Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Boys’ Club

Sue Li, a senior at Duke, writes an intriguing article about the gender-disparities at Duke, particularly in the Physics department. Read the Duke Chronicle article here.

Military Teaches Warthog to Guzzle Biofuel

Looks like the A-10 becoming environmentally friendly:
Check this out for a brain-twisting juxtaposition: The U.S. military has successfully tested out a biofuel system for a "Warthog" A10 Thunderbolt II, one of the most feared combat aircraft in the World. Which is now fluffily green.
Find out the details in the FastCompany article here.

Infographic of the Day: Does Being Old Really Make You a Republican?

Read the accompanying FastCompany blog post here. (Any thoughts on why the graphs have those shapes? Answer in the FastCompany article.)

New York Time Roulette

Addictive: This site will send you to a random webpage published on in the past 24 hours.

Want to Prevent Weight Gain As You Age? Plan on 60 Minutes a Day of Exercise, Kick It Up a Notch, or Consider Interval Training

Somewhat intimidating:
"As American women age many begin a war with their weight. A new study shows for normal weight middle-aged women and older who eat a regular diet, 60 minutes of daily exercise is recommended just to maintain and not gain weight as they age. For overweight or obese women exercising 60 minutes wasn't enough to maintain weight over time."

-Dr. I-Min Lee, Division of Preventive Medicine Medicine and Aging, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, "Physical Activity and Weight Gain Prevention," JAMA March 24/31, 2010, 303(12):1173-79
Read the article here.

Taxes per Person

Something interesting:
Some pundits, reflecting on the looming U.S. budget deficits, claim that Americans are vastly undertaxed compared with other major nations. I was wondering, to what extent is that true?

....For some purposes, a better statistic may be taxes per person, which we can compute using this piece of advanced mathematics:

Taxes/GDP x GDP/Person = Taxes/Person

Here are the results for some of the largest developed nations:

.461 x 33,744 = 15,556

.406 x 34,219 = 13,893

.390 x 35,165 = 13,714

.282 x 46,443 = 13,097

.334 x 38,290 = 12,789

.426 x 29,290 = 12,478

.373 x 29,527 = 11,014

.274 x 32,817 = 8,992

The bottom line: The United States is indeed a low-tax country as judged by taxes as a percentage of GDP, but as judged by taxes per person, the United States is in the middle of the pack.
Read the rest of Greg Mankiw's blog here.

Can Animals be Gay?

Find out in the NYT here.

What If Women Ran Wall Street?

The New Yorker writes about testosterone and risk. (Thanks, Gabby)

Risk and Opportunity for Women in 21st Century

I'm obviously on a feminist kick here. Here is one more article if you are into this:
Daniel Louvard does not believe in affirmative action. Time and again, the scientists in his Left Bank cancer laboratory have urged him to recruit with gender diversity in mind. But Mr. Louvard, research director at the Institut Curie and one of France’s top biochemists, just keeps hiring more women.

“I take the best candidates, period,” Mr. Louvard said. There are 21 women and 4 men on his team.

The quiet revolution that has seen women across the developed world catch up with men in the work force and in education has also touched science, that most stubbornly male bastion...

..In this, too, Pierre and Marie Curie were trailblazers. If she is still an inspiration for women scientists, it is not only because she received two Nobel prizes, one in physics and one in chemistry. She also had a longtime marriage and two successful daughters.

Pierre, with whom she discovered radioactivity, refused to accept the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics that was offered to him and Henri Becquerel unless his wife shared it...

“...This talent pool is extremely important to us,” said Kerstin Wagner, head of talent recruiting for the German electronics giant Siemens. Despite the economic slump, Siemens is having trouble filling some 600 engineering jobs in the United States and more than 1,200 engineering jobs in Germany...
Read the rest of the NYT here.

After Harvard Controversy, Conditions Change but Reputation Lingers

Post-Larry Summers Harvard update:
It has been five years since Lawrence H. Summers, then the president of Harvard University, suggested at an academic conference that innate differences might explain why fewer women than men succeed in science and math careers. His remark sparked a firestorm that brought many changes — among them, Mr. Summers’s resignation and the naming of the university’s first female president, Drew Gilpin Faust.

Although many top universities took action in the early 2000s to help women, especially women in science, Harvard, under Mr. Summers, had an unimpressive record. Tenure offers to women plummeted after he took office in 2001. While Harvard extended 13 of its 36 tenure offers to women the year before Mr. Summers became president, that dropped to 4 of 32 the year before his speech. And several departments did not have a single tenured female professor.

Then, at a conference in January 2005, Mr. Summers delivered his now infamous remarks.

He told the audience that “there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude,” which he said were reinforced by “lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination...”
Read the rest of the NYT article here.

