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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In the News: August 17, 2011

It's been a while...


Every Hour Of TV You Watch After Age 25 Shortens Your Life By 21.8 Minutes
I bet Jersey Shore is twice as bad for you.


"Every hour of TV you watch after age 25 shortens your life by 21.8 minutes, says a study by a bunch of researchers in Australia.
Seriously.
Apparently prior studies have shown that watching a lot of TV shortens your life expectancy, but the exact amount it shortens it had never been quantified.
And now it has been!
More details:

  • Compared with those who watch no TV, people who watch 6 or more hours a day live 4.8 years less.
  • Women who watch a lot of TV live 1.5 years less than those who don't
  • Men who watch a lot of TV live 1.8 years less than those who don't
Not surprisingly, there's a huge "uncertainty interval" in the study. So go ahead and keep the boob tube on while you rationalize it away."
(Business Insider)


15-minute daily exercise is 'bare minimum for health'
Wait, so less TV and more exercise is good for you??


"Just 15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years and cut death risk by 14%, research from Taiwan suggests.

Experts in The Lancet say this is the least amount of activity an adult can do to gain any health benefit.

This is about half the quantity currently recommended in the UK.

Meanwhile, work in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests a couch potato lifestyle with six hours of TV a day cuts lifespan by five years.

The UK government recently updated its exercise advice to have a more flexible approach, recommending adults get 150 minutes of activity a week.

This could be a couple of 10-minute bouts of activity every day or 30-minute exercise sessions, five times a week, for example.

Experts say this advice still stands, but that a minimum of 15 minutes a day is a good place to start for those who currently do little or no exercise.
"
(BBC)

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Rep. Michele Bachmann Wins Iowa Straw Poll
So scary...


"Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Republican presidential straw poll on Saturday, edging out Ron Paul, the Libertarian Texas congressman and quadrennial White House hopeful.

Former two-term Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty finished a distant third, capturing less than half of the totals brought in by the top two finishers.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was not on the ballot, ended up in sixth place with 718 votes, besting Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Thaddeus McCotter.

Romney and Huntsman were on the ballot, but did not actively compete.

The results are a victory for the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party and make Pawlenty's way forward uncertain.
"
(npr)


New fighter jet to bolster Russian air force
Yea, but we got Starscream.


"Russia's new stealth fighter jet made its public debut Tuesday, according to state-run news source RIA Novosti.

The Sukhoi T-50, developed collaboratively by Russia and India, appeared at the MAKS 2011 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow.

Gen. Alexander Zelin, head of the Russian air force, told RIA Novosti he expects the T-50 prototype to be ready in 2013, with "mass-produced aircraft" arriving in 2014 or 2015.

The aircraft is expected to become a staple of airborne defense for both Russia and India, Mikhail Pogosyan, head of Russia's United Aircraft Corp., told RIA Novosti.

"The T-50 will be the newest main plane both for the Russian and the Indian air force," Pogosyan said.

The article from the state-run media source says the Sukhoi T-50 cost the two governments about $6 billion to develop, with India shouldering about 35% of the cost. It is intended to match the U.S. F-22 raptor.
"
(CNN)


Biggest Hack in History: U.N. and 70 More Organizations and States Attacked Over Five Years
Oh China... Why so transparent?


"The biggest hack ever discovered has been exposed by McAfee, and the breadth and depth would be impressive it wasn’t so disconcerting: five years, at least 72 different governments, NGOs, and other organizations (including the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee) and reams and reams of secret data. Of course, McAfee believes there is a single “state actor” behind the attacks, but the company has declined to name it. Care to venture a guess?

The hacks are tied together into a single ongoing event by the fact that they were discovered via the log contents of a central “command and control” server being examined by McAfee investigators beginning in 2009. McAfee investigators dubbed the attack “Operation Shady RAT,” with RAT short for “remote access tool,” the common umbrella term for the software hackers and security types use to access networks from afar.

The long list of victims in the five-year campaign include the governments of the United States, Taiwan, India, South Korea, Vietnam and Canada; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the International Olympic Committee (IOC); the World Anti-Doping Agency; and an array of companies, from defense contractors to high-tech enterprises.
And China, right? Surely if someone was going to hack big targets in the U.S. and Europe, the IOC, the UN, and every major economic player in Asia/Indochina, that person surely wouldn’t overlook China, the biggest player of them all, right? No? That’s interesting.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. Cyber experts not affiliated with McAfee say everything points to the Chinese--the keen interest in Taiwan, the hacking of the IOC prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the defense contractors and high-tech companies whose trade secrets could be exploited. All of this information might be interesting to anyone. But it would be especially interesting to China.

China has not issued an official comment on the hack-a-thon. But if they had, we can assume it would be something along the lines of: “Who, me?”
"
(PopSci)



Do you speak Christian?
I was never very good at foreign languages...



"Have you told anyone “I’m born again?” Have you “walked the aisle” to “pray the prayer?”

