January 30, 2008

Professor: Fractions should be scrapped

"Fractions have had their day, being useful for by-hand calculation," DeTurck said as part of a 60-second lecture series. "But in this digital age, they're as obsolete as Roman numerals are."


DeTurck does not want to abolish the teaching of fractions and long division altogether. He believes fractions are important for high-level mathematics and scientific research. But it could be that the study of fractions should be delayed until it can be understood, perhaps after a student learns calculus, he said. Long division has its uses, too, but maybe it doesn't need to be taught as intensely.


"Math is hard. The idea that somehow we're going to make math just fun is just a dream."

Read more.

McCain: 'There will be other wars'

Presidential candidate John McCain shocked observers on Sunday when he told a crowd
of supporters, "There's going to be other wars. ... I'm sorry to tell
you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there
will be other wars."

People, McCain is not a good choice for President. Haven't you been paying attention?

Read more.

January 28, 2008

Bush orders NSA to snoop on US agencies

Not content with spying on other countries, the NSA (National Security Agency) will now turn on the US's own government agencies thanks to a fresh directive from president George Bush.

Under the new guidelines, the NSA and other intelligence agencies can bore into the internet networks of all their peers. The Bush administration pulled off this spy expansion by pointing to an increase in the number of cyber attacks directed against the US, possibly from foreign nations. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will spearhead the effort around identifying the source of these attacks, while the Department of Homeland Security and Pentagon will concentrate on retaliation.

Read more.

McDonald's dishes up diplomas to go

McDonald's employees trained in skills needed to run outlets for the fast-food chain can get credit toward high school diplomas, the British government announced Monday.


It is the first time the government has granted national recognition to corporate training schemes. But universities and colleges will have to decide whether to accept the corporate qualifications as grounds for admission.

Read more.

Target tells a blogger to go away

Early this month, the blog's founder, Amy Jussel, called Target, complaining about a new advertising campaign that depicted a woman splayed across a big target pattern--the retailer's emblem--with the bull's-eye at her crotch.

"Targeting crotches with a bull's-eye is not the message we should be putting out there," she said in an e-mail interview.

Target offered an e-mail response:

"Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets," a public relations person wrote to ShapingYouth.

Not a good move, Target.

Read more.

January 26, 2008

imagination is more important than knowledge

Must We Fear Adolescent Sexuality?

But if the American data appear to confirm conventional wisdom that raging hormones and peer
pressures put teenagers at risk of making unwise sexual decisions, public health data from other
countries challenge this commonly held knowledge. International comparison demonstrates that
developed countries vary dramatically in the degree to which the sexual maturation of teenagers
leads to adverse outcomes. No country forms a more stark contrast for comparison with the United
States than does the Netherlands: Dutch teenagers are far less likely to either become pregnant or
contract an STD than are their American peers.

A fascinating article and well worth the read.

Read more (PDF version).

Or html version.

Same-Sex Couples Just as Committed as Heterosexual Counterparts

Same-sex couples are as committed and happy in their romantic relationships as heterosexual couples, find two studies in the January issue of the journalDevelopmental Psychology.

The authors of the studies say their findings challenge the stereotype that same-sex relationships aren't as healthy or secure as heterosexual pairings.

I know quite a few heterosexual pairing that are not healthy or secure.

Read more.

Spouses Who Fight Live Longer

Preliminary results from a survey of married couples suggest that disputing husbands and wives who hold in their anger die earlier than expressive couples.


"The key matter is, when the conflict happens, how do you resolve it?" Harburg said. "When you don't, if you bury your anger, and you brood on it and you resent the other person or the attacker, and you don't try to resolve the problem, then you're in trouble."

The findings add to past research showing that the release of anger can be healthy.

Read more.

Why did colleges stay mum on MPAA stats?

John Heidemann was skeptical about what the movie industry was saying about campus piracy.

A researcher in the Information and Science Institute at the University of Southern California, Heidemann had heard the film studios' claim that college students downloading movies on campus were responsible for 44 percent of the industry's domestic losses to piracy.


