Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for December 6th, 2007

Species in transition

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As noted in a comment, quoting from Bill Bryson’s excellent A Short History of Nearly Everything (which I recommend):

Only about one bone in a billion, it is thought, ever becomes fossilized. If that is so, it means that the complete fossil legacy of all the Americans alive today—that’s 270 million people with 206 bones each—will only be about fifty bones, one quarter of a complete skeleton. That’s not to say of course that any of these bones will actually be found. Bearing in mind that they can be buried anywhere with an area of slightly over 3.6 million square miles, little of which will ever be turned over, much less examined, it would be something of a miracle if they were. Fossils are every sense vanishingly rare. Most of what has lived on Earth has left behind no record at all. It has been estimated that less than one species in ten thousand has made it into the fossil record. That in itself is a stunningly infinitesimal proportion. However, if you accept the common estimate that the Earth has produced 30 billion species of creatures in its time and Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin’s statement (in The Sixth Extinction)that there are 240,000 species of creatures in the fossil record, that reduces the proportion to just one in 120,000. Either way, what we possess is the merest sampling of all the life that Earth has spawned.

Moreover, the record we do have is hopelessly skewed. Most land animals, of course, don’t die in sediments. They drop in the open and are eaten or left to rot or weather down to nothing. The fossil record consequently is almost absurdly biased in favor of marine creatures. About 95 percent of all the fossils we now possess are of animals that once lived under water, mostly in shallow seas.

In spite of the paucity of the fossil record, Creationists often do an “Aha!” on the fact that we somehow don’t have a sequence of 20 or so fossils showing the exact steps of speciation—like a fossil video of sorts. Of course, we do have fossils of animals that pretty clearly show the trend of evolution—a dinosaur fossil with feathers, for example, or this one:

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Science

Sixty-second lectures

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Via Boing Boing, a list (with links) of 60-second lectures. Here’s the transcript of the 60-second lecture on human history:

  • First, tribes: tough life.
  • The defaults beyond the intimate tribe were violence, aversion to difference, and slavery. Superstition: everywhere.
  • Culture overcomes them partially.
  • Rainfall agriculture, which allows loners.
  • Irrigation agriculture, which favors community.
  • Division of labor plus exchange in trade bring mutual cooperation, even outside the tribe.
  • The impulse is always there, though: “Kill or enslave the outsider.”
  • Gradual science from Athens’ compact with reason.
  • Division of labor, trade, the mastery of knowledge, plus time brought surplus, sometimes a peaceful extended order and, rules diversely evolved and, the cooperation of strangers – always warring against the fierce defaults of tribalism, violence, and ignorance.
  • No one who teaches you knows what will happen.

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 4:35 pm

Posted in Education

New off-shore wind farm platform

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Very good idea:

Offshore wind is a relatively underexploited resource, with obstacles ranging from Cape Wind-like NIMBYism to the high infrastructure costs (and thus total costs) for installing systems out at sea. The idea of going toward floating wind turbines has been around awhile and BlueH Group looks to be one step closer to making that idea a reality.

Blue H offshore wind farms, are planned to be far out at sea, virtually invisible to the naked eye from shore. At such locations, the winds are stronger and are more constant, ideal for generating large quantities of clean and inexhaustible electricity.

Rather than installing the wind turbine foundations to literally be built into the seabed, however deep it might be, Blue H is “adapting the concept of submerged tension-legged platforms developed by the oild industry … and designed a platform large and stable enough to support a tower and a wind turbine.”

According to Blue H, the Submerged Deepwater Platform (SDP) technology:

  • Reduces the overall weight of the structure (claiming a 60+% total reduction for a 5 mw system, from 2100 to 800 tons)
  • Can be built onshore / in a port and towed into place, 10 miles or more offshore in deep waters (more than 50 meters in depth), reducing the specialty requirements for heavy equipment like crane ships.
  • enables placing the wind turbines/farms far enough offshore to minimize NIMBYism and to be able to getting even better wind
  • can be dismantled/moved with little environmental impact

If this works, this suggests a path toward rapid ramping up of offshore wind at affordable costs.

Blue H intends to demonstrate that deepwater offshore wind farms can be built economically and certainly at a cost which is extremely competitive to the shallow water wind farms of today” said Neal Bastick, CEO of Blue H.

