Sunday, March 30, 2008

Elephant Paints Self Portrait

(Thanks Julia for the find!)

East and West Part Ways in Test of Facial Expressions

The NY Times covered a study that found that "Westerners focused on the central figure’s expression, while the Japanese took everyone into account." Here is another except of the article:
....The differences may speak to deeply ingrained cultural traits, the authors write, suggesting that Westerners may “see emotions as individual feelings, while Japanese see them as inseparable from the feelings of the group"...

...Still, the study fits squarely in a longstanding body of research into differences between Eastern and Western perceptions of the world around us.

Researchers studying paintings from the 16th through 20th centuries, for example, have found that in Western portraits, the subject took up a larger portion of the picture and was painted in a way to make the subject stand out, the study said. In Eastern portraits, the subjects tended to be smaller and to blend into the background...

Read the rest of the article here.

Red Sox beat Dodgers before 115,300 fans

"An announced crowd of 115,300 fans gathered at Los Angeles Coliseum to watch the Red Sox defeat the Dodgers 7-4 in an exhibition game. It was the largest crowd to ever watch a baseball game." -- USA Today. Read the article here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Brutally Honest: "Have You Gained Weight?"

This is a great article about how Germans interact differently than Americans. (Hint: the proper answer to the title of this blog is, "yes" if you have gained weight.) Here is another excerpt:
Personal invitations of all kinds are to be taken at face value. "We're having a party, please do come," means "We're having a party, please do come," and not "We feel rude not inviting you in front of these other people, but surely you'll have the grace not to show up." Similarly, "Come over to my house and we'll have tea," means that you should start planning a date and time for that pleasant event. It is not to be confused with the Anglo-American "We should get together sometime," which means "I hope I never see you again."

Yes means yes and no means no. If you ask whether you can share someone's table (or borrow a pen, or get a ride) and that person says yes, that's the end of it. Even if the person does not smile or tell you to go right ahead, you do not have to ask again. Germans will be perplexed when you insist: "Are you sure? I won't be bothering you, will I? I'll just take this little corner and be done in a minute." For heavens sakes, they said yes already, and it's not like you're asking them to donate a kidney. Just sit down...
Read the rest of this article here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No such thing as a sweet tooth

Scientists have found that the appeal of surgary foods is entirely unconnected with taste buds.
Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina claim that the human brain "senses" that such foods are high in calories and "reward" people by releasing hormones that make them feel happier...
Read the article here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Someone just lost their job

The Pentagon announced that the U.S. mistakenly shipped electrical fuses for nuclear missile warheads to Taiwan. Read the article here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Many women at elite colleges set career path to motherhood"

This NY Times article is nearly three years old, but many women in elite colleges are still planning to end their careers when they start having children. Here is an excerpt:
Cynthia Liu is precisely the kind of high achiever Yale wants: smart (1510 SAT), disciplined (4.0 grade point average), competitive (finalist in Texas oratory competition), musical (pianist), athletic (runner) and altruistic (hospital volunteer). And at the start of her sophomore year at Yale, Ms. Liu is full of ambition, planning to go to law school.

So will she join the long tradition of famous Ivy League graduates? Not likely. By the time she is 30, this accomplished 19-year-old expects to be a stay-at-home mom.

"My mother's always told me you can't be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time," Ms. Liu said matter-of-factly. "You always have to choose one over the other."

..."It really does raise this question for all of us and for the country: when we work so hard to open academics and other opportunities for women, what kind of return do we expect to get for that?" said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admissions at Harvard, who served as dean for coeducation in the late 1970's and early 1980's...
Read the rest of the article here.

Iraq, $5,000 Per Second?

Do you think Iraq has cost us $5,000 per second? Find out here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In Europe, Women Finding More Seats at the Table

Norway passed a law five years ago requiring companies to fill 40 percent of corporate board seats with women by 2008. Now that it is 208, how do you think this changed Norwegian companies? Find out here at the NY Times.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sexual Blackmail and a Green Card

A US immigration agents demands sex from a foreigner in exchange for a green card. Is this a new type of sexual black mail? Read the NY Times report here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vote Julia Chou!

Photo from

Julia Chou is running for VP of Academic Affairs at Duke University. Check out her website here.

Vegetable Orchestra

A concert with instruments made entirely out of veggies. Seriously. (Thanks Alden!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cell phone check-in at airports

Now you can use your cell phone to check in at airports instead of a paper boarding pass. Check out the details here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

When Girls Will Be Boys

What happens if someone enters into a woman's college, but she decides to change her gender? Rey explained his experience at Barnard in the NY Times. Check out the article here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Does the universe need to have a cause?

The $1.6 million Templeton Prize, the richest award made to an individual by a philanthropic organization, was given to Michael Heller, 72, a priest, cosmologist, and philosopher.
...He has argued against a “God of the gaps” strategy for relating science and religion, a view that uses God to explain what science cannot.

Professor Heller said he believed, for example, that the religious objection to teaching evolution “is one of the greatest misunderstandings” because it “introduces a contradiction or opposition between God and chance.”

In a telephone interview, Professor Heller explained his affinity for the two fields: “I always wanted to do the most important things, and what can be more important than science and religion? Science gives us knowledge, and religion gives us meaning. Both are prerequisites of the decent existence.”

Read the NY Times article here.

An argument against universal health care

What if you had breast cancer and you badly needed treatment but your doctor refused you because the universal health care did not cover it? What if you could pay for the treatment out of pocket and the doctor still refused you? Read Debbie Hirst's story about Britain’s National Health Service here.

Celebrities are solutions to non-profit woes

Celebrities are reaching out beyond Hollywood and lend their fame to areas in need. Celebrities like Bono, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Clooney and, Natalie Portman have transformed the non-profit industry.
In 2004, Natalie Portman, then a 22-year-old fresh from college, went to Capitol Hill to talk to Congress on behalf of the Foundation for International Community Assistance, or Finca, a microfinance organization for which she served as “ambassador.” She found herself wondering what she was doing there, but her colleagues assured her: “We got the meetings because of you.”

For lawmakers, Natalie Portman was not simply a young woman — she was the beautiful Padmé from “Star Wars.” “And I was like, ‘That seems totally nuts to me,’ ” Portman told me recently. It’s the way it works, I guess. I’m not particularly proud that in our country I can get a meeting with a representative more easily than the head of a nonprofit can...”
Read the rest of the NY Times story here.

New Law: Go into public service and your debts are forgiven

A new law recently went into effect that forgives any remaining balance from federal student loan debt for people who work in public service for 10 years. Check out the WSJ article here.

Mild Tempered Cat

Courtesy of the "Merchant of Cute".

Duck & Puppy

"It's cute divided by zero." -- Arjun Sharma

Awareness Test

Check out the awareness test at (It's a rather famous psych test)

Stem Cells save a boy's life

When Dallas Hextell was 8 months old, he was unable to walk or talk. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. His parents sought help from Duke University medial center where doctors preformed an experimental treatment on Dallas using his own stem cells from his umbilical cord, which his parents had saved at birth.

Five days later, Dallas uttered his first word. Now he can walk and talk like his peers. Watch the life-changing video here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

1 in 100 American adults are in jail

More startling facts of the day:

- One in nine (!) black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are in jail
- One in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars but one in 100 black women are

Read the rest of the NY Times article here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Man wins 1 million and hugs Bobby Orr

Darwin Head of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan won $1 million in Vancouver at the Canucks and the Avalanche. He shot 15 pucks -- the exact amount he needed -- out of 20 into an empty net from the far blue line in 24 seconds!

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 .