Did you ever “name and claim” something and, after getting it, announce, “I’m highly blessed and favored?”

Many Americans are bilingual. They speak a secular language of sports talk, celebrity gossip and current events. But mention religion and some become armchair preachers who pepper their conversations with popular Christian words and trendy theological phrases.

If this is you, some Christian pastors and scholars have some bad news: You may not know what you’re talking about. They say that many contemporary Christians have become pious parrots. They constantly repeat Christian phrases that they don’t understand or distort.

Marcus Borg, an Episcopal theologian, calls this practice “speaking Christian.” He says he heard so many people misusing terms such as “born again” and “salvation” that he wrote a book about the practice.

People who speak Christian aren’t just mangling religious terminology, he says. They’re also inventing counterfeit Christian terms such as “the rapture” as if they were a part of essential church teaching.

The rapture, a phrase used to describe the sudden transport of true Christians to heaven while the rest of humanity is left behind to suffer, actually contradicts historic Christian teaching, Borg says.

“The rapture is a recent invention. Nobody had thought of what is now known as the rapture until about 1850,” says Borg, canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.
"
(CNN)


Speaking of Christianity:
Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world
This way of thinking is spreading all over the Western world... besides the US.



"The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

It is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord's Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse's sermon seems bleak - "Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get".

"Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

"When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that's where it can happen. God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible's account of Jesus's life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

His book Believing in a Non-Existent God led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.

A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist.
"
(BBC)


African Rat Smears Poison On Its Fur to Protect Itself From Predators
Genius.


"We love seeing animals using tools, from dolphins using sponges to scrape the seafloor, to octopuses that use coconut shells for protection. But animals using poison to their own advantage is another thing entirely. They're learning all our tricks!

The African crested rat is the only known mammal to use a lethal plant toxin for its own defense, according to researchers in England, the US and Kenya. It chews up the bark of the Acokanthera tree, the same tree East African hunters use to make poison darts, and rubs the saliva on its flanks.

Researchers thought the rat itself was poisonous, because it displays a black and white coloration on its flanks (much like a skunk) when it’s threatened by a predator. Also, scientists have reported accounts of dogs getting sick and dying after coming into contact with the rats, which are also called maned rats.

But instead of producing poison itself, the rat grabs it from nature, researchers say. The hair on its flanks is perforated, helping it soak up the poisonous spit.
"


"The bark releases a compound called ouabain, which is used for poison arrows but also, oddly, to treat congestive heart failure, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Researchers are still not sure how the rodent is able to chew up the poisonous material without getting sick itself. But it’s a pretty effective tool to protect the 2-pound rat from predators.
"
(PopSci)


Brain-eating amoebas blamed in three deaths
I don't want to swim ever again...



"It's eerie but it's true: Three people have died this summer after suffering rare infections from a waterborne amoeba that destroys the brain.

This is the time of year when there is an uptick in cases. The amoebas flourish in the heat -- especially during the summer months in the South, thriving in warm waters where people swim.

Health officials usually record about two to three cases in a given year -- 1980 was the highest with eight deaths. And most of the time, they occur in children and teenagers.

"These are rare infections, but super tragic for families," said Jonathan Yoder, the waterborne disease and outbreak surveillance coordinator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We don't want to minimize how hard it is for families."

The amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, is the only type that infects humans and is more than 95% lethal. The first death in 2011 occurred in June in Louisiana, according to the CDC.
"
(CNN)


And some local news:
Report cites costs, risks of Big Dig leaks
Billions of dollars later and it's still wrong! Yay!


"Constant water leaks into the Big Dig tunnels are causing safety problems and tens of millions of dollars in damage, including corroded electrical systems and flooded air vents, and have even begun to damage the enormous steel girders that support the Tip O’Neill Tunnel, according to an internal report by the Big Dig’s chief engineer obtained by the Globe.

But the April report, intended to brief a new top deputy to Transportation Secretary Jeffrey B. Mullan, was extensively rewritten at transportation headquarters, where staff reduced the seven-page report by two-thirds. The shortened report covered most of Helmut Ernst’s major points, but left out much of the detail on the present and future cost of repairs and omitted some specific warnings by Ernst about the potential threat of the ongoing leaks to the safety and long-term structural integrity of the tunnels.

By the time new highway administrator Frank DePaola briefed the transportation board of directors on the issue this month, he likened the major leaks to the water from “three garden hoses’’ and stressed that “the tunnels are safe.’’

Ernst’s report does not say the tunnels are unsafe, but voices more alarm at the potential risks of the leaks. The report was written after a corroded 110-pound light fixture crashed Feb. 8 in the O’Neill Tunnel, revealing widespread corrosion in lights throughout the 7.5-mile Big Dig tunnel system. Ernst’s report makes it clear that the fallen light is part of a much larger problem: the salty ground water that seeps in through cracks and other openings in the tunnels.
"
(Boston.com)

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