Later On

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

Archive for February 1st, 2009

A warm fuzzy break

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Video

On bleaching teeth

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Interesting:

UV light-enhanced tooth bleaching is not only a con, but is dangerous to your eyes and skin, says a Royal Society of Chemistry journal. The light treatment gives absolutely no benefit over bleaching without UV, and damages skin and eyes up to four times as much as sunbathing, reports a study in Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences.

Those looking to match Tom Cruise’s glittering pearly-whites would be better off ignoring claims of better bleaching with UV light treatment.

The treatment is at least as damaging to skin and eyes as sunbathing in Hyde Park for a midsummer’s afternoon – one lamp actually gave four times that level of radiation exposure.

And as with sunbathing, fair-skinned or light-sensitive people are at even greater risk, said lead author Ellen Bruzell of the Nordic Institute of Dental Materials.

Bruzell also found that bleaching damaged teeth. She saw more exposed grooves on the enamel surface of bleached teeth than on unbleached teeth. These grooves make the teeth more vulnerable to mechanical stress.

Tooth bleaching is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments available. It uses a bleaching agent – usually hydrogen peroxide – to remove stains such as those from red wine, tea and coffee, and smoking.

UV light is claimed to further activate the oxidation process, improving bleaching efficiency. The authors of this Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences article say there is very little substantive evidence to support this claim, and their new study finds no benefit to using UV light.

Source: Royal Society of Chemistry

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

A useful activity for your succisive hours

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Since I have now a fair number of succisive hours, I decided to adopt a word. Thanks to Lifehacker for the link.

UPDATE: Succisive – of spare or extra time. Probably have to find this word in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 11:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

New animated films correct media’s portrayal of Native Americans

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The great genocide that wiped out so many Native Americans as settlers seized land, violated treaties, and killed off entire cultures lingers still in how Native Americans are portrayed in the media. Americans generally do not wish to recognize the role of the US in doing dirty deeds, which is why Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is so valuable. And this project sounds good, too:

Popular film and television shows have shaped the way Americans view American history – especially the frontier encounters between settlers and Native Americans. Examining the ways Native Americans are portrayed negatively in Westerns and other film genres, Joanna Hearne, assistant professor of English at the University of Missouri, describes recently produced animated films by Native directors that are countering media misrepresentations and helping promote Native-American stories and languages. "When non-Native audiences see Native-Americans in Westerns, they often view them as part of the background, as if the actors are not really acting," Hearne said. "Westerns rarely portray Native Americans as having families or children, presenting images of dying or ‘vanishing’ Indians instead of Native family continuity. This can have a negative impact on Native children who watch the films, because these popular images are hostile to Native families."

In her examination of Native-American representations, Hearne documents many film and television programs that dramatize Native-American subjects but that were produced by non-Native-American directors. Even popular Disney films like Pocahontas and Peter Pan rely upon stereotypes, representing Native characters as threatening aggressors or passive, wise sages, Hearne said.

Animation films based on Native stories, including both digital and clay-animated productions, are growing in popularity. When produced by Native-American directors, animated films tell contemporary and traditional tribal stories accurately. Hearne says this helps youth relate to their communities and offers alternatives to English-language, mass media cartoons.

"Children are invited to learn values and language skills from animated images of storytellers, images that model relationships between younger and older generations," Hearne said. "Indigenous animated films such as Stories from the Seventh Fire and Raven Tales have been able to effectively represent and share Native-American stories from a Native-American perspective. These films address concerns about social accountability both in the languages and cultural values."

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 11:33 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Media, Movies & TV

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A weapon against MRSA Staph

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Important:

Two common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, were virtually eradicated in the laboratory by exposing them to a wavelength of blue light, in a process called photo-irradiation that is described in a paper published online ahead of print in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. The article will appear in the April 2009 issue (Volume 27, Number 2) of the peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The paper is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/pho Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections represent an important and increasing public health threat. At present, fewer than 5% of staphylococcal strains are susceptible to penicillin, while approximately 40%-50% of Staph aureus isolated have developed resistance to newer semisynthetic antibiotics such as methicillin as well.

