Monday, December 14, 2009

Futurist...from Paris

Her name is Faith Popcorn. What a GREAT name! She predicts the future. What a GREAT gig!!
"The concept of making money out of being able to see what's around the corner has captured the imagination of blue chip companies from American Express to Coca-Cola; made individuals like Faith Popcorn...wealthy."(excerpted from WSJ--the Artisan Issue)
Trend forecasting. Anticipating the future.
Stay tuned to DailyBrisk, where you'll always be up on the latest trends.

Why Islam's veil is spreading

It liberates. It represses. It is a prayer. It is a prison. It protects. It obliterates.

Rarely in human history has a piece of cloth been assigned so many roles. Been embroiled in so much controversy. Been so misjudged, misunderstood, and manipulated.

This bit, or in some cases bolt, of fabric is the Islamic veil.

For non-Muslims, it is perhaps the most visible, and often most controversial, symbol of Islam. From Texas to Paris, it has gained new prominence and been at the center of workplace misunderstandings, court rulings, and, in Europe, parliamentary debates about whether it should be banned.

The veil’s higher profile stems from several factors, including greater awareness and curiosity about Islam since 9/11, US military interventions in Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rising visibility of Muslim immigrant communities in the United States and Europe.

It has also become a magnet for trouble in times of distress, as Illinois resident Amal Abusumayah discovered when a woman upset about the Fort Hood, Texas, killing spree tugged Ms. Abusumayah’s head scarf in a grocery store.

Top 10 archaeology finds for 2009 (most viewed)

Vampires, pirates, ghost ships, skeletons—if it isn't Halloween, it can only be one thing: National Geographic News's annual lineup of our most popular archaeology coverage.

Top ten discoveries picture 10. "Extraordinary" Ancient Skeletons Found

Several graves dating as far back as the early Stone Age—complete with the dog-tooth jewelry and sitting woman seen in these pictures—were discovered during extensive digs in central Germany, archaeologists announced this fall.

Top ten discoveries picture 9. "Vampire" Exorcism Skull Found in Italy

The partial body and skull of a plague victim show her jaw forced open by a brick—a medieval exorcism technique used on suspected vampires—a forensic archaeologist explained in March.

Top ten discoveries picture 8. Blackbeard Pirate Relics, Gold Found

A sword guard, tiny gold pieces, and a coin are among newfound artifacts from a shipwreck off North Carolina—shown in exclusive pictures. The discoveries, announced in March, add to evidence that the ship belonged to the pirate Blackbeard.

Top ten stories picture 7. World War II "Samurai Subs" Found—Carried Aircraft

Two advanced Japanese "samurai subs" were found off Pearl Harbor in February and announced in November—including a stealth aircraft-carrying submarine and a supersleek vessel engineered for utmost speed.

Top ten stories picture 6. Huge Pre-Stonehenge Complex Found via "Crop Circles"

Given away by crop circle-like formations, the pre-Stonehenge site surprised archaeologists with temple ruins, dozens of burial mounds, and two huge tombs that are among "Britain's first architecture," experts said in June.

Top ten stories picture 5. Mysterious Inscribed Slate Discovered at Jamestown

Archaeologists are trying to unravel the mysteries of an unusual, inscribed 400-year-old slate tablet they dug out of a well in the early American settlement in Virginia, we reported in June.

Top ten stories picture 4. Ancient "King of Bling" Tomb Revealed in Peru

Packed with treasure in the styles of two ancient orders, the 1,500-year-old tomb is apparently like no other—and may help resolve mysteries of the Moche Indian civilization.
See pictures

Top ten stories picture 3. Ancient Gem-Studded Teeth Show Skill of Early Dentists

The glittering "grills" of some hip-hop stars aren't exactly unprecedented. Sophisticated dentistry allowed Native Americans to add bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a May study said.

Top ten stories picture 2. Gold Hoard Found: Largest Known Anglo-Saxon Treasure

Found in July by an amateur treasure hunter in England, the largest known Anglo-Saxon gold hoard is rich with precious stones and intricately wrought war gear.

