Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Predictably Irrational

We often think that it is in our best interest to keep all all options open -- but is this always true? Dan Ariely, one of the nation's leading behavioral economists, studies this exact problem. Sometimes saying no means you can say yes more often, but how to you know when to say "no"? Read the article here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Even though the economy is slow, Visa goes through with its IPO (it rhymes)

Visa hopes to raise as much as $17 billion during its initial public offering. This would beat AT&T's IPO, which raised $10.6 billion in 2000. Check out the details here.

More Americans Change Faiths

Fact of the day: "More than a quarter of adult Americans have left the faith of their childhood to join another religion or no religion."

Read the article here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Best Science Fair Pictures

"Animal Magnetism"
"Crystal Meth: Friend or Foe?"See more Gawker Science Fair pictures here.

Clarification: Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) is a completely different country from Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville).

One more fact of the day: Zaire is the former name of Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Virgin Birth

Something highly unusual has happened in Kansas. A Komodo dragon is pregnant, even though she has had no male of the species in close proximity for over a decade. According to the NY Times, "it appears that these lizards sometimes use a form of virgin birth in which eggs hatch without conception. The embryos are genetic clones of the mother."

Read the story here.

"Insurance Fears Lead Many to Shun DNA Tests"

The fear of genetic discrimination has caused many Americans to avoid DNA tests that could reveal hereditary diseases. Many Americans are seeking private DNA tests, and pay a premium so their employers, doctors, and insurers do not receive the results. People fear disclosing too much about their genetic make-up, because they may lose their health insurance, or even a job.

This argument would make a strong case for universal health care. Check out the article here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Low-calorie sweeteners may make you fat?

A study at Purdue University found that animals that ate foods with artificial sweeteners ended up eating more calories than animals that ate foods with natural sugar. Check out the entire article here -- oh the irony.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Having trouble finding a common time to meet?

Does your group always have trouble agreeing on a date? Here is a brilliant new online site that will organize the best times for people in your group. Check out

Jesus Camp

Some people find this inspiring. Others find it creepy. Which one are you?

"I Love You, but You Love Meat"

Relationship troubles used to arise from differences in religion, money, and children, but now people are finding their spouse's dietary routines incompatible.

My favorite quote from this report: "vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans ... are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit."

Here are some more dating tips:
Judging from postings at food Web sites like and, people seem more willing to date those who restrict their diet for health or religion rather than mere dislike.

Typical sentiments included: “Medical and religious issues I can work around as long as the person is sincere and consistent, but flaky, picky cheaters — no way” and “picky eaters are remarkably unsexy.”

Read the entire NY Times story here.

Now you can delete your Facebook Account! (Not that you would anyway)

Deleting your Facebook account used to be literally impossible. You could only "deactivate" it, leaving all of your information on the site. Now, due to a public outcry, Facebook has made it possible to delete your account. Read the story here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

How do you write your post-interview thank you note?

A thoughtful follow up letter after an interview can land you the job -- or it can at least reopen doors if you messed up in the interview. Want to learn those skills, too? The WSJ outlines them here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Are male models too skinny?

According to the NY Times, its not only women who are losing weight to retain their modeling careers:
Wasn’t it just a short time ago that the industry was up in arms about skinny models? Little over a year ago, in Spain, designers were commanded to choose models based on a healthy body mass index; physicians were installed at Italian casting calls; Diane von Furstenberg, the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, called a conference to ventilate the issue of unhealthy body imagery and eating disorders among models.

The models in question were women, and it’s safe to say that they remain as waiflike as ever. But something occurred while no one was looking. Somebody shrunk the men.

“Skinny, skinny, skinny,” said Dave Fothergill, a director of the agency of the moment, Red Model Management. “Everybody’s shrinking themselves.”

When male models compare to the average American, we can see some startling differences:
...According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are taller and much heavier today than 40 years ago. The report, released in 2002, showed that the average height of adult American men has increased to 5-9 ½ in 2002 from just over 5-8 in 1960. The average weight of the same adult man had risen dramatically, to 191 pounds from 166.3.

Nowadays a model that weighed in at 191 pounds, no matter how handsome, would be turned away from most agencies or else sent to a fat farm...
Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Frozen Grand Central

What would happen if you took 207 undercover agent and had them stop moving randomly in the middle of Grand Central Station?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Distance Calculator

Have you ever wanted to track the distance of your run? You can track any distance in the US (on and off trail) here on the USATF website.

Is double dipping really that bad?

Definitely yes, according to a new study published by Prof. Paul L. Dawson, a food microbiologist at Clemson University. He decided to research double dipping after he watched a 1993 Seinfeld episode, in which George Costanza gets in a fight with his girlfriend’s brother over dipping.

Two cool bits of trivia from this article:
1) "The thicker the dip, the more stuck to the chip, and so the fewer bacteria were left behind in the bowl."
2) The 1993 Sienfeld episode is the "first notable use of 'double dip' to mean dipping a chip twice".

Check out the NY Times article here to see how much bacteria is in your dip before you start munching at the Super Bowl this weekend. (Thanks Danny!)

Duke University's confidential "Answer Person" has a blog

As Duke students and vistors leave Perkins library they will see a loose-leaf binder near the door. It has many different styles of hand writing, and every question is answered in a typed paragraph below. According to the Chronicle:
...The book was started in 1982 as the brainchild of Deputy University Librarian John Lubans, after he came to Duke. Any visitor can write questions or concerns about the library in the loose-leaf binder, and Answer Person, whose real identity has never been revealed, will respond.Answer Person's book started in 1982. Any visitor can write questions in the loose-leaf binder, and Answer Person will respond...
The questions in the book range from "Why do Duke buses have a 'buckle up' sign if there are no seat belts?" to "What is the origin of the phrase 'I’ll hold up my end'?". To find out these answers and more, check out Duke University's Answer Person's blog here. Check out the Chronicle's article about Answer Person here. Does anyone have guesses for Answer Person's identity?

Using cell phone signals to determine traffic congestion

IntelliOne, a US based company, is using cell phone signals find traffic jams. Now you can check your cell phone to detour around traffic congestion. Here is the USA Today report:

...Herman, 45, an engineer, computer scientist and self-proclaimed "traffic geek," is here to demonstrate how his IntelliOne system can use cellular phone data to give motorists real-time notifications of tie-ups and slowdowns in traffic on any road within range of a cellular relay tower, from the largest interstate to the smallest dirt lane.

The concept is simple:

Every cellphone is tuned into multiple relay towers. The towers determine the phone's position twice a second when someone is talking and once every 30 seconds if the phone is idle.

The towers send phone position information to the carrier's local computers where, for the most part, Herman says, "it falls on the floor and nobody pays any attention to it."

Atlanta-based IntelliOne probes that data stream and converts it into real-time traffic congestion reports. The reports detail the exact locations and extent of the congestion, and the average speed of traffic.

"If there are 50 or 100 phones out on I-275 moving at 10 miles an hour in a 65 mph zone, there's a problem," Herman said.

There are no privacy issues. The IntelliOne probe taps a data stream, not the voice stream, so it can't listen in on calls. There also is an anonymity filter, so the system doesn't know whose phone it is tracking...

Read the rest of the story here.

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 .