Monday, November 28, 2005

Opposition 'wins' Honduras poll

BBC NEWS | Americas | Opposition 'wins' Honduras poll: "Opposition candidate Manuel Zelaya has won presidential elections in Honduras, a top local election official has said."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

MSN Encarta - Top 10 Odd College Courses

MSN Encarta - Top 10 Odd College Courses: "College courses aren't all Econ 101 and The History of Europe: 1500-Present. A trend among many colleges and universities is to offer courses that are slightly off the beaten track. Many of these courses draw their themes from pop culture or sports, or they may be the brainchildren of professors who want to share their passion with students. They may be no less serious than traditional courses, but they certainly cover new academic ground.

Students take these offbeat courses for a variety of reasons--hoping for an easy A, to try something fun, or to explore a new interest. Underwater Basket Weaving 101 may be an urban legend, but these ten unusual courses are for real:

1) You can boldly go where no other philosophy student has gone before in Georgetown University's 'Philosophy and Star Trek' course, where students discuss the nature of time travel, the ability of computers to think and feel, and other philosophical dilemmas facing the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

2) Discover how Brick really felt when Opal left him for his neighbor's best friend's sister in the University of Wisconsin's course entitled 'Daytime Serials: Family and Social Roles.' Students analyze the plots, themes, and characters of daytime soaps and discuss their impact on modern life.

3) If you've been longing to research how hot dogs, theme parks, and the five-day workweek have impacted American leisure culture, check out the University of Iowa course 'The American Vacation.' This course pays particular attention to how American families' varying backgrounds shape their vacation experiences.

4) Bowdoin College students can delve into 'The Horror Film in Context' in the school's English Department. Students read Freud and Poe and watch Hitchcock and Craven, all while discussing the horror genre's treatment of gender, class, and family.

5) At Williams College, students can learn more about those in the cement shoe industry by enrolling in 'Comparative History of Organized Crime,' which compares the work of goodfellas from the United States, Italy, Japan, and Russia.

6) If you've got a romantic urge for adventure, check out Barnard College's course on 'The Road Movie,' which studies Easy Rider and Thelma and Louise, while also discussing the genre's literary precursors, like On the Road and The Odyssey.

7) If hitting the road doesn't satisfy your rebellious streak, sign up for Brown University's course on 'American Degenerates,' in which students discuss how early British-American writers embraced the grotesque, monstrous, 'not our kind' status bestowed on them by the mother country and reflected their zeal for cultural and physical degeneracy in their literature.

8) Those artsy types at the Rhode Island School of Design can put down their paintbrushes and take 'The Art of Sin and the Sin of Art,' which contemplates the relationship between sin and the art world. The course catalog invites you to 'lust with the saints and burn with the sinners.'

9) If talking about death several times a week in class sounds like a good time to you, try Purdue University's 'Death and the Nineteenth Century' course. Every poem and novel in the course deals with the 19th-century conception of mortality and the world beyond.

10) At Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, students can take 'Art of Walking,' in which students not only read literature by noted perambulators like Kant and Nietzsche, but go for neighborhood strolls with their professor and his dog.

Most college programs offer interesting courses to introduce you to new and fascinating subject matters. Take advantage of the many possibilities offered to you by sitting down with your advisor to talk about course options and then really thinking about the courses you choose to take."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Education Wonks: The Best School System In The World? - Thoughts And Ideas Freely Exchanged

The Education Wonks: The Best School System In The World? - Thoughts And Ideas Freely Exchanged: "This land of vodka and Nokia phones has more graduates than any other country and its 15-year-olds are the best at solving maths problems, according to the latest education survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Juxu and her classmates have no league tables or Sats, they enjoy short school days, free hot lunches, lots of music, art and sport, and 10-week summer holidays. In a country where 60 per cent of the people are university-educated, the children have the world's best education."

The 10 most expensive colleges - Oct. 28, 2005

The 10 most expensive colleges - Oct. 28, 2005: "NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Tuition at the most expensive four-year college is up only 2.7 percent from last year. But a small increase on an already big number is still gob-smacking.

Landmark College, the school with the priciest tuition since at least 1998, is charging $37,738 for tuition this year, according to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education. That's up $11,238, or 42 percent, from 1998.

Of course, not everyone is aiming to go to Landmark, a school in Putney, Vt. that provides a liberal arts education to kids with learning disabilities and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

But the price tag isn't that much lower at the other nine schools that charge the highest tuition.

