Spring break

I will take my children away for the spring break vacation. Will be back on April 4th. No post in between.


Top three posts

I have made 32 posts so far at this blog. Listed below are top 3 posts, measured by the number of comments they received:
I sincerely thank every reader who stopped by, especially those who offered informative comments. You keep this blog going.

Cosmetic plastic surgery as an economy barometer

In US, after FDA approved silicone implants in later 2006, women rushed to get them. Now breast augmentation, based on a survey from American Society of Plastic Surgeons, has become the most common cosmetic plastic surgery in the U.S, increased 13% last year. All other types of cosmetic plastic surgery were also increased at the same time.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons believescosmetic plastic surgery is a good barometer of the local and national economy ... the increase in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures mirrors the strong economy, low unemployment levels, and high consumer confidence of 2006".

Brain damages can damage moral thinking

Current scientific theories tell us there are two parts of brain responsible for human moral judgement. One part of our brain gives us calculations (example: do what's necessary to save people from a fire), and another part gives us emotions (don't kill women and babies), and we balance the two inputs .... unless brain damage wipes out the emotional input.

Commen sense says brain damage can change moral thinking, now I have found a scientific research to support this commen sense. In a recent small-scale study, when presented with moral dilemmas, people with damage to a specific part of the brain were 2-3 times more willing to kill than were normal people.


Which human body part increases to 10 times its size when stimulated?

Found this lovely read from it occured to me:

The 6th grade science teacher, Mrs. Parks, asked her class, "Which human body part increases to 10 times its size when stimulated?"

No one answered until little Mary stood up, angry, and said, "You should not be asking 6th graders a question like that! I'm going to tell my parents, and they will go and tell the principal, who will then fire you!" With a sneer on her face, she then sat back down.

Mrs. Parks ignored her and asked the question again, "Which body part increases to 10 times its size when stimulated?" Little Mary's mouth fell open; then she said to those around her, "Boy, is she gonna get in big trouble!"

The teacher continued to ignore her and said to the class, "Anybody?" Finally, Billy stood up, looked around nervously, and said, "The body part that increases 10 times its size when stimulated is the pupil of the eye."

Mrs. Parks said, "Very good, Billy," then turned to Mary and continued, "As for you, young lady, I have three things to say:

One, you have a dirty mind, two, you didn't read your homework assignment, and three, one day you are going to be very, very disappointed."

In Doctors' office

  1. the No. 1 patient complaint about doctors is - you got it - waiting room delays. (source - Reader Digest, April 2007, p184)
  2. according to Robert Sutton, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford Engineering School, among all occupations, medical doctors are most horrible bosses. 90% of nurses report 6 to 12 incidents of verbal and emotional abuse per year from doctors.

Barack Obama's popularity in MySpace

US Senator Barack Obama received 74,700 MySpace friend requests (more than all of the other candidates combined) right after MySpace launched its Impact page 3 days ago. See graph below from Swivel. Talking about the impact of social media on presidential campaign.

Barack Obama: President of MySpace
Below are some popular posts of this blog:


How many millionaires are out there ?

A recent research has found that some 2.9 million people in the United States and Canada have net worth's of $1 million. Majority of them (about 70%) have earned their money by building successful businesses or saving from their salaries. The others inherited (all or part) of their wealth.
However, today's $1 million isn't that glamours as it used to be, based on US Federal Reserve figures, someone who bought $1 million worth of goods in 1957 would need $7.3 million to buy the same goods today.

Well designed web pages

An recent experiment demonstrated that tighter writing, more white space, and jettisoning unnecessary imagery helps readers read 50% faster and retain 34% more of what they've read. That explains why most people love Google's home page.


March Madness by the numbers

1. According a report on BusinessWeek (March 26, 2007, p16), more than 100 million Americans, including the estimated 23 million hoop fans with internet access at work, are expected to follow this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament. Employer will lost estimated $1.2 billion dollars due to the reduction in worker's productivity, and 6% companies plan to take steps to prevent workers from going to tournament web sites; 67% worker has joined office pool last year (2006), of whom 57% bet on this so called March Madness.

we are having a office pool again this year in my workplace, just like what we have done in past 12 years.

