Monday, November 29, 2010

Miley Cyrus - THE CLIMB

The View from my Bicycle [COLUMN]

Catch Wurms! - by Nick van der Leek

Despite some domestic distractions over the past week [don't ask!] I was one of a few hundred triathletes lining up at Pollock Beach this morning. An overcast day after a very warm and humid night, and fortunately just a slight offshore wind blowing.  I was anxious about this swim because just 2 weeks 'ere my wetsuit had felt like a giant black boa constrictor choking the life out of me.  I took precautions this time - lots of aqueous cream on arms, shoulders and even over my trisuit.

The swim was a massive improvement on 2 weeks ago; although I think I felt a bit of yesterday's surf in the arms.  I finished in the front third, although made a hash of the beach bit, missing the first wave and then being somersaulted by the second.  Couldn't have looked too pretty.

The cycle was an interesting mini epic.  In the first kilometre a dude wearing glasses, with shaved legs and a black and white Orca suit with the word WURMS on his butt came shooting past.  I decided to mark him; and decided a good ride would be finishing with him.  But for that I'd need help. It didn't take long for the first train to come steaming past, and so I hopped on.  WURMS was impressive.  He stayed ahead of the six of us despite the longish uphill drag that bypasses the university campus.  Just as soon as we thought we had him, he'd kick again.

Then about 1km from the turn-around, we caught him, and by then our train had sucked in a second train and we were about 15 guys.  I noticed WURMS sneaking up to the front as we approached the final metres to the turnaround, and since I knew he was the sort of guy who doesn't like riding a timetrial with parasites for company, I knew he was going to kick again.  So I made sure when I got to the turn I was on his tail.

He was going off like a rocket and when I looked behind me the huge train was a shambles.  I caught him but as soon as he realised he had company he did another surge.  I decided to wait for reinforcements.  It came in the form of just 4-5 riders, and they zoomed by me at such a pace it took a lot out of me to catch them.  So much so that I'm embarrassed to admit that once we'd reeled in WURMS and were just riding at a high steady pace uphill, it was just too much for me, and I fell off.
The little manoeuvre I did at the turnaround was instinctual, but it didn't really suit my level of fitness [which is minimal].

The second train did pretty much the same, and I suppose I can't blame them.  They probably thought I was trying to get the jump on them.  I stayed with these guys for a bit; but I was winded and eventually fizzled.  Finally a final quartet of the tattered remnants of the supertrain  reeled me in with about 4 clicks to go.  These guys weren't that strong, so I sort of impatiently picked up the pace every now and then, and eventually me and a dude in blue finished together.  So much for sticking with WURMS.

In the transition, while I was changing my shoes a TV cameraman shoved a camera into my face, quite literally. "I'm buggered," I spluttered, "but I've improved on my race 2 weeks ago."
For the run, and with the hamstring injury in mind, I had a more modest goal.  Simply to run the whole distance at an even pace [2 weeks ago I had walked when the muscle strained and the pain was too much].  The first 2km were painful but then I quickly started feeling fresh and strong and started picking up the pace.  At 4km the camera was stuffed into my face again and this time I offered a small smile and said things were going well.

Although I felt stronger my time didn't seem particularly good.  1:25:08.  16 in my age cat, and 72nd overall.  Claude Eksteen, the winner, dipped just under the 1 hour mark.  Oh well, there's a race again next weekend in Blaauberg; and unless I'm in prison I'd like to try to get under 1:25.  Last year I did a 1:17 in my first race.  I think my best is 1:07. So let's see if I can continue improving.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"The World in 2050" - Thank goodness I'm old.

'The World in 2050: Four Fources Shaping Civilization's Northern Future'
by Laurence C. Smith
Dutton, 336 pp., $26.95
Laurence C. Smith's "The World in 2050" is both important and depressing. A professor of geography and earth and space sciences at UCLA, Smith examines four forces — population demographics, resource demand, globalization and climate change — to try to figure out what the world will be like in future decades. While some people and countries along the northern rim may benefit far more than others, his story is overwhelmingly bleak.

Population is booming. We are adding the equivalent of "two Pakistans or three Mexicos every four years." We are blazing through natural resources at an alarming rate. And as globalization spreads prosperity to Third World countries, the rate of consumption will increase.

To make matters worse, many of the most heralded "solutions" create problems of their own. Nuclear power seems an obvious way to generate power. It's clean. Its price is competitive. And it's reasonably safe. France gets 80 percent of its energy this way, and there's never been a mishap there.

Nevertheless, most people, fearing another Three Mile Island or Chernobyl, have a NIMBY (not in my back yard) attitude about nuclear plants. Moreover, we still have not resolved the issues of waste disposal. And terrorism remains a constant threat.

Solar energy is a great alternative, but still too expensive compared to electricity produced from coal and other fossil fuels. Moreover, to get solar electricity from where it is best produced — deserts — to where it is consumed requires the expenditure of billions of dollars in infrastructure, something we in the U.S. have not shown the will for.

Corn-based biofuel is inefficient, "requiring as much or more in fossil fuel in its manufacture as is delivered in its final product." Wind farms seem to be the best choice for now, but Smith predicts that "in 40 years the bulk of the world's energy needs will still be coming from coal, oil and natural gas."

