Literary dystopias have this in common: They are imagined societies in which the deepest demands of human nature are either subverted, perverted, or simply made unattainable.
Literary dystopias have this in common: They are imagined societies in which the deepest demands of human nature are either subverted, perverted, or simply made unattainable.
In the 1940s when he realized that starvation 'was going to be a huge problem' in war-torn countries, Keys led the first scientific studies of calorie restrictions, at the University of Minnesota. Their study was known as the Minnesota Starvation Study and the results were published in the legendary two-volume, Biology of Human Starvation. Decades later, it is still the definitive work on the subject. "I doubt another of its kind will ever be done," he said. Today, there are rights for human research subjects and it would be seen as too cruel and life-threatening.
Young male volunteers, all carefully selected for being especially psychologically and socially well-adjusted, good-humored, motivated, active and healthy, were put on diets meant to mimic what starving Europeans were enduring, of about 1,600 calorie/day — but which included lots of fresh vegetables, complex carbohydrates and lean meats. The calories were more than many weight loss diets prescribe and precisely what's considered "conservative" treatment for obesity today. What they were actually studying, of course, was dieting — our bodies can't tell the difference if they're being starved voluntarily or involuntarily! Dr. Keys and colleagues then painstakingly chronicled how the men did during the 6 months of dieting and for up to a year afterwards, scientifically defining "the starvation syndrome."
As the men lost weight, their physical endurance dropped by half, their strength about 10%, and their reflexes became sluggish — with the men initially the most fit showing the greatest deterioration, according to Keys. The men's resting metabolic rates declined by 40%, their heart volume shrank about 20%, their pulses slowed and their body temperatures dropped. They complained of feeling cold, tired and hungry; having trouble concentrating; of impaired judgment and comprehension; dizzy spells; visual disturbances; ringing in their ears; tingling and numbing of their extremities; stomach aches, body aches and headaches; trouble sleeping; hair thinning; and their skin growing dry and thin. Their sexual function and testes size were reduced and they lost all interest in sex. They had every physical indication of accelerated aging.
But the psychological changes that were brought on by dieting, even among these robust men with only moderate calorie restrictions, were profound. So much so that Keys called it "semistarvation neurosis." The men became nervous, anxious, apathetic, withdrawn, impatient, self-critical with distorted body images and even feeling overweight, moody, emotional and depressed. A few even mutilated themselves, one chopping off three fingers in stress. �They lost their ambition and feelings of adequacy, and their cultural and academic interests narrowed. They neglected their appearance, became loners and their social and family relationships suffered. They lost their senses of humor, love and compassion. Instead, they became obsessed with food, thinking, talking and reading about it constantly; developed weird eating rituals; began hoarding things; consumed vast amounts of coffee and tea; and chewed gum incessantly (as many as 40 packages a day). Binge eating episodes also became a problem as some of the men were unable to continue to restrict their eating.
Many of these traits are familiar with those who've spent their lives dieting. In fact, many of the symptoms once thought to be primary features of anorexia nervosa are actually symptoms of starvation and restrictive eating, said David M. Garner, PhD., director of River Centre Clinic in Sylvania, Ohio.
The extreme physical and mental effects Keys observed led to his famous quote: "Starved people cannot be taught democracy. To talk about the will of the people when you aren't feeding them is perfect hogwash."
Detroit would produce almost 8 million cars in the '55 model year, a whopping 44 percent increase over 1954. Luxury extras like automatic transmissions became more commonplace, ordered in 7 out of 10 new cars. Sale of air conditioned cars (an almost unimaginable luxury to most people at the time) would more than triple, although the 184,027 thus equipped were still a small fraction of total sales.
What I most remember is how old previous model cars began to look once the '55s came out. Take a look at a 1999 car now, or even a '95. They don't seem that outdated in comparison to today's models. But take a look at a 1955 Chevy and a 1949 model. You'll see what I mean.
The equipment consists of two machines, almost identical in construction, the first being called the "transmitter," the second the "receiver." Each is provided with an eight-inch cylinder, which may be made to revolve by a delicate system of clockwork so finely regulated that both instruments work together to a nicety.(Hat tip to Boing Boing.)
Above each cylinder rests a fine platinum needle, or stylus, not unlike the point in a telegraph key. A sheet of tin-foil, six inches by eight inches, ready to wrap round the transmitter's cylinder, and a sheet of ordinary carbon manifold-copying paper of the same dimensions, which, when placed between two sheets of blank paper, is to be wrapped round the receiver's cylinder — these complete the chief requirements.
With a photograph of the subject before him, the artist draws its duplicate on the sheet of tin-foil, leaving a margin of about a half-inch on all sides. For this work, either pen or brush may be used; but, of first importance, the liquid must have more consistency than ink, and must be a non-conductor of electricity. An alcoholic solution of shellac is found most suitable for the purpose.
In 2001, BET.com encouraged visitors to post Father's Day greetings. Organizers assumed that they would see a Hallmark fest of "I love you" or "I miss you." Instead they got a "venting session": "I hate you," "To all my deadbeat dads out there, I just want to say, thanks for nothing," and "That bastard forgot that I even existed," contributors railed.
Will Crooks (b. 1852), a cooper living in extreme poverty in East London, once spent tuppence on a secondhand Iliad, and was dazzled: "What a revelation it was to me! Pictures of romance and beauty I had never dreamed of suddenly opened up before my eyes. I was transported from the East End to an enchanted land. It was a rare luxury for a working lad like me just home from work to find myself suddenly among the heroes and nymphs of ancient Greece." Nancy Sharman (b. 1925) recalled that her mother, a Southampton charwoman, had no time to read until her last illness, at age 54. Then she devoured the complete works of Shakespeare, and "mentioned pointedly to me that if anything should happen to her, she wished to donate the cornea of her eyes to enable some other unfortunate to read." Margaret Perry (b. 1922) wrote of her mother, a Nottingham dressmaker: "The public library was her salvation. She read four or five books a week all her life but had no one to discuss them with. She had read all the classics several times over in her youth and again in later years, and the library had a job to keep her supplied with current publications. Married to a different man, she could have been an intelligent and interesting woman."An argument for reducing the duration of copyrights:
In the nineteenth century, Shakespeare could still attract enthusiastic, rowdy working-class audiences, who commented loudly about the quality of the performances. Caravans of barnstorming actors brought the plays to isolated mining villages. In response to popular demand, Birmingham's Theatre Royal devoted 30 percent of its repertoire to the Bard and other classic dramatists. In 1862, a theater manager provoked a near-riot when he attempted to substitute a modern comedy for an announced production of Othello.
Shakespeare provided a political script for labor leaders like J. R. Clynes (b. 1869), who rose from the textile mills of Oldham to become deputy leader of the House of Commons. In his youth he drew inspiration from the "strange truth" he discovered in Twelfth Night: "Be not afraid of greatness." "What a creed!" he marveled. "How it would upset the world if men lived up to it." Later, reading Julius Caesar, "the realisation came suddenly to me that it was a mighty political drama" about the class struggle, "not just an entertainment." Once he overawed a stubborn employer by reciting an entire scene from the play: Clynes, as a friend put it, was "the only man who ever settled a trade dispute by citing Shakespeare." Elected to Parliament in 1906, he read A Midsummer Night's Dream while awaiting the returns.
Working-class autodidacts read the classics in part because contemporary literature was too expensive. A 1940 survey found that while 55 percent of working-class adults read books, they rarely bought new books. An autodidact could build up an impressive library by haunting used-book stalls, scavenging castoffs, or buying cheap out-of-copyright reprints such as Everyman's Library, but these offered only yesterday's authors. Thus Welsh collier Joseph Keating (b. 1871) was able to immerse himself in Swift, Pope, Fielding, Richardson, Smollett, Goldsmith, Sheridan, Keats, Byron, Shelley, Dickens, Thackeray, and Greek philosophy. There was one common denominator among these authors: all were dead. "Volumes by living authors were too high-priced for me," Keating explained, but that did not bother him terribly. "Our school-books never mentioned living writers; and the impression in my mind was that an author, to be a living author, must be dead; and that his work was all the better if he died of neglect and starvation."
Holt's International Children's Services places children, primarily Koreans, with families in the United States. Holt has an interesting proviso to their adoption contract, conditional on being accepted into the program, children are randomly assigned. Sacerdote has collected data from children who were adopted between 1970-1980, and thus who today are in their mid 20's or 30's, and their adoptive parents.
The income of biological children increases strongly with parental income but the income of adoptive children is flat in parent income. What does this mean?
What do parents transmit to their biological children but not to their adopted children? Genes. When we observe, as we do, that low-income parents tend to have low-income children and high-income parents tend to have high-income children we should not bemoan the inequities of nurture but rather the inequities of nature.
Between 1963 and the early 1970s, the rate of violent crime more or less tripled in the United States. By "violent crime" I mean murder, manslaughter, and robbery and assault. So we had a tripling of the crime rate at a time when the country was by and large prosperous; [and,] except for Vietnam, more or less peaceful; in which the unemployment rates, even among African American adolescents, was really quite low.(Hat tip to 2blowhards.)
And this change occurred in part because the population was getting younger, though nobody had predicted this in advance. In retrospect it turned out that the youth of the population does contribute to the crime rate. But that wasn't the whole story. Our population getting younger probably explains no more than 15 or 20 or 25 percent of the increase.
The rest of it was explained by two other factors: one that is easy to describe — namely, we had stopped sending people to prison. The prison population in the 1960s declined. It was lower at the end [of the decade] than it was at the beginning, even though the crime rate was going up.
The other is harder to describe and impossible to measure. And that is the ethos, the culture of the country, had changed. The notion of "do your own thing," "strike out on your own," "turn on, tune out, drop out." These slogans, this attitude of radical self-indulgence, had affected a significant fraction of the population, and this weakened the ordinary social constraints that were operating on people.
They found that English had more of a swing than French, a rhythm produced by a tendency in English to cut some vowels short while stressing others. The melodies of the two languages also differed, with pitch varying far more in spoken English than French.
The team then did the same kind of analysis on music, comparing the rhythm and melody of English classical music from composers such as Elgar, Holst and Vaughan Williams, with that of French composers including Debussy, Fauré and Roussel. "The music differs in just the same way as the languages," said Dr Patel. "It is as if the music carries an imprint of the composer's language."
OK, so ancient Greek statues weren't white. We know that. They were painted, or gold-leafed, or something. Very interesting. But what did they actually look like? Here's the answer, or one possible answer anyway. And talk about gaudy! What I'm most reminded of is the decor in NYC pizza parlors.
"No passion in the world," H.G. Wells declared, "is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."Another witty bit of intellectual condescension:
I remember one snobby professor who described the standards of his university to new faculty members with a practiced line.Ostensibly, Carlin Romano is reviewing Frank Furedi's Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting 21st Century Philistinism, but he has more to say on the topic of Philistines than on the lackluster text. I'd never heard of Hubbard's The Philistine:
"The admissions requirements of ____ University," he liked to intone in comradely fashion, "can be found on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty."
Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), editor of The Philistine monthly magazine from 1895 to 1915. (At one point it boasted a circulation of more than 100,000 and published such writers as Rudyard Kipling and Stephen Crane.) A soap salesman and state-side admirer of William Morris who started the fabulously successful and semi-communal Roycrofters printing operation in Aurora, N.Y., Hubbard grew wealthy writing and publishing more than seven million, well, philistine words.
His aphorisms exuded middle-class, can-do common sense, apotheosized hard work and efficiency, and bristled at preachy promulgation or nit-picking by cultural mandarins. "The world is moving so fast these days," Hubbard wrote, "that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it."
"A committee," he observed, "is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour." Some credit him with the immortal, "Life is just one damn thing after another." Hubbard's business credo proclaimed, "I believe that when I make a sale I make a friend." Perhaps more tellingly, for the history of philistinism from Arnold to shop-to-drop America today, he asserted, "I believe in sunshine, fresh air, spinach, applesauce, laughter, buttermilk, babies, bombazine, and chiffon, always remembering that the greatest word in the English language is 'Sufficiency.'"
It's one of the ironies of American history that when the Pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth rock they promptly set about creating a communist society. Of course, they were soon starving to death.
Fortunately, 'after much debate of things,' Governor William Bradford ended corn collectivism, decreeing that each family should keep the corn that it produced. In one of the most insightful statements of political economy ever penned, Bradford described the results of the new and old systems.[Ending corn collectivism] had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.Among Bradford's many insights it's amazing that he saw so clearly how collectivism failed not only as an economic system but that even among godly men "it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them." And it shocks me to my core when he writes that to make the collectivist system work would have required "great tyranny and oppression." Can you imagine how much pain the twentieth century could have avoided if Bradford's insights been more widely recognized?
The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men's corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.
A 38-year-old with degrees in psychology, education and computer science needed only 11.8 seconds to calculate the 13th root of a 100-digit number in his head, setting a new record, organizers said.
"I first think of an elegant problem-solving algorithm and the result comes immediately," said Mittring, who beat the previous record of 13.55 seconds, set by the Frenchman Alexis Lemaire in 2002, according to organizers of the Tuesday night event.
Ancel Keys, the University of Minnesota scientist who invented the K ration diet used by soldiers in World War II and who linked high cholesterol and fatty diets to heart disease, has died at the age of 100.
Keys was born in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was an adventurous child. He worked in a lumber camp, shoveled bat droppings in an Arizona cave and mined for gold in Colorado, all before finishing high school. He enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1922, but took time off to sail to China as a crewman aboard the liner President Wilson.
He returned to college, earning a bachelor's degree in economics and political science and a master's degree in zoology at the University of California. By 1930 he had a Ph.D. in oceanography and biology from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.
But his career didn't take shape until he went to Copenhagen to work with Nobel Prize winner August Krogh, a physiologist � someone who studies bodily processes and function. Inspired, Keys earned a second Ph.D. in physiology from Cambridge University in England and became an instructor at Harvard University.
In 1935 he launched his first exotic study, on the effects of high altitude on the human body. The next year he was lured to the University of Minnesota, where he began studying the physical differences between athletes and nonathletes.
Eventually he built his lab beneath the university's Memorial Stadium.
In 1941, Keys was asked to help develop an Army ration that soldiers could carry in combat. He purchased supplies, such as hard biscuits, dry sausage and chocolate bars, at a Minneapolis market. When the Army mass-produced the packages, he was surprised to see them marked with the letter K, for Keys. The K ration was born.
During World War II he also served as a special assistant to the secretary of war.
Afterward, Keys conducted one of his most famous studies, the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. He fed 36 volunteers a "semistarvation" diet, mirroring the conditions found in occupied Europe. The men lost an average of 25 percent of their weight, and Keys found that their hearts shrank, endurance fell and personalities changed. The study, he concluded, held a powerful lesson for those in charge of rebuilding postwar Europe: "Starved people cannot be taught democracy."
Keys also noted that deaths from heart disease dropped dramatically in countries where food supplies had run short during the war. And he started looking for the connection.
He found his answer through a study of 286 middle-aged businessmen from Minneapolis and St. Paul that began in 1946. He concluded that those who suffered heart attacks had high levels of cholesterol in their bloodstreams. And he pinned that on their high-fat diets.
Tunisia isn't an island, but it might as well be. If you visit you will arrive the same way you would an isolated coastal town in Alaska — by boat or by plane. No Western traveler arrives from the border states. You won't take the bus from anarchic Algeria, nor will you pull up at a remote border post in a rental car from Libya. Tunisians have all but walled themselves off from the fundamentalism and fanaticism that surround them. They look instead to their more like-minded neighbors across the Mediterranean to the north. You will think of Europe, too, if you go.Tunis, the capital, is a cosmopolitan mix:
After checking into our hotel, my wife Shelly and I headed straight for the old city — the ancient Tunis medina. We walked the maze of twisting streets, carpet stalls, cafes, shuttered windows, arched passageways, minarets, and secret paths. Turkish lamps lit the darkened covered corners of the souk. Potted flowers in hanging baskets added delicate touches of color and life. The aromas of orange oil and curling smoke from burning incense were amplified by the warm heavy air. The muezzin's haunting call to prayer from the Great Mosque in the center was the perfect grace note. This was the East in its glory, the most intoxicating place in the capital.And it's fairly liberal:
We left the medina through the arch to the east and found ourselves in the French imperialist quarter known today as the Cit� Nouvelle. In the space of less than 100 feet we walked from the Middle East to France, and we did it without leaving Africa.
