Top 10 posts from Sept. 2007

Below are my top 10 posts from Sept, 2007, selected by the number of comments I got per post. Thank Bilbo, Mike, John, Sicilian, who shared their opinions on almost every posts here.

long TV viewing cause shorter attention.

the secrete of good wines.

what are your lifes regrets ?

viagra promote feelings of love.

height is almost genetic.

translates numbers into images.

population map of the future.

No sleep enough is deadly.

steroids is the explanation for home runs surge

commuter-marriages increases in us.


Public trust in the Government is at all time low

According to this recent Gallup poll, public trust in the Federal Government is at or near all time lows.

Among the findings: Barely half trust the government to handle international problems, the lowest number ever. And less than half express faith in the government handling domestic issues, the lowest findings since 1976. Faith in the executive branch has fallen to 43% - only 3% higher than it was just before President Nixon's resignation in 1974. At the same time, trust in Congress, at 50%, is its lowest ever.

Gallup has asked about trust in government since 1972. It conducted this year's poll Sept. 14-16 and found the following:
-- Barely half of Americans, 51%, say they have a "great deal" or "fair amount" of trust in the federal government to handle international problems.
-- Less than half of Americans, 47%, now have at least a fair amount of trust in the federal government to handle domestic problems.

The apportionment of this can be debated. I put about 70% of it on the White House (Iraq, Katrina, and the bifurcated economy), and 30% on the Congress (spending taxpayer money like no tomorrow, chasing interns, or having gay sex in airport bathrooms).
Some time I think Mark Twain was right: "Why Vote? It only encourages them!"

Commuter marriages increases in US

According to a report from TIME, the Commuter Marriages, in which couples live apart (dual-address) for long stretches, are increasing. From 2000 to 2005, their number jumped 30%, to 3.6 million. That is 2.9% of all marriages. About 50% of those couples are at least 100 miles away from each other, and 50% are separated for more than 9 months.
In US today, it is more often the women's career that drives the separation. I think I can live a separated life for 6 months. We can kiss each other through the webcam, pillow talk through IM, no big deal. But with 2 young childrens, 6 months is probably is the limit.


How contagious is your yawn ?

We all know yawning is contagious, but can we measure how contagious is it? or can we somehow engineer a yawn to become perfectly contagious? According to this interesting NPR story, Robert Provine, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, try to design a 100% contagious yawn.

"A number of studies found that a medley of ordinary yawns on video played to a classroom for five minutes would induce a responsive yawn in 55% of the audience. So that was his starting point: could he design a yawn powerful enough to move from a 55% response right up to Total Yawn-ness?".

The results? no matter what the Prof. Provine tried, he could not make a yawn with more 55% response rate.


Shorter, but more marriages

According to census data released last week, only about 50% married Americans ever get to celebrate their 25th year together, down from nearly 70% married in the late 1950s who made it to the quarter-century mark. The rest were widowed, divorced, or separated beforehand.
(Maybe Hallmark should cut back on the silver anniversary cards, I may add.)
The new trend data also revealed that most Americans make only one trip down the aisle during their lives. Even if they don't succeed in marriage the first time, Americans try, try again. In 2004, 12% of men and 13% of women had married twice, and 3% were hoping the 3rd time would be the charm.


Steroids as most plausible explanation for the home runs surge

According to a new study by Tufts University physicist Roger Tobin, steroids is the most plausible explanation for the home runs surge in recent years. Below are his calculations:
1) from 1962 to 1997, nobody hit more than 52 homers a season.
2) since 1998, players have topped 60 homers six times, peaking at 73 (Barry Bonds).
3) since 2003, the annual maximum has fallen back to normal levels.
4)this rise and fall coincides with (a) the emergence of steroids and (b) the subsequent imposition of steroid testing.
5) steroids can increase muscle force and bat kinetic energy by 10%, thereby increasing bat speed by 5%, thereby increasing fly-ball speed by 4%, thereby increasing home-run output by 50%.
6) alternative explanations for the home-run surge -smaller ballparks, weaker pitching, more black players - don't coincide.