2. Found an old number (New York Times, March 20, 2003, p. D1) on this site. Not sure what this number would be in 2007.


Funny statistics about blink

According to a research paper published in the Perception & Psychophysics 2006, 68 (3), 475-488, human blink, on average, once every 4 sec, or 900 times per hour, and the average blink duration is approximately 250 msec; thus, a total of 1 hour out of every 16-hour waking day is spent blinking.
During this time we see absolutely nothing that's going on around us - but what's even more crazy is that many cognitive functions (iconic memory for example) are suppressed shortly before, during and after the blink.


More married couples are sleeping apart

Housing data and anecdotes suggest more married couples are sleeping apart in US. Some builders say more than 25% of their projects have two master bedrooms; a construction survey predicts that in custom homes, the percentage will soon surpass 60% by 2015.
Below are some logical explanations:
1) spouses don't get along. 2) one still works at night. 3) one snores. 4) one's a night person. 5) one doesn't want sex. 6) it's more private, romantic and erotic. 7) today's couples need more space. 8) today's couples need more sleep.
In summary, life is simply more convenient that way.


Fat men less likely to commit suicide

A new study found that among men, risk of death from suicide is strongly inversely related to BMI (Body Mass Index), not to height or to physical activity. In fact, obese men are 42% less likely to commit suicide than thin men are.
This finding appears consistent with our commmen sense - (1) fat men have more insulin, which means more serotonin, which means less depression. So fewer fat men are depressed enough to commit suicide. (2) severe depression makes you thinner before it makes you kill yourself.

Another case why time equals money

In last 40 years, the average working hour of US employees has steadily declined. In 1965, people spent average of 51 hours per week on the job (including commuting time, lunch breaks, etc.); today, that number is down to 40 hours. People spend their increased (11 hours per week) leisure time on shopping, housework, watching TV, reading the newspaper, going to parties, relaxing, playing golf, surfing the Web, visiting friends, and having sex.
However, according to the same study (link above), in last 40 years, 10% of the us - the high-skilled, high-paid workforce, have not seen leisure time increased at all, we still do 51 hours per week as of today. At the opposite, the bottom 10% of us - the low-skilled, low-paid workforce, have gained a staggering weekly 14 leisure hours a week. So in another word, we compensate our low pay with more leisure time.


Young and in Debt

According to an USA Today article -
" This generation of twentysomethings is straining under the weight of college loans and other debt, a crushing load that separates it from every previous generation".
"A poll of twentysomethings by USA TODAY and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) found 60% feel they're facing tougher financial pressures young people did in previous generations. And 30% say they worry frequently about their debt".


Is college worth it ?

The U.S. News & World Report (March 12, 2007) ran a special report on many issues existing in the US undergraduate college system. Among them:
1) high dropout rate - only 63% of entering freshmen will graduate from college within 6 years, and fewer than 50% of black and Hispanic freshmen will.
2) sky high tuition - 4 years at a public in-state college costs $65,400, up more than 27% in past 5 years.
3) decline in the education quality - a recent survey show only 31% of college graduates were able to complete basic task (read texts and draw inferences) at a proficient level, down from 40% a decade earlier.
It sounds like our undergraduate colleges are becoming underachieving colleges.


Five reasons why you should marry me

A friend sent me the following in an email. It is so numerically funny.
Five reasons why you should marry me -
1. I am a mature, responsible adult now:

2. I am a nice gentlemen, everyone likes me:

3. so many things I enjoy, spending time with you is my first choice:

4. I am the only one that matches you !

5. I love to save the world. Let us do it together !


Positive and negative national influence

I just spotted this graphic on the BBC site. It appears China is doing better than USA. Hi, USA is viewed more negative than North Korea ?

