Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"The Ink Fades on a Profession as India Modernizes"

Globalization creates winners and losers, sometimes in the same family. Here is the story of a professional letter writer in India:
G. P. Sawant never charged the prostitutes for his letter-writing services.

Not long after the women would descend on this swarming, chaotic city, they would find him at his stall near the post office, this letter writer for the unlettered. They often came hungry, battered and lonely, needing someone to convert their spoken words into handwritten letters to mail back to their home villages.

The letters ferried false reassurances. The women claimed they had steady jobs as shopkeepers and Bollywood stagehands. Saying nothing of the brothels, beatings and rapes they endured, they enclosed money orders to remit rupees agonizingly acquired. Many called Mr. Sawant “brother” and tied a string on his wrist each year in the Hindu tradition.

Sometimes, suspicious parents boarded a train to Mumbai and turned up at Mr. Sawant’s stall, which a daughter had listed as her address. Mr. Sawant greeted them kindly but disclosed nothing about the woman’s work or whereabouts...

Read the rest of his story here (it has a happy ending).

Monday, December 24, 2007

What is shopdropping?

Shopdropping, also known as reverse shoplifiting, is the act of "surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out". Here are some shopdropping stories:
...Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves while religious proselytizers insert pamphlets between the pages of gay-and-lesbian readings at book stores.

Self-published authors sneak their works into the “new releases” section, while personal trainers put their business cards into weight-loss books, and aspiring professional photographers make homemade cards — their Web site address included, of course — and covertly plant them into stationery-store racks.

“Everyone else is pushing their product, so why shouldn’t we?” said Jeff Eyrich, a producer for several independent bands, who puts stacks of his bands’ CDs — marked “free” — on music racks at Starbucks whenever the cashiers look away.

Though not new, shopdropping has grown in popularity in recent years, especially as artists have gathered to swap tactics at Web sites like Shopdropping.net, and groups like the Anti-Advertising Agency, a political art collective, do training workshops open to the public...

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Maintaining respect and approachability in university

With the increased technology and email accessibility, many university professors feel overwhelmed with student requests. Here are some excerpts from Jonathan Glater's report:

One student skipped class and then sent the professor an e-mail message asking for copies of her teaching notes. Another did not like her grade, and wrote a petulant message to the professor. Another explained that she was late for a Monday class because she was recovering from drinking too much at a wild weekend party.

Jennifer Schultens, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of California, Davis, received this e-mail message last September from a student in her calculus course: "Should I buy a binder or a subject notebook? Since I'm a freshman, I'm not sure how to shop for school supplies. Would you let me know your recommendations? Thank you!"

At colleges and universities nationwide, e-mail has made professors much more approachable. But many say it has made them too accessible, erasing boundaries that traditionally kept students at a healthy distance.

These days, they say, students seem to view them as available around the clock, sending a steady stream of e-mail messages — from 10 a week to 10 after every class — that are too informal or downright inappropriate...

Here is a helpful tip from a professor at Pomona:

...Meg Worley, an assistant professor of English at Pomona College in California, said she told students that they must say thank you after receiving a professor's response to an e-mail message.

"One of the rules that I teach my students is, the less powerful person always has to write back," Professor Worley said.

Read the rest of the story here. If anything, there are some fascinating stories from professors at MIT, UC Davis, Harvard, and others.

"2 Candidates, 2 Fortunes, 2 Views of Wealth"

David Leonhardt wrote a fascinating piece comparing two top presidential candidates: John Edwards and Mitt Romney. They are both part of America's new rich, but they made their wealth in two completely different ways. Here are some excerpts of the piece:

...Mr. Edwards, as he often reminds audiences, is the son of a mill worker. His father, Wallace Edwards, recalled in an interview being paid 75 cents an hour when he was hired by Milliken & Company in 1951. That was the federal minimum wage then translates to about $6 an hour today. In a full year, Wallace Edwards made as much money as George Romney (Mitt'Romney's father) did in a few days.

The careers their sons chose reflect that fact: Mr. Romney became rich investing in corporate America, and Mr. Edwards became rich doing battle with it. Yet they also have benefited from the some of the same broad forces that have created the new rich — including a cultural change in how Americans view money...

The piece also covers how each candidate highlights their wealth during the campaign:

...In the final days before voting begins, neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Edwards is emphasizing his own finances, for obvious political reasons. Instead, the two candidates talk about the work that led to their wealth.

