masala: the international spice
Flavor your world with masala

Tuesday, September 30

Effects of global warming kill 160,000/yr, scientists estimate
Small shifts in temperatures can extend the range of mosquitoes that spread malaria. Floods caused by melted icecaps can contaminate water supplies and wash away crops. Most deaths are in developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.


Do the Braves need another title?

The Braves' attendance has dropped during the last six consecutive seasons and the Braves ranked 14th in the percentage of seats filled in the majors this year.

Maybe it's not about the titles. Maybe it's about the magic. When you're good year after year, it's expected. The Braves don't have the kind of the money the Yankees do ("Oh my God, did you see who the Yankees got this year?!") or the kind of small-market feel the A's do ("How are they going to do it this year?!") So there's no egotism and no wonder - just stability, constantly churning out the championships. Solid wins, but solid doesn't sell tickets.

Like Cal Ripken and Stockton to Malone, who no one paid all that much attention to until they were well past their prime and on the way out, the Braves will regain fans once the end is in sight. Only when they become vulnerable will people look back and wonder about what once was.

Treating acidic heartburn with OTC medicine might promote underlying causes
Says Craig Shriver, general surgery chief at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, "If you just make the reflux go away, it's like making the rectal bleeding go away if you have colon cancer." Shriver predicts the Prilosec change will lead to an increase in esophageal cancer cases over the next five years. "Block the symptoms [of GERD] and you could [eventually] have a tumor blocking the esophagus."

Monday, September 29
15.2% of Americans lacked health insurance in 2002
Number of uninsured climbed by 5.7% in 2002, the largest increase in a decade


The expanding international role of the US military
Ultimately, what is envisioned is a fundamentally new role for the U.S. service member around the globe--at once soldier, diplomat, international negotiator, and guardian of economic security. Multi-talented people, mobile technology and weapons.

Who scooped the JetBlue consumer privacy story?
The column is by Timothy Noah, claiming that JetBlue selling customer data, while violating its own privacy statement, is not a substantial violation of customer trust.

But the more interesting sidelight is his attribution of the story. Who exactly broke the story that JetBlue sold the data is a murky issue, and those involved include Wired News and two lesser-known advocacy websites. The discussion at the bottom of the page between the journalistic principals gets into the meat of how a story breaks and how credit gets doled out.


Bad Tibetan soil has stunted the growth of 10% of the Tibetan people
Big Bone disease


In a nation where the average person makes $420/yr,
7 Vietnamese youths arrested for drag racing.


Ted Turner predicts chances humanity will be
extinct or nearly extinct in 50 years is 50-50


China's New Oriental School forced to pay $1.2 million for copyright infringement
Copied old GRE and TOEFL exams and used agents to get questions/answers that were still used on exams. The School claims to have helped half the Chinese that are currently studying in America.


Top 10 playoff (not World Series) baseball games
Check out #6. That defined my childhood. I was 12, a rabid Braves fan, and watching Game 7 of the NLCS. Hanging on every pitch... well, until my parents said, "Ok, looks like the Braves lost, time to go to bed" and shut off the TV. I could fight against them, but they said it in such a resigned way, looking back, I should've done something, but by that time they had already defeated me. The next day they woke me up, excited, shouting something about the Braves coming back with 2 outs in the 9th and winning. I was excited, clearly I was excited, but also a bit shaken and disteressed by the fact that I wasn't there - I wasn't hunched in front of the TV as I had been all season.

People in comas may have normal brain functioning

His brain doesn't seem to have the strength, as it were, to reflect continually on itself and its surroundings the way a healthy brain does, ready to engage the world in an instant. An ambiguous signal isn't enough to provoke him.

I just want it stated here for the record: If I go into a vegetative state, for chrissake leave me alone. Vegetative states are just different, there's no reason to kill me/have me killed. Maybe I'm just tired and want to chill out under the surface for a while. If doctors tell you I'm in pain, that's fine - pain is the body's way of learning, the body's preparation for the long term. Don't deprive me of the long term.

Sunday, September 28
5-year old Australian girl makes bong for show-and-tell
Made it out of a Coke bottle

Urban schools consistently hire less qualified people than those who apply
Applications are allowed to sit in file cabinets for months, while teachers with friends in the system are quickly hired. According to a new study, applicants had significantly higher undergraduate GPAs, were 40 percent more likely to have a degree in their teaching field, and were significantly more likely to have completed educational course work than new hires.

Link between stress and over-eating found
Food with lots of sugar, fat and calories appears literally to calm down the body's response to chronic stress. In addition, research indicates that stress hormones encourage formation of fat cells, particularly the kind that are the most dangerous to health. That may be at least one reason why obesity rates are skyrocketing in the United States and many other modern societies.


Linus Tovalds on the SCO group, Microsoft, file sharing, and the thrill of new technology
Really, I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect.

Saturday, September 27

The new stay-up-to-study (/work) drug gets endorsement from advisory panel to the FDA
Provigil is now only approved for narcolepsy, but agency considers expanding its recommended use. People assume these drugs are detrimental to the public good, but, said one FDA official, "If they're driving next to me, I think I'd prefer they be on it".

