Colorado Springs, have banned the stores, in the Denver and Boulder areas and most resort towns, marijuana is visible and available.

Not everyone is happy about that. The mainstreaming of marijuana led Gina Carbone to co-found Smart Colorado, which calls for stricter regulations on the marijuana industry.

“What we’ve seen in the roll-out of this is the mass commercialization and the mass marketing of marijuana,” Carbone says.

“The more stores you have around, the more visibility, the more normalized it becomes, the greater the youth use is, because the perception of harm at the same time is plummeting,” she says.

Carbone would’ve preferred for Colorado to have followed the Washington model, where the number of marijuana stores are limited. Seattle, for example, will have just 21 stores.

Marijuana Edibles

When an adult comes to the University of Colorado Hospital complaining about ingesting too much marijuana, the symptoms are usually anxiety, nausea, or vomiting, but it’s not life-threatening unless associated with another substance or an injury. 

But when a child comes in, emergency department head Richard Zane, MD, has observed instances of a breathing problem called respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.

Since legalization, he has seen a sharp increase in such cases, and he points the finger at edibles infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

WebMD Health

Music Lessons May Help Bridge ‘Achievement Gap’

WEDNESDAY Sept. 3, 2014, 2014 — A community music program for disadvantaged children boosted an important part of their brain development and function, according to a new study.

The benefits were seen in the youngsters’ ability to distinguish similar speech sounds, a process associated with language and reading skills, the researchers said.

The researchers also found that it took two years of music instruction for this enhancement to occur. One year of music training wasn’t enough to trigger changes in the brain, according to the study published Sept. 2 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

“This research demonstrates that community music programs can literally ‘remodel’ children’s brains in a way that improves sound processing, which could lead to better learning and language skills,” lead author Nina Kraus, a professor of communication sciences and of neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern University, said in a university news release.

The study included children aged 6 to 9 enrolled in the Harmony Project, which provides free music lessons to disadvantaged children in Los Angeles. While researchers observed a link between music lessons and brain development, the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

“These findings are a testament that it’s a mistake to think of music education as a quick fix, but that if it’s an ongoing part of children’s education, making music can have a profound and lifelong impact on listening and learning,” said Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

The results provide evidence of the benefits of long-term music lessons for children, according to Harmony Project founder Margaret Martin.

“Thanks to this finding, sustained music training is now an evidence-based method for closing the achievement gap between poor kids and their more advantaged peers,” she said in the news release.

More information

Neuroscience for Kids has more about music and the brain.

Posted: September 2014

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Top 5 Lessons the Next Mass Effect Can Take from ME3 Multiplayer

Lesson 1: if MP is not as good as battle field or counter strike or battle front or whatever don’t bother….. I don’t need last minute lame MP….

Lesson 2- Don’t ever force players to play MP in order to advance in SP and vis versa … EVER

Lesson 3- Don’t bite more than you can chew, if you cant deliver 20+ AMAZING endings (like you said) just make 3 good ones

Lesson 4- Don’t try to be “artistic” in game-play and missions we want boss fights, star-ships shooting stuff and explosions and robots and all the video game-y stuff, you can go all matrix on us during dialog and story…..

Lesson 5- Don’t make games that had boss fights EVERYWHERE end with a conversation… EVER

Gamespot’s Site Mashup

EA’s Star Wars game better learn the right lessons from Batman

Every genre needs its Arkham City. South Park got it recently, as did The Walking Dead, but its the Caped Crusader that stands at the top of AAA action games, earning untold number of honors. Both Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City achieved a rare level of recognition for any game regardless of origin, and EA now hopes to replicate that success in its upcoming Star Wars games. I hope the publisher can actually meet that admirable goal, because many gamemakers have missed the crucial details of Arkham’s singular achievement in licensed gaming.

It’s laudable that EA CEO Andrew Wilson wants their Star Wars game to replicate Batman’s “interactive experience that had real ties to what you would see in the films and what you had read in the comics, while having its own life because it could provide such deep and more immersive storylines.” Sadly, similar tie-in adventures have eyed the same prize and came up short. Middling titles like Captain America, TMNT: Out of the Shadows, and The Amazing Spider-Man all clearly followed the Arkham example, but failed in the end. Why was that? And how can EA avoid that with its upcoming Star Wars releases?