Earlier this year, “Blue H designed, commissioned and launched its large scale prototype in Puglia in Southern Italy”. Blue H is now building the first commercial system for the Tricaste site, with 25 more units to follow. “This is likely to be the first offshore deepwater wind farm park in the world” with an installed capacity of 92 megawatts in waters over 100 meters deep. Could this be the first step in making offshore wind a major player in an Energy Smart future?

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 4:22 pm

What the US has become

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ThinkProgress:

In 2005, while “in the midst of congressional and legal scrutiny” over its secret detention program, the CIA “destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody,” the agency admitted today. The videotapes, which contained footage of “severe interrogation techniques,” were “destroyed in part” out of concern that they could “could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy.” The decision to destroy the tapes was made “within the C.I.A. itself.”

UPDATE: The AP reports that “House and Senate intelligence committee leaders were informed of the existence of the tapes and the CIA’s intention to destroy them.”

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 4:16 pm

Health industry works to delay fight against cancer

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Good article to read. It begins:

What is the relationship between the mass production of synthetic chemicals, workplace chemical exposure, environmental pollution and rising cancer rates in the 20th and 21st centuries? In her new book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer, Devra Davis, director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, argues not only are there links between these developments, but the industries responsible for producing these chemicals and wastes have long been well aware of these connections and have sought, with much success, to downplay or dismiss them. As a result, industry has altered the very terms of the public and medical discussion of cancer, resulting in an overwhelming emphasis on cure rather than prevention. This approach has been far better for the industrial status quo rather than for the public health; the increase in cancer is not an artifact of improved diagnoses or the aging of the population.

Davis’ book is a call for a fundamental shift in how we think about cancer in the early 21st century. The narrative proceeds as a series of almost freestanding essays. Topics range from the Nazi fight against cancer — Hitler’s scientists were among the first to connect smoking and carcinoma of the lung — to the transformation of WWI mustard gas bombs into chemotherapy; the relationship between exposure to laboratory chemicals and cancer in medical researchers; the still-shocking history of the American tobacco industry; cancer in industrial workers and the ineffectiveness of safety regulations; genetic damage caused by Ritalin that can then lead to cancer; tumors caused by Aspartame; the very mixed track record of the mammogram; and the link between cancer and environmental hormones, asbestos, hair spray and cell phones (yes, they do seem to cause brain tumors in heavy users). In every case, scientific research into health effects is fundamentally intertwined with corporate interests.

Davis tells us that her book took 20 years to write, in part because she was told that she would lose her job at the National Academy of Sciences when she first proposed the project in 1986. In those 20 years, important works have been published on many of her topics, such as Robert Proctor’s The Nazi War on Cancer and Allan Brandt’s The Cigarette Century. Davis’ work is different, however, in that it brings a cancer epidemiologist’s eyewitness account into the story. She has composed her book as a memoir as well as a history, and she relates numerous personal conversations with colleagues over the years as well as the story of her parents’ and a close friend’s deaths from cancer.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 4:13 pm

Spanish chicken-noodle soup

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Per The Wife’s request: from 1,000 Low-Fat Recipes, by Terry Blonder Golson (quite a good cookbook, IMHO):

Spanish Chicken-Noodle Soup 
Makes 6 servings.

Cilantro gives this soup a Spanish flavor and is important to the recipe. Parsley will do, but the recipe won’t taste the same.

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced chicken breast (about 1/2 pound)
1/8 tsp saffron powder
one 14 1/2 oz can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped, or 5 plum tomatoes
6 cups reduced-sodium defatted chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup fettuccine, broken into 2-inch pieces
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken pieces. Cook until white on all sides.

Put the saffron in a small heatproof bowl. Pour the tomatoes and broth into the soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of liquid and pour over the saffron, then return it to the pot.

Add the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I also use saffron threads, crushing them between my fingers to make the saffron powder. A large can of chicken broth is 49 ounces, close enough to the 48 ounces called for in the recipe. I used canned diced tomatoes and don’t drain them—it’s soup, after all. Cilantro loses its flavor if it’s cooked, so add it at the last minute.