The litany of potential disasters in our future in this book is too long to mention. Here are just two of dozens:

The U.S. may be running out of water. To feed our agricultural needs, underground aquifers in the Midwest that took thousands of years to fill may soon go dry.
The "ice cap is melting even faster than the most pessimistic (computer) models predicted" — a problem on many levels. The ice reflects the sunlight, and its absence is why the Northern Hemisphere is heating up more than the Southern. The entire food chain — from microscopic phytoplankton to polar bars — depends on the presence of sea ice. Moreover, its loss is resulting in higher sea levels. By the end of the century. Smith predicts, much of Miami may be underwater or behind tall dikes. "Roughly a quarter of Bangladesh would be underwater," he writes.

Is there any good news? Some. What Smith calls the Northern Rim countries — the northern U.S., Canada, Russia and the Scandinavian countries — will experience dramatic and positive economic changes. Melting ice will put previously untappable natural resources within reach. Additional arable land will open up new farming opportunities.

There are other possibilities, too. Scientists are working on ways to produce ethanol in an economic and climate friendly way. Algae may prove another source of liquid biofuel. Some say the economy will eventually be hydrogen based — with solar energy splitting hydrogen from seawater.

There may also be technological advances in solar panels and perhaps a major breakthrough that is unimagined now. But we can't wait. We have to start ramping up our capital investment in the future. Now.
"The World in 2050" is an important book, a wake-up call for doubting Thomases who believe it's OK to drive gas guzzlers because they can afford it. As I read it one thought I never had before kept reoccurring: Thank goodness I'm old.

SHOOT: One basic condition is driving change:  Expensive energy.  What that really means is that going into the medium and long term, people will pay more for less - of everything.  In sum that means one thing: contraction.  A contraction of choices.  A contraction of possibilities. A contraction of stuff we want, from music, to movies, to different kinds of toothbrush or mobile phone.  But also a more austere constration: a contraction of essential resources, including food and water.  And ultimately, probably the beginning of a contration of human beings on this planet, or at least, acceleration to the turnaround point where Spaceship earth no longer adds more human passengers to the total but initiates the long overdue process of subtraction.

“We played the way we know we can,” a bursting-with-pride Matfield said pitch-side afterwards, “direct ... and then we took it wide.”

If there was significant anti-Div rebelliousness in the camp itself, it certainly didn’t surface on Saturday as Matfield and company saved their most full-blooded and polished performance of the Grand Slam tour for last.

Three wins from four on an end-of-year slog with a greatly weakened squad: that’s not nirvana, but it’s also not a ruinous state of affairs and South Africa have had coaches who have kept their tracksuits after worse tour returns.

But let’s abandon the bigger picture now, because sideshows deserve suspension – even if short-lived -- when a terrific win like this is achieved, don’t you think?

Yes, this wasn’t too far off a Bok hall-of-famer, when you consider how they were being written off after the Murrayfield mud-bath and England, simultaneously, were being hyped – outrageously, I’d strongly suspected – on the grounds of the 35-18 whipping of the Wallabies at the very same venue.

Martin Johnson’s charges had won some plaudits a little earlier in the month, too, when they at least gave the All Blacks some “problems” along the way in succumbing 26-16.

Well, here the Boks prevailed by the same margin, yet arguably with greater comfort: remember that England’s lone try was a late, flattering intercept and that both Steyns, Morne and Francois, had thumped the uprights with much earlier penalty attempts within the space of seven minutes.

Both even-handed English television commentators, Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes (what a relief not to have had that barking anti-Saffer Brian Moore in the booth) were unreserved in their praise for the whip hand South Africa held, virtually across the park.

“South Africa look the more experienced and better team,” Harrison had simply but aptly noted as the teams trudged off at half-time, with England somehow level-pegging then at 6-6.

And afterwards former Test flyhalf Barnes, while also suggesting the Boks suddenly didn’t look so dead in the water as a World Cup 2011 factor after all, observed: “This was their shot at redemption (after Scotland) and boy, have they fired the bullets.”

He gave player-of-the-match to Bismarck du Plessis, the hooker who threw into the lineout beautifully after his bad day at the office in Edinburgh and rampaged about the pitch like a man possessed in the general exchanges.

Mind you, there were many colleagues like him in muscular commitment and positive energy.

One was Pierre Spies, the big No 8 who has rather pole-axed some detractors in recent weeks, this one included.

Yes, he did bungle one routine, no-pressure kick-off collection, but otherwise the Bulls man was dynamite at Twickers.

On one sublime occasion he not only stopped a rumbling English attacker near the Bok line, he drove him several yards backwards – it is moments like that that demoralise opponents and gee-up allies.

Beast Mtawarira, meanwhile, tackled and made metres, tackled and made metres ... you get the picture of the loosehead prop’s levels of industry. Oh, and before we forget, he was also part of a jubilantly successful effort to lower the colours of a supposedly immovable English scrum!

2010-11-27 22:24
Email | Print
All the while, veteran blindside flank Juan Smith took alertness to new levels, making rangy strides at times to smash unsuspecting English raiders and counter-raiders into touch – the Bok old-firm locks weren’t too shabby in that respect, either.

Where they had come up short against the Scots for precision, the tactical kicking and body language of Ruan Pienaar and Morne Steyn was light years better here, while Jean de Villiers simply oozed zeal and tenacity and a desire to stay on the front foot.