George Washington University in Washington, D.C. ranks No. 2 with a tuition of $36,400, up 7 percent from last year.

The No. 3 school, the University of Richmond in Virginia, is charging $34,850, up a whopping 31.4 percent from last year."

Top 20 geek novels -- the results! from Guardian Unlimited: Technology

Ah geez, and I've read just about all of them.

Top 20 geek novels -- the results! from Guardian Unlimited: Technology: "Top 20 geek novels -- the results!

By Jack Schofield / Media 06:14am

So far, 132 people have voted for the best geek novels written in English since 1932, in spite of Survey Monkey's rubric saying free polls were limited to 100 responses. The top 20 is therefore as follows, with the numbers in brackets showing the number of votes.

1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams 85% (102)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four -- George Orwell 79% (92)
3. Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley 69% (77)
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- Philip Dick 64% (67)
5. Neuromancer -- William Gibson 59% (66)
6. Dune -- Frank Herbert 53% (54)
7. I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov 52% (54)
8. Foundation -- Isaac Asimov 47% (47)
9. The Colour of Magic -- Terry Pratchett 46% (46)
10. Microserfs -- Douglas Coupland 43% (44)
11. Snow Crash -- Neal Stephenson 37% (37)
12. Watchmen -- Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons 38% (37)
13. Cryptonomicon -- Neal Stephenson 36% (36)
14. Consider Phlebas -- Iain M Banks 34% (35)
15. Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlein 33% (33)
16. The Man in the High Castle -- Philip K Dick 34% (32)
17. American Gods -- Neil Gaiman 31% (29)
18. The Diamond Age -- Neal Stephenson 27% (27)
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy -- Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson 23% (21)
20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham 21% (19)"

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Slashdot | Vatican Rejects Intelligent Design?

Hey, I'm not in Kansas anymore.

Slashdot | Vatican Rejects Intelligent Design?: "A Vatican representative has expressed a defense of the theory of evolution, stating that it is 'perfectly compatible' with the Genesis story of creation. 'The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim,' he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that 'the universe didn't make itself and had a creator'.' Of course, it'd probably be best if fundmentalists actually talked to, say, the rabbis who wrote the whole thing down. The Orthodox rabbis I've spoken find it amazingly amusing that people take the creation story as literal truth, rather then a story about YHWH's power."

Slashdot | World's Most Powerful Subwoofer

I'm going to run out right now and install one in my car.
Slashdot | World's Most Powerful Subwoofer: "'This $13,000 subwoofer, the TRW 17 from Eminent Technology is billed as the world's most powerful due to its ability to reproduce sounds with frequencies as low as 1Hz. Typical subwoofers bottom out at 20Hz, and while the human ear can barely hear below that point, it is still possible to feel the sound. This particular woofer does not have an enclosure, instead relying on a fan-like design, wafting a cone of modulated air into the room, and effectively turning it into a resonating box, in its entirety!'"

Invention: Coffee beer

Ok... I'll have one for the road.

New Scientist Breaking News - Invention: Coffee beer: "Coffee-beer

A drink somewhere between coffee and beer could soon be on the menu. Nestec, part of the Nestl�empire in Switzerland, has filed patents in every major market round the world on a 'fermented coffee beverage' that pours and foams like beer, but smells of strong coffee and packs a concentrated caffeine kick.

The beverage is made in a similar way to beer, but fine-tuned temperature control stops the formation of ethyl alcohol. So the new drink could go down well with people who want a long tall pick-me-up while driving."

Nestle Patents Coffee Beer

Slashdot | Nestle Patents Coffee Beer: "Dotnaught writes 'New Scientist reports that Nestec, a Nestle subsidiary, has applied for a patent on a fermented coffee beverage. In other words, coffee beer -- it foams like beer and packs the caffeine of coffee, with 'fruity and/or floral notes due to the fermentation of the coffee aroma.'"

Using Copyrights To Fight Intelligent Design

Slashdot | Using Copyrights To Fight Intelligent Design: "An anonymous reader writes 'The National Academies' National Research Council and the National Science Teachers Association are using the power of copyright to ensure that students in Kansas receive a robust education. They're backed by the AAS: The American Association for the Advancement of Science.' From the release: '[they] have decided they cannot grant the Kansas State School Board permission to use substantial sections of text from two standards-related documents: the research council's 'National Science Education Standards' and 'Pathways to Science Standards', published by NSTA. The organizations sent letters to Kansas school authorities on Wednesday, Oct. 26 requesting that their copyrighted material not be used ... Leshner said AAAS backs the decision on copyright permission. 'We need to protect the integrity of science education if we expect the young people of Kansas to be fully productive members of an increasingly competitive world economy that is driven by science and technology ... We cannot allow young people to be denied an appropriate science education simply on ideological grounds.''"