Some conservative women did wear the hijab over their hair, but they were distinctly in the minority. Men wore collared button-up shirts and young women competed to see who could resemble hot young French models the most.Then they crossed the Fossa Regia into the Sahara:
Despite Shelly's blue eyes and red hair, she didn't get stared at much. If you want to turn heads in Tunis, dress like a Saudi. While sitting at the Caf� de Paris on the Avenue Habib Bourguiba, the Cit� Nouvelle's own Champs Elysee, three women walked past wearing black head-to-toe chadors that covered up all but their eyes. I leaned to the right to get a view of everyone else on the street. Almost every man and most of the women turned their heads to gawk at the three wraiths in black.
Matmata sat atop an eerie upland moonscape. The Berbers went underground more than a thousand years ago to escape the infernal heat of the Sahara. You would, too, if you didn't have central air. You would tunnel into the walls with your hands if you had to.Then they visited the Middle East's version of Miami:
The underground "troglodyte" houses were a cool 75 degrees at midday. George Lucas thought them the perfect setting for Star Wars. Both Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi lived on the desert planet Tatooine (which is the name of a real town a few miles away) in caves tunneled out from the center of open-air pits. Not everyone in Matmata lived underground, though. Most of the buildings were top-side and — whenever possible — were cooled down the usual way.
In Tunis the mosques were architectural masterpieces, with soaring minarets, marble floors, Roman columns, and intricately tiled blue and white walls. The mosque in Matmata was made of the same white- and lime-washed adobe as the walls inside the Berber houses. It was primitive and misshapen as though it were a gigantic version of a clay mosque made by a child in art class.
Chickens, donkeys, and even camels ran loose in the streets. It was hard to believe there was another street in the same country that made me think of a less-fancy Champs Elysee. Some people lived in one-room caves even in the middle of town — the Berber version of tin shacks. The gender apartheid was total. The number of women we saw while in town: zero. We did, however, see a bloody fly-blown goat's head on the sidewalk.
The backwardness and extreme conservatism was as exhausting as the heat. The streets full of men had an edge to them, even though every last one was kind, generous, and embarrassingly friendly.
The Zone Touristique was a bit like Las Vegas and a lot like Cancun. Vaguely Middle Eastern-themed hotels, some shaped like castles and Berber ksars, fronted the horseshoe-shaped bay. They catered to hip young Eurotourists who mostly came to Tunisia for the beach. I saw handbills advertising nightclubs and meet-markets. A large wooden sign just a block from our hotel informed me that Sousse's sister city back in the States was Miami.
The amount of wealth in a given place in Tunisia seemed to me directly proportional to its amount of contact with people from somewhere else, even if that contact was in the past. Souse benefited from being inside Rome's Fossa Regia, more recently from restoration by the French who fell in love with the city, and currently by an enormous injection of cash in the form of tourist Euros every single day of the year.
Competition has long been out of fashion at education schools, as indicated in a 1997 survey of 900 of their professors by Public Agenda, a nonprofit public opinion research group. Only a third of the professors considered rewards like honor rolls to be valuable incentives for learning, while nearly two-thirds said schools should avoid competition.Brad Bird wisdom:
To some critics, that cooperative philosophy is one reason that so many boys like Dash are bored at school. "Professors of education think you can improve society by making people less competitive," said Christina Hoff Sommers, author of "The War Against Boys" and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "But males are wired for competition, and if you take it away there's little to interest them in school."
In his new book, "Hard America, Soft America," Michael Barone puts schools in the soft category and warns that they leave young adults unprepared for the hard world awaiting them in the workplace. "The education establishment has been too concerned with fostering kids' self-esteem instead of teaching them to learn and compete," he said.
The No Child Left Behind Act was an attempt to put more rigor into the system by punishing schools whose students don't pass standardized tests, but it has had unintended consequences for high achievers. Administrators have been cutting funds for gifted-student programs and concentrating money and attention on the failing students.
"In practice, No Child Left Behind has meant No Child Gets Ahead for gifted students," said Joyce Clark, a planner in the Pittsburgh public schools' gifted program. "There's no incentive to worry about them because they can pass the tests."
"The Incredibles" might take comfort from a recent report, "A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students," by the John Templeton Foundation. It summarizes research showing that gifted children thrive with more advanced material and describes their current frustration in prose that sounds like Dash: "When they want to fly, they are told to stay in their seats. Stay in your grade. Know your place. It's a national scandal."
But if they do fly, what happens to the children left on the ground? One of the report's authors, Nicholas Colangelo, a professor at the University of Iowa who is an expert in gifted education, pointed to research indicating the left-behind do not suffer academically or emotionally.
"Wrong-headed liberalism seeks to give trophies to everyone just for existing," he said. "It seems to render achievement meaningless. That's a weird goal."
He sounded very much like Professor Colangelo, who says that children want to compete and can cope with defeat a lot better than adults imagine. "Life hurts your feelings," Mr. Bird said. "I think people whine about stuff too much. C'mon, man, just get up and do it."
But, on Monday, authorities discovered a grisly scene at the family's apartment after the child's father called a day-care center, and asked them to check on his wife and daughter.
Day-care workers called 911 after talking to the mother; an operator then called Schlosser.
Asked if there was an emergency, Schlosser calmly responded 'Yes,' according to 911 tapes released by police.
'Exactly what happened?' the 911 operator asked.
'I cut her arms off,' Schlosser replied, as the hymn 'He Touched Me' played in the background.
'You cut her arms off?' he repeated.
'Uh huh,' she answered.
A trespassing deer hunter in Wisconsin opened fire without warning on other hunters when they asked him to leave, killing five and wounding three, police said on Monday.In case you weren't aware, "About 75,000 Hmong have settled in Minnesota in the last 30 years," as refugees from Laos.
Chai Soua Vang, 36, of St. Paul, Minnesota, a member of that city's Hmong community, emptied his SKS semiautomatic rifle into the hunter who confronted him on Sunday and others who had come to his aid, Sawyer County Sheriff James Meier told a news conference.
He said Vang apparently got lost, asked for directions and later wandered onto a 400-acre parcel of private land where "he found an empty deer stand and crawled up and occupied it." Hunters often build platforms called stands from which they watch for deer to appear within shooting range.
Meier said a hunter using the land saw Vang in the stand, radioed others in his party and said he was going to ask the intruder to leave. The land owner and others in the party arrived shortly thereafter, the sheriff said, and Vang after walking about 40 yards "turned and he opened fire on the group" after apparently removing the telescopic sight from the rifle.
Four men and one woman were killed. Three other men were wounded, one of whom remained in critical condition on Monday.
One of the victims had noticed the number of the hunting license tag Vang was wearing and scrawled it in dust on an all-terrain vehicle the party was using. That, along with a physical description, led to Vang's arrest, with the help of two other hunters, when he emerged from the woods later, Meier said.
The magazine and chamber of the rifle Vang was carrying were empty, the sheriff said. The rifle can hold 20 rounds.
Opinion polls taken before, during, and after the war show two peoples living on separate strategic and ideological planets. Whereas more than 80 percent of Americans believe that war can sometimes achieve justice, less than half of Europeans agree. Americans and Europeans disagree about the role of international law and international institutions and about the nebulous but critical question of what confers legitimacy on international action. These diverging world views predate the Iraq war and the presidency of George W. Bush, although both may have deepened and hardened the transatlantic rift into an enduring feature of the international landscape.Whereas more than 80 percent of Americans believe that war can sometimes achieve justice, less than half of Europeans agree. I wonder why that would be...
Eight days after the Americans entered the city on foot, a pair of marines wound their way up the darkened innards of a minaret, shot through with holes by an American tank.More:
As the marines inched upward, a burst of gunfire rang down, fired by an insurgent hiding in the top of the tower. The bullets hit the first marine in the face, his blood spattering the marine behind him. The marine in the rear tumbled backward down the stairwell, while Lance Cpl. William Miller, age 22, lay in silence halfway up, mortally wounded.
"Miller!" the marines called from below. "Miller!"
With that, the marines' near mystical commandment against leaving a comrade behind seized the group. One after another, the young marines dashed into the minaret, into darkness and into gunfire, and wound their way up the stairs.
After four attempts, Corporal Miller's lifeless body emerged from the tower, his comrades choking and covered with dust. With more insurgents closing in, the marines ran through volleys of machine-gun fire back to their base.
"I was trying to be careful, but I was trying to get him out, you know what I'm saying?" Lance Cpl. Michael Gogin, 19, said afterward.
So went eight days of combat for this Iraqi city, the most sustained period of street-to-street fighting that Americans have encountered since the Vietnam War. The proximity gave the fighting a hellish intensity, with soldiers often close enough to look their enemies in the eyes.
For a correspondent who has covered a half dozen armed conflicts, including the war in Iraq since its start in March 2003, the fighting seen while traveling with a frontline unit in Falluja was a qualitatively different experience, a leap into a different kind of battle.
From the first rockets vaulting out of the city as the marines moved in, the noise and feel of the battle seemed altogether extraordinary; at other times, hardly real at all. The intimacy of combat, this plunge into urban warfare, was new to this generation of American soldiers, but it is a kind of fighting they will probably see again: a grinding struggle to root out guerrillas entrenched in a city, on streets marked in a language few American soldiers could comprehend.
The price for the Americans so far: 51 dead and 425 wounded, a number that may yet increase but that already exceeds the toll from any battle in the Iraq war.
The 150 marines with whom I traveled, Bravo Company of the First Battalion, Eighth Marines, had it as tough as any unit in the fight. They moved through the city almost entirely on foot, into the heart of the resistance, rarely protected by tanks or troop carriers, working their way through Falluja's narrow streets with 75-pound packs on their backs.
In eight days of fighting, Bravo Company took 36 casualties, including 6 dead, meaning that the unit's men had about a one-in-four chance of being wounded or killed in little more than a week.
The sounds, sights and feel of the battle were as old as war itself, and as new as the Pentagon's latest weapons systems. The eerie pop from the cannon of the AC-130 gunship, prowling above the city at night, firing at guerrillas who were often only steps away from Americans on the ground. The weird buzz of the Dragon Eye pilotless airplane, hovering over the battlefield as its video cameras beamed real-time images back to the base.
The glow of the insurgents' flares, throwing daylight over a landscape to help them spot their targets: us.
The nervous shove of a marine scrambling for space along a brick wall as tracer rounds ricocheted above.
The silence between the ping of the shell leaving its mortar tube and the explosion when it strikes.
The screams of the marines when one of their comrades, Cpl. Jake Knospler, lost part of his jaw to a hand grenade.
"No, no, no!" the marines shouted as they dragged Corporal Knospler from the darkened house where the bomb went off. It was 2 a.m., the sky dark without a moon. "No, no, no!"
Nothing in the combat I saw even remotely resembled the scenes regularly flashed across movie screens; even so, they often seemed no more real.
On April 10, 2003, a team of federal agents armed with a search warrant entered a storage unit in a small Texas town and were stunned to find a homemade hydrogen cyanide device — a green metal military ammo box containing 800 grams of pure sodium cyanide and two glass vials of hydrochloric acid. The improvised weapon was the product of 62-year-old William Joseph Krar, an accomplished gunsmith, weapons dealer, and militia activist from New Hampshire who had moved his operations to east central Texas just 18 months earlier.
Along with the sodium cyanide, hydrochloric acid, acetic acid, and glacial acetic acid, Krar and Bruey's armory included nearly 100 assorted firearms, three machine guns, silencers, 500,000 rounds of ammunition, 60 functional pipe bombs, a remote-controlled briefcase device ready for explosive insertion, a homemade landmine, grenades, 67 pounds of Kinepak solid binary explosives (ammonium nitrate), 66 tubes of Kinepak binary liquid explosives (nitromethane), military detonators, trip wire, electric and non-electric blasting caps, and cases of military atropine syringes.
The storage unit also contained an extensive library of required reading for the serious terrorist: U.S. military and CIA field manuals for improvised munitions, weapons, and unconventional warfare; handbooks on assault rifle conversions to full-auto and manufacturing silencers; formulas for poisons and chemical and biological weapons; descriptions of safety precautions in handling; and information on means of deployment. Many of the same easily acquired, open-source materials, translated into Arabic, were found in Al Qaeda terrorist manuals recovered in Afghanistan and Europe.
His activities were being monitored when, on January 11, 2003, Krar was arrested by a Tennessee state trooper in the course of a routine traffic stop on the outskirts of Nashville. Searching Krar's rental car, Trooper William Gregory found a plastic bag containing "seven marijuana cigarettes, one syringe of unknown substance, one white bottle with an unknown white substance, 40 wine-like bottles of unknown liquid," as well as two pistols, 16 knives, a stun gun, a smoke grenade, three military-style atropine injections, 260 rounds of ammunition, handcuffs, thumb cuffs, fuse ropes, binoculars, and "other various close hand-to-hand combat items." Gregory also found Krar's passport, a birth certificate, a California credit union card for "William Fritz Hoffner," and a Christian missionary identification card with Krar's photo and the name "W. F. Hoffner." There were also other documents, letters to IDC America, and four pages of what appeared to be a clandestine operations plan for cross-country travel and communications. Gregory busted Krar on marijuana possession, took him into custody, and impounded the car.
Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.
Just as with Google Web Search, Google Scholar orders your search results by how relevant they are to your query, so the most useful references should appear at the top of the page. This relevance ranking takes into account the full text of each article as well as the article's author, the publication in which the article appeared and how often it has been cited in scholarly literature. Google Scholar also automatically analyzes and extracts citations and presents them as separate results, even if the documents they refer to are not online. This means your search results may include citations of older works and seminal articles that appear only in books or other offline publications.
Only about 11 percent of full-time students say they spend more than 25 hours per week preparing for their classes — the amount of time that faculty members say is necessary to succeed in college. Forty-four percent spend 10 hours or less studying.
Yet students' grades do not suggest that they are unprepared for their academic work: About 40 percent of students say they earn mostly A's, with 41 percent reporting that they earn mostly B's.
Could intruders force their way into a reactor to wreak havoc? Past incidents have demonstrated that one need not have sophisticated plans or skills in order to gain some level of access to a nuclear plant. In 1993, a mentally ill man drove his mother's station wagon past the guarded entrance at Three Mile Island (TMI). Although he was driving at about 35 miles per hour, the surveillance cameras couldn't swivel fast enough to keep up with his car. The intruder drove through a fence, then a roll-up door, and into the turbine building, where he got out of his car and hid before he was arrested four hours later. Fortunately, his intentions were not malicious.
Called the Eliica — short for Electric Lithium-Ion battery Car — this radical 800bhp eight-wheeler from Japan is proof that electric vehicles can be fast and fun to drive, too. Boasting a four-second 0-60mph sprint and seven-second 0-100mph time, the Eliica is faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo.Electric motors offer tremenous torque right off the line, so it's no surprise that an electric car can out-accelerate a Porsche 911 Turbo. The problem with electric cars is that they have very little range, and batteries are expensive and heavy.
At our drive at Keio University near Tokyo, we punched the 'D' button on the dash, pointed the car down the road and flattened the gas pedal. With a faintly audible whirr of eight 100bhp in-wheel motors, the 0-60mph sprint was smooth, effortless, quiet — and surreal. The mind-boggling acceleration was on a par with that of a 500bhp GT racing car. Yet the lack of a transmission meant there were no jerky cog swaps as we were thrust back in our seat by an incredible 0.8Gs.(Hat tip to Slashdot.)