The substitutions, so often an area of wrath by Bok monitors, were like clockwork this time: the right men came off with understandably wearying legs during the second half, and bench performers like Willem Alberts, CJ van der Linde (save for that ill-fated but ultimately not too expensive “prop’s pass”) and Adi Jacobs busied themselves with commendable immediacy.

Read the rest.

SHOOT: I am one of those who didn't give the Boks a chance against England.  I'm glad they won; shows when they concentrate, and focus, they can take on any comers.  But that's not how you win a world cup.  You need consistency for that.  DIV doesn't ooze consistency.  But let's see how it goes...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Orianthi - According To You

Ray Chaplin - First Human Powered Vertical Circumnavigation of the world

Ken Lee [VIDEO]

Shrien Dewani is officially a suspect - GASP! NO!

SHOOT: Pretty obvious from the start.  Now the question is, will he come quietly.

British tourist Shrien Dewani is now a suspect in the police investigation of the murder of his Swedish wife, Anni Dewani, in Cape Town, two highly reliable sources close to the investigation have told the Mail & Guardian.

Negotiations are taking place to persuade Dewani to return voluntarily. If he returns, he will be charged and arrested, the source said. If he doesn’t, the National Prosecuting Authority will have to extradite him from Britain.

The 30-year-old chartered accountant flew out of Cape Town four days after his wife’s body was found in Khayelitsha with a single bullet wound to the head.

The couple had just arrived on honeymoon when Dewani claimed their taxi was hijacked by two armed men after they took a late-night detour through Gugulethu two weeks ago.

The focus of the investigation shifted back to Dewani after three men were swiftly arrested by police and charged with the murder of the 28-year-old engineer and part-time model.

The taxi driver, 31-year-old Zola Tongo, who drove the newlyweds on the night of the murder, is currently negotiating a plea bargain with the state. The other two accused, 23-year-old Xolile Mngeni and 26-year-old Mzwamadoda Qwabe, have also given police their version of events.

This week Dewani appointed top South African divorce and criminal lawyer Billy Gundelfinger to keep a "watching brief". Asked whether he knew his client was a suspect in the murder investigation, Gundelfinger declined to comment.

In Britain Dewani also appointed public relations guru Max Clifford, who has created a media frenzy around his client. The British Daily Mail reported family sources this week saying that Dewani believed the South African police wanted to pin the murder of his wife on him.

The M&G sent questions to Clifford’s office this week asking for Dewani’s response to the unsubstantiated allegations that he might have been involved in his wife’s murder. Clifford’s office then issued a press statement written by his brother and business partner, Preyen Dewani, Both families wanted to see justice done, his brother wrote, and it was a difficult time for everyone.


"At this stage Shrien has not been asked to go back to South Africa. As you can imagine, he has been severely traumatised by the country and the specific threats that he too may be a target in the South African press.

"He is currently receiving medical assistance to help deal with the trauma. The family are in constant contact with the police and are fully cooperating with their investigation."

Shrien had to deal with the loss of his chosen life partner on their honeymoon, his brother wrote, and the horrific ordeal of being held up and terrorised at gunpoint.

"He is fully aware of the false accusations and the possibility that by attaching blame to him the people may divert this matter away from concern over the security of South Africa," wrote Preyen.
His brother said the couple had planned their future together and had so much to look forward to.
Meanwhile, the expected identity parade of the three men who have already appeared in court in connection with the murder did not take place this week.

Although he remained tight-lipped, journalists mobbed Rodney De Kock, the Western Cape director of public prosecutions, after the second appearance of Mngeni in court on Thursday. Topping their questions was how long it would take to extradite a person from Britain.

Unresolved questions about the murder of Anni Dewani have multiplied in the past two weeks:

  • Rape has been ruled out as a motive for the murder. At a press conference last week, police commissioner Bheki Cele said Anni had not been raped and the M&G has learned from forensic sources that the postmortem established the same. This raises questions about why the gunmen separated Anni and Shrien.
  • The goods stolen by the three men who have appeared in court comprised only a Giorgio Armani lady’s wristwatch, a gold and diamond bracelet, a lady’s handbag and a Blackberry cellphone.
  • Legal sources are baffled as to why Dewani hired a public relations expert when the men accused of murdering his wife have already been arrested. "If I was him, I would be hotfooting it over on a plane to identify them," said a legal source. "Why is he not here already? This will hold up all the legal proceedings and weaken the state’s case."
  • The British tabloid, the Sun, has alleged that the family firm, PSP Healthcare, is about R70-million in debt. Interviewed by the Sun, Shrien Dewani reportedly broke down and sobbed while talking about the "slurs" speculating he might have been involved in his wife’s killing. "How could anyone say I killed her?" he asked.
  • Taxi driver Zola Tongo is not among the preferred companies supplied by the Cape Grace Hotel, where the couple stayed. In different media interviews Dewani has given different accounts of how the couple arranged this transport.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Garage door posters

   And finally...

Cool Ad Photography

14 Tips to be a Successful Freelance Photographer

A Guest post by New York Photographer James Maher.

For some, working for yourself is one of those great dreams.  The satisfaction, freedom, nobody looking over your shoulder (except your significant other), ah the life right?  Well not in every case.  The freelance photography life can be hard.  Long hours for little pay, alone with no co-workers to speak to or have lunch with, the lack of stability of a weekly check.  You have to be dedicated and follow some specific rules to make it work.

