The Fine Art of Bogus Science – Part 2

Fake Science 768

Why Does Smoking Feel Good?

Just when you thought it was okay to start talking about the weather again this started, another bogus climate report came out. We live in a two-party science culture where whatever you believe will attract groupies, and in most cases, the groupies know more than the scientists. And that, my dear, is what makes science so much fun. (Pics)

Continue reading… “The Fine Art of Bogus Science – Part 2”

0

2009 Mensa Invitational Winners Announced

funny stuff people 473

If you’re not having fun, you’re in the wrong line of work

The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing just one letter, and supply a new definition.
Here are the 2009 winners:
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an a$hole.
3. Intaxication : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease.
11. Karmageddon : It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido : All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly..
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.) : Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.
The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.
And the winners are:
1. Coffee , n. The person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted , adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
3. Abdicate , v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade , v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly , adj. Impotent.
6. Negligent , adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
7. Lymph , v. To walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle , n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence , n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller. (LUV IT!)
10. Balderdash , n. A rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle , n. A humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude , n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon , n.. A Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster , n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism , n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent , n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing just one letter, and supply a new definition. These are very funny.

Continue reading… “2009 Mensa Invitational Winners Announced”

0

A Graphical View of 150 Years of American Occupations

occupational changes 401

Job Voyager is a set of interactive charts showing changing occupations reported to the US Census Bureau from 1850-2000. It was made by Jeffrey Heer of the University of California at Berkeley from data collected by the University of Minnesota’s Population Center using the visualization software Flare. You can use the feature to examine the rise and fall of different occupations and gender roles in American history.

Continue reading… “A Graphical View of 150 Years of American Occupations”

0

A Revolution is Brewing for Colleges & Universities

Dorm Life 273

Dorm life has become a central part of the
college experience, but may soon go away