Top ten stories picture 1. Gold Rush-Era "Ghost Ship" Wreck Found

With boots thrown hastily on deck and cooking utensils scattered, the last moments of the crew aboard the gold rush-era paddleboatA.J. Goddard are preserved in the ship's recently found wreck, archaeologists announced in November.

"13" is a lucky number for some troops

King to put up the bucks from troops to travel home for holidays

Author Stephen King and his wife are donating money so 150 soldiers from the Maine Army National Guard can come home for the holidays.

King and his wife, Tabitha, who live in Bangor, are paying $13,000 toward the cost of two bus trips so that members of the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Unit can travel from Camp Atterbury in Indiana to Maine for Christmas. The soldiers left Maine last week for training at Camp Atterbury. They are scheduled to depart for Afghanistan in January.

Julie Eugley, one of King's personal assistants, told the Bangor Daily News that the Kings were approached about giving $13,000.

But Stephen King thought the number 13 was a bit unlucky, so the couple pitched in $12,999 instead. Eugley chipped in $1 to make for an even $13,000.

It's not easy settling scores from beyond the grave, but someone has to do it

Dominick Dunne

Even though he died on August 26th, his last book, "Too Much Money," commemorates Mr. Dunne’s favorite obsessions — crime, wealth, status, backbiting and power. And even though he died, he's still settling scores.

It's the fun time of year

King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates , the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan.

Croesus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it".

"But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested. "Don't you know who I am? I am the king!"

Croesus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."

O’s people. What are they trying to do, recruit?

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit continues his investigation into “Safe Schools” czar Kevin Jennings Joan Garry: Kevin Jennings ...and his involvement in a GLSEN conference that taught young teenagers about sexual techniques like “fisting,” “rimming,” and “watersports.” Some have suggested that Jennings did not know what kind of materials would be included in the curriculum for the conference, and contemporaneous reporting on the outrageous materials resulted in GLSEN firing one of the presenters. However, Jim interviews a Massachusetts teacher who attended the conference, and she tells Jim that Jennings not only was one of the presenters himself, he also was clearly in charge of all aspects of the presentations

Not Good

Obama's Ambassador to El Salvador 'Cohabitated' With Cuban Spy... Spies

Very Cool

First Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Sun-Like Stars

Planet hunters have discovered as many as six low-mass planets around two nearby Sun-like stars, including two "super-Earths" with masses 5 and 7.5 times the mass of Earth

Out of Ethiopia. From Paul

Out of Ethiopia - DNA studies suggest that all humans today descended from Ethiopia

... on human migration based onIn case you still doubt all humans descended from Ethiopia, here is yet another study that reveals, all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey.

Where did we come from? Evolutionary biologist Spencer Wells is pretty close to the answer. He's the National Geographic "Explorer-in-Residence" and heads an initiative called the Genographic Project. By collecting DNA samples from people around the world, he's tracing the paths of human migration, and he's uncovered some startling facts about homo sapi.

The Genographic Project, he says, tries to answer the basic questions that most people have: "We look around, we see people who seem so different to each other and from ourselves. Do we share a common origin? And how recently was that if we do? If we do spring from a common source, how did we populate every corner of the globe?"

In the process of answering these questions, Wells is also trying to understand how humans generated the patterns of diversity that we see today.

Wells says that according to the fossil record, humans originated in Ethiopia about 200,000 years ago.

From Jim

Quote for the day -

“Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everyone lost their minds?"

Michael CrichtonMichael Crichton Biography ...


Champagne is good for the heart as cocoa - but more fun, scientists find

champagne bottles

Champagne has been found to have the same health benefits as red wine.

In research, which will be published in the British Journal of Nutrition this week, a team led by Dr Jeremy Spencer of Reading University, found that champagne has the same health benefits as previously found in red wine.

It contains polyphenol antioxidants, which are believed to reduce the effects of cell-damaging free radicals in the body. In particular, these antioxidants slow down the removal of nitric oxide from the blood, lowering blood pressure and therefore reducing the risk of heart problems and strokes.

