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Lightning’s Secrets Revealed March 31, 2008

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Researchers unravel mystery of lightning diversity | NetworkWorld.com Community
For example, most people don’t see lightning see lightning strikes that go from clouds to the ground, but some lightning goes upward, forming blue jets and gigantic jets. Perhaps the most dangerous lightning appears as “bolts from the blue” – lightning that begins upward, but then moves sideways and then downward to hit the ground as much as three miles from a thunderstorm.

About 90% of lightning occurs inside clouds and is not visible to the casual observer, researchers said. (more…)

Understanding China’s Capitalism March 31, 2008

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Barnett: China’s capitalism isn’t so foreign : Columnists : Knoxville News Sentinel
As usual tom Barnett can step back with the long view over our near-term fear of China. Western powers today fear that China’s stunning rise signals a real challenge to the notion that economic growth triggers democracy. While I understand such fears, let me tell you why they’re unfounded: China’s economy increasingly mirrors our own.

As business academics William Baumol, Robert Litan and Carl Schramm argue in their 2007 book, “Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism,” there are basically four types of capitalism operating today. (more…)

No Swearing in “Hells’ Kitchen” March 31, 2008

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Ramsay vows to forswear bad language after he gets the brush-off from Australia – This Britain, UK – The Independent
Ramsay cut his teeth in the late 1980s, working with the famously irascible Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s in south London, until he tired of “the rages and the bullying and violence”. His first sighting by the British TV audience was in a fly-on-the-wall documentary called Boiling Point, in which his startlingly colourful language made him an overnight celebrity. Since then, he has capitalised on his potty mouth, giving his TV series the ambiguous title of The F-Word (the other word being Food.) Even his last book was confusingly titled *** Chef.

Assistant chefs and waiters will face disciplinary one-on-one “exercise” sessions with Ramsay, and diners will be fined £5 (or $11 or €7), for any outbreak of effing, blinding or c-word in public. Four years ago, Ramsay installed closed-circuit TV in all his UK restaurants to improve waiter service, and it has even been suggested that he has had sensitive microphones installed in his tables, to pick up sotto voce cursing. The reason for this dramatic turnaround is not hard to find. It follows the crushing news that Ramsay’s application to open a new establishment in Sydney – his first in Australia – has been turned down by the city authorities, on grounds of “decency”.

Democratic primary March 31, 2008

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THE FUNNIEST POLITICAL PICTURE EVER « Illseed Blog

Keith Richards Interview March 30, 2008

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Tanks to Bob Bopp for passing on this revealing interview in advance of the Stones IMAX concert film release. (more…)

Banned Movie March 30, 2008

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[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.492169&w=425&h=350&fv=width%3D425%26height%3D355%26file%3Dfitna-en.flv] from wikileaks.org

Here is the controversial banned film on Islam, Wikipedia has a very good coverage ongoing of this film and its consequences. So after all the official condemnations, see it for yourself and make your own judgment. Wikileaks, the uncensored freedom of information site that we have featured on this blog before, has the original videos and some from the recent Tibet riots

1941 Photos of Virgin Islands March 27, 2008

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Flickr: Search The Library of Congress’ photos

Kevel Lindsay passes on these on-line photos from the US Library of Congress collection, made in the USVI in late 1941 by the Farm Service Administration, which was one of the Franklin Roosevelt programs to bring the country out of the Depression . . .

Leave Fluorescent Lights Off Or On? March 27, 2008

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Does Turning Fluorescent Lights Off Use More Energy Than Leaving Them On?: Scientific American

The thinking is that the boost of energy such bulbs require to power up means that it might be best to keep them on when leaving a room, rather than subjecting them to the stress of a restart on your return.
Turns out, however, that power surge is so brief that its energy draw doesn’t amount to much: the equivalent of a few seconds or so of normal operation, according to U.S. Department of Energy estimates.

A simple rule of thumb that balances both concerns is to shut off fluorescents if you’re planning to leave a room for more than five minutes, according to Francis Rubinstein, a staff scientist in the Building Technologies Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

Rubinstein notes that, even for fluorescents, the cost of electricity over a bulb’s lifetime far outpaces the cost of the bulb itself. “Even if you switch on and off a fluorescent light frequently,” he says, “the slight reduction in lamp life is a small effect relative to the energy savings you accomplish by being a good citizen.”

