Gay marriage gets boost in 2 states …
Nine years after becoming the first state to permit civil unions, Vermont moved a step toward legalizing gay marriage Friday. A bill that would allow same-sex unions was introduced in the Legislature, causing a crowd of several hundred supporters to gather at the Statehouse in celebration. "This really is a great day and a part of moving forward to a time when all Vermont couples will be treated equally under our laws," said a sponsor, Rep. Mark Larson. The House legislation has 59 sponsors, none of them Republican, though some GOP lawmakers have said they will vote for the bill, Larson said. Despite the enthusiasm, it's un-clear if the measure will advance this session, with lawmakers preoccupied with the state's fiscal crisis. Also Friday, the Wyoming House killed a bill that would have allowed voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to deny state recognition of same-sex marriages.
… and gay divorce in New Jersey
Gay marriages performed in other states are recognized in New Jersey for the purpose of divorce, according to a ruling Friday by a state judge presiding over a case in which a lesbian couple married in Canada are seeking to split. Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson said New Jersey has a long history of recognizing marriages that are valid where they were performed. The women — La Kia Hammond of Trenton and Kinyati Hammond of New Castle, Del. — were married in British Columbia in 2004. About three years ago, La Kia left Kinyati and moved to Trenton. She says she is in love again and wants to marry before she dies. (She was found to have a terminal form of muscular dystrophy in 2005.) Her lawyer said she couldn't simply file for divorce in Canada because only residents can be granted divorces there. New Jersey allows civil unions.
Gates' powerful point invites jokes
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates probably didn't think this all the way through: He opened a jar of mosquitoes onstage to make a point about malaria prevention at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference Wednesday in Long Beach, Calif. "Malaria is spread by mosquitoes," the billionaire said. "I brought some here. I'll let them roam around. There's no reason only poor people should have the experience." Audience members including technology leaders laughed nervously as the insects swarmed across the auditorium. Then Gates assured them that the bugs were not carrying malaria. TED curator Chris Anderson reportedly quipped that the video of the talk posted at TED.com would be headlined "Gates releases more bugs into the world." Malaria kills more than 1 million people a year, mostly in Africa. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $1.4 billion to fight malaria and is backing a vaccine that could reduce deaths by more than two-thirds, Gates said. A blogger suggested that if Gates were serious about getting more funding for research, he should have really infected the well-heeled crowd at the invitation-only conference.
Trying to improve performance at work or write that novel? Maybe it's time to consider the color of your walls. If a new study is any guide, the color red can make people's work more accurate, and blue can make people more creative.
In the study, published by Science, researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted tests with 600 people to determine whether cognitive performance varied when people saw red or blue. Participants performed tasks with words or images displayed against red, blue or neutral backgrounds.
Red groups did better on tests of recall and attention to detail, like remembering words or checking spelling and punctuation. Blue groups did better on tests requiring imagination, like inventing creative uses for a brick or creating toys from shapes.
"If you're talking about wanting enhanced memory for something like proofreading skills, then a red color should be used," said Juliet Zhu, an assistant professor at the university, who conducted the study. But for "a brainstorming session for a new product," Zhu said, "you should get people into a blue room."
The study said nothing about mixing red and blue to make purple.
New York Times