Monday, September 28, 2009

Best of the Month: Clippings

In the last couple years there've been several conclusive studies showing that running actually helps your knees. In June, by a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court ruled that a prisoner did not have a constitutional right to demand DNA testing of evidence in police files, even at his own expense. ... The court has never found a constitutional right for the actually innocent to be free from execution. ... In Scalia's America, ... we can execute a man for an accidental house fire. There are now nearly six workers available for every job opening, up from 1.7 workers per opening when the recession began in December 2007. Worse, hiring is not expected to rebound anytime soon, even if overall economic growth resumes this year. ... Without job growth and pay raises, consumer spending will not revive substantially .... And without an upsurge in spending, businesses will not add workers, and so on, in a decidedly unvirtuous cycle. While the Beatles were at the height of their success in the West, back in the USSR they were a forbidden influence. But that did not stop them from being heard. ... "I fell in love with the Beatles 40 years ago. They became my friends, my spiritual brothers." ... The Beatles turned tens of millions of Soviet youngsters to another religion. ... "They alienated a whole generation from their Communist motherland," he says. ... "They destroyed Communism - more than Gorbachev." ... They "made a quiet revolution in our brains. We had it in our hearts." ... "In Soviet times, my life was lived in fear. They were so aggressive I was scared if I said anything good about the Beatles, I would be arrested." ... In Kiev, Vova Katzman recalls being arrested by police who cut his hair. "I didn't care," he says. "I loved the Beatles. If something is illegal, people want it more and more." ... Tapes secretly recorded from Radio Luxemburg were copied and recopied. ... The most persistent myth was that the Beatles had played a secret concert at a Soviet airbase on their way to Japan. Everywhere, fans claimed it happened close to them. ... At the John Lennon Party a dozen tribute bands play Beatles songs to a packed audience of teenagers and grandfathers. They all sing along with every word. In Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor," written around 1602, the character Mistress Ford refers twice without any explanation to the tune of "Greensleeves," and Falstaff later exclaims: "Let the sky rain potatoes! Let it thunder to the tune of 'Greensleeves'!" These allusions suggest that the song was already well known at that time. The big downside to fish farming: It requires large amounts of feed made from wild fish harvested from the sea. It can take up to five pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of salmon, and we eat a lot of salmon. We’re trying to redefine what it means to be pro-Israel. You don’t have to be noncritical. You don’t have to adopt the party line. It’s not, ‘Israel, right or wrong.’ ... George W. Bush shared the views of the mainstream [Jewish] groups on Israel and Palestine .... In the Bush years, when Israel enjoyed a blank check, increasing numbers of people in the Jewish and pro-Israel community began to wonder, If this was the best president Israel ever had, how come Israel’s circumstances seemed to be deteriorating so rapidly? ... “There was kind of a cognitive dissonance,” Indyk says, “about whether a blank check for Israel is necessarily the best way to secure the longevity of the Jewish state.” When people get promoted, they suffer on average about 10 percent more mental strain and are less likely to find time to go to the doctor. [From The Onion:] "By our calculations, his most nutrient-rich layers will be washed away by the end of the decade, leaving little more than a desiccated, middle-aged wasteland." A national survey conducted by Louis Harris and Associates in 1966 found that rock 'n' roll was by far the most unpopular music in the country. About 45 percent of adults said they disliked it, with only about 5 percent saying it was their favorite. Compare that with today, when nearly two-thirds of those asked in a recent Pew Resource Center poll said they listen to it. Online courses alone, education experts say, will be used mainly to fill niches and will be most popular in university graduate-level and continuing education courses. ... But online resources, experts say, will increasingly be used to supplement and transform classroom education, moving from stand-and-lecture formats to project-based learning. “It’s a world apart from the old factory model of the high school with its rows of desks, textbooks and memorization,” said Ms. Martinez. The Egyptians used a wavelike symbol for water that the Phoenicians adapted and called mem—thus the letter M. I loved the soothing mindlessness of the [handwriting] exercises, particularly seeing the mmmm's break across the page—a tiny, rolling sea. Global climate change is presenting a threat to the world beer supply .... Perhaps we have at last stumbled across the very thing that could help bring about broad grassroots interest and action in making widespread changes while we still have ice at the poles, and