Chukuka S. Enwemeka, Deborah Williams, Sombiri K. Enwemeka, Steve Hollosi, and David Yens from the New York Institute of Technology (Old Westbury, NY) had previously demonstrated that photo-irradiation using 405-nm light destroys MRSA strains grown in culture. In the current study, "Blue 470-nm Light Kills Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Vitro," the authors exposed bacterial colonies of MRSA to various doses of 470-nm light, which emits no UV radiation.

The two MRSA populations studied—the US-300 strain of CA-MRSA and the IS-853 strain of HA-MRSA—represent prominent community-acquired and hospital-acquired strains, respectively.

The authors report that the higher the dose of 470-nm blue light, the more bacteria were killed. High-dose photo-irradiation was able to destroy 90.4% of the US-300 colonies and the IS-853 colonies. The effectiveness of blue light in vitro suggests that it should also be effective in human cases of MRSA infection, and particularly in cutaneous and subcutaneous infections.

"It is inspiring that an inexpensive naturally visible wavelength of light can eradicate two common strains of MRSA. Developing strategies that are capable of destroying MRSA, using mechanisms that would not lead to further antibiotic resistance, is timely and important for us and our patients," says Chukuka S. Enwemeka, PhD, FACSM, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal and first author of the study.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 11:26 am

Vaccines and autism: no correlation

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Interesting and important:

An extensive new review summarizes the many studies refuting the claim of a link between vaccines and autism. The review, in the February 15, 2009 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases and now available online, looks at the three main hypotheses and shows how epidemiological and biological studies refute these claims. "When one hypothesis of how vaccines cause autism is refuted, another invariably springs up to take its place," said study author Paul Offit, MD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Fears about vaccines are pushing down immunization rates and having a real impact on public health, he added. Vaccine refusal is contributing to the current increase in Haemophilus influenzae cases in Minnesota—including the death of one child—and was a factor in last year’s measles outbreak in California.

The controversy began with a 1998 study in The Lancet that suggested a link between the combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Dr. Offit and co-author Jeffrey Gerber, MD, PhD, also of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reviewed more than a dozen large studies, conducted in five different countries, that used different methods to address the issue, and concluded that no data supported the association between the MMR vaccine and autism. The correlation between MMR vaccine and the appearance of autism symptoms is merely coincidental, the authors say, because the MMR vaccine is given at the age when autism symptoms usually appear.

Also hypothesized as a cause has been the ethylmercury-containing preservative thimerosal, which was used in vaccines for over 50 years. However, the authors review seven studies from five countries that show that the presence or absence of thimerosal in vaccines did not affect autism rates.

The third suggestion has been that the simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overwhelms or weakens the immune system. The authors explain that children’s immune systems routinely handle much more than the relatively small amount of material contained in vaccines. Furthermore, today’s vaccines contain many fewer immune-triggering components than those from decades past. Regardless, autism is not triggered by an immune response, the authors say.

With outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases on the rise due to some worried parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, Dr. Offit said, "Parents should realize that a choice not to get a vaccine is not a risk-free choice. It’s just a choice to take a different, and far more serious, risk."

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 11:23 am

TV as precursor to fast-food diet

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Interesting:

High-school kids who watch too much TV are likely to have bad eating habits five years in the future. Research published in BioMed Central’s open access International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity followed almost 2000 high- and middle-school children and found that TV viewing times predict a poor diet in the future. Dr Daheia Barr-Anderson worked with a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota to investigate the relationship between television and diet. She said, "To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the association between television viewing and diet over the transition from adolescence into young adulthood. We’ve shown that TV viewing during adolescence predicts poorer dietary intake patterns five years later".

Stronger and more consistent patterns were seen during the transition from high school to young adulthood than during the transition from middle school to high school. Both are critical developmental periods, where lifelong behaviours are formed. The authors found that those high-school kids who watched more than five hours of television per day had a lower intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich foods; and higher intakes of snack foods, fried foods, fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, and trans fats five years later. According to Barr-Anderson, "These less than healthy foodstuffs are commonly advertised on television while healthy foods rarely receive the same publicity. Although young people may be aware that many foods advertised on television are not healthy, they may chose to ignore or do not fully realize the consequences, because the actors they see advertising and eating the foods in the commercials are usually not overweight".