So I thought I would write a list of things that I have learned over the years as I have progressed from a small desk in my bedroom to a slightly larger work area in my living room (gotta learn to work in small spaces here in NY).  I have made every mistake in the book over the years and here’s to helping you avoid these mistakes and to becoming more productive.

Now as a side note, I’m not going to pretend that I do all of this stuff all of the time.  I have good streaks and bad ones, but I try my best at it.  Save this list and come back to it frequently to remind yourself of what you can improve at.

1.  Create a good website with a daily blog
Your website is going to be your most important ally.  It is what most people will look at when considering you for a job and so your effort and/or money should be invested here.  Make sure it is easy to navigate and in HTML (NO FLASH!).  Keep in mind that you are only as good as your worst photo, so don’t just throw up every photo that you think looks decent.  Sometimes less is more.

If you don’t have enough content, create some!  Set up shoots with friends or seek out aspiring models who are willing to work in exchange for photos.  As long as the finished product looks great, your clients don’t have to know that these weren’t paying jobs.  After all, it’s your ability as a photographer that counts, right?

Set up a daily blog.  Update it every day with a photo, religiously.  You can take Sundays or the full weekends off.  The effect of a daily blog are wide ranging.  Unfortunately, when you start a freelance photography business, the one thing that often goes out the door is actually taking pictures.  You focus so much on getting jobs and doing them well that you forget to actually shoot for yourself.  A daily blog will keep you doing this, shooting things that you love, and it will help you improve on a daily basis.  It will also add a personality to your website and help to steadily build a community of people who are interested in your work.

2.  The jobs that scare you s***less are the most important ones

Street photography often takes you out of the realm of comfort
If you are starting out as a freelancer, you will probably get offered jobs that you are scared silly doing. Photographer Joe McNally does a great impression of a young, shivering photographer being asked how much he would charge to shoot his first wedding:  “Ccccan I pay you to do it?” he sheepishly asks.
Just remember that the jobs that scare you the most are the most important ones to get under your belt.  You won’t be nearly as scared the second time around.

Even the best photographers in the world were once scared by certain jobs, and most still are.

3.  The most valuable question in the world: “What is your budget?”

This question is the most valuable tool in a photographer’s belt.  Pricing can be the most annoying thing to figure out, especially if you are not so confident in your abilities.  I still struggle with pricing.  We don’t know how much a client has to spend.  We don’t want to underbid and either look like an inexperienced photographer or sell ourselves short for our services.  And we don’t want to overbid by too much to lose the job.  The simple question, “what budget are you trying to work with here?” puts the power in your court.

Now I rarely quote prices in the first contact, it’s just not my thing.  I say, “let me take down all of the details and get back to you soon with the price.  Is there a particular budget that you a trying to stay within (or is there a particular amount you are trying to spend on this)?”  This gives me some time to figure out the right price.
*As a side note to this, make sure to flesh out all of the details of a project before you agree to a price.  This is probably the most annoying and time consuming mistake that I constantly made when starting out.  I have nightmares of the never ending job where I was too afraid to ask for more money.  If someone asks you to go above and beyond the initial agreement, don’t feel bad about explaining this and asking for additional payment.

4.  Respond to emails and phone calls as fast as you can

If you are contacted by someone looking for your services, chances are that they just spent the time to look at your work, liked it and now you are fresh in their mind.  Every second that you wait dissipates this freshness.  Get the dialogue going quickly and the person will often not look elsewhere.

5.  Keep lists!

Lists are so important.  Big goals are reached not at once, but through series of small tasks, in list form.  With freelancing there is always so much random stuff to keep up with, often stuff you don’t feel like doing.  Having these things in a list makes them tangible and keeps them fresh in your mind.  And the rewarding feeling of crossing these things off is necessary to keep from procrastinating on the less urgent tasks.
Up until 4 months ago I was a paper list man.  I would have paper scraps of lists everywhere.  I could never find an online list service that I really felt comfortable with, until I found  It’s so simple but oh so perfect, a weekly list that you can access from any computer.  It has vastly improved my life.  Try it out.  Set your homepage to it.

6.  Set up specfic web surfing times for the day

This is a tough rule for me to follow because I have pretty bad ADD, and I like to read the internet.  While reading informative websites and such during the day can seem like it is productive, it fragments your attention.  I try to set aside specific times to surf the web.  I get it out of my system in the morning while I eat breakfast and then again at lunch.
If you have particular trouble with certain websites, there are ways to block these websites on your computer (you can find out how by googling.)  Block them every morning and then unblock them at night.

7.  Separate your personal life from your work life

Yeah right.

8.  Keep a consistent schedule

Probably the most annoying question that I get from my friends is how awesome it must be to work in my boxers.
I consider myself a professional.  I wake up every morning at the same time, shower, get dressed, put on shoes–well slippers, eat breakfast and start work at 9 (and work the same hours every day).  Start work at the same time as everyone else.  Work and sleep the same hours hours every day.  This was something that I did not do when I first started out and I lost a lot of productivity and it made work a lot less fun.  I often think about that almost ‘romantic’ ideal of the semi-deranged writer spending coffee fueled nights churning out those magical pages.  That is a tough lifestyle to succeed on.  You will have much more energy and get much more done if you keep the same early schedule every day.

