More Important than Fact


News and Site Updates Archive 2008/10/15

The Internet is the Viagra of big business.

- Jack Welch

15 Oct '08 - The distinctive hairless Chinese crested dog looks so different from its coated counterpart, a fluffy pooch dubbed “powderpuff,” that the two appear to be distinct breeds.  In fact, they are varieties of a single breed - the Chinese crested.  In addition to sparse tufts of hair on the head, feet, and tail, hairless Chinese cresteds often have missing or misshapen teeth.  In all organisms, DNA is inherited in chunks, known as haplotypes.  Dogs of the same breed share longer chunks of DNA than do those of different breeds.  A team of scientists searched the dog genome for markers found in hairless dogs but not powderpuffs, producing a strong signal in chromosome 17.  By comparing this section of DNA to that of two other hairless breeds (Mexican and Peruvian, which also feature both hairless and coated varieties), they found all hairless dogs share a chunk of DNA containing only two genes.  One, FOXI3, has 7 letters of repeated DNA in all hairless varieties but not the coated.  Because the genetic code operates by a rule of three (3 letters of DNA encode a single amino acid in a protein) the addition of 7 letters to the template completely shifts how DNA is made into protein.  Though they come from different parts of the world, hairless breeds share that 7-letter DNA change, suggesting descent from the same ancestor.  Like a sentence with spaces in the wrong spots, the shifted mutant protein is biological gibberish.  Dogs with both copies mutated make no normal protein and don't survive birth.  One normal version gives hairless dogs sufficient normal protein to survive, but not enough to generate a full coat of hair.

      Most genes change throughout evolution via mutations; the useless ones eventually get weeded out of the population while helpful modifications take hold.  However, about 500 regions of DNA have apparently remained intact throughout the history of mammalian evolution (the past 80 - 100 million years) basically free of mutations.  Mutations are introduced into these regions just as they are everywhere else, but they're swept out of the genome quickly.  These regions seem to be under intense purifying selection — almost no mutations take hold permanently.  Many sequences do not appear to code for any obvious function, or phenotype, in the body.  Researchers suspect they serve an important purpose but have yet to figure out what that is...  Scientists have found that many common earthworm species found in gardens and on agricultural land are actually made up of a number of distinct species that may have different roles in food chains and soil structure and ecology.  These different species live in the same environment and have the same outward appearance, but do not interbreed and have clearly distinct DNA sequences.

      Revenge of the Animals?: An amazing 25,000 British tourists go to Australia every year and, unlike the good old days of transportation, most of them come back.  But not all.  In fact, 2,433 tourists have died in Australia over the past 7 years.  Drowning, car crashes and heatstroke are among the big killers.  Killer crocodiles lurk in a few centimetres of water; sharks snack at most of the popular beaches; deadly jellyfish lurk in water; poisonous toads can make you throw up just by looking at them; there are 3 million varieties of venemous spider.  Even Australia's cuddly national symbols have a violent streak.  "A koala can give you a nasty bite or carve you up with its claws," says Ranger Craig Adams, of the Australian Reptile and Wildlife Park.  And a few years ago, a poor 13-year-old boy was viciously beaten up by a kangaroo...  Tony Cicoria, a 42-year-old orthopedic surgeon, was making a phone call to his mother when struck in the face by lightning.  He thought he had died immediately following the event but instead he apparently sustained no serious injuries.  He went back to work a few weeks later, then, quite unexpectedly, began experiencing something new: an intense craving to listen to piano music.  He listened all the time; soon, he began hearing music in his head, insistent and powerful; he wanted to write it down, though he had no training in musical notation.  So he taught himself to play piano, playing the tunes that came to him unbidden at all moments.  He played at every opportunity, driving his wife to distraction.  Cicoria had a bad case of sudden-onset musicophilia, triggered somehow by brain alterations that the lightning had wrought.

