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Start School Late To Get Ahead January 16, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle.
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The Early Bird Gets the Bad Grade – New York Times
Research shows that teenagers’ body clocks are set to a schedule that is different from that of younger children or adults. This prevents adolescents from dropping off until around 11 p.m., when they produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and waking up much before 8 a.m. when their bodies stop producing melatonin. The result is that the first class of the morning is often a waste, with as many as 28 percent of students falling asleep, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll. Some are so sleepy they don’t even show up, contributing to failure and dropout rates.

In 2002, high schools in Jessamine County in Kentucky pushed back the first bell to 8:40 a.m., from 7:30 a.m. Attendance immediately went up, as did scores on standardized tests, which have continued to rise each year. Districts in Virginia and Connecticut have achieved similar success. In Minneapolis and Edina, Minn., which instituted high school start times of 8:40 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. respectively in 1997, students’ grades rose slightly and lateness, behavioral problems and dropout rates decreased.

Feeding Frenzy January 15, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Enviroment, Sports.

As the Dorado (Mah-Mahi) & Swordfish feed, you can also see the Shearwaters diving in to grab a bite, in this amazing underwater photo that captures a feeding frenzy. Thanks to Darryl Edwards


3D Virtual “Rube Goldberg” Music Machines January 15, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, Music, Streamingvideo, Video.
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This incredible 3D computer animation was created by Wayne Lytle and his team at Animusic in Austin, Texas. No such machine exists in the real world. They sell DVDs of their musical work. Here is an example. Thanks to Roland Webster

Will The Real Mona Lisa Please Smile? January 14, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Art.
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German experts crack Mona Lisa smile | U.S. | Reuters
Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, has long been seen as the most likely model for the sixteenth-century painting.

But art historians have often wondered whether the smiling woman may actually have been da Vinci’s lover, his mother or the artist himself.

Now experts at the Heidelberg University library say dated notes scribbled in the margins of a book by its owner in October 1503 confirm once and for all that Lisa del Giocondo was indeed the model for one of the most famous portraits in the world.

Super Staph the New HIV? January 14, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, In The News, Lifestyle.

Drug-resistant staph found to be passed in gay sex | U.S. | Reuters
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is beginning to appear outside hospitals in San Francisco, Boston, New York and Los Angeles.

Sexually active gay men in San Francisco are 13 times more likely to be infected than their heterosexual neighbors, the researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable,” said Binh Diep, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study. “That’s why we’re trying to spread the message of prevention.”

Cell Phones Safe On Planes January 14, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Science & Technology.
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In Flight Cell Phone Ban Could Hurt U.S. Competitiveness, according to Freesky Research
Over the last year, close to a dozen airlines have announced plans to allow passengers to send text messages from their own cell phones. Passengers in Australia, France, Turkey, Ireland, Malaysia, India, and other countries are now using mobile devices in flight, or will be able to do so sometime in 2008. However, passengers in the United States will have to wait.

“Independent agencies have been testing mobile devices’ interference with cockpit communications and navigation equipment for the last five years. But with live systems now installed on passenger planes in a variety of countries, there is growing operational evidence that picocell-based systems can allow phones to be used in flight without harming a ground network or an aircraft’s avionics bus,” according to David Gross, author of two reports that have looked at the matter. “We know Wi-Fi is safe, particularly with some airlines using the technology internally to connect cabin security cameras to Electronic Flight Bags in the cockpit.”

Ethanol from Tires, Wood, Leaves… January 14, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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GM just announced an undisclosed investment in this company, so there must be something to it.
Coskata is a biology-based renewable energy company. Our technology enables the low-cost production of ethanol from a wide variety of input material including biomass, municipal solid waste and other carbonaceous material. Using proprietary microorganisms and patented bioreactor designs, we will produce ethanol for under US$1.00 per gallon.

Lost Qurans Found January 12, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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The Lost Archive – WSJ.com

Many Christians, too, dislike secular scholars boring into sacred texts, and dismiss challenges to certain Biblical passages. But most accept that the Bible was written by different people at different times, and that it took centuries of winnowing before the Christian canon was fixed in its current form. Muslims, by contrast, view the Quran as the literal word of God. Questioning the Quran “is like telling a Christian that Jesus was gay,” says Abdou Filali-Ansary, a Moroccan scholar.

