Everything Is Selling


News and Site Updates Archive 2009/12/16

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.

- Franklin D Roosevelt

16 Dec '09 -

There’s not much point in getting someone started on the violin if they'll be released within 6 months, so our orchestra musicians are the ones with long sentences, for crimes like murder or embezzling.  That sounds odd, but as it turns out this is exactly who you want in a prison orchestra - in this case the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center Women’s String Orchestra.  We don’t talk about our problems during rehearsals and because of this our playing has an earnestness and purpose lacking in other orchestras.  I've seen tears trickle down the faces of women while they play.  It’s part of our culture to just keep on playing no matter what.  Cassandra was upset last week because she received a visitor during rehearsal.  "Why don’t they listen?" she said.  "I told them no visitors during orchestra rehearsal - I can’t afford to miss this class."  We kept playing.  Sara passed her 20s inside Hiland.  She rushed in one day, looked at us in horror, and announced she might never get the chance to be a mom (she'd just seen an infant in the visiting room).  Once again we picked up our instruments.  Someone got denied parole.  Let’s practice those 8th notes again.  There's a lot of black humour in our group.  We get excited when women are incarcerated with long sentences and immediately want to know if she has a musical background.  We joke that our bass player can never be paroled — she’s too good.

We say we're learning to play well with others; we're facing the music, scaling the bars.  It’s music in the big house and jailhouse Bach.

Bill O'Reilly asked Sarah Palin, "Let me be very bold and fresh again, do you believe that you are smart enough, incisive enough, intellectual enough to handle the most powerful job in the world?"  Sarah Palin replied, "I believe that I am because I have common sense and I have I believe the values that I think are reflective of so many other American values, and I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the uhm, the ah, a kind of spineless, spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite, Ivy league education and, and a fat resume that is based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles.  Americans are could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership, I'm not saying that that has to be me."

Can anyone in good conscience defend that answer and say with a straight face that she should be the US's leader?  If you say yes, then there is no sense in talking to one another anymore because we are not operating in the same reality, or planet.