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 3:59 pm

Fart science

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Fascinating:

Australian scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, researchers say.

Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

While the usual image of greenhouse gas pollution is a billowing smokestack pushing out carbon dioxide, livestock passing wind contribute a surprisingly high percentage of total emissions in some countries.

“Fourteen percent of emissions from all sources in Australia is from enteric methane from cattle and sheep,” said Athol Klieve, a senior research scientist with the Queensland state government.

“And if you look at another country such as New Zealand, which has got a much higher agricultural base, they’re actually up around 50 percent,” he told AFP.

Researchers say the bacteria also makes the digestive process much more efficient and could potentially save millions of dollars in feed costs for farmers.

“Not only would they not produce the methane, they would actually get something like 10 to 15 percent more energy out of the feed they are eating,” said Klieve.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 12:46 pm

Best chicken noodle soup ever (?)

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That’s what it says:

  • 1 (2 to 3 pound) whole chicken
  • 3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
  • 1 packet chicken noodle soup mix
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1 pinch poultry seasoning
  • 1 pinch dried basil
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pinch dried parsley
  • 1 (8 ounce) package farfalle (bow tie) pasta

Place chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Place celery leaves in pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and place in a bowl until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, place celery, carrots, onion, bouillon, soup mix and chicken broth in pot and let simmer. Season with thyme, poultry seasoning, basil, peppercorns, bay leaves and parsley.

Bone chicken and cut up meat into bite-size pieces. Return meat to pot. Cook until vegetables are tender and flavors are well blended, up to 90 minutes.

Stir pasta into pot and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, until noodles are al dente. Serve hot.

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 12:33 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

The importance of a checklist

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Fascinating article. A few excerpts, but read the whole thing—and think: how many other places is a checklist needed? and what would be the signs? (critical steps, lots of interruptions, many people involved, …)

… A decade ago, Israeli scientists published a study in which engineers observed patient care in I.C.U.s for twenty-four-hour stretches. They found that the average patient required a hundred and seventy-eight individual actions per day, ranging from administering a drug to suctioning the lungs, and every one of them posed risks. Remarkably, the nurses and doctors were observed to make an error in just one per cent of these actions—but that still amounted to an average of two errors a day with every patient. Intensive care succeeds only when we hold the odds of doing harm low enough for the odds of doing good to prevail. This is hard. There are dangers simply in lying unconscious in bed for a few days. Muscles atrophy. Bones lose mass. Pressure ulcers form. Veins begin to clot off. You have to stretch and exercise patients’ flaccid limbs daily to avoid contractures, give subcutaneous injections of blood thinners at least twice a day, turn patients in bed every few hours, bathe them and change their sheets without knocking out a tube or a line, brush their teeth twice a day to avoid pneumonia from bacterial buildup in their mouths. Add a ventilator, dialysis, and open wounds to care for, and the difficulties only accumulate. …

n October 30, 1935, at Wright Air Field in Dayton, Ohio, the U.S. Army Air Corps held a flight competition for airplane manufacturers vying to build its next-generation long-range bomber. It wasn’t supposed to be much of a competition. In early evaluations, the Boeing Corporation’s gleaming aluminum-alloy Model 299 had trounced the designs of Martin and Douglas. Boeing’s plane could carry five times as many bombs as the Army had requested; it could fly faster than previous bombers, and almost twice as far. A Seattle newspaperman who had glimpsed the plane called it the “flying fortress,” and the name stuck. The flight “competition,” according to the military historian Phillip Meilinger, was regarded as a mere formality. The Army planned to order at least sixty-five of the aircraft.

A small crowd of Army brass and manufacturing executives watched as the Model 299 test plane taxied onto the runway. It was sleek and impressive, with a hundred-and-three-foot wingspan and four engines jutting out from the wings, rather than the usual two. The plane roared down the tarmac, lifted off smoothly, and climbed sharply to three hundred feet. Then it stalled, turned on one wing, and crashed in a fiery explosion. Two of the five crew members died, including the pilot, Major Ployer P. Hill.