And so the Wall Street Journal reveals how photos of ancient copies of the Quran have been quietly re-discovered in Germany and their threat to Islamofacist “Fundamentalism” doctrine. quran.jpg

On the night of April 24, 1944, British air force bombers hammered a former Jesuit college here housing the Bavarian Academy of Science. The 16th-century building crumpled in the inferno. Among the treasures lost, later lamented Anton Spitaler, an Arabic scholar at the academy, was a unique photo archive of ancient manuscripts of the Quran. (more…)

Ant In Tree Depends On Giraffe January 12, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Big mammals key to tree-ant team
At first it may seem counter-intuitive: that preventing large African herbivores from browsing Acacia trees decreases their growth.

Acacia trees provide ants with swollen thorns, which serve as nesting sites; and nectar, which the ants collect from the bases of Acacia leaves. In return for this investment, ants protect the tree from browsing mammals by aggressively swarming against anything that disturbs the tree.

The researchers disrupted this relationship by fencing off six plots of savanna land in Kenya by an 8,000-volt electric fence for 10 years. Herbivores, such as giraffes and elephants, were no longer able to feed on the trees, causing a change in plant-ant dynamic.

Due to lack of housing and food, the mutualistic ant species becomes less aggressive, its colony size decreases and it loses its competitive edge.

“The net result is a community-wide replacement of the ‘good’ mutualist ant by a decidedly ‘bad’ ant species that does not protect the trees from herbivores, and actually helps a wood-boring beetle to create tunnels throughout the main stem and branches of the acacia trees, which the bad ant then uses as nesting space,” Dr Palmer explains.

Trees occupied by this antagonist ant grow more slowly and experience double the death rate compared with trees occupied by the mutalistic ant. Thanks to EPIC for passing on this example of the Laws of Unintended Consequences

Baby Panda Sneeze January 10, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Streamingvideo, Video.
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My Grandson loved this one. When he was younger, he could watch it over and over and keep laughing. 

Why Al Queda Lost January 10, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Can the Anbar Strategy Work in Pakistan? (SWJ Blog)

Fascinating little history lesson on the 3 reasons why Bin Laden failed in Somalia & Iraq

Small Car Flood Coming January 10, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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Tata unveils the Nano, world’s cheapest car | Reuters

From Tata, India’s largest company -owner of Tetley Tea and soon-to-be of Jaguar and Land Rover, will come more pressure on oil prices & the environment, as it upgrades the 3rd world from 2 to 4 wheel transportation.
The 4-seater Nano, with an engine around 625cc, will have a dealer price of 100,000 rupees ($2,500) — about half the cost of the cheapest car on today’s market, a 25-year old model from rival Maruti Suzuki.

Global car makers — initially sceptical that Tata could produce such a low-cost car — are now scurrying to make their own versions to meet the needs of cost-conscious consumers in emerging economies such as China, India and Russia.

With just 8 people in 1,000 owning a car in India, there is huge potential to upgrade bike and scooter owners, who bought about 7 million two-wheelers in 2006/07. (more…)

Punk Capitalism January 8, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Books, Economy & Business, Enviroment, Lifestyle, Music.
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The Pirate’s Dilemma
As piracy continues to change the way we all use information, how should we respond? Do we fight pirates, or do we learn from them? Should piracy be treated as a problem, or a solution? To compete or not to compete – that is the question – that is the Pirate’s Dilemma, perhaps one of the most important economic and cultural conundrums of the 21st Century.

When European governments failed to accept commercial radio, pirates began broadcasting from international waters, he writes. When Beijing banned the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” as “socially unhealthy,” pirates sold millions of copies. And when Western pharmaceutical companies declined to slash prices on AIDS drugs in developing countries, generic makers like Cipla Ltd. stepped in.

