Monday, November 29, 2004

Turning water into wine (or rather, cheap vodka into expensive vodka) 

All you need to do is run the cheap nasty vodka through a water filter half-a-dozen times:

Our theory is that a simple brita water filter can be used to make bad vodka, into good. In our case this meant turning a Vladimir™, into a Ketel One™. At $11.09 for 1.75 liter (Ketel is 11.99 for the 350 ml), Vladimir is a steal. It is, however, painful to drink, has a repugnant aftertaste, posesses a bouquet reminiscent of rubbing alcohol. Our working theory was that these terrible qualities were caused by a lack of proper filtration, and that running our Vlad through a charcoal filter would remove some of the impurities causing these odors and flavors.

Listening to: I Hate Milk performed by Air Miami

Friday, November 26, 2004

Food Companies Know Products Are Addictive  

According to the Telegraph last year, food companies know, from studies they have made, that chocolate and cheese products encourage binge-eating
The overeating effect is thought to be triggered by opioids, chemicals which produce a desire to eat more while reducing the "sated" feeling that normally kills appetite.

Research being studied by the [food] industry shows that although the effect is only short-lived, it can have a dramatic effect on food intake. According to a recent review of 20 years of research by scientists at the University of Sussex, when release of opioids was blocked using drugs, intake among human volunteers fell by 21 per cent. The effect was even larger among obese people, whose intake fell by 33 per cent.
Which means that, if they knew that their products could cause obesity, in ways that the public should have been informed about, some major food manufacturers could be sued just like the tobacco industry.

It could be one explanation for modern society liking things to be covered in chocolate or cheese, and why as a species we are getting fatter and fatter.

Listening to: The Sweaty Hide of Circumstance performed by Chris Knox

Thursday, November 25, 2004

So that's why my siblings don't wear specs! 

I always thought it was obvious that the kids with glasses were the the nerdy ones who read too many books, like me. But scientists told us that it was purely genetic, perhaps because they thought reading books was better than being specless...

Now it appears that the obvious is correct, just like so many "old wives tales" - if a child spends much of their time indoors, reading and watching tv, instead of lots of time outdoors (where things are further away), the odds of becoming bespectacled are far greater.

In Japan, two thirds of teenagers are already myopic. The problem is said to even worse in Singapore, where 80% of 18-year-old male army recruits are short sighted, compared with 25% just 30 years ago. The problem in Singapore is so bad that employers such as the police are struggling to find people who meet their requirements.

Experts have always assumed that genetic variations in people from eastern Asia make them more likely to be short sighted. But recently Australian scientists produced evidence that challenged this idea.

Ian Morgan, from the Australian National University in Canberra, concluded that lifestyle was more important than genes after reviewing the results of more than 40 studies.

He pointed out that 70% of 18-year-old men of Indian origin living in Singapore are short sighted, while in India the rate is about 10%.

Another study found myopia rates of 80% in boys aged 14 to 18 studying in Israeli schools that emphasised the reading of religious texts. The rate for boys in ordinary state schools was just 30%.

Listening to: Temptation of Egg performed by Giant Sand

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Who will rule the world, 2008-2012? 

Thankfully it can't be Bush. A likely scenario is that it will either be Arnold Schwarzenegger or Hilary Clinton. Moves are afoot to change the rules, allowing foreign-born American citizens to run for president.

Firstly, it would require a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress. If approved there, it would then require the same majority in a vote of the states. There have been only 27 amendments in the 216-year history of the constitution.
That's a hard ask, but keep in mind that if anything can happen, it can happen in America. If it does, then we will have the greatest presidential battle of all time:

Clinton - female
Schwarzenegger - possibly a Nazi-type, possibly much more dangerous than Bush
Schwarzenegger - possibly a double-agent for the Democrats (after all, his wife is a Kennedy).

If the third possibility were true, and he fooled the Republicans, then would be a hero!

Listening to: Move on Up performed by Mark Eitzel

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Was the voting rigged after all? 

Registered Democrats mostly voting for Bush - what gives?

In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.

In Dixie County, with 9,676 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.

The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush
found at Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked

Listening to: Seem to Recall performed by Ron Sexsmith

Sunday, November 14, 2004

CNN: Dodgy Translations? 

Supposedly western media sometimes twists translations to suit their editorial desires. Check out these two versions of Bin Laden's latest taped message:

The CNN version reads:

But after the injustice was so much and we saw transgressions and the coalition between Americans and the Israelis against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it occurred to my mind that we deal with the towers. And these special events that directly and personally affected me go back to 1982 and what happened when America gave permission for Israel to invade Lebanon. And assistance was given by the American sixth fleet.

The Aljazeera version reads:

But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the America/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.

The events that affected my soul in a difficult way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American 6th fleet helped them in that.

And the whole world saw and heard but did not respond.

More at Kuro5hin and elsewhere

Listening to: Afraid Not Scared performed by Ryan Adams

Monday, November 08, 2004

US planning to recruit citizen spies 

Yet another reason to be worried about Bush regaining power, according to the Sydney Morning Herald he wants US citizens to spy on each other, non unlike what occured in communist countries:

The Bush Administration aims to recruit millions of United States citizens as domestic informants in a program likely to alarm civil liberties groups.

The Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or TIPS, means the US will have a higher percentage of citizen informants than the former East Germany through the infamous Stasi secret police. The program would use a minimum of 4 per cent of Americans to report "suspicious activity".

A pilot program, described on the government Web site, is scheduled to start next month in 10 cities, with 1 million informants participating in the first stage. Assuming the program is initiated in the 10 largest US cities, that will be 1 million informants for a total population of almost 24 million, or one in 24 people.

.... Historically, informant systems have been the tools of non-democratic states.

Listening to: Jitterbug Boy performed by Tom Waits

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Virtual Game Goodies, $100 million a year business 

From New Scientist:

Real-world sales of virtual resources gained within multiplayer online computer games has surpassed $100 million worldwide, according to a new estimate.

The trading emerged alongside the first MMORPGs, such as EverQuest, when time-starved gaming addicts realised they could buy game-labour rather than putting in the hours themselves - just like in the real world. Now this has grown into an economy that reflects the pressures of real world supply and demand.

For example, “virtual sweat shops” or “farms” have emerged in Hong Kong and Mexico, where armies of players are assembled to build virtual objects such as swords or simply to amass credits within a game by superior play, solely to sell those items in online auctions.

Wow, so people in 3rd World countries, rather than making Nike products, now get to kick-back and play video games!

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