A large reason for so many other licensed games failing to match Arkham’s quality comes down to resources. Speaking as a spectator that played so many Bat-wannabes, it was painful to see promising titles get hamstrung by a lack of time or money. 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man showed potential, but meeting a hard deadline of the film’s release likely contributed to it being half-baked. Meanwhile, TMNT: Out of the Shadows had the makings of an iconic turtles adventure, but a downloadable release means a budget that’s likely a small fraction of Arkham City’s, so it too disappointed.

EA’s Star Wars game at least has time on its side, because the EA CEO used the same interview to make it clear their upcoming Star Wars titles aren’t based on 2015’s Episode VII. With the upcoming game freed from an impending release date, that hopefully means the developers will get the time they need, but will they get the money? EA certainly has the cash to pay for a triple-A experience like Arkham City, but I have my doubts that it will have that big a bankroll.

Thing is, it’s not in EA’s best interest to invest in Star Wars as much as they would in Battlefield or The Sims. EA owns those brands, while Star Wars is only theirs for as long as its deal with Disney lasts. If EA’s Star Wars games win scads of awards and honors, that’s good for the publisher in the short term, but that ultimately builds up the portfolio of a company that isn’t Electronic Arts. That economic truth is why most licensed games suck. Warner Bros. Interactive both publishes and owns the Batman franchise, so it has actual monetary incentive to build up the franchise. Does this mean we’ll only see truly great Star Wars and Marvel Comics games when Disney handles development themselves?

Then again, EA’s history with the Star Wars brand makes it appear possible it’ll break this troubling trend. The company spent a ton of money on The Old Republic MMO, on top of spending big money of sports franchises like UFC, FIFA, and Madden. Perhaps it knows it needs to invest heavily just to buck player expectations of a middling Star Wars game. If it’s successful, there’s no reason that Disney wouldn’t renew that contract–or, hell, maybe they’ll just buy EA. They do that stuff a lot nowadays, and I don’t think EA would turn that down. Meanwhile, LucasArts reached for greatness with Force Unleashed and definitely came up short.

History like that gives me more hope that EA’s desire for “deeper and more immersive storylines,” will pay off better than most of its competitors licensed schlock. Otherwise, I fear that the best gamers can hope for is the damning praise of “good for a movie game.” Until developers are ready to give up the resources needed for true action greatness, Batman will remain in a class of his own.

GamesRadar – Xbox News

Start Heart-Healthy Lessons in Childhood, Expert Says

SUNDAY Feb. 16, 2014, 2014 — Teaching your children about heart health will pay dividends in their older years, a heart expert says.

Youngsters with heart-healthy behaviors are less likely to develop heart disease later in life, said Dr. Susan Haynes, an assistant professor in the cardiology division at Saint Louis University.

That’s a message that bears repeating during February, which is designated American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading killer of American women and men.

Before they have a child, couples should talk to their doctor about any family history of heart disease, she said.

“It’s good to be proactive about knowing your family risks, making healthy choices, maintaining a good weight, lowering cholesterol and controlling blood pressure, which will keep your heart healthy,” Haynes said in a university news release. “Have a conversation about the possible risk factors with your pediatrician or even obstetrician before the child is born.”

Getting children to be heart healthy begins with boosting their physical-activity levels and limiting the time they spend in front of the TV or computer, she said.

“Kids between ages 2 and 5 should have no more than one to two hours of screen time a day,” Haynes said. Young children who are physically active are more likely to continue being active as they grow older, she said.

Set a good example for your children by not smoking, Haynes said. Children of smokers are twice as likely to become smokers, according to research.

“If there’s smoking in the household, kids will anticipate that it’s a normal environment and adopt the habits,” Haynes said. “It’s a good idea for parents to quit smoking before the child is born.”

