Top 5 posts in June, 2007

Below are my top 5 posts from June, 2007, selected by the number of comments I got per post. Thank you for those who shared your opinions here.
1) how long it takes for plastic bag to decompose ?
2) our urban deforestation.
3) tattoo regret and removal.
4) marriage makes family rich.
5) high gasoline price humor.


How long it takes for plastic bag to decompose ?

For everyday consumers, plastic shopping bag are cheap and easy to use, but ugly to look at when they stuck on tall trees or being littered to the street. I still remember a local news (of late 80's) profiling a young business star; he was on the news because the big profits earned from the plastic bag plant he owned. There is a social revolt going on lately to stop people using traditional plastic shopping bag due to enviromental concerns. Some want to make it "as fashionable to carry plastic as it is to wear fur", others simply baned them.
The most common type of plastic shopping bag is made of polyethylene, a man-made polymer that microorganisms don't recognize as food. In another word, they are not biodegradable like newspaper and banana peel
However, plastic bag do photodegrade. When exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, polyethylene's polymer chains become brittle and start to crack, and plastic bags will eventually fragment into microscopic granules. As of yet, however, scientists aren't sure how many centuries it takes for the sun to work its magic due to many variables. That's why certain news sources cite a 500-year estimate while others prefer a more conservative 1,000-year lifespan. It feels like these figures are just another way of saying "a really, really long time."
For me, the quickest way to solve the problem is to develop plastic bags sensitive to photodegradation and biodegradation. Consumer are willing to spend a bit more money on these new bags, instead of stop using them.


Few comply with abstinence and monogamy

Data from a new U.S. government sex survey (of adults aged 20 to 59):
People who are virgins: 4%.
People who were still virgins on their 21st birthday: 15%.
women who have had only one (or none) sex partner : 25%.
men who have had only one (or none) sex partner : 17%.
Women's median number of sex partners: 3.7.
Men's median number of sex partners: 6.8.
I don't know what to say on these numbers. May be abstinence and monogamy aren't complying with human nature ?


Men bite more than women

Recall the notorious 1997 Tyson-Holyfield boxing match? After examing 92 patients referred to the plastic surgery unit of St. James's Hospital in Dublin for human bites, a study (published in the Emergency Medical Journal ) found that man 12 times as likely as a woman to be bitten by his fellow man. 86% of the biting were related to alcohol consumption, and 70% of biting incidents happened on a weekend or public holiday.


Our urban deforestation

Trees are struggling to survive in U.S. cities, according a TIME report.
Tree cover across the country has fallen substantially in recent decades, victims of cities expansion, pollution, and slow replanting due to tight municipal budgets. In the past few decades, San Diego has lost 25% of its peak tree cover, while Washington, D.C., has lost 50%, the cover in cities in Michigan, North Carolina and Florida has fallen to about 27% of what it once was; Chicago and Philadelphia are just 16%.
Just in case you are not familiar with the 'tree-city ecology', here is the refresher: tree leaves filter out particulate pollution. The crown of a large tree also intercepts rain water that might otherwise clog cities’ aging drainage systems. In some cases, a tree can ensure that 1,500 gallons of water a year will evaporate before it hits the ground. Finally, tree shade stops asphalt from reflecting the sun’s heat and creating so-called heat islands. As an example, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Atlanta’s temperature is now five to eight degrees higher than the surrounding countryside following decades of development that bulldozed wooded areas.
Hug a tree, please.


Aspirin, the wonder drug

Many studies have confirmed multiple functionality of aspirin in recent years. Here is the latest one - according to a study on 22,507 postmenopausal women, those who used aspirin had a 16% reduced risk of getting cancer, and a 13% reduced risk of cancer death, compared with women who never used it. Aspirin use was also associated with a 25% reduced risk of dying from coronary artery disease and an 18% reduction in all-cause mortality compared with those who never took aspirin.
The wonderful thing about aspirin is that other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (which aspirin is classfied as), such as ibuprofen (Advil and other brands) and naproxen (Aleve and others) had no such multiple beneficial effect.


Having male twin reduces woman's fertility

According to a Finnish study, for women who had a twin brother, they were 25% less likely to have children, 15% less likely to marry, than women who had a twin sister. The possible explanation? Due to being exposed to their brother's testosterone for nine months in the womb, the female twins had more masculine attitudes and behaviors that affected their decision to get married, or attractiveness to mates. I am not sure if this founding has anything to do with the ever popularity of The Olsen Sisters.


Can you be a better boss ?

Think you could do your boss' job better than he or she can? You're not alone. According to a recent survey (Chicago Tribune, 6/18/2007) conducted by the executive recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International, nearly 75% of employees think they could outperform their boss if given the chance, and most would jump at the opportunity. A full 65% of workers said they aspire to their boss' position.
Some people think above number is a sign that while many employees respect their boss, they feel underutilized at work. I think in some cases this is the lake wobegon effect at play again.


Tattoo regret and removal

According to an interesting New York Time report, there are currently about 45 million Americans tattooed; however 17% of them regret it later, as life changes. Here are some reasons for the tattoo removal: 1) get my ex-fiance's name off my body. 2) I don't want my tattoos to show around my strapless wedding gown. 3) I need to start looking employable and marriageable. 4) I want to replace my old tattoos with new ones.


Nearly half of the U.S. doubt theory of evolution

I simple can't believe this is happening. According to a recent Gallup Pull (May, 2007), nearly half of the U.S. doubt theory of evolution. When answering the question "thinking about how human beings came to exist on Earth, do you, personally, believe in evolution, or not?", 49% of people answered Yes/Believe; 48% answered No/Don't Believe; 2% answered No Opinion.

