Saturday, October 30, 2010

Russia's heroin problem and ongoing battles over Afghan poppy fields

By Kathy Lally
Washington Post

MOSCOW - Russia has a heroin problem - a bad one. And drug officials here have been blaming it on the United States, saying its refusal to spray Afghan poppy fields is devastating Russia.

In Quest for 'Legal High,' Chemists Outfox Law

Wall Street Journal

ANTWERP, Belgium—When the housing market crashed in 2008, David Llewellyn's construction business went with it. Casting around for a new gig, he decided to commercialize something he'd long done as a hobby: making drugs.

The Great Unwashed

New York Times

A DAILY shower is a deeply ingrained American habit. Most people would no sooner disclose they had not showered in days than admit infidelity. But Jenefer Palmer, 55, of Malibu, Calif., cheerfully acknowledged recently that she doesn’t shower or shampoo daily and doesn’t use deodorant. Ever.

O*NET OnLine

O*NET OnLine is created for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, by the National Center for O*NET Development.

Welcome to your tool for career exploration and job analysis!
O*NET OnLine has detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers, workforce development and HR professionals, students, researchers, and more!

Seasonal blues? Lack of blue light may be to blame

By Lynne Peeples

( -- As winter approaches and the days get shorter, your mood may get darker too. Sunlight deprivation can make people feel lethargic, gloomy, and irritable, and for some it can lead to the condition known as seasonal affective disorder, or winter depression.


On Halloween—October 31—many American children dress up in funny or scary costumes and go "trick or treating" by knocking on doors in their neighborhood. The neighbors are expected to respond by giving them candy or other small gifts. Children and adults also might celebrate Halloween with costume parties.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Attack of the Tall Dolls

Wall Street Journal

Tiana and Ariel had a growth spurt last year. They grew six inches and now they're 18 inches tall.

Walt Disney Co. made bigger Disney Princess dolls because it, and other toy makers, think that's the way to keep girls playing with dolls for a few more years. [Slide Show]

Vote the way you did that first time

It is easy to get jaded about voting, especially with all the partisan bickering that precedes it. But watch first-time voters -- those who have just come of age or those who live in newly free countries -- and you'll remember how it felt that first time.
By John Yemma
Christian Science Monitor

Do you remember the first time you voted? For me, it was 1972, the year Richard Nixon faced George McGovern. I won’t tell you who got my vote or whether I eventually felt justified or embarrassed. And, no, it isn’t obvious, even if you harbor suspicions about a person who later made a career in the media.

Caffeine and Alcohol Drink Is Potent Mix for Young

New York Times

Mixing alcohol and caffeine is hardly a new concept, but a rash of cases involving students and others who landed at hospitals after drinking beverages that combine the two in a single large can has alarmed college and health officials around the country.

Is Candy Evil or Just Misunderstood?

New York Times

FOR Samira Kawash, a writer who lives in Brooklyn, the Jelly Bean Incident provided the spark.

From Touchpad to Thought-pad?

NIH-funded research shows that digital images can be manipulated with the mind
National Institutes of Health
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Move over, touchpad screens: New research funded in part by the National Institutes of Health shows that it is possible to manipulate complex visual images on a computer screen using only the mind.

Scientists Raise Concerns About Flame Retardants

Chemicals used in wide range of consumer products may be harmful to health, need more study, they warn.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

THURSDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Flame retardants used in a wide range of consumer products pose a threat to human health and may not even be all that effective, according to a statement signed by nearly 150 scientists from 22 countries.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Abstract gift for Bill Gates

The Microsoft founder and philanthropist is turning 55 this week and since his age coincides with the rightmost two digits of his birth year, it's particularly special — mathematically, that is.
By Aziz S. Inan
Special to The Seattle Times

Bill Gates was born in 1955 and, this week, on Oct. 28, the Microsoft chairman and philanthropist will turn 55, a distinct age because it coincides with the rightmost two digits of his birth year.

Would James Bond Live in an Aquaminium?

By Amy Ma
Wall Street Journal

So what exactly is an Aquaminium?

According to Gulu Lalvani, the Royal Phuket Marina chief executive and developer who says he created the term, it’s an apartment complex on the water with one added feature — an indoor parking garage for a boat. [Slide Show]

'Stranger Danger' and the Decline of Halloween

No child has ever been killed by poisoned candy. Ever.
Wall Street Journal

Halloween is the day when America market-tests parental paranoia. If a new fear flies on Halloween, it's probably going to catch on the rest of the year, too.