Mr. Romney speaks about his managerial skills and notes that not one of the leading Democrats has ever run a large organization. Mr. Edwards talks about his record as a lawyer who fought for ordinary people against the rich and powerful...

Read the entire article here.

Wooden toy makers hit with an unusually high demand

After the lead paint China recall, some American based businesses are seeing increases in demand. Here are some excerpts from the NY Times special:
Ron Voake has spent the last few months in a blur of wood, wagons and widgets, trying to keep up with demand for the toys he makes in his home here.

Mr. Voake, the owner of Vermont Wooden Toys, has been deluged with orders from customers leery of buying toys made in China after millions of toys manufactured there were recalled this year because they have lead paint.

“Every time there was a story about a toy recall, I got flooded with orders,” Mr. Voake said. “This year stacks up as preposterous. I’ve never had a year like this, and I hope I don’t have another one...”

Read the rest of the story here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tree Faces

Have you ever seen these? Check them out here.

VistaPrint is a Scam

As I looked through my credit card statements, I realized that I was getting charged monthly for $14.95 by a company called "Passport to Fun." I never purchased anything from that company, and I looked into the matter further. I ordered some business cards two months ago from Vista Print, and they gave my information to "Passport to Fun." Vista Print might be a legitimate company (I did get my business cards), but they are partnered with some unscrupulous affiliates. This is a huge scam!

I'm not the only person getting scammed. Check out other claims here. Now I have to call my bank and Vista Print and remove these fraudulent charges! Click here to find out how to get your money back.

I will never use this company again. If you know of anyone who has used Vista Print, please pass along this information. You may save them hundreds of dollars in fraudulent charges and fees.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Physics Professor Lewin is a Web Star

The NY Times covered a unique story about a physics professor with a cult following at MIT. His name is Prof. Walter H. G. Lewin, and he was the number 1 on the most downloaded list at iTunes U. Check out the story here. Check out some of his videos here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

QuickCite

QuickCite is a free online tool that will put your citation in proper format if you provide the author, title, etc. Check out QuickCite here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Engineering a mouse that does not fear cats

Scientists from the University of Tokyo genetically engineered a mouse that does not fear cats by altering its sense of smell. They concluded that "that mammals do not learn to evade predators, but are genetically hardwired to fear certain smells." They hope that this discovery will help humans with anxiety disorders. Poor fearless mouse... Read the rest of the story here.

The UMass Minutemen's Unlikely Success Story

Check out their inspiring story here. Good luck against Ohio State!

Billionaires Push for Social Changes

A new generation of billionaires are spending their money on social projects. Here is just one example:
Stuck in a traffic jam in his bulletproof BMW, the richest man in Turkey lets loose with a satisfied grin.

Since 2000, Husnu M. Ozyegin has spent more than $50 million of his own money, building 36 primary schools and girls’ dormitories in the poorest parts of Turkey. Next to the Turkish government, Mr. Ozyegin is the biggest individual supporter of schools in the country — and an official from the education ministry has told him that his market share is increasing.

“Not bad,” he says in his gruff, cigarette-scarred voice as he pockets his mobile phone. “If I can have an impact on one million Turkish people in the next 10 years, I will be happy..."
Landon Thomas Jr. made an inciteful arugment, comparing these new billionairs to early 20th century philanthropists:
...For these emerging economies, where loose regulation, opaque privatization processes and monopolistic business practices abound, this extraordinary and uneven creation of wealth rivals in many ways the great American fortunes made at the turn of the 20th century.

While such countries have long been accustomed to vast disparities between a tiny class of the wealthy elite and the impoverished masses, the new elite shares some characteristics with counterparts in the United States. And just as Rockefellers, Carnegies and Morgans once used philanthropy to smooth the rough edges of their cutthroat business reputations — as have a current generation of wealthy Americans that includes Bill Gates of Microsoft and Sanford I. Weill of Citigroup — local billionaires in emerging markets are trying to do the same...
To learn more about how Mr. Ozyegin and other billionaires are spending their money, click here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Techcrunch YouTube Download Tool

If you ever want to download a YouTube video to your computer, use this Techcrunch YouTube download tool here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let's Say Thanks

On the Let's Say Thanks website you can send a real card to a soldier abroad. It costs nothing on your behalf except for 10 seconds of your time. Check it out here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

South Korea cleans up a big oil spill

Read the NY Times story here.