Under sleep is deadly

According to a multi-year analysis of 10,000 government workers in UK, people who cut their sleeping from 7 hours a night to 5 or less faced a 170% fold increased risk in mortality from all causes, and more than 200% fold increased risk of cardiovascular death.
This really makes me wondering ... I sleep less because of writing blogs; and you may sleep less because of reading blogs. Should we continue ?

Michael Jordan's quote

I have missed more than 9000 shots. I've lost almost 300 games. I've failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.


Funny Video for the weekend - Male vs.Female

I enjoyed this Flash animation (Male vs.Female) very mush. Funny and true.


That's gross - many men not washing hands

Many cases of colds, flu, and foodborne illness are spread by unclean hands, and these diseases are responsible for billions of dollars each year in health care expenditures and productivity losses. Hand hygiene is simple routine of modern day life.

However, accoding to a recent survey, 1/3 of U.S. men doesn't wash his hands after using public bathrooms. 92% of Americans who claimed in a phone survey that they always do it, but only 77% people actually did it an observational stud. In terms of gender gap, 88% of women did it, but only 66% of men - a drop from the 75% of men who did it in a similar study two years ago.

That's gross!

Population map of the future

One of the key factors in sustainability is population growth, both because of the impact on the environment and competition for resources (food, water, energy, etc.). Here is a map (a pdf file) from Population Action International that gives a picture of how many people will be on the planet 20 years from now, and where they'll be.


Numbers of the day

1. the U.S. government had spent $15 billion on a program to fingerprint and photograph visitors at the border, and hadn't caught a single terrorist;
2. oldest man in the world turns 112 today.

Nobody like an angry woman

Studies show men don't suffer any loss in status when they express emotion on the job, but for women, the rules are different. In a recent research, Victoria Brescoll of Yale University asked a group of men and women to watch videotaped interviews of male and female job applicants, some of whom expressed anger while describing their past work experiences. Afterward, the viewers rated the subjects' competence and suggested target salaries. When male candidates expressed emotion, viewers contributed it to a tough situation. Women's anger, though, was attributed to personality, and women were offered salaries 40% lower than those awarded to men. But when women mentioned a reason for their anger, the gender bias disappeared. Bottom line, people strongly disapprove of women expressing anger in a professional context.


Weekend video - stop the clash of civilizations

From avaaz.org

World's worst day

When thinking about the dinosaurs, I tend to image a rain of asteroids falling down to the Earth, which bring down the dinosaurs. Last week, I learned from a science seminar that after three decades of research, the consensus of the scientific community is now believe that it just took 1 single, asteroid to cause that destruction which ended the 161-million year reign of the dinosaurs. According to computer models, it goes something like this ....
without warning some 65 million years ago, an unnamed and unwelcome visitor from deep in space. By the time it plowed into the Earth (at Yucatan Peninsula), this six-mile-wide mass of rock and mineral was traveling as fast as 20 kilometers per second, more than 50 times the speed of sound. The asteroid's energy at touchdown would have equaled the force of 300 million nuclear weapons. This wasn't the first time the Earth had absorbed a major asteroid impact. But our planet had never experienced anything quite like this. This was the world's worst day.


Translates numbers into images

Of all of the ways of conveying information to each other, statistics is the driest and least packed with any kind of meaning or feeling or emotion. Presenting numbers in the billions and trillions is even more difficult for advocates, politicians, journalists (and bloggers). Some people believe visualizing big numbers can help make them comprehensible. Other think using metaphor is probably the best way to get the information across.
Seattle-based artist Chris Jordan opened his exhibit, “Running the Numbers” in New York recently. This exhibit translates statistics about American consumption into images - for instance, a 5′ x 8′ depiction of 11,000 jet trails, equivalent to the number of commercial flights in the U.S. every eight hours. They are very unique and deserve a deep look.

