Monday, September 13, 2010

Pew on where we get our news

Does not look like Angels and Demons at all

The Vatican Library will reopen after a three-year modernisation programme.

Repubs begin to understand.

Republicans pledge...

Congressional Republicans said Monday that they will resist President Obama's plan to allow Bush-era tax breaks for the nation's households to expire. They vowed to fight to preserve the cuts for all Americans.

As we pointed out yesterday, Lots of Buzz for “Hereafter”

Clint Eastwood surprises again with "Hereafter"

Director Clint Eastwood arrives at the gala presentation for the film ' Hereafter' during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival, September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

Director Clint Eastwood arrives at the gala presentation for the film ' Hereafter' during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival, September 12, 2010.

TORONTO (Reuters) - After 50 years in the movie business, Clint Eastwood is nothing if not unexpected.

But his much-anticipated supernatural new movie "Hereafter" about near death experiences is a dramatic departure from his intimate 2004 Oscar winner "Million Dollar Baby" or the actor's grumpy widower in "Gran Torino."

"Hereafter", which combines the visuals of a Hollywood blockbuster and the intimacy of an European art film, got its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.

Opening with startling scenes of a tsunami roaring through a holiday resort, the movie portrays the lives of three people living in London, Paris and San Francisco that ultimately converge.

If Castro can do it, surely O can.

Cuba to cut 500,000 from state payroll...

Truth from the Dutch

Geert Wilders in New York - and a critical historical note

Geert Wilders is brave. Despite death threats, he continues to say what he thinks. On September 11th Wilders spoke at the former site of the World Trade Center in New York.

. . .New York stands for freedom, openness and tolerance. New York's Mayor recently said that New York is "rooted in Dutch tolerance". Those are true words. New York is not intolerant. How can it be? New York is open to the world. Suppose New York were intolerant. Suppose it only allowed people of one persuasion within its walls. Then it would be like Mecca, a city without freedom. Whatever your religion, persuasion or gender is, in New York you will find a home. In Mecca, if your religion isn't Islam, you are not welcome.

We who have come to speak today, object to this mosque project because its promoter and his wealthy sponsors have never suggested building a center to promote tolerance and interfaith understanding where it is really needed: In Mecca - a town where non-Muslims are not even allowed to enter, let alone build churches, synagogues, temples or community centers. So why should we do that?

Ordinary Americans object to the mosque project because currently no fewer than ten major multi-million dollar mosque projects are being planned in the United States as well as dozens in Europe, while not a single church is allowed in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, while Jews are not even allowed to move their lips in prayer on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, while the oldest Christians in the world, the Copts, are not free to renovate their churches, let alone to build one in Egypt.


WaPo: Is Bypassing College Smarter Than Paying $200k for an Elite Degree?
Washington Post, Some Say Bypassing a Higher Education Is Smarter Than Paying for a Degree:

Across the region and around the country, parents are kissing their college-bound kids -- and potentially up to $200,000 in tuition, room and board -- goodbye.

Especially in the supremely well-educated Washington area, this is expected. It's a rite of passage, part of an orderly progression toward success.

Or is it . . . herd mentality?

Hear this, high achievers: If you crunch the numbers, some experts say, college is a bad investment. "You've been fooled into thinking there's no other way for my kid to get a job . . . or learn critical thinking or make social connections," hedge fund manager James Altucher says.

What? 8 months of growth?

Let’s hope so. The solution has always been internal.

Arabs Seek The Unpleasant Truth

September 13, 2010: Most Arabs agree with al Qaeda on one point; most Arab nations are run by corrupt and inefficient governments. While al Qaeda's efforts to fix that have not been very successful, there are many other groups seeking a cure. These groups are advocating things that al Qaeda considers heresy (democracy, education and liberty for women, economic freedom), and gaining some traction via another Western device al Qaeda has a shaky relationship with; the Internet.

