Friday, September 28, 2007

Confess on the Web to ease guilty feelings

Overcome with guilt about a sordid affair or a secret facelift? A new interactive Web site is giving people an opportunity to anonymously confess their sins online.
Harlequin Enterprises, one of the world's largest publishers of romantic fiction, launched the site for people to post their guilty pleasures, and for others to peruse them.
It is also encouraging those who have confessed their indiscretions to take part in an interactive survey that will form the basis of its annual Romance Report which will be published in January.
"It really spawned from the reality shows and the talk shows and people opening up their lives and crying, not necessarily with the people they love but with strangers because it makes you feel better or it somehow cleanses you of your demons," said Marleah Stout, a spokeswoman for the company.
The Internet already offers a variety of confessional sites ranging from, launched by a U.S. evangelical network, to, a blog and art project in which people write their secrets on hand-made postcards.
But Stout said the site is more geared towards romance.

"Although sometimes shocking and unexpected, confessions are also extremely romantic, bringing us closer to the people we love by revealing ourselves to them," said Stout.
But Stout admitted the site is sure to draw plenty of cheating confessions and material that is much racier than most of the material in its romance novels.

The site,, is divided into eight sections -- one for each of the seven deadly sins and another for those hard-to-categorize indiscretions, secrets and fantasies.
Stout said the idea for the confessions site came after the Toronto-based company's highly-publicized casting call last spring for average men, not models, to pose for their book covers.
"It's all about real people and real feelings."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New anti-AIDS drug unveiled in US

Pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer unveiled a new anti-AIDS drug on Tuesday which could help HIV patients stay healthy for a longer period of time.

Selzentry is the first new class of oral HIV medicines to be introduced in more than 10 years, Pfizer said at an annual medical conference in Chicago.

After a 48-week trial, nearly three times as many patients receiving the drug combined with traditional medication recorded undetectable levels of HIV virus, compared with those just getting the normal treatments.

"The safety and durability of response seen with Selzentry in our study is reassuring. This drug is an important new weapon for clinicians who treat HIV," said Jacob Lalezari, director of Quest Clinical Research, at the University of California.

The US Food and Drug Administration in August approved the use of Selzentry, which is the first in a class of drugs called CCR5 antagonists. They prevent the virus from entering the body's T-cells, rather than fighting the virus once it is already infected the cells.

The drug does not however cure HIV infection or prevent it from being passed to another person, the company warned.
The side-effects are similar to those experienced with other anti-AIDS drugs, including nausea, fatigue, headaches and diarrhea.

Experts believe the eventual sales of the drug could generate 500 million dollars for Pfizer annually by 2011. The company is also seeking permission for worldwide sales.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Google is the real heart of Internet

Born 10 years ago, the Google Internet search engine has grown into the electronic center of human knowledge by indexing billions of web pages as well as images, books and videos. On September 15, 1997, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two 24 year-old Stanford University students, registered the domain name of "". The word is a variation of 'googol', which refers to the number 10 to the power of 100, a term popularised by US mathematician Edward Kasner. Page and Brin incorporated Google one year later, on September 7, 1998, in a household garage in northern California. News of Google spread largely thanks to the efficient way the search engine classified results through algorithms, and it quickly became one of the most used methods to find information on the Internet. From the beginning Page and Brin considered their role as global Internet researchers was crucial. "We thought research was really important," said Sergey in a recent interview. "The other search engines stopped research on search. They thought that 'if our search engine is only 85% as good as the next guy, it's good enough for us'." To search for Internet documents it is necessary to permanently contact each site and memorize its pages, a colossal task for the Google data bank, which is constantly renewed, allowing the users to search for key words. Google needs several weeks to troll the Internet and renew its data bank. Soon after its launch this search engine became a motor that "absorbed" web pages across the Internet, at a rate of billions per day. Google has become the most popular Internet search engine in the world outside of China, Japan and Russia, handling more than 500 million visits a day. In 2000 Google began to sell ads linked to key words. At the time, as the dot-com bubble was bursting and scores of web-based operations were declaring bankruptcy, Google was making a healthy profit. Google has expanded at a breakneck pace, and currently has some 13,700 employees. The company thrives on a culture of innovation: the best example is that it asks employees to dedicate 20% of their time to develop ideas for the company.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Many moms suffer similar nightmare

'It was like I lost the baby. I was convinced he was in the bed somewhere'

To 4 a.m. feedings, dawn patrol diaper changes and general kid crankiness, add another middle-of-the-night "joy" of motherhood for new moms: baby-related nightmares -- specifically, imagined horrors that the infant is lost somewhere in her bed.