      In 1908, Nikola Tesla wrote in an article for Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony magazine: "As soon as completed, it will be possible for a business man in New York to dictate instructions and have them instantly appear in type at his office in London or elsewhere.  He will be able to call up, from his desk, and talk to any telephone subscriber on the globe, without any change whatever in the existing equipment.  An inexpensive instrument, not bigger than a watch, will enable its bearer to hear anywhere, on sea or land, music or song, the speech of a political leader, the address of an eminent man of science, or the sermon of an eloquent clergyman, delivered in some other place, however distant.  In the same manner any picture, character, drawing, or print can be transferred from one to another place.  Millions of such instruments can be operated from but one plant of this kind.  More important than all of this, however, will be the transmission of power, without wires."  Tesla's global power grid was designed to "pump" the planet with electricity which would intermingle with natural currents moving throughout the Earth's crust and oceans.  At the same time, towers would fling columns of raw energy skyward into the electricity-friendly ionosphere 50 miles up.  To tap into this energy, customers' homes would have a buried ground connection and small spherical antenna on the roof, thereby creating a low-resistance path to close the giant earth-ionosphere circuit.  In addition to electricity, currents could carry information over great distances by bundling radio-frequency energy along with the power.  If Tesla's plans had come to fruition, "magnifying transmitter" towers would have peppered the globe, saturating the planet with free electricity and wireless communication as early as the 1920s.  Instead, Wardenclyffe Tower was finally demolished for salvage in 1917.

      "Remember the words of Chairman Mao: 'It's always darkest before it's totally black.'" - John McCain...  This is one of my favourite photos of George Bush - it makes him look very vulnerable and human...  In office when Lincoln's election in 1860 triggered the secession of one Southern state after another, American president James Buchanan sat by as the country crumbled.  In his December 1860 message to Congress, 3 months before Lincoln was inaugurated, he declared that the states had no right to secede, but that the federal government had no right to stop them.  By the time he left office, 7 states had left the Union, and the Confederates had looted the arsenals in the South.  If Buchanan had exercised his powers as commander in chief, the rebels might have been stopped at far less than the eventual cost of the Civil War - more than half a million American dead and the ruin of the South for generations.  (After he left the White House, Buchanan explained that he did not stop secession for fear that hostile blacks would overrun the North.)  When he served in the House, Buchanan, a bachelor, and his housemate, Senator William King of Alabama, were the subject of gay rumours.  King was known as "Aunt Fancy," while Buchanan was, in the words of Andrew Jackson, "Aunt Nancy"...  "What we learn from history is that we do not learn from history." - Benjamin Disraeli...  In which country do most of the people with your last name live?...  The world's 23 toughest math questions...  Extraordinary eclipse photo...  Electric power around the world: a guide.

A Chemical Equator separates Southern and Northern Hemispheres. This band, lying in the Western Pacific, is about 50 km wide.  It acts as a divider keeping pollutants in the northern half from contaminating that of the hemisphere below. This was unexpected and will allow scientists to more accurately model movements of atmospheric pollution. Has the American presidential campaign gone to the dogs?  One could be forgiven for thinking so after seeing the latest issue of Nature magazine.  The world's leading scientific journal has featured a powerful image of John McCain and Barack Obama on its front cover.  The pair radiate statesmanlike-authority.  The image is suitably sombre for the weighty interview inside.

Then, however, you see the back cover.

      South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius is known as "The Blade Runner" because he runs on Cheetah Flex-Foot carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs (made by a specialist firm in Iceland, they cost £15,000 a pair and are the Ferraris of artificial legs).  He was born without fibulas (the bones in the lower leg) so both legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old...  A rather large-dimensioned animated gif of water drops.  It's noteworthy mainly because I had it up when the phone rang and thus found myself staring at it for several minutes as I talked and (mostly) listened.  I was struck by how much information that simple shot contained.  I see the shots don't exactly line up.  Why not?  A jerky camera motor?  A video camera not on a tripod but propped up?  And why the flicker?  Why does the end freeze oddly for only a couple of frames?  "And why might I care?" you're thinking.  (Someone else apparently cared enough to [mostly] fix the errors.)  Specifically, I think that illustrates that when one really pays attention, life can offer up new secrets.  If you and your spouse try studying your kids for a couple of hours when they aren't really aware, then have a friend give you each a set of questions you had not previously seen such as "How is the child dressed?" "What sort of mood is the child in?" or "What motivates the behaviours you saw?"  Will both you and your spouse answer the questions the same or similarly?  Personally, I doubt it.  There just isn't enough time to sit and observe anymore, so we fill in the blanks with things that make the most sense to us...  “The closer a man approaches tragedy the more intense is his concentration of emotion upon the fixed point of his commitment, which is to say the closer he approaches what in life we call fanaticism.“ - Arthur Miller