9.  Low energy days and the 15 minute nap

The dreaded low energy day, the bane of my existence.  Sometimes having a boss looking over your shoulder can be a good thing.  Retouching skin for hours on end can make your eyes droopy and have you feeling like shoving a screwdriver into your brain.  All those dreaded tasks piling up, just mocking you from your list.

Besides consistent exercise and coffee (which I try to save for those rough days), the 15-20 minute power nap can be a crucial thing.  An up and coming tool often used by CEOs, but yet still frowned upon in the work place, the quick mid-day nap can clear your head and reset your energy for the day.  It is also a great way to break up a long retouching session when you get to the point where you can’t tell red from green.  I don’t do this daily, but it is a wonderful tool for those rough days.

10.  Figure out where the jobs are supposed to come from (and go out and get them!)

There is nothing wrong with contacting potential clients and letting them know about your work.  Take time to think about where you would like your jobs to come from and then figure out ways to reach these people.  The friendly email can go a long way.
Contact owners of blogs and see if they will be willing to feature your work.  Tell them you think their readers might be interested in it and if your work is good enough they will often be willing to do this without anything else.  You are offering them value for their site.  If they need more, offer to write a small post, some tips or valuable info for their readers.

11.  Don’t over promise.

If you think you can get a job finished by Friday, don’t say Friday.  You never know when something crazy will come up.  Give yourself an extra few days to work with and when you are actually able to get that job finished on Friday, the client will be very pleased with your efficiency.

12.  Speed (and why I use Lightroom.)

Being fast is so important.  It is a skill that is really built up over time, as you gain more experience.  But I can’t say enough how Lightroom has changed my life.
If you don’t use it already, it will be the best money you’ve ever spent.
The program is so intuitive and it has transformed the speed at which I am able to edit my work.
Really learn how to use the entire program and learn the keyboard shortcuts as well.  Keyboard shortcuts are amazing!

13.  Keep learning

The investment of getting a Lynda and/or Kelby training account will be a million-fold.  For those of you that don’t know, both of these are educational, video-based resources taught by highly qualified and amazing teachers.  Compared to traditional education, the value is unreal.

Each lesson is split into 5 or 10 minute videos so you can watch them at your own pace or pick out the specific information that you want to focus on. is based more on the computer side of things, with an enormous amount of Photoshop, Lightroom and web design lessons.  Kelby training is focused more on actual photography (and Photoshop).  Both are incredible investments.

14.  Have confidence!

You can do it.  It’s not easy, but believing in yourself is the most important tool to keep yourself going.  Put yourself out there.  You will screw up sometimes, but screwing up is a good thing.  It means that you are learning.  Just try not to make the same mistakes twice.
And keep in mind that the work you do during the tough times is what makes the good times happen.

James Maher is street photographer based in New York. His primary focus is on the candid, rather than the posed portrait, to give small, uninterrupted glimpses into the true personalities of everyday people. See more from James at James Maher Photography

SHOOT: Looks like I am on the right track.  Separating work and personal life is one of the tougher issues. Another is continuously anticipating and approaching new potential clients.


Review by Tim Harford
Legs of women lying in bed show through a small door
Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Allen Lane £20, 288 pages
FT Bookshop price: £16
For fans of the multimillion-selling pop-economics book, Freakonomics, all that needs to be said is that the sequel’s title is an accurate description. This book is a lot like Freakonomics, but better.
The original, a runaway hit, had its genesis in Stephen Dubner’s masterful New York Times Magazine profile of “rogue economist” Steven Levitt. “Rogue” may be stretching it a bit, because Levitt is, in fact, a garlanded and hugely influential professor at the University of Chicago.

He has applied his statistical techniques, now much emulated, to unconventional topics such as the link between abortion laws and crime, or whether sumo wrestlers cheat (they do, he concludes). The 2005 book that resulted was wide-ranging, fascinating and above all, likeable – however, it showed signs of haste, and it was never clear whether it was supposed to be a book by Steven Levitt or about him.
Book cover of 'SuperFreakonomics' by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J DubnerSuperFreakonomics offers much the same range and amiability, but is more polished. The book’s chapters cover prostitution; data analysis in healthcare and counter-terrorism; altruism; innovation; and geo-engineering. The reader may not guess the central topic from the chapter titles or the opening pages, however, which betray a fondness for springing surprises and putting twists in the storytelling.

Detours are all part of the style; an afternoon reading SuperFreakonomics is like one of those thrilling and occasionally frustrating conversations where ideas tumble out so quickly that they keep interrupting each other. In short, the book’s organisation is deliberately on the freaky side, but if you simply resolve to read it from cover to cover you are guaranteed a good time.
My favourite chapter describes the research of John List, a colleague of Levitt’s, as he zaps some of the most famous results in behavioural economics. In the “dictator” game, well-known in economic circles, player A is given $10 by the experimenter and told they can keep it all. Alternatively they can give some to anonymous player B. Many players do, indeed, hand over money, a finding that troubles conventional economic theory.

List thinks many researchers have embraced this finding too easily, however. “What is puzzling”, he comments, “is that neither I nor any of my family of friends (or their families and friends) have ever received an anonymous envelope stuffed with cash”. The lab experiments, in which large numbers of students display a preference for sending cash to anonymous strangers, need to be questioned more closely. Yet List showed that with small modifications to the dictator game, experimental subjects could be persuaded not only to curb their generosity, but to confiscate cash from others.