Though he doesn’t condone all piracy, Mason argues that it “transforms the markets it operates in, changing the way distribution works and forcing companies to be more competitive and innovative.” Corporate leaders are gradually accepting this reality, he says, citing Apple Inc.: The way to stop piracy, Jobs has said, “is by competing with it.”

This is Dr. Adrian Bowyer, who alongside his team of engineers at the University of Bath in England, is working on a project called the RepRap; an open source 3-D printer – a self-replicating machine that will one day be able to print out all of its own parts.

It has been hailed as “the invention that will bring down global capitalism, start a second industrial revolution and save the environment.”

The Ignored War January 8, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News.
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the Congoy is six years into a brutal conflict, in which up to 4.7 million people have died–the highest number of fatalities in any conflict since World War II. Or that six countries–Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia–have been fighting proxy wars in the DRC, and helping to plunder the country’s tremendous mineral wealth to fill their coffers.

The commerce in these “blood” minerals, such as coltan, used in cell phones and laptops, cobalt, copper, gold, diamonds and uranium (Congolese uranium was used in the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki), drives the conflict. The brutality of the militias–the sexual slavery, transmission of HIV/AIDS through rape, cannibalism, slaughter and starvation, forced recruitment of child soldiers–has routinely been employed to secure access to mining sites or insure a supply of captive labor.

Today’s conflict profiteers are not the first to sponsor a campaign to ransack, rape, pillage and plunder in the Congo. A century ago, Belgium’s King Leopold II amassed a fabulous fortune this way. During the monarch’s genocidal reign of terror, when villagers couldn’t meet his impossibly high quotas harvesting rubber or mining ore, their hands were amputated and women were taken as slaves. By the time he was finished, an estimated 10 million Congolese, half the population, were dead. Thanks to Randy Marks -warning the article is graphic.

One Laptop Per Child Fatally Flawed? January 7, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics, Science & Technology.
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NussbaumOnDesign One Laptop Per Child Versus Intel–Who Speaks for India and China? – BusinessWeek
China and India together have almost 50% of the children in the world. I think the educational establishments in India, China, Nigeria and other nations are rejecting the olpc approach because they feel insulted and misused. One Indian professor told me recently in Bangalore that sure, India has a rote educational system that is the anti-thesis of experiential learning but it has brought 200 million out of poverty in a decade so what’s so wrong with that? And China has brought half a billion people out of poverty within a rote educational system.

In fact, as I think about it, if your economic advantage is efficiency–to do the same things again and again at lower costs– a rote education system may be the right one for you at this time in history. China does this through manufacturing low-cost goods for export and India does this through low-cost services for US, European and other Western global corporations.

Say what you will about Intel’s commercial actions, it’s approach to education in poor villages has been to work with teachers on the ground, training them and creating local curricula. Yes, I know olpc is doing some of that in Brazil, but it’s major thrust is to bypass teachers, not co-create with them. Intel’s success, if it has much, may well turn out to be that it embraces the local educational establishment in both its pedagogy and its business model, while olpc does the opposite.

The disaster at olpc has many lessons. One of the most important is that, despite good intentions, technology, design and innovation by themselves cannot solve problems if they ignore local culture and history. The XO laptop for the world’s poorest children is being rejected by India, China and Nigeria as yet another form of foreign Western colonialism. And it is.

Thousand-Hand Guanyin January 6, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Art, Streamingvideo, Video.
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All 21 of the Chinese dancers are complete deaf-mutes. Relying only on signals from trainers at the four corners of the stage, these extraordinary dancers deliver a 6 minute visual spectacle. Its first major international debut was in Athens at the closing ceremonies for the 2004 Paralympics.

The Most Hated Company In the PC Industry January 6, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, Economy & Business, Science & Technology.
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The Most Hated Company In the PC Industry
Taiwan’s Asustek — better known as ASUS — is one of the most interesting, innovative and fastest-growing companies in technology.

At its core, Asustek makes motherboards — more than any other company. Asustek motherboards are the heart of Sony’s PlayStation 2 consoles, Apple MacBooks, Alienware PCs, and some HP computers.

