Took me a minute to recognize a young Johnny Cash at 58 seconds in:
Amazing stuff here:
We are getting fatter. In Australia, the United States, and many other countries, it has become commonplace to see people so fat that they waddle rather than walk. The rise in obesity is steepest in the developed world, but it is occurring in middle-income and poor countries as well.
Is a person’s weight his or her own business? Should we simply become more accepting of diverse body shapes? I don’t think so. Obesity is an ethical issue, because an increase in weight by some imposes costs on others.
I am writing this at an airport. A slight Asian woman has checked in with, I would guess, about 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of suitcases and boxes. She pays extra for exceeding the weight allowance. A man who must weigh at least 40 kilos more than she does, but whose baggage is under the limit, pays nothing. Yet, in terms of the airplane’s fuel consumption, it is all the same whether the extra weight is baggage or body fat.
Tony Webber, a former chief economist for the Australian airline Qantas, has pointed out that, since 2000, the average weight of adult passengers on its planes has increased by two kilos. For a large, modern aircraft like the Airbus A380, that means that an extra $472 of fuel has to be burned on a flight from Sydney to London. If the airline flies that route in both directions three times a day, over a year it will spend an additional $1 million for fuel, or, on current margins, about 13% of the airline’s profit from operating that route…[Rest of article]
Grassroots political movements such as the Tea Party are a mainstay of American society. But do they really make a difference?
According to one view, the Tea Party is a powerful new force reshaping our politics. The alternative view is that it’s all signs and fury, a bunch of like-minded individuals who gather to cheer on their favorite political causes, but whose activities have no more effect on the outcome than sports fans getting together to watch their favorite team.
What makes it hard to assess these competing views is that the Tea Party is strongest in highly conservative, born-again, Republican communities. So how do we know whether the movement actually influences these people, or merely reflects their changing views and behavior?
If medical researchers were trying to sort this out, they might randomly infect some areas of the country with Tea Party mania, and leave others untouched. By comparing the political evolution of these treatment and control groups, they might hope to learn about the true effects of the Tea Party.
Fortunately, nature sometimes meddles much as our hypothetical experimenters would.
The Tea Party came into prominence in a series of protests around the country on tax day, April 15, 2009. Sunny skies in some parts of the country encouraged large and boisterous rallies, while in other places rain suppressed the attendance. If the areas that nature randomly selected to have good weather that day subsequently became more conservative, that would suggest the Tea Party had a real impact beyond what would have happened in its absence….[Rest of article]
I have several picks this time around and the theme is, for some reason, ethanol. Iowa boy that I used to be, I’m still not convinced that ethanol is the answer to our energy problems, but…REX American Resources Corporat (REX) looks pretty darned good to me. I just wish I had bought it back in December when it was about half what it is now. It still has a nice low price/earnings ratio though, so it is my most enthusiastic pick today.
Oddly, my second favorite is another ethanol provider, The Andersons (ANDE). These two picks make me a little less diversified than I generally like, but…both look intriguing to me.
Also intriguing, but scary because it is a Chinese stock and I haven’t done all that well with those, is Jinpan International Limited (JST), which does “…designing, manufacturing, and marketing cast resin transformers and other power control and distribution products in the Peoples Republic of China, the United States, and Europe…”, whatever that means. I’ll be taking a smaller position in that and keeping my fingers crossed.
From Roger Ebert:
Even as I write on Thursday night, a screening of “Bully” is taking place in Washington that may or may not result in the film’s MPAA rating being changed from R to PG-13. Jen Chaney suggests in her Washington Post blog that a compromise might even be possible. The film is a documentary about how bullying affected five families, and led to two suicides. It was slapped with an R, because of its use of the F-word. Chaney asked Lee Hirsch, the film’s director, “whether there was any chance he would consider bleeping out one or two of those expletives if that guaranteed a PG-13 designation for the movie, thereby allowing teen audiences to see it.” [Rest of article]
As a mathematics major AND a former divorce lawyer…I love this! From THE NY TIMES:
In 2006, Garth Sundem and I confronted one of the great unsolved mysteries in social science: Exactly how soon will a given celebrity marriage blow up?
Drawing on Garth’s statistical expertise and my extensive survey of the literature in supermarket checkout lines, we published an equation in The New York Times predicting the probability that a celebrity marriage would endure. The equation’s variables included the relative fame of the husband and wife, their ages, the length of their courtship, their marital history, and the sex-symbol factor (determined by looking at the woman’s first five Google hits and counting how many show her in skimpy attire, or no attire).
Now, with more five years of follow-up data, we can report firm empirical support for the Sundem/Tierney Unified Celebrity Theory.
The 2006 equation correctly predicted doom for Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher; Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock; and Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. It also forecast that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett would probably not make it to their 15th anniversary, in December 2012; so far, they’re still married, but gossip columns are rife with reports of a pending split…[Rest of article]
It IS a little edgy, I guess…: