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Hanging By A Tread May 30, 2010

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From China

This is why it’s important to have good traction on your tires | The King of Forwards.

Restaurant Chain Menu Choices To Die From May 25, 2010

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Most people wouldn’t think to order two orders of deep-fried steak and eggs for breakfast at a casual chain like Bob Evans. But if you order Bob Evans’ Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes, you’ll be getting 1,380 calories and 34 grams of bad fat—about what you’d get in two country-fried steaks and four eggs. But the hotcakes are worse because seven grams of their bad fat comes from trans fat—more than one should get in three and a half days. Syrup adds another 200 calories for every four-tablespoon serving.

Bob Evans Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes. Pancakes, which are usually lightly fried white flour topped with sugary syrup, have never been a healthy breakfast. But Bob stuffs his hotcakes with cinnamon chips made of sugar and fat; adds a layer of cream-cheese-flavored filling; and tops them with sugary “cream” sauce, whipped topping, and powdered sugar. And that makes the item one of CSPI’s top Xtreme Eating dishonorees for 2010.

To put these numbers into context, keep in mind that the average American should consume about 2,000 calories per day, and consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat.

Xtreme Eating 2010. (more…)

Behind Obama’s Education Reform May 24, 2010

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The U.S. spends more per pupil than any other but whose student performance ranks in the bottom third among developed nations isn’t failing its children for lack of resources but for lack of trained, motivated, accountable talent at the front of the class.

Before they successfully organized in the 1950s and 1960s, teachers endured meager salaries, political favoritism, tyrannical principals and sex discrimination against a mostly female work force.

But now a 165-page New York City union contract … not only specifies everything that teachers will do and will not do during a six-hour-57 ½-minute workday but also requires that teachers be paid based on how long they have been on the job. Once they’ve been teaching for three years and judged satisfactory in a process that invariably judges all but a few of them satisfactory, they are ensured lifetime tenure.

via The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand – NYTimes.com.

Divorce Stats That Can Predict Your Marriage May 23, 2010

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How long will your marriage last? Depends on if you smoke, which church you go to, and which state you live in. Anneli Rufus on the shocking statistics.

via Divorce Stats That Can Predict Your Marriage’s Success – The Daily Beast.

In Europe “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”. May 23, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union. But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing rising deficits, with more bad news ahead.

With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes. The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing work hours and reducing health benefits and pensions.

via Payback Time – Deficit Crisis Threatens Ample Benefits of European Life – NYTimes.com.

Video: Surf’s Up On Russian Bridge May 23, 2010

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The Russian Emergency Ministry has closed a seven-kilometre-long (4.3 miles) bridge which crosses the Volga River in Volgograd, after the structure started to undulate.

Strong currents in the river caused by the huge flow of extra water from melting snow upstream had apparently loosened one of the vertical supports, which affected the balance of the entire bridge.

The bridge, the longest in Europe, was completed last year and opened in October 2009. Its construction cost 80.36 million dollars.

via Russian authorities shut down wobbly bridge.

Forget Greece: Europe’s real problem is Germany May 22, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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Germans look at the current crisis and blame their spendthrift Mediterranean neighbors for using the cover of the euro to rack up public and private debts that they now cannot support. They blame hedge funds and other speculators for making a bad situation worse and profiting from other people’s misery. And they are furious that they are being told by their leaders that they have no choice but to bail everyone out.

What Germans won’t accept is that they wouldn’t have been able to sell all those beautifully designed cars and well-engineered machine tools if Greeks and Spaniards and Americans hadn’t been willing to buy those goods and German banks hadn’t been so willing to lend them the money to do so. Nor will they accept that German industry was able to thrive over the past decade because of a common currency and a common monetary policy that, over time, rendered industry in some neighboring countries uncompetitive while generating huge real estate bubbles in others.The danger of Germans misunderstanding the causes of the current crisis is that it leads them, and the rest of Europe, to the wrong solutions.

via Steven Pearlstein – Forget Greece: Europe’s real problem is Germany.

Russian Homemade Snowmobiles May 18, 2010

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It would take Gear Head Carlton Palmer to find the link to some Russian ingenuity. Click on it to see more.

English Russia » Russian homemade snowmobiles.

