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Geezer Rock June 29, 2008

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Welcome to the Zimmers

The name Zimmers comes from the British brand of metal-frame walkers. The lead singer, Alf, is 91. But he’s far from the oldest member. Buster (watch for the bushy beard) is a young-at-heart 100. Thanks to that old geezer Jeff Ullian for this video/

World’s Cheapest Gas June 29, 2008

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Fuel subsidies | Crude measures | Economist.com
HALF of the world’s population enjoys fuel subsidies. This estimate, from Morgan Stanley, implies that almost a quarter of the world’s petrol is sold at less than the market price. The cheapest petrol is in Venezuela, at 5 cents per litre. That makes China’s pump price of 79 cents seem expensive, but even this is a bargain compared with $1.04 in the United States and $2.35 in Germany (see chart). A Lite is about a quarter of a Gallon.

As the gap has widened between soaring international prices and fixed domestic prices, so has the cost of subsidies. Indeed, budgetary strains are now forcing some governments to lift prices. An IMF study of five emerging economies found that the richest 20% of households received, on average, 42% of total fuel subsidies; the bottom 20% received less than 10%. That money would be better spent on health, education and infrastructure. Not only would this benefit the poor, but higher prices would also help to dampen global oil consumption, and hence the price of oil.

How We Get “Swift Boated” June 29, 2008

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Op-Ed Contributor – How Lies Live and Grow in the Brain – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com
A false statement from a noncredible source that is at first not believed can gain credibility during the months it takes to reprocess memories from short-term hippocampal storage to longer-term cortical storage. As the source is forgotten, the message and its implications gain strength. This could explain why, during the 2004 presidential campaign, it took some weeks for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Senator John Kerry to have an effect on his standing in the polls. Journalists and campaign workers may think they are acting to counter misinformation by pointing out that it is not true. But by repeating a false rumor, they may inadvertently make it stronger.

Even if they do not understand the neuroscience behind source amnesia, campaign strategists can exploit it to spread misinformation. They know that if their message is initially memorable, its impression will persist long after it is debunked. In repeating a falsehood, someone may back it up with an opening line like “I think I read somewhere” or even with a reference to a specific source. Consumers of news, for their part, are prone to selectively accept and remember statements that reinforce beliefs they already hold.

Tom Friedman Rants June 29, 2008

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Op-Ed Columnist – Anxious in America – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com
Since President Bush came to office, our national savings have gone from 6 percent of gross domestic product to 1 percent, and consumer debt has climbed from $8 trillion to $14 trillion.

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

“America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so,” Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib noted last week. “A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.”

Canada – Energy Super Power June 29, 2008

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Well-Oiled Machine – TIME
Canada is poised to become Venezuela north–without the loopy President and the deadweight national oil company as unwanted partners–as the biggest oil boom in North American history hits terminal velocity. An estimated $124 billion will be invested from 2007 to 2012, according to the Athabasca Regional Issues Working Group, an industry association. Production in Alberta’s oil sands will more than quadruple, to about 5 million bbl. daily, by 2015; Canada currently exports an average of 1.9 million bbl. daily (from all sources) to the U.S., more than any country, including Saudi Arabia. That’s about 20% of total U.S. imports. Alberta’s oil sands deposits total 2.4 trillion barrels of oil, and established reserves are only second to Saudi Arabia’s 263 billion barrels at 175 billion barrels.

The mega-projects across Alberta’s oil sands rival some of humankind’s greatest engineering achievements, including the pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China. After thousands of years, those ancient projects still bear witness to history. Conservative estimates predict the tar sands will give out in just 70 years. Their legacy to Canada is yet to be written, but it may be a great deal bigger than expectations. With new deposits still being found and technologies improving, the sands could produce for a couple of hundred years more. Forget Venezuela. Canada may become the new Saudi Arabia, the last great oil kingdom, right on the U.S. border.

The Child Brides of Yemen June 29, 2008

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Tiny Voices Defy Child Marriage in Yemen – NYTimes.com
The average age of marriage in Yemen’s rural areas is 12 to 13, a recent study by Sana University researchers found. The country, at the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

But despite a rising tide of outrage, the fight against the practice is not easy. Hard-line Islamic conservatives, whose influence has grown enormously in the past two decades, defend it, pointing to the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to a 9-year-old. Child marriage is deeply rooted in local custom here, and even enshrined in an old tribal expression: “Give me a girl of 8, and I can give you a guarantee” for a good marriage.

QIK | Streaming video right from your phone June 29, 2008

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QIK | Streaming video right from your phone
With Qik you can stream engaging video live from your phone to the world or use your phone like a camcorder to capture entertaining, interesting and special moments. Go LIVE with your life by streaming anytime, anywhere — right from your phone. Be an eyewitness, capture those first steps, or whip up your own streaming video blog. There are just a million and one uses of qik.