Andrew Young: "Bill (Clinton) is every bit as black as Barack"

Civil Rights icon, Andrew Young, says the Barack Obama is too young to be president. Here are some clips from the AP story:
"I want Barack Obama to be president," Young said, pausing for effect, "in 2016."

"It's not a matter of being inexperienced. It's a matter of being young," Young said. "There's a certain level of maturity ... you've got to learn to take a certain amount of (expletive)."

Young went on to say that Obama needs a protective network that he currently lacks - a quality that could hurt him if he were to be elected. He said Hillary Clinton already has that kind of network, including her husband to back her up.

"There are more black people that Bill and Hillary lean on," Young said. "You cannot be president alone. ... To put a brother in there by himself is to set him up for crucifixion. His time will come and the world will be ready for a visionary leadership."
Read the article here.

Someone tried to hack into an American nuclear weapons laboratory

Someone tried to hack into an American nuclear weapons lab, and the evidence now points to China. Here is more on the breaking story:
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 8 — A cyber attack reported last week by one of the federal government’s nuclear weapons laboratories may have originated in China, according to a confidential memorandum distributed Wednesday to public and private security officials by the Department of Homeland Security.

Security researchers said the memorandum, which was obtained by The New York Times from an executive at a private company, included a list of Web and Internet addresses that were linked to locations in China. However, they noted that such links did not prove that the Chinese government or Chinese citizens were involved in the attacks. In the past, intruders have compromised computers in China and then used them to disguise their true location...
Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Do you listen to educational rap yet?

Someone was bound to make educational rap commercial business. Educationalrap.com describes the company's mission:
Rhythm, Rhyme, Results, LLC was founded in 2006 and is located in Cambridge, MA. We produce supplementary educational music in academic subjects such as mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies. The content-rich lyrics adhere to state and federal curriculum requirements and flow to thumping, original music.
This is so funny/awesome. Visit the here. Below are some sample social studies songs (may take a long time to load):

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Since when did Santa's "ho, ho, ho" become degrading to women?

Courtesy of the New York Times:
A Santa Claus starting his fourth year at a store in Cairns said he had been fired for saying "Ho! Ho! Ho!" which, according to local reports, the recruitment agency Westaff, the country's biggest Santa supplier, feels might frighten children and be seen as demeaning to women. The agency wants its Santas to say "Ha! Ha! Ha!" instead, the reports said. "They're trying to kill the spirit of Christmas," the dismissed Santa, John Oakes, who is 70, told The Cairns Post. He said he had been told that the old catch-cry was "not appropriate." A Westaff spokesman said Mr. Oakes had been dismissed for his attitude, not his ho-ho-ing.
Here is my favorite response to this article: "omg!!!! i dont want santa to laugh at me when i walk by?!?!?!?"

Dyslexics "more likely than nondyslexics to delegate authority"

Brent Browers, NYT, covered a new study about how dyslexia may bolster business acumen. Here is the beginning of the article:
It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought.

It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought...
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Perfectionism

Benedict Carey writes about the new forms of perfectionism in American society. He asks "if you can’t tolerate your worst, at least once in a while, how true to yourself can you be?" Read the NY Times article here.

Even Facebook's Zuckerberg wants privacy

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg wanted to remove some unflattering documents about himself from the magazine 02138 (also Harvard's zip code). A judge denied his request. Read the story here. Check out the controversial documents here.

"Meteorologists Shape Fashion Trends"

Fashion designers are following a new trend: hiring meteorologists. According to the NY Times:
...Two consecutive years of volatile weather — last November and this October were the warmest on record for the New York City area, a retail Mecca — have proved disastrous for companies that rely on predictable temperatures to sell cold-weather clothing like sweaters and coats.

So the $200 billion American apparel industry, which is filled with esoteric job titles like visual merchandiser and fabric assistant, is adding a more familiar one: weather forecaster.

Liz Claiborne, the apparel company, has hired a climatologist from Columbia University to predict weather for its designers to better time the shipments of seasonal garments to retailers.

The discount retailer Target has established a “climate team” to provide advice on what kind of apparel to sell throughout the year. More and more, the answer is lighter weight, “seasonless” fabrics...
Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Wall Street Journal links to our blog!