Man Is A Trader May 18, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, philosophy & politics.
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What made Homo sapiens so special? Dr. Ridley argues in “The Rational Optimist,” that it wasn’t our big brain, because Neanderthals had a big brain, too. Nor was it our willingness to help one another, because apes and other social animals also had an instinct for reciprocity.

“At some point,” Dr. Ridley writes, “after millions of years of indulging in reciprocal back-scratching of gradually increasing intensity, one species, and one alone, stumbled upon an entirely different trick. Adam gave Oz an object in exchange for a different object.”

The evidence for this trick is in perforated seashells from more than 80,000 years ago that ended up far from the nearest coast, an indication that inlanders were bartering to get ornamental seashells from coastal dwellers. Unlike the contemporary Neanderthals, who apparently relied just on local resources, those modern humans could shop for imports.

via Findings – Doomsayers Beware, a Bright Future Beckons – NYTimes.com. (more…)

New Clue Found To Existence May 18, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Science & Technology.
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In a mathematically perfect universe, we would be less than dead; we would never have existed. According to the basic precepts of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang and then immediately annihilated each other in a blaze of lethal energy, leaving a big fat goose egg with which to make stars, galaxies and us. And yet we exist, and physicists (among others) would dearly like to know why.

The new effect hinges on the behavior of particularly strange particles called neutral B-mesons, which are famous for not being able to make up their minds. They oscillate back and forth trillions of times a second between their regular state and their antimatter state. As it happens, the mesons, created in the proton-antiproton collisions, seem to go from their antimatter state to their matter state more rapidly than they go the other way around, leading to an eventual preponderance of matter over antimatter of about 1 percent, when they decay to muons.

via From Fermilab, a New Clue to Explain Human Existence? – NYTimes.com.

For a solution to the euro crisis, look to the states May 18, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, philosophy & politics.
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Although the 50 states share a currency and each sets its own spending and tax policies, state deficits remain very low. Even California has a deficit of only about 1 percent of the state’s GDP and total general obligation debt of less than 4 percent of state GDP. The basic reason for these small deficits is that each state’s constitution prohibits borrowing for operating purposes. States can issue debt to finance infrastructure but not salaries, services, transfer payments or other operating expenses.

In some states, these self-imposed restrictions go back to the 19th century, a time when excessive borrowing led to state defaults. Those states wanted to assure potential lenders that such excess borrowing would not happen again. Over time, all states adopted such rules to help make the bonds they issued for capital expenditures attractive to investors. Although the states’  balanced-budget rules differ in detail, with some using rainy-day funds to offset cyclical declines in revenue, they all succeed in preventing persistent operating deficits. If the EMU governments were to adopt similar constitutional rules, the interest rates on their bonds would fall.

via Martin Feldstein – For a solution to the euro crisis, look to the states.

When Will the Present Change the Mistakes of the Past? May 16, 2010

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The author outlines the post-depression social contract and the gradual breakdown of that model. In the private sector, an example would be the breakup of the AT&T phone monopoly, which opened up the Market to the introduction of cell phones and the internet. But not every industry rose to the International challenges of Globalization and hence the Detroit automotive debacle, brought-on by the recent near-depression. The author wonders what Crash will it take to get Governments to change from their WWII model. The recent close-call (assuming that the Sovereign Debt Crisis doesn’t unravel) has shocked many of the welfare-state proponents to face the unsustainability of their historical model.

American Challenges: The Blue Model Breaks Down – Walter Russell Mead’s Blog – The American Interest.

We Have Traded Sound For Convenience May 11, 2010

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“People used to sit and listen to music,” Mr. Fremer said, but the increased portability has altered the way people experience recorded music. “It was an activity. It is no longer consumed as an event that you pay attention to.”

Instead, music is often carried from place to place, played in the background while the consumer does something else — exercising, commuting or cooking dinner.

The songs themselves are usually saved on the digital devices in a compressed format, often as an AAC or MP3 file. That compression shrinks the size of the file, eliminating some of the sounds and range contained on a CD while allowing more songs to be saved on the device and reducing download times.

via A Musical Revolution, With a Cost in Fidelity – NYTimes.com.

Video: The Barrel that Broke my Back May 10, 2010

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This South African’s board-mounted camera takes you right into the tube and then sucked over-the-falls and his painful paddle back to the beach. Thanks to Randy Marks.