So, working with a team of researchers last summer--the famous Hollywood sign on the mountain clearly visible from his workplace--Heidemann and the group came up with a way to track file-sharing use on USC's network. Following a 14-hour monitoring of the system, the team concluded that between 3 and 13 percent of those on the school's network were using peer-sharing technology and accounted for between 21 and 33 percent of overall traffic, he said.

There was no way for Heidemann to discern whether the information being transferred was pirated. But even in a worst case scenario, 13 percent indicated that only a small minority of USC students were engaged in illegal file sharing. The MPAA's claims "did not hold in our analysis," he said.

This was an example of a university not relying on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to tell it what was happening on its network. But USC is the exception rather than the rule.

Read more.

January 25, 2008

Truth was first US casualty in Iraq war: study

US President George W. Bush and his top officials ran roughshod over the truth in the run-up to the Iraq war lying a total of 935 times, a study released Wednesday found.

Read more.

Senate delays eavesdropping vote

The Senate on Thursday signaled support for granting legal immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the government conduct warrantless eavesdropping, a sign that the contentious provision may be headed for approval next week.

And we let them get away with doing this.

Read more.

US scientists close to creating artificial life: study

The move, which comes after five years of research, is seen as the penultimate stage in the endeavour to create an artificial life form based entirely on a man-made DNA genome -- something which has tantalised scientists and sci-fi writers for years.

Read more.

January 23, 2008

Teen sex advice podcast gains popularity

The 28-year-old mother of three speaks from experience, and her video podcast, the Midwest Teen Sex Show, is attracting thousands of viewers.

Read more.

Fulton to pay students in after-school program

Forty students from Creekside High and Bear Creek Middle schools in Fairburn will be the first to try the "Learn & Earn" program, where students will get paid to attend after-school tutoring programs.

Students will make approximately $8 an hour, and be eligible for bonuses if their grades improve, said Kirk Wilks, district spokesman. The initial students are in the eighth and 11th grades.

I don't have a good feeling about this.

Read more.

January 21, 2008

Forced annulment keeps couple apart

It was the police, delivering news that a judge had annulled their marriage in absentia after some of Fatima's relatives sought the divorce on grounds she had married beneath her.


Fatima's case underscores shortcomings in the kingdom's Islamic legal system in which rules of evidence are shaky, lawyers are not always present and sentences often depend on the whim of judges.

The most frequent victims are women, who already suffer severe restrictions on daily life in Saudi Arabia: They cannot drive, appear before a judge without a male representative, or travel abroad without a male guardian's permission.


Saudi lawyer Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, who used to represent the couple, said local interpretations of Islamic law hold that relatives of a married couple have the right to seek an annulment if they feel the marriage lowers the extended family's status.

Now this is completely fucked up.

Read more.

Should AT&T police the Internet?

A decade after the government said that AT&T and other service providers don't have to police their networks for pirated content, the telecommunications giant is voluntarily looking for ways to play traffic cop.

Read more.

Anti-war group says war crimes are "encouraged"

Iraq war veteran Jon Turner said it was almost expected of him to pull the trigger on people who didn't need to die. So he did.


"The killing of innocent civilians is policy," veteran Mike Blake said. "It's unit policy and it's Army policy. It's not official policy, but it's what's happens on the ground everyday. It's what unit commanders individually encourage."

And we let them get away with this shit.

Read more.

Bacteria race ahead of drugs

Yet the problem goes far beyond one bug and a handful of drugs. Entire classes of mainstay antibiotics are being threatened with obsolescence, and bugs far more dangerous than staph are evolving in ominous ways.

Read more.

World not running out of oil, say experts

A landmark study of more than 800 oilfields by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Cera) has concluded that rates of decline are only 4.5 per cent a year, almost half the rate previously believed, leading the consultancy to conclude that oil output will continue to rise over the next decade.


The optimistic view of the world's oil resource was also given support by BP's chief economist, Peter Davies, who dismissed theories of “Peak Oil” as fallacious. Instead, he gave warning that world oil production would peak as demand weakened, because of political constraints, including taxation and government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more.