As the Internet slowly spreads through the Arab world, it is allowing more like-minded people to get in touch with each other, and discuss whatever topic unites them. The only time you hear about this Internet use is when al Qaeda, or other Arab terrorist groups, use the Internet to plot and plan their next atrocity. But even more Arabs are trying to figure out why so many Arab states don't work, and how to fix that.

The numbers are glum. Of the 23 Arab states, nearly a quarter are considered "failed states" (Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Lebanon). While that's close to the global number (21.5 percent failed states), what's more alarming is that 11 of the "non-failed" states are heading that way. In other words, 74 percent of Arab states have failed, or are on their way to failing.

Consensus is often wrong, experts’ even more often.

THE EXPERT CONSENSUS WAS WRONG: Disinfecting hand gels don’t affect swine flu infection rate. “The regular use of alcohol-based disinfecting hand gels authorities recommended during the A(H1N1) pandemic has little effect on the disease’s infection rate, according to a study published Sunday.

Tesla Clever Vanity Plates


Tesla Owners Have The Smuggest Vanity Plates

Political Cartoon by Glenn McCoy

Video Games Lead to Faster Decisions

Participants in a University of Rochester study, "Improved probabilistic inference as a general learning mechanism with action video games", by UR professor of brain and cognitive science Daphne Bavelier played 50 hours of video games over multiple weeks. Players who played action games like Call of Duty 2 (pictured here) made quicker decisions than those who played slow-paced strategy games like The Sims without sacrificing accuracy.

ScienceDaily (Sep. 13, 2010) — Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester have discovered that playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster. The researchers found that video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, and this benefit doesn't just make them better at playing video games, but improves a wide variety of general skills that can help with everyday activities like multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town.

One of our readers has been actively involved in this reality TV show for months. We can finally announce it. Should be good.


The press release is below.  


CBS Announces Other Companies Participating in the Second Season, Including Bosses from Frontier Airlines, Lucky Strike Lanes and the Chicago Cubs

Previously Announced Companies for the Second Season Include DIRECTV, NASCAR, Chiquita Brands International and Great Wolf Resorts

The President and CEO of Choice Hotels International (Steve Joyce), one of the world's largest hotel chains, will be the first boss to make an undercover journey this fall when the second season premiere of UNDERCOVER BOSS airs Sunday, Sept. 26 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.  Starting Sunday, Oct. 3, the series will return to its regular 9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT time period.

In addition, CBS announced other companies participating in the second season of UNDERCOVER BOSS, including:

  • Frontier Airlines (Bryan Bedford, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO)
  • Chicago Cubs (Todd Ricketts, Owner)
  • Lucky Strike Lanes (Steven Foster, Co-Founder and CEO)

Previously announced companies whose bosses are also making the undercover journey this season include:

  • DIRECTV (Mike White, Chairman, President and CEO)
  • NASCAR (Steve Phelps, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer)
  • Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (Fernando Aguirre, Chairman and CEO)
  • Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. (Kim Schaefer, CEO)

Additional companies and airdates will be announced soon.

During the premiere episode, Steve Joyce hits the frontlines of his own company, which includes such popular hotel franchises as Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge, Quality and Cambria Suites, and receives an exhausting, up-close look at the industry while manning the front desk, cleaning rooms, plunging toilets and working with a maintenance crew at the world's largest Econo Lodge.

UNDERCOVER BOSS was the Emmy-nominated #1 new series of the 2009-2010 season, averaging 17.7 million viewers.  UNDERCOVER BOSS premiered following the Super Bowl to 38.7 million viewers, the largest audience for a new series following the Super Bowl.  It also ranks as the biggest new series premiere since 1987 and the most-watched premiere episode of any reality series.

Each week, UNDERCOVER BOSS follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their corner office for an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their companies.  While working alongside their employees, they see the effects that their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering the unsung heroes who make their companies run. 

Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman and Chris Carlson are executive producers for Studio Lambert.

*   *   *

Unreal, unsustainable

Our Debt Is Now More Than All the Money in the World

Our Debt Is Now More Than All the Money in the World

Dems have been attacking Boehner for taking lobbyist $$. Small problem.