An infant’s diet can have a significant influence on heart-healthy eating habits later in life. When a child begins to drink cow’s milk, be sure to check the percentage of fat in the milk that would be suitable for the child. This can be based on family risk factors and the child’s usual diet, Haynes said.

She also said infants should not be given more than 4 ounces of 100 percent juice a day. Make sure the juice has no preservatives or added sugar, she said.

More information

The American Heart Association outlines how to help kids develop healthy habits.

Posted: February 2014

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Five Lessons From Massachusetts About Obamacare Rollout

Oct. 10, 2013 — A lot of the Affordable Care Act supporters point to Massachusetts as proof that signing up the uninsured is a big, but doable task. Here, in 2013, that’s a reasonable conclusion. 

But back in 2007 and 2008 things were a lot messier, and some advocates for universal coverage were worried. 

Here’s why: 

1) It looked like the state had, by a lot, underestimated the number of people who would be eligible for free and subsidized coverage. (In 2006, the estimate was 140,000. By April 2008, the estimate rose to 225,000, based on early sign-ups. Enrollment plateaued at 177,000 in 2009.

2) A dramatic increase in first enrollment put a strain on doctors and health care services at every level. When the “Connector” opened for business in late 2006, people signed up much faster than projected. Within a year there were 367,000 newly insured citizens.

3) Patients, many of whom had not had insurance for years, had a lot of problems they hadn’t taken care of and were seeking more tests, surgery and other treatment that drove up costs. 

4) State budget watchers started to panic. The governor’s office kept going back to the Legislature to ask for more money and a few top lawmakers began to question whether the state could afford to fund the coverage law. 

5) Employers saw an increase in workers who, to avoid the individual mandate penalty, signed up for their employer’s coverage, which increased employers’ outlays for health insurance. 

Of course we don’t know if people who’ve gone without insurance around the country will behave like the newly insured in Massachusetts. There are lots of reasons why Massachusetts residents are different.  They see a doctor more often, for example, than do residents of most other states.

Today, despite rising costs, the state’s effort to cover the uninsured is pretty stable – 97 percent of the state’s 6.6 million people have it. It’s the highest coverage rate of anywhere in America.

If there’s a lesson from Massachusetts as the rest of the country starts enrolling the uninsured, it’s this: Be prepared for a rush of sick, or at least not completely healthy, people. Healthy folks will sign up later, when the individual mandate kicks in, and hopefully balance out the costs. But any estimates about how many people are eligible and how much care they have been waiting to get may not hold true.

NPR correspondent Dick Knox contributed to this story, which is part of a collaboration that includes NPR, Kaiser Health News and WBUR.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

WebMD Health

Lessons From The Obamacare Data Dump

This week the Department of Health and Human Services released a ton of information about how insurance sold in 36 states under the Affordable Care Act will work. Most of it came in the form of data showing the number of carriers and their premium prices in hundreds of regions.

Until now we’ve seen information on subsidized policies to be sold through online marketplaces released in trickles by states that are creating their own online portals.

The federal data covers states that dumped all or part of the work of building the marketplaces on the feds. It’s the biggest chunk of information so far available, even though many critical pieces — the identity of the insurers, the structure of the benefits, the networks of the hospitals and doctors — won’t be known until next week. That’s when the online portals in every state are scheduled to start selling subsidized insurance made available by the ACA to those who aren’t otherwise covered.

The Obama administration boasted that the average premiums came out lower than projected by the Congressional Budget Office. Opponents of the ACA countered that many people buying through the exchanges, especially younger, healthier consumers, may pay substantially more than what they pay now.

But those were only the headlines. Here’s what else the data show:

— Competition equals lower prices. In regions with only one insurance company selling through the subsidized exchange, the average monthly premium for a 21-year-old buying the lowest cost bronze policy is $ 186, before any subsidies are applied. In regions with 10 or more rival carriers, the average cost is $ 132 or less.

In the exchanges’ metal rating system, bronze plans are the least expensive category, covering 60 percent of medical costs on average after you pay the premium.

— The number of insurance companies selling through the subsidized marketplace varies hugely from one area to another. In many parts of West Virginia, Arkansas and Alabama, only one company is selling policies to individuals and families through the subsidized exchange. (Insurers may also offer policies outside the exchange.)

