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Video: A Green Flash Over Italy January 29, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Enviroment, Science & Technology, Video.
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APOD: 2007 January 29 – Movie: A Green Flash Over Italy
Difficult to observe, the momentary green flash above the rising or setting sun has been documented as a phenomenon caused by the atmospheric bending or refraction of sunlight. Like a weak prism, the Earth’s atmosphere breaks white sunlight into colors, bending red colors slightly and green and blue colors through increasingly larger angles. When the sky is clear, a green flash just above the sun’s edge can sometimes be seen for a second or so, when the sun is close to a distant horizon. Still, from a site atop Mt. Autore (altitude 1,850 meters) in Italy astrophotographer Danilo Pivato captured this dramatic green flash movie. The time between frames varies from over one minute in the beginning to about one second as the flash becomes visible. Click on picture for movie. Also check out this other post about the elusive green Flash.

Did anyone tell the Amazon swimmer about the candirú? January 28, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, News, Sports.
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Did anyone tell the Amazon swimmer about the candirú? « piran café
In its preview of Slovenian marathon swimmer Martin Strel’s upcoming attempt to swim the entire length of the Amazon river, they left out the candirú, the Amazon’s most notorious fish, and the only known vertebrate to parasitize humans. It’s a fish that has no enemies, and is more feared than the piranha. Particularly by men who are foolhardy enough to urinate in the river while skinny-dipping. Attracted to the smell, Vandellia cirrhosa will follow the urine’s path, swim into the penis, and, with it’s umbrella-like spines, lodge itself inside the urethra. Removal is grim.

There even is a song about the experience. Click on the drawing to hear.

Listen to NPR coverage:

Swimmer Sets Off to Conquer the Amazon River

Evolution January 28, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Humor, Life, Technology.
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Evolution

Pork Producer Says It Plans to Give Pigs More Room January 26, 2007

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Pork Producer Says It Plans to Give Pigs More Room – New York Times
The processor, Smithfield Foods, which raises sows at 187 farms in eight states, said it would replace individual metal cages with pens where the sows would be housed in groups, allowing more mobility. Smithfield, which had revenue of $11.4 billion in 2006, raises 14 million hogs in the United States each year and processes 27 million hogs into pork products, for a 26 percent share of the market.

Animal welfare activists praised the move. “This is perhaps the most important moment in animal welfare in the agribusiness sector in 50 years,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.

The Humane Society and others have long criticized the use of gestation crates. The sows spend up to three years continuously reproducing — much of the time confined in stalls where they cannot turn around — before being slaughtered. Veal cows are confined to two-foot-wide crates for four months and then slaughtered. Hens spend about a year laying eggs in “battery cages” — where they do not have room to flap their wings — before they are slaughtered.

Don’t fall victim to the ‘Free Wi-Fi’ scam January 26, 2007

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Don’t fall victim to the ‘Free Wi-Fi’ scam
The next time you’re at an airport looking for a wireless hot spot, and you see one called “Free Wi-Fi” or a similar name, beware — you may end up being victimized by the latest hot-spot scam hitting airports across the country.

You could end up being the target of a “man in the middle” attack, in which a hacker is able to steal the information you send over the Internet, including usernames and passwords. And you could also have your files and identity stolen, end up with a spyware-infested PC and have your PC turned into a spam-spewing zombie. The attack could even leave your laptop open to hackers every time you turn it on, by allowing anyone to connect to it without your knowledge.

Security company Authentium Inc. has found dozens of ad hoc networks in Atlanta’s airport, New York’s LaGuardia, the West Palm Beach, Fla., airport and Chicago’s O’Hare. Internet users have reported finding them at LAX airport in Los Angeles. This article will teach you how to protect yourself.

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates With Hooter Girls January 25, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Cool photos, Humor, Technology.
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Warren Buffett and Bill Gates Say Cheese With Hooter Girls at Digital Inspiration
Bill and Warren at Hooters Hooters recently presented their VIP card to Bill Gates of Microsoft and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway. Now the duo can now walk inside any Hooters Restaurant worldwide to enjoy free food but they will still have to pay for the drinks.