But that’s not why they’re hated. The source of ire is a tiny laptop called the ASUS Eee PC. This open, flexible, relatively powerful, and very small laptop is notable for one feature above all: Its price. The Eee PC can be had for as little as $299. (Go here to read the reviews — they’re all positive.) Thanks to Randy Marks, who sent us this link from his EeePC.

Scientists Use Sunlight to Make Fuel From CO2 January 4, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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Scientists Use Sunlight to Make Fuel From CO2
Sandia researcher Rich Diver checks out the solar furnace which will be the initial source of concentrated solar heat for converting carbon dioxide to fuel. Eventually parabolic dishes will provide the thermal energy.
Photo: Randy Montoya / Sandia National Laboratories

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico have found a way of using sunlight to recycle carbon dioxide and produce fuels like methanol or gasoline.

The Sunlight to Petrol, or S2P, project essentially reverses the combustion process, recovering the building blocks of hydrocarbons. They can then be used to synthesize liquid fuels like methanol or gasoline. Researchers said the technology already works and could help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, although large-scale implementation could be a decade or more away.

Dinosaurs Bugged To Death? January 3, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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Insect Attack May Have Finished Off Dinosaurs
“There are serious problems with the sudden impact theories of dinosaur extinction, not the least of which is that dinosaurs declined and disappeared over a period of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years,” said George Poinar Jr., a courtesy professor of zoology at Oregon State University. “That time frame is just not consistent with the effects of an asteroid impact. But competition with insects, emerging new diseases and the spread of flowering plants over very long periods of time is perfectly compatible with everything we know about dinosaur extinction.”

And the evidence for this emerging threat has been captured in almost lifelike-detail — many types of insects preserved in amber that date to the time when dinosaurs disappeared. Poinar said. “We found in the gut of one biting insect, preserved in amber from that era, the pathogen that causes leishmania — a serious disease still today, one that can infect both reptiles and humans. In another biting insect, we discovered organisms that cause malaria, a type that infects birds and lizards today.

Monster Bunnies Eaten by “Great Leader”? January 3, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Humor.

Kim Jong Il ate my rabbits for his birthday – Times Online
The 68-year-old breeder had been due to travel to North Korea after Easter to provide advice on setting up a rabbit farm. A North Korean official rang him last week to say that the trip had been cancelled. Mr Szmolinsky said he suspected that his rabbits, which grow to the size of dogs and can weigh over 10kg (22lb), were eaten at a birthday banquet for Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, although he emphasised that he had no evidence of this.

“It’s an assumption, not an assertion,” Mr Szmolinsky said. “But I don’t think the animals are alive anymore, I think they’ve been eaten.”

He added: “North Korea won’t be getting any more rabbits from me, they don’t even need to bother asking. I was looking forward to going on such a trip while I’m still fit enough.” (more…)

Two-Buck Huck January 3, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, philosophy & politics, Politics.
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Two-Buck Huck – Outposts – Op-Extra Columnist – Opinion – – New York Times Blog
Huckabee revels in the class war. He’s Two-Buck Huck, and darn proud of it. He likes nothing better than playing the Hick from Hope. He and his wife lived in a trailer for a while, he points out. His son killed a dog one summer, “a mangy dog” at that, as Huckabee explained to the befuddled national press corps. He said he used to eat squirrels, cooking them up in his popcorn popper. Ewwwwhhh!

And what’s up with that Chuck Norris shadow, following him everywhere like a late-night rerun? To the establishment, Norris is a B-lister with a bad hair dye and a ’70s-era karate shtick. They prefer Bruce Willis – bald Republican action hero.

Huckabee has been telling people in Iowa that Republican higher-ups would never let him become the nominee because he “has a hick last name.” Wow. I’d like to be in on that focus group.

“For my family, summer was never a verb,” he says. Take that, Mitt Romney and your perfect family, costumed in Ralph Lauren casual wear down by the shore. And this: “Wall Street types are afraid to death of a guy like me.” You mean, a guy who lost 110 pounds and cooks squirrels in his popcorn popper? Thanks for Caroline Collier pointing this out.