Suspect in DEA agent killing escapes - Nov 19, 2005

A 13 year old bodyguard? Yup, I did read that right. - Suspect in DEA agent killing escapes - Nov 19, 2005: "TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- A teen accused of killing a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent and implicated in 16 other slayings has escaped from a youth correction facility -- just as he promised he would -- officials said Saturday.

Herlan Colindres, a 16-year-old street gang member, slipped out of a rehabilitation center housing 156 youths outside the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa on Friday night, authorities said.

Colindres and his 13-year-old bodyguard Manuel Romero were arrested in July in connection with the murder of DEA agent Michael Timothy Markey outside Tegucigalpa at a temple dedicated to Honduras' patron saint."

The Grandeur of Evolution in a New Exhibition Called 'Darwin' - New York Times

The Grandeur of Evolution in a New Exhibition Called 'Darwin' - New York Times: "In the summer of 1868, Charles Darwin and his family visited the poet Alfred Tennyson and his family on the Isle of Wight. The visit - and the visitor's ideas - troubled Tennyson. 'What I want,' he later told a friend, 'is an assurance of immortality.'

This was an astute remark. Many of Darwin's readers, then and now, have tried to find ways to reconcile a divine creator with the clearly secular implications of Darwin's theory of evolution. As often as not, the effort is less a search for a first cause than a plea for assurances of immortality. Tennyson recognized that Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species,' which was published in 1859, offered no such promises.

What bothered Tennyson wasn't merely the possible loss of eternity. It was also the central observation that underlies Darwin's theory: the fact, first noticed by Malthus, that every species on the planet, including humans, produces far more offspring in each generation than nature can support. Coming as late as we do - nearly a century and a half after Darwin's 'Origin' - we have the luxury of seeing at a glance what Darwin saw: that the pressure of so much excess population is a harsh but efficient test of the value of accidental variations in any species.

We can say, with Thomas Huxley, 'How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!' But, of course, Darwin did not simply think of it. He prepared for years to be ready to think of it when he did. It is one thing to see the logic in evolution, as stated on the page. It is something entirely different to have pieced together such an astonishingly powerful theory - a word that, as scientists use it, means an explanation of the facts as we know them - from the details of nature itself."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Televangelist Robertson warns town of God's wrath - Yahoo! News

If I believed in hell, Robertson would surely be there.
Televangelist Robertson warns town of God's wrath - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting 'intelligent design' and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate and founder of the influential conservative Christian Broadcasting Network and Christian Coalition, has a long record of similar apocalyptic warnings and provocative statements"

Video shows executions, life inside North Korea - Nov 13, 2005 - Video shows executions, life inside North Korea - Nov 13, 2005: "North Korea is the last Stalinist regime, a closed one-party state founded on a personality cult, a rogue regime known for repression of its people and a menacing nuclear arms program, a nearly bankrupt nation, where, in the 1990s, the U.S. government says more than 2 million people starved to death during a famine. Kim Jong Il denied the famine even existed.

Sarah McDonald, who produced and directed the documentary, 'Undercover in the Secret State,' said her crew interviewed a man who had been in a camp shown in the movie.

'What he described, we didn't put it in the film,' she said Friday from London, England. 'It is so appalling, you just can't imagine. He said that 95 percent of people who go into that prison die in the prison. Their whole motivation is to kill these people, but they won't let them die easily.

'They -- they torture them to death over a very long period of time.'"

Saturday, November 05, 2005

World news from The Times and the Sunday Times - Times Online

World news from The Times and the Sunday Times - Times Online: "Schoolgirl blogger poisons mother in homage to killer
From Leo Lewis in Tokyo

A HIGH-SCHOOL girl has been arrested for gradually poisoning her mother to the brink of death and keeping a blog of her progress — all done as a grim homage to a British serial killer whom she idolised.

Over the summer the 16-year-old student is alleged to have laced her mother’s food with increasing doses of thallium, a potent rat poison. Her mother is now critically ill and in a coma."