Students starting school this year may be part of the last generation for which “going to college” means packing up, getting a dorm room and listening to tenured professors. Undergraduate education is on the verge of a radical reordering. Colleges, like newspapers, will be torn apart by new ways of sharing information enabled by the Internet. The business model that sustained private U.S. colleges cannot survive.
The real force for change is the market: Online classes are just cheaper to produce. Community colleges and for-profit education entrepreneurs are already experimenting with dorm-free, commute-free options. Distance-learning technology will keep improving. Innovators have yet to tap the potential of the aggregator to change the way students earn a degree, making the education business today look like the news biz circa 1999. And as major universities offer some core courses online, we’ll see a cultural shift toward acceptance of what is still, in some circles, a “University of Phoenix” joke.
This doesn’t just mean a different way of learning: The funding of academic research, the culture of the academy and the institution of tenure are all threatened.
Both newspapers and universities have traditionally relied on selling hard-to-come-by information. Newspapers touted advertising space next to breaking news, but now that advertisers find their customers on Craigslist and Cars.com, the main source of reporters’ pay is vanishing. Colleges also sell information, with a slightly different promise — a degree, a better job and access to brilliant minds. As with newspapers, some of these features are now available elsewhere. A student can already access videotaped lectures, full courses and openly available syllabuses online. And in five or 10 years, the curious 18- (or 54-) year-old will be able to find dozens of quality online classes, complete with take-it-yourself tests, a bulletin board populated by other “students,” and links to free academic literature.
But the demand for college isn’t just about the yearning to learn — it’s also about the hope of getting a degree. Online qualifications cost a college less to provide. Schools don’t need to rent the space, and the glut of doctoral students means they can pay instructors a fraction of the salary for a tenured professor, and assume that they will rely on shared syllabuses. Those savings translate into cheaper tuition, and even before the recession, there was substantial evidence of unmet demand for cheaper college degrees. Online degrees are already relatively inexpensive. And the price will only dive in coming decades, as more universities compete.
You can already see significant innovation in online education at some community colleges and for-profit institutions. The community colleges are working with limited resources to maximize their offerings through Internet aggregation. For-profit institutions appear to be capitalizing on the high demand for low-cost degrees and the fact that few public schools do much traditional marketing.
These entrepreneurs are a little like the early online news sharers — bloggers, contributors to mailing lists and bulletin boards, profit seekers, tinkerers. Just as the new model of news separated “the article” from “the newspaper,” the new model of college will separate “the class” from “the college.” Classes are increasingly taken credit by credit, instead of in bulk — just as news is now read article by article.
Of course, a cultural shift will be required before employers greet online degrees without skepticism. But all the elements are in place for that shift. Major universities are teaching a few of their courses online. And the young students of tomorrow will be growing up in an on-demand, personalized world, in which the notion of a set-term, offline, prepackaged education will seem anachronistic.
Taking the newspaper analogy one step further, college aggregators will be the hub of the new school experience. In the world of news, the aggregators have taken over from the newspaper as the entry point for news consumption. Already, half of college graduates attend more than one school before graduation. Soon you’ll see more Web sites that make it easy to take classes from a blend of different universities.
Because the current college system, like the newspaper industry, has built-in redundancies, new Internet efficiencies will lead to fewer researchers and professors. Every major paper once had a bureau in, say, Sarajevo — now, a few foreign correspondents’ pieces are used in dozens of papers. Similarly, at noon on any given day, hundreds of university professors are teaching introductory Sociology 101. The Internet makes it harder to justify these redundancies. In the future, a handful of Soc. 101 lectures will be videotaped and taught across the United States.
When this happens — be it in 10 years or 20 — we will see a structural disintegration in the academy akin to that in newspapers now. The typical 2030 faculty will likely be a collection of adjuncts alone in their apartments, using recycled syllabuses and administering multiple-choice tests from afar.
Not all colleges will be similarly affected. Like the New York Times, the elite schools play a unique role in our society, and so they can probably persist with elements of their old revenue model longer than their lesser-known competitors. Schools with state funding will be as immune as their budgets. But within the next 40 years, the majority of brick-and-mortar universities will probably find partnerships with other kinds of services, or close their doors.
So how should we think about this? Students who would never have had access to great courses or minds are already able to find learning online that was unimaginable in the last century. But unless we make a strong commitment to even greater funding of higher education, the institutions that have allowed for academic freedom, communal learning, unpressured research and intellectual risk-taking are themselves at risk.
If the mainstream of “college teaching” becomes a set of atomistic, underpaid adjuncts, we’ll lose a precious academic tradition that is not easily replaced.

Students starting school this year may be part of the last generation for which “going to college” means packing up, getting a dorm room and listening to tenured professors. Undergraduate education is on the verge of a radical reordering. Colleges, like newspapers, will be torn apart by new ways of sharing information enabled by the Internet. The business model that sustained private U.S. colleges cannot survive.

Continue reading… “A Revolution is Brewing for Colleges & Universities”