in our coolers waiting to chill the beers that we still have left. A Johns Hopkins University student killed an apparent burglar with a samurai sword after discovering the man in his garage. A ship that may contain nuclear waste has been blown up by the mafia in a waste disposal racket, Italian authorities are told. Jessica Simpson's beloved maltipoo Daisy was grabbed by a wild coyote. An undercover investigation reveals that up to two gorillas are being killed and eaten each week in the Republic of Congo. Beijing sees another rise in birth defects, mirroring increases elsewhere in China, amid fears pollution is to blame. Sir Elton John cannot adopt a 14-month-old boy because he is not married and is too old, a Ukrainian minister says. In 1510, the respected French lawyer Bartholomew ChassenĂ©e made his name by serving as legal counsel for a horde of rats. The rats stood accused of eating through the province's barley crop. But the trial was tainted, ChassenĂ©e argued, for two reasons: First, the court failed to properly notify the rodents of the trial date. And second, the defendants could not possibly appear in court when getting there entailed risking a run-in with a cat. Barnard College president Debora Spar tells NPR that if women had headed up banks like Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Bank Of America -- all key actors in the market meltdown last fall – they might have saved us from disaster. Why? Women are more risk-averse than men on the whole. From fight nights to reggae music to video games and on-site tattoo parlors, the churches have helped make evangelicalism the fastest-growing spiritual movement in Brazil. An estimated 27 million human beings worldwide today are living lives of exploitation and humanity stripped bare beyond the bone of basic human rights. This is a bigger number than at any point in documented history. Books and movies with a decidedly surrealistic bent appear to bolster cognitive functions that govern our capacities for learning and problem solving.ooks and movies with a decidedly surrealistic bent appear to bolster cognitive functions that govern our capacities for learning and problem solving. [Two-thirds of the hungry people in the world] live in just six countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. A team of scientists has determined that massive scale projects in the Sahara Desert and the Australian Outback are indeed daunting, but within our reach. ... Ornstein and team have their collective eye on eucalyptus in particular, owing to its fast growth and heat tolerance. A fully forested Sahara would achieve up to an 8 degree Celsius localized temperature decrease. More and more athletes are starting to think [that group training helps]. ... The right workout companions, they say, can make all the difference. ... Recreational athletes can benefit, too, Dr. Coyle said. Many run by themselves or without a specific program. “They probably underestimate their ability,” he said. Group runs “would help them tremendously.” Activists commandeered thousands of parking spaces worldwide on Friday and transformed them into mini (very mini) parks to raise awareness about how the auto industry is often winning the public space battle in big cities. ... In New York City, Fordham University students staged a "Shakespeare in the Parking Spot" festival .... In Chicago, an architecture firm transformed two parking spots into a bicyclist pit stop, where cyclists could relax on a grassy knoll and refuel on drinks and snacks. ... [In L.A.,] a neighborhood association took up seven parking spots and set up a cool-sounding hangout complete with a grill, a kiddie pool and a gardening workshop to teach people how to grow drought-tolerant plants. Park(ing) Day, as it is known, began four years ago in San Francisco, and has since grown to include numerous cities on four continents. “Across the happiness data, the one thing in life that will make you less happy is having children,” said Betsey Stevenson, an assistant professor at Wharton who co-wrote a paper called “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.” “It’s true whether you’re wealthy or poor, if you have kids late or kids early.” In a worse-case projection, a Vietnamese government report says that more than one-third of the Mekong Delta could be submerged if sea levels were to rise by three feet. Mice on a running wheel “usually show little improvements in the conventionally defined” measurements of fitness, like elevated muscle strength and improved aerobic capacity. They enjoy themselves; they don’t strain. Those on the treadmill, meanwhile, are forced to pant and puff. Jen says researchers suspect that treadmill running [at a pace controlled by scientists] is more intense and leads to improvements in “muscle aerobic capacity,” and this increased aerobic capacity, in turn, affects the brain more than the wheel jogging. Women who are unhappy with the way they look feel significantly better about themselves after being greeted with a grin. Chimps have been found to yawn when they watch an animated chimp do so. To extract electricity from trees and convert it into useful energy, researchers built a boost converter capable of picking up as little as a 20 millivolt output.