A new way to clean water. This could work for camping.

December 14, 2009: Steripen SteriPEN Classic

The troops can now get clean water, on demand, by zapping it with a handheld device. The SteriPen uses ultraviolent light to kill all microbes in water. The battery powered device weighs 4.5 ounces (189g) and is 7.3 inches (18.6cm) long. It takes 48 seconds to clean half a liter (16 ounces) of water (and 90 seconds for a liter). Just stick the probe in the water, press the button and watch the countdown timer. One set of batteries will purify 58 liters (14.3 gallons). Unlike purification tablets, the SteriPen method does not leave a chemical taste. For this reason, many troops buy a SteriPen, which cost a hundred dollars.

Obama and who goes to Psychics

Video: Obama touted expanding Medicare as path to single-payer years ago


Spock-like president gets testy with “60 Minutes”

More on the differences between Repubs and Dems

Confirmed: More Democrats than Republicans believe in ghosts, fortune-tellers

"Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics," the Pew study says.

This is more evidence than there is for GW. Tax Cuts work

Mankiw: Tax Cuts Work 2x Better Than Government Spending to Cure Recession

How GOP tax cuts burden ...

New York Times op-ed, Tax Cuts Might Accomplish What Spending Hasn’t, by N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard University, Department of Economics):

When devising its fiscal package, the Obama administration relied on conventional economic models based in part on ideas of John Maynard Keynes. Keynesian theory says that government spending is more potent than tax policy for jump-starting a stalled economy. The report in January put numbers to this conclusion. It says that an extra dollar of government spending raises GDP by $1.57, while a dollar of tax cuts raises GDP by only 99 cents. The implication is that if we are going to increase the budget deficit to promote growth and jobs, it is better to spend more than tax less.

But various recent studies suggest that conventional wisdom is backward.

One piece of evidence comes from Christina D. Romer, the chairwoman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. In work with her husband, David H. Romer, written at the University of California, Berkeley, just months before she took her current job, Ms. Romer found that tax policy has a powerful influence on economic activity. According to the Romers, each dollar of tax cuts has historically raised G.D.P. by about $3 — three times the figure used in the administration report. That is also far greater than most estimates of the effects of government spending.

Other recent work supports the Romers’ findings. In a December 2008 working paper, Andrew Mountford of the University of London and Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago apply state-of-the-art statistical tools to United States data to compare the effects of deficit-financed spending, deficit-financed tax cuts and tax-financed spending. They report that “deficit-financed tax cuts work best among these three scenarios to improve G.D.P.”

My Harvard colleagues Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna have recently conducted a comprehensive analysis of the issue. In an October study, they looked at large changes in fiscal policy in 21 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They identified 91 episodes since 1970 in which policy moved to stimulate the economy. They then compared the policy interventions that succeeded — that is, those that were actually followed by robust growth — with those that failed.

The results are striking. Successful stimulus relies almost entirely on cuts in business and income taxes. Failed stimulus relies mostly on increases in government spending. ...

They think we work for them

Government Salaries Soar In Bad Times. “Hard times for folks outside of the federal establishment are also good times for Washington politicians with their never-ending thirst for finding new ways of grabbing tax dollars to benefit themselves, members of their families, present or former staff members, friends, or campaign donors. The $448 billion appropriations bill approved last week by the House contained more than 5,000 earmarks, many of which will ultimately benefit the favored few rather than the suffering many. It’s helpful to keep these realities about Washington bureaucrats and politicians in mind the next time one of them steps forward and proposes solving another crisis with billions more tax dollars.”

Everything you want to know about Christmas Lights - see link below

Christmas Lights, The Brief and Strangely Interesting History Of

Thomas Edison was known for his wacky publicity stunts, but during the Christmas of 1880 he went for the sentimental rather than shock value

Common Sense when all else fails

Mankiw: Tax Cuts Work 2x Better Than Government Spending to Cure Recession.

Tax Cuts to Aid Businesses ...

But the opportunity for graft is much less.