First the Bees & Now the Bats Are Dying March 25, 2008

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Bats Perish, and No One Knows Why – New York Times
In what is one of the worst calamities to hit bat populations in the United States, on average 90 percent of the hibernating bats in four caves and mines in New York have died since last winter.

Wildlife biologists fear a significant die-off in about 15 caves and mines in New York, as well as at sites in Massachusetts and Vermont. Whatever is killing the bats leaves them unusually thin and, in some cases, dotted with a white fungus. Bat experts fear that what they call White Nose Syndrome may spell doom for several species that keep insect pests under control. (more…)

China To Open 97 new airports in 12 yrs March 25, 2008

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97 new airports to open in 12 yrs – People’s Daily Online
According to the plan, which covers the years up to 2020, the number of airports nationwide will increase to 192 by 2010, and to 244 by 2020. At the end of 2006, there were 147, including 45 used for both civilian and military purposes.

This means 82 in every 100 people – who contribute 96 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) – will live within 100 km, or 90 minutes’ drive, from an airport by 2020.

At present, only 61 percent of people – who contribute 82 percent of GDP – lives within this range, the plan said.The CAAC said the new airports will cost an estimated total of 450 billion yuan ($64 billion).

How Men and Women Eat Differently March 25, 2008

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The Difference in Eating Habits between Men and Women
men were significantly more likely to eat meat and poultry products especially duck, veal, and ham. They were also more likely to eat certain shellfish such as shrimp and oysters.

Women, on the other hand were more likely to eat vegetables, especially carrots and tomatoes. As for fruits, they were more likely to eat strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and apples. Women also preferred dry foods, such as almonds and walnuts, and were more likely to consume eggs and yogurt when compared with men.

There were some exceptions to the general trend. Men were significantly more likely to consume asparagus and brussels sprouts than women while women were more likely to consume fresh hamburgers (as opposed to frozen, which the men preferred). Men were significantly more likely to eat undercooked hamburger and runny eggs while women were more likely to eat alfalfa sprouts.

8 Insights Into The French March 25, 2008

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A Guide to the French. Handle With Care. – New York Times

After 5 and-a -half years as the NY Times Paris correspondent, these are the 8 insights for us non-French citizens of the planet. (more…)

South Korean investors quit China over rising costs March 22, 2008

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Feed Article | Business |
Lately, a growing number of South Korean factories have abruptly closed down and the South Korean owners have disappeared as a slew of policies, including rising labour costs and an end to tax breaks, bite into their profit margins.
The wage rise, yuan appreciation and higher input prices are the main reasons, The minimum wage in Qingdao has risen 43 percent in the past three years to 760 yuan ($107) per month. 20 to 30 percent of the 6,000 South Korean firms in the eastern port city were losing money.
Other government initiatives to share China’s growing wealth more widely and to minimize social tension are also deterring employers who are required to provide more mandated benefits for their workers and are paying higher pollution fees.
Employers are grumbling in particular about a new labour contract law, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, that makes it harder to lay off staff.

Are We Born Expecting Fairness? March 22, 2008

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the official site of Michael Shermer » The Mind of the Market
Behavioral economists employ an experimental procedure called the Ultimatum Game. It goes something like this. You are given $100 to split between yourself and your game partner. Whatever division of the money you propose, if your partner accepts it, you are both richer by that amount. How much should you offer? Why not suggest a $90-$10 split? If your game partner is a rational self-interested money-maximizer he isn’t going to turn down a free ten bucks, is he? He is. Research shows that proposals that deviate much beyond a $70–$30 split are usually rejected. Take the Test yourself.

Why? Because they aren’t fair. Says who? Says the moral emotion of “reciprocal altruism,” which evolved over the Paleolithic eons to demand fairness on the part of our potential exchange partners. “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” only works if I know you will respond with something approaching parity. The moral sense of fairness is hardwired into our brains and is an emotion shared by most people and primates tested for it. Fairness evolved as a stable strategy for maintaining social harmony in our ancestors’ small bands, where cooperation was reinforced and became the rule while freeloading was punished and became the exception. (more…)

Duck Nose Rider March 22, 2008

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You’ve proabaly seen those videos of pets surfing, but how about a duck?