Pelosi took in twice as much lobbyist cash as Boehner

Stones, glass houses, and epic fails.

Russian Fires


This Image Is Not a Photoshop Trick

This is not a Photoshop. It's not an optical trick. And it's not an illustration. It's just a simply great photo taken near the Linevo village, in the Volgograd region of Russia.

Political Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

This is crazy. All the gov’t has do is hold their checks. (They will take yours.)

Over 280,000 Federal Workers Owe $3.3 Billion in Back Taxes
Over 280,000 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.3 billion in back income taxes in 2009 (up from $3.0 billion in 2008 and $2.7 billion in 2007).

The cabinet departments with the largest percentages of employee/retiree tax deadbeats are:

  1. Housing & Urban Development:  4.40%
  2. Veterans Affairs:  4.04%
  3. Education:  3.86%
  4. Army:  3.69%
  5. Health & Human Services:  3.58%  
  6. Defense:  3.20%
  7. Commerce:  3.15%
  8. Air Force:  3.14%
  9. State:  3.10%
  10. Navy:  2.95%

The agencies and commissions with the largest percentages of employee/retiree tax deadbeats are:

  1. Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled:  14.29%
  2. Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission:  11.11%
  3. U.S. Access Board:  7.32%
  4. Government Printing Office:  6.83%
  5. National Capital Planning Commission: 6.67%
  6. Small Business Administration:  6.34% 
  7. Federal Labor Relations Authority:  5.79%
  8. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:  5.77%
  9. Armed Forces Retirement Home:  5.28%
  10. U.S. Office of Special Counsel:  5.26%

Other departments and agencies:

  • Federal Reserve Board:  4.32%
  • U.S. House of Representatives:  3.93%
  • U.S. Senate:  3.04%
  • SEC:  2.44%
  • U.S. Tax Court:  1.75%
  • Treasury Department:  0.99% (the lowest delinquency rate among cabinet departments)

Texas Wind

WIND POWER PROBLEMS FOR TEXAS: “If Texas were its own country, it would generate more wind power than all but five nations — the United States, China, Germany, Spain and India. . . . But after a decade of rampant growth, wind is running into a significant constraint: There are too few transmission lines to carry the power. The wind turbines have mostly gone up in the western part of the state — hundreds of miles from the big cities in central and eastern Texas that need the power. The result is that on windy days, some turbines must shut down because there are not enough wires to transport the electricity they produce.”

Maybe the assumption is wrong? (We see this more and more, do not take the data and then reach a conclusion, reach a result then figure out why the data does not fit.)

Human Well-Being Is Improving Even as Ecosystem Services Decline: Why?

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2010) — Global degradation of ecosystems is widely believed to threaten human welfare, yet accepted measures of well-being show that it is on average improving globally, both in poor countries and rich ones. A team of authors writing in the September issue of BioScience dissects explanations for this "environmentalist's paradox."


A small dog stands at the entrance to the home where alleged drug kingpin Sergio Villareal Barragan was arrested in Puebla, Mexico Sunday Sept. 12, 20 AP – A small dog stands at the entrance to the home where alleged drug kingpin Sergio Villareal Barragan was …

Mexican marines have arrested Sergio Villarreal Barragan, a presumed leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel who appears on the country's list of most-wanted drug traffickers.

An official in Mexico's Navy tells The Associated Press that Barragan, alias "El Grande," was captured in the state of Puebla. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.

French not so hot after all. Come to Texas and learn.

French survey reports sex misery for most couples

A survey by one of France's oldest and most reputable polling and market research organisations has challenged the myth of the French lover.

More than three-quarters of Gallic couples have bad sex lives, the Institute for Public Opinion found.

More than one in three women said they had used excuses such as headaches, tiredness or children being nearby to get out of having sex.

Nearly one in six men said they had also made similar excuses.

France has long enjoyed a reputation for romance and the French have traditionally thought of themselves as great lovers, more amorous and flirtatious than most other Europeans, especially the British