California will not fall into ocean
But San Francisco and Los Angeles will become adjacent (same latitude)

Friday, September 26
Stanford director puts up Wall of Myth in an effort to demystify Stanford's history

Hand-held display device can house an entire library with aid of electronic paper that can show movies

The white backing of the electronic paper is coated first with a transparent material that conducts electricity - permitting electrical control of the pixel colour - and then with a transparent film of a water-repellent plastic. The system's switching voltage is low enough that controlling the electronic ink requires only a small power source.

Each pixel of the new display contains a drop of coloured, oily ink that spreads over a reflective white background. When the droplet is fully spread, the pixel looks dark. When it retracts, the pixel looks much lighter. Switching between dark and bright states takes only about ten milliseconds - fast enough to produce sharp video images.

Thursday, September 25
U.S. Remains Leader in Global Arms Sales, Report Says (also here)
Americans supplied 45.5 percent (13.3 bill dollars) of all conventional arms sold last year, and 48.6 percent (8.6 bill) of those sold to developing nations. Russia sold 5 bill and France 1 bill. Total arms sales, however, dropped for the second straight year.

Monday, September 15
Cell phones may make you senile at a younger age
Neurons that would normally not become "senile" until people reached their 60s may now do so when they are in their 30s.

Wednesday, September 10
Salam Pax (the Baghdad Blogger) writes about his relationship with weblogs
To tell you the truth, sharing with the world wasn't really that high on my top five reasons to start a blog. It was more about sharing with Raed, my Jordanian friend who went to Amman after we finished architecture school in Baghdad.

Tuesday, September 9
Leni Riefenstahl dead at 101
From directing Nazi propaganda films in the 1930s to taking underwater photographs in her 90s, Riefenstahl led a very eventful life.

German institutions try to purify, expand use of the German language
Fed up with the language of Goethe being corrupted with additions such as "die kiddies" and "der call centre", Germany's politicians are proposing to ban civil servants from using "Denglish" - German mixed with English - in the workplace.

Monday, September 8
Simulated terrorist attack in London
Simulated toxic chemical released in London underground. Emergency plan briefly described, with flash.

Which IT roles should be outsourced?
Strategic tasks should stay. while programming, help desk , and network administration are all functions that can be outsourced to other geographic regions.

Saturday, September 6
Education in the new Millenium

Biometrics (optical scanning) commonly used for purchasing school lunches
Food Service Solutions said its finger-scanning units are in 45 school districts nationwide, scanning approximately 250,000 students daily.

Stressed school staff turn to drink and drugs (UK)
Half of all teachers are deemed to be anxious and depressed over workload and job fears.

Universities divided between idealism and practicality
Universities want to teach ethics and educate more Americans, but at the same time, they also want to provide the practical know-how that corporations need.

The Lengthening of Undergrad Life
Of the students who entered college in 1995 planning to earn a bachelor's degree, only 37 percent succeeded within four years (33 percent from the institution they enrolled in as freshmen), and 63 percent within six years (55 percent from the first institution), according to a study issued in December by the United States Department of Education.

Why some stress is necessary
And the stress-free life, Dr. Mattson added, might be the worst way to live. "If you are a couch potato, getting no physical exercise and no mental exertion, your cells become complacent. They are not stressed so why should they do anything?"

Low blood pressure linked with depression, tiredness
Individuals with low blood pressure may sometimes develop non- specific symptoms of tiredness, sleep disturbances, giddiness, black-outs, fainting, anxiety/depression, or sweating, and may become more conscious of their heartbeats.

People are bad at forecasting happiness
On average, bad events proved less intense and more transient than test participants predicted. Good events proved less intense and briefer as well. Generally, we are happier with closure, because we don't worry about it, than choice, which we do.

Friday, September 5
Suicide bombers
Suicide bombers are the products of political realities.

Thursday, September 4
MacGyver in Prison
Inmates fashion dice from sugar water and toilet paper, dry bologna jerky on jail-house light fixtures, turn hot sauce bottles into shower heads and make grilled cheese sandwiches on prison desks.

How rich are you?
In comparison to the rest of the world

Big Money
Top ten highest paying jobs

Wednesday, September 3
Expandable Prosthesis
An Arlington youth was outfitted with a new upper-arm prosthetic device that will grow as he does.

Three Ears
"I see the body as an evolutionary architecture for operation and awareness in the world."
- Stelarc, a UK-based performer who plans to graft an ear onto his forearm

Extending life
"To relinquish the rights of a future being merely because he, she, or it has a higher percentage of machine parts than biological cell structure would be racist toward all humans who have prosthetic parts."- Natasha Vita-More on the right to artificially extend life

Africans follow treatment better than Americans
Surveys done in Botswana, Uganda, Senegal and South Africa have found that on average, AIDS patients take about 90 percent of their medicine. The average figure in the United States is 70 percent.

Agricultural subsidies for 3rd world countries

Tuesday, September 2
Cell phones used for tracking
Authorities are putting into place gear to find wireless handsets, so that ambulances, firetrucks, and police can be sent to the right spot when 911 calls come in from cellphones.

Medicinal marijuana legalized in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is the first country to allow cannabis to be prescribed and used legally to treat cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis patients.

Monday, September 1
string theory predicts universal destruction
In the long run, the universe doesn't want to be four-dimensional. It wants to be 10 dimensions.

Work life balance
Americans outwork Western Europeans by a wide margin.