An investigation revealed that nothing mechanical had gone wrong. The crash had been due to “pilot error,” the report said. Substantially more complex than previous aircraft, the new plane required the pilot to attend to the four engines, a retractable landing gear, new wing flaps, electric trim tabs that needed adjustment to maintain control at different airspeeds, and constant-speed propellers whose pitch had to be regulated with hydraulic controls, among other features. While doing all this, Hill had forgotten to release a new locking mechanism on the elevator and rudder controls. The Boeing model was deemed, as a newspaper put it, “too much airplane for one man to fly.” The Army Air Corps declared Douglas’s smaller design the winner. Boeing nearly went bankrupt.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Emoticons during wartime

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by Tom McNichol:

🙂            No new attacks reported today.

😦            New attack reported today.

=|:-)=       This e-mail is being monitored by Uncle Sam for your protection.

😡            I’d rather not say in an e-mail that’s being monitored for my protection.

:-w            Our current leader speaks with forked tongue.

*:o)           Our current leader is a bozo.

/:-=(          Our current leader in some ways resembles Adolf Hitler, at least in his disregard for civil liberties during wartime.

😮            Uh-oh, what was that?

:-@           I hear screaming.

B)            Now donning protective goggles.

.-)            Good Sammy Davis, Jr., movie on tonight.

<|-)          Yes, the current conflict resembles Vietnam.

+<:-)        Pope to make appeal for peace.

(:3            No, I am the Walrus.

:(=)          Interesting Jimmy Carter piece in today’s Times.

[:-)           I’m listening to my iPod.

3:-o          Bovine encephalitis attack!

:-)8          Latest George Will column still doesn’t get it.

@:-[–      New Osama bin Laden message released.

8-/            Local chemical attack causing blindness.

:-#            Kiss your ass goodbye. 

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Daily life

Regime change: the Bush success story

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Hendrik Hertzberg, in the current New Yorker:

Regime change was one of the stated goals of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Unlike cleansing the place of weapons of mass destruction and breaking up the alleged Baghdad-Al Qaeda nexus, it was a reality-based goal; and, unlike the other two (which were as unattainable and unnecessary as ridding the moon of green cheese), it was actually accomplished. Saddam Hussein’s regime has indeed been changed—though what it has been changed into, of course, is not quite what was intended.

And regime change, it turns out, is infectious—a militarily transmittable disease, almost invariably fatal, so far, to any political party or head of government so careless of hygiene as to have had intimate relations with the Bush Administration’s Mesopotamian misadventure. The contagion set in less than a year into the war, when, three days after the Madrid terrorist bombings of March 11, 2004, Spain’s conservative government, which had sent thirteen hundred soldiers to Iraq, was defeated at the polls. The soldiers were out within three months. In May of 2005, it was the turn of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, of Italy, President Bush’s loudest West European supporter, who had sent three thousand troops; his successor, Romano Prodi, brought them home. In June of this year, Tony Blair was finally obliged to relinquish his grip on Britain’s Labour government, largely because of Iraq; the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has signalled that he intends to withdraw Britain’s troops—some five thousand of the original commitment of forty-five thousand remain—by the end of 2008. Six weeks ago, Poland’s premier, the twin brother of the country’s President, lost to an opponent whose platform included bringing back the nine hundred Polish troops that are still in Iraq. Other countries whose voters have dispensed with the services of leaders who enrolled them in Bush’s “coalition of the willing” include Hungary, Ukraine, Norway, and Slovakia.

A week ago last Saturday,

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 12:13 pm

Starting that journal…

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Louis Menand has some warnings:

… The impulse to keep a diary is to actual diaries as the impulse to go on a diet is to actual slimness. Most of us do wish that we were slim diarists. It’s not that we imagine that we would be happier if we kept a diary; we imagine that we would be better—that diarizing is a natural, healthy thing, a sign of vigor and purpose, a statement, about life, that we care, and that non-diarizing or, worse, failed diarizing is a confession of moral inertia, an acknowledgment, even, of the ultimate pointlessness of one’s being in the world. Still, rationally considered, what is natural or healthy about writing down what happened every day in a book that no one else is supposed to read? Isn’t there something a little O.C.D. about this kind of behavior? Writing is onerous (especially with an ultra-thin pencil)—writing feels like work because it is work—and, day by day, life is pretty routine, repetitive, and, we should face it, boring. So why do a few keep diaries, when diary-keeping is, for many, too much?

