News In Brief

UCI Bookstore Suffering Slightly from Poor Economy
Extensive lines of scholastic shoppers were shepherded by security personnel carrying a “Line Starts Here” signs on Monday and Tuesday at the UC Irvine Bookstore, indicating the beginning of strong winter sales.
Although the bookstore faced a slight slump in sales in October and November, director Michael Smith reported a strong December sale, which left their annual sales up 6 percent from 2007.
A successful June/July sale also helped compensate for lackluster autumn sales.
Compared to last year, the nature of student purchases has shifted slightly.
“On average, students are spending a little less on textbooks, less on clothing and supplies, and a little more on computers and electronics,” Smith said.
Smith attributes this shift to the deals students can get when buying their computers through the bookstore.
The Daily Trojan reported that the University of Southern California is facing a similar reduction in student purchases this year, citing football paraphernalia as a cushion to their falling textbook sales.
Although crowds buying books during week one mark a good start to the year, new developments in 2009 could test the bookstore’s success. Facebook plans to revamp their marketplace application in early 2009 by hiring Oodle. Facebook has struggled with its own marketplace application, which has only received tepid usage.

UCI Alumnus Dies After Six-Year Bout With Lou Gehrig’s Disease
UC Irvine alumnus Nick Scandone, 42, passed away Jan. 2 in Fountain Valley.
Scandone was a victim of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
As motor neurons die, the brain loses its ability to initiate and control muscle movement and renders the victims paralyzed. The disease results in respiratory failure within five years of diagnosis.
Six years after being diagnosed, and walking with the help of leg braces and a cane, Scandone went on to be the gold medalist at the 2008 Paralympic games in China. Earlier in 2005, he won the U.S. sailing’s 2005 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award and also earned the 2.4 metre world championship in Italy against able-bodied competitors.

Medical Director of UCI Center Debunks Holiday Myths
The British Medical Journal (BML) refuted many health-related myths in last month’s issue. Medical Director of the UC Irvine Senior Health Center Dr. Laura Mosqueda agrees that many of the often holiday-based myths are not related to medical beliefs or evidence at all.
Among others, the publication addresses the widely accepted belief that consumption of turkey causes drowsiness because it contains tryptophan, one of 20 standard amino acids, which is known to induce drowsiness. However, National Geographic affirms the finding that turkey does not contain enough levels of tryptophan to reach the brain and have a sedative affect. Chicken and minced beef apparently contain the same amounts of tryptophan as turkey and pork or cheese contain even more tryptophan than turkey. Thanksgiving dinner sleepiness is attributed to overeating in general, wine and high-protein and carbohydrate meals that also cause drowsiness.
The authors also tackle the myth that hair and fingernails continue growing after a person is deceased. It is in fact impossible for a dead body to continue the necessary hormone regulation needed to stimulate hair and nail growth. Dehydration of the body, however, causes the skin around the nails and hair to dry up and retract, thereby creating the optical illusion of growth.
Another common belief that was refuted is the idea of cell phones creating electromagnetic interference in hospitals, which has caused hospitals to ban the use of cell phones. The study found that no deaths were caused by the use of cell phones within hospitals, no false alarms were triggered and there were no incorrect medical readings.
Additionally, shaving does not cause hair to grow back faster, darker or thicker. Reading in dimly lit rooms, which causes strain, does not contribute to permanent eye damage. People do not use only 10 percent of their brains, and finally, individuals do not need to drink eight glasses of water a day.

Bureau of Labor Releases December Unemployment Statistics
The Bureau of Labor released its final monthly press release for 2008. Since the recession began in December of 2007, the population of unemployed persons has grown by 3.6 million and the unemployment rate has risen by 2.3 percentage points, up to 7.2 percent. The yearly loss of jobs was the worst since 1945.
The civilian labor force numbers 154,868 men and women who are either employed or unemployed. Of these, 45,202 have Bachelor’s degrees or higher, a clear majority compared to categories for some college or associate degree, high school graduate (no college) and those with less than a high school diploma, which included 12, 136 people. Those with bachelor’s degrees and higher suffered a 3.5 percent unemployment rate, while those with less than a high school diploma suffered an 11.7 percent unemployment rate.