Understanding Mugabe June 29, 2008

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Zimbabwean leader’s reality: Mugabe is Right – Forbes.com
Robert Mugabe’s mother told him when he was a child that he had been chosen by God to be a great leader. No wonder he thinks only divine power – not elections, not foreign critics, not a crumbling economy or a much younger opposition leader – can unseat him.

In the mind of Zimbabwe’s leader of nearly three decades, reality is summed up by a massive banner hanging in the entrance to the presidential offices: Mugabe is Right.

Young Tibetans Lured By Modernity June 29, 2008

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For Rural Tibetans, the Future Is in Town – washingtonpost.com
Tibetans, traditionally nomadic herders and farmers, are increasingly being lured into a commercial world, a place where Chinese and English language skills are prerequisites for success and ethnic identity is something to be marketed to tourists. Many young Tibetans like Jian jump at the chance to escape harsh farm work on mountain plateaus, but the opportunity means leaving behind a way of life that has defined one of the most romanticized cultures in the world.

Gasoline From Algae June 28, 2008

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Biomass Magazine
San Diego, Calif.-based Sapphire Energy was founded in 2006 on the basis of this principle philosophy when it debuted its “green crude”, a gasoline equivalent refined from algae that comes in light and heavy fractions; the light being gasoline and a heavy being kero-disel or jet aircraft fuel. Although it won’t divulge its production process specifically, according to Sapphire Chief Executive Officer Jason Pyle, the company is producing 91 octane gasoline built on the platform that uses nothing more than sunlight, carbon dioxide and complex photosynthetic microorganisms. Progress on Gas From Grass

New Motorcycle Distance Jumping World Record 395′ June 26, 2008

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Bird Flies: New Distance Jumping Worl…“, posted with vodpod sent by Randy Marks

Calypso King Sings Obama’a Praises June 24, 2008

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Sparrow and the President

The Mighty Sparrow is a Living Legend in the Calypso Music World. At a backstage meeting, he presented Obama of his recording of  “Barack, the Magnificent”, which you can see and hear in the YouTube link below here.

Safety In The Workplace? June 22, 2008

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workplacesafetyl

Download the free PowerPoint viewer to see this Slide Show

Fears Of Anarchy From Fuel & Food Shortages June 21, 2008

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FT.com / World – Instability fear forces strategic threat rethink
During the past few weeks senior officials have quietly begun to shift their emphasis of the fuel and food crisis from viewing it as purely a humanitarian and social problem to a concern that governments could fall as hungry and fuel-deprived people take their anger to the streets.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme, has warned that riots in more than 30 countries were “stark reminders that food insecurity threatens not only the hungry but peace and stability itself”. She added that only seven meals separated civilisation from potential anarchy and that some of the world’s “gold-standard, new, fledgling democracies” were under the most pressure.

Turkey Tries To Modernise Islam’s Teachings June 21, 2008

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The New Face of Islam | Print Article | Newsweek.com
Mehmet Aydin, who first conceived the Hadith project four years ago, when he was Turkey’s minister of state for religious affairs, says it is obvious that in the seventh century, the time of the Prophet, life was very different. One Hadith, for instance, forbids women from traveling alone. In Saudi Arabia, this and other sayings are given as a reason women should not be allowed to drive. “This is clearly not a religious injunction but related to security in a specific time and place,” says Gormez. In fact, the Prophet says elsewhere that he misses those days, evidently in his recent memory, when women could travel alone from Yemen to Mecca. In its first three centuries “Islam was interacting with Greek, Iranian and Indian cultures and at every encounter [scholars] reinterpreted Islam according to new conditions,” says Gormez. “They were not afraid to rethink Islam then.” (more…)

$$$ Not Worth The Paper They Are Printed On June 21, 2008

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Business Photo Slideshows – Portfolio.com
As Americans worry about the rate of inflation exceeding 4 percent, we should consider Zimbabwe, where the inflation rate broke the shocking 100,000 percent mark and the country released a 10 million-dollar note (now valued below $4 on the black market). But Zimbabwe’s currency is hardly the only one inflated beyond reason.

Click on the link to the Portfolio.com site to see a slide show of other worthless currencies.

Bad Boys Do Get The Girls June 21, 2008

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Bad guys really do get the most girls – sex – 18 June 2008 – New Scientist
Bad boys get the most girls. The finding may help explain why a nasty suite of antisocial personality traits known as the “dark triad” persists in the human population, despite their potentially grave cultural costs.

The traits are the self-obsession of narcissism; the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of psychopaths; and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism. At their extreme, these traits would be highly detrimental for life in traditional human societies. People with these personalities risk being shunned by others and shut out of relationships, leaving them without a mate, hungry and vulnerable to predators.

But being just slightly evil could have an upside: a prolific sex life, says Peter Jonason at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

(more…)

Blaming speculators is fun, easy and wrong June 20, 2008

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Blaming speculators is fun, easy and wrong: James Saft | Special Coverage | Reuters
There has been an explosion in marginal demand from Asia and emerging markets. And in many markets, notably oil, large producing nations may not see it in their best interests to maximize production, especially given the low rates of return now on offer for the money their oil will fetch. Companies too are being slow to ramp up production, preferring what they see as a safer strategy of buying back shares and paying out dividends.

