Monday, March 31, 2008

And the Oscar goes to... -

Bad News for Drivers

Mobile phones 'more dangerous than smoking' - Health News, Health & Wellbeing - The Independent
Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Good Business

Monks Run Multimillion-Dollar Company to Benefit Charity

A group of monks who pray, work, and live at Our Lady of Spring Bank Abbey, in Wisconsin, began an online ink and toner business in 2002 as a way to stem dwindling income for the abbey. Today, the monks run a multimillion-dollar operation, with all profits after operating costs going to charity, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.

Bernard McCoy, a Cistercian monk and the company's founder, receives no compensation for his role as chief executive officer. He created to sell discounted (including off-brand and remanufactured) inkjet products.

The business model has been deemed "commerce with compassion" in a recent book by Sarah Caniglia and Cindy Griffith, who now live at Our Lady of Spring Bank and manage operations for both and its two offshoots. The two women, who once ran their own marketing company, explain in their book how the monks' model changed their views on the corporate experience.

Ms. Caniglia estimates that LaserMonks sales in 2007 totaled $4.5-million; Father Bernard estimates the group's annual operating costs are $200,000. Beneficiaries of profits, according to the women's book, have included "formal charities like Faith in Action, as well as not-so-formal efforts, like sending a nurse from Wisconsin to Louisiana to treat victims of Hurricane Katrina."

As for skepticism about monks running a business, Father Bernard responds, "Enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit have always been a part of who we are."

I just heard about it the other day...

Why Blog? Reason No. 92: Book Deal - New York Times
Readers discover, like it and forward links to their friends, who forward them to lots more friends. Newspaper columnists mention it, stealing — er, quoting — some of the better jokes. By the end of February, the NPR program “Talk of the Nation” runs a report on it, debating whether the site is racist or satire.

And then on March 20 Random House announces that it has purchased the rights to a book by the blog’s founder, Christian Lander, an Internet copy writer. The price, according to a source familiar with the deal but not authorized to discuss the total, was about $300,000, a sum that many in the publishing and blogging communities believe is an astronomical amount for a book spawned from a blog, written by a previously unpublished author.

Historic Prosperity

Thank God you live now. Read the whole thing. -
As Robert Fogel has noted, we take for granted today conditions that are a huge departure from basically all of human history.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good thing we have blogs to fact check the newspapers.

Big Phat Liar - March 26, 2008
MARCH 26--Last week's bombshell Los Angeles Times report claiming that the 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur in the lobby of a Manhattan recording studio was carried out by associates of Sean "Diddy" Combs and that the rap impresario knew of the plot beforehand was based largely on fabricated FBI reports, The Smoking Gun has learned.

The Times appears to have been hoaxed by an imprisoned con man and accomplished document forger, an audacious swindler who has created a fantasy world in which he managed hip-hop luminaries, conducted business with Combs, Shakur, Busta Rhymes, and The Notorious B.I.G., and even served as Combs's trusted emissary to Death Row Records boss Marion "Suge" Knight during the outset of hostilities in the bloody East Coast-West Coast rap feud.


Monk protest scuppers controlled media tour of Tibet - Times Online
Tibetan monks staged a daring protest against Chinese rule, disrupted an official government tour for foreign journalists with screams that the Dalai Lama was not to blame for violence and demands for religious freedom.

The astonishing outburst by about 30 monks came as the first group of journalists to visit Lhasa since the violent March 14 riot was being shown around the Jokhang temple, the holiest shrine in the Tibetan canon.

An Associated Press reporter, Charles Hutzler, described one young Buddhist monk who yelled “Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!” and then burst into tears.

He described how the monks had rushed over to stop the reporters from being taken into an inner sanctum of the temple, saying they were upset that a government administrator was telling the journalists that Tibet had been part of China for centuries.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It is better to give than to receive…

Charity Donors Are Happier Than Stingy People, New Research Finds

People who give away money are happier than those who do not, according to new research published today in the journal Science.

Elizabeth W. Dunn, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, started her experiment by trying to prove the ways in which accumulating money led to more happiness. She and two colleagues surveyed 632 Americans, asking about their level of happiness, personal spending habits, and how much they donate to charity, reports Forbes.

Ms. Dunn found that while people tend to think that spending money on themselves rather than giving it away will make them happier, the opposite turns out to be true. The researchers used a variety of settings and tactics to test the hypothesis that giving away money leads to more happiness, and the results held — whether on a college campus and in a corporate setting.


So giving makes people happy. Dennis Prager would say the opposite is also true: Happy people give more.

Jesus would say: Where your treasure is, your heart will be also. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul.