0

Major Changes Reshaping the Fashion Industry

1 fashion changes 2009 5

The $300-billion fashion business is in the midst of an epic shake-up that is changing the way clothes are designed, marketed and purchased. The Internet — the same force that has splintered the media and music industries — is challenging the taste-making role of the fashion elite, a shift that is being accelerated by the rise of cheap chic and a recession that has blunted more-is-more spending.
In turn, many retail businesses, confronted by changing spending patterns, are becoming less brand-centric and more consumer-centric. And the logic of the runway shows — now underway in New York and scheduled next month in Milan and Paris — is being questioned by some of the top names in the business, who understand that shoppers don’t want to wait six months between seeing designer clothes on the runway and being able to buy them in stores.
“It’s the first time I can remember this kind of shift in the fashion paradigm,” said David Wolfe, creative director of the Doneger Group, a New York trend forecasting firm. “The flashy addictive fashion [is] becoming less and less relevant to people’s lives.”
What’s more relevant, it seems, are shopkeepers who keep the customer in mind and instant access to style and fashion advice provided by the Internet.
Not only does the Internet allow the convenience of shopping any time, anywhere, it’s also a platform for a new generation of style arbiters who can dictate trends from their living rooms.
Aggregator websites let shoppers sift through styles and compare prices from dozens of online stores at once. Shopstyle, for example, offers cross-shopping by brand or search term at www.shopstyle.com and sends personalized e-mails with sale alerts. Covet ( www.covet.com) edits styles shown to individuals based on a questionnaire about preferences for color and silhouette. MyShape lets users input their measurements (www.myshape.com) and shop only for the items that fit their size and style profile.
And for those who can’t be bothered to sit in front of a computer, mobile technology is making it possible to shop from the palm of your hand, which is why fashion designers are rushing to launch their own iPhone applications.
The result of all this interactivity is that there is more information than ever about fashion.
Runway looks, traditionally shown to buyers and the media six to eight months before they land in stores, can be seen online minutes after a designer shows them, worn by celebrities days later, and knocked off soon after that. Which means that sharp-shoulder silhouette that came down the Balmain runway in Paris in March was available at the mall long before the designer original arrived, and at a fraction of the price.
As trends seem to travel at warp speed, fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle, which have traditionally been looked to for guidance on style, are struggling. The September issues, typically the biggest of the year, are nearly a third slimmer than last year’s. Ad pages in Vogue decreased 36%, to 429.
Some of that money is moving to the Internet. Louis Vuitton North America more than doubled its digital ad spending in 2008, to $286,000, from $107,000 in 2007, according to TNS Media, a New York-based firm that monitors advertising spending in media.
And why not? The Internet makes it possible not only to read about fashion but to participate in it. The use of sites that enable users to create their own fashion spreads, share photos of themselves in different outfits and elicit wardrobe advice from their peers is skyrocketing.
“Between new technology and the economy, the fashion industry will never be the same,” New York designer Norma Kamali said. “It makes you stand back and say, ‘If I continue doing what I’m doing, I may not stay in business.’ It’s time to rethink and look at what’s working and what’s not.”
One tradition that’s being rethought is the semiannual New York runway show, which typically costs a designer $200,000 to $300,000 to mount. In July, the Council of Fashion Designers of America held a meeting in New York City where the relevance of fashion shows was discussed, along with their exclusivity (they are not open to the public).
It was a spirited debate that drew big names, including designers Diane von Furstenberg (who also serves as the council’s president), Donna Karan, Betsey Johnson, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
“We spend so much money on shows, but what is it getting us?” Karan said at the meeting.