In Peru, bachelors are not allowed to keep female alpacas in their apartments.  (Llamas, on the other hand, are presumably okay.)
In France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoléon.  (Not Napoléon?  How about Bonaparte?  That may not be a good idea in any case - this is the first time I actually thought about what naming a food animal "Bonaparte" might imply - butchering?  Presumably you can name a snake, sheep or goat Napoléon, though why that would be allowed while naming a pig Napoléon has been deemed illegal is unclear.  But whatever.)
In Israel, it is illegal to pick your nose on the Sabbath.  (On Sundays there's a lot of catching up to do.)
In the US, in the state of Washington it is illegal to have sex with a virgin under any circumstances.  (Just wow.  First, how can the authorities be sure when this law has been broken?  Second, how is the population to be replenished once the current batch of mothers hits menopause?  Third - no gender is mentioned, so presumably this applies to men and women - er, perhaps I should be saying boys and girls - alike.  This is a prime example of the legislature getting heady with power and thinking they can fix all the problems of human nature.  IF it is indeed true, that is.)
No sources are given for any of this.  And, frankly, I'm just not interested enough to research it.
It is with slight trepidation that I offer up this site whose sole purpose seems to be to make fun of stupid decisions people have made surrounding their weddings.  Nevertheless, I found the site fascinating (well, for several minutes, at least) because I had never realised just how revealing a wedding could be of a couple's inner fantasies.  Though a wedding is generally a fairly public affair, there is (to me) an uncomfortable amount being revealed here about the primary participants - I mean, like having Mickey Mouse be one of your attendants, or getting married on horseback (well, the bride is on a horse while the groom is on a Shetland pony - to show that size doesn't matter?) or a groom whipping out his Blackberry to change his status on Facebook as soon as he says "I do".  (You get the idea.)  Beware - there are lots of cringe-making wedding cake toppers, bachelor/bachelorette party favours and tasteless photo poses - but a few laughs, too.)
In the common law of the US, there's no general duty to come to the rescue of another.  Generally, a person can't be held liable for doing nothing while another person is in peril.  However, such a duty may arise in two situations:
bulletA duty to rescue arises where a person creates a hazardous situation.  If another person then falls into peril because of this hazardous situation, the creator of the hazard – who may not necessarily have been a negligent tortfeasor – has a duty to rescue the individual in peril.
bulletSuch a duty also arises where a "special relationship" exists.  For example:
bulletEmergency workers (police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, et cetera) have a general duty to rescue the public within the scope of their employment, but not a duty to specific individuals.
bulletParents have a duty to rescue their minor children.  This duty also applies to those acting in loco parentis, such as schools or babysitters.
bulletCommon carriers have a duty to rescue their patrons.
bulletEmployers have an obligation to rescue employees, under an implied contract theory.
bulletProperty owners have a duty to rescue invitees from all dangers on the property.
bulletSpouses have a duty to rescue each other in all US jurisdictions.
Contrary to common law, 8 states have laws requiring people to help strangers in peril: Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.  These laws are also referred to as Good Samaritan laws, despite their difference from laws of the same name that protect individuals that try to help another person.  These laws are rarely applied, and are generally ignored by citizens and lawmakers.  Where a duty to rescue arises, the rescuer must generally act with reasonable care, and can be held liable for injuries caused by a reckless rescue attempt.  However, many states have limited or removed liability from rescuers in such circumstances, particularly where the rescuer is an emergency worker.  Furthermore, the rescuer need not endanger himself in conducting the rescue.  Unlike the US, many European civil law systems provide a far more extensive duty to rescue.  The only exclusion is that the person must not endanger her/his own life or that of others while providing rescue.  In theory, this can mean that if a person finds someone in need of medical help, she/he must take all reasonable steps to seek medical care.  Commonly the situation arises on an event of a traffic accident: other drivers and passers-by must take an action to help the injured without regard to possible personal reasons not to help (for example, having no time, being in a hurry) or ascertain that help has been requested from officials.  In practice however, almost all cases of compulsory rescue simply require the rescuer to alert the relevant entity (police, fire brigade, ambulance) with a phone call.  In Germany, knowledge of basic emergency measures is a prerequisite for the granting of a driving license.
Apparently students asked to recall the 10 Commandments before an exam somehow cheat less.  One of the things I dislike about the Christian religion is that it seems to emphasise that a super-dad-type god knows your every move and will be disappointed and/or angry if you do the wrong thing even if you're never caught.  I assume anyone affected for the better by merely recalling the commandments (which would perhaps need to be read out since lots of people who accept them as divine can't quite remember them all) just requires a reminder that Someone's watching.  Fed up with the low ethical standards in his MBA class, one professor passed out an honour pledge that not only listed the 10 Commandments, but also the concluding flourish that those who cheat would be sorry for the rest of their lives and go to Hell.  In response, several students called the department chair to complain and a good deal of controversy ensued.  Why would someone who didn't intend to cheat mind?  Making a commitment to be honest is too demanding?  Even if you do intend to cheat, why think your god will be bound to uphold a contract drawn up by your professor?  (And should we really expect businessmen to have ethics anyway?)  95% of students say they've cheated at some point in school - from allowing other students to copy their homework to cheating on tests.  Donald McCabe, professor of management and global business at Rutgers University, surveyed college students for 18 years and high school students for 6.  His high school results come from surveys of 24,000 students in 70,000 schools.  [Each student attended 3 different schools in 6 years?  This figure seems very suspect to me.]  64% of students report serious cheating on tests, including copying from someone else, helping someone else cheat, or using cheat notes; 58% admit plagiarising.  Many students are caught cheating primarily because they brag about their skill at beating the system.  McCabe says law students seem to cheat less than other students.  Because they're inherently more honest?  No - because they have to pass the bar exam on their own, so they may as well learn the material themselves.
The catastrophic decline around the world of "apex" predators such as wolves, cougars, lions or sharks has led to a huge increase in smaller "mesopredators" that cause major economic and ecological disruptions.  In North America, all of the largest terrestrial predators have been in decline during the past 200 years (reduced if not eliminated - usually on purpose and sometimes by forces such as habitat disruption, hunting or fishing).  Many times this has been viewed positively by humans fearful of personal attack, loss of livestock, or other concerns.  But the new picture that emerges is a range of problems, including ecosystem and economic disruption that may dwarf any problems presented by the original primary predators.  The ranges of 60% of mesopredators have expanded and the problem is global, growing and severe, with few solutions in sight.  Examples: In parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, lion and leopard populations have been decimated, allowing a surge in the mesopredator population next down the line, baboons.  In some cases children are kept home from school to guard family gardens from brazen packs of crop-raiding baboons. The elimination of wolves is often favoured by ranchers who fear attacks on livestock.  However, that has led to a huge surge in the number of coyotes, a mesopredator once kept in check by wolves.  The coyotes attack pronghorn antelope and domestic sheep and attempts to control them have been hugely expensive, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.  Economic impacts of mesopredators can exceed those of apex predators in any scenario in which mesopredators contribute to similar conflicts with humans.  This is because mesopredators occur at higher densities than apex predators and exhibit greater resiliency to control efforts.
Some people get their self-worth from smoking because it makes them feel sexy or cool.  The solution is slogans that say smoking makes you ugly and nerdy.  Warning messages unrelated to death effectively reduce smoking attitudes the more recipients based their self-esteem on smoking.  This finding can be explained by the fact that warnings such as "smoking makes you unattractive" may be particularly threatening to people who smoke to boost their self-esteem.