WSJ links to bluejaguars.blogspot.com! Click the picture for a bigger view or check out the WSJ article here. The link is the first one listed under "Blog Posts About This Topic" at the bottom of the page.

Here is the original BlueJaguars post.

Gossip Girl on set (and the 13 year old fans)

Ever wonder who goes to the Gossip Girl set to see a glimpse of the actors in NYC? Look above at the picture. The NY Times also included some dialog:

“I totally want to see Chuck,” said 14-year-old Catherine, who appeared to be the ringleader of a group of Sacred Heart eighth graders and who was wary of sharing her full name. She meant Chuck Bass, the young rouĂ© played by Ed Westwick.

“Blake Lively is my idol,” she said, referring to the actress who plays Serena van der Woodsen. “But if Chuck walked out here, I think I’d jump him.”

Katherine Withseidelin and Hollis Alpert, who are in the eighth grade at Chapin, were there early on Tuesday afternoon. “We saw Chuck yesterday,” Miss Withseidelin said.

“Yeah, that was a big deal,” Miss Alpert said. “He sort of was just, like, walking back to his trailer. So we got pictures. This is our third time here..."

This made me laugh -- read the rest of the article here. Check out full length episodes of Gossip Girl, including the most recent "Blair Waldorf Must Pie" episode, here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Overheard in New York

Overheard in New York publishes funny overheard conversations. Check out the site here. Here are some fun examples:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's Okay-- It's His Job to Stand There

Tourist man: Pardon me, officer, can you tell us where Orchard Street is?
Cop: See that naked Chinese guy?
Tourist man: Ummm...Yeah.
Cop: Walk down to him and make a left.
Tourist man: Um, thanks.
Cop: No problem.

--Delancey & Allen

Overheard by: Isaac

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pre-Class Registration Starts Once A Month

Dumb teen: Hey, look at this! It says "Train for jobs in biotch."
Smarter teen: Fool! That word is biotech. Why you gotta be ignorant all your life?

--1 train

Overheard by: Manhattman

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Buddha Was a Tough Kid to Raise

Mother: Don't you ever do that again! [slaps child hard]
Child, calmly: Well, are you happy with yourself?

--Union Square

Overheard by: Miranda

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Thanks Bocci!) Visit the site here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Americans believe in the Devil than in Darwin

"More Americans believe in a literal hell and the devil than Darwin's theory of evolution, according to a new Harris poll released on Thursday." Read the entire article here.

(Without your permission) Facebook undermines your internet anonymity

Online companies partnered with Facebook to unleash a new advertising strategy called Facebook Beacon. Now if you purchase, save, or look at something on one of those websites, the website will send your data to Facebook. For example, if you buy a movie on Blockbuster.com, it will publish your movie selection to your Friends' News Feed WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.

I thought this was a hoax, but apparently, Facebook has given each site a piece of Facebook javascript to identity whether or not you are a Facebook user. Here is the story in the NY Times. Here is a blog entry about how to block the javascript (read: how to block Facebook Beacon). Here is a blog about the evolution of Facebook Beacon.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Can Iran inadvertently help the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks?

Steven Erlanger poses an insightful theory about the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He says that many Middle Eastern countries are now supporting the peace process because they now have a more important goal: "stopping the rising regional influence of Iran and Islamic radicalism."

He claims that many traveled to the Annapolis Conference to gain a strategic alliance with the United Sates against Iran. He quotes Representative Gary L. Ackerman, Democrat of New York, who said, "Everybody at Annapolis has something in common. It’s not love of Israel or the Palestinians. It’s fear of Iran. Everyone needs a relative to protect them from Iran." Read the rest of his argument here.

A disturbing internet hoax in St. Louis

This story has received a lot of media attention recently:
DARDENNE PRAIRIE, Mo., Nov. 21 — Megan Meier died believing that somewhere in this world lived a boy named Josh Evans who hated her. He was 16, owned a pet snake, and she thought he was the cutest boyfriend she ever had.

Josh contacted Megan through her page on MySpace.com, the social networking Web site, said Megan’s mother, Tina Meier. They flirted for weeks, but only online — Josh said his family had no phone. On Oct. 15, 2006, Josh suddenly turned mean. He called Megan names, and later they traded insults for an hour.