“Maybe there can be a fashion week that says ‘trade’ and another one that says ‘shop.’ ” Von Furstenberg suggested.
Some designers are testing alternatives.
For the first time, on Thursday, Kamali will be showing clothes during New York Fashion Week that are available to purchase not six months from now, but on the spot.
“The fashion shows used to be such an elite situation, only for editors and very special buyers,” Kamali said.
“Then it opened up and became more of a celebrity-type event. Now there is no elite anymore. You don’t have to be in the same country to see a runway show. Everybody can see it as soon as it’s over on the Internet.” Kamali also plans to launch an iPhone application that will allow customers to buy from her signature line, a second line for EBay priced under $200 and her mass market Wal-Mart line.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles’ Jared Gold is bypassing the fashion week format altogether and taking his runway collection directly to the consumer with a whistle-stop tour sponsored by Amtrak, among others. The clothes will be available for sale at his events, which begin in November.
By combining the runway and retail, Gold is creating a unique shopping experience, something that is all too rare today, experts say. Retail sales at stores have declined 7% in the last year, and industry observers say that they must reinvent the shopping experience, and enhance it with entertainment and technology, or risk going under.
The global strategy of branding and merchandising that has dominated the luxury sector for the last decade is falling away in favor of more authentic, localized experiences. Luxury brands are borrowing ideas from the fast-fashion world — opening pop-up shops, launching limited-edition collections, even mixing it up with the mass market.
Shoppers are “accustomed to having new styles in the stores all the time, and this is forcing luxury brands to be more similar to Zara and H&M in the way they emphasize newness, entertainment and the in-store experience,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a business consultant for market research firm Bain & Co.
“The retail industry has gotten lackadaisical,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm NPD Group. “It went through eight years of uninterrupted growth, where you could just stick it on the floor and it would sell because the customer wasn’t thinking about what they were spending money on. But the rules have changed, and you have to earn your stripes again. And price isn’t the only answer.
“Now retail is going through experiential growth mode,” Cohen continued. “You are going to hear about wine and cheese parties, football Sundays, women’s Tupperware parties for panties. It will be about creating a social atmosphere and an educational experience” in stores, he said.
Which is why menswear designer John Varvatos, who turned the famous punk rock club CBGB into a retail store in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood last year, is duplicating the experience in Las Vegas. He recently opened a version of the Bowery boutique in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, complete with a stage for rock performances, vintage vinyl records and audio equipment for sale alongside $2,000 suits.
Shoppers are looking to TV and movies for style guidance as well, and Hollywood is trying to cash in. Fashion has gone from being esoteric high art (couture) to pop culture, the subject of TV shows, movies and websites. It’s no wonder the Bravo TV channel is getting into the handbag business, with styles created exclusively for its “NYC Prep” series that viewers can purchase online. Talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment recently signed designing duo Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, with an eye toward developing publishing projects and product collaborations for them.
Even “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller is getting in on the action, by investing in designers such as Roland Mouret and launching Fashionair, a hybrid fashion entertainment and e-commerce website (www.fashionair.com) featuring video programming taped around the world and edited at Fuller’s 19 Entertainment Ltd. studios in London. Like “American Idol,” and unlike most fashion magazines, the site aims to be inclusive, giving users a voice.
“In any jungle it’s survival of the fittest,” says Wolfe, the trend analyst.
“Some people will be left behind. But in the long run this will be healthy for the fashion business.”
Via LA Times