The Barrel that Broke my Back | James Taylor Surfing.

Furor Over Return Of Nurse’s Caps May 10, 2010

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At JFK Medical Center, health care reform is already under way, in the shape of a traditional white nurse’s cap.

The nurses in the Atlantis hospital’s cardiovascular step-down unit have temporarily tossed their royal blue scrubs for retro nurses’ whites – starched cap, hose and shoes included.

As a remedy, many hospitals nationwide have adopted color-coded uniform policies. St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, for example, addressed the problem when it implemented a new uniform policy in February.

Nurses now wear white tops and blue pants, pediatric nurses wear kid-friendly tops, unit secretaries are clad in khaki, and all clinical departments are assigned specific colors. Click on the link and read the flood of comments.

via Retro nurse’s outfit has returned to JFK Medical Center.

What Religions Don’t Share May 9, 2010

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Just as there are tall people in short families (none of the other men in Michael Jordan’s family was over 6 feet tall), there are religions that deny the existence of God and religions that get along just fine without creeds. Something is a religion when it shares enough of this DNA to belong to the family of religions. What makes the members of this family different (and themselves) is how they mix and match these dimensions. Experience is central in Daoism and Buddhism. Hinduism and Judaism emphasize the narrative dimension. The ethical dimension is crucial in Confucianism. The Islamic and Yoruba traditions are to a great extent about ritual. And doctrine is particularly important to Christians.

There is a long tradition of Christian thinkers who assume that salvation is the goal of all religions and then argue that only Christians can achieve this goal. Philosopher of religion Huston Smith, who grew up in China as a child of Methodist missionaries, rejected this argument but not its guiding assumption. “To claim salvation as the monopoly of any one religion,” he wrote, “is like claiming that God can be found in this room and not the next.” It might seem to be an admirable act of empathy to assert that Confucians and Buddhists can be saved. But this statement is confused to the core, since salvation is not something that either Confucians or Buddhists seek. Salvation is a Christian goal, and when Christians speak of it, they are speaking of being saved from sin. But Confucians and Buddhists do not believe in sin, so it makes no sense for them to try to be saved from it. And while Muslims and Jews do speak of sin of a sort, neither Islam nor Judaism describes salvation from sin as its aim.

via Separate truths – The Boston Globe.

Have We Forgotten How To Sleep? May 9, 2010

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If we can’t sleep, perhaps it’s because we’ve forgotten how. In premodern times people slept differently, going to bed at sunset and rising with the dawn. In winter months, with so long to rest, our ancestors may have broken sleep up into chunks. In developing countries people still often sleep this way. They bed down in groups and get up from time to time during the night. Some sleep outside, where it is cooler and the effect of sunlight on our circadian rhythm is more direct. In 2002, Carol Worthman and Melissa Melby of Emory University published a comparative survey of how people sleep in a variety of cultures. They found that among foraging groups such as the Kung and Efe, “the boundaries of sleep and waking are very fluid.” There is no fixed bedtime, and no one tells anyone else to go to sleep. Sleepers get up when a conversation or musical performance intrudes on their rest and intrigues them. They might join in, then nod off again.

Now consider the siesta. The timing of the traditional siesta corresponds to a natural post-lunch dip in our circadian rhythms, and studies have shown that people who catnap are generally more productive and may even enjoy lower risk of death from heart disease. It is the Spanish who have made the siesta famous. Unfortunately, Spaniards no longer live close enough to work to go home and nap. Instead some use the afternoon break to go out for long lunches with friends and colleagues. Having spent two hours at lunch, Spanish workers then cannot finish work until seven or eight. But even then they don’t always go home. They go out for drinks or dinner instead. (Go to a Spanish disco at midnight and you’re likely to be dancing alone; their prime-time TV shows are just ending.)

Lately the Spanish have begun to take the prob­lem of sleep deprivation seriously. The police now question drivers in serious accidents about how long they slept the night before, and the government has recently mandated shorter hours for its employees to try to get them home earlier.

What has motivated the Spanish to take action against sleepiness is not so much their accident rate—historically among the highest in western Europe—as their flat productivity. The Spanish spend more time at work and their productivity is less than most of their European neighbors.