(The lady in the photograph, however, does not seem to have received this message.)

The scene might have been considered serene if it weren't for the tornado.  On 12 June 2004 in Mulvane, Kansas (just south of Wichita), storm chaser Eric Nguyen photographed this budding twister by the light of a rainbow.  A white tornado cloud descends from a dark storm cloud.  The sun, peeking through a clear patch of sky to the left, illuminates foreground buildings.  By coincidence, the tornado appears to end right over the rainbow.  Streaks in the image are hail swept about by the high swirling winds.  Globally, over 1,000 tornadoes, the most violent type of storm known, occur annually.  If you see one while driving (see the 6 pictures below for good examples), don't try to outrun it - park and run for a storm cellar or crouch under basement steps.  (No word on what to do if you can't find either of those or if you find one and try it but it's locked...)  The incomparable Eric Nguyen also took the 5th photo below.

You might also want to view an incredible 2-minute YouTube video called, Train versus Tornado.

As of yet, the best prosthetic available is not as efficient and not as capable as what Mother Nature gives us — or, what she was supposed to give me, and South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius.  The revolutionary design of the woven carbon-fibre Cheetah Leg, nicknamed for its design inspiration, has been in existence for nearly 15 years — and after my initial triumphs with them in the mid 1990s, it has been the leg of choice for nearly all elite amputee sprinters.  But in one instant, after Pistorius entered a summer 2007 track meet in Rome and placed second in a field of runners possessing flesh and bone legs, he and I were deemed "too abled."  Commence the comical nightmare of being told that we now possess an "unfair advantage" in wearing prosthetic limbs to run.  The scores of amputee sprinters who had competed with the limbs for the previous 13 years — and were still comfortably categorised as "disabled" — were virtually ignored.  What is fascinating is the immediate shift in society's regard of a disabled athlete as an "inspiration" (cue the patronising "awwwww") to a legitimate threat to other athletes.  ("Uh, what the hell do we do now?")
A whopping 74 world records were broken last year between March and November with the Speedo Fastskin LZR Racer suit.  74!  Do you wonder if Mark Spitz is annoyed that his times are compared to those of athletes using something he didn't have the opportunity to use or wear?

And Tiger Woods had not one, but two LASIK surgeries to achieve 20/15 vision.  Advantage through technology - or not?

Several former Blackwater (recently re-named Xe Services) guards said that their involvement in operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred.  Instead of simply providing security for CIA officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.  Separately, former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on some CIA flights transporting detainees in the years after the 2001 terror attacks in the US.  Many Blackwater personnel are former members of units of Navy Seals or Army Delta Force.

Xe is currently the largest of the US State Department's 3 private security contractors.  Of the 987 contractors Xe provides, 744 are US citizens.  At least 90% of the company's revenue comes from government contracts, of which 2/3 are no-bid.

