Saturday, July 30, 2005

Economist Blames Aid for Africa Famine - Yahoo! News

Economist Blames Aid for Africa Famine - Yahoo! News: "When aid money keeps coming, all our policy-makers do is strategize on how to get more,' said the Kenya-based director of the Inter Region Economic Network, an African think tank.

'They forget about getting their own people working to solve these very basic problems. In Africa, we look to outsiders to solve our problems, making the victim not take responsibility to change.'

Moving the aid can be nightmare in itself. Africa's good roads are few, and often pass through the front lines of civil wars. But Shikwati notes an additional problem: Even African countries that have food to spare can't easily share it because tariffs on agricultural products within sub-Saharan Africa average as high as 33 percent, compared with 12 percent on similar products imported from Europe."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Yellow journalism at its best!

A collection of Lance's front pages from around the world.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Yoga may help prevent middle-age spread | Science Blog

Science Blog reports:

Yoga may help prevent middle-age spread | Science Blog: "regular yoga practice may help prevent middle-age spread in normal-weight people and may promote weight loss in those who are overweight."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

King George's Madness Linked to Arsenic - Yahoo! News

I guess 1776 was wrong on this one...but it is still a great book!

King George's Madness Linked to Arsenic - Yahoo! News: "n 1969, researchers proposed the strange behavior of the monarch who reigned during the American Revolution resulted from a rare hereditary blood disorder called porphyria."

Worst Service Award

Of all the companies I personally deal with, I used to think Tim Horton's had the worst customer service (last week they initially refused to take dollar coins as the cashier had never seen them before and throught they were fake). I stand corrected. The new winner in the worst customer service contest is....drumroll........Verizon!

What a waste of an afternoon!!!!!! How do these people win any customer service award?

Verizon Wireless Contact Us: "Customer Service Representatives are available from 6am-11pm, 7 days a week"

They are however a good example of how creative pricing can more or less lock you into a company.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Runner's Web and Triathlete's Web, a Running, Track and Field and Triathlon Resource Portal

Runner's Web and Triathlete's Web, a Running, Track and Field and Triathlon Resource Portal

What a cool article on the differences between swimming and running!

I definitely have the "terminal mediocrity" down!

"Keller and other elite freestylers can easily swim 25-yards in 7 or 8 strokes (counting each hand entry as one stroke), while novice swimmers typically average 20 to 25 strokes for the same distance.

And that threefold difference in stroke efficiency is only half the story."

If you are trying to make the transition to swimming, definitely READ IT!!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Meditate on this, it can extend your life

That meditation (and I would add yoga) lowers blood pressure really shuold be no surprise. I am continually amazed at how much more relaxed I feel after yoga (and conversely how tight I feel if I miss a few days.
Meditate on this, it can extend your life
"New research published in the American Journal of Cardiology indicates that meditation may not only reduce stress, but may also help adults with high blood pressure to live longer."

Now I am not as convinced of the degree that this works, but the study reports:

"Overall, men and women who practiced transcendental meditation not only had lower blood pressures than those in the other groups, but were also 23 percent less likely to die from any cause, Schneider and his team report. In particular, they were 30 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 49 percent less likely to die from cancer."

wow. Those are big numbers!

ESPs: California Scientist Discovers First Extrasolar Planet Under Three Suns

Can you imagine?
ESPs: California Scientist Discovers First Extrasolar Planet Under Three Suns

Check out the picture!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The World is Flat

I do not know where to put this, so I will put it here on my RandomTopics2 blog, but link to it from's blog as well.

As promised back in May, I finally got around to ristening to the World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Of course there are things I do not agree with (especially the gloom and doom political side in the second half of the book), but I would urge EVERYONE to read/risten to it. So far it is very good and it will definitely get you thinking.

The super short version of the book is that the because of various factors (technology, internet bubble, collapse of communism, etc), the competitive advantages of certain countries and firms are evaporating. (to put another way, the barriers to entry are collapsing)

While virtually nothing as of yet has shocked me, it is a book that will make you think. (In fact, it is so thought provoking that I have been using the NPR technique of mixing in music occasionally to allow my time to think while driving).

One of the really thought-provoking parts is about Open Source programming. Will it speed up or slow down progress? And to take it a step further, will it stop with programming? Or be everything? On one hand it could be the beginning of the end of big corporations, but on the other hand does it work? One answer is from Jim Herbsleb a Carnegie Mellon Professor who reports that open sourcing is not without its problems--namely it takes longer and may not be for the masses.

Open-source development models fall flat - Computerworld:
"Because work is done by the users, they're more likely to get the functionality right, so a major class of errors is eliminated,' he noted, adding that developers of commercial software are rarely users of the software, and the functionality is determined by project managers.

'Project managers tend to understand purchasing designs -- why companies buy software -- so they'll build a project that plays into those hands,' Herbsleb explained. This means that commercial software can be created without fully meeting user requirements. Because free and open-source software developers are its users, they create the functions they specifically need.

But one of the drawbacks to the open-source software development model is that mainstream users often get left behind because the really technical people create the software design functionality for themselves, not for the average user."
Moreover, some are questioning whether it even works now

That said, as a mental exercise, let's allow it to work. Then what? Of course, many have asked what will it mean to software companies. But what about other companies? Will the future allow open-source drug development?

But even in the absence of open-sourcing, few can argue that competitive advantages are being eroded and this will have major changes on the economic landscape for generations to come.

For instance, let's examine blogging. In many ways blogs level the playing field. Indeed,'s blog attempts to do just that. It tries to make academic papers accessible to more people. Which is good right? Well, not if you are an academic journal publisher. So suppose blogging catches on. What becomes of journals?