January 19, 2008

White House Study Found 473 Days of E-Mail Gone

The White House possesses no archived e-mail messages for many of its component offices, including the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President, for hundreds of days between 2003 and 2005, according to the summary of an internal White House study that was disclosed yesterday by a congressional Democrat.

Give me a break.

The White House wants to read your emails, but eliminates their own.

And we let them get away with this shit.

Read more.

January 18, 2008

Don't miss lessons Radiohead, Reznor offer

In October, Reznor, the leader of the band Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead attempted to promote and distribute albums online without the help of a major record label. Both offered fans the opportunity to obtain the music for free. Both saw some success.

But they also illustrated that the music business is probably better left in the hands of businessmen. Musicians are not the new labels. Artists need someone to provide financial support and business acumen. If we end up ridding the world of labels, we'll only have to re-create them--in some other, probably more nimble form.

That's discouraging.

Read more.

Mystery Disease Gives Sensation Of 'Bugs Eating Skin'

An unexplained disease that sufferers say cause overwhelming sensations of bugs crawling, biting and stinging their skin and mystery lesions that never heal is being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illness is called Morgellons and Florida, Texas and California are states with apparent hot spots for the condition, Local 6 reported.

Read more.

January 17, 2008

Humans Crave Violence Just Like Sex

In fact, the researcher say, humans seem to crave violence just like they do sex, food or drugs.


The new study, detailed online this week in the journal Psychopharmacology, reveals the same clusters of brain cells involved in other rewards are also behind the craving for violence.

Thus, we're screwed.

Whether you believe in "intelligent design" or that humans evolved naturally, either way, to crave violence is definitely a design flaw.

Read more.

US insists cluster bombs not bad if used right

Cluster bombs, which nearly 100 countries are seeking to ban, should not be considered bad as long as states involved in conflicts use them responsibly, a senior United States official said on Wednesday.

Can you believe that shit?

States involved in conflict should be able to settle their differences without bombing the shit out of one another.

Read more.

Giant rat that once roamed the earth

The fossilised skull of a rat the size of a car has been unearthed. The creature lived about four million years ago, weighed about a tonne and ate mostly soft vegetation. It was so big that it probably spent much of its life semi-submerged in water, like a hippo, to reduce the stresses caused by its size.

Read more.

Twenty and thirtysomethings aren't as healthy as their parents

They should be in the prime of their lives. But instead, those in their twenties and thirties are in worse health than their parents, a survey has found.

Binge drinking, ready meals and a lack of exercise all take their toll.

Read more.

Time Warner Links Web Prices With Usage

Time Warner Cable will experiment with a new pricing structure for high-speed Internet access later this year, charging customers based on how much data they download, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Read more.

Animal-human embryo research is approved

Experiments to create Britain’s first embryos that combine human and animal material will begin within months after a government watchdog gave its approval yesterday to two research teams to carry out the controversial work.

Read more.

January 16, 2008

NSA Must Examine All Internet Traffic to Prevent Cyber Nine-Eleven, Top Spy Says

The nation's top spy, Michael McConnell, thinks the threat of cyberarmageddon! is so great that the U.S. government should have unfettered and warrantless access to U.S. citizens' Google search histories, private e-mails and file transfers, in order to spot the cyberterrorists in our midst.

Can you believe this shit?

Read more.

Microsoft seeks patent for office 'spy' software

Microsoft is developing Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker’s productivity, physical wellbeing and competence.

The Times has seen a patent application filed by the company for a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism. The system would allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure. Unions said they fear that employees could be dismissed on the basis of a computer’s assessment of their physiological state.

Read more.

January 14, 2008

Girls age three hitting puberty

Shocked doctors blame hormones in food and water for some British toddlers showing signs of breast growth.

Read more.

January 13, 2008

Hopes of custom-built organs as scientists create beating heart

SCIENTISTS have created a beating heart in the laboratory in a breakthrough that could allow doctors one day to make a range of organs for transplant almost from scratch.

Read more.

California wants to control home thermostats

Next year in California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device that will be required in new or substantially modified houses and buildings to manage electricity shortages.

Read more.