Monday, March 24, 2008

World's Tallest Man Struggles to Fit In
In 2006, Stadnik was officially measured at 8 feet 5 inches tall, surpassing a 7-foot-9-inch Chinese man to claim the title of the world's tallest person.

His growth spurt began at age 14 after a brain operation that apparently stimulated the overproduction of growth hormone. Doctors say he has been growing ever since.

While his size is intimidating, Stadnik charms visitors with a broad grin and childlike laugh. He seems at times like a lonely boy trapped in a giant's body, even keeping stuffed toys on his pillow.

Friday, March 21, 2008 -
VICTIM KILLED BY BURGLAR while on the phone to 911. She'd have been better off with a gun.

The Greatest Innovation of our Time

hulu: About
Watch your favorites. Anytime. For free.

Preview of Government Health Care

ABC News: Passport Security Breach on McCain, Clinton & Obama
An embarrassed State Department admitted today that the passport files of all three presidential candidates -- Sens. John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- have been breached by its employees.

The bombshell announcement came within hours of the admission that Obama's personal file was improperly accessed several times earlier this year and no one was notified of the breach.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Christian Morality"

From The Corner: Whenever Ronald Reagan would mention his suspicion that Mikhail Gorbachev was a secret believer, everyone on the White House staff would scoff, thinking the president naive. When I had the opportunity to speak to Gorbachev a couple of years ago, however, I found myself concluding that Reagan had been onto something after all. Why, I asked, had Gorbachev refrained from putting down the revolution of 1989, just as Khrushchev had put down the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and Brezhnev had put down the Prague Spring of 1968? "Because of something I shared with Ronald Reagan," Gorbachev replied. "Christian morality."

You talk about your binary traps...

The Mystery of Global Warming's Missing Heat : NPR
Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.

Screening Process

Teens Spending Too Much Screen Time -
WEDNESDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new survey reports that teenagers spend far too many hours a week in front of TVs and computers, and those in poor neighborhoods have even more "screen time."

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Harvard Law Waives Tuition for Public-Service Pledge

Harvard Law School today plans to announce it will offer the third year of education free to students who pledge to spend at least five years working at a nonprofit organization or for the government, reports The New York Times.

The plan is designed to increase the number of Harvard law students — roughly 10 percent over the past several years — who choose public-service careers.

“We know that debt is a big issue,” said Elena Kagan, dean of the law school, with regard to the new effort, which would save students more than $40,000 in tuition.

Many students are now graduating from law school with upwards of $100,000 in student-loan debt, which prevents them from taking the lower salaries typically offered at government or nonprofit organizations.

Joshua Marquis, district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., and vice president of the National District Attorneys Association, said, “I have had a lot of applicants who’ve said, ‘I’d like to take the job, but I really can’t afford it.’ ”

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hometown Team Wins State

Global Warming Bulletin

Quebec children get holiday as snow piles on roofs - Yahoo! Malaysia News
Several dozen schools were expected to remain shut this week in the Canadian province of Quebec over fears their roofs may collapse under the weight of near record amounts of snow, officials said on Monday.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

When your kids need a new computer... -
VIA BACKPACK COMPUTING, I see that the price on the Nokia N810 pocketable tablet PC has dropped a lot.

Overall, I still think that the Asus EeePC is better for about the same money -- but you can't slip the Asus, small as it is, into a shirt pocket. And it doesn't have GPS. My Nokia review is here, my Asus review is here.

UPDATE: Coming soon, an even cheaper competitor to the Asus. (Via Brian Micklethwait).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Prophet of Zoom

My Way News - Gates Predicts Big Technological Leaps
WASHINGTON (AP) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chairman Bill Gates said Thursday he expects the next decade to bring even greater technological leaps than the past 10 years.

In a speech to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Gates speculated that some of the most important advances will come in the ways people interact with computers: speech-recognition technology, tablets that will recognize handwriting and touch-screen surfaces that will integrate a wide variety of information.

"I don't see anything that will stop the rapid advance," Gates said, noting that technological change driven by academia and corporate researchers continued even after the Internet stock bubble burst in 2000.

Gates also said the coming years will bring rapid changes in media as television increasingly becomes a targeted medium, where viewers can select niche content for news, sports and entertainment.

"TV will be based on the Internet; it will be an utterly different thing," he said.

Ye shall have no other Gods...

TCS Daily - The Universal Spitzer
We ought to think of all politicians as Spitzers. No, they don't all have lurid involvements with prostitutes. But they all have an inflated view of their superiority over the rest of us...

What about the rest of us? To the extent that we root for strong politicians, join political cults, invest our hopes and desires in charismatic leaders, all of us are Spitzer wives.

via Instapundit

Mission Accomplished: Al Gore

NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA: Coolest Winter Since 2001 for U.S., Globe
The average temperature across both the contiguous U.S. and the globe during climatological winter (December 2007-February 2008) was the coolest since 2001, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In terms of winter precipitation, Pacific storms, bringing heavy precipitation to large parts of the West, produced high snowpack that will provide welcome runoff this spring.