     Everyone knows what a 2-dimension Mandelbrot set looks like by now - but a 3-dimensiomal set?  Lots prettier, maybe?  The reality is that it looks a lot like a root vegetable - unless it's art ...   The fact that anyone can put anything online does not mean a great deal.  Randomly throwing something in achieves nets just as little as randomly fishing something out.  Communication alone will not lead to useful and sustainable knowledge.  Whereas Google's paradigm is one of link analysis and page rank, next generation search engines will become visual and start indexing the world's images not based on the tags that users add but on the "quality" of the imagery itself.  Welcome to the hierarchisation of the real, where browsers are explicitly requested to interact - no longer an anonymous mass of passive consumers but instead "distributed actors" present on a multitude of channels.  The pleasure of consumerism is so widespread today that it has reached the status of a universal human right - buy by brand and indulge in the glamour that the global celebrity class has established...  There are more than two million attempted suicides a year in China and more than a quarter of a million of the attempts are successful.  Suicide has become the 5th largest cause of death.  Unlike elsewhere in the world, women commit more suicide than men (it is the cause of death for 1/3 of rural women).  Many suicides are impulsive events following an an argument with husband, parent or mother-in-law.  2/3 of suicide attempts involve drinking pesticides.

A wind of charged particles that streams constantly from the sun is at the lowest level ever recorded in the 50 years since spacecraft made the measurement possible.  Charged particles blow out from the sun at 1 million mph, sweeping away background radiation and colliding with incoming galactic cosmic rays from distant stars, effectively enclosing the solar system in a protective bubble called the heliosphere.  The solar wind is 20 - 25% weaker in pressure and density, than during the previous solar minimum, producing a smaller and leakier heliosphere bubble that lets more background cosmic radiation through.  Do the current weak solar winds represent an isolated phase or a longer term trend in the future? Two rocky planets have collided, destroying each other in the process and leaving a massive ring of dust surrounding a sun-like binary system known as BD +20 307, located almost 300 light years from our sun.  If Earth and Venus collide with each other the result will be similar - total annihilation.  Previously, astronomers had thought planets were unable to collide in mature star systems.

     Do you recognise this face?  No?  Too bad - but there's a reason.  And who might the mystery woman be?  Roll over her face for the answer...  Was that bottle of wine you're drinking sealed with cork?  Surely you know that cork is a biological compound which is not only an ineffective seal against oxidisation, but has a whole range of unpredictable qualities of its own?  The biggest problem, and a serial killer of good wine, is cork taint.  This ruins 1 in 10 bottles.  Cork taint is caused by a chemical, 2-4-6 trichloranisole, which is inadvertently created by the chlorine cleaning that the tree bark undergoes before it becomes a wine seal.  It's responsible for the musty aroma that tells you instantly that a wine is corked - although any number of theatrically incredulous wine waiters will swear blind it isn't there.  Of course, there is an alternative to corks - although it's certainly not those infernal plastic corks that are so difficult to extract and well nigh impossible to put back.  No, the answer is the screwcap, an idea that still causes a sharp intake of disapproving breath among wine snobs.  Furthermore, why does wine always have to come in the traditional 750ml bottle, a size that only exists because centuries ago that was what a glass-blower could blow with a single puff? - Malcolm Gluck, The Great Wine Swindle...  237 million prescriptions were written last year in the US for anti-depressants, making them the most prescribed drugs in America.  One of the provisions tacked onto the final version of the bailout bill is mental health parity, meaning that employers who offer coverage for mental health must offer the same benefits as for medical conditions — the same co-pay, deductible, visits covered.  Perhaps after a little research, the familiar “Do not operate heavy machine when taking this drug” could become “Do not apply for a home-equity loan when taking this drug”.

      British medical ethicist Lady Mary Warnock: "If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives – your family's lives – and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service.  If pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, they too should be allowed.  I've just written an article called 'A Duty to Die?' for a Norwegian periodical, which suggests that there's nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself.  If you've an advance directive appointing someone else to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated, there is a hope your advocate may say you would not wish to live in this condition so your caregivers should help you die.  I think that's the way the future will go, putting it rather brutally, you'd be licensing people to put others down"...  Lady Warnock is a British crossbench life peer, moral philosopher and author of a number of books on philosophy, including one called The Intelligent Person's Guide to Ethics.  She says if you only read one philosophy book in your lifetime, you should probably make it A Treatise on Human Nature by David Hume...  At the Congressional Oversight Committee hearing on AIG, it was discovered that a week after the government spent $85 billion dollars bailing out AIG, executives went on a retreat at a luxury resort, spending $443,343.71: $200,000 dollars for hotel rooms, almost $150,000 for catered banquets, $23,000 at the hotel spa, $1,400 at the salon (manicures, facials, pedicures and massages).  And they spent another $10,000 dollars for "leisure dining"...  Sensation, Fantasy, Narrative, Challenge, Fellowship, Discovery, Expression, Submission - what do these words have in common?  They can both be applied to the sense of fun achieved by a well-designed computer game - or by that other well-designed game, sex (via RobotWisdom).