Bias Called Persistent Hurdle for Women in Sciences

Mae C. Jemison says she encountered bias in her studies for chemical engineering.
Here are some interesting updates on the state of women in the US:
  • A report on the underrepresentation of women in science and math by the American Association of University Women, to be released Monday, found that although women have made gains, stereotypes and cultural biases still impede their success.
  • The report found ample evidence of continuing cultural bias. One study of postdoctoral applicants, for example, found that women had to publish 3 more papers in prestigious journals, or 20 more in less-known publications, to be judged as productive as male applicants.
  • The university women’s report cited research showing that girls’ performance suffers from any suggestion that they do poorly at math. In one experiment, college students with strong math backgrounds and similar abilities were divided into two groups and tested on math. One group was told that men perform better on the test, the other that there was no difference in performance between the sexes. Their results were starkly different: in the group told that men do better, men indeed did much better, with an average score of 25 compared with the women’s 5. In the group told there was no difference, women scored 17 and men 19.
Read the NYT article here.

Retain Your Records No Longer Than You Must

How long should you keep those old financial statements for the IRS? The NYT answers this questions here. (Thanks, Mom)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shoes that make everyone the same height

No more awkward cocktail parties. Check out the article -- and more pictures -- here. (Thanks Clare!)

The Future of Economics: Economist v. Journalist

With the most recent recession, there has been some discussion about the future of economics. Is economics about forecasting or understanding the past? Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw and NYT columnist David Brooks duke it out:

Brooks's article.

Mankiw's response.

Friday, March 26, 2010

China Behind Yesterday's YouTube, Facebook, Twitter Outage

While the World is pondering the complex final moves in the cultural conflict between Google and China's censors, the story has has taken a completely bizarre twist: For some reason, China's censorship firewall went briefly world-wide.

This seems to be an event that you'd dismiss as part of the twisty background plot in a James Bond movie, but it did happen: During the week, sysadmins around the World noticed that traffic that should have been happily flowing to sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook was instead being diverted to servers inside China, where it fell subject to the country's tough Great Firewall censorship regime. The result was that certain users around the globe got the same "service not available messages" that the Chinese would get, or were diverted to Chinese alternatives.
Read the FastCompany article here.

Dave Berry: Eat all that you can eat

A humor piece on military food... how long can your Twinkie last? (Thanks Gaurav!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

8 Unconventional Ways to De-stress and Release Tension

A few of my favorites:
1. Massage your ears.
4. Try laughing yoga.
6. Be brutally honest.
Check out the 8 unconventional ways to de-stress here. (Thanks Cassie!)

The Power of "Hello"

Are you someone who always says "hello" when you walk by another? Check out this article to see the power of hello -- to strangers and friends. (Thanks, Lucy)

The Real Arithmetic of Health Care Reform

Take away the budgetary gimmicks and games, and it's clear that health care reform raises, not lowers, federal deficits. Read the NYT Op-Ed piece here.

(How is this going through Congress?!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Michael Lewis’s ‘The Big Short’? Read the Harvard Thesis Instead!

A.K. Barnett-Hart's (2009 Harvard undergraduate) thesis about the market for subprime mortgage-backed CDOs is on of the most talked about documents on Wall Street this week. See the WSJ article here. (Thanks, Rish)

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

How Vacations Affect Your Happiness

According to this NYT article the anticipation of having a vacation increases happiness more than actually going on the vacation (!). They recommend taking shorter vacations but more often to increase happiness. (Thanks, Chrissy!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Business Card? Just Scan My QR Code

Not sure what a QR code is? Check out the FastCompany article here.

The Script - Breakeven (Falling To Pieces)

I've listened to this on repeat for the past day. Thought I might share it.

Cows Explain Politics

"Confused about the difference between socialism, Communism, and the politics of huge corporations? This basic “dictionary” may help." Here are a few excerpts:
Feudalism: You have two cows. The lord of the manor takes some of the milk. And all the cream.

Pure Communism: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

Dictatorship: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

Democracy, Democrat-style: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being so successful. You vote politicians into office who tax your cows, which forces you to sell one to pay the tax. The politicians use the tax money to buy a cow for your neighbor. You feel good. Barbra Streisand sings for you.
Check out the rest of the humor here. (Thanks Jules)

750 Words Clears Your Mind, Gets Ideas Flowing

This site helps faciliate your private online journal. The goal is to free write for 750 words (3 pages) between you... and yourself.

Unlike Xanga, LiveJournal or Facebook, there is no need to sensor yourself. It also tracks how happy you are, what you wrote about the most, your words per minute and the number of distractions you had. It's a pretty nifty stats page. Check out the 750words site here. Read the Likehacker review here. (Thanks Jules and David!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pockets and Purses Give up Their Secrets

"Francois Robert asks his portrait subjects to empty the contents of what they're carrying." See the photo essay here.

A Tiny Fruit That Tricks the Tongue

These "magic berries" have been popular across the country. They make sour things turn sweet for about an hour:
“You pop it in your mouth and scrape the pulp off the seed, swirl it around and hold it in your mouth for about a minute,” he said. “Then you’re ready to go.” He ushered his guests to a table piled with citrus wedges, cheeses, Brussels sprouts, mustard, vinegars, pickles, dark beers, strawberries and cheap tequila, which Mr. Aliquo promised would now taste like top-shelf Patrón.
Read about Flava Trippin' parties here.