When Hormone Creams Expose Others to Risks

New York Times

Veterinarians around the country are reporting a strange phenomenon: spayed dogs and cats, even some puppies and kittens, are suddenly becoming hormonal.

Care for Your Air Tour

[Interactive site]

Improving mothers' literacy skills may be best way to boost children's achievement

NIH News
National Institutes of Health

Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health concluded that programs to boost the academic achievement of children from low income neighborhoods might be more successful if they also provided adult literacy education to parents.

The researchers based this conclusion on their finding that a mother's reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors, such as neighborhood and family income.

US elections 2010: Craziest campaign moments


There are few more more compelling political spectacles than an American election. It seems that each cycle, the public is treated to more and more entertaining gaffes, one-liners and downright strange behaviour.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Seeking Proof in Near-Death Claims

Wall Street Journal

At 18 hospitals in the U.S. and U.K., researchers have suspended pictures, face up, from the ceilings in emergency-care areas. The reason: to test whether patients brought back to life after cardiac arrest can recall seeing the images during an out-of-body experience.

Studying the Biases of Bureaucrats

Wall Street Journal

There is a fashionable new science—behavioral economics, they call it—which applies the insights of psychology to how people make economic decisions. It tries to explain, for instance, the herd instinct that led people during the recent bubble to override common sense and believe things about asset values because others did: the "bandwagon effect." And it labels as "hindsight bias" the all-too-common tendency during the recent bust to imagine that past events were more predictable than they were. Behavioral economics has also brought us notions like "loss aversion": how we hate giving up a dollar we have far more than forgoing a dollar we have not yet got.

What in Carnation?

Dyed crass colors and sold in delis, the flower is almost universally scorned. But fashionable tastemakers are outsnobbing the snobs and restoring the bloom's once-regal status

Wall Street Journal

If every flower carries a secret code (red roses stand for love, mums mean death) then carnations can probably be said to signify…cheap. Regarded as only suitable for sale in bodegas and grocery stores and primarily worn by pimply adolescents on middle-school dates, the carnation is a flower that is almost universally scorned. But dig a bit deeper and you'll find a group of supremely fashionable—and influential—dianthus caryophyllus fans who are helping to restore the flower's once-regal status.

How the King Cobra Maintains Its Reign

New York Times

I can remember the first time I saw one, at the St. Louis Zoo, and the feeling that certain death was just on the other side of the glass. I could not get over the snake’s size — this one was about 12 feet long. I was used to looking at giant snakes in zoos (I always made a beeline for the reptile house), but pythons did not seem so scary to me because they rarely moved. This sleek, agile and very alert snake was a king cobra, the largest venomous snake in the world and an icon to all snake enthusiasts, including this writer.

Teens, Parents Often Lie About Illicit Drug Use

Doctors can't rely on self-reporting for truth about cocaine, opiates, study finds.
By Randy Dotinga
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

MONDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Don't expect teens -- or their parents -- to be honest about their drug use, a new study shows.

Realco guns tied to 2,500 crimes in D.C. and Maryland

By David S. Fallis
Washington Post

Outside a baby shower in Landover three years ago, Erik Kenneth Dixon snapped. As he argued with his sister and her boyfriend in a parking lot, the 25-year-old man whipped out a .45-caliber Glock and shot her in the leg. Then he chased down her boyfriend, firing between cars and at the running man's feet until he slipped on wet grass. As the prone man held his hands up in futile defense, Dixon executed him, firing seven times.

Arctic Report Card: Update for 2010


Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians


HUGO, Minn.—In this suburb of St. Paul, the new library branch has no librarians, no card catalog and no comfortable chairs in which to curl up and read.

Instead, the Library Express is a stack of metal lockers outside city hall. When patrons want a book or DVD, they order it online and pick it up from a digitally locked, glove-compartment- sized cubby a few days later. It's a library as conceived by the generation.

All Politics Is Olfactory

New York Times

JUST days before New York’s Republican gubernatorial primary, Carl Paladino mailed out thousands of campaign ads impregnated with the smell of rotting garbage. Emblazoned with the message “Something Stinks in Albany” and photos of scandal-tainted New York Democrats like former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Representative Charles Rangel, the brochure attacked Mr. Paladino’s rival, former Representative Rick Lazio, for being “liberal” and a part of the state’s corrupt political system.

Help Them, Teach Them, but Don’t Live Through Them


THE woman corners me after I give a speech about college admissions.

“My son isn’t the best student,” she begins, “but we think he has a good chance of getting into. ...”

I can guess: Stanford or Duke, Yale or Northwestern. I’m sure I already know the story.