      Three people live in the 72-room building at 190 Bowery in New York City - photographer Jay Maisel, his wife Linda, and their daughter, Amanda. Jay has lived there for 42 years - he bought the 35,000 square foot former bank building (including the vault in the basement) for $102,000.  Now real-estate brokers estimate the house is worth $30 - $50 million - not a bad ROI...  The US bailout will most benefit some of the richest and highest paid individuals in the American economy.  But, why did politicians betray the wishes of those who elected them in favour of the criminals who committed the fraud?  Because Wall Street finance, insurance and real estate companies - and their political action committees - have contributed more than $47 million to the campaigns of Senator Obama (3 of the top 5 sources) and Senator McCain (top 5 sources), both of whom voted for the bailout.  More to the point, since 2002 Wall Street has contributed more than $1.1 billion dollars to congressional candidates; 9 of the top 10 House recipients of Wall Street largesse, each receiving an average of $1.5 million, are on the financial oversight and taxation committees.  Even more telling, bipartisan Congressional "leaders" most responsible for pushing the bailout through Congress, Senators Dodd and Gregg and Representatives Frank and Blunt have taken almost $20 million from Wall Street sources during the past 20 years.  Dodd recently received $6 million in contributions during his presidential primary campaign, and Frank has collected $720,000 this year.  The bailout raises the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion, or about $37,524 for each man, woman and child in the United States.  (I judge this article to be a bit of a rant, though I found these factoids interesting)...  When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you're really sure you want to send that late night Friday email.  And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you're in the right state of mind?

Bailout Type Cost to Taxpayers
Financial bailout package ≥ $700 billion
Bear Stearns financing $ 29 billion
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac nationalization $200 billion
AIG loan and nationalization $ 85 billion
Federal Housing Administration housing rescue bill $300 billion
Mortgage community grants $ 4 billion
JPMorgan Chase repayments $ 87 billion
Loans to banks via Fed's Term Auction Facility $200 billion+
Loans from Depression-era Exchange Stabilization Fund $ 50 billion
Buy mortgage securities - Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac $144 billion
Possible Total $1.8 trillion+
US Households (per US census) 105,480,101
Possible cost / household $17,064 or more
The bailout bill gives the Internal Revenue Service new authority to conduct undercover operations.  Think IRS agents posing as accountants or tax preparers and saying, "I'm not sure if that deduction is entirely legal, but it'll save you $1,000.  Want to take it?"

      Piano moving, like all trades, is a specialty to itself.  The average upright piano weighs anywhere between 400 and 900 pounds.  Grand pianos start at 650 pounds and can go all the way up to 1,300 pounds.  The value of a piano can vary from a couple hundred dollars to half a million dollars depending on make, model, age and condition of the piano.  The question every person who wants their piano moved has to ask is, "Do I feel lucky?"  Two important considerations are stairs and grass (piano movers consider going across grass the same as pushing a piano up a flight of stairs)...  The marking of British silver is one of the oldest pieces of consumer protection legislation in the world.  The marks consist of: town (or "hall") mark, standard mark, maker's mark, date letter, duty mark, and Britannia and Lion's Head Erased.  If the marks stamped on any piece of British silver are legible it is theoretically possible to tell that is of silver of a known fineness, where and when it was presented for assay, and who was responsible for it's manufacture.  The laws have been rigorously enforced, especially since the beginning of the 18th century.