Barr-Anderson and her colleagues have called for action to tackle television adverts for food and drinks. They say, "The potential negative impacts of advertising and marketing campaigns on dietary quality and purchasing behavior show that, as well as devising interventions to reduce television viewing time, we need to promote healthy food choices, in general and while watching television, to overcome harmful media influences".

Source: BioMed Central

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 11:21 am

Tobacco companies

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I don’t understand the morality and ethics of those who depend on tobacco for a living. Smoking tobacco is clearly a deadly activity, so it takes a special person to work hard persuading young people to become addicted. It would be interesting to see their psychological profile, in which (I imagine) lack of empathy and great denial coexist. Here’s the story:

Tobacco marketing in South Korea has been deliberately aimed at girls and young women. Research published in the open access journal Globalization and Health has shown that transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) are using tactics long used with devastating effect in Western countries to snare new female smokers in Asia. Kelley Lee from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine led a team of researchers who studied internal documents from the tobacco industry that reveal the scheme to seduce a generation of girls. She said, "Since the opening of the South Korean tobacco market in the late 1980s, females have been targeted by TTCs as an important source of future market growth and profitability. The rise in smoking rates among females within certain age groups since the late 1980s suggests that these efforts have been successful".

The tactics used recall advertising campaigns carried out in the United States and Europe since the 1920s that link smoking with feminism and the liberation of women. According to Lee, "Product design associating smoking with body image and female emancipation, familiarly deployed elsewhere, have been extensively used in South Korea to appeal to female smokers. So-called "ultra light", "low tar" and "superslim" cigarettes have been particularly effective, falsely suggesting certain brands offer a healthier or safer option, as well as appealing to female concerns about weight gain. Tighter restrictions on the use of such descriptors, alongside public education on the fallacy of such claims, are badly needed in South Korea".

South Korea’s cigarette market was opened to the world in 1988 under the threat of US trade sanctions. In 1989, the country passed laws banning tobacco advertising, marketing and sponsorship directly targeted at women and children. During the authors’ literature search, they found evidence of the companies’ efforts to circumvent this law by, for example, using images of couples in their adverts – something not covered by the country’s guidelines, but known to appeal to the female market. One TTC wrote "Although obviously targeted to women, the campaign extension would also not be as overt in markets sensitive to female targeting".

Lee concludes, "The implementation of comprehensive tobacco control measures in South Korea, as set out under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is urgently needed to protect and promote the health of Korean women and girls".

Source: BioMed Central

Related:

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 11:18 am

Health benefits of garlic

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Interesting:

A Queen’s-led team has discovered the reason why garlic is so good for us. Researchers have widely believed that the organic compound, allicin – which gives garlic its aroma and flavour – acts as the world’s most powerful antioxidant. But until now it hasn’t been clear how allicin works, or how it stacks up compared to more common antioxidants such as Vitamin E and coenzyme Q10, which stop the damaging effects of radicals.

"We didn’t understand how garlic could contain such an efficient antioxidant, since it didn’t have a substantial amount of the types of compounds usually responsible for high antioxidant activity in plants, such as the flavanoids found in green tea or grapes," says Chemistry professor Derek Pratt, who led the study. "If allicin was indeed responsible for this activity in garlic, we wanted to find out how it worked."

The research team questioned the ability of allicin to trap damaging radicals so effectively, and considered the possibility that a decomposition product of allicin may instead be responsible. Through experiments with synthetically-produced allicin, they found that an acid produced when the compound decomposes rapidly reacts with radicals.

Their findings are published in the January 2009 issue of the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.

"Basically the allicin compound has to decompose in order to generate a potent antioxidant," explains Dr. Pratt, who is Canada Research Chair in Free Radical Chemistry. "The reaction between the sulfenic acid and radicals is as fast as it can get, limited only by the time it takes for the two molecules to come into contact. No one has ever seen compounds, natural or synthetic, react this quickly as antioxidants."