Not sure if this free Hooter card will be of any use to these philanthropists but their group photo with the Hooters’ Waitresses is quite interesting. Especially compared to this picture of Bill Gates in 1978, just before Microsoft moved to Seattle.Urban Legends Reference Pages: Would You Have Invested?
In December 1978, Microsoft had just completed its first million-dollar sales year, and the decision was made to decamp from the company’s Albuquerque, New Mexico, headquarters and relocate to bigger and better digs in the Pacific Northwest state of Washington. The formal studio photograph displayed above was taken on 7 December 1978, shortly before that move, and captured all but a couple of the current Microsoft staff. While this picture has been around the Internet for awhile, snopes.com has the stories of what happened to those pictured. Just click on the link above this photo.

‘Cat owners at risk of bird flu’ January 24, 2007

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‘Cat owners at risk of bird flu’ | the Daily Mail
Cat owners are at a greater risk of catching bird flu as the deadly virus is most likely to mutate in felines, experts say. A study on cats in areas where outbreaks have occurred found that the virus is changing in felines more quickly than thought. It raises the chilling prospect that the disease could soon easily be spread from cats to people, leading to a human pandemic.


Magical Thinking: Why Do People Cling to Odd Rituals? January 24, 2007

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Magical Thinking: Why Do People Cling to Odd Rituals? – Psychology – The New York Times – New York Times
“The question is why do people create this illusion of magical power?” said the lead author, Emily Pronin, an assistant professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton. “I think in part it’s because we are constantly exposed to our own thoughts, they are most salient to us” — and thus we are likely to overestimate their connection to outside events.

The brain, moreover, has evolved to make snap judgments about causation, and will leap to conclusions well before logic can be applied.These activations occur so quickly, other researchers say, that they often link two events based on nothing more than coincidence: “I was just thinking about looking up my high school girlfriend when out of the blue she called me,” or, “The day after I began praying for a quick recovery, she emerged from the coma.”

For people who are generally uncertain of their own abilities, or slow to act because of feelings of inadequacy, this kind of thinking can be an antidote, a needed activator

Cuba Waiting game January 24, 2007

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FT.com / Arts & weekend / Magazine – Waitinggame

Good British insight into the changing face of the Miami Cuban experience.
Television reports on Cuban Miami traditionally take in Versailles, a 1950s-style Cuban restaurant on Calle Ocho, itself the imitation of an old restaurant on the island. Every time Castro is rumoured to be dead, historicos wearing the guayabera shirts popular in pre-revolutionary Cuba are interviewed outside Versailles’s coffee-window. But these old men are no longer representative: the exiles who arrived before 1980 now account for perhaps a third of Miami Cubans. Versailles might die with its customers.

Cuba is no longer the Cuba that the early exiles knew. One thing that has changed is skin colour: almost all the Cubans who left were white. “Always forgotten, and that’s a very key factor,” says Gomez. “Eighty-six per cent of the Cuban-American community is Caucasian. Sixty-two per cent of Cubans on Cuba are black. These are the guys who were promised the most by the Castro revolution.”

El exilio is dying and becoming a Miami tribe: just another American ethnic group with roots in a messed-up country and Americans for children. Fidel Castro can die knowing that just as he is falling victim to the “biological solution”, so is the generation he banished. Thanks to Sixto Labiste for this.

New TB Pandemic Fear January 22, 2007

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The dilemma of a deadly disease: patients may be forcibly detained | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited
More than 300 cases of the highly infectious disease, which is spread by airborne droplets and kills 98% of those infected within about two weeks, have been identified in South Africa.

But doctors believe there have been hundreds, possibly thousands, more and the numbers are growing among the millions of people with HIV, who are particularly vulnerable to the disease. Their fear is that patients with XDR-TB, told that there is little that can be done for them, will leave the isolation wards and go home to die. But while they are still walking around they risk spreading the infection.

Now a group of doctors has warned in a medical journal that if enforced isolation is not introduced XDR-TB could swamp South Africa and spread far beyond its borders. Regular TB is already the single largest killer of people with Aids in South Africa.

Jerome Amir Singh of the Centre for Aids Programme of Research in South Africa and two colleagues wrote in the peer-reviewed journal Public Library of Science Medicine that the government must overcome its understandable qualms over human rights in the interests of the majority. Without exceptional control measures, including enforced isolation, XDR-TB “could become a lethal global pandemic”, they say.