      Namba Parks is an 8-acre natural intervention in Osaka's dense and harsh urban condition.  Alongside a 30-story tower, the project features a commercial centre crowned with a rooftop park that crosses multiple blocks while gradually ascending 8 levels.  In addition to providing a highly visible green component in a city where nature is sparse, the sloping park connects to the street, welcoming passersby to enjoy groves of trees, clusters of rocks, cliffs, lawn, streams, waterfalls, ponds and outdoor terraces. (Click image to enlarge)...  Anatoli Bugorski, 36-year-old researcher at the Institute for High Energy Physics in the Soviet Union, was in 1978 checking a piece of particle accelerator equipment that had malfunctioned - as had, apparently, several safety mechanisms.  Leaning over the piece of equipment, Bugorski stuck his head in the space through which the beam passes on its way from one part of the accelerator tube to the next and saw a flash brighter than a thousand suns.  He felt no pain.  He was taken to a clinic in Moscow so that doctors could observe his death over the following 2 - 3 weeks.  But he didn't die.

      Some really cool fonts for free.  (I liked the eccentric and pirate ones)...  "Computers are becoming smaller, cheaper and faster.  This economy of scale makes it possible to outsource storage and applications at little or no cost.  Businesses are switching from in-house IT departments to network services.  There is an ironic twist here.  Generations of hip IT gurus cracked jokes about the IBM head Thomas Watson's prediction that the world only needed 5 computers – yet this is exactly the trend." - Nicolas Carr

      Inverted rainbow (called a rainbowl?) is an arc that only appears when sunlight shines at a specific angle through a thin veil of wispy clouds at a height of around 20,000 to 25,000 feet.  At this altitude cirrus clouds are made of ice crystals the size of grains of salt.  Meteorologists say clouds must be convex to the sun with the ice particles lined up together in the right direction to refract the light. (Click image to enlarge)...  When a group is without a leader, you can often count on a narcissist to take charge.  Researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups.  Narcissism is a trait in which people are self-centred, exaggerate their talents and abilities, and lack empathy for others.  Other group members see narcissists as leaders.  (On the other hand, a person with high self-esteem is also confident and charming, but additionally has a caring component and wants to develop intimacy with others.  It's good to be able to recognise the difference.)  Narcissists have an inflated view of their talents and abilities and are all about themselves; they don’t care as much about others.  In fact, studies have found that narcissistic leaders tend to have volatile and risky decision-making performance and can actually be ineffective and potentially destructive leaders.  (So why don't leaderless groups learn?)

      The Statesman is one of the leading daily newspapers of India.  It is published simultaneously in Calcutta, New Delhi, Siliguri and Bhubaneshwar.  Established in 1875, it has its national editorial offices in Statesman House situated at the corner of Barakhamba Road in Connaught Place, New Delhi - and I'm s-o-o-o impressed with the architecture of that building - I think it has a curious majesty - not a bad thing for a newspaper office.  And, though it is unrelated, Cathedrale Saint Jean in Lyon has a magnificent example of wood carving.  (How did the wings get broken?  Vandalism?  War?)  And, finally, a great dragon on the Marienplatz, München, Deutschland (and a daylight view)...  Americans like to be cool in summer and warm in winter and they love the freedom of choosing to use as much energy as they want.  They also don't like anyone telling them that they have to change their ways.  If they keep using energy the way they always have, they're going to need a dependable source of it to ensure that their children and grandchildren have access to the same way of life.  But they have competitors for oil in the world marketplace - China especially - and many argue that if they don't lock up Middle Eastern oil for themselves now, they won't have it for their use in the very near future.  That will mean paying even more for energy and allowing other nations to rev up their economic engines at America's expense.  On the other hand, the cost of ensuring that oil supply is hefty.  Americans are losing lives and their actions in Iraq have led to as many as a million Iraqi deaths and more millions wounded or displaced.  They have, in the name of "The War on Terror", created so many US enemies around the world that college-age students sew Canadian flags on their backpacks when abroad in the hopes of disguising their American identities.

      Since last summer, Japanese waters have been inundated with giant Nomura's jellyfish, which can grow 6.5 feet (2 metres) wide and weigh up to 450 pounds (220 kilograms).  Though the jellyfish are more common in Chinese and Korean waters, their numbers have grown a hundredfold in some areas off Japan, causing a crisis in the local fishing industry, choking fishing nets and poisoning the catch with their toxic stingers...  Researchers handed 48 full-time MBA students $89 to divide between themselves and another party that knew only that the dollar amount fell somewhere between $5 and $100.  There was one pre-condition: the other party had to accept whatever offer was made.  Using either email or pen-and-paper communications, the MBA students reported the size of the pot — truthful or not — and how much the other party would get.  Students using email lied about the amount of money to be divided over 92% of the time, while less then 64% lied about the pot size in the pen-and-paper condition.  The rate of lying was almost 50% greater with email.  Emailers felt justified in awarding the other party just $29 out of what they averaged saying was a total pot of $56.  Pen-and-paper students were friendlier, passing along $34 out of a misrepresented pot of $67.