A new study in the west suburban Westchester-based medical journal Sleep found almost three out of four new mothers suffer from infant-in-distress nightmares. Some 57 percent have the kind that lead researcher Tore Nielsen dubs BIB -- Baby in Bed.

One woman said she suffered from BIB nightmares -- scrambling through the sheets looking for her infant -- a dozen times in 20 days.

Nielsen, of the Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal, says the nightmares are a normal result of the pressures of new responsibilities, lack of sleep and hormonal changes.

Jessica Ashley of the Northwest Side Old Irving Park neighborhood, said she had BIB for 18 months to two years after her son Ethan was born.

"It was like I lost the baby. I was convinced he was in the bed somewhere," said Ashley, 35, a free-lance writer who blogs for Chicago Moms Blog.

Ashley discovered her grandmother also had BIB for 20 years. While her nightmares have stopped -- her son is now 3 years old -- she wonders if BIB might not be hereditary.

Catherine McNiel, 30, is a Glendale Heights mother who battled BIB.

"I just chalked it up to the constant vigilance that drives mothers -- from the minute you get pregnant, everything is pointed at caring for this child. Even when you're asleep your subconscious is still working," she said.

'Survival mechanisms'
Rosalind Cartwright, a dream researcher with the Sleep Disorders Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, says the nightmares may stem from the question, "Am I going to be an adequate mother?"

Such bad dreams can be "survival mechanisms" because they "help diffuse the anxiety for you," said Cartwright, who was not involved in the Canadian study.

In this case, discovering that the baby is not tangled in the covers reassures mothers that their worst nightmares are not real, said Cartwright.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

'Crucible' is one of the nice book

The 13th featured selection in "One Book, One Chicago," is "The Crucible," the Tony Award-winning play about the 17th Century Salem witch hunts and trials that Arthur Miller wrote to hold a mirror up to the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950's.

Fifty-four years later, the themes of mass hysteria, irrational fear and political persecution still ring true, Mayor Daley said.

"After 9/11, a lot of people have looked at the Muslim community, the Arab community in a completely different way and that's really unfortunate. Also, many people are looking at the immigrant community in a completely different way, which is really unfortunate. We can learn from our lessons in history-and maybe we haven't," Daley told a news conference Thursday at the Harold Washington Library.

Apparently referring to modern-day political witch hunts, Daley said, "In the electronic age, anyone can say anything. It's remarkable. You listen to radio and TV and read [Internet blogs] and they'll say anything without any justification. It's amazing. It's a completely different electronic age today. Home videos, everything. People say and do things. It's amazing what can take place. That's why we have to be very careful and review what's happening in America."

Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey called Miller's play a "stark series of questions about who owns truth, what is the meaning of justice and how do we, as a society, handle people who are different than we are."

"The Crucible" premiered in New York in 1953, during the height of the Red Scare. U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy was hunting down communists, black-listing people in show business and holding hearings in Congress to force people to come clean.

Miller was subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was charged with contempt of Congress when he refused to name names of colleagues who had participated in Communist activities.

The conviction was overturned the following year. Miller was not among those blacklisted. But, the ordeal had a deep and obvious impact.

"I reflect what my heart tells me from the society around me. We are living at a time when there is great uncertainty in this country. I am trying to delve to the bottom of this and come up with a positive answer, but I have to go to hell to meet the devil," Mller was quoted as saying in his testimony before the House committee.

Now, Chicagoans will make the literary trip to hell with Arthur Miller.

Not only that. They'll be able to see the play in action, thanks to a Sept. 13-through-Nov. 11 production by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where the mayor's daughter, Nora Daley Conroy, is board member. Steppenwolf actors will also conduct readings at branch libraries across the city.

Steppenwolf's 32nd season is centered around a cornerstone question: What does it mean to be an American? The Crucible will "provide the first lens through which" to answer that question, said David New, associate artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre.

"We're thrilled in this partnership to encourage the people of Chicago to read the story, yes. But, to deepen their engagement beyond the act of reading into conversation, into coming to the live performance, seeing the story vivified on stage, staying after the performance for a post-show conversation with fellow audience members.

"It's by deepening the engagement with the story and engaging in conversation that we'll together negotiate an interpretation of this tremendous story and begin to address some of the challenging questions this play raises, yes about the witch trial era of Salem, yes about the McCarthy era in the United States, but most importantly about how we live today," New said.

"The Crucible" is the second play to be featured in "One Book, One Chicago." The first play was Lorraine Hansberry's, "A Raisin in the Sun." Never before has a Chicago theater company performed the play in conjunction with the citywide celebration of reading.