Three theories immediately suggest themselves. They are theories of the ego, the id, and the superego (and what is left, really?).

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 12:10 pm

Posted in Daily life, Writing

Joe Klein’s FISA stupidity revisited

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Excellent article at Radar Online summarizing the Klein view of the world and Klein’s place in it.

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Media

New routine for mail

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Bring in mail, separate out catalogs, sit down and computer and use CatalogChoice.com to cancel future delivery of all of them. If I want to buy something, I won’t be using a catalog in any event: I’ll go to the Web. All catalogs do is to trigger me to buy something I didn’t have any idea of buying before I saw the catalog.

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 11:05 am

Posted in Daily life

Start a journal?

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Here are some cool ones to use.

Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 11:03 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Writing

Astrology

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This is pretty good:

First point of Aries

Your zodiac sign corresponds to the position of the sun relative to constellations as they appeared over 2200 years ago.

The ecliptic, or the position of the Sun as it’s perceived from the revolving Earth, passes through the constellations that formed the Zodiac – Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Zodiac signs were originally determined by which constellation the Sun was “in” on the day you were born.

Early astronomers observed the Sun traveling through the signs of the Zodiac in the course of one year, spending about a month in each. Thus, they calculated that each constellation extends 30 degrees across the ecliptic.

However, a phenomenon called precession has altered the position of the constellations we see today.

The first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere was once marked by the zero point of the Zodiac. Astronomers call this the vernal equinox and it occurs as the ecliptic and celestial equator intersect.

Around 600 BCE, the zero point was in Aries and was called the “first point of Aries.” (see graphic) The constellation Aries encompassed the first 30 degrees of the ecliptic; from 30 to 60 degrees was Taurus; from 60 to 90 degrees was Gemini; and so on for all twelve constellations of the Zodiac.

Unbeknownst to the ancient astrologers, the Earth continually wobbles around its axis in a 25,800-year cycle. This wobble—called precession—is caused by the gravitational attraction of the Moon on Earth’s equatorial bulge.

Over the past two-and-a-half millennia, this wobble has caused the intersection point between the celestial equator and the ecliptic to move west along the ecliptic by 36 degrees, or almost exactly one-tenth of the way around. This means that the signs have slipped one-tenth—or almost one whole month—of the way around the sky to the west, relative to the stars beyond.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 10:37 am

Posted in Daily life

And you thought food from China was bad…

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What about prescription medicines? Isn’t it time to beef up the FDA and provide more money for inspection and testing?

The medicine cabinet in the average U.S. home is filling with drugs made in China, and some experts say that could be a prescription for trouble.

China’s booming pharmaceutical industry has doubled exports to the United States in the past five years, undercutting competitors and making American consumers reliant on the safety of Chinese factories and captive to any disruptions in Sino-U.S. commerce.

It might seem like merely a trade issue. But industry experts in Europe and the United States say national-security concerns are edging into the debate.

Consider this scenario:

If a major anthrax attack were to occur in the United States — larger than the one in 2001, when five people died — pharmaceutical companies that make the two antibiotics most suitable for treatment, Cipro and doxycycline, would have no choice but to rely on China or India for key ingredients once American stockpiles were exhausted. Those ingredients no longer are made in the West.

A Portuguese company that ramped up doxycycline production in 2001 at Washington’s request said China now controlled the flow of its crucial drug component.

“If we were asked to do this again, we would be dependent on China providing us with key starting materials that are unavailable in the rest of the world,” said Guy Villax, the chief executive of Hovione, a Lisbon-based fine chemicals company.

The spectacular growth of China’s pharmaceutical industry coincides with some equally huge problems. A kickback scandal ensnared China’s State Food and Drug Administration and its chief in charges that they gave approval for bogus drugs, including a counterfeit antibiotic that left 13 people dead. Wary of rising public anger, the state issued a Draconian sanction: It executed the agency chief in July.

Cases of tainted toothpaste, toys and pet food that have made global consumers wary of the “Made in China” label added urgency to a high-profile drug agency purge.