The next day, in his final message, said Megan’s father, Ron Meier, Josh wrote, “The world would be a better place without you.”

Sobbing, Megan ran into her bedroom closet. Her mother found her there, hanging from a belt. She was 13.

Six weeks after Megan’s death, her parents learned that Josh Evans never existed. He was an online character created by Lori Drew, then 47, who lived four houses down the street in this rapidly growing community 35 miles northwest of St. Louis...
Read the rest of the story here.

"To Muslim (American) Girls, Scouts Offer a Chance to Fit In"

Girl Scout attire helps Haidara fit into her American city:
MINNEAPOLIS — Sometimes when Asma Haidara, a 12-year-old Somali immigrant, wants to shop at Target or ride the Minneapolis light-rail system, she puts her Girl Scout sash over her everyday clothes, which usually include a long skirt worn over pants as well as a swirling head scarf.

She has discovered that the trademark green sash — with its American flag, troop number (3009) and colorful merit badges — reduces the number of glowering looks she draws from people otherwise bothered by her traditional Muslim dress.

“When you say you are a girl scout, they say, ‘Oh, my daughter is a girl scout, too,’ and then they don’t think of you as a person from another planet,” said Asma, a slight, serious girl with a bright smile. “They are more comfortable about sitting next to me on the train...”

Read the rest of the story here.

New police tactic: paintballs

Here is an interesting concept -- In France, the police are trying to calm in uprising in Parisian suburbs.
...The police have made more than 30 arrests but have been restrained in controlling the violence, using tear gas to disperse the bands of young people and firing paint balls to identify people for possible arrests later...
Read the entire story here.

"Israel and Palestinians Set Goal of a Treaty in 2008"

"Officials from 49 nations gathered Tuesday at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., for a one-day conference on Middle East peace." -- New York Times

This was the first time in seven years that the US played the peacemaker role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read the headline story here.

What is a "fundo"?

According to the WSJ, it is an Islamic fundamentalist. Check it out here.

Is it right to fire someone due to his or her religion?

What if the person follows a form of religious extremism and works for a nuclear facility in a developing country? Here is a WSJ article about the above question:
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- Inside Pakistan's nuclear program, scientists are allowed to grow long beards, pray five times a day and vote for this country's conservative Islamist politicians. Religious zeal doesn't bar them from working in top-secret weapons facilities.

But religious extremism does. It's up to the program's internal watchdog, a security division authorized to snoop on its employees, to determine the difference -- and drive out those who breach the boundaries.

In an interview, a top security official for Pakistan's nuclear program outlined a multilayered system put in place over the past two years to try to avoid the kind of devastating lapses uncovered in recent years. A series of rogue scientists were found to have sold secrets or met with al Qaeda leaders, finally spurring a screening-and-surveillance program along the lines the U.S. uses -- but with a greater focus on weeding out an increasingly religious generation of would-be scientists and engineers...
The following is one of the most astonishing parts of the article. It's easy to forget that many countries have large disconnects between their civilian governments and the military:
...A major early problem [of protecting Pakistan's nuclear weapons] was weak oversight from the civilian government. Mr. Bhutto's daughter, Benazir, helped craft Pakistan's nuclear policies on exports and deterrence, yet says she was mostly kept out of the loop by the country's intelligence services while she was prime minister. Her successor, Nawaz Sharif -- who like Ms. Bhutto recently returned to Pakistan to challenge Mr. Musharraf's rule -- didn't fare any better during his two terms in office. At a 1999 meeting with President Clinton in Washington, Mr. Sharif says in an interview, U.S. intelligence informed him that Pakistani military transport planes were carrying used nuclear centrifuges, which can be used to produce weapons-grade uranium, out of the country.

"No, no," Mr. Sharif recalls responding. "That couldn't happen." But before he could check out the allegations, he says, his government fell in Gen. Musharraf's military coup. A former director of the centrifuge program was later arrested...
Read the rest here.

What is the definition of a market correction?

According to the NY Times, the answer is: "All three major stock indexes [The S&P, The Dow Jones, and the 10 yr Treasury note] have now dropped more than 10 percent from their highs, the generally accepted definition of a market correction." Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Google Trends

Google Trends is an awesome site. You could play on it for hours. On Google Trends, you can search how popular a term is on Google and compare it to the popularity of another search term. Check out the site here.