'National Treasure' is so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line.Ebert considers the whole thing a rip-off of The Da Vinci Code — which he didn't exactly like:
I should read a potboiler like The Da Vinci Code every once in a while, just to remind myself that life is too short to read books like The Da Vinci Code.
Living in Huntsville and, less dramatically, in Oxford taught me that the price of a house didn't simply reflect the cost of living but also the demand for living in a given area. If you can't move a five bedroom house at $100,000, there ain't a lot of living going on.
The story of the Jews in the early Soviet Union is similar to the story of the Jews in America. That is, they were especially successful in the realms of education, journalism, medicine, and other professions that were central to the functioning of Soviet society, including science.
Jews in the Soviet Union were much more literate than any other group, they were untainted by any association with the imperial regime, and they seem to have been very enthusiastic about what the Communist Party was doing. This was to some extent a conscious commitment to ideology, but mostly it was just because there were no more legal barriers against Jews. The doors opened, and they flooded in and did exceedingly well in the 1920s and the first part of the 1930s.
My belief is that you can�t understand the second part of the Jewish story in Russia — the anti-Semitic policies, and what happens to Soviet Jews later, their desire to emigrate, for example — unless you know the first part of the story, which is mostly about amazing success.
Greek poets and dramatists regularly set their work to music themselves, and from at least the fifth century B.C. on they used a highly sophisticated system of musical notation. The very idea of poetry, in fact, originally tended to imply music, and Athenian tragedy at its artistic peak, in the fifth century B.C., was a complex combination of poetic text, solo and choral song, recitation with instrumental accompaniment, and dance. This has an unsettling if little-recognized implication: watching a play by Euripides or reading poetry by Sappho is perhaps as incomplete an experience today as watching a 'play' by Wagner or reading 'poetry' by Stephen Sondheim would be.(Hat tip to 2blowhards.)
In Hollywood, though, figuring out Pixar's secret has become a matter of panicky necessity. Since 1995, when Toy Story became the first computer-animated feature film, the company has had an unbroken record of triumphs, as popular with critics as the box office, resulting in 17 Oscars and sufficient millions to make Pixar, movie for movie, the most successful studio of any kind in the history of cinema. (The Incredibles took $70.7m [£38m] in its first three days in America, more than the rest of that weekend's top 10 put together.) Other animation studios, saddled with a string of flops, have been left to glower from the sidelines - with the exception of Disney, the grandfather of them all, thanks to a deal under which it provided most of the financing for Pixar's hits.At Pixar, the work is tremendously technical and time-consuming — yet gleefully childish:
Telling a good story in animated form, though, requires a particularly bizarre kind of personality — an equal mix of childishness and deep, very adult patience. Pixar's offices are carefully calibrated to nurture the requisite eccentricity. The animation team work not in cubicles but in miniature open-fronted wooden cottages, each individually furnished by their occupants with a clashing variety of leopardskin sofas and extensive toy car collections. (In a detail that epitomises Pixar's alchemical knack for turning freewheeling creativity into profit, the cottages were actually cheaper than standard-issue office cubicles.)So true:
Days begin with an hour-long "sweatbox", where the movie's director gathers the animators and critiques their latest shots in front of the others. But for the most part, the nuts and bolts of the work is done inside the cottages, at computer screens, as artists painstakingly manipulate hundreds of points on a character's body, spending whole days on shots that could last for no more than 10 frames.
It is an article of faith at Pixar that trying to make your animated characters look as realistic as possible is as pointless as it is difficult. [...] "There is a contingent of the digital-effects community to whom that is the holy grail — to create photographically real humans," says Brad Bird, the writer and director of The Incredibles and, previously, The Iron Giant. "To me that is the dumbest goal that you could possibly have. What's wonderful about the medium of animation isn't recreating reality. It's distilling it."What's wonderful about the medium of animation isn't recreating reality. It's distilling it. More Brad Bird wisdom:
"Really, really little kids should not see this movie ," says Bird, who wrote and directed the film, and provided the voice for its funniest character, Edna, a fashion designer to the superheroes. "They should wait till they get older. We're getting some reactions from people who were disappointed that their four-year-old was a little freaked out by it. Well, I don't want to compromise the intensity in order to please a four-year-old."
Bird makes no effort to disguise his anger at critics who suggest the movie, brilliant though it undoubtedly is, may fail as a result of failing to cater properly to an audience of young children. "I reject that whole point of view — that animation is a children's medium," he says. "The way people talk about it is, well, hey, it's a good thing I have kids, because now I get to see this. Well, hey, no, man! You can just go and see it. There's no other art form that is defined in such a narrow way. It's narrowminded, and I can't wait for it to die."
The first 126 pages described "the emergence of a cognitive elite" via the higher education system. The heart of the book is the next 142 pages on "cognitive classes and social behavior," which examines the impact of IQ on poverty, schooling, unemployment, family, crime, and so forth. Here, Herrnstein and Murray looked only at data drawn from non-Hispanic whites — to avoid confusing the effect of IQ with that of race.
Then, from p. 269 to p. 315, comes the much-denounced Chapter 13 on "Ethnic Differences in Cognitive Ability." Murray and Herrnstein carefully step through the evidence, pro and con, and reach the following judicious conclusion:If the reader is now convinced that either the genetic or environmental explanation has won out to the exclusion of the other, we have not done a sufficiently good job of presenting one side or the other. It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not yet justify an estimate.That's it — the conclusion to the chapter that launched a thousand screeds. Not surprisingly, it's almost never quoted.
A group of Greek lawyers are threatening to sue Warner Bros. film studios and Oliver Stone, director of the widely anticipated film 'Alexander,' for suggesting Alexander the Great was bisexual.
"You should see the ground down there, it is just black and it is just moving, it is a seething mass of young cane toads, it looks like the ground is moving," local ecologist Steve Phillips told Australian radio.You see, can toads aren't native to Australia:
Park officials plan to destroy as many of the toads as possible before they grow into adults, hoping that once numbers are reduced the threatened wallum froglet and wallum sedge frog populations will pick up.
Cane toads are one of Australia's worst environmental pests.
They were introduced to Australia from Hawaii in 1935 to stop the French Cane Beetle and Greyback Cane Beetle from destroying sugar cane crops in the northeastern state of Queensland.
The biological warfare experiment backfired as the beetles could fly and escape being killed.
The toads thrived, meanwhile, and quickly multiplied.
With females laying up to 35,000 eggs a year, the amphibians -- some as big as dinner plates — have now spread out from Queensland west into the Northern Territory and south into New South Wales, threatening the unique Australian fauna in their path.
While cane toads will eat anything and appear easy prey for larger animals, they possess highly poisonous sacs behind their heads which kill predators quickly.
Republicans and business allies long have objected to taxing profits once at the corporate level, and again when paid to shareholders as dividends. The Treasury's 268-page report made few ripples when it came out in January 1992. It has been gathering dust on bookshelves like mine ever since.
Which brings us to CBIT, known to its inventors as "see-bit." In this approach, interest paid by corporations, dividends paid on shares of stock and capital gains from the sale of stock would be tax-free to individuals. Companies no longer would be able to deduct interest payments.
This would be a big deal. In 2002, the last year for which Internal Revenue Service data are available, corporations deducted $923.4 billion in interest. Without that, they would have paid $323 billion more taxes at the 35% corporate-tax rate. The 1992 Treasury plan would have used this money to finance an across-the-board cut in the corporate-tax rate. In Mr. Bush's current search for "revenue neutral" tax reform — where he has to find a loser for every winner — the money might finance changes to either the corporate or the individual income tax.
The big selling point for CBIT was that it would both end the double taxation of corporate profits and get rid of tax-code provisions that encourage companies to finance investments with debt (issuing bonds) instead of equity (selling stock.) This, the Treasury argued at the time, would reduce the cost of capital to U.S. companies so they would invest more and invest more efficiently, and thus propel the U.S. economy faster.
A documentary that will examine the cultural, political and social impact of the various foreign versions of 'Sesame Street' is getting ready to begin a yearlong shoot across several continents.Everything reactionaries say about Sesame Street is true. Wow.
Among the topics of 'The World According to Sesame Street' are the impact of an HIV-positive 'Muppet' character in compelling the South African government to address the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic, the creation of a strong female character that challenged traditional gender roles in Egypt and programing designed to foster cross-cultural tolerance in post-conflict Kosovo.
'Like a Rolling Stone,' Bob Dylan (news)'s scornful, ironic ode to a spoiled woman's reversal of fortune, was named the greatest rock 'n' roll song of all time on Wednesday by Rolling Stone magazine.Rolling Stone magazine chose "Like a Rolling Stone" as the greatest rock song. Second greatest? The Rolling Stone's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." See a pattern?
Previous programs within this series have included AFI 100 Years...100 Movies (1998), ... 100 Stars (1999), ... 100 Laughs (2000), . . . 100 Thrills (2001), ... 100 Passions (2002), ... 100 Heroes & Villains (2003) and ... 100 Songs (2004).This one sounds like fun:
Chronologically, the ballot spans from 1927-with the first full-length sound film, THE JAZZ SINGER: "Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet!"-to 2002 and "My precious" from THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS.
CASABLANCA has seven quotes in AFI's ballot, making it the most represented film.
THE WIZARD OF OZ is the second most represented film with six quotes.
Humphrey Bogart has 10 quotes on the ballot, the most represented male actor. Al Pacino and the Marx Brothers follow with six quotes each and Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, James Stewart and Jack Nicholson are all represented with five quotes each. Funnymen Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and Mike Myers each have four quotes represented.
Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland and Vivien Leigh each have four memorable movie quotes on the ballot.
Billy Wilder is the top represented writer with 13 quotes, some co-written with I.A.L. Diamond, Charles Brackett and Raymond Chandler. Frances Ford Coppola has nine quotes represented, with seven coming from THE GODFATHER Trilogy. Mario Puzo, Coppola's collaborator on THE GODFATHER trilogy, has a total of eight quotes. Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch each have seven quotes (all from CASABLANCA), followed by Woody Allen with six and Cameron Crowe, William Goldman and Stanley Kubrick with five quotes each.
1939 is the most represented year with 19 movie quotes. 1942 has 17 quotes and 1980 has 12.
Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage (news), who had been specializing in quirky roles, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer first teamed for 1996's 'The Rock' and hope to work the same magic in action-adventure film 'National Treasure.' Their previous movies — 'Rock,' 'Con Air' and 'Gone in Sixty Seconds' — have reaped $750 million in global ticket sales.The Rock, Con Air, and Gone in Sixty Seconds — oh, right, all of Cage's bad movies. OK, The Rock wasn't bad, and National Treasure, their latest teamup, looks fun.
Children's nursery rhymes contain 10 times more violence than British television shows broadcast before the country's 9 p.m. 'watershed' after which more adult content can be shown, research published on Thursday said.
The rebuilding of the World Trade Center site has gotten everyone talking about architecture, but so far it's a one-sided conversation, as if the only question worth discussing is: What kind of modernism do we want? [...] But since we've now had 50 years of modernism here in New York, and only a half-dozen good buildings among hundreds of awful ones to show for it, maybe what we really want now is ... not modernism.Although New York is full of modernist glass box, tower-in-the-park skyscrapers, it's best known for its classical skyscrapers, like the Empire State Building, the RCA Victor Building, and the Waldorf-Astoria:
If Chicago takes the palm for inventing the skyscraper, New York can claim to have brought it to full flower. The classical skyscraper is one of Gotham's gifts to the world, the urbane expression of its technical genius, wealth, and confident cosmopolitanism.The plan?
The City Planning Commission has proposed re-zoning for redevelopment a vast area of the Far West Side — more than 60 blocks from Seventh to Twelfth Avenues and from 30th to 43rd Streets. At the center of this redevelopment, an area now mostly of parking lots, rail yards, low-rise garages and repair shops, and the tangle of approaches to the Lincoln Tunnel, the planners envision a new boulevard, running between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, and zoned for massive office buildings suitable for major corporate headquarters. For this north-south street, called Hudson Boulevard, City Journal has asked six renowned architects to design a half-dozen truly postmodernist buildings, skyscrapers that bypass modernism's dead end and bring New York's long and vibrant tradition of classical tall buildings triumphantly into the twenty-first century.
My own thoughts on welfare reform: it's clear to me from the research I've done to write about poverty, and from reading books like DeParle's, that the poor suffer from three main problems: their own poor impulse control or decision making; a culture that encourages poor decision making; and limited means, which give them no buffer against the results of their poor decision making.(Hat tip to Virginia Postrel's Dynamist Blog.)
Liberals want to change the third variable, but this is somewhat recursive. As long as our society offers housing to everyone who needs it, the poor will be stuck living with people whose bad behaviour makes them impossible neighbours ... so that even if the housing stock is physically perfect, crime and various other sorts of antisocial behavior that flourish in a world without evictions make the housing for the poor actually unbearable. Also, if people have very bad problems, such as mental illness or drug addiction, no reasonable amount of cash will improve their lot without adding things like forced institutionalisation. The people with those problems, unsurprisingly, are the overwhelming majority of the truly immiserated poor, who have rotting housing, insufficient caloric intake, and so forth.
Conservatives, by and large, want to change the first two variables, and there's a lot to this. There's simply no question that welfare enables women to make short term choices that are all right in the short term (dropping out of school, having a baby out of wedlock), but disastrous in the long term. Enabling women to make awful short term choices means enabling some proportion of them to ruin their lives.
But it's not enough to say to these women 'Get married' or 'Ignore your friends and pay attention to school'. Some extraordinary people do, of course, but we all tend to overestimate how easy it is to be that extraordinary. Most of us reading this blog, after all, went to college and/or got nice steady jobs because we had enormous social and familial pressure on us to do so. How many of us were strong enough to overcome our environment, drop out of high school, and sell drugs?
For generations, it was established fashion wisdom that American women would buy about two purses a year — one for everyday use and another for dressy occasions. But in recent years, Coach Inc. has pushed to make handbags the shoes of the 21st century: a way to frequently update wardrobes with different styles without shelling out for new clothes.
Coach was known for decades as a sturdy purveyor of conservative, long-lasting handbags. Following a late-1990s strategic overhaul, it has successfully convinced women to buy weekend bags, evening bags, backpacks, satchels, clutches, totes, briefcases, diaper bags, coin purses, duffels and a mini handbag that doubles as a bag-within-a-bag called a wristlet.
Its strategy is simple: Even in the absence of any obvious need, Coach creates and markets new kinds of bags to fill what it calls "usage voids," activities that range from weekend getaways to dancing at nightclubs to trips to the grocery store. The company updates collections nearly every month with new colors, fabrics and sizes. It prices bags lower than luxury designers but high enough for women to buy as a special treat.
American women are gobbling up the new options. Coach calculates that in 1988, women purchased an average of 1.9 bags. In 2000, women bought 2.4 bags; this year, they're expected to buy 3.5.
Coach's stock — adjusted for two stock splits — has risen 12-fold since its initial public offering in 2000, making it one of the most successful IPOs of the past five years.
The experts mined the data and found that the stores would indeed need certain products — and not just the usual flashlights. 'We didn't know in the past that strawberry Pop-Tarts increase in sales, like seven times their normal sales rate, ahead of a hurricane,' Ms. Dillman said in a recent interview. 'And the pre-hurricane top-selling item was beer.'The folks at Wal-Mart collect a lot of data:
By its own count, Wal-Mart has 460 terabytes of data stored on Teradata mainframes, made by NCR, at its Bentonville headquarters. To put that in perspective, the Internet has less than half as much data, according to experts.The Internet when?
Those who got less than four hours of sleep a night were 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who got the recommended seven to nine hours of rest, scientists discovered. Those who averaged five hours of sleep had 50 percent greater risk, and those who got six hours had 23 percent more.I think it's time for my beauty rest.