Virulent TB in South Africa May Imperil Millions

Blue Monday: The unhappiest day of the year January 22, 2007

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Blue Monday: The unhappiest day of the year | the Daily Mail
Dr Cliff Arnall, a Cardiff University psychologist, devised the formula that shows today is the most depressing.

His equation takes into account six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.

Taken together they pinpoint today as ‘Blue Monday’.

Controlled Chaos: European Cities Do Away with Traffic Signs January 21, 2007

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Controlled Chaos: European Cities Do Away with Traffic Signs – International – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News
European traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren — by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs.

A project implemented by the European Union is currently seeing seven cities and regions clear-cutting their forest of traffic signs. Ejby, in Denmark, is participating in the experiment, as are Ipswich in England and the Belgian town of Ostende.

In other words, it is only when the road is made less predictable and less certain that drivers will stop looking at signs and start looking at other people.

Recalling his first project, Monderman said, “When we do traditional traffic calming with speed bumps we typically expect about a 10% drop in speed. But with no disincentives, the speed was down by almost 50% – down from 57 km/h to under 30 km/h. I could not believe my eyes. All we had done was make a village look more like a village.” Thanks to Maria for this one.

15 million Workers with IQ 120+ January 21, 2007

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OpinionJournal – Extra
In professions screened for IQ by educational requirements–medicine, engineering, law, the sciences and academia–the great majority of people must, by the nature of the selection process, have IQs over 120, or about 15 million people in today’s labor force-. Evidence about who enters occupations where the screening is not directly linked to IQ indicates that people with IQs of 120 or higher also occupy large proportions of positions in the upper reaches of corporate America and the senior ranks of government. People in the top 10% of intelligence produce most of the books and newspaper articles we read and the television programs and movies we watch. They are the people in the laboratories and at workstations who invent our new pharmaceuticals, computer chips, software and every other form of advanced technology.

Experts Call Sharks Misunderstood Fish January 20, 2007

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Experts Call Sharks Misunderstood Fish | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited
Last year there were 86 known and suspected shark encounters, with seven confirmed deaths and the shark involvement in another two ocean fatalities uncertain, according to the Global Shark Attack File.

Meanwhile, about 100 million sharks and their close relatives are killed each year, either deliberately or as fishermen’s bycatch, according to the Shark Alliance, a five-month-old international coalition of advocacy and ocean recreation groups.

That would make for a fatality ratio of about 1 human to every 10 million sharks, some conservation advocates point out. Check out more of Chip’s Underwater Photos. This one is of a Bull Shark, They have more testosterone per body weight than any other creature on the planet and are responsible for a dis-ordinate amount of attacks on humans. The small fish are Remora or Sucker Fish, who are along for the ride.

Find the 100 Hidden MOVIES January 20, 2007

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and now… 100 MOVIES! on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Brooklyn “War of the Roses” January 20, 2007

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New York Daily News – Home – Drove her up the wall!
He slept like a baby. She tossed and turned.

That’s how the quarrelsome couple in Brooklyn’s “War of the Roses” spent their first night on opposite sides of a court-mandated wall dividing their home.

If the slab of Sheetrock was supposed to stop Simon and Chana Taub from fighting over the Borough Park house during their divorce case, they clearly need something thicker

Thumb-Print Banking Takes India January 19, 2007

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Wired News: Thumb-Print Banking Takes India
There are 35,000 non-biometric ATMs in India today. In three years the number of machines is expected to triple to more than 100,000. Officials hope the plan will bring billions of rupees currently being held in private hands into the banking mainstream, and that it might even shelter the country’s poor from the ravages of inflation, theft and widespread corruption.

For example, some believe e-banking will help eliminate several layers of middlemen who manage, and often siphon off, government-allocated funds earmarked for low-income workers.

Under the current system, money gets sent from the government coffers and passes through the desks of dozens of bureaucrats and private contractors. Each tends to take a cut along the way so the money that reaches workers is usually only a fraction of what was allocated. Electronic banking will eliminate the middlemen, and provide a real increase in rural wages

Mao was cruel – but also laid the ground for today’s China January 19, 2007

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Mao was cruel – but also laid the ground for today’s China | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
Few western critics today appreciate the scale of the task confronting any moderniser of China in 1949. Western economies created the surpluses to finance industrialisation through incredible exploitation – of their own working class, and in the US via slavery. It was never likely that China could achieve self-sustaining economic growth without great collective pain to achieve its own surpluses, or that this could be done without the involvement of the state. Spontaneous market-led industrialisation is a myth. (more…)

The Ideological Animal January 18, 2007

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Psychology Today: The Ideological Animal
We think our political stance is the product of reason, but we’re easily manipulated and surprisingly malleable. Our essential political self is more a stew of childhood temperament, education, and fear of death. Call it the 9/11 effect.