A Legendary Duke Shot - Sean Dockery against VT (December 4, 2005)



Incase you haven't seen it...

This is the infamous "This is why Duke sucks" video.

PS: Obviously, Duke >> UNC

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lifestyle Perks

Law firms across the country compete to find (and retain) the most talented. Modern workers demand more than a simple raise to stay at the firm. They want child care, dinners at fancy restaurants when they work late, sporting tickets, and other lifestyle perks. Firms are more than happy to oblige in order to keep their talent. Here is a clip from the article:
Even lawyers need a hug. When workdays stretch into worknights and the pressure to meet the quota for billable hours grows, lawyers and staff members at the firm of Perkins Coie can often expect a little bonus.

In Perkins Coie’s Chicago office, members of the firm’s “happiness committee” recently left candied apples on everyone’s desks. Last month, the happiness committee surprised lawyers, paralegals and assistants in the Washington office with milkshakes from a local Potbelly Sandwich Works, a favorite lunch spot.

“That’s the whole beauty of it all — it’s random acts of kindness,” said Lori Anger, client relations manager of Perkins Coie, which is based in Seattle. “We have pretty strict hours, so it’s a nice way to surprise people.”

The benefits for lawyers have burgeoned in recent years as firms pull out the stops to attract top-notch talent. While perks for the partners have always been common, many are now finding their way to associates — young lawyers who have not yet made partner...

Read the rest of the article here to find out what other perks lawyers can expect.

"We didn't think about getting old when we were young"

"John Cox Sr. serves free lunches at a subsidized apartment complex for the elderly in Machias." - The New York Times

The NY Times featured a report on the elderly poor in Maine. It's a sad but eye-awakening story. If you have a chance, check out this video. You can read the written article here. Here is a clip of the report:
MILBRIDGE, Me. — They have worked since their teens in backbreaking seasonal jobs, extracting resources from the sea and the forest. Their yards are filled with peeling boats and broken lobster traps.

In sagging wood homes and aged trailers scattered across Washington County, many of Maine’s poorest and oldest shiver too much in the winter, eat far more biscuits and beans than meat and cannot afford the weekly bingo game at the V.F.W. hall...

A modern Titanic

They were modern adventure travelers, following the doomed route of Sir Ernest Shackleton to the frozen ends of the earth. They paid $7,000 to $16,000 to cruise on a ship that had proudly plowed the Antarctic for 40 years.
But sometime early yesterday, the Explorer, fondly known in the maritime world as “the little red ship,” quietly struck ice.

There were the alarms, then the captain’s voice on the public address system calling the 100 passengers and the crew of about 50 to the lecture hall, according to passengers’ accounts on the radio and others relayed from rescuers and the tour operator...
Read the rest of the story here.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lucky people develop lucky habits

What makes someone lucky? According to an article in Forbes.com, luck is not attributed to chance, but to good habits. Here are some good "luck" habits:

...The human brain is amazingly good at detecting what it wants to find. When you are hungry, your brain focuses on finding food. When you are thirsty, it looks for liquid. The problem is, your brain can become so focused on seeing what it expects to see, it misses things that are obvious but unexpected. Lucky people tend to have a somewhat relaxed view of life. They are less concerned with mundane details and more prone to look at the bigger picture. Ironically, by trying less, they see more.

Exactly the same principle applies to the opportunities that bombard us in everyday life. In another experiment, I gave some volunteers a newspaper and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. What I didn't tell them was that halfway through the newspaper I had placed an unexpected opportunity. This "opportunity" took up half a page and announced, in huge type, "Win £100 by telling the experimenter you have seen this." The unlucky people tended to be so focused on counting the photographs they failed to notice the opportunity. In contrast, the lucky people were more relaxed, saw the bigger picture and so spotted a chance to win £100...

Read the entire story here. (Thank you Jeremy for the find!)

Random useful pomegranate lesson

My sister, Cassie, taught be how to peel a pomegranate today. I am normally a disaster when I try to cut one up, spraying the juice everywhere. Check out this video to see how to avoid pomegranate stains. (Hint: use a bowl of water)

How To Peel And Seed A Pomegranate - The most amazing videos are a click away
The seeds sink to the bottom and the white stuff (?) floats to the top. Nice.