January 12, 2008

Pentagon, Big Pharma: Drug Troops to Numb Them to Horrors of War

The DoD is flirting with the idea of medicating soldiers to desensitize them to combat trauma -- will an army of unfeeling monsters result?


Though both, at least in theory, sound entirely reasonable, even desirable, in the wrong hands, under the wrong leadership, they could make the sci-fi fantasies of Blade Runner seem prescient.

And we don't know what the future holds.

Read more.

Iraq to reinstate Saddam party followers

Iraq's parliament adopted legislation Saturday on the reinstatement of thousands of former supporters of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to government jobs, a key benchmark sought by the United States as a step toward easing sectarian tensions.


Read more.

U.S. appeals court dismisses Guantanamo torture suit

A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday that four former Guantanamo prisoners, all British citizens, have no right to sue top Pentagon officials and military officers for torture, abuse and violations of their religious rights.

Which really means they have no rights whatsoever.

You may think that's fine that they have no rights, but who's to say that you will not be in a similar situation in the future. Imprisoned for whatever the crime-of-the-moment is at that time, with little understanding of the offense. Then subjected to torture because you are an enemy of the state.

You may think that will never happen, but history tells a different story. We just do not know what the future holds.

Read more.

Why 10 is too young for your first Brazilian

Last year Nair, makers of hair-removal products, released their Pretty range, aimed at 10 to 15-year-olds, or, as they call them, "first-time hair removers". Yes, you heard right. Ten-year-olds. Girls — children — in grades 5 and 6, encouraged to wax and chemically remove hair from their barely pubescent bodies. As online site Gawker put it, what's next: Baby Brazilians?

Well, it seems that someone heard that throwaway phrase and spied a business opportunity, because Australian website girl.com.au is now promoting a feature about Brazilian waxes, otherwise known as a torture device in which all the hair in a woman's nether regions is ripped off with a combination of hot wax and a high pain threshold. The website, which appears to be mostly read by girls in the nine to 14 age bracket, says of the Brazilian: "Nobody really likes hair in their private regions and it has a childlike appeal."


The things businesses do to try and make more money.

Read more.

January 11, 2008

Astronomers describe violent universe

Now this is cool!

The deeper astronomers gaze into the cosmos, the more they find it's a bizarre and violent universe.


In the past few days, scientists have unveiled plenty to ooh and aah over:

Read the rest. The spiral galaxy mentioned is just too freakin' cool!

A Drug to End Drug Addiction

What if science made a pill to protect us from addiction — keeping us from smoking cigarettes, getting fat or abusing drugs and alcohol? According to encouraging results from several lines of study, it seems that day may be closer than we thought.

Read more.

China blogger beaten to death

When Wei took out his cell phone to record the protest, more than 50 municipal inspectors turned on him, attacking him for five minutes, Xinhua said. Wei was dead on arrival at a Tianmen hospital, the report said.

The world we live in.

Read more.

January 4, 2008

RIAA shreds Washington Post story in debate

National Public Radio hosted in on-air debate between Marc Fisher, the Post columnist, and Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The way I saw it, Fisher was ill advised to debate. What was exposed was a reporter who doesn't want to admit to making a mistake and has dug his heels in. Meanwhile, according to Sherman, Fisher has misled consumers.

Read more.

Microsoft readies Hal 9000

Judging from a recent patent application, Microsoft hopes to build some sort of "activity monitoring system" that keeps an eye on worker productivity using various "physiological or environmental sensors." These sensors would track everything from heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, facial expressions, and blood pressure to brain signals and galvanic skin response.

Yes, galvanic skin response is what drives a lie detector.

Redmond sees this system as a way for companies and, um, governments to monitor "group activities." "In particular, the system can monitor user activity, detect when users need assistance with their specific activities, and identify at least one other user that can assist them," the patent application reads, in classic patent speak. "Assistance can be in the form of answering questions, providing guidance to the user as the user completes the activity, or completing the activity such as in the case of taking on an assigned activity."

In other words: If you don't do your duty, the system will make sure your duties are assigned to someone else.


Plus, all this personal information is safely stored away for future use. According to Microsoft, that's a good thing.

Read the rest.