      A bus stop that grows its own foliage as shade?  A children’s playground, made entirely from trees?  A shelter made from living tree roots that could provide natural protection against earthquakes in California?  The concept of shaping living trees into useful objects is known as tree shaping, arborsculpture, living art or pooktre...  High-school students fully qualified to attend college are increasingly unlikely to derive enough benefit to justify the often 6-figure cost and 4 to 6 years (or more) it takes to graduate.  Research suggests that more than 40% of freshmen at 4-year institutions have not graduated even 6 years later.  Colleges trumpet the statistic that, over their lifetimes, college graduates earn more than nongraduates, but that's terribly misleading.  You could lock the collegebound in a closet for 4 years, and they'd still go on to earn more than the pool of non-collegebound — they're brighter, more motivated, and have better family connections.  A 2006 study supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 50% of college seniors score below "proficient" levels on a test that requires them to do such basic tasks as understand the arguments of newspaper editorials or compare credit-card offers.  Almost 20% have only basic quantitative skills.  The students can not estimate if their car has enough gas to get to the gas station.  Employers report repeatedly that many new graduates they hire are not prepared to work, lacking the critical thinking, writing and problem-solving skills needed in today's workplaces...  Incredible security-camera footage of the 2005 La Conchita, California mudslide (YouTube).

      When Charlie Kratzer started on the basement art project in his south Lexington, Kentucky home, he was surrounded by walls painted a classic cream.  $10 of Magic Marker and Sharpie later, the place is black and cream and drawn all over.  There are fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, Winston Churchill lounging with George Bernard Shaw — and the TV squirrel Rocky and his less adroit moose pal Bullwinkle...  The “magic of compound interest” refers to the tendency of savings to double and redouble exponentially, with a matching rise in what debtors owe on the other side of the balance sheet.  These mathematics have operated throughout history, ever since the charging of interest was invented in Sumer some time around 2750 BC.  In every known society, the effect has been to concentrate wealth in the hands of people with money.  In recent years, one’s own money is not even necessary to do this.  The power to indebt others to oneself can be achieved by free credit creation.  However, the resulting mushrooming exponential growth in indebtedness must collapse at the point where its interest and other carrying charges (now augmented by exorbitant late fees, bounced-check fees, credit-card costs and other penalties) absorb the entire economic surplus.

      "Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success." - Napoleon Hill...  If there were a portal linking us to a parallel universe or some other region of space, how would we spot it?  One suggestion is that it will give itself away by the curious way it bends light.  The existence of wormholes linking different regions of space was first suggested in 1916 as a possible solution to equations of general relativity.  They have since become accepted as a natural consequence of general relativity, which predicts that matter entering one end of a wormhole would instantly emerge somewhere else so long as the wormhole is somehow propped open.  Though no direct evidence for wormholes has been observed, this could be because they are disguised as black holes.  A possible way to tell worm holes and black holes apart is the existence of deflected light indicating "phantom matter” - matter with negative energy and negative mass - that prevents the wormhole closing.  The gravity of an object with a positive mass, such as an ordinary black hole, focuses light rays passing close to it as if it were a giant concave lens – an effect known as gravitational lensing.  Phantom matter’s negative mass would have the opposite gravitational lensing effect to normal matter, making any light passing through the wormhole from another universe or point in space-time diverge, and emerge from it as a bright ring.  Meanwhile, any stars behind it would shine through the middle.