May be I should see it is coming. In surveys conducted in 2005, people in the United States and 32 European countries respondants were asked whether to respond “true,” “false” or “not sure” to this statement: “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” It turns out that the United States had the second-highest percentage of adults who said the statement was false - and the second-lowest percentage who said the statement was true. See the graph below:


Russians drink non-beverage alcohols to death

Russian men are notorious for their heavy drinking habit. Economic hardship in recent years (following the dissolution of the Soviet Union) has contributed to problem drinking in Russia. According to 2005 figures, alcohol is linked to 72% of murders and 42% of suicides in Russia.
To make things worse, a recent study published on Lancet found that many Russian men who fall on hard times start drinking non-beverage alcohols (cologne, cleaning agents, etc.) because they are cheaper and have a high alcohol content. High-alcohol concentration make those non-beverage alcohols very dangerous since they can strip the airways that deliver oxygen to the lungs.
This study revealed a shocking 43% of deaths in Russian men, aged 25-54, result from drinking non-beverage alcohols. The findings help explain why Russian men have the lowest life expectancy among industrialized nations, at just 59 years.


The price of loved one's death

Economists are good at put price tags on any things. Below is an another interesting example.
Question - if money could buy happiness, how much would it take to bring it back after the death of a partner, child or spouse?
Answer - it would take $220,000 annually to raise someone's happiness to pre-death levels after a spouse dies, $118,000 for a child, $28,000 for a parent, $16,000 for a friend and only $2,000 for a sibling.
Calculation - economists reviewed data collected from 10,000 Britons tracked by the British Household Panel Survey, begun in 1991, which records major life events and includes questions designed to gauge overall mental health. Economists then identified the amount of money, on average, that raised a person's mental health score by the same amount that a loved one's death lowered it.
No need to think above numbers are results of a weired, gruesome exercise. Economists say they hope it will provide legal courts with a way to more fairly award damages.


Food chain of book publishing business

New York Magazine has a fascinating set of business case studies investigating how New York businesses turn a profit. The one interesting me most in the study about book publisher Random House. On the weekly bases, the country’s biggest trade publisher releases 67 new books, out of its 33,000-book backlist.

According to this study, out of every 8 books, 1 is very profitable, 1 is very unprofitable, and 6 either break even or lose money. On average, for a paperback which retail for about $10, $5 goes to the retailer; $2 covers publisher's overhead costs (buildings, admin, payroll); $1.50 goes to author payments (that is 15%); $1 goes to paper, printing, and binding; only $0.50 is profit (that is 5%). The best ways to make money? Underpay writers. "The most-profitable books are highly successful authors early in their career with a contract that doesn’t reflect their success".


The insane commuting in America

According to a Chicago Tribune article today, annual commuting costs for US working family was reaching 5 figures in 2005. In major metro areas, the cost is the highest in Atlanta ($10,890), lowest in New York ($7,880). So for a middle-class family with a annual income of $50,000, 20% of the money are just enough to get to and back from the work, not to mention commuting being non-productive and environment polluting.


Innocent life is saved by the death penalty

I never liked any publicity surrounding death penalty, nor I liked to discuss about it. This subject are just too heavy to debate about, for anybody. In my mind however, I think death penalty is fair and it will deter crime and reduce homicides.
Some recent studies have shown that as many as 18 lives would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer. Need I say more ?


The link between divorce and children's ADHD

Evidence suggests that children living in single-parent or step-parent households are 200% more likely than children in households with 2 biological parents to be prescribed methylphenidate (psychostimulant drug most commonly prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, in children). Although more research are needed to confirm the causal links in this association, many (me included) believe divorce causes children's behavior problems, which leads to prescriptions.


Size matters to men ! ! !

After examining 50 international research projects carried out since 1942, a recent paper published in the British Journal of Urology firmly conclude that anxiety over penis size is a normal part of the male experience, while women care far more about a man's personality and physical attractiveness. They found that in a survey of over 50,000 heterosexual men and women, 85% of the ladies said they were satisfied with their man's size, but only 55% of the men were content with themselves. Men who were of normal size were far more likely to experience "small penis syndrome" - excessive concern and anxiety about penis size - than men with a micropenis.

The researchers also tackled the ever-important "what's average?" question, and found that in the 12 studies that measured the penises of 11,531 men, the average length of an erect penis ranged from 5.5 to 6.2 inches in length and 4.7 to 5.1 inches in girth. And despite many interesting stereotypes, the researchers found no solid evidence of size difference between races...although a recent survey found that 60% of Indian men have penises which are between 3 and 5 centimetres shorter than international average. The researchers suggest that normalizing the situation and providing accurate information could help them calm their anxiety.


High gasoline price humor

A friend sent me following high gasoline price humor cartoons. Enjoy!

Top 5 posts in May

Below are my top 5 posts from May, 2007, selected by the number of comments I got per post. Thank you for those who shared your opinions here.

1)Mouse vs. Supercomputer
2)How We Learn
3)Internet porn consumption statistics
4)The world is walking faster
5)Women outnumber men in colleges


Marriage makes you rich

The economist.com had a special report on the recent marriage trend in America. I found some numbers in the report clearly demonstrated that marriage is a great "wealth-generating institution":
(1) research have shown those who married and never divorced, end up on average, 4 times richer than those who never marry. This is partly because marriage provides economies of scale—two can live more cheaply than one; partly because marriage encourages the division of labour, couples are complement to each other in their skill set.
(2) research also shown married men drink less, take fewer drugs and work harder, earning between 10% and 40% more than single men with similar schooling and job histories.