There's hope!  Having a brain the size of a pinhead does not necessarily make you less bright.  Computer simulations show that consciousness could be generated in neural circuits tiny enough to fit into an insect's brain.  Models suggest that counting ability could be achieved with just a few hundred nerve cells; a few thousand would be sufficient to make an animal a conscious being, rather than an automated "living robot".  Animals with bigger brains are not necessarily more intelligent - bigger brains often don't have more complexity, just an endless repetition of the same neural circuits over and over.  This might add detail to remembered images or sounds, but not any degree of complexity.  To use a computer analogy, bigger brains might in many cases be bigger hard drives, not necessarily better processors.  A whale's brain can weigh up to 9 kilograms and have 200 billion nerve cells; a human brain weighs about 1.35 kilograms and has 85 billion neurons; a honeybee brain weighs about 1 milligrams and has fewer than 1 million nerve cells.
Precise as a hole punch through a sheet of paper, craters surround a Nazi doodlebug factory show the devastation wreaked by an Allied bombing raid.  The date is 2 September 1944 and the place is Peenemunde, a village on the Baltic where the terrifying weapons Adolf Hitler hoped would win the war for Germany were designed and tested.  Peenemunde was a key strategic site where doodlebugs - or V1s, as they were called by the Nazis - were built.  The one-ton bombs were pilotless planes powered by a jet motor.  First launched from ski-slope ramps by powered catapults in northern France, they killed more than 6,000 people in south east England.  Winston Churchill ordered Operation Crossbow - a plan to destroy V1 production and launch sites - and some 36,000 tons of bombs were dropped on these targets.  Airmen who took the photos (there are several) flew alone by day and night in unarmed Spitfires, relying on their wits to capture images on plane-mounted cameras.  I include this photo because it helps to emphasise the futility and destruction (and perhaps even unavoidability?) of war.  Around 4,000 images from the archive will go online initially with more to be added.  View archive.
Adjunct faculty face precarious financial security despite playing an increasingly pivotal role in many schools.  A third of those polled taught introductory courses, more than a quarter taught courses in a "major," 21% taught upper-level advanced classes in their field; 45% also helped develop courses, roughly one-quarter served on faculty committees and almost half were expected to attend faculty departmental meetings.  Some shuttle between colleges to assemble a near-full-time teaching load.  Still, only 18% of these part-timers earn more than $20,000 a year collectively from all of their adjunct responsibilities.  A PhD-toting chemistry prof shouldn’t have to earn less than a newly minted master’s recipient picked up by the local middle school.  How do schools recruit and keep good faculty in research-intensive fields if the pay is equivalent to what day-care workers and shopping-mall cashiers earn?
Having recently returned to university for a degree at the same time my sons were getting one, we have fairly current exposure to this from 3 different schools, both public and private.  In our admittedly quite narrow experience, it seems that many tenured professors tend toward laziness while the adjuncts hustle.  Why should schools reduce the amount they pay groundskeepers (all 3 schools had huge, lovely campuses the better to impress potential newcomers and their parents) when there are always new adjuncts ready to step in and fill the shoes of the ones who have burned out and moved on to industry?  Universities are in business and they make decisions based on the market, not on principles.
Waves striking a seawall give the appearance of geysers erupting.  This photo was taken in 1938 off of the New England coast during the approach of an intense hurricane.