Relaxed workplace

Heard from NPR radio (9/12/2007):
in a recent survey, more than 40% of employee said they wear jeans, or anything they feel comfortable, go to work routinely; more than 45% employees admitted they slept at work; more than 21% employee admitted to drinking alcohol while at work.


Height is (almost) genetic

Common sense tell us people's height is (almost) genetic. Recently, scientists from UK and USA identified a gene that controls height. Each copy of the "tall" allele adds 0.2 inch, so inheriting two copies makes you nearly 0.5 inch taller than if you inherit two copies of the "short" allele. Studies indicate 90% of height is genetic. Many more height-related genes are expected to be found quickly.

Viagra may promote feelings of love

People used to believe Viagra promotes sex mechanically, by boosting blood flow to the penis. Now through a new study on rat, researchers found that Viagra can increase the level of oxytocin (also known as Love Hormone) by 300%. Researchers suspect it does the same to people. Earlier studies showed that "oxytocin-sensitive cells in the brain play a role in the neural control of erectile responses." It appears that Viagra can promote love, not just sex.


How free is your country

According to the World Bank's Voice and Accountablity Index, which ranks countries by the amount of freedom citizens have to voice opinions and select a government, the U.S. tops out at 35th place - a drop from its rank of 22nd in 2005 because of a decreased trust in public officials and restrictions on the freedom of the press. "The U.S. is not a model," says Daniel Kaufmann, a lead author of the report, but it is far from the doghouse. To compare US with the rest of countries, you can check the index. The number 0 (Burma) is the worst, and 100 is the best (Denmark). Canana is 94.2%, US is 83.7%, Russia 24%, China is 4.8%.


Travel next 3 days

I will be traveling in next 3 days. No post until 9/10/07.
Have a good weekend, everyone !

What are your life's regrets ?

Here is an interesting survey of 1,250 men and women in UK. When asked what are some big regrets in life, 22% married women said that if they could go back in time they would change their husband, while only 12% of married men admitted picking the wrong wife.

30% of people told researchers they would like to have chosen a different career, while over 37% wished they had saved more money. The biggest regrets are about travel, with 53% wishing they had done more globetrotting before settling down.
What are your life's big regrets ?


The secrete of a good wine

In the past, one could get by on intuition and experience. Times have changed. Today, the name of the game is data and analysis. Here is an example of how to evaluate wines by the number - according to Princeton University economics professor Orley Ashenfelter,

Wine quality = 12.145 + 0.00117 x winter rainfall + 0.0614 x average growing season temperature - 0.00386 x harvest rainfall

Long TV viewing cause shorter attention span

We as parents know sitting too close to the TV is bad for childrens eyes, a new study show too much television may be linked to a bad attention span. According to this large long-term study, watching television more than 2 hours a day early in life can lead to attention problems later in adolescence, an 40% increase in attention problems among heavy TV viewers (>3 hours a day). Symptoms of attention problems included short attention span, poor concentration, and being easily distracted.

The reason? Children who watch a lot of television may become less tolerant of slower-paced and more mundane tasks, such as school or House work. To make things worse, young children who watched a lot of television were more likely to continue the habit as they got older, but even if they did not, the damage was done, the study said.

Another side effect of TV watching - unlike other activities that promote participation, such as reading, games, sports and play, TV watching is inherently lack of participation which might also condition children when it comes to other activities.


Top 10 post from August, 2007

Below are my top 10 posts from August, 2007, selected by the number of comments I got per post. Thank you for everyone who shared your opinions here.

feminity of poverty
why kids love McDonald's
worlds' most expensive coffee
gene and gender differences
top 10 reasons why humans have sex

some Iraq war statistics
why fingernails grow faster than toenails
solve all rubiks cubes in 26 moves

higher risk suicide linked breast implants
link between cell phone usage and car accidents