As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient. People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3. The reason for the difference, the Blocks hypothesized, was that insecure kids most needed the reassurance of tradition and authority, and they found it in conservative politics.

Will Al Gore Melt? January 18, 2007

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Will Al Gore Melt? – WSJ.com
In his movie he shows scary sequences of 20-feet flooding Florida, San Francisco, New York, Holland, Calcutta, Beijing and Shanghai. But were realistic levels not dramatic enough? The U.N. climate panel expects only a foot of sea-level rise over this century. Moreover, sea levels actually climbed that much over the past 150 years. Does Mr. Gore find it balanced to exaggerate the best scientific knowledge available by a factor of 20?

He considers Antarctica the canary in the mine, but again doesn’t tell the full story. He presents pictures from the 2% of Antarctica that is dramatically warming and ignores the 98% that has largely cooled over the past 35 years. The U.N. panel estimates that Antarctica will actually increase its snow mass this century. Similarly, Mr. Gore points to shrinking sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere, but don’t mention that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is increasing. Shouldn’t we hear those facts?

Study uncovers a lethal secret of 1918 influenza virus January 18, 2007

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Study uncovers a lethal secret of 1918 influenza virus « Biosingularity
In a study of non-human primates infected with the influenza virus that killed 50 million people in 1918, an international team of scientists has found a critical clue to how the virus killed so quickly and efficiently.

Importantly, the new work shows that infection with the virus prompted an immune response that seems to derail the body’s typical reaction to viral infection and instead unleashes an attack by the immune system on the lungs. As immune cells attack the respiratory system, the lungs fill with fluid and victims, in essence, drown.

The same excessive immune reaction is characteristic of the deadly complications of H5N1 avian influenza, the strain of bird flu present in Asia and which has claimed nearly 150 human lives but has not yet shown a capacity to spread easily among people.  BBC coverage

Old & new world birds don’t normally share flu.


Photo: Green Flash – Virgin Islands January 17, 2007

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  Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands Newspaper,
Daily News photographer Sean McCoy recently shot a series of images, taken from a West End beach on St. Croix as the sun was setting, and chanced to catch the phenomenon – a momentary flash of green that occurs just as the sun slips below the horizon.

More  Green Flash Photos.

An Introduction to Green Flashes

Foreigners Don’t Tip. January 17, 2007

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I WAS SERVED A FRENCH DI$$ IN N.Y. CAFE By JENNIFER FERMINO – New York Post Online Edition: Seven
A French-born Manhattan resident claims a trendy SoHo restaurant tacked a gratuity on his bill without telling him – then said it was to “protect” the waiters because foreigners don’t tip.

Everyone ordered their meals in accented English, then sat back and gabbed in their native tongue. They enjoyed a leisurely, two-hour meal, complete with a bottle of white wine, some raw-bar shellfish, four fish entrees and three side orders. The bill was $247.32 – including an 18 percent tip.

Audesson, a hair colorist at Pierre Michel, said when they asked the manager why the gratuitous gratuity was tacked on, he was told, “We do that because you’re foreign, and foreigners don’t tip.”

Photo: Saddam’s Cat January 17, 2007

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Why do they Spam Us? January 16, 2007

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O’Reilly Radar > Spamonomics 101
Spammers have to get out a high enough volume of spam that the small sliver of profit is greater than the cost of sending it.

These economics drive the patterns of spam we receive. Traditionally porn advertisements have the highest click-through rate, followed by pharmaceutical advertisements, though penny stock spam is gaining popularity. And the spam messages that aren’t advertisements, scams, or virus attacks, but just random strings of text? Ken Simpson comments, “Those messages are sent by spammers to poison the spam filters. When someone receives a message full of gibberish and reports it as spam, the spam filters tune themselves to recognize gibberish as spam—which reduces their overall accuracy.”

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