There is much more here, and all is told with verve and care. Levitt and Dubner have a gift for explaining precisely how a researcher discovers something. Their epilogue, on Keith Chen’s attempts to introduce currency to a monkey society, is a model of how to tell a gripping story of scientific research without compromising on accuracy.

The most eye-catching chapters in the book are the first, on prostitution, and the last, on global warming. The chapter on prostitution flits from academic research into street prostitution, carried out by Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, to an engaging profile of a high-end escort and various digressions into the economics of gender and other topics.

One of these asides provides the book’s best moment: when the authors demonstrate that a prostitute gets more money through the use of a pimp than a homeowner gets through the use of a realtor, or estate agent. The financial impact of a pimp is greater than that of a realtor, “Or, for those who prefer their conclusions rendered mathematically, PIMPACT > RIMPACT.”

Those with a prurient curiosity (I am guilty), will find some of the descriptions of what prostitutes do all day rather coy. Those with an interest in the economic angle (guilty, again), will find some questions unanswered.
“The real puzzle isn’t why someone like Allie becomes a prostitute, but rather why more women don’t choose this career,” Levitt and Dubner write. Do tell, thinks the reader, but they don’t, even though literature on the puzzle does exist. The leading research on the question is written by two women, not two men, a fact that some people will find relevant.

The analysis of street prostitution is based on careful academic work. The account of high-end prostitution is merely a journalistic profile of a single successful and intelligent woman. But Levitt and Dubner seem to have decided that while data-driven discoveries are generally wonderful, you can have too much of a good thing.
The authors claim to prefer data to “individual anecdote”, but part of the secret of their success is that they like a good story more than anyone.

As for the final chapter on global warming, it is a striking discussion of geo-engineering, surveying various schemes for cooling down the planet rather than trying to prevent climate change by cutting carbon emissions. This is a strong story, but it is also one-sided, portraying the geo-engineers as brilliant iconoclasts, dismissing the objections to geo-engineering as the knee-jerk reaction of the unreflective, and failing to convey the views of a single credible geo-engineering sceptic. A well-deserved swipe at Al Gore does not really count.
According to this chapter, the only reason everyone is making so much fuss about carbon dioxide is that they’ve never heard of geo-engineering, or are the kind of stubborn Luddites who think technology never solved anything. I have some sympathy with that view but the section nevertheless needed more balance.
In the end, a book such as SuperFreakonomics stands or falls on its entertainment value. And on that count, there’s no doubt: it’s a page-turner.

More revealing, though, was that I’d folded over at least a dozen pages, resolving to go back, follow up the references, and find out more. This is a book with plenty of style; underneath the dazzle, there is substance too.

SHOOT: I'm reading this at the moment, and I too have folded over bunches of pages.  Seminal stuff.

What should you do if your eyeball falls out of its socket?

<br>Allan Ray is helped off the court <br />
Click image to expand.
Villanova basketball star Allan Ray had his eyeball literally poked out of its socket by an opposing player in a recent game. Ray has been treating the injury with eye drops, and he planned to meet with doctors to find out if he can play in the first round of the NCAA tournament. What should you do if your eyeball comes out of your head?

Get it put back in, and soon. The longer you remain in this rare condition—known as "globe luxation"—the more strain you'll put on the blood vessels and nerves that connect your eye to the rest of your head. Your luxated globes will also be susceptible to corneal abrasions or inflammation, and the feeling of your eyelids clamped down behind them won't be pleasant.

You should be able to get your eye back in place without serious, long-term damage. (If the ocular muscles tear or if the optic nerve is severed, your outlook won't be as clear.) The treatment for globe luxation is pretty simple: Doctors apply some topical painkillers, hold back your lashes, and poke your eyeball into its socket by pressing on the white part with gloved fingers. (In some cases, they'll use a simple tool like a bent paperclip to shoehorn it back into place.) You might get antibiotics, lubricating drops, or steroids to follow up for a few days while your vision returns to normal. If your doctors can't pop your eye back in—because you've got too much swelling in the socket, for example—they'll give you an eye shield and consider a more invasive procedure.

Not all popped eyeballs come from head trauma. A few people can luxate their globes on purpose, and certain others get "spontaneous globe luxation" when their eyelids are pushed in the right way. Someone with shallow eye sockets or floppy eyelid syndrome, for example, might pop his eyeballs during a regular eye exam. You can also trigger luxation while putting in your contact lenses, or with a particularly violent sneeze. You might even pop your eyeballs by trying to exhale while keeping your nose and mouth closed (i.e., performing the Valsalva maneuver).
If your eyeballs fall out of their sockets repeatedly, you might be a candidate for a lateral tarsorrhaphy—in which doctors sew up your eyelids part of the way to keep them from opening too wide. You could also learn the following technique for popping your eye back in yourself: First direct your gaze downward. Now pinch and pull your upper eyelid with the thumb and index finger of one hand. Lay a finger from your other hand on the top part of your luxated eyeball, taking care to press only on the insensitive white part. While you continue to hold your eyelid up, push your eyeball gently down and back at the same time until it's part of the way in. Then try to look upwards; if everything goes right your eyeball will rotate under the upper lid and back into its socket.