The original Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened on 1 July 1940, and dramatically collapsed into Puget Sound on 7 November of the same year.  This suspension bridge spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula in the US.  The cause of its failure was determined to be aeroelastic flutter; this spectacular failure boosted research in the field of bridge aerodynamics/aeroelastics, the study of which has influenced the design of all the world's great long-span bridges built since 1940.  The original plans were redesigned by the consultant engineer/designer for the Golden Gate Bridge to be slimmer, more "elegant", to have shallower supports - and to be much cheaper.  Because planners expected fairly light traffic volumes, the bridge was designed with only two lanes and it was just 39 feet (12 metres) wide.  This was quite narrow, especially in comparison with its length.  With only 8-feet-deep (2.4 metres) plate girders providing additional depth, the bridge's roadway section was also quite shallow.  The decision to use such shallow and narrow girders proved to be its undoing as the deck of the bridge was insufficiently rigid and easily moved about by winds.  From the start, it became notorious for its movement, a mild to moderate wind causing alternate halves of the centre span to visibly rise and fall several feet over 4- to 5-second intervals.  This flexibility was experienced by the builders and workmen during construction, which led them to christen the bridge "Galloping Gertie."
I looked at this photo several times before noticing 2 men on the cable and 2 more on what's left of the bridge - presumably they're safer now than before the collapse.
Dubai Town is the capital and largest city of Dubai - one of 7 emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.  Each emirate, or sheikdom, retains the rights to its oil and other natural resources and has a vote with the Supreme Council of Rulers.  The UAE manages national issues like defence, education and public health.  Because Dubai is the wealthiest sheikdom, its vote counts for more.  Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai is also the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE.
Most visitors come to Dubai in the winter season, between November and March, when Dubai weather is warm and sunny without being unbearably hot.  Winter temperatures are around 23˚C (73˚F) in the daytime, while nights are cooler.  Summer temperatures are in the mid-40s (110 - 115˚F), and soar higher the further inland you go.  Even the temperature of the sea can reach 37˚C (98.6˚F) in the summer.
Below: The 3rd bridge from the bottom in the 1st photo (which looks north and slightly east) is the 2nd bridge from the bottom (shown from the opposite direction) in the 2nd photo.  The 1st photo is a concatenation of these photos (A  and B - the originals of which may be clearer as I tried to show a wider field of view but sadly slightly distorted and blurred the result in my effort).  The 3rd photo below is off Google Earth and reveals just how fast things have changed in Dubai.  The last photo is changes to Dubai still intended - assuming the world economy quickly recovers, of course.
In case you've been vacationing on Mars and haven't seen this video - A Texan named Andy House, owner of Performance Auto Sales (a company that coincidentally repairs wrecked exotic cars) in Lufkin, Texas (east of the mid-point twixt Dallas and Houston) was driving on I-45 in La Marque (near Galveston, Texas).  Suddenly, without warning, he drove his Bugatti Veyron into a salt-water marsh.  His story was that a pelican startled him.  What he didn't know was that a man in a nearby car was filming this beautiful car driving by.  (Pelican?  Watch the video - do YOU see a pelican?)
The ultra rare Veyron (reportedly one of 15 in the US) was still running after it rested in 2 - 3 feet (less than a metre) of salty water.  As local news affiliate KHOU reported, the 1,000+ horsepower hand-made 736 kilowatt engine "gurgled like an outboard motor for about 15 minutes before it died."  It probably would have been a good idea to kill power to the engine (and even shut the car door) once the Veyron hit the muck, but hey, what do I know?  (I notice that when he drove it - fairly slowly! - into the lagoon, the spoiler wasn't deployed, yet when he towed it out, it was.  Drat - that means salt water got to just about every part.)  The Bugatti Veyron is the fastest road-legal car in the world with a top speed of 407 kilometres per hour — and it's also one of the rarest — only 200 have been made.  Despite the stratospheric price tag, the Veyron actually loses money with every sale: the development program was so expensive that a break-even price would be closer to US$4 million.  It is believed parent company Volkswagen only persisted with the program because of the status and the technical advances involved.
It's difficult to imagine that anyone could take better photos of tubes and waves than Clark Little.  In 2007, Clark discovered his ability and passion to capture the extraordinary loveliness of the shorebreak when his wife asked him for a picture of the ocean to decorate a bedroom wall.  With his shorebreak surfing experience in mind, Clark grabbed a camera, jumped in the ocean, and starting snapping away recording the beauty and power of Hawaiian waves for all to enjoy.