This begs the question how can firms (or journals) compete in this type of environment? In theory it will lead to faster changes and constantly looking for ways to offer what is not being offered. The question that is unanswered is how this will be done and who the winners and losers will be. (For instance, should journals go online and allow advertising to cover costs and to make money?)

See, isn't it thought provoking? Get the book!

BTW: Here is an article by Friedman himself from FreeRepublic and here is his own website for the book.

Here is a link that offers a differing view (that is, the world is not flat)
"Cultural differences among certain classes of businesspeople, technologists, academicians, and teen-agers have been rounded off, perhaps"
The NewsTribune offers an interesting insight:
"what I fear will happen to Friedman'’s flat world. A clever, contemporary Clare Boothe Luce could easily turn the argument around. The flat world is a threat, and the only way to keep out threats is to close our borders and close our minds."
Which would be a tragedy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Study: Walking on Cobblestones Is Healthy - Yahoo! News

Yet another reason to run on grass and trails instead of inside (treadmills) or on tracks.

Study: Walking on Cobblestones Is Healthy - Yahoo! News: "The path to better health and lower blood pressure may be paved with cobblestones. When people over 60 walked on smooth, rounded cobblestones for just a half-hour a day over four months, they significantly lowered their blood pressure and improved their balance, a study showed. "

Now if I could just convince myself to ride moutain bikes more, or even outside like my trainer too much. :(

Sunday, July 10, 2005

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Fires wiped out' ancient mammals

If you have read Guns, Germs, and Steel this is a of special interest to you. In the book (CD), it is hypothesized that humans caused the mass extinctions in Australia, but through hunting and not firestarting. Now, there may be new evidence that suggests it was fire.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Fires wiped out' ancient mammals: "The evidence, published in Science magazine, comes from ancient eggshells.

These show birds changed their diets drastically when humans came on the scene, switching from grass to the type of plants that thrive on scrubland.

The study supports others that have blamed humans for mass extinctions across the world 10-50,000 years ago"

BTW don't miss Guns, Germs, and Steel on PBS. I am really excited about it and will defnitely be taping.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Following the Tour De France

It is really hard to get much done work-wise during the tour. It is by far my favorite multiple day sporting event!

From fun pages:

Le Tour--Good (and in many languages)
Eurosport (My favorite live audio and live text),
Velonews (usually my first look), RSS too!, (often the fastest live text) all have much coverage, and (which has some of my favorite stories day in and day out).

LanceArmstrong of course also has a very cool site. The news is actually at (It is one of my favorites for inside stories and pictures).

My favorite blog that is centered on the tour is TDFblog, Eddie's links to the tour, and of course you have to check out Graham Watson's pictures!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Chautaugua Institute's Book Club | Education | Book Club (CLSC)

Speaking of Jefferson, The Chautaugua Institute is a very Jeffersonian Ideal. It is located only about 45 minutes from SBU. I had no idea that "Theodore Roosevelt termed it "the most American thing in America"."

While I am not suggesting everyone take a trip to visit (although it would be fun), I just learned they have a reading list that is published every year. Their list for this year is here. I am embarassed to say I have read none of these.

What is even more fascinating however, is that their web site also has the reading list (in PDF format) going back each year from 1878 to the present! It is a good look at what they felt was important each year. It sure make's Oprah's list look well, weak.

The Thomas Jefferson Hour

The Thomas Jefferson Hour

Clay Jenkinson does an excellent job of thinking like Thomas Jefferson. I especially encourage you to listen to his radio show. I may disagree with some of the points (what would TJ think about such and such...for instance Globalization, the Military, the Internet, etc.), but makes for great thought games!

Eric Rudolph tells how he eluded FBI - Yahoo! News

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live with police chasing you? I know I did when Rudolph was being hunted. (and of course in most good mysteries, movies, and the like.)

USA TODAY has a fascinating look at how Eric Rudolph did survice. I have to give him, he was very resourceful. Eric Rudolph tells how he eluded FBI - Yahoo! News

Just one example:

"During his trips into Andrews that October 1999, Rudolph had stolen garbage cans from stores, he writes. He swiped garbage bags from the Dumpsters at McDonald's. He washed them in the river and then began filling them with grain from silos along Airport Road, in a town named Marble halfway between Murphy and Andrews."

The links directly from USATODAY with pictures

Part one
Part two

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

VeloNews: 2005 Tour de France Special Coverage

VeloNews: 2005 Tour de France Special Coverage

Great article talking about CBS's troubles bringing the Tour to America. Especially interesting is their desire to have "bike cams" in the peloton, which would be fascinating!

""I read Daniel Coyle's book," said Armand, "and I think he said that the amount of air the peloton pushes out of the way is more than an F15 fighter. If we could show the audience that this moving mass of cyclists is more powerful than an F15, that would have an impact. I also think they would love to be able to see (in real time) how much power these guys are putting out individually as they ride; how they could light up a small city with the watts they put out, rather than just a little light bulb like most of us can." "

Monday, July 04, 2005

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Animated Guide: Deep Impact

Very cool animation of how the impact happened. Seems to be a great sucess! Watch for the data taken from the impact!

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Animated Guide: Deep Impact

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Random Topics Squared

Summer is best time of year...I really love the warm weather...contrary to popular opinion, I love running in the heat! May be a bit slower, but MUCH more fun...

The Mets just can not get above .500....totally not to downplay the horrible consequences to the individuals affected, but is anyone else sick of forest fire and shark attack stories? The names and places change, but every summer they are some of the top stories...I especially hate the fire stories...they are either caused by too little rain, or too much.

I have to read some books by HW Brands, his interview on CSPAN was fascinating. I wonder if his Lone Star Nation is available as a unabridged CD...just about done with 1776, it is very good!!!

Check out my pictures on flickr..which BTW is now owned by Yahoo...

Go Lance!