Kayak.com is one of the most useful sites ever

I always use kayak.com to book air tickets. I can't believe this site is free! It takes a few more seconds than normal travel engines to find the fares, because it searches airlines and travel websites (like cheaptickets.com, travelocity.com etc). Check out kayak.com here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wish your dorm room had a "party mode" button? Zack Anderson's does.



MIDAS stands for "Multifunction In-Dorm Automation System". If you like the clip, you can find more information and diagrams on Zack's website here.

"MySpace Has Large Circle of Friends, But Rivals' Cliques Are Growing Too"

I had no idea that Myspace is so much more popular than Facebook. Check out the WSJ entry here.

"Test Question: Why is High School the New College?"

Here is an old WSJ column from 2006, but it still rings true. It talks about the craziness of high school and the "rat race" to get to college. Unlike other articles about overachievers, this one writes about some of the possible remedies. Check out the column here.

Cute Fat Mice



New York is getting safer

New York is getting safer, and killings by strangers are almost non-existent. These are impressive statistics for the city!
New York City is on track to have fewer than 500 homicides this year, by far the lowest number in a 12-month period since reliable Police Department statistics became available in 1963.
But within the city’s official crime statistics is a figure that may be even more striking: so far, with roughly half the killings analyzed, only 35 were found to be committed by strangers, a microscopic statistic in a city of more than 8.2 million.
If that trend holds up, fewer than 100 homicide victims in New York City this year will have been strangers to their assailants. The vast majority died in disputes with friends or acquaintances, with rival drug gang members or — to a far lesser degree — with romantic partners, spouses, parents and others.
Read the article here.

Is it ethical for a media outlet to hide a story?

I was reading an article about how the US funded Pakistan's nuclear program. Although most people are focusing on whether was right for the US to another country's nuclear program, something else caught my eye:
The New York Times has known details of the secret program for more than three years, based on interviews with a range of American officials and nuclear experts, some of whom were concerned that Pakistan’s arsenal remained vulnerable. The newspaper agreed to delay publication of the article after considering a request from the Bush administration, which argued that premature disclosure could hurt the effort to secure the weapons.
This brings me to a more important question: it it ethical for a media outlet to hide a story? I read the NY Times and trust that it gives me the most up to date news. If they wrote about the program, would it have jeopardized national security or would it have improved the program? Read the entire article here.

"Denial Makes the World Go Round"

The Science Times covered the four steps of denial:

1. Inattention -- An often benign form of denial; the activity passes under the radar
2. Passive acknowledgment -- the behavior is noticed, but little or no action is taken
3. Reframing -- exploitation or betrayal of trust is recast as a kind of mistake, a foul-up
4. Willful blindness -- the person keeps the topic off limits, perhaps even himself

Check out the details of denial here.

Proof that speedwalkers live longer

Here are the findings:
Researchers who followed the health of nearly 500 older people for almost a decade found that those who walked more quickly were less likely to die over the course of the study.
Ah ha, now I have a comeback when someone tells me that I walk too fast. Learn more here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Celebrating Abroad

I wish the best to all of the troops abroad. Thank you for protecting our freedoms. Read a tribute to them here.

Today is the day of tryptophan poisoning

Every wonder why you are so tired on Thanksgiving? Well you could have tryptophan poisoning (not really a medial condition...). Turkey has tryptophan, which can induce drowsiness. According to a new finding, it can also increase your sense of trust. Read the story here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Protecting the right to "keep and bear arms"

Courtesy of the NY Times:
Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that bears directly on whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to "keep and bear arms."
Read the story here.

BREAKING NEWS: Scientists produce stem cells without embryo

Courtesy of the NY Times:
Two teams of scientists reported yesterday that they had turned human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without having to make or destroy an embryo — a feat that could quell the ethical debate troubling the field.
Check out the details here. Check back in a few days as more details emerge.

A big (lottery) secret

Check out this news:
A woman whose husband has kept about $600,000 in lottery winnings from her says she has a number for him: half. And Donna Campbell is suing her husband in her attempt to get it.

But American Airlines mechanic Arnim Ramdass disappeared after his wife confronted him about the secret, so process servers haven't been able to hand him the lawsuit papers yet, Campbell's attorney said...
I'd also like to include the last line of the article. This wife has direction. I wouldn't want this marriage.
"Right now, all I want is justice," Campbell said. "With time, I will file for divorce."
Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let's use Britney Spears as an examples for 25 year olds

This AOL Money piece uses Britney Spears as an example for 25 year olds (or really any age) to show them how to invest and save their money. Check it out here.