He must take zillions of shots to get so many gorgeous ones - or maybe he just has the knack and a good eye.

According to most proposals, tomorrow's beef will be grown in bioreactors filled with a solution consisting primarily of water and glucose.  Animal stem cells will be placed in these bioreactors where their proliferation will be abetted by the presence of growth factors, perhaps made from fungi.  To replicate the taste and mouth-feel of naturally grown meat, the lab-grown victuals will have to be exercised — cows stretch their muscle tissues when they move, which in turn affects the flavour of their flesh.  A minor electric current can mimic the effects of bovine movement.  No skeletons to dispose of, no long travel distances for delivery — but don't hold your breath: it's still years or decades away.
Caveat: I found this article to be poorly written and poorly sourced, though it did have a couple of thought-provoking assertions: In-vitro meat will be easily manufactured in a metropolis.  Not just food-huge like curry rippling through London in the 1970s or colonised tomatoes teaming up with pasta in early 1800s Italy, in-vitro meat will be socially transformative, like automobiles, cinema, vaccines.  How?  When it's cheap enough and tasty enough to eat [this COULD happen someday - and vat-grown meat IS likelier to have few over-crowded-farm diseases], then the number of ranches worldwide will be seriously reduced [but NOT eliminated because vat meat will likely always taste - um - processed, I expect].  Vast tracts of ranch land will free up for other uses.  (70% of arable land in the world is currently used for livestock - 26% of total land surface according to the UN.)  The meat in our diets will be heavy-metal and saturated fat free; instead omega-3 oils will be added.  A cow outputs 130 times more bodily waste than a human, so a sizable portion of the 64 million tons of livestock sewage will no longer end up travelling down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.  Forty billion animals are killed per year in the US alone including one million chickens per hour.  [Of course, when food animals stop being profitable, they'll never get the chance to live at all.  How can we ask them which they would prefer — brief lives or no lives?]
In total, marine biologists found and identified 17,650 species living deeper than 200 metres at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the "twilight zone" where light barely penetrates and photosynthesis ceases to be possible.  Scientists were surprised by the diversity of life in the deepest reaches of the oceans.  Even the mud at the bottom of the ocean abyss was teeming with living things.  At more than 1.7 miles down, in the northern Gulf of Mexico, scientists found this odd-looking transparent sea cucumber creeping forward on its many tentacles.  They used a range of high and low-tech hardware including robot submersibles and sea-floor rovers, coring drills, dredges and trawling nets.  The Census, which is also surveying life at shallower depths, was started in 2000 and is due to complete its work in October 2010.
The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, or A&P, was America’s first national chain of food markets.  It was America’s first self-serve market, first to have store brands, first to advertise nationally, first to have a customer loyalty program (in 1912!), first to publish its own magazine (Woman's Day, which is still around, though no longer owned by A&P), and was once the big Kahuna of grocery chains.  With $5.4 billion in sales in the mid-1960s, A&P was at least 20% bigger than any competitor.  But after 105 years of setting the pace for the grocery industry, A&P peaked in the mid-1960s and went into a decline that lasted for at least 15 years and, it can be argued, continues even to this day.  A&P, which has had German owners (the Tengelman Group) since the 1970s, is more of a super-regional chain today and doesn’t particularly vie for industry leadership on any measure.  What happened in the mid-1960s to hurt A&P was it opted out of being indexed by Google News.  Well not literally, but close enough.  Rupert Murdoch, listen up!  Murdoch announced recently that he’s planning to stop Google News from indexing his publications including the Times of London and the Wall Street Journal.  There may be a lesson here.  Via the New Shelton wet/dry.
Want to lose weight but you're too lazy, self-indulgent or lacking in willpower to diet?  There's still hope.  There's bariatric surgery (though side effects and complications are common with up to 25% of patients who may need corrective or repeat procedures).  Then there's liposuction (though there can be severe pain after the operation as well as flabby folds of skin, burns, bruising, blood clots, and bleeding - oh, and weight gain tends to develop in other locations afterward).

Perhaps you should just join a gym instead?

The light could be seen in the pre-dawn Norwegian sky for hundreds of miles, raising many speculations regarding what it could possibly be.  Many think the light was the result of a misfired Russian missile.  Newspapers in Moscow have reported that the Bulava ICBM missile, test fired from the submarine Dmitry Donskoi in the White Sea, failed in its 3rd stage.  The spiral pattern could be the result of the rocket spinning out of control and fuel leakage could have caused the blue spiral effect.  The Bulava, despite being crucial to Russia's plans to revamp its weaponry, is becoming an embarrassment after 9 failed launches in 13 tests, prompting calls for it to be scrapped.

In theory, it has a range of 5,000 miles and can carry up to 10 nuclear weapons bound for separate targets.

"She has cleared up the grimmest of messes and witnessed our family relationships up close and uncensored.  She has seen all my dirty washing, literally and metaphorically.  I need her almost more than I need anyone else in my life.  I rely on her absolutely.  But is she my friend?  Can any woman really be friends with her cleaner?  Is it possible to forge a meaningful and sustaining friendship with the woman who scrubs out our toilets for a few pounds an hour?  The relationship I have with my cleaner is certainly unique - I trust her implicitly to absorb the messes my whole family makes without turning a hair.  But for a long time I didn't even know where she lived or what type of life she led when she was not working at my house.  At first, she was simply someone I employed.  And how many other women know what goes on in their cleaner's life?  Most of my friends genuinely know virtually nothing about their cleaners.  None of them is British - they come from all corners of the globe, yet most of my friends (their employers) don't know exactly where.  Quite often I hear them say, 'She's from Eastern Europe', as if that's specific enough.  Does that really matter?  We need our cleaners to be functional.  We don't necessarily need or even want them to be our friends.  We don't sit down for cups of tea and share our lives with them.  They do their jobs, we pay them.  Surely the relationship is that simple.  We need them to work for us and we therefore have to accept that they will be privy to our domestic secrets.  This can make people feel uncomfortable.  I know women who go out as soon as their cleaner arrives.  I asked my friend Jo why she does this and she said: 'I can't bear the pain of watching her clear up my mess.'  Quite often, we even feel guilty about employing a cleaner.  I decided a long time ago that I was going to hire domestic help.  This was because I felt life was too short to spend my time spraying cleaning fluids down the loo or scrubbing the water mark off the bath."  Why single out a cleaner?  Because she knows the status of your knickers?  You can't be friends with your psychiatrist or guitar teacher or builder, either - or anyone else you have to pay to be there.  (That probably includes some spouses, some children, and some so-called friends.)
"It seems to me that our business schools and their progeny - especially those with an inflated sense of self-worth - appear to lack a sense of disgrace.  Bernard Madoff may now be in jail; too many others who have cheated or colluded in unethical behaviour are walking away.  In Japan, cultural mores embed a sense of shame in cheaters.  Will MBAs who rise to the executive ranks, in the absence of such cultural shaming, continue to believe that they can get away with things, and if caught, that they will get off scot-free?  As long as society accepts such behaviour when it's associated with strong stock performance, I'm afraid they may.  I believe business education needs to look hard in the mirror and ask a version of the famous question put forth by Rabbi Hillel: 'If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?  And if I am only for myself, then what am I?  And if not now, when?'" - Donald McCabe, professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School.