It’s My Party, and You Have to Answer

On the death of RSVPs:

HERE’S an etiquette experiment for you: E-mail an invitation for a party, one month out, to 45 friends. Request an R.S.V.P. Provide a follow-up e-mail message, two weeks later, politely reminding them to get back to you.

How many will?

Find out the answer (and a few stories on social etiquette) here.

Deutsche Telekom to Introduce Quota for Female Managers

I wonder how the Germans will be able to implement this with a minimal backlash. Is something like this even legal in the U.S.? Read the NYT article here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Water for the People: PlayPumps

This is brilliant. How do you get water for your village? PlayPumps is a pump, which gets the water when the children ride on it! Check out the website here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

You are always wearing your letters

This is good insight to the responsibilities when you join a sorority or fraternity. Read the Apathy Myth article here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide

Confused about the financial debt crisis in Greece? Here is a good introduction:
Bets by some of the same banks that helped Greece shroud its mounting debts may actually now be pushing the nation closer to the brink of financial ruin.

Echoing the kind of trades that nearly toppled the American International Group, the increasingly popular insurance against the risk of a Greek default is making it harder for Athens to raise the money it needs to pay its bills, according to traders and money managers...
Read the rest of the NYT article here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Pepsi Advert - "Oh África" feat. Akon - Henry, Messi, Drogba, Arshavin, Lampard & Kaká

(Thanks, David)

Don't think about white bears.

Try to not think about white bears. What happens?

A few gems from this article:
...What does this have to do with sleep? For me, insomnia is my white bear. My conscious goal is to fall asleep, which then causes my unconscious to continually check up on whether or not I’m achieving my goal. And so, after passing out for 30 seconds, I’m woken up by my perverse brain. (Most animals lack such self-aware thoughts, which is why our pets never have trouble taking a nap.)

Because insomnia is triggered, at least in part, by anxiety about insomnia, the worst thing we can do is think about not being able to sleep; the diagnosis exacerbates the disease...
Read the entire NYT article here -- and find out secrets to sleeping! (Thanks Cassie!)

Inbox (1)

Daniel Wong published a funny article in the Duke Chronicle today. His article is one of my favorites of the semester.

NASA: The 8.8 earthquake in Chile may have shifted Earth's axis and created shorter days

Read the CNN article here.

Want to Know When the Israeli Army Will Knock Down Your Door? Check Facebook

It was only a matter time before this happened:
You know when your boss has a quiet word with you about using Facebook on company time? That's nothing compared to the hell an Israeli soldier is now in: He Facebooked details of an upcoming IDF raid. And forced its cancellation.
Read the rest of the Fast Company article here.

Bull City Rising: Social Entrepreneurship in the heart of Bull City Forward effort

This is a great new venture in the Triangle area. It's part shared-workspace/incubator part blog. Check it out here.

Do Something: Six Tips to Reinvent Non-Profits

Dress for Success founder and CEO of Do Something, Nancy Lublin writes Six Tips for decreasing burn-out in the office. Number three is my favorite:
3. Shut up. You think talking about it will make you feel better? That's a load of crap. Don't complain at work; it demoralizes your colleagues, who will further demoralize you. Instead, think of things to celebrate: great orgs, terrific people, change happening. Despite our problems, the do-gooder world is doing good. Be happy about that.
Read all of the six here at Fast Company.

Why NYC's New Dedicated Crosstown Bus Lane Owes a Debt to Bogota, Colombia

NYC is creating a radical new proposal to increase its urban transportation efficiency: bus only lanes that cross from one side of the city to the other. Check out the Fast Company article here.

Infographic of the Day: Which Burger Chains Dominate the U.S. Landscape?

"McDonald's isn't quite as ubiquitous as it seems--and that tells you something about the power of its brand." Check out the Fast Company blog here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Life Expectancy at Retirement

It's no wonder there are so many problems with rising healthcare costs and social security! People are living well beyond retirement, compared to when most of these programs were enacted in the 1960s/70s.

Here are a few thoughts from Greg Mankiw:
Americans, as well as citizens of many other advanced nations, now spend about twice as many years in retirement as they did a generation or two ago. During that time, they expect the government to provide them with income support and healthcare. Is it any wonder that we face serious fiscal problems?

I hope the president's fiscal commission makes raising the age of eligibility for these programs one of its main recommendations.
Read Greg Mankiw's blog here.

Vacationing Chileans Struggle to Get Home

If your country's only airport was destroyed by an earthquake, what measures would you take to go home?

"Summer vacation was winding down when the quake hit, and with the airport damaged, many Chileans are stranded." Read the NYT article here.

Alphabet Game

For long road trips. Check out the Oddly Specific sign.

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 .