Once a bad boy, always a bad boy ?

Teens who are very naughty tonight are likely to be very naughty years from now, according to a recent research. The study found that teens who start having sex significantly earlier than their peers also show higher rates of delinquency in later years.
The researchers examined data from 7,000 young people, comparing each one's age of sexual debut - first intercourse - to the average age for their school, which ranged from 11.25 years to 17.5 years. Those who had sex at least one year before the school average committed +20% more delinquent acts - such as vandalizing, stealing, or selling drugs - than their school average. Those who debuted later than average had - 50% lower delinquency rates.
Researchers said "we're not finding that sex itself leads to delinquency ... the link between early sex and delinquency probably has to do with the whole social context of the young adolescents' lives".


What You Make = Who You Know

Being "well connected" has long been an aspiration for most people, whether it is to help score tickets to the big game, get a kid into a top school, or give a boost to a career. It turns out, even CEOs, who already are at the peak of power, have an interest in well-connectedness, perhaps even more than most, at least in terms of absolute dollars.
Based on public data collected for all US S&P 1,500 firms between 1996 and 2004, a recent study conducted by Ilan Guedj and Amir Barnea of University of Texas–Austin, find that firms that have more connected directors award their CEOs a higher compensation. CEO of a firm that is in the top 1/5 of connected firms receives a 10% higher salary and 13% higher total compensation than a CEO of a firm that is in the bottom 1/5.


How much do we owe IRS ?

An US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) study last year concluded that government collected only 86% of the tax it was owed in 2001. The tax gap (between what taxpayers owe and what they pay) in 2001 was $345 billion. This translate to $2,680 unpaid taxes per US household. Of that, "$197 billion came from underreporting on individual income tax returns and $88 billion from underreporting by corporations and the self-employed. The rest came from those not filing or not paying the proper amount".


Weekend numberic life links

1) Physical World magazine asked its reader voting for the 20 greatest equations ever in the history of science, here is the list. These equations are listed in order of the number of people who proposed them.
2) what are responsible for the rapid rising autism rate in US (and may be the world)? A maverick minority of scientists and a larger percentage of parents blame thimerosal - which is 49.6 percent ethyl mercury by weight - for the rising autism rate, up 1,000% in 20 years to 0.6% of all 8-year-old U.S. children. Some parents say they watched their children become physically ill and regress into autism soon after they got shots that contained the chemical.


Why London's streets stink

I vacationed in UK four years ago, and noticed some of London's streets were quite stinky. Now I know why - according to a report, 95% of Britons had urinated, vomited or defecated in public because no toilet was available. Although London first public lavatory was built in the 12th century, and public bathrooms has multiplied in the past, the current toilet shortage situation will get worse before getting any better.


I am bored to death in school ...

My two kids (1st and 6th grade) always complain that they are bored at school. In a recent survey, 2/3 of US high-school students say they are bored in class every single day. About 30% of the students indicate they are bored due to lack of interaction with teachers and 75% report material being taught is not interesting. I believe our culture's obsession with external, fast-paced entertainment - TV, movies, the Internet, video games - play a big role in increasing students's boredom.


People that have ever existed on Earth

A demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a non-governmental organization in Washington, D.C. has calculated that slightly over 106 billion people had ever been born on the Earth; of those, people alive today comprise 6%, or 6.5 billion.

Do you hate your job ?

If you do, your are a member of the majority. Blame it on outrages CEO pay, outsourcing, or whatever, the matter of fact is that nowadays Americans hate their jobs more than ever before in the past 20 years, with less than 50% saying they are satisfied. The trend is strongest among workers under the age of 25, less than 39% of whom are satisfied with their jobs. Workers age 45 to 54 have the second lowest level of satisfaction (less than 45%), according a survey conducted by The Conference Board.
One interesting, but not surprising finding is that money can buy job satisfaction - people making under $15,000 per year reported the lowest satisfaction while those making more than $50,000 per year said they were the most satisfied.