The researcher is confident that a link exists between the reactivity of the sulfenic acid and the medicinal benefits of garlic. "While garlic has been used as a herbal medicine for centuries and there are many garlic supplements on the market, until now there has been no convincing explanation as to why garlic is beneficial," says Dr. Pratt. "I think we have taken the first step in uncovering a fundamental chemical mechanism which may explain garlic’s medicinal benefits."

Along with onions, leeks and shallots, garlic is a species in the family Alliaceae. All of these other plants contain a compound that is very similar to allicin, but they do not have the same medicinal properties. Dr. Pratt and his colleagues believe that this is due to a slower rate of decomposition of the allicin analogs in the onions, leaks and shallots, which leads to a lower level of sulfenic acid available to react as antioxidants with radicals.

Source: Queen’s University

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 11:04 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Oops

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wegmans-cake

Here’s the story behind the cake.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 10:59 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Technology

Positive prejudice and its effects

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 10:45 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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The serious need for play

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Play is how we learn, for the most part. I mentioned in some earlier post watching the Iowa City firemen with their new hook and ladder equipment, running the ladder up and down, climbing the ladder, and so on—clearly playing with (and learning) the new equipment. For adults, of course, we often avoid using the term "play," but it seemed to me that it was exactly the same process used by younger children: an enjoyable exploration that increases knowledge and understanding.

Scientific American has a good article on the need for play. It begins:

Key Concepts
  • Childhood play is crucial for social, emotional and cognitive ­development.
  • Imaginative and rambunctious “free play,” as opposed to games or structured activities, is the most essential type.
  • Kids and animals that do not play when they are young may grow into anxious, socially maladjusted adults.

On August 1, 1966, the day psychiatrist Stuart Brown started his assistant professorship at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, 25-year-old Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the University of Texas Tower on the Austin campus and shot 46 people. Whitman, an engineering student and a former U.S. Marine sharpshooter, was the last person anyone expected to go on a killing spree. After Brown was assigned as the state’s consulting psychiatrist to investigate the incident and later, when he interviewed 26 convicted Texas murderers for a small pilot study, he discovered that most of the killers, including Whitman, shared two things in common: they were from abusive families, and they never played as kids.

Brown did not know which factor was more important. But in the 42 years since, …

Continue reading. And take a look at the other articles, too.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 10:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Solid renditions of visual illusions

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In the Scientific American, both an article and a slide show. Article begins:

In an impossible figure, seemingly real objects—or parts of objects—form geometrical relations that physically cannot happen. The artist M.C. Escher, for instance, depicted reversible staircases and perpetually flowing streams, whereas mathematical physicist Roger Penrose drew his famously impossible triangle and visual scientist Dejan TodoroviTodorović created an Elusive Arch that won him Third Prize of the 2005 Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest. These effects challenge our hard-earned perception that the world around us follows certain, inviolable rules. They also reveal that our brains construct the feeling of a global percept, “or individual item we perceive,” by sewing together multiple local percepts. As long as the local relation between surfaces and objects follow the rules of nature, our brains don’t seem to mind that the global percept is impossible.

Several contemporary sculptors recently have taken up the challenge of creating impossible art. That is, they are interested in …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 10:35 am

Posted in Art, Science

A serious reformer for Surgeon General

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An email from John Conyers:

Earlier this month I raised concerns about the trial balloon floated for Surgeon General, Dr. Sanjay Gupta .

The doctor is a health commentator for CNN who dispenses medical advice with a breezy style appropriately suited to the brief two-minute segments of television.

While he has earned praise for his television persona, there are undeniable drawbacks that would limit his effectiveness as an advocate for the comprehensive health care reform this country urgently needs.

We need a Surgeon General serious about health care reform.

The TV Doctor has been criticized by many for his close ties to the pharmaceutical and health care industries and for not disclosing the sources of his speaking fees which command up to $50,000 per appearance.