Breathalyzer Tests Now The Law At N.J. High School

When it comes to keeping our teenagers safe and sober, one New Jersey school district is taking the lead by employing the use of a Breathalyzer test.

And as CBS 2 HD found out, it's become such a successful deterrent, students are passing with flying colors.


"I'm all for it because if your child isn't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide," parent Barbara Fede said.

Read more.

January 3, 2008

Washington Post sticks by RIAA story despite evidence it goofed

Marc Fisher, a Post columnist, wrote on Sunday that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) asserted in a legal brief that anyone who copies music from a CD onto their computer is a thief. The document, filed last month, was part of the RIAA's copyright suit against Jeffrey Howell, an Arizona resident accused of illegal file sharing.


The problem with Fisher's story is that nowhere in the RIAA's brief does the group call someone a criminal for simply copying music to a computer. Throughout the 21-page brief, the recording industry defines what it considers to be illegal behavior and it boils down to this: creating digital recordings from CDs and then uploading them to file-sharing networks.

And THAT I would agree with!

Read more.

Can Atheists Be Parents?

After six years of childless marriage, John and Cynthia Burke of Newark decided to adopt a baby boy through a state agency. Since the Burkes were young, scandal-free and solvent, they had no trouble with the New Jersey Bureau of Children's Services—until investigators came to the line on the application that asked for the couple's religious affiliation.

John Burke, an atheist, and his wife, a pantheist, had left the line blank. As a result, the bureau denied the Burkes' application.

Read the rest. A judge gets involved. It's complete bullshit.

Programmed for love

If you're younger than 35, you'll probably live long enough to put David Levy's prediction to the test. Levy says that by 2050 we'll be creating robots so lifelike, so imbued with human-seeming intelligence and emotions, as to be nearly indistinguishable from real people. And we'll have sex with these robots. Some of us will even marry them. And it will all be good.

Whether or not "it will all be good" is still to be determined, but one thing is for sure, humanity will have to deal with these situations in the future.

Read more.

UK Couple banned for life from shopping centre and branded 'terrorists' - for taking photos of their grandchildren

They were thrown out of the centre after they took out a camera to snap the look on the youngsters' faces when they turned up unexpectedly.

Read more.

January 2, 2008

Pope says family key to peace

Pope Benedict ushered in the New Year on Tuesday by criticizing policies that undermine the traditional family, saying they eroded one of the most important foundations for peace in the world.

The Pontiff, delivering a traditional New Year prayer for peace, appeared to take a swipe at efforts in several countries to grant legal recognition to gay and unwed couples -- although he did not single out any policies by name.

He said the traditional family led by a husband and wife instilled values that promote peace, and added it was an "irreplaceable" institution.

"Those who are hostile, even unknowingly, to the institution of the family ... make peace fragile for the entire national and international community," the Pope told crowds gathered in a sunny St. Peter's Square.

Really, is there anything I can say to this? I mean to use world peace to further your agenda against gay people seems like a low blow.

Read more.

Scotland: Sex lessons must start at age five

SEX education lessons should be given to schoolchildren as young as five as part of a bid to combat soaring levels of teenage pregnancy and sexual disease, Scotland's most senior public health doctor said last night.

Read more.

2008: The year a new superpower is born

Here comes the world's newest superpower. The rest of the world is gloomily contemplating economic slowdown and even recession. Not in Beijing. China is set to make 2008 the year it asserts its status as a global colossus by flexing frightening economic muscle on international markets, enjoying unprecedented levels of domestic consumption and showcasing itself to a watching world with a glittering £20bn Olympic Games.

The world's most populous nation will mark the next 12 months with a coming-of-age party that will confirm its transformation in three decades from one of the poorest countries of the 20th century into the globe's third-largest economy, its hungriest (and most polluting) consumer and the engine room of economic growth.

Read more.

Couples Outsource Pregnancies to India

More than 50 women in this city are now pregnant with the children of couples from the United States, Taiwan, Britain and beyond. The women earn more than many would make in 15 years. But the program raises a host of uncomfortable questions that touch on morals and modern science, exploitation and globalization, and that most natural of desires: to have a family.

Read more.