At the Battle of Blenheim (1704) the British with five battalions attacked the French fortified positions along a front of 750 yds. The French had approximately 4,000 fusiliers deployed along 900 yds. The French opened fire at 30 yards with a single devastating volley causing 33 percent casualties to the British attacking force. This came to approximately 800 casualties. Therefore 20 percent of the French rounds were effective. If we assume that 15 percent of the French muskets misfired, this gives an effective rate of 23 to 24 percent of those muskets that actually fired.
At the Battle of Fontenoy (1745) five British battalions with a total strength of 2,500 men, less a few hundred men due to French artillery fire, let loose a volley at 30 yards against an attacking force of five French battalions. The British volley caused 600 casualties to the French. This would mean that the British muskets were hitting with an effective rate of 25 percent.
At the Battle of Minden (1759) Hughes estimates that the effectiveness of musketry by both British and French was less than two percent per volley. In this battle the French and British engaged at much longer ranges, 100 to 150 yards. At the Battle of Albuera (1811) a French divisional column attacked the British position. The British muskets averaged a two-percent effectiveness rating at that battle at a range of 100 to 150 yards. However, at the same battle on the French left flank, the average effectiveness was about 5-1/2 percent per volley for both sides. Hughes concluded that at Albuera the actual effectiveness dropped off rapidly with range between 30 and 200 yards. He also stated that smoke on the battlefield often obscured the aim of the shooters, which would lower the effectiveness dramatically.
In 1940 the instructions to the Form 1040 were about four pages. Today they are more than 100 pages, and the form itself contains more than 10 schedules and more than 20 worksheets. The complete tax code totals about 2.8 million words — about four times longer than "War and Peace" (and considerably harder to parse).An amusing suggestion:
Rather than repealing the alternative minimum tax, as many have urged, Congress should repeal the regular income tax.(Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.)
However, economists know that a consumption-based tax system need not look like a VAT or a sales tax. It can appear very much like an income tax. All that is really necessary is that saving be entirely exempted from taxation. If that is the case, then all that remains is consumption. Hence, the burden of taxation will necessarily fall on consumption even though consumption is not taxed directly.
The principal virtue of a consumption-based tax system is that it is much less burdensome to the economy than an income tax raising the same revenue. That is because saving, investment and risk-taking are especially critical to growth.
In a tire filled with compressed air, the oxygen molecules tend to "migrate" through the wall of the tire over time. That's why, when you open the garage to check on your aunt's dust-covered 1980 Pontiac the tires are often flat.
But nitrogen molecules migrate 3 to 4 times more slowly than oxygen, so tires stay properly inflated longer. There are other benefits. Nitrogen retains less heat than oxygen and therefore allows tires to run cooler.
While nitrogen is dry and benign and will not combine chemically with other materials (the metal in tire rims, for instance), compressed air contains trace amounts of water and the oxygen tends to combine with other materials, causing rust and corrosion. If you were to see the inner face (the part enclosing and sealing the inside of the tire) of some fancy aluminum wheels you would be surprised at how corroded they become due to oxidation.
Tour de France bicyclists fill their tires with nitrogen. So do NASCAR, Indy and Formula One racing teams, over-the-road truckers, some fire departments and the U.S. military.
The bow is probably the first mechanical device invented to achieve projectile speeds faster than those attainable by throwing. Energy supplied by the human arm is stored in the bow limbs while the bow is drawn. The stored energy is then released as the kinetic energy of the arrow. This is a very efficient process since a large fraction of the stored energy gets converted into the motion of the arrow. Compare shooting an arrow this way and throwing it by hand. In both cases its is the arm muscles that provide the energy. When you simply throw the arrow you also "throw" the arm. Since the arm is much more massive than the arrow it gets the lion share of the energy.
Hatcher describes one experiment with the 150gr M2 Ball bullet fired vertically. When it came back from vertical (round trip time was about 42.9 seconds) it left only a 1/16 inch dent in a soft pine board that it happened to hit. (Not exactly what it would do at 2700f/s, eh?) Based upon this and similar tests Hatcher concluded that the impact velocity was about 300 f/s, which from additional testing appears to be the terminal velocity (the maximum free fall velocity which is limited by air drag on the body in question) of that bullet falling from any height in the atmosphere. (If I remember correctly from my limited parachuting experience the terminal velocity of a falling person is somewhere around 130 mph or about 200 f/s.)
What does not substantially change, even at extreme range, is the rotational speed of the bullet that was imparted by the rifling (around 300k rpm) since the effect of air drag on the rotational velocity in negligible. Thus the gyroscopic action, once the projectile is stabilized, tends to keep the bullet oriented in the same direction, thus the base first (well ok, original position trailing end) return. It is interesting that this was not commonly known until just before WWII. The British had lots of dud antiaircraft rounds that all came back base down, or more correctly oriented to the same elevation as shot from the gun. BTW, this is what raises hob with traditional long range small arms ballistics. With lots of elevation on the bore (past 2,000 or so yards) at the far end many bullet are actually falling sideways and all frontal air drag algorithms are out the window.
For his study Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb, John U. Ogbu, a Nigerian-born anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who died unexpectedly last year, investigated the high school in Shaker Heights, Ohio, trying to understand why middle-class black students did far less well than middle-class whites. Ogbu, who has reported similar findings for over thirty years, lists in this most recent book the familiar claims about black students, claims that he found largely accurate. They put pressure on one another not to 'act white' by doing well in school. They do not work as hard in school as white students from economically similar families. Black students watch TV and socialize with friends more than whites do. More black students than whites come to class unprepared and are more disruptive. Black students spend much more time at after-school jobs. Many think grades are unimportant because they can go to college on athletic scholarships. When given the opportunity to take more academically challenging courses in high school, they frequently decline.I find the differences between low- — pardon, working- — and middle-class families more interesting:
Annette Lareau, who has observed middle- and working-class children, writes in her book Unequal Childhoods that middle-class children today are encouraged from an early age to negotiate with their parents over what to wear or eat, to question adult statements if they seem implausible, and to interact with adults as equals. Children from the white middle class are expected, for example, to describe their symptoms to pediatricians.Also, middle-class kids have a busy schedule full of structured activities:
These activities also promote teamwork and easier relations with strangers. The working-class children Lareau observed mostly stayed in their neighborhoods, playing games only among themselves.More:
Middle-class parents were more likely to encourage children to figure out problems for themselves. Working-class parents were more likely to tell them what to do. Lareau's middle- and working-class parents both encouraged their children to read, and parents from both classes read aloud to their children when they were young; but middle-class parents were more likely to read themselves, thus showing the importance of reading by their own behavior. Moreover, Lareau's middle-class parents more frequently intervened in schools when they felt it in their children's interest to do so. In high school, as John Ogbu observed, middle-class white parents are aggressive in guiding their children's decisions on curriculum, while Ogbu's black parents and Lareau's working-class parents are not. Indeed, in many ways, Ogbu's middle-class blacks are similar to Lareau's working-class whites in attitudes toward education.
is highly social and mildly polygynous, that displays concealed ovulation, continuous female receptivity, and postmenopausal life expectancy corresponding to a uniquely extended period of childhood development, that has extraordinary aptitudes for technology, that has developed language and the capacity for peering into the minds of its conspecifics, and that displays a unique disposition for fabricating and consuming aesthetic and imaginative artifacts.According to Carroll, human behavior fits into seven "behavioral systems":
For example, he cites the episode in which Mr. Collins introduces himself to the Bennett household in a letter that is read by the family. This letter is, as Carroll nicely describes it, �an absolute marvel of fatuity and of pompous self-importance,� and much is revealed in how mother, father, and the Bennett sisters react to it. The excessively sweet-tempered older sister, Jane, is puzzled by it, though she credits Mr. Collins with good intentions. The dull middle sister, Mary, says she rather likes Mr. Collins�s style. The mother, in her typical manner, only reacts to it opportunistically, in terms of a potential advantage in the situation. It is up to Elizabeth and her father to see clearly what a clownish performance the letter represents: their understanding marks an affinity of temperament and a quality perceptiveness the others lack. But what Carroll�s analysis makes clear is that there are two more people � not fictional characters, but actual human beings � who are in on the agreement between Mr. Bennett and his second daughter. These two further individuals are also members of their �circle of wit and judgment.� First, there is Jane Austen, the author of Pride and Prejudice. And second, there is you, the reader of Pride and Prejudice.
Southern, the legendary novelist, journalist and screenwriter, died back in 1995, way too soon for him to savor the exquisite pleasure — or perhaps the hideous pain — of seeing one of his most outrageous comic ideas come to life as the latest craze in reality TV, which is, of course, sadistic billionaires tormenting money-grubbing weasels.
Back in the '50s and '60s, Southern was famous, the author of "Candy," a comic porn novel, as well as the screenplays of such classic movies as "Easy Rider," "The Loved One" and, best of all, the brilliantly demented Cold War comedy "Dr. Strangelove." Southern had a dark, sardonic wit and he traveled in the hippest of circles, hanging out with the Rolling Stones, Allen Ginsberg and Lenny Bruce. He was so cool the Beatles put his face on the cover of their "Sgt. Pepper" album.
In 1960, Southern published a novel called "The Magic Christian," the comic tale of Guy Grand, a billionaire who amuses himself by staging elaborate pranks that cause people to reveal how much they're willing to degrade themselves for money.
In the book's most famous scene, Grand buys a building in downtown Chicago, demolishes it and builds a gigantic vat perched atop a huge gas heater. He fills the vat with 300 cubic feet of manure, urine and blood purchased from the Chicago stockyards. When this hellish cocktail is nice and hot, he stirs 10,000 $100 bills into it and puts up a sign that reads "FREE $ HERE."
And then ... well, people will do just about anything for money, won't they?
1492 was perhaps the most momentous year in all of Spainish history. Under the leadership of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Spain was united for the first time in 800 years and the last of the Moors had just been sucessfully defeated at Granada. In this same year under the urging of Torquemada, master of the Inquisition, an edict had been issued expelling the Jews from Spain. In addition, after six long years of waiting around the periphery of the royal court, Christopher Columbus had finally been given permission to set sail westward to search for the riches of the east Indies. The Conquistadors who followed in the footsteps of Columbus, were unique products of Spanish histroy which led up to this moment in time. As a breed of men Conquistadors were not new to Spain — indeed they had been part of her culture for almost 800 years. Until 1492 Spain had been constantly at war since 711 AD. In that year Islamic hordes swept out of north Africa from across the Gibralter straits and within seven years had conquered all but the northwest coastal region and marched on across the Pyranies into France where they were finally stopped. The Moorish invaders conquered in the name of the Prophet and in spite of much bloodshed brought to Spain the culture of the Middle east. Their knowledge of irrigation methods opened up arid lands for agriculture andeducation, mathmatics, science and the arts flourished.
This fervent religious crusade of Christian against Moslem had taken 800 years to complete and the centuries of constant fighting had created a pool of soldiers and a mounted nobility that were little more than warlords. These men born to the saddle and the sword and acustomed to booty and living off the land, still burnedwith the wild religious fervour that had led to the victory over the Moors. When in 1492 the last battles had finally been won, conquistadors of the Spanish crusade were suddenly unemployed. These were men with little to lose and much to gain by adventuring in the New Worlds encountered by Columbus.
The lesson of the East German transition after 15 years should, in other words, be phrased as a warning: Even if it is possible to get every political and economic element right, even if it is possible to avoid violence entirely, the psychological transition to liberal democracy from a regime ruled by fear is one that takes at least one generation, if not two. Few people are able to walk from a closed society into an open one without self-doubt and discomfort. Few people find it easy to readjust their thinking overnight, even if they want to. Few people are able to look at themselves in the mirror, tell themselves that the first few decades of their lives were all a bad mistake, and go out and start living new lives according to new rules. It was no accident, a wise teacher once told me, that God made the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years before bringing them to the promised land: That was how long it would take them to unlearn the mental habits of Egyptian slavery.
It began as a solution to that All-American holiday problem — what to do with the leftover turkey. But executives at C.A. Swanson & Sons weren't talking about just the remainders of the family meal. They were talking 520,000 pounds of poultry.
The Omaha, Neb., frozen food company had overestimated the demand for and undersold its 1953 Thanksgiving supply. Having insufficient warehouse facilities to store the overage, brothers Gilbert and Clark Swanson loaded the turkeys into 10 refrigerated railroad cars, which had to keep moving to stay cold.
As the turkeys traveled from Nebraska to the East Coast and back again, the Swanson brothers handed their staff a challenge — make good of this "fowl" situation.
Enter Gerry Thomas, a company salesman. Visiting the food kitchens of Pan American Airways in Pittsburgh, he caught sight of the single-compartment aluminum trays the cooks used to keep food hot. Thomas requested a sample, then spent his flight home designing a three-compartment tray that was a step up from the serviceman's mess kit. He decided his design might be just what Swanson needed to sell off that turkey.
Back in Omaha, Thomas presented a turkey dinner-filled tray to the Swanson brothers. Then he suggested tying the dinners to the nation's latest craze, television. Packages were designed to resemble a TV screen, complete with volume control knobs — and the TV dinner was born.
Swanson didn't actually invent the frozen dinner. That can be credited to (or blamed on) Clarence Birdseye, who in 1923 invested $7, purchased an electric fan, buckets of brine, and some ice, and invented a system of packing and flash-freezing waxed cardboard boxes of fresh foods.
But it was that packaging — the compartments for individual servings — that put Swanson on the frozen food map.
The Spanish dollar or peso (literally, 'heavy') is a silver coin which was minted in Spain after a Spanish currency reform in 1497.Spanish silver (unlike paper Mexican pesos) kept its value:
Thanks to the vast silver deposits that were found in Mexico (for example, at Taxco and Zacatecas), and to silver looted from Spain's possessions throughout the Americas, mints in Mexico and Peru also began to strike the coin. Millions of pesos were minted over the course of several centuries. They were among the most widely circulating coins of the colonial period in the Americas, and were still in use in North America and in South-East Asia in the 19th century. They had a value of one dollar when circulating in the United States. During the US Civil War the US Government first issued paper money backed by Spanish dollars.
The coin is roughly equivalent to the silver thaler issued in Bohemia and elsewhere since 1517. The German name 'thaler' was adopted in English as 'dollar', referring to all such coins.
The peso nominally weighed 550.209 Spanish grains, which is 423.900 troy grains or 27.468 metric grams, .93055 fine: so contained 25.560 grams fine silver. Its weight and purity varied significantly between mints and over the centuries.
The peso had a nominal value of 8 reales ('royals'). The coins were often physically cut into eight 'bits', or sometimes four quarters, to make smaller change. This is the origin of the colloquial name 'pieces of eight' for the coin, and of 'quarter' and 'two bits' for twenty five cents.
The Spanish eight reales coin was set at a weight of 423.9 grains (27.47 grams) of .9305 fine silver. From that date the coin only depreciated some 4.4% over the next 250 years!Fascinating:
Spanish dollars were made legal tender in the United States by an Act of February 9, 1793, and were not demonetized until February 21, 1857. Testaments to the importance of these coins continue in that "two bits," "pieces of eight" and "picayune" have become part of the American vocabulary. Also, it is interesting to observe that when the New York Stock Exchange opened in 1792 rates were reported in terms of New York shillings which were valued at eight to the Spanish milled dollar, hence changes were reported in eighths. Amazingly, over two hundred years after adoption of the decimal system, stock and security price variations [were] still reported in eighths!
Romero's unusual treatment of the subject matter, combining the zombie with the mummy and the ghoul, gave the zombie film what it had previously lacked: a threat to the general population. In Night of the Living Dead, it is not just a pretty young female who is threatened, but all of us — in fact, as the movie's ending makes clear, civilization itself is at stake.As the title, Shaun of the Dead, suggests, Shaun is for all intents and purposes a zombie, as are most of his friends and associates:
Romero's film caught the imagination with its symbolism: the plague of zombies tearing a town to bits and eating people alive called to mind the rising disorder and social chaos of late '60s, early '70s America. The authorities were stupid and ineffectual, powerless to stop the horror, and people had no clue as to how to respond. Romero's zombies evoked, on a symbolic level, ordinary people's fears of being torn to shreds by a rising tide of crime and immorality.