Big Mac Index

The Economist's Big Mac index | Fast food and strong currencies |

The Economist's Big Mac index | Fast food and strong currencies | "The Economist's Big Mac index
Fast food and strong currencies

Jun 9th 2005
From The Economist print edition
How much burger do you get for your euro, yuan or Swiss franc?

ITALIANS like their coffee strong and their currencies weak. That, at least, is the conclusion one can draw from their latest round of grumbles about Europe's single currency. But are the Italians right to moan? Is the euro overvalued?

Our annual Big Mac index (see table) suggests they have a case: the euro is overvalued by 17% against the dollar. How come? The euro is worth about $1.22 on the foreign-exchange markets. A Big Mac costs €2.92, on average, in the euro zone and $3.06 in the United States. The rate needed to equalise the burger's price in the two regions is just $1.05. To patrons of McDonald's, at least, the single currency is overpriced.

The Big Mac index, which we have compiled since 1986, is based on the notion that a currency's price should reflect its purchasing power. According to the late, great economist Rudiger Dornbusch, this idea can be traced back to the Salamanca school in 16th-century Spain. Since then, he wrote, the doctrine of purchasing-power parity (PPP) has been variously seen as a “truism, an empirical regularity or a grossly misleading simplification.”

Economists lost some faith in PPP as a guide to exchange rates in the 1970s, after the world's currencies abandoned their anchors to the dollar. By the end of the decade, exchange rates seemed to be drifting without chart or compass. Later studies showed that a currency's purchasing power does assert itself over the long run. But it might take three to five years for a misaligned exchange rate to move even halfway back into line.

Our index shows that burger prices can certainly fall out of line with each other. If he could keep the burgers fresh, an ingenious arbitrageur could buy Big Macs for the equivalent of $1.27 in China, whose yuan is the most undervalued currency in our table, and sell them for $5.05 in Switzerland, whose franc is the most overvalued currency. The impracticality of such a trade highlights some of the flaws in the PPP idea. Trade barriers, transport costs and differences in taxes drive a wedge between prices in different countries.

More important, the $5.05 charged for a Swiss Big Mac helps to pay for the retail space in which it is served, and for the labour that serves it. Neither of these two crucial ingredients can be easily traded across borders. David Parsley, of Vanderbilt University, and Shang-Jin Wei, of the International Monetary Fund, estimate that non-traded inputs, such as labour, rent and electricity, account for between 55% and 64% of the price of a Big Mac*."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Justices Weighing Narcotics Policy Against Needs of a Church - New York Times

I'm converted!

Justices Weighing Narcotics Policy Against Needs of a Church - New York Times: "Justices Weighing Narcotics Policy Against Needs of a Church

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 - The Bush administration tried to persuade the Supreme Court on Tuesday that federal narcotics policy should trump the religious needs of members of a small South American church who want to import a hallucinogenic tea that is central to their religious rituals.

Two lower federal courts have barred the government from seizing the sacred drink, known as hoasca tea, which is brewed from indigenous Brazilian plants that do not grow in the United States. The tea's hallucinogenic effect comes from a chemical, dimethyltryptamine, usually known as DMT, which occurs naturally in the plants and is listed as a Schedule I banned substance in the federal Controlled Substances Act."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The SAT Versus the ACT

MSN Encarta - The SAT Versus the ACT: "The SAT Versus the ACT:
Which Test to Take?
Article provided by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
(Image credit: Getty Images/PhotoDisc, Inc.)
Many colleges and universities now accept both SAT and ACT scores, giving you the option to choose which test to take for the best score possible. The recommended way to truly determine which test best suits your test-taking strengths is to take practice exams for both tests, and then choose the test that makes you feel the most comfortable and confident. Before practicing, though, you should familiarize yourself with the differences between the exams through our list of frequently asked questions.
What's the difference between the ACT and the SAT?
The SAT is traditionally thought of as a test that measures your critical-thinking skills, testing your ability to analyze and solve problems in math, reading, and writing. The ACT, on the other hand, is considered a more curriculum-based test, since it tests your academic preparedness for college in the areas of English, math, reading, and science by calling on information you have learned in your high school coursework."

Ten Ways to Avoid the Flu

Very difficult to do this when no soap exists in EIS bathrooms.

Discovery Health :: Colds & Flu :: Ten Ways to Avoid the Flu: "Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. A quick rinse won't do the trick. To kill germs, communicative disease experts recommend washing with soap for 15 to 30 seconds-about as long as it takes to hum a rollicking verse of 'Yankee Doodle Dandy.'"