Secrets of Sleep – National Geographic Magazine.

Why Are They Digging Up Our Street Again? May 9, 2010

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Thanks to Barbara Herwald. Click this link to see more.

Awesome Photo Manipulation by Erik Johansson | TutorArt | Graphic Design Inspiration, Case Studies.

U-2, Before The Band May 8, 2010

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The U-2 is nicknamed the Dragon Lady for good reason. You never knew what to expect when you took it into the air, no matter how seasoned a pilot you were. This was an unfortunate consequence of its design. The trade-off of a plane built light enough to fly above 70,000 feet is that it is almost impossible to control. And 13 miles above the ground, the atmosphere is so thin that the “envelope” between stalling and “overspeed” — going so fast you lose control of the plane, resulting in an unrecoverable nose dive — is razor-thin, making minor disruptions, even turbulence, as deadly as a missile. The challenge is even greater near the ground, since to save weight, the plane doesn’t have normal landing gear.

Other risks were less benign, as I found when I was the ground officer for a pilot who radioed, “My skin feels like it’s crawling.” He had the bends so badly from changes in pressure that when he landed his body was covered with huge welts. Had the weather not cleared in time for him to land, these bubbles of nitrogen might have lodged in his brain or optical nerve — as they had in other U-2 pilots.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Flying with the Dragon Lady – NYTimes.com.

Friends of Irony – Ironic Photos May 5, 2010

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Thanks to Neil Rooney for

Friends of Irony – Ironic Photos.

Another Blow To The “Green Revolution” May 4, 2010

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The “Green Revolution” that lifted millions out of hunger is threatened by a fungus re-appearing in wheat and now the emergence Superweeds.

Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.

Farm experts say that such efforts could lead to higher food prices, lower crop yields, rising farm costs and more pollution of land and water.

via U.S. Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds – NYTimes.com.

A Brief History of Debt May 2, 2010

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The emergence, in almost the exact times and places where one also sees the early spread of coinage, of what were to become modern world religions: prophetic Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, and eventually, Islam. While the precise links are yet to be fully explored, in certain ways, these religions appear to have arisen in direct reaction to the logic of the market. To put the matter somewhat crudely: if one relegates a certain social space simply to the selfish acquisition of material things, it is almost inevitable that soon someone else will come to set aside another domain in which to preach that, from the perspective of ultimate values, material things are unimportant, and selfishness – or even the self – illusory.

With the advent of the great European empires – Iberian, then North Atlantic – the world saw both a reversion to mass enslavement, plunder, and wars of destruction, and the consequent rapid return of gold and silver bullion as the main form of currency.

One of the main factors of the movement back to bullion, for example, was the emergence of popular movements during the early Ming dynasty, in the 15th and 16th centuries, that ultimately forced the government to abandon not only paper money but any attempt to impose its own currency. This led to the reversion of the vast Chinese market to an uncoined silver standard. Since taxes were also gradually commuted into silver, it soon became the more or less official Chinese policy to try to bring as much silver into the country as possible, so as to keep taxes low and prevent new outbreaks of social unrest. The sudden enormous demand for silver had effects across the globe. Most of the precious metals looted by the conquistadors and later extracted by the Spanish from the mines of Mexico and Potosi (at almost unimaginable cost in human lives) ended up in China. Read the whole 5000 year history at this link.

via Debt: The first five thousand years

Photos With A Different Perspective May 1, 2010

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes this ain’t exactly right. Distance overlapping, positions, and timing can sometimes create a brand new perspective of a photo. Thanks to Marcia Ullian. This link has many more.

via 100+ Funny Photos Taken At Unusual Angle [Humor] | Inspiration.

Middle-Aged Myths May 1, 2010

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A lot of the myths we think of in terms of middle age, myths that I grew up with, turn out to be based on almost nothing. Things like the midlife crisis or the empty nest syndrome. We’re brought up to think we’ll enter middle age and it will be kind of gloomy. But as scientists look at real people, they find out the contrary. We used to think we lost 30 percent of our brain cells as we age. But that’s not true. We keep them.

One study of men found that well-being peaked at age 65. Over and over they find that middle age, instead of being a time of depression and decline, is actually a time of being more optimistic overall. (more…)

Why We Aren’t Vacationing In Australia May 1, 2010

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