In New Hampshire only one insurer will sell through the exchange in the entire state. In the Detroit region, on the other hand, 11 carriers will sell subsidized policies. In Phoenix, 10 will.

— The number of available plans, another indicator of choice, also varies. Residents of Oviedo, in eastern Florida, will have 181 polices offered by six insurers to pick from. In Oshkosh, Wis., consumers can choose from 181 plans sold by eight companies. But only seven policies from one insurer will be available in most parts of Alabama. St. Louis residents can pick from 23 policies offered by two insurers.

— There is a paucity of platinum plans. Under the metal ratings, platinum policies are the most expensive. They cover 90 percent of average medical expenses after you pay the premium.

WebMD Health

Childhood Music Lessons May Create Better Listeners

WEDNESDAY Aug. 22, 2012 — Adults who studied music during childhood have an improved ability to process sounds and are better listeners, according to a new study.

Northwestern University researchers who looked at 45 adults found that compared to those with no musical training during childhood, those with even a few years of musical training as children had enhanced brain responses to complex sounds. Most in the study had begun music lessons at about age 9.

This made them more effective at hearing the fundamental frequency, the study found. This is the lowest frequency in sound and is crucial for speech and music perception, and enables recognition of sounds in complex and noisy hearing settings.

“Thus, musical training as children makes better listeners later in life,” Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology, physiology and communication sciences, said in a university news release.

“Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning,” she added.

The participants were divided into three groups: those with no musical training, those with one to five years of lessons, and those with six to 11 years.

Many children take music lessons for a few years, but few continue with formal music instruction beyond middle or high school.

“We help address a question on every parent’s mind: ‘Will my child benefit if she plays music for a short while but then quits training?'” Kraus said.

The study was published in the Aug. 22 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

While the research showed an association between musical training and better listening skills, it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Music Therapy Association talks about other benefits of music.

Posted: August 2012

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NBA Jam Learns its Lessons, Returns This Fall


NBA Jam‘s revival last year didn’t work out exactly as EA Sports had planned. It was intended to arrive as a retail game for Wii and as a downloadable extra with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of NBA Elite 11. When that game was canned, EA decided to release retail versions of Jam for 360 and PS3 (pictured above). It lacked certain key features — including online roster updates — that were unforgivable. EA seems to have learned its lesson and will be releasing NBA Jam: On Fire Edition as a downloadable title on 360 and PS3 this fall.

“EA Sports continues to support this iconic franchise through a new digital download and we’re taking everything fans loved about the original and adding a host of new features,” said producer Trey Smith. “We’ve listened to all of the feedback from our fans and we are driven to deliver the very best NBA Jam experience to date.”

In addition to improved AI, online roster updates will be a part of the game this time around — a much appreciated addition, but it’s something that could turn out to be a moot point if the NBA ends up in a lengthy lockout. On Fire Edition will also include “more NBA superstars, legendary NBA players, over-the-top animations, Jam challenges, secret teams, and unlockable characters than ever before.” Jam Arena (a competitive online mode), Road Trip (an online co-op campaign), and a return of Tag Mode and Team Fire are promised as well.


NGP Hardware Influenced by PS3 Pricing Lessons


The NGP looks to be a pretty nice piece of hardware for a handheld gaming system, just as the PSP was. The PS3, too, was a cutting-edge device when it was released, except it faced a serious issue in its early years: An incredibly high price tag. Sony claims it’s learned its lesson from that experience and is tempering the NGP’s hardware to ensure that it can be launched within an acceptable price range.

“I can’t talk about a definitive price at this stage,” said SCEI’s senior VP of product development, Shuhei Yoshida, in an interview with Edge. “But since the very beginning we had a target in mind. So, when considering various features, we always had our price range in mind.

“There were elements that we found pretty cool, but had to set aside to remain on target. It’s a big lesson we learnt from the PS3. There’s no point putting everything you want into a device and doing the math later. We always had the price and consumer in mind. We had to sell something that people could buy.”


Lessons learned from asthma therapy

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