Shaun is a classic underachiever, and it is clearly because there is little in the culture around him to inspire a person to work hard. With a minimum of effort, one can have a comfortable life, if a pointless and dull one, and that is exactly what Shaun has. Ed, who gets by without any job at all other than the occasional marijuana sale, serves as a caricature of Shaun's aimlessness and a warning of what he could yet become.But the threat wakes them up:
Shaun of the Dead brings back the stiff-upper-lip, muddling-through, stolid British attitude of years past, without any overload of irony, using humor and excitement to make it palatable and appealing to contemporary audiences.
How about this for a commercial?: split screen, red and blue. On the red side you see the words low taxes� security� fiscal responsibility� parental choice in education� On the blue side you see civil liberties� freedom to live my life my way� a woman's right to choose� The two sides merge into a large, purple screen. The New Libertarian Party� America deserves the best of both.The article also points to A Field Guide for Effective Communication — which is, in fact, a field guide for effectively communicating "conservative" free-market ideas.
The technology used to gather the data is called HITS, for Head Impact Telemetry System, and was developed by a team of engineers at Simbex, a Lebanon, N.H., company that specializes in biofeedback devices. HITS uses six accelerometers — the devices that trigger auto air bags — to measure the exact force, location and direction of each impact during a game. The accelerometers are mounted in a U-shaped pad that fits snugly into a helmet, along with a microprocessor and a radio transmitter. Each time the player's cranium accelerates due to a tackle or a collision, the acceleration is registered in g's, and that information is transmitted to a computer by the bench. There the data pops up in graphics that are easy to read even on a hectic sideline. A bar graph indicates the force of the blow, and an arrow points to the exact place of contact on a three-dimensional image of a head. If the impact exceeds a predetermined level — it's 80 g's at Virginia Tech — a pager instantly alerts the team doctor, who then knows to monitor the player closely.
Never one to miss a brand-development opportunity, Starbucks CEO Jim Donald came to Capitol Hill this week to announce that the Seattle-based coffee giant will donate 50,000 pounds of beans for overseas troops, with distribution handled by the Red Cross.They're on a roll:
In related news, Starbucks announced that its profit rose 46 percent from last year.
Earlier this year, science teachers howled when state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox proposed a new science curriculum that dropped the word "evolution" in favor of "changes over time."
That plan was quickly dropped, but comic Jimmy Fallon still cracked wise on "Saturday Night Live": "As a compromise, dinosaurs are now called `Jesus Horses'."
Even though our animation was very simplified, our filmmaking was not. James Brooks and Matt Groening and Sam Simon asked me to be a part of it because they liked Family Dog — they liked the fact that it had a live-action sensibility in terms of camera angles and cutting. When I first got into it, the visual language of television animation was very, very rudimentary. There was a standard way of handling things, and that had gotten into the art form itself, to where people were doing this stuff by rote. The rule was, whenever you go to a new location, you do an establishing shot, whenever somebody's moving, you have a medium shot, and whenever anybody's talking, you cut to whoever's talking. It's all done at eye level. You never have high angles or low angles or anything like that. That's TV animation; I'm not saying there weren't great camera angles in Chuck Jones or anything else. But on TV, that's the way they were doing it.
When I got in there with the storyboard artists, they were approaching things that way because that's the way they were trained. I said, "No, come on, man! We're doing a take on The Shining here. Let's look at how Kubrick uses his camera. His camera always has wide-angle lenses. Oftentimes, the compositions are symmetrical. Let's do a drawing that simulates a wide-angle lens. They're deep focus. Let's push things off and play on that." At first they were completely bewildered, and very soon they were into it. I said, "Look, we can't spend a lot of money on elaborate animation, but we can have sophisticated filmmaking." So I think the show is very visually distinctive.
"The house is the first one north of the vacant lot on the northeast corner. Has a dome roof. Wait — it's where that truck is. Got it?"
A truck had pulled up and five men had walked inside, carrying something in their arms. Three dogs had trotted up.
"Supper time. They're changing shifts," Sgt. Roneil Sampson, an imagery analyst, said. "Domino's delivery."
"Cleared hot," Neumann said. Impact was less than a minute away.
Word had spread to the off-duty crew and over two dozen Marines had squeezed into the small op center, murmuring back and forth.
"I like dogs. Get out of there dogs."
"Stay in there, muj. You're almost in paradise. Don't leave now. Don't leave."
The courtyard door opened, and a man walked to the truck and slowly drove away.
"Boot muj sent out to get the Coke. Luckiest bastard on the planet."
Both video screens suddenly flashed bright white, as if a fuse had blown. There was a collective Damn! from the watching Marines. The center of the roof was now a huge black hole.
"That's a shack," Neumann said. "Now that's what I call a shack!"
"I feel sorry for the dogs," someone shouted.
"Great job, Watchdogs," Neumann said. "Great job."
Gifted with uncanny navigation skills, pigeons have been used to carry messages for centuries. In the early 1800s, people in northern France started racing them. Half a century later, pigeon contests took off in Britain and became the poor man's horse racing. Today the country boasts 50,000 'fanciers,' as pigeon trainers are called, and some three million specially bred racing pigeons.Some amusing trivia:
But a pall has been cast on the venerable sport. In Belgium, where the pastime is also popular, scores of pigeons have tested positive for steroids.
Pigeons have an impressive ability to find their way home from afar. Scientists believe they use an internal sun clock and an innate ability to read the Earth's magnetic field to guide themselves. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used pigeons to carry messages. In the 12th century, the Caliph of Baghdad had them deliver mail in one of the world's first postal services. When Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1815, Count Nathan Rothschild famously received the news from a pigeon long before anyone else in London, and profited by investing in depressed British government bonds.
At a time when the $20 billion toy industry is struggling amid heavy price discounting, Kettler's best-selling trike is the Happy Navigator, a model launched earlier this year that boasts a $150 price tag, three times the average trike price. And fans can fork out more than $250 for the trikes, which are backed by a research and development department and a long list of registered patents.How do you sell a $150 tricycle?
Kettler, which conducts no advertising, says it uses a "cul-de-sac" marketing approach, relying on word-of-mouth on driveways and in playgrounds to build brand awareness.What makes them so popular?
One factor driving interest in the Kettler is the growth of online commerce, which has helped fuel baby trends beyond boutiques in big coastal cities. Kettler's trikes once were sold mainly in New York City boutiques and a few catalogs. But lately, Kettler's Internet sales have been growing at 30% a year, thanks to newer online retailers like www.mytoybox.com. Kettler says it has also benefited indirectly from the recent spate of closings of national toy chains like FAO Schwartz and Imaginarium, boosting business both on Web sites and at independently owned stores.
One reason for the trikes' popularity is their design. With a low-slung seat set above the back wheels and often equipped with the optional seat belt and push bar, the Kettler allows parents to use it almost like a stroller, giving it a toehold in the high-end stroller market.They also make a pedal-powered car — "so well-known in Germany the word Kettcar appears in the German dictionary."
Another factor is the company's ability to keep its trikes fresh by adding new props and options. A few weeks ago, the company informed its retailers that it had just received a patent covering a modification of its steering lock — which allows parents to prevent the handlebars from turning — as well as a feature that limits the turning radius of the tricycle to 45 degrees, which Kettler says helps prevent the trike from tipping over.
The tricycles' pricing structure bears a closer resemblance to BMW than Babies "R" Us. While the most basic trike retails at $70, Kettlers offer an array of options that often boost the actual price considerably. The deluxe stroller-version push bar with backpack retails for $55, and the seat belt is $16. A foot rest, used for children too small to pedal, is $18. Even the little red bell costs an extra $6. Some Kettlers even allow for additional seats inserted into the tricycle for multiple children, but building the custom stretch-trike costs an additional $55 for each insert.
In a former British colony healers believed the conventional wisdom that a distillation of fluids extracted from the urine of horses, if dried to a powder and fed to aging women, could act as a general tonic, preserve youth, and ward off a variety of diseases. The preparation become enormously popular throughout the culture, and was used widely by older women in all strata of society. Many years later modern scientific studies revealed that long-term ingestion of the horse-urine extract was useless for most of its intended purposes, and that it caused tumors, blood clots, heart disease, and perhaps brain damage.OK, that part's not amusing. But the punchline is (darkly):
The former colony is the United States, the time is now; the drug is the family of hormone replacement products that include Prempro and Premarin (manufactured from pregnant mare's urine, hence its name.) For decades, estrogen replacement in postmenopausal women was widely believed to have "cardio-protective" properties; other papers in respected medical journals reported that the drugs could treat depression and incontinence, as well as prevent Alzheimer's disease. The first large, well-conducted, controlled clinical trial of this treatment in women was not published until 1998; it found that estrogen replacement actually increased the rate of heart attacks in the patients studied. Another clinical trial published in 2002 presented further evidence that these products increased the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. Further reports a year later found that rather than prevent Alzheimer's disease, the drugs appeared to double the risk of becoming senile. The studies resulted in a reduction, but not an end, to the long-term use of these products.
Gen. Musharraf inherited a country on the verge of insolvency when he and a group of senior military officers removed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office in a bloodless coup in October 1999. The government was then channeling more than 60% of its revenues into servicing debt, leaving little for public works or social programs. Foreign-exchange reserves had plunged below $400 million, barely enough to finance two weeks of imports. Pakistan found it near impossible to tap global financial markets after Washington slapped economic sanctions on it for its nuclear tests.
Gen. Musharraf moved quickly to recruit some of his country's top economic minds back from abroad. In addition to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, a top Citicorp Inc. executive, Pakistan's leader also wooed men who had reached senior positions at the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
His new economic team quickly resurrected a dormant IMF program by implementing a string of tough fiscal measures, which included slashing subsidies, devaluing the Pakistani currency, and allowing the market to set interest rates. They also sold off state-owned companies and removed a slew of tariff barriers.
'No democratically elected government could have done this' because it wouldn't have been able to take the political heat, says Ishrat Husain, Pakistan's central bank governor.
Scott Brick sat alone before a music stand in a small recording studio last month, puzzling over the word "fecundated" on the sheet of paper in front of him. Should the accent be on the first or second syllable? "I think it's safe to say I've never spoken this word aloud before," he said.
Mr. Brick has uttered many uncommon words — "rapine," "retributive" and "circumvallated" among them — on his way to becoming an invisible star in a growing business: audio books. In his five-year career, the 38-year-old Mr. Brick has narrated about 200 books, including such bestsellers as "The Lion's Game," a novel by Nelson DeMille, and "In the Heart of the Sea," a nonfiction work about a shipwreck, by Nathaniel Philbrick. "He has the kind of voice you don't grow tired of," says Scott Matthews, president of Books on Tape, a big audio publisher that uses Mr. Brick more than it does any other narrator. Audio books are now an $800 million business in the U.S.
Now, Mr. Brick narrates 45 to 60 books a year, earning about $300 per finished hour, about double what other audio narrators make. It takes about four to five hours of recording to make one finished hour. Mr. Brick says he expects to earn about $150,000 this year from his audio work.
Make Mine Shoebox is an exercise in pushing the limits of how much you can get away with in a corporate video.
It was produced for a well known greeting card corporation to screen at various corporate gatherings and events.
'I got myself a real juicy target,' shouted Sgt James Anyett, peering through the thermal sight of a Long Range Acquisition System (LRAS) mounted on one of Phantom's Humvees.I have to wonder how that plays in the UK.
'Prepare to copy that 89089226. Direction 202 degrees. Range 950 metres. I got five motherf****** in a building with weapons.'
Capt Kirk Mayfield, commander of the Phantoms, called for fire from his task force's mortar team. But Sgt Anyett didn't want to wait. 'Dude, give me the sniper rifle. I can take them out — I'm from Alabama.'
Two minutes tick by. 'They're moving deep,' shouted Sgt Anyett with disappointment. A dozen loud booms rattle the sky and smoke rose as mortars rained down on the co-ordinates the sergeant had given.
'Yeah,' he yelled. 'Battle Damage Assessment — nothing. Building's gone. I got my kills, I'm coming down. I just love my job.'
One day in 1948, the Swiss engineer George de Mestral was cleaning his dog of burrs picked up on a walk when he realized how the hooks of the burrs clung to the fur. His realization led to the invention of Velcro — and a multimillion-dollar industry.
The U.S. Marine Corps earned an unofficial mascot during World War I that has remained an icon to this day. German soldiers reportedly referred to attacking Marines as teufel-hunden, or 'devil-dogs' because of their aggressive fighting tactics. Teufel-hunden were originally known as the wild, ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore.(Hat tip to The Adventures of Chester.)
Upon hearing this, the Marines issued a recruiting poster depicted a snarling English bulldog wearing a Marine Corps helmet and a full-fledged mascot was born.
In the event of an assault, said Pike, U.S. forces would be likely to divide Fallujah into sectors and station two- to four-man sniper teams in each sector — positioned for a wide field of vision — as Marine patrols move through the city, checking building after building for insurgents, flushing them out into the snipers' field of fire. A similar tactic was used with considerable success last April before the earlier assault on Fallujah was called off, Pike said.
Artillery and air support would be on hand, enabling the patrols to call down 500-pound bombs on specific positions, although military analysts warn of the possibility of unintended casualties should such air support be summoned.
"One of the reasons that they are so reliant on snipers is precisely to minimize that," said Pike.
The patrolling Marines also will have access to a Dragon Runner, a four- wheeled surveillance drone with sensors and a camera that can "see around the corner" and is sturdy enough to be dropped from a humvee traveling 25 mph or thrown through a second-story window.
"A squad leader would go out, say on a foot patrol," said Capt. Kyle Patton, project officer for Dragon Runner at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Va. "He can employ the Dragon Runner to check out danger areas, areas of interest, on reconnaissance before he sends one of his own Marines. If they do spot something, they have a good rough idea where it's at. They can send Marines in to take out that threat or have a pretty good idea of coordinates to call in fire."
Additional assistance comes from another robot surveillance drone called Dragon Eye, a five-pound battery-powered aircraft launched by bungee cord or by hand that can fly at 35 knots for nearly an hour on one charge and can see with low-light and infrared cameras.
"You basically point and click where you want it to go on the map display on your laptop," said Maj. John Giscard, the device's project leader.
There are 35 Dragon Eye systems in Iraq, each with three aircraft, Giscard said. Reaction from the Marines has been "extremely positive," said Giscard. "They want more of them. They want them out there faster. They're flying three or four missions a day with them.
"The Incredibles" is the year's best movie so far, and by far; it's hard to see what might still come along to surpass it.I have to agree with this too:
With this, its sixth animated feature, Pixar will have its sixth megasuccess, both as art and commerce; there's never been a winning streak like it in the history of the movie business. And, to judge from the results, the studio couldn't have provided a happier home for Brad Bird, who needed and deserved one after the mishandling, by Warner Bros., of his marvelous first feature "The Iron Giant."
Every week through the end of the year, classic.1UP.com will be presenting a look at a different video gaming landmark — the fifty most important games to be created within the forty years that the medium has existed.Video games go back almost to the beginning of computers paired with CRTs:
Ask the average person on the street for the name of the world's first video game and chances are they'll tell you it was Pong. It's certainly a reasonable assumption: Pong's simple black-and-white visuals and back-and-forth table tennis gameplay are like the electronic equivalent of cave paintings — how much more primitive could you get? It stands to reason that such a basic creation must have been the first game ever. Right?The first true video game was (arguably) Spacewar, which goes back to 1962:
As any student of the medium's history can tell you, though, the answer isn't Pong.