Do non-Arab Muslim countries exist? You bet.

Here are some non-Arab Muslim countries:
  • Iran
  • Pakistan
  • Turkey
  • Azerbaijan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tadjikistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Afghanistan

The fastest swimmer in the US is 40 years old

Check out her story. She spends more time out of the pool than in it:
Dara Torres, the fastest female swimmer in America, plunged toward the bottom of the pool, like a child scavenging for coins. She came up for a breath, grinning. The lanes next to hers pulsed with swimmers pushing themselves through 100- and 200-meter timed sprints, but Torres was under orders from her coach to rest, the better to let her 40-year-old body recover...
Read the rest here.

Biotech (...in the high school classroom)

I wish I took this class!
MORE than a decade ago, after George Cachianes, a former researcher at Genentech, decided to become a teacher, he started a biotechnology course at Lincoln High School in San Francisco. He saw the class as way of marrying basic biotechnology principles with modern lab practices — and insights into how business harvests biotech innovations for profit.

If you’re interested in seeing the future of biotechnology education, you might want to visit one of George Cachianes’s classrooms. “Students are motivated by understanding the relationships between research, creativity and making money,” he says.

Lincoln has five biotech classes, each with about 30 students. Four other public high schools in San Francisco offer the course, drawing on Mr. Cachianes’s syllabus. Mr. Cachianes, who still teaches at Lincoln, divides his classes into teams of five students; each team “adopts” an actual biotech company...

Learn more here.

How do you cure an internet addiction?

Is internet addiction real? What are the symptoms? Can a military style boot camp cure the addiction? Find out the answers here.

At home DNA testing for $1000


What if you could "google" your DNA to find out if you are more prone to a disease? Amy Harmon wrote about her DNA decoding experiences. It's a facinating story. What if insurance companies got their hands on this? It would change the entire market. I'll give you the first few lines here:
The exploration of the human genome has long been relegated to elite scientists in research laboratories. But that is about to change. An infant industry is capitalizing on the plunging cost of genetic testing technology to offer any individual unprecedented — and unmediated — entree to their own DNA.

For as little as $1,000 and a saliva sample, customers will be able to learn what is known so far about how the billions of bits in their biological code shape who they are. Three companies have already announced plans to market such services, one yesterday.
Read the rest here.

"Russia: Doomsday Sect Threatens Suicide"

Courtesy of the NY Times:
About 30 members of an eccentric Christian sect have retreated to a cave on a snowy hillside outside Nikolskoye in central Russia, where they have been in a standoff with the police. They took to the cave about a week ago and say they will stay underground until the apocalypse they expect in May. Attempts by the police to coax them out or at least get them to release the children with them have been met with threats to blow themselves up. The sect’s 43-year-old leader preaches apocalyptic doom and reportedly sleeps in a coffin.

200 lashes for rape victim?!

This story is so foreign for US citizens. governments still sentence people to lashes?

A judge in Saudi Arabia ordered 200 lashes for a 19 year old rape victim. She was originally sentenced to 90 lashes for being in a car with an unrelated man. Her lawyer called the sentences of the nine men who raped her too lenient, and the court increased her lashes to 200. According to the NY Times, this has sparked rare public debate about the the treatment of Saudi Arabian women. Read more of the story here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What is the Palestinian Security Paradox?

I'll give you a clue:
Here's a safe prediction in advance of the Annapolis peace conference scheduled to take place in a few weeks: The Palestinians won't be ready to fulfill their obligation to provide security in the West Bank under the "road map to peace."

The Palestinian Authority simply doesn't have the people, the training or the equipment to maintain order in the territories.

Why is this so? The answer, in part, is that the Palestinians haven't built up their security forces because the Israelis haven't permitted them to do so...

...But so far, the Israelis have hindered parts of this effort. For example: Permission was denied for Palestinian security forces to use body armor that had been donated by the British government. The Israelis objected that the armor could stop Israeli bullets....
Find the rest of the answer here.

Modeling Ant Behavior

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

"It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness, competition and deeply rooted barriers." Read more in the NYT .