The $300-billion fashion business is in the midst of an epic shake-up that is changing the way clothes are designed, marketed and purchased. The Internet — the same force that has splintered the media and music industries — is challenging the taste-making role of the fashion elite, a shift that is being accelerated by the rise of cheap chic and a recession that has blunted more-is-more spending.  (Pics)

Continue reading… “Major Changes Reshaping the Fashion Industry”

0

Alarming Trends in Childhood Obesity

1 fat tool 283

Two recent University of Rochester Medical Center studies don’t look good

Two recent studies point out alarming trends in childhood obesity – not only is the group of severely obese children getting larger, but parents don’t even see it. Between 1976 and 2004, the rate of severely obese children – those with BMIs at or above the 99th percentile – has tripled to a total of 2.7 million. A separate, smaller study shows that almost a third of parents underestimate their child’s weight.
The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) researchers, along with colleagues at Wake Forest University and Baylor College of Medicine, used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new definition of severe obesity and found that about 4 percent of children in the U.S. are morbidly obese. The most recent estimate of the rate of obesity among children is 17 percent of the population.
“We knew the rate of severely obese children was increasing, but we were surprised at how quickly the number is rising,” said Stephen Cook, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of Pediatrics at URMC’s Golisano Children’s Hospital and one of the authors of the study to be published this month in Academic Pediatrics. “These children have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, even before they reach adulthood. We’re very concerned about the future as well as immediate health of these children.”
The study examined nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1976 to 2004 and found that the rate increased from 0.8 percent in the 1976-1980 survey to 3.8 percent in the 1999-2004 survey. Researchers also found that the greatest increases were seen among blacks, Mexican Americans and those living in poverty.
One third of the teens with severe obesity were classified as meeting the adult criteria for the metabolic syndrome, a clustering of risk factors that put them on the path toward heart disease and diabetes in adulthood, and ultimately, could lead to an early death. Nearly 4 percent, or 2.7 million children, have a BMI at or above the 99th percentile, the point at which bariatric surgery is first considered.
“Until a child reaches the point where bariatric surgery is an option, there are few treatment options for families. Insurance doesn’t typically cover the cost, and without that, most families cannot afford to pay,” Cook said. “Without coverage for non-surgical options, the treatment services lose money and have to close.”
Researchers said that their findings point to the environment (where they live, socio-economic level, etc.) as an important factor in whether a child develops obesity and something over which children have no control.
Another URMC study shows that parents often underestimate their children’s weight status and the health effects of the extra pounds. The study, to be published in Clinical Pediatrics, shows 31 percent of interviewed parents underestimated their children’s weight, including both children who are overweight and normal weight. And parents who believed their children to be underweight were more concerned about their health than parents who did not realize that their children were overweight. Considering parents, especially of young children, make most decisions about what children eat, how they spend their time and where they live, researchers are concerned parents aren’t taking the problem of childhood obesity seriously enough.
“Parents play an important role in lowering their child’s risk of obesity – they have the ability to encourage physical exercise and teach their children about a healthy diet beginning in early childhood,” said Jillian M. Tschamler, an author of the paper who was a student at the University of Rochester at the time it was written and is currently a graduate student in nursing at the University of Virginia. “Healthy habits that children learn at a young age will decrease their risk of becoming overweight in the future, and prevention is a crucial step in lowering the overall rate of obesity in children.”
Researchers interviewed parents of 193 children between 18 months and 9 years old at the outpatient clinic at URMC’s Golisano Children’s Hospital. More than 30 percent of the children were overweight (BMI greater than 85th percentile). Almost half of the parents of children who were overweight said they thought their children’s weight was “about right,” and 24 percent of parents of normal-weight children said they thought their children were a little or very underweight. Parents were less likely to underestimate the weight of their girls.
Provided by University of Rochester

Two recent studies point out alarming trends in childhood obesity – not only is the group of severely obese children getting larger, but parents don’t even see it. Between 1976 and 2004, the rate of severely obese children – those with BMIs at or above the 99th percentile – has tripled to a total of 2.7 million. A separate, smaller study shows that almost a third of parents underestimate their child’s weight. (w/video)

Continue reading… “Alarming Trends in Childhood Obesity”

0

Watching The Income Tax System Implode

 Watching The Income Tax System Implode

When it comes to our tax systems, we are living in caveman times

In the movie The Day After Tomorrow, survivors stranded in a library are easily persuaded to burn the multi-volume IRS Tax Code to stay warm. In this fictional scenario, the question one might ask before securing a match: Why did we wait until the end of the world?

Continue reading… “Watching The Income Tax System Implode”

0

Eric Schmidt on Strategies and Solutions for Energy Security

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRJlO5gdsfk[/youtube]

 Cutting through the energy fog

Eric Schmidt speaks at a Natural Resources Defense Council event held at Google NYC. The topic for the evening was “Partnership for the Earth: Strategies and Solutions for Energy Security. Second video after the jump.

Continue reading… “Eric Schmidt on Strategies and Solutions for Energy Security”

0

IBM Unveils Innovations That Will Change Our Lives In The Next Five Years

 [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86RpIwNTGvI&eurl=http://www.physorg.com/news146852022.html&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Unveiled today, the third annual “IBM Next Five in Five” is a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years.

Continue reading… “IBM Unveils Innovations That Will Change Our Lives In The Next Five Years”

0

Japan Re-Invents the Convenience Store

 Japan Re-Invents the Convenience Store

The original Lawson store chain has spawned “Happy Lawson” and “Natural Lawson”

Sony sinks, Toyota tumbles, and the Nikkei stock index plunges to lows not seen for more than a quarter of a century. But the global financial storm can’t rattle Japan’s convenience stores, where sales are up smartly. These hardy and still-multiplying spawn of 7-Eleven now number about 41,700, and they are arguably the most convenient convenience stores on Earth.

Continue reading… “Japan Re-Invents the Convenience Store”

0