Largely created in the space of six months by a single student programmer during an era in which computer access was a rare and expensive commodity, Spacewar pitted two players head-to-head with a pair of classic sci-fi rocketships armed with tiny missiles. Controls were limited to thrust, rotate right and rotate left, with a dangerously unpredictable hyperspace panic button reserved for emergency situations. All action transpired on a single screen, the center of which was occupied by a deadly sun that exerted a powerful gravitation pull on the combatants. Clever players were able to make use of the sun's attraction to give themselves an edge by slingshotting through its gravity field — a solid understanding of Newtonian physics was definitely a boon when playing Spacewar.
Imagine that the film industry had skipped straight from still photos to The Jazz Singer, or that Thomas Edison's first recording had been a Buddy Holly record — that's how impressive Spacewar was as the debut of a brand new medium. By the time the game was complete in early 1962, it featured an accurate star map of the galaxy, a realistic physics model governed by gravity and inertia, and spaceships which could be rotated through 360 degrees. It even included a hyperspace button, years before Star Trek made "warp speed" a household phrase.
Stratemeyer�s timing was superb. The spread of primary education had spawned a host of independent young readers, and juvenile fiction was on the verge of becoming hugely popular. The dime novel, which had emerged in 1860, had created an appetite among children for more exciting fare than Sunday-school moralism. What Stratemeyer brought to this burgeoning market was not literary brilliance; the early Rover Boys books are crudely written at best. But he had two essential gifts: a knack for coming up with ideas, and organizational genius. As Henry Ford was revolutionizing the auto industry, Stratemeyer was revolutionizing the way children�s books were produced. The boy who had played at the printing press had learned how to put his single-mindedness to work for him.
New printing techniques had made it easier to manufacture good-looking books for less than ever before. Most �quality� hardcover juvenile fiction cost a dollar or a dollar twenty-five, but it was still primarily instructional. The most famous of these was the Rollo series, about a boy who travelled through Europe with his uncle, learning the virtue of honesty. For excitement, people had the Deadwood Dicks and the Lone Star Lizzies, low-end dime novels aimed at working-class men and read on the sly by boys — and some girls — everywhere. (Publishers assumed that girls would happily read boys� books, but not vice versa.)
In 1906, Stratemeyer had his first big idea. The Rover Boys had sold tens of thousands of copies, but Stratemeyer had hopes for more. He went to a publishing firm with a radical proposal: his new series, �The Motor Boys� (the Rover Boys with more speed), would cost fifty cents but, with its cloth hardbound covers, look like it cost twice as much. The �fifty-center� would bridge the gap between the nineteenth century�s moralistic tradition and the dime novel�s frontier adventures. Because the fifty-center was a hardback, unlike the dime novel, it seemed respectable to parents. And it was within range of a boy�s allowance, or his wheedling skills.
At first, the publishers worried about the scant profit margin — probably three to five cents per book. But Stratemeyer thought that the books would make up in volume for the diminished profit margin per unit. He was right. The Motor Boys series quickly became �the biggest and best selling series for boys ever published,� according to a publisher�s blurb. When Stratemeyer repackaged the Rover Boys series in the same format, it, too, grew into a bona-fide phenomenon, selling more than six million copies by 1920.
The fifty-cent books had an advantage over their more expensive, single-volume counterparts: you could release a �breeder� set of three at once — a strategy that Stratemeyer had pioneered with the Rover Boys — to test the waters, and, if the set did well, you had immediately generated an audience for the sequels. Sequels to one-off books, in contrast, tended to sell relatively poorly.
Stratemeyer could not keep up with the demand for his stories. This prompted his second big idea: he would form a literary syndicate, which would produce books assembly-line style.
Stratemeyer would come up with a three-page plot for each book, describing locale, characters, time frame, and a basic story outline. He mailed this to a writer, who, for a fee ranging from fifty dollars to two hundred and fifty dollars, would write the thing up and — slam-bang! — send it back within a month. Stratemeyer checked the manuscripts for discrepancies, made sure that each book had exactly fifty jokes, and cut or expanded as needed. (Each series had a uniform length; the standard was twenty-five chapters.) He replaced the verb �said� with �exclaimed,� �cried,� �chorused,� and so forth, and made sure that cliffhangers punctuated the end of each chapter — usually framed as a question or an exclamation.
Stratemeyer�s heroes — among them the Motor Boys, the Outdoor Girls (the first girls� series, Dorothy Dale, was introduced in 1908), the Motion Picture Chums, Tom Swift, and the Bobbsey Twins — dashed about in six-cylinder racing cars or jets or balloons. �Swift by name and swift by nature� was Tom Swift�s motto. Most strikingly, Stratemeyer abandoned the model of self-improvement that informed both Alger�s and Patten�s best-sellers. His children were already perfect — solidly middle-class ��bermenschen,� as one syndicate partner later termed them. �Manly� and �wide awake,� they succeeded at whatever they turned their hand to and enjoyed utter freedom (in contrast to �firmly guarded� nineteenth-century types), typically exposing the schemes of ne�er-do-wells hoping to siphon away the fortune of an innocent orphan. Stratemeyer understood that twentieth-century children wanted a fantasy posing as reality. As Patten aptly put it, the new model was a story about �the boy that every kid would like to be. Not, mind you, the boy that every kid ought to be. That was the Horatio Alger idea.�
In 1926, ninety-eight per cent of the boys and girls surveyed in a poll published by the American Library Association listed a Stratemeyer book as their favorite, and another survey showed that the Tom Swift books, which the syndicate launched in 1910, were at the top of the list. Thirty-one series were in full swing. Yet Stratemeyer still wasn�t content. He had noticed the growing popularity in the twenties of adult detective fiction and of pulp magazines like Black Mask,which was founded by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan. As the journalist Carol Billman points out in �The Secret of the Stratemeyer Syndicate,� Stratemeyer saw that this detective fiction, grafted onto an adventure story, might appeal to children. In 1926, the year that S. S. Van Dine�s �The Benson Murder Case� introduced Philo Vance to the world, Stratemeyer wrote the outline for the first three volumes of a series that proved more popular than any that had come before: the Hardy Boys.
In 1930, Stratemeyer decided to follow up with a girl detective, whom he called Nancy Drew. The women�s movement of the time had energized girls� fiction, creating an audience for female characters with spunk (in contrast to Stratemeyer�s early girl heroines, like Honey Bunch, who �knew exactly how to do a washing for she had watched the laundress many times�). Stratemeyer had signed up a young college graduate named Mildred Wirt, and he sent her the outline of �The Secret of the Old Clock.� Wirt went on to write twenty-three of the first thirty Nancy Drews. From the start, the series sold better than any other Stratemeyer series, overturning the conventional publishing wisdom that boys� series outperformed girls�.
Forty years ago a young, radical journalist helped ignite the War on Poverty with his pioneering book The Other America. In its pages, Michael Harrington warned that the recently proclaimed age of affluence was a mirage, that beneath the surface of U.S. prosperity lay tens of millions of people stuck in hopeless poverty that only massive government intervention could help.
Today, a new generation of journalists is straining to duplicate Harrington's feat — to convince contemporary America that its economic system doesn't work for millions and that only government can lift them out of poverty. These new journalists face a tougher task than Harrington's, though, because all levels of government have spent about $10 trillion on poverty programs since his book appeared, with disappointing, even counterproductive, results. And over the last four decades, millions of poor people, immigrants and native-born alike, have risen from poverty, without recourse to the government programs that Harrington inspired.
Harrington had seen the poor as victims because they could find no work; his more radical allies, especially a group associated with Columbia University's social-work school, argued that compelling the demoralized inner-city poor to work or take part in training that would fit them for work, instead of giving them unconditional welfare, was itself victimization. Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, for example, argued that America's poverty programs — "self-righteously oriented toward getting people off welfare" and making them independent — were violating the civil rights of the poor. Journalist Richard Elman claimed that "vindictive" America was "humiliating" welfare recipients by forcing them to seek entry-level work as taxi drivers, restaurant employees, and factory laborers, instead of giving them a guaranteed minimum income.
Have religious issues become more important in politics because too few Americans go to church?I was expecting an analysis of voting and going to church as economic substitutes. That's not what I got though:
That is the surprising suggestion of a new working paper by the Harvard economist Edward L. Glaeser and two doctoral students, Jesse M. Shapiro and Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto. (The paper, "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," is online.)
The paper starts with a puzzle: In a majoritarian system like ours, political economists generally predict that candidates will converge toward the center of the spectrum, so as to attract as many votes as possible. This is the "median voter theory." But it doesn't seem to describe what's happened in American politics. On divisive religious issues like abortion, the two parties aren't hugging the center. They're abandoning it.What explains this?
First, there are actually two important voting decisions — not just whom to pick but whether to vote at all. Candidates need to get their voters excited enough to come to the polls (or possibly to give money). Extreme positions can do that.In areas (and times) where almost everyone goes to church (the Philippines, South Carolina, Minnesota in the 1970s), church attendance doesn't predict voting preference.
But positions that energize your base may also encourage the opposition to come out against you. That's where the second part of the model comes in. Candidates need a way to target their messages so their supporters are more likely to respond than their opponents.
That's where social groups like churches and unions come in. These groups provide friendly forums for candidates' direct or indirect messages. While outsiders may know something about a candidate's more extreme positions, group members know more — because the messages are aimed specifically at them.
Those in-group forums work, however, only if the groups are just the right size. They have to be small enough to be homogeneous and big enough to be influential. "The model has this very odd prediction that the power of social groups is most when they're roughly 50 percent of the population," Professor Glaeser said.
If a group is too small, it's not worth courting. But if it's too big, it includes too many of your opponent's supporters, making targeted messages impossible. If everybody goes to church or belongs to a union, membership in either group will not predict voting behavior.
Steve Schneider is the owner of one of the largest private collections of Warner Bros. cartoon art. His book is That's All Folks! The Art of Warner Bros. Animation.
The late Chuck Jones was the animation director responsible for many of Warner Bros. greatest cartoons: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Road Runner. (Jones died in 2002. This show was originally broadcast on Oct. 18, 1989.)
Hello Kitty and friends welcome you to the exciting and fantastic Hello Kitty World! This is the first-ever online game platform featuring the all-time-favorite Hello Kitty characters from Sanrio!I have to wonder how many mean-spirited young men will sign on just to ruin the experience...
Hello Kitty World will allow thousands of players to live and participate in Hello Kitty's magical and cute online world. You will be able to roam the streets of Kitty Kingdom, XO Federation, and Melody-land. Enjoy the beautiful landscape and architecture of Puroland or Badtzcity and participate in numerous puzzles, story lines, or adventures lead by the worldwide community of Hello Kitty World subscribers. You can even have a successful career, open different shops, earn and spend Sanrio Dollars in your bank, buy a house, and trade with other players around the vast game world.
Other than hundreds of choices for you to build your dream house and lovely player characters, Hello Kitty World players will also be able to raise pets and teach them special tricks and skills. Players will be able to cooperate and interact with other players to overcome a joint quest or challenge other friends to a friendly duel.
You will be able to make new friends through special in-game telepathy as well as interact with other gamers through a variety of community channels and forums. Share the exciting world of Hello Kitty World and spread the message of love with both your old friends and the new ones you have just met in the Hello Kitty World.
So, what are you waiting for? Hello Kitty and friends will see you all in Hello Kitty World!
The 10-pound (4.5-kg) increase in the average weight of American adults in the 1990s means additional expenses for struggling airlines today, according to the findings published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.I have to wonder how luggage and carry-on weights have changed. Anyway, just how much do Amercians weigh?
The researchers for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that carriers spent $275 million in fuel costs to carry the additional weight of passengers in 2000.
The average weight of an adult man was 191 pounds (86.6 kg) in 2002, while the average weight for women was 164.3 pounds (74.5 kg).
After exhorting citizens to smile more, flush toilets after use, be courteous on the road and to have more babies, Singapore is zeroing in on rude wedding guests in its latest bid to improve etiquette.I didn't realize this:
Infuriated by reports of weddings marred by tardy guests, the government-led Singapore Kindness Movement launched a 'Punctuality Drive at Wedding Dinners' campaign for a second straight year, a spokeswoman for the group said on Friday.
About 800,000 'punctuality reminders' have been sent to hotels, which usually plan weddings in Singapore. These are passed to couples to include with invitations, and contain a gracious 'thank you' for guests who turn up on time.
Older relatives often show up late at Chinese wedding banquets to show their importance. But the government is incensed that younger people are doing it too.
The "empire" in the title comes from the fact that while the United States is, by far, the most powerful country in the world, it has no empire and never has had. The United States, after all, has only 6 percent of the world's land area and 6 percent of its people, almost all of whom speak English and regard themselves as American. However, we conquered the world economically and have about 30 percent of the global gross product. While it was the Roman legions who Romanized the Mediterranean basin 2,000 years ago by force of arms, it has been U.S. entrepreneurs who have Americanized the modern world, through such means as blue jeans, Hollywood movies, Coca-Cola, rock 'n' roll, automobile assembly lines, and computer chatrooms.
Environmentalism can be seen as a counterattack against a key premise of the Enlightenment: that a central part of progress consists of increasing human control over nature. Instead, environmentalists argue that humans should accept their place as a mere subsidiary of the natural world. In practice this means reconciling humanity to poverty, disease and natural disasters.It's great fun to revisit old Malthusian predictions:
There is environmentalist confusion between the mastery over nature and the destruction of nature. Control over nature means reshaping the natural world to meet human needs — for example, developing medicines to fight against disease or building dams to prevent flooding or generate electricity. This is not the same as destroying rain forests or making animal species extinct.
The Limits To Growth report of 1972 estimated that the world's gold would run out in nine years, mercury in 13, natural gas in 22, petroleum in 20, silver 13 and zinc 18 years.My new favorite quote:
Paul Ehrlich, still a highly respected environmentalist and biology professor at Stanford University, predicted in The Population Bomb in 1968 that: 'The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.'
As Sheikh Yamani, the Saudi oil minister in the 1970s, has argued: 'The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.'
Whether you're black, white or polka dot, to take advantage of opportunities, you must be prepared. A large part of preparation is a decent K-12 education.Sounds like Bill Cosby...
For children to do well in school, there are some minimum requirements. Someone must make them do their homework, see that they get a good night's rest, prepare a breakfast and make sure they get to school on time and obey school authorities. This is not rocket science, but here's my question: Can those requirements be met by a president, member of Congress or a mayor?
Historically, black families have been relatively stable. From 1880 to 1960, the proportion of black children raised in two-parent families held steady at around 70 percent; in 1925 Harlem, it was 85 percent. Today, only 38 percent of black children are raised in two-parent families. In 1940, black illegitimacy was 16 percent; today, it's 70 percent.His conclusion:
Solutions to the most serious problems facing black Americans will not be found in the political arena. Otherwise, the problems would have been long solved with the civil rights legislation, litigation and the more than $8 trillion spent on poverty programs since 1965.Apparently The Washington Times editorial staff leans to the right. (Hat tip to Reason's Hit & Run.)
Absinthe, the reputedly insanity-inducing liqueur consumed by Van Gogh, Baudelaire, and many a bar hopper with no artistic or poetic talent whatsoever, soon will be legal again in Switzerland, the country where the drink was invented and one of the first places where it was banned (in 1910). According to Barnaby Conrad, author of Absinthe: History in a Bottle, 'no individual alcoholic drink except absinthe has ever been singled out for prohibition.' It was banned largely on the strength of horror stories similar to the tales of madness and mayhem later associated with marijuana, cocaine, PCP, and methamphetamine.
Now that legislators are beginning to reject anti-absinthe propaganda (though not everywhere — the stuff is still illegal in the U.S., for example), the Green Fairy's fans are not necessarily pleased. 'I want to preserve the myth that comes with keeping absinthe forbidden and clandestine,' one told The New York Times. 'The myth is the thrill of breaking the law and not getting caught. The myth is offering as much money as you can and maybe still not finding what you're looking for. Next year you'll find absinthe in all the supermarkets. We're going to have the absinthe of the bazaar.'