Food vs. Fuel January 2, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Enviroment, Politics.
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Robert J. Samuelson – Food vs. Fuel – washingtonpost.com
Since 1961, world population has increased 112 percent; meanwhile, global production is up 164 percent for grains and almost 700 percent for meats. We owe this mainly to better seed varieties, more fertilizer, more mechanization and better farm practices. Food in most developed countries is so plentiful and inexpensive that obesity — partly caused by overeating — is a major social problem.

Biofuels became politically fashionable because they combined benefits for farmers with popular causes: increasing energy “security”; curbing global warming. Unfortunately, the marriage is contrived. Not only are fuel savings meager, so are the environmental benefits. Substituting corn-based ethanol for gasoline results in little reduction in greenhouse gases. Indeed, the demand for biofuels encourages deforestation in developing countries; the New York Times recently reported the clearing of Indonesian forests to increase palm oil production for biofuel. Forests absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

This is not a case of unintended consequences. A new generation of “cellulosic” fuels (made from grasses, crop residue or wood chips) might deliver benefits, but the adverse effects of corn-based ethanol were widely anticipated. Government subsidies reflect the careless and cynical manipulation of worthy public goals for selfish ends. That the new farm bill may expand the ethanol mandates confirms an old lesson: Having embraced a giveaway, politicians cannot stop it, no matter how dubious.

How GMO Continues To Grow January 2, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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Monsanto: Winning the Ground War
While a vocal band of opponents is still protesting biotech crops, a growing multitude of farmers around the world is planting them. The reason is no mystery: Monsanto seeds contain genes that kill bugs and tolerate weed-killing pesticides. So they are much easier and cheaper to grow than traditional seeds. More than half the crops grown in the U.S., including nearly all the soybeans and 70% of the corn, are genetically modified. Just five years ago, China, India, and Brazil planted virtually no genetically engineered crops. Now Brazil can barely build roads fast enough to get all of its biotech soybeans from the fertile interior Mato Grosso state out to ports. Farmers in China and India, meanwhile, planted more than 17 million acres of biotech crops last year.

The battle over genetically modified food is being won not in scientific journals but on the ground. Global demand for food and fuel have made farmers ever eager to squeeze more yield from an acre of dirt. And the undeniable fact is that during the 12 years since the first biotech seeds were planted, the most dire predictions of Monsanto’s opponents have so far failed to come true.

Biggest Under-reported Story of the Year January 2, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics.
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The greatest media story of 2007 was the one you never read : The year was a strategic catastrophe for Islamist terrorists – and possibly a historic turning point in the struggle against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

That fundamental change in outlook, especially among Sunni Arabs, may well mark last year as Islamist terrorism’s high-water mark, the point at which fellow Muslims by the tens of millions publicly rejected the message and methods of self-styled holy warriors who revel in the slaughter of the innocent.
But 2007 may have been to the struggle against Islamofascism what 1943 was to the Second World War: the year in which it became clear that, no matter how long the war lasted, civilization’s enemies couldn’t win.

The lack of attention paid to the disaster that befell the terrorist cause – essentially acknowledged by Osama bin Laden’s “holiday” audio tape – is as if, in 1943, the Allied media hadn’t reported any Axis defeats.

Wine Bars Fad January 2, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Food, Lifestyle.
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Juliet Eilperin – Pouring In – washingtonpost.com
  The small-plates trend in restaurants has created an atmosphere more conducive to wine bars. Cyril Frechier, Northwest U.S. sales representative for the D.C.-based wine importer Robert Kacher Selections, said restaurant patrons increasingly are seeking out drinks that complement tapas and other small portions.

j0175561.jpgA number of factors account for wine bars’ growing popularity. Wine consumption has risen steadily in the United States over the past 15 years as wine production has expanded beyond Europe to Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and other countries, increasing the range of wine offerings while lowering the price. Americans drank an average of nearly 2.4 gallons of wine in 2006 compared with 1.85 gallons in 1991, according to the Wine Institute, a California-based trade association. Every state in the country now boasts at least one wine producer, providing American consumers more domestic choices as well. And while it’s hard to calculate the impact of the Oscar-winning 2004 movie “Sideways,” the indie film clearly encouraged American wine drinkers to think beyond chardonnay and merlot.

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