He has expertise in ethical decision making.

Hemianopsia (or hemianopia) means literally "half vision} - not the complete loss of sight in a single eye, but the loss of half the field of vision in each eye.  It results from malfunction or damage to one side of the optic tract so that information from only one half of each eye reaches the brain.  Visual field losses can sometimes be alleviated with prism lenses, but their efficient use depends on the individual (motivation, perceptual ability, et cetera).  Orientation and mobility adjustments may be indicated and reading may be affected, depending on whether the loss is in the right (in reading, the "anticipatory") field, or in the left visual field.  In bitemporal hemianopsia vision is missing in the outer (temporal or lateral) half of both the right and left visual fields.  It most commonly occurs as a result of a tumour located near the pituitary gland.  In binasal hemianopsia, vision is missing in the inner (nasal or medial) half of both the right and left visual fields.  Calcification of the internal carotid arteries is a possible cause.  Homonymous hemianopsia is the loss of vision in the same visual field (either right or left) of both eyes.  It is usually caused by injury to the brain itself such as from stroke or trauma and does not indicate a malfunctioning of the eyes themselves.  It can also constitute the aura phase of a migraine headache.  It was recently discovered that, when tested in a driving simulator, people with hemianopsia have significantly more difficulty detecting pedestrians on their blind side than normally-sighted people.  (No real surprises there.)  More than one million Americans suffer from hemianopsia but 28 states (and most countries) don't check for it when issuing a driver's licence.
The US is massively building up potential for nuclear and non-nuclear strikes in Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring unprecedented freedom of action in 7 new military, naval, and air bases in Colombia.  This action (and the reactions of Latin American leaders) exacerbates the US's already-fractured relationship with much of that continent.  This new push is part of an effort to counter loss of influence with new Latin American leaders who refuse to accept US political and economic tutelage.  The US gets ½ their oil from South America, so a tell-tale trail of oil is evident.  Brazil (who may soon be eligible for OPEC membership) is unhappy at the presence of US naval vessels in her massive new oilfields offshore from Rio de Janeiro.  The US Fourth Fleet's vessels can include Polaris nuclear-armed subs – a deployment seen by some as violating the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty banning nuclear weapons from the continent.  One Colombian air base, Palanquero, offers opportunity for conducting full-spectrum (Pentagon jargon for crushing military superiority) operations throughout South America, giving access to the entire continent (excepting Cape Horn) via C-17's if fuel is available - or to at least ½ the continent if it isn't.

The United States Supreme Court has refused to review a lower court's dismissal of a case brought by four British former detainees against Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse at Guantánamo.  The British detainees spent more than two years in Guantánamo and were repatriated to the UK in 2004.  (The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear the case - so much for the separation of powers of the three branches of government.)  By refusing, the Court let stand an earlier opinion by the DC Circuit Court which found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that applies by its terms to all "persons" did not apply to detainees at Guantánamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of US law.  The lower court also dismissed the detainees' claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that "torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military's detention of suspected enemy combatants."  Finally, the circuit court found that, even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantánamo had any Constitutional rights (ignorance of the law IS an excuse!).

And in closing:

I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.

- Franklin D Roosevelt

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