The dominant species of liberal doesn't just want to maintain the old taboos; it wants to introduce some new ones. For many Americans, the Democrats are the party that hates their guns, cigarettes, and fatty foods (which is worse: to rename a french fry or to take it away?); that wants to impose speed limits on near-abandoned highways; that wants to tell local schools what they can or can't teach. There is no party of tolerance in Washington — just a party that wages its crusades in the name of Christ and a party that wages its crusades in the name of Four Out Of Five Experts Agree. I say fie on both.
Egypt's chattering class must have been surprised when Egyptian security arrested several Egyptians for the October 7 bombings at tourist resorts in the Sinai. Egyptian pundits had asserted that Israel must have orchestrated the attacks. But don't expect a retraction. From the 1997 Luxor massacre, to the crash of EgyptAir 990, to 9/11 and now the Taba bombing, every major event is presented through the prism of vast forces — usually Israeli — conspiring to destroy Egypt. While this penchant for conspiracy is written off to ignorance and poverty, in fact the conspiracies are engineered from the top and serve the purposes of Egypt's regime.
Consider the statement (courtesy of MEMRI) of Dr. Dhiaa Rashwan, an expert on Islamic fundamentalism at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies: "This operation is the [work] of a security apparatus� and the one who gained the most was Israel, and thus one should attribute [the operation] to Israel. For the Israeli security [apparatuses] it is easy to carry out an operation on lands adjacent to its borders and then retreat into Israel�"
The al-Ahram Center is Egypt's most distinguished think tank. Dr. Rashwan's s statement is roughly equivalent to a Brookings scholar claiming the CIA masterminded 9/11.
An incumbent President from the heartland faces a strong, experienced challenger from the Northeast. The challenger is strong in part because the incumbent seems weak — inarticulate and gaffe-prone. But not too weak: Insiders make jokes about him, but he seems to connect with ordinary voters outside the Boston-New York-Washington, D.C. corridor. (Within that corridor he is plainly unpopular, and the Northeastern media overwhelmingly oppose his reelection.) When he came to office, the incumbent had only modest experience. No one had thought of him as a major player in American government during the decade before he moved to the White House, and what experience he had prepared him for domestic policymaking, not foreign affairs. But foreign policy has dominated his presidency — especially a shadowy not-quite-war, not-quite-peace with an adversary who has agents scattered across the globe. Within the administration, cabinet officers have openly battled over the country's foreign policy. One cabinet member has already been fired; after his dismissal the ex-cabinet member went public with scathing criticism of the President. The Secretary of Defense has not been fired — yet — but is a source of major controversy.
The challenger mocks the incumbent's lack of sophistication and touts his own greater experience and competence. But he seems stiff and boring on the campaign trail; platitudes roll off his tongue. His party is solidly behind him, but he does not have its heart — his nomination is a marriage of convenience, not love. A minor event on the campaign trail captures one reason why: A small accident leads the challenger to snap at the person who caused it; the challenger's harsh words contribute to the widespread impression that he is not a nice man. Still, his party is passionately committed to ousting the incumbent, and the challenger can count on sweeping the Northeast. For his part, the incumbent seems certain to carry the South, including border states like Kentucky and Oklahoma. The key battleground will be the Midwest. If the election comes down to a single state, there is a good chance it will be Ohio.
George W. Bush and John Kerry in 2004? Well, yes. But also Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.
What does it mean to remember the First World War? Over the past few years I have been trying to get my students — mostly 19- or 20-year-old Stanford English majors — to learn about, think about, reckon with, remember the Great War. I have been spectacularly unsuccessful. My latest failure came just this spring, in an honors seminar on Virginia Woolf. We were reading Jacob's Room, the hero of which dies on the Western Front, and I suspected — correctly — that my students knew little about the war or its repercussions. (Make of it what you will, but all of the students except one were female.)He gives them a PowerPoint overview of the war:
Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife dead in their coffins; the idiot kaiser in his skull-helmet; pathetic mobs of Frenchmen, Englishmen, and Germans crowding into recruiting stations in 1914-15; Ypres and Verdun in ruins; trenches and craters and bombed-out churches; and of course lots of dead and dismembered bodies.The payoff?
When their papers came in, one of the more intelligent young women in the group (or so I had judged her) had produced some garbled late-night drivel about how traumatic it was for Woolf to see the peaceful English countryside devastated by trench warfare during the First World War.Ah, yes, the devastated English countryside...
So we won't include the wonderfully thorough mop-ups of supermarket spills: The staff don't plunk down those yellow you-can't-sue-us caution signs. They actually fan the floor with a broken sheet of Styrofoam until it is dry.Here's the actual list:
Nor will we mention the exquisite, free head-and-shoulder massages that come with every shampoo and haircut.
And we will only sigh with envy over bicycle couriers speeding theatre tickets to you the same day — free.
Frequent travellers will love this one: Even remote rural hotels in China, not previously known for world-beating hygiene, now routinely slip blankets, quilts and coverlets into freshly laundered duvet covers. No more puffy bedspreads and nasty polyester blankets that cover guest after guest without being cleaned, which is still the practice in most of our hotel chains.
Airline executives and engineers have been lauding the 7E7 for state-of-the-art materials engineering: The fuselage will be made mostly from fiber-reinforced resin composites. Those materials, and the use of large component sections, will allow Boeing to complete each 7E7's final assembly in as little as three days, compared with the 13 to 25 days it typically takes for current Boeing planes, according to program manager Mike Bair. And the jetliner will sip fuel, helping lower costs for beleaguered airlines.It's too bad we have to wait until 2008.
But passengers likely will place one benefit above all others: increased humidity. The 7E7 could end the stuffy noses, irritated eyes and scratchy throats that now make long flights an endurance test for passengers.
Cabin air in all current jetliners is very dry — from 5 percent to 15 percent relative humidity, depending on where one sits, how long the flight lasts and how full the cabin is, said Boeing cabin environment expert Dave Space.
Outside air at 35,000 feet averages 68 degrees below zero, Space said — far too cold to hold moisture, so relative humidity runs less than 1 percent. When that air is drawn into the cabin, it is heated by air conditioning packs in the plane's belly to become breathable. But cabin humidity remains low, humidified mostly by evaporation from food and beverage service and from passengers' exhalation. In first class, where there are fewer bodies, cabin humidity is 5 percent to 10 percent; in a crowded coach section, it's 10 percent to 15 percent. (By comparison, humidity in a relatively dry climate, like Southern California's, is about 30 percent.)
Cabin air is kept dry because moisture condenses on the inside of the fuselage skin, corroding the metal structure. The corrosion is a maintenance nightmare for airlines, and could shorten an airplane's useful life. The 7E7's composite fuselage will be practically immune to that corrosion, so Boeing can make the cabin much more humid.
With Montana's approval of a medical marijuana initiative, nearly three-fourths of Western states now have such laws — while only two of the 37 states outside the West have adopted them.
Why is the West so much more receptive to the idea?
From a procedural standpoint, it's just easier to get pot issues on Western ballots because most states in the region allow such initiatives. Nationwide, just 24 states allow citizens to put issues on the ballot by petition, bypassing the Legislature. Eleven of those states are in the West.
But activists and political scientists also say Westerners are less willing than other Americans to tell their neighbors what they can and can't do. And historically, Western states tend to be in front on social trends.
"I would guess many of the people that voted for it probably don't use marijuana, but they don't want to say their neighbors can't," said Steven Stehr, political science professor at Washington State University.
The approval came even as Montana voted by wide margins to ban gay marriage and to re-elect President Bush, a Republican.
In a typical fifth-grade class at Mr. Kageyama's school in this shipbuilding port, the children began a recent day at their desks, pencils poised over sheets of paper. On cue, they began furiously scribbling, racing to write long-division tables from memory as a teacher timed them with a stopwatch. Once finished, they jumped to attention and started reciting 19th-century Japanese poems over and over, each time more quickly than the last. Still standing ramrod straight, they switched to English, shouting in unison sentences like 'I'm good at P.E.' and 'Do you like fried chicken?'The results?
Last year, before Mr. Kageyama took over Tsuchido Elementary, the school scored close to average in a national test of reading and math skills, or about 50 on a scale of 1 to 100. This January, the scores jumped nine points, to well above average.His "old school" methodology is even older than it seems:
Such success has led the Japanese press to proclaim his teaching approach — which he has immodestly dubbed the Kageyama Method — a "miracle," helping make him one of the best-known teachers in Japan. Auditoriums fill to hear him speak, teachers from all over the country gather to observe his classes and his 15 books — with titles like "The Real Way to Improve Academic Performance" — have sold four million copies.
"Many in Japan thought that the direction of educational reform was wrong, but they hadn't spoken out," says Mr. Kageyama.
The 46-year-old Mr. Kageyama, a short, energetic man with a boyish smile who ran an after-school daycare program before being hired as an elementary teacher, says he first felt dissatisfied with the ministry-mandated teaching styles in the late 1980s, before the reforms were in full force.I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if highly drilled students cranked out multiplication tables faster than I could. And I wouldn't be that impressed either. I can't say I'm too surprised that his students get into top universities either, since admissions are based on standardized tests:
He found the answer one day in a used book store, where he stumbled upon a history of medieval Buddhist temple schools once common centuries ago to teach children of samurai and wealthy merchants. The descriptions of students competing to solve equations on the abacus and reciting lessons under the eyes of switch-carrying monks represented the focus on basic skills that Mr. Kageyama felt modern Japanese schools had lost.
This inspired him to develop a similar method — with a few modern twists like stopwatches, English and no switches. When he first began to make students do recitation and math drills, parents immediately complained about his unorthodox methods. But on Parents Day, Mr. Kageyama asked parents to compete against the students in writing out multiplication tables. The slowest child finished before the fastest adult. "Parents couldn't believe it. After that, they were firmly behind me," Mr. Kageyama says.
Meanwhile, he quietly monitored the progress of his first batch of drill-method students, an unusually large number of whom won acceptance to top universities. Of his 50 students, 10 were accepted into Japan's rigorous national universities, about twice the average acceptance rate, he says.This is an interesting hypothesis:
He also claims his drills do more than just improve test scores, but even make children more creative and analytical. The drills, he says, serve as mental calisthenics that strengthen the brain and build self-confidence, helping children voice opinions and explore new ideas — exactly what the Education Ministry hoped to accomplish with its reforms. "I share the same goal ... but achieve it in an entirely different way," Mr. Kageyama says.I'm not sure why a teacher can't set high standards for non-rote learning.
More recently, there was a boss in Los Angeles who fancied himself part pro-wrestler, part jiu-jitsu grand master. His Red Bull addiction supplemented his already energetic personality. And he considered staff members the perfect foils. 'He would say, 'Oh, I've got this new move,' and — bam! — they'd be down on the ground,' Mr. Borzelleca recalls.I don't think I've done that.
Just how durable is 'The Simpsons,' which has the cast signed through season 19? There will be a 20th season at least, Jean figures, allowing it to match 'Gunsmoke' as the longest-running scripted show in prime-time.
Vaccination with the DNA of substances that trigger allergies, using a 'gene gun,' can prevent the over-production of the type of antibodies that cause allergic symptoms, experiments in mice show.
The gene gun is a helium-powered device that bombards the skin with DNA-coated gold particles. Because the DNA carrier is introduced directly into the skin cells, much less DNA is needed to induce an immune reaction than with standard injection methods, according to a report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Dr. Stephan Sudowe and colleagues, from the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz in Germany, used the gene gun to deliver the DNA for beta-galactosidase, a type of allergen, to mice. The animals were then given repeated injections of the allergen to see if the gene gun vaccine had prevented the production of IgE antibodies, the type responsible for allergic reactions.
The researchers found that the gene gun vaccine did, in fact, prevent long-term IgE production.
"We demonstrated that prophylactic gene gun-mediated DNA vaccination represents a promising tool...to prevent IgE antibody production," Sudowe's team states. However, further research is needed to determine if this approach also works against ongoing IgE production.
If we look around the world, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that bad performance is not self-correcting. One of the most important facts about economic growth is that, on average, poor countries do not catch up to rich countries. The main reason seems to be that poor countries consistently have bad policies. Many of these countries are democracies. But they almost never elect a candidate on the theme 'We need to copy the policies of more successful countries like Hong Kong and Singapore, and turn our backs on our failed national political tradition.'Thus:
Thus, the least pleasant places in the world to live normally have three features in common: First, low economic growth; second, policies that discourage growth; and third, resistance to the idea that other policies would be better. I have a theory to explain this curious combination. Imagine that the three variables I just named — growth, policy, and ideas — capture the essence of a country's economic/political situation. Then suppose that three "laws of motion" govern this system. The first two are almost true by definition:
1. Good ideas cause good policies.
2. Good policies cause good growth.
The third law is much less intuitive:
3. Good growth causes good ideas.
The third law only dawned on me when I was studying the public's beliefs about economics, and noticed that income growth seems to increase economic literacy, even though income level does not. In other words, poor people whose income is rising — like recent immigrants — have more than the average amount of economic sense; rich people whose income is falling — like the Kennedy family — have less.
A society can get stuck in an "idea trap," where bad ideas lead to bad policy, bad policy leads to bad growth, and bad growth cements bad ideas.
When it comes to cosmetics, the ancient Romans knew what they were doing.
Scientists have unearthed a small tin canister dating back to the middle of the second century AD in an excavated Roman temple precinct in London that contains a sophisticated white cream that could rival today's top cosmetics.
"It is quite a complicated little mixture," Richard Evershed, an analytical chemist at the University of Bristol in south-western England, told Reuters on Wednesday.
"Perhaps they didn't understand the chemistry of everything but they obviously knew what they were doing."
The pot, measuring 2.4 x 2 inches, is thought to be the only Roman tin of cream of its kind to be found intact and in such good condition.
It was discovered in a waterlogged ditch preserved under wooden planks in thick layers of mud.
The scientists, who reported the findings in the journal Nature, think the whitish cream was probably worn by fashionable Roman women. A fair complexion was popular in Roman times, according to the researchers.
"We're speculating that it would have been some sort of foundation cream," Evershed added.
The cream consists of about 40 percent animal fat — most likely from sheep or cattle — 40 percent starch and tin oxide. The fat forms the creamy base and the tin oxide makes the mixture opaque white.
"As far as I can tell, the tin oxide was quite inert so it wouldn't cause any dermatological problems," said Evershed.
Francis Grew, of the Museum of London, said both the tin and its contents were of very high quality.
"The cosmetic trade seems to have ranged in Roman times from a sort of home-spun type of thing ... to a sophisticated level," he told Reuters. Evershed said: "It gives us yet another insight into the sophisticated way in which our ancestors used materials from their environment. This is an ancient technology and one that doesn't differ so much from some of the cosmetic technologies in use today."
Simple fact: In the last few decades, the US was dramatically transformed with air conditioning and cheap oil. Tens of millions of Americans think the best way to live is to drive from their air-conditioned house to the air-conditioned Sam's Club, in an air-conditioned truck. Every year more people move to Arizona than any other state, even though most Americans would find it unlivable without air conditioning.I find this claim about swamp coolers difficult to believe:
Phoenix is the epitome of sprawl. Everyone drives everywhere for everything, particularly patronizing distant stores like CostCo, where the consumer buys in bulk and serves as the warehouse and transportation system. Every year, people move farther out in the desert, trading long drives for cheap land.
Two other facts about Arizona: More people leave Arizona every year than any other state; Arizonans use swamp coolers for their houses rather than air conditioners, because in a desert climate humidifers work better than dehumidifiers — but now the sheer number of swamp coolers in Pheonix has changed the local climate enough that the coolers no longer work as well as air conditioners.Clearly he's looking for them to get their comeuppance:
It seems inevitable that oil prices will continue to rise, and that this will all come crashing down. At the same time, food will become much more expensive, because transportation costs will rise dramatically, and a place like Arizona can't grow food for millions of people.I can't say I share that dream.