His strong criticisms of reform beg the question whether his cozy relationships with the health care industry would compromise his ability to lead the U.S. Public Health Service and serve as a vocal advocate for change.

Act Now.  Demand a Serious Reformer for Surgeon General.

Too many questions linger about the qualifications of Sanjay Gupta for him to lead our Public Health Service.  Please send a message that we need a serious reformer for Surgeon General.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 10:00 am

Children and what we learn from rats

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Interesting post:

It’s bloody cold where I live. In the interminable cycle of snow and sub-freezing ambience, I have two daughters whose brains, literally, crave movement. But before we talk about that, let’s talk about rats with toys and rats without.

In fact, let’s put rats off for a moment too. Let’s talk about Children’s Museums. That’ll take us to rats and their toys, and move us nicely then to the welfare of the brains of our children. The story goes like this:

Anyone who has been a kid and now has one knows that children’s museums have been changing. What began often as tired wings of the more-adult institutions now have their own buildings and names (the Boston Children’s Museum, for example), and their own stuff. Parents often view these younger establishments with a mixture of dread and relief. Turn your kid loose!

Every display cries out for this kind of freedom. But wait. Where the hell is my kid? And who is that ill-behaved little imp who just elbowed that sweet curly haired toddler in the kidney, and where are his parents, and would someone please tell me in this age of drug resistant bacteria why anyone designed a place where children could crawl all over each other and leave trails of snot the way a snail marks his progress across the sidewalk.

I still to some extent see Children’s Museums as one giant Petri dish, a happy place for viruses, bacteria, and a select few multi-cellular microbes to party. The humans are the ecosystem, the paradise for which these winter-time bugs long. And yet every weekend, tired parents and their wheezing progeny line up before the museum opens, push their way in through the doors like they’re going to see the Who in concert, and provide new and exciting homes for the mass of germs that lay in wait, like trap-door spiders, for the first little hand to move them to some new organic material. The circle of life is like this.

Recently at our local Children’s Museum I set my children free. I unleashed them from the sweaters and coats and mittens and scarves that stilted their youthful and impossible movements, my daughter unraveling from her parka like a mummy eager to leave the darkness of his tomb, and off she went, climbing the fantastical web-like structure that is the center piece of the Boston Children’s Museum. Kids disappeared and reappeared 10 feet above, elbowing, clawing, climbing and moving. They were like ants with no purpose except to move from one stage to the next. And, undeniably, they were ecstatically happy…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 9:54 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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A battle in Afghanistan that went wrong for the US

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Tom Ricks is a national treasure. He has a multipart report on a battle that went very wrong, carefully laying out what happened and why:

Inside An Afghan Battle Gone Wrong: An Investigative Series

And he also includes the other part of military life: the boredom that sets in between battles. For example:

A soldier in Afghanistan reports one reality of war — which is the lengths to which people will go to drive away boredom. During a weapons-cleaning session, he was part of "a spirited debate about whether or not you’d want to date Daphne or Velma from ‘Scooby-Doo.’"

The conclusion: "Daphne is way too high maintenance."

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 9:46 am

Posted in Afghanistan War

Wall Street and the Bailout

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Two excellent stories in the Washington Independent:

Mary Kane has an excellent suggestion.

Daphne Eviatar reports that banks hire foreign professionals because banks don’t want to pay Americans.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 9:35 am

And how much does the CEO make?

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It would be good to know the CEO’s compensation to track pay for performance in the executive suite. And here’s a site that can help:

For a true picture of the vast inequities in the American workplace, try comparing the pay of your company’s CEO with your own. Here are two ways to find out what’s in your corporation’s executive compensation packages:

Executive PayWatch Database

Compensation data for the CEOs of some of the largest companies in the United States are included here in the Executive PayWatch database. If you’re looking for the executive pay data at a Standard & Poor’s Super 1500 corporation, this database will lead you to the following information:

  • What the CEO of your company took in last year.
  • How his/her pay package compares with yours, how long you would have to work to earn what the CEO gets in one year and the number of workers at your salary the CEO’s compensation would support.
  • How his/her pay package compares with that of the average worker, a minimum wage earner and the president of the United States.
  • A fact sheet on all of these comparisons.