Finally, a breakthrough...

The Smart Goggles that could make lost keys, mobile phones or iPod a thing of the past | the Daily Mail
Japanese scientists have invented a pair of intelligent glasses that remembers where people last saw their keys, handbag, iPod or mobile phone.

The spectacles - which come with a built in camera, display screen and computer brain - can even identify unfamiliar plants or faces.

In fact, the only thing it can't help you find are your glasses.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Old but still depressing...

Media: TELEVISION; Stand aside, CNN. America's No. 1 TV export is -- no scoffing, please -- 'Baywatch.' - New York Times
But facts are facts. "Baywatch," which is about the adventures of lifeguards on a California beach but is really mostly about swimwear and suntan lotion, has a wider audience on the planet Earth than any other entertainment show in history.

As one of its financial backers put it, "Over a 30-day period it certainly reaches almost every person in the world who watches television."

Though some may debate what this says about the international perspective on American culture, apparently nothing can match the magnetic pull of wet California girls -- and guys -- on a beach.

Even Japan imports "Baywatch," without the threat of tariffs. The show is seen in China, and in all the Asian countries reached by Star TV, Rupert Murdoch's satellite delivery system. For five years it has been one of the most popular shows in Britain. People even watch in Iran, behind the backs of the mullahs.

"I would say it is seen in 144 countries," said Paul Talbot, president of the Fremantle Corporation, which sells the international rights to the series. But, he said, "We don't really sell the show by country anymore. Now we sell it by language."

"Baywatch" is now translated into 15 languages, he said.

New York State of Mind

Imagine: John Lennon : Rolling Stone
"If I'd lived in Roman times, I'd have lived in Rome," Lennon once said. "Today, America is the Roman Empire, and New York is Rome itself."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Textual Analysis

Text Generation Gap: U R 2 Old (JK) - New York Times
Business analysts and other researchers expect the popularity of the cellphone — along with the mobility and intimacy it affords — to further exploit and accelerate these trends. By 2010, 81 percent of Americans ages 5 to 24 will own a cellphone, up from 53 percent in 2005, according to IDC, a research company in Framingham, Mass., that tracks technology and consumer research.

Social psychologists like Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied the social impact of mobile communications, say these trends are likely to continue as cellphones morph into mini hand-held computers, social networking devices and pint-size movie screens.

“For kids it has become an identity-shaping and psyche-changing object,” Ms. Turkle said. “No one creates a new technology really understanding how it will be used or how it can change a society.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

From the people who brought you Anti-Smoking...

Minn. lawmaker wants scent-free schools - Yahoo! News
Those all-over body sprays that promise to turn teenage boys into babe magnets? Instead of attracting girls, they could be making them sick.
A Minnesota lawmaker proposed a bill Monday urging a fragrance-free educational campaign to discourage students from dousing themselves in scents that aggravate classmates with asthma and other health problems.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

All Time Pie: Panificio in Boston, MA


This Berry Pie is one of the great ones.
Posted by Picasa

Bag This

Series of blunders turned the plastic bag into global villain - Times Online
Scientists and environmentalists have attacked a global campaign to ban plastic bags which they say is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims.

The widely stated accusation that the bags kill 100,000 animals and a million seabirds every year are false, experts have told The Times. They pose only a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Gobs from the Rich to give to the Poor

Nation's Top Taxpayers Gave Record $7.6-Billion to Charity in 2005 -
The nation’s top 400 taxpayers reported record total charitable donations of $7.56-billion, or an average of $19.2-million per federal tax return, in 2005, reports The Wall Street Journal.


Idaho Planned Parenthood Faces Controversy Over Racially Motivated Donation -
The Planned Parenthood of Idaho has apologized for how an employee handled a phone call from a prospective donor, who said he wanted to support abortions for black mothers because “the less black kids out there, the better,” reports The Idaho Statesman.

At Home with the Kids

I'm watching Singing in the Rain with my kids.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cover As You Are

View from Afghanistan: Burqa-ning Perspectives

People I meet here wear Burqas for many varied reasons, most of which seem more practical than anything I’ve heard an outsider ascribe: Because they don’t like to be looked at in the street, and their chadiri gives them anonymity. Because they feel safer, protected from the outside world when they’re covered. Because their husband or father prefers it. Because in the rural areas, everyone else is wearing one. And sometimes, because its just easier to throw on a burqa to run to the supermarket rather than put on nice clothes and make-up.

Interesting Stuff