The good news is that the new economy will look very much the economy many dreamt about in the 1960s, when Small [Was] Beautiful.
In a society otherwise enamored of the styles of the 1960's, the architecture of that decade is rarely loved and frequently reviled. All over the country, 60's buildings are being torn down while much older buildings survive.Modern architecture just isn't popular:
Functional problems, like leaky roofs and inadequate heating systems, are often to blame. But just as often, the buildings are simply disliked by institutions that have enough money to replace them.
At the top of most lists of important 60's architects is Paul Rudolph, the dean of Yale's architecture school from 1958 to 1965. But one of his largest public buildings, the Orange County Government Center in Goshen, N.Y., could be demolished soon, depending on the results of a study commissioned by the county executive, Edward A. Diana.Unfortunately, we're stuck with big, expensive buildings that weren't built to last:
Mr. Diana said he was focusing on the functional problems of the 1963 building. "We have 87 roofs, and every one of them leaks," he said. "Should the taxpayers be forced to sink money into an inefficient building that doesn't meet their needs?"
He admits that if he took a vote on Main Street, "the building would be demolished tomorrow," but not because of leaky roofs. The building is an anomaly, a hulking maze of "corduroy concrete" in a town so quaint "you have to get permission to change the color of your house," Mr. Diana said.
Mr. Rudolph's style is often called Brutalist, a term first applied by Le Corbusier to buildings that shaped concrete into bold, sculptural forms. ("B�ton brut" is French for raw concrete.) But to some in Orange County, the name suggests brutality, as if 1960's buildings are antihuman.
"Just look for the ugliest building in town," a policewoman said, when asked for directions to the government center.
Baby boomers, in Goshen and elsewhere, have made their preference for traditional architectural styles clear. Houses with faux Colonial, Georgian and Mediterranean details are far more common than contemporary homes, even in left-leaning suburbs.
"My clients include some of the most liberal people in the country, and they want traditional houses," Mr. Stern said.
The problem is that buildings, unlike wide ties and Jefferson Airplane albums, can't be put in storage for decades while their owners hope they become fashionable again. The 60's buildings may be back in style among New York's elite; organizers of a benefit to save the lollipop building included the painter Chuck Close and the writer Tom Wolfe. But most of the country has yet to see the beauty in the inverted ziggurat or serrated concrete, which appears to suggest fortification.
Some 60's buildings were never too practical in the first place. The 1965 Chatham Towers, just north of the Brooklyn Bridge, are among New York's most significant modernist buildings. But 7 1/2-foot ceilings and Swedish-made windows with internal Venetian blinds, which cannot be replaced or repaired, make the buildings, designed by Kelly & Gruzen with the Cuban modernist Mario J. Romanach, difficult to live in. New residents, failing to appreciate the building's Corbusian details, have tried to redo the elevators in brass and mahogany, said Helen Rachlin, a longtime resident.
In the 60's, energy was cheap, so buildings were blithely inefficient. Air-conditioning and fluorescent light were considered good substitutes for breezes and natural sunshine. In the West Palm Beach courthouse, 90 percent of the offices didn't have windows, Mr. Edge, the architect, said.
Experimentation with new materials was rampant. And though a building made of stone is likely to last hundreds of years, experts say, a building made of concrete and aluminum is not. "New materials don't always work out as advertised," said Harry Hunderman, a principal of the Illinois engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, which has helped restore many postwar buildings.
This team's master plan, currently being built out as planned, finally broke ground in 1994. Like all New Urbanist towns, Celebration includes a wide range of mixed-use and residential building types, a network of walkable streets, and at least one town center. Development entitlements include 8,065 residential units, 3,100,000 square feet of workplace, 2,125,000 square feet of retail, including the Main Street shops. [...] The large, mixed-use town center also includes apartments above stores, a school, a branch college campus (Stetson University), a hotel as well as useful retail and restaurants (not one a national chain); a bank, a church and plenty of office space. It includes a cinema attached to a late-night bar and an ice cream store. This center is associated with a lake along a public waterfront drive.New Urbanists applaud higher-density developments, with shops and restaurants within walking distance. They hate sprawl. Nonetheless, the developers of Celebration didn't predict the popularity of townhouses:
At first, there were not enough townhouses to meet demand. This is a common mistake among the New Urbanist greenfield towns. Since there is no precedent for higher density housing types located so distant from the center, conventional rear-view market analysis yields no conclusion other than that they will not sell. But such methods do not take into account that while townhouses are meaningless without a town, they are a very desirable residential type when there is one. A row of townhouses isolated amidst suburban parking lots has the double disadvantage of lacking the big yard in the back without the compensation of a lively street in the front. But Celebration is a town, of course, and thus the 200 or so original townhouses that were reluctantly provided sold out immediately, and there are no more to be had in the town center. More are now being built in the outlying areas where they make as little sense.
In the narrative of the modern American conservative movement, few election years loom larger than 1964. After a generation of Democratic hegemony tempered only by eight years of a disappointingly moderate Dwight D. Eisenhower, the right wing of the Republican Party finally managed to get one of its own, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, nominated for the presidency on a platform of military aggressiveness, economic libertarianism, and moral outrage.The Brits recently experienced a similar "poisoned electoral victory":
An impassioned army of activists, thinkers, fund-raisers, and candidates flocked to Goldwater's standard. The party's center of power began to shift from the Northeast to the West and the South. Four years later Nixon was in the White House. Sixteen years later Reagan, Goldwater's ideological heir, swept to victory. And 30 years later, the Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, their teddy-bear Robespierre, took control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1954. Today, of course, conservatives control the Republican Party, and the Republican Party controls all three branches of the federal government and the majority of statehouses.
The funny thing is, Goldwater lost — and badly — in 1964. In one of the most lopsided presidential contests in American history, Johnson won 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52.
The 1992 election, by nearly all accounts, was one the Conservative Party deserved to lose. Prime Minister John Major was deeply unpopular, and it was only because Neil Kinnock, the Labour Party challenger, was even less impressive that the Tories squeaked by with a surprise victory. Their reward was a humiliating five years plagued by sexual and financial scandals and a deep recession resulting from an earlier decision to put Britain on the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. It was ample fodder for Tony Blair and New Labour, who swept Major's party from office in a 1997 landslide and look to stay in power for some time to come.
On any given day in China, 38 million children are practising the piano, in a country that produces more such instruments than any other.How did Western classical music find its way to the East?
Chinese pianists regularly win more prestigious international music prizes than British, Italian or French children. Last year 21-year-old Lang Lang, a former child prodigy, was the world's best-selling classical pianist. Three years earlier his rival, Li Yundi, won first prize in the Warsaw International Chopin Competition. There is probably not a conservatory in the West lacking a roster peppered with Chinese names, nor a major American orchestra without Chinese musicians.
The treasured names of British piano makers such as Broadwood, Knight, Welmar, Woodchester and Bentley have all folded or moved production to China, which now has the world's biggest piano factories. The Pearl River Piano Group in Guangdong alone makes 100,000 a year and has even taken over prestigious German names such as Ritm�ller. South Korea, Japan and China together make 90 per cent of the world's pianos.
The famous Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci presented a clavichord to the Ming emperor Wan Li in 1601 and even taught his eunuchs to play a few pieces. When Lord Macartney led his embassy to the court of the Qing Emperor Qianlong, in an attempt to open China to direct trade, he brought a German band with him, hoping to impress his hosts. The Qing court liked Western music, and several emperors employed a Western-trained orchestra. One or two studied how to play Western musical instruments, but the knowledge imparted by the Jesuits and others never spread beyond the Summer Palace.The Chinese came to see Western music as scientific, and heroic. Scientific and heroic. Interesting combination. Anyway, that view only lasted until the Communists changed their minds:
Only after China's defeat in the opium wars did things begin to change. The popularisation of Christianity and the spread of church music was one factor; another was that marching bands began to be seen as important for the modernisation of the Chinese military. After 1919 the spread of school songs in the education system fostered widespread enthusiasm for Western music. The Sound of Music is still one of the best-loved films in China.
The Chinese came to see Western music as scientific, and heroic. And, because it was international, it was hailed as progressive. China's own long tradition of music was looked down on and either ignored or transformed into orchestral-type pieces.
The Chinese Communist Party, careful to use the performing arts as a political tool, embraced Western music until Chairman Mao turned against it during the Cultural Revolution. At the Shanghai Conservatory, once the foremost centre for Western music in Asia, dozens of musicians, many of whom had studied abroad, were murdered by their students, or tortured and driven to commit suicide. The piano was condemned as a bourgeois instrument. Several pianists had their fingers broken.
After Mao died and the battle for succession began, his followers held tense politburo meetings, in which they discussed whether Beethoven was acceptable because he was revolutionary, and whether Tchaikovsky was not because he was too bourgeois; whether Beethoven's Fifth was ideologically sound, and whether the Sixth, the Pastoral Symphony, was not. Since reopening its doors to the outside world after 1979, China's enthusiasm for Western music has again become a key part of its international diplomacy.
In a world where we cannot deal with all the problems at the same time, we need to ask: what should we do first? This was the question answered by the Copenhagen Consensus, a project that brought together 38 of the world's top economists to set up a list of the global priorities. They looked at the main challenges to humanity, and the many solutions that we already have, analysing both their benefits but also their price tag. By using cost-benefit analysis the expert panel of economists found that HIV/Aids, hunger, free trade and malaria were the world's top priorities. Equally, the experts rated urgent responses to climate change extremely low. In fact, the panel called these ventures 'bad projects', simply because they cost more than the good they do.A coalition of environmentalists finds such analysis "intellectually corrupt," naturally, since climate change will destroy all civilization. Right?
It worries that malaria will rise in a warmer world. This claim has some theoretical validity, but forgets that malaria only persists with poor infrastructure and health care. Actually, throughout the 1500-1800s, malaria was a major epidemic disease in Europe, the US and far into the Arctic Circle. It didn't end because it got colder, but because Europe and the US became richer and dealt with the problem.
The coalition tells us that sea levels will rise by some 50cm by 2100 in the highest scenarios. This will clearly cause problems in low-lying countries such as Bangladesh. Yet what it forgets to tell us is that sea levels rose in the 20th century by up to 25cm. Sea level rise in the 21st century will be worse and should not be trivialised, but the IPCC estimates that the total cost of adaptation will be around 0.1% of gross domestic product.
Crack babies, it turns out, were a media myth, not a medical reality. This is not to say that crack is harmless. Infants exposed to cocaine in the womb, including the crystallized version known as crack, weigh an average of 200 grams below normal at birth, according to a massive, ongoing National Institutes of Health study. �For a healthy, ten-pound Gerber baby this is no big deal,� explains Barry Lester, the principal investigator. But it can make things worse for small, sickly infants.Now we've moved on to meth babies.
Lester has also found that the IQs of cocaine-exposed seven-year-olds are four and a half points lower on average, and some researchers have documented other subtle problems. Perhaps more damaging than being exposed to cocaine itself is growing up with addicts, who are often incapable of providing a stable, nurturing home. But so-called crack babies are by no means ruined. Most fare far better, in fact, than children whose mothers drink heavily while pregnant.
The "intolerable" prices that Angell writes about are confined to the brand-name sector of the American drug marketplace. As the economists Patricia Danzon and Michael Furukawa recently pointed out in the journal Health Affairs, drugs still under patent protection are anywhere from twenty-five to forty per cent more expensive in the United States than in places like England, France, and Canada. Generic drugs are another story. Because there are so many companies in the United States that step in to make drugs once their patents expire, and because the price competition among those firms is so fierce, generic drugs here are among the cheapest in the world. And, according to Danzon and Furukawa's analysis, when prescription drugs are converted to over-the-counter status no other country even comes close to having prices as low as the United States.
The second misconception about prices has to do with their importance in driving up over-all drug costs. In one three-year period in the mid-nineteen-nineties, for example, the amount of money spent in the United States on asthma medication increased by almost a hundred per cent. But none of that was due to an increase in the price of asthma drugs. It was largely the result of an increase in the prevalence of usage — that is, in the number of people who were given a diagnosis of the disease and who then bought drugs to treat it. Part of that hundred-per-cent increase was also the result of a change in what's known as the intensity of drug use: in the mid-nineties, doctors were becoming far more aggressive in their attempts to prevent asthma attacks, and in those three years people with asthma went from filling about nine prescriptions a year to filling fourteen prescriptions a year. Last year, asthma costs jumped again, by twenty-six per cent, and price inflation played a role. But, once again, the big factor was prevalence. And this time around there was also a change in what's called the therapeutic mix; in an attempt to fight the disease more effectively, physicians are switching many of their patients to newer, better, and more expensive drugs, like Merck's Singulair.
Asthma is not an isolated case. In 2003, the amount that Americans spent on cholesterol-lowering drugs rose 23.8 per cent, and similar increases are forecast for the next few years. Why the increase? Well, the baby boomers are aging, and so are at greater risk for heart attacks. The incidence of obesity is increasing. In 2002, the National Institutes of Health lowered the thresholds for when people with high cholesterol ought to start taking drugs like Lipitor and Mevacor. In combination, those factors are having an enormous impact on both the prevalence and the intensity of cholesterol treatment. All told, prescription-drug spending in the United States rose 9.1 per cent last year. Only three of those percentage points were due to price increases, however, which means that inflation was about the same in the drug sector as it was in the over-all economy. Angell's book and almost every other account of the prescription-drug crisis take it for granted that cost increases are evidence of how we've been cheated by the industry. In fact, drug expenditures are rising rapidly in the United States not so much because we're being charged more for prescription drugs but because more people are taking more medications in more expensive combinations. It�s not price that matters; it's volume.
After his death in 1937, Howard Phillips Lovecraft rose from the dead — in the literary sense. Fans of the reclusive writer published a premiere collection of his nightmarish works, giving birth to Arkham House.
Arkham House has proven an influential player, giving such well-known sci-fi writers as Ray Bradbury and Greg Bear their first big break — and even providing inspiration for the hit role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.
On economic policy, John Kerry is running as a 1930's collectivist. He rejects any proposal to reform Social Security, regardless of the long-term consequences. He proposes a large expansion of government health care programs, to be paid for in part by a class-warfare tax on people with high incomes, with the rest presumably paid for by other tax increases, either now or later. His only complaint about the Federalization of education in what I call the No Educrat Left Behind Act is that in his view it is underfunded.Why are they doing this? Because libertarian voters are hard to herd, and because the war in Iraq has become many voters' single issue.
On social policy, President Bush is running as a Bible-thumping morality legislator. Positions against stem-cell research and gay marriage are key components of his electoral strategy, as one may discern from just a few moments of listening to right-wing talk radio.
Ashlyn Blocker's parents and kindergarten teachers all describe her the same way: fearless. So they nervously watch her plunge full-tilt into a childhood deprived of natural alarms.
In the school cafeteria, teachers put ice in 5-year-old Ashlyn's chili. If her lunch is scalding hot, she'll gulp it down anyway.
On the playground, a teacher's aide watches Ashlyn from within 15 feet, keeping her off the jungle gym and giving chase when she runs. If she takes a hard fall, Ashlyn won't cry.
Ashlyn is among a tiny number of people in the world known to have congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, or CIPA — a rare genetic disorder that makes her unable to feel pain.
Ashlyn's baby teeth posed big problems. She would chew her lips bloody in her sleep, bite through her tongue while eating, and once even stuck a finger in her mouth and stripped flesh from it.
Family photos reveal a series of these self-inflicted injuries. One picture shows Ashlyn in her Christmas dress, hair neatly coifed, with a swollen lip, missing teeth, puffy eye and athletic tape wrapped around her hands to protect them. She smiles like a little boxer who won a prize bout.
Her first serious injury came at age three, when she laid her hand on a hot pressure washer in the back yard. Ashlyn's mother found her staring at her red, blistered palm.
Infections with no outward symptoms also concern them. They heard of a case where a child with CIPA had appendicitis that went untreated until her appendix burst.