Check the database to see whether your company is listed.

How to Track Down Executive Pay

If your company is publicly held but isn’t included in our database, you can still find out how much your CEO earned last year.

Read these instructions on how to find and use proxy statements.

Does the CEO Deserve that Big Pay Package?

Is your CEO raking in the big bucks while running the company into the ground? Here’s how to find out.

Terms & Methodology

To learn more about the data, see our guide to terms and methodology.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 9:21 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Linking pay to performance

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Executives are very big on linking pay to performance for their subordinates, though most reject the idea for themselves. But now, as Daphne Eviatar reports:

When Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Friday called Wall Street executives “idiots” for using taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses, then proposed that compensation for the employees of all bailout recipients be capped at $400,000 per year, it surely seemed to many Americans like an obvious limit to place on the Wall Street banks and executives now looking for handouts from the federal government.  After all, how much hardship can it be to limit your senior executives to earning no more than the president of the United States, who’s now burdened with trying to get us all out of this dire economic situation that those reckless, voracious bankers got us into?

But why stop there?  The shrinking economy has led to mass layoffs across the country in virtually all sectors, at such venerable companies as Caterpillar, Home Depot, Sprint, Microsoft, Nextel, Texas Instruments and Starbucks. There’s hardly a company or industry that isn’t embarking on large-scale layoffs these days.

So what about looking at what the executives in those companies make? How many of them are earning more than $400,000?

Well, the departing CEO of Sprint, for example, reportedly made more than $21 million in 2007, and that doesn’t count his severance package, which was apparently worth more than twice that much.  The AFL-CIO has put together a terrific database on executive compensation that allows you to check the top 1500 companies in the United States, and compare your own salary to the chief executive’s.

All this makes me wonder, what if, in the interests of the American people and some renewed sense of patriotism stimulated by our snowballing national crisis, major corporations that claim they’re now “forced” to lay off wide swaths of their workforces were to pick up on Claire McCaskill’s idea and (temporarily) limit compensation of their senior executives to no more than the salary of the president of the United States? …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 9:17 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

From Iowa, this sounds very tasty

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From the NY Times magazine:

If salami is the blog of cured meats, then prosciutto is the great novel. A salami requires anywhere from 20 to 120 days to cure, making it popular with chefs who want to put their house-made stamp on a rustic appetizer. But the best prosciutto requires 8 to 24 months to transform the salt-covered hind leg of a pig into a $35-per-pound luxury, a rosy meat that, when thinly sliced, is a complex, faintly salty delicacy that dissolves into richness on the tongue. It is nothing short of a miracle.

“It’s a leap of faith,” Paul Bertolli, the expert behind Fra’ Mani salumi, acknowledged with a laugh. Known for his artisanal cured meats, he has yet to make the leap to prosciutto. Space, time and, as he put it, “all that money hanging up in the air” are daunting barriers.

Prosciutto has been made on the Italian peninsula since the time of Caesar. Traditionally the legs are hung after the November slaughter and left to mature throughout the seasons. Careful attention is paid not only to the breed and weight of the pig but also to the way the leg is boned and trimmed, the type and amount of salt applied and the aging, cleaning and sealing processes, all of which must be undertaken at just the right time, under favorable temperatures and humidity. It takes skill to ensure the meat doesn’t rot; texture and flavor require artistry. Today in Parma, Italy, there are schools and trade groups dedicated to the science of the ham. Knowledge aside, you still have to wait an awfully long time before you can taste if what you’ve made is any good.

Nine years ago, Herb Eckhouse, then a 50-year-old Des Moines seed-company executive who’d been based in Parma, got a glimmer of what he’d like to do with his early retirement. He was eating prosciutto in Parma with a friend who said, “You know, if you make something this good, you’re going to make a lot of people happy.” A ham-shaped light bulb went off, Eckhouse recalled…

Continue reading. You can order from their Web site, and shipping (Fed Ex 2nd Day) is included in the price—or, as us marketing people like to say, "shipping is free."

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2009 at 9:07 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

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