      How does nicotine, without tobacco, affect the body?  Epinephrine (similar to adrenaline) is released; the (fight-or-flight) sympathetic nervous system is activated; heart rate, blood pressure and cardiac output increase; blood vessels constrict.  This leads long-term to hypertension and to heart attacks, cardiovascular accidents or strokes - but not cancer of the lung (caused by tars and other cigarette residues).  It is hard to separate highly-addictive nicotine from its efficient delivery system - rapidly-acting drugs are generally more addictive as effects are felt almost instantaneously but wear off just as quickly, powerfully reinforcing the tendency to want multiple repeats.  Tolerance develops so more is needed for the same effect.  Withdrawal from nicotine is associated with depression - nevertheless, nicotine delivery by gum, nasal spray or patch is slower than cigarette smoking and thus the nicotine is less dangerous...  In a 2007 survey of 496 college students, 27% said they mixed energy drinks and alcohol at least once in the past month.  Caffeine in high doses can give users a false sense of alertness that provides incentive to drive a car or in other ways put themselves in danger.  A regular 12-ounce cola drink has about 35 milligrams of caffeine; a 6-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 80 to 150mg.  Because many energy drinks are marketed as "dietary supplements," the mandated limit on the caffeine content of soft drinks (71 milligrams per 12-ounce can) does not apply.  The caffeine content of energy drinks varies from 50 to more than 500mg.

      Want a large Baskin Robbins Heath® shake?  Guess how many calories it has!  (You won't believe it...)
In 30 Rock’s 5th episode, Donaghy talks with Lemon about integrating brands.  “I’m sorry, you’re saying you want us to use the show to sell stuff?” Liz asks.
JACK:  Look, I know how this sounds.
LIZ:  No, come on, Jack.  We’re not doing that.  We’re not compromising the integrity of the show to sell—
PETE:  Wow.  This is Diet Snapple?
LIZ:  I know, it tastes just like regular Snapple, doesn’t it?
The scene was paid for by Snapple.  After it ended, there was a commercial for Snapple.  An episode of the Jack Benny Show did something similar.  “My sponsor called me,” says Benny, swaying before the curtain.  “And my sponsor — he’s an awfully nice fella — he told me that he had a feeling — you know, he likes my show, he likes my TV show very, very much.  But he had a feeling that I wasn’t doing the integrated commercials … And after all, my sponsor is paying the bills, you see, and he has the privilege of making suggestions.”  Benny pauses thoughtfully.  “Of course, I don’t have to take the suggestions.  I have the privilege of quitting.”  Split-second beat.  “But I don’t want to abuse the privilege, so...”

      Tentacles of long-finned squid are about 400 micrometers wide - smaller than the width of a human hair.  Each sucker is surrounded with "fangs" of chitin, a hard organic material.  Squid use their powerful suckers to secure unwitting prey to feed their robust appetites...  Suppose you're standing by a railroad track.  Ahead in a deep cutting from which no escape is possible, 5 people walk on the track.  You hear a train approach.  Beside you is a lever with which you can switch the train to a sidetrack.  One person walks on the sidetrack.  Is it okay to pull the lever and save the 5 people, though one will die?  Most people say yes.  Now assume now you're on a bridge overlooking the track.  Ahead, 5 people are at risk.  You can save them by throwing down a heavy object into the path of the approaching train.  One is available beside you, in the form of a fat man.  Is it okay to push him down to save the 5?  Most people say no, although lives saved and lost are the same as in the 1st problem.  Philsophers wonder: Why does the moral grammar generate such different judgments in apparently similar situations?  But my question is: why are 5 people careless enough to be walking on a railroad track where there's no escape?  And the one man actually being careful will now be sacrificed to save the careless ones?  Must quantity always wins over quality?  Why?  Because you can know numbers of people at as glance but can only use stereotypes to assess an unknown individual's value?  In the 2nd instance, why was the man you could push off the bridge described as "fat"?  To make it more okay, to devalue him?  But what if YOU'RE the fat one?  Shouldn't you just jump yourself in any case?  After all, it might be risky to attempt to hoist a heavy person over the bridge's balustrade railing - and why is body mass that much of an issue?  How much would someone have to weigh to stop a train?  What?  You don't know?  Probably everyone's gonna end up dying but you.

     A clever idea: toilet paper dolls...  Duke University behavioural economist Dan Ariely won an Ig Nobel for his study that found more expensive fake medicines work better than cheaper fake medicines.  "When you expect something to happen, your brain makes it happen," said Ariely, who spent 3 years in a hospital after suffering 3rd-degree burns over 70% of his body.  He noticed some burn patients who woke in the night in extreme pain often went right back to sleep after being given a shot.  A nurse confided to him the injections were often just saline solution.  He says his work has implications for the way drugs are marketed.  People often think generic medicine is inferior.  But gussy it up a bit, change the name, make it appear more expensive, and maybe it will work better, he said...  This is a flash ad for Arcelor Mittal which I think makes excellent use of 2-D...  Dried fairies: Create your own reality.

      Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

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