SHOOT: So now you know.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Speedster" in court for bribing cop - now find out what speed he was going!

Johannesburg - A 38-year-old man will appear before the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday for attempting to bribe a metro police officer.

Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the man who was allegedly speeding and driving recklessly was stopped by the officer at Kibler Park in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"He was travelling along Impala Road, he was caught driving at 95km/h in a 60km/h zone. When the officer stopped and tried to give him a fine, he attempted to bribe him with R900."

Minnaar said the man was arrested and released on R1 000 bail the same day.

SHOOT: Thanks to new traffic laws and heightened enforcement, the definition of a speedster in SA has just had a major makeover.  Be warned.

Australia's honeymoon killer

Gabe Watson, Tina Watson AP – FILE - In this undated file photo released by Townsville Coroners Court on June 20, 2008, Gabe Watson, …
CANBERRA, Australia – An American man returns on Thursday to the United States where he could face prosecution for drowning his wife during their 2003 honeymoon on the Great Barrier Reef, a crime for which he has served 18 months in an Australian prison.

Gabe Watson, 33, was deported on a commercial flight Thursday from the southern Australian city of Melbourne to Los Angeles accompanied by two Immigration Department staff and three Queensland state police officers, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.

Watson had been in immigration custody since completing an 18-month prison sentence earlier this month after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of his wife of 11 days, 26-year-old Tina Watson. Australia, a stanch opponent of capital punishment, delayed his deportation until it received a pledge from the U.S. government that it would not seek the death penalty against Watson.
Prosecutors in Alabama, Watson's home and a pro-death penalty state, want to try him again over his wife's death, and are expected to seek murder charges.
Bowen said Watson returned voluntarily after both Alabama and U.S. federal authorities guaranteed that he would not face the death penalty.
Watson's lawyer, Adrian Braithwaite, said his client was happy to go.
"He's looking forward to returning home and successfully defending himself if there's a trial there," Braithwaite told The Associated Press.

SHOOT: This guy took 11 days to murder his wife.  Doesn't this make the prospect of marriage even scarier for women?  And what do you call the equivalent of a black widow?  A black widower?  Or a bride goon.

African population will triple

Nairobi - African cities are facing disastrous overpopulation as urban populations across the continent continue to swell dramatically, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

UN-Habitat's The State of African Cities 2010 report warned that African city populations will more than triple by 2050, when 60% of an estimated 1.23 billion Africans are expected to live in urban centres.

The report said that Africa is the fastest urbanising continent in the world, with an urban growth rate of 3.41%.

Yet, as the authors of the report point out, many African cities are already teeming with slums and increasing populations could lead to disaster.

SHOOT: Overpopulation without resources - or in layman's terms, poor folk having large families on a continental scale - is a recipe for large scale social disaster. The answer is education, and economic empowerment or investment, and possibly Africa's resources can still save its people, or substantial fractions of Africans.

US house sales are bumping along the bottom

, On Wednesday November 24, 2010, 10:46 am
WASHINGTON (AP) -- New home sales tumbled in October while the median home price dropped to the lowest point in seven years.

Sales of new single-family homes declined 8.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 283,000 units in October, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

It was the fourth time the sales rate has dropped in the past six months. New home sales are just 2.9 percent above August's pace of 275,000 units -- the lowest level on records dating back to 1963.
Many economists believe it could take three years for the industry to get back to a healthy annual rate of sales of around 600,000 homes.
The median price of a home sold in October dipped to $194,900, the lowest level since October 2003.
Some analysts downplayed the drop in sales, saying that when the market is this low it is vulnerable to high volatility.

"Sales are bumping along the bottom, showing no real inclination to start recovering or, thankfully, to fall any further," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.
High unemployment, tighter bank lending standards and uncertainty about home prices have kept people from buying homes. Government tax credits had propelled the market earlier this year but those expired in April.
Weak housing sales mean fewer jobs in the construction industry, a sector that normally powers economic recoveries.

SHOOT: Bumping along towards another Great Depression...?

5 Ways to Beat Holiday Bulge (Without Gaining the Holiday Blues)

LIVESTRONG's tips on staying Happy, Healthy and Fit This Holiday Season
By August McLaughlin

Ah, the holidays. The time for togetherness, food, stress, and weight gain? If weight loss tops your holiday wish list or if the fear of weight gain is sucking the fun out of the season, it's time to treat yourself to a large serving of attitude adjustment. Even the busiest holiday bees can keep it all under control and under bulge with some choice management methods and a healthy mindset.
If you know you have a holiday party in the evening, exercise that day, eat healthfully leading up to the party and do not skip meals.
Lauren Schmitt, RD

Become a Healthy Grazer

Severely restricting calories or skipping meals can dampen your mood, increase your appetite and ultimately lead to weight gain.

Eating smaller, balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day can enhance your blood sugar and energy level while preventing excessive hunger. This is particularly important when you have a holiday event scheduled in the evening. "If you arrive at the party hungry, disaster awaits," says registered dietitian Lauren Schmitt. If you eat healthy snacks throughout the day, you won't be ravenous when you arrive at a dinner party. Schmitt suggests topping your plate with smaller portions than you're accustomed to, then putting your fork down and assessing your hunger partway through the meal. If you're no longer hungry, stop eating. But what if the food tastes incredible? What if it's the tastiest morsel ever to cross your lips? "Remind yourself that you can always have it again, just not right now," says Schmitt.