Best Bread Baker in Paris is Tunisian March 20, 2008

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A Visit with Best Bread Baker in Paris
The baker with Tunisian parents will have close ties to the President with Hungarian roots and an Italian-born wife. As the officially maker of the best baguette in Paris, he is entitled to be the exclusive caterer to Sarkozy’s Elysee Palace for one year. “We’re not talking much,” says Bouabsa,” maybe around 20 baguettes a day.” Then he starts to laugh a bit hysterically thinking about Carla Bruni biting into his luscious bread. “Not bad, not bad at all.” (more…)

Wretched Excess At Sea March 17, 2008

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Measuring Wealth by the Foot – New York Times
megayachts-stmaarten0208w.jpg Over 20 megayachts in this picture, taken last month in St. Maarten. There are 4 times more that aren’t in view. There are no signs that demand will slacken. “There are 2,000 superyachts in the world today” over 120 feet long, “and nearly 200,000 people who could afford to buy them,” Mr. Beckett says.

The arms race in yachts echoes the competition among business titans in the last century to build the world’s tallest skyscraper.

(more…)

Dolphin Saves Beached Whale March 16, 2008

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Chips & Snacks Enthusiast Site March 16, 2008

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Snacking Stats
For all you snack junkies, total snacks reviewed: 3816, by the self-styled Secretary of Snacks and Chief Snacks Officer.

Where else are you going to find Comeback Caramel (chocolate and caramel socks and thick caramel swirled in caramel flavored ice cream), Fenway Fudge (chocolate and fudge socks swirled with thick fudge in chocolate flavored ice cream), Green Monster Mint (chocolate mint socks swirled with thick fudge in mint flavored ice cream) and Peanut Butter Nation

Pass Out With The Blue Angels March 15, 2008

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blueangels.swf

Click on the blueangels link to watch a reporter passing out from the G-forces along for a ride with one of the Blue Angels. Thanks to high-flying Randy Marks.

Obama’s Mom March 14, 2008

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A Free-Spirited Wanderer Who Set Obama’s Path – New York Times
Kansas was merely a way station in her childhood, wheeling westward in the slipstream of her furniture-salesman father. In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote an 800-page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java, worked for the Ford Foundation, championed women’s work and helped bring microcredit to the world’s poor.

She had high expectations for her children. In Indonesia, she would wake her son at 4 a.m. for correspondence courses in English before school; she brought home recordings of Mahalia Jackson, speeches by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And when Mr. Obama asked to stay in Hawaii for high school rather than return to Asia, she accepted living apart — a decision her daughter says was one of the hardest in Ms. Soetoro’s life.

Google Sky March 14, 2008

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Google Sky

It’s like having your own Hubble telescope. Zoom in and out of the visible universe from your web browser.

Phone That Reads Your Thoughts Out Loud March 14, 2008

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Nerve-tapping neckband used in ‘telepathic’ chat – tech – 12 March 2008 – New Scientist Tech
A neckband that translates thought into speech by picking up nerve signals has been used to demonstrate a “voiceless” phone call for the first time.

With careful training a person can send nerve signals to their vocal cords without making a sound. These signals are picked up by the neckband and relayed wirelessly to a computer that converts them into words spoken by a computerised voice. Thanks Chip Welfeld   The Audeo has previously been used to let people control wheelchairs using their thoughts. Watch a video demonstrating thought control of wheelchairs

Why Europeans Refuse to Reproduce March 13, 2008

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The Corner on National Review Online
Because, replies the author of Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide, “children are expensive. They require you to sacrifice your time and your interests and your own comfort. If your highest good is pleasure, if your highest good is a sophisticated life, then children get in the way. Why would you spend so much money and so much energy on children if your highest good is simply material well-being? That’s sort of the spiritual dimension of the problem.”

The new geopolitics of crude oil March 12, 2008

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Khaleej Times Online – The new geopolitics of crude oil
View from a Dubai banker via Carlton Palmer – Last week was a defining moment in international relations. West Texas and North Sea Brent crude oil, the world’s light sweet crude benchmarks, soared to $105, above its inflation adjusted 1979 price of $92, when the Shah was overthrown in the Iranian Revolution and a buyer’s panic traumatised the Rotterdam market for spot tanker cargoes. While the immediate cause of the oil surge was an unexpected fall in US inventories and Opec’s failure to heed Bush’s call to boost production, black gold has become a hedge against the dollar, a new global currency of wealth and power, as the exponential increase in the numbers of Russians in the Forbes Global Billionaire list suggests.