Even so, China’s $65 billion pharmaceutical industry is galloping at an annual growth rate of 24 percent in the first eight months of this year. Competitors say China’s drug companies not only have low-cost advantages but also get a nearly free pass from U.S. drug regulators, who hold the screws to American companies — raising their costs significantly — but rarely inspect in China.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 10:24 am

The attempt to disenfranchise college students

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I’ve seen this myself…

When the Clinton camp voiced displeasure with Senator Barack Obama for encouraging Iowa-registered, out-of-state college students to participate in the January 3 caucuses, her campaign was taking a student voter disenfranchisement page right out of the Republican playbook.

Take this case in Maine. In January, a Republican state representative introduced LD 203, a bill that would have made Maine students ineligible to vote in their college town if they lived in university-owned housing while attending school. Proponents argued that college students, who may leave after graduation never to return, shouldn’t be offered the chance to shape local policies. They also cited allegations of students casting absentee ballots in other states while simultaneously voting in Maine elections.

However, according to the secretary of state and the registrar of voters in Orono, home of Maine’s flagship public university, no such voter fraud has ever been recorded. Even the bill’s author confessed that he had no evidence to substantiate the accusations.

LD 203 was not the first assault on student voting rights in Maine. During the 2000 campaign, the town registrar of Brunswick, home of Bowdoin College, turned students away from the polls through deceptive residency questions. In 2002, during a close congressional contest, Henry Beck, a junior at Colby Collegeand the youngest serving member of the Waterville, Maine city council, says Republican operatives flooded campuses with flyers threatening that students would lose financial aid or healthcare if they voted at school.

But this year, Maine students fought back. Activists filled hearing rooms, condemned the bill in newspaper and radio outlets, and organized online, arguing they live, work, volunteer, and pay sales taxes in their college towns. Their efforts eventually paid off; every major area newspaper denounced LD 203 and it was voted down in the State Senate in June.

Despite the success in Maine, student voter disenfranchisement is still prevalent across the country. As Renee Paradis, counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law notes, “it’s been a perennial issue ever since the voting age changed.” But with the 2008 election quickly approaching, students and allies are finding innovative and sustainable ways to ensure that students can register and vote in the district they prefer, and activists hope it is one cure for low voting rates among young people.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 10:18 am

Posted in Education, Election

Dyxlexia as a business advantage

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Fascinating:

 It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought.

The report, compiled by Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, found that more than a third of the entrepreneurs she had surveyed — 35 percent — identified themselves as dyslexic. The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely than nondyslexics to delegate authority, to excel in oral communication and problem solving and were twice as likely to own two or more businesses.

“We found that dyslexics who succeed had overcome an awful lot in their lives by developing compensatory skills,” Professor Logan said in an interview. “If you tell your friends and acquaintances that you plan to start a business, you’ll hear over and over, ‘It won’t work. It can’t be done.’ But dyslexics are extraordinarily creative about maneuvering their way around problems.”

The study was based on a survey of 139 business owners in a wide range of fields across the United States. Professor Logan called the number who said they were dyslexic “staggering,” and said it was significantly higher than the 20 percent of British entrepreneurs who said they were dyslexic in a poll she conducted in 2001.

She attributed the greater share in the United States to earlier and more effective intervention by American schools to help dyslexic students deal with their learning problems. Approximately 10 percent of Americans are believed to have dyslexia, experts say.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

What the US has become

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The US imprisons for years people known to be innocent. (Isn’t there a name for nations that do such things?)

Just months after U.S. Army troops whisked a German man from Pakistan to the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002, his American captors concluded that he was not a terrorist.

“USA considers Murat Kurnaz’s innocence to be proven,” a German intelligence officer wrote that year in a memo to his colleagues. “He is to be released in approximately six to eight weeks.”

But the 19-year-old student was not freed. Instead, over the next four years, two U.S. military tribunals that were responsible for determining whether Guantánamo Bay detainees were enemy fighters declared him a dangerous al-Qaeda ally who should remain in prison.

The disparity between the tribunal’s judgments and the intelligence community’s consensus view that Kurnaz is innocent is detailed in newly released military and court documents that track his fate. His attorneys, who sued the Pentagon to gain access to the documents, say that they reflect policies that result in mistreatment of the hundreds of foreigners who have been locked up for years at the controversial prison.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 December 2007 at 9:51 am

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