Manage Your Stress

Emotional stress can lead to poor food choices, overeating, weight gain and guilt.

Eating for comfort or other emotional reasons rather than hunger is normal and harmless if it happens occasionally. If, however, you are a habitual emotional eater and have weight to lose, the holidays can trigger multiple challenges and result in weight gain, according to Geneen Roth, workshop leader and author of eight books, including "Breaking Free From Emotional Eating." Roth explains that coping with holiday stress with food only provides temporary comfort. If your food cravings increase along with your stress load, seek alternate means of comfort and relief. This may mean going for a walk, practicing yoga, having coffee with a friend, getting weekly massages or taking a warm bubble bath. Whatever your non-food-related sources of comfort and relaxation are, practice them. Consider it a gift to yourself that can help improve your dietary behaviors and prevent you from becoming a Grinch this holiday season.

Run and Play

Active playtime can burn calories, distract you from snack foods and draw you closer to your loved ones.

Staying active throughout the holiday season is crucial. If you find treadmills and sweaty gyms unappealing, fear not. You do not need to "go out and run a marathon to get fit," says Jodi Kealoha, fitness trainer and owner of Jodi K's Luv UrSelf Fitness. "The holidays are a great opportunity to play with children and animals." Walk your dog. Build a snowman. Play hide-and-seek with the wee ones in your family. Kealoha also recommends running your errands -- literally. Wear your sneakers to the mall and grocery store and park far away. Then walk briskly, jog or run to your destination. Making fitness fun can allow you to exercise without feeling as though you're participating in a grueling workout. If you enjoy dancing, dance. If you enjoy hiking, hike. Incorporate a variety of enjoyable activities into your lifestyle for maximum benefits.

Get Your Zs

Healthy sleep habits can prevent excessive hunger, mood swings and lethargy.

Sleep is your body's time to restore itself. Sleeping too little is directly correlated to how much you eat and exercise, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep nightly, even during the busy holiday weeks. Your bedroom should be dark and comfortable, and your caffeine intake should not carry on into the evening. Eating a large meal close to bedtime can also disturb your sleep. "If you're unusually hungry at night [after normal food intake], go to sleep," says Kealoha. "Remind yourself that you can always eat more tomorrow."

Practice Gratitude

Focusing on the positives in your life, rather than your waistline, can improve your physical and emotional well-being.

Don't become anxious when you see tables filled with delicious food, and avoid focusing on any dietary restrictions you've set for yourself. Instead, focus your attention on the people around you. Practicing gratitude can be key for weight loss or weight maintenance success, according to Laurie Tossy, professional wellness coach and author of "Refuse to Diet: Weight Loss Success Starts With Your Mind Not Your Mouth." Grateful people can lose weight more successfully, Tossy explains, and they can enjoy their lives a whole lot more. She recommends feeding your soul and mind with grateful thoughts each night before going to sleep and every morning upon waking. A similar principle can be applied to holiday parties. Make a concentrated effort to feel and express gratitude to the host of the party, to your friends and family, and for the healthy foods you can enjoy. Appreciate the simple facts that you are alive, well and included in activities with loved ones. In the end, your own health and the ability to maintain it is that ultimate gift of the season.
Read more:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why are manhole covers round you ask? Here's why!

Originally meant as a psychological assessment of how one approaches a question with more than one correct answer, the problem has produced a number of alternate explanations, from the pragmatic ("Manhole covers are round because manholes are round.")[6] to the philosophical.
Reasons for the shape include:
  • A round manhole cover cannot fall through its circular opening, whereas a square manhole cover may fall in if it were inserted diagonally in the hole. (A Reuleaux triangle or other curve of constant width would also serve this purpose, but round covers are much easier to manufacture. The existence of a "lip" holding up the lid means that the underlying hole is smaller than the cover, so that other shapes might suffice.)
  • Round tubes are the strongest and most material-efficient shape against the compression of the earth around them, and so it is natural that the cover of a round tube assume a circular shape.
  • Similarly, it is easier to dig a circular hole and thus the cover is also circular.
  • The bearing surfaces of manhole frames and covers are machined to assure flatness and prevent them from becoming dislodged by traffic. Round castings are much easier to machine using a lathe.
  • Circular covers do not need to be rotated to align them when covering a circular manhole.
  • Human beings have a roughly circular cross-section.
  • A round manhole cover can be more easily moved by being rolled.
  • If a cover had corners and were bent that would create a protruding point that could puncture tires.
  • Most manhole covers are made by a few large companies. A different shape would have to be custom made.
SHOOT: I would have answered that the circular shape is safest in terms of tyre traffic and also best in terms of wear and tear [on tyres and on the cover].  The cirular shape is also stronger in the same sense that engineers build curved dam walls.   It's also a great platform to stand on when Scotty decides to beam you up [or down], but only before or after rush hour.

Mammatus Clouds

True to their ominous appearance, Mammatus clouds are often harbingers of a coming storm or other extreme weather system.

Typically composed primarily of ice, they can extend for hundreds of miles in each direction and individual formations can remain visibly static for ten to fifteen minutes at a time.

While they may appear foreboding they are merely the messengers - appearing around, before or even after severe weather.

>>>Thanks Marethe!