U.S. monetary policy, moreover, is calibrated for an exhausted consumer and a fragile banking system at home, rather than the ongoing booms in Shanghai and elsewhere. U.S. interest rates are negative in real terms, which stimulates demand around the world, not just in hard-hit Florida and Nevada. (more…)

This Credit Crunch Reverberates June 19, 2008

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Paradise lost | Economist.com
For nine months now, banks have been in a panic: hoarding cash, nervous of weaknesses in their own balance-sheets and even more nervous of their counterparties. More damaging still, money-market funds have steered clear of banks as well. The drying-up of liquidity not only created havoc in the backrooms of the financial system. It also wrecked the front door, thanks to the dramatic collapse of Bear Stearns, an 85-year-old Wall Street investment bank that was bought for a song by JPMorgan Chase in March. The Federal Reserve offered emergency funding to the investment banks for the first time since the 1930s, and there were bank bail-outs in Britain and Germany too.

The economic effects are set to be just as striking. According to a study of previous crises by Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Ken Rogoff of Harvard, banking blow-outs lop an average of two percentage points off output growth per person. The worst crises reduce growth by five percentage points from their peak, and it takes more than three years for growth to regain pre-crisis levels.

Mending Ozone Hole May Worsen Climate Change June 14, 2008

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Environmental Catch-22?: Mending Ozone Hole May Worsen Climate Change: Scientific American
For decades, these winds have been speeding up near Antarctica; repairing the ozone would weaken the winds, he says, and shift them back toward the equator, affecting weather in the entire Southern Hemisphere, including Antarctica as well as Australia, parts of Africa and South America.

This also means Earth’s southernmost continent might experience even more warming in future as the winds continue to shift and allow relatively warmer air to cover it, potentially speeding the melting of ice shelves. In addition, if there were no hole, the replenished ozone would trap even more heat as greenhouse gas concentrations also rise, according to Polvani.

Atmospheric scientist Judith Perlwitz of the University of Colorado at Boulder and her colleagues reached a similar conclusion, published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. No one has factored in the role that the ocean—critical to the regulation of Earth’s temperature—would play if the ozone hole is closed.

Relax, liberals. You’ve already won June 14, 2008

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Relax, liberals. You’ve already won | Salon
No matter who prevails at the ballot box in November, John McCain or Barack Obama, the four-decade-long conservative counterrevolution is over. And the celebrating Bob Bopp sent this to our attention. Click on the link to”Salon” to read the article.

Furthermore, the demise of the counterrevolutionary right could lead to the birth of a far more formidable and competitive version of American conservatism. Liberated from its unpopular libertarian and neoconservative wings, a more populist and “Gaullist” American conservatism might emulate the successful parties of the European right that govern today in Berlin, Paris and Rome and perhaps soon in London. Progressives who demand that the American right abandon its small-government obsessions and its neoconservative foreign policy and look to Europe for models should worry that their wish will come true.

For the moment, however, the prospects for the moderate, reformist center left are better than they have been in nearly half a century. If it is hard for most conservatives to admit that they have lost, it is even harder for many liberals to admit that they have won. But sometimes history forces you to take yes for an answer.

Lexophiles’ Humour June 13, 2008

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Humour for lexophiles – Lovers of words enjoy… – on Bore Me
To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis (more…)

Size Up the Earth & Stars June 9, 2008

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Watch this slide show that starts with the Earth up to the largest known star

Oil shortage a myth, says industry insider June 9, 2008

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Oil shortage a myth, says industry insider – Climate Change, Environment – The Independent
Proven oil reserves are likely to be far larger than reported because of the way the capacity of oilfields is estimated and how those estimates are added to form the proven reserves of a company or a country. Companies add the estimated capacity of oil fields in a simple arithmetic manner to get proven oil reserves. This gives a deliberately conservative total deemed suitable for shareholders who do not want proven reserves hyped, Dr Pike said.

However, mathematically it is more accurate to add the proven oil capacity of individual fields in a probabilistic manner based on the bell-shaped statistical curve used to estimate the proven, probable and possible reserves of each field. This way, the final capacity is typically more than twice that of simple, arithmetic addition, Dr Pike said. “The same also goes for natural gas because these fields are being estimated in much the same way. The world is understating the environmental challenge and appears unprepared for the difficult compromises that will have to be made.” Click on image to enlarge

Jeremy Leggett, author of Half Gone, a book on peak oil, is not convinced that Dr Pike is right. “The flow rates from the existing projects are the key. Capacity coming on stream falls fast beyond 2011,” Dr Leggett said. “On top of that, if the big old fields begin collapsing, the descent in supply will hit the world very hard.”

Time To Pop Your Bubble June 4, 2008

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Click Here if popping bubblewrap is your thing

If you are really stressed, hit the “Manic Mode” button. Thanks to the ever Joe Greene.

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