Sunday, July 31, 2011

WARNING: Illusions are Real

SHOOT: I love the Homer graphic near the end!

Feliks Zemdegs: Rubik's cube world record

Pakistan spiders go berserk!

SHOOT: I dunno; it looks kinda cool!

Eerie phenomenon may be a blessing in disguise, as the hungry spiders have significantly reduced the mosquito population.

By Bryan NelsonThu, Mar 31 2011 at 3:58 AM EST

Web-covered trees in Pakistan 
COCOONED: Trees cocooned in spiders' webs after flooding in Sindh, Pakistan. (Photo: Russell Watkins/UK Department for International Development/Flickr)
Even the elders in Pakistan's Sindh province admit they've never seen anything like it: whole trees encased in webs by millions of invading spiders. The mysterious phenomenon may be an unexpected result of the devastating floods that swept over Sindh in 2010, reports Wired
According to scientists, the spiders likely collected in the trees after fleeing from the rising floodwaters. At their height, the floods covered as much as a fifth of the country and displaced as many as 20 million people.

One unexpected blessing from the bizarre post-flood event is that the hungry spiders seem to be significantly reducing mosquito populations. Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases became a serious concern in the region after the floods receded and left the landscape blanketed in stagnant water. But areas of Sindh with the most web-covered trees also have reported fewer cases of malaria.
It's a strange fix for such a pervasive problem, but nature has an odd way of striking a balance. Since reconstruction in the worst-hit regions of the country could take years, the cocooned trees may turn into an unexpected symbol of nature's good will — in spite of their spookiness.
More photos, courtesy of the U.K.'s Department for International Development, reveal the alien-like world of the webbed trees:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Change the 5 habits that are holding you back

SHOOT: Some powerful advice here.  I think we are all procrastinators...  Simple fix: just get the damn thing done.

By: Norine Dworkin-McDaniel

I was meeting my friend Linda at our favorite Brooklyn cafe to discuss a project. "Six, sharp. I'll see you then," I promised. And by 6:15 p.m., there sat Linda, with a cool margarita in front of her and steam coming out of her ears. I breezed in at 6:30, full of apologies and excuses. But it was no use: I was late -- again -- and she was furious. She tartly informed me that if I kept her waiting once more, I'd be kicked off the project. Everyone's got bad habits such as lateness or procrastination. But if you consistently act in ways that cause you to lose face, lose friends, or fail when a goal is within reach, your harmless personality quirks may have morphed into serious self-sabotage. "A bad habit becomes destructive when your behavior causes more than momentary regret and leaves you feeling disappointed in yourself," says Pauline Wallin, PhD, author of Taming Your Inner Brat.
Why do we derail our own happiness? Experts attribute it to a variety of unconscious beliefs: nagging doubt about whether we really deserve what we're striving for; apprehension that we won't be able to handle increased expectations and responsibilities; even fear that our achievement may isolate us from our peers or family members.
To overcome self-sabotage, you must first identify its origin and then take steps to interrupt the cycle. Here are five ways you might be tripping yourself up, and suggestions for how to (finally) get out of your own way.
Related: QUIZ: Does Your Body Image Need a Boost?

Fatal Flaw #1: You procrastinate.

Tomorrow is soon enough. Besides, you excel under pressure.
The ugly truth: You're secretly afraid your work won't be perfect and you'll be outed as a fraud. "Procrastinators tend to be very concerned about what other people think of them," says Joseph Ferrari, PhD, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago. "If you worry that you will never perform as well as you have in the past, fear of failure may be halting your progress." Putting off work provides a ready-made excuse: Instead of admitting failure, you can always blame your busy schedule and overbooked calendar. "That way, you can tell yourself the project would have been successful if only you'd had more time," Ferrari explains.
The fix: Play the worst-case-scenario game. The next time your grasp on deadlines starts to slip -- something even the worst procrastinator can recognize -- take a moment to look inward for the source of your foot dragging. Ask yourself what's the absolute worst that could happen. Then spin the consequences out to their most ludicrous degree: Would your family and friends disown you? Would you end up starving and homeless? Would the cat die? Once you've realized things aren't so awful, you can get past the anxiety and focus on the work, says Ferrari.
Related: No More Excuses: 18 Ways to Stick to Your Goals

Fatal Flaw #2: You shop yourself into bankruptcy.

You deserve to have nice things -- but unfortunately treating yourself can lead to lively early-morning chats with bill collectors and a colorful credit report.
The ugly truth: "Impulse shopping is another way to mask negative feelings," explains Dana Lightman, PhD, a behavioral psychologist in Philadelphia. So, like emotional eaters who gorge on ice cream when they're down, chronic spenders try to numb feelings of boredom, depression, or inadequacy by filling up on stuff. With every shiny new purchase, splurge-aholics tell themselves: Well, okay, so I didn't solve that nagging problem today, but at least I cleaned out the shoe department at Nordstrom. Some people find it easier to decorate their lives in an effort to create the appearance, rather than the substance, of success. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with a little retail therapy, but if you're sinking into debt, regularly paying your bills late, and not achieving your financial goals, then it's a problem you literally can't afford.
The fix: Know yourself as well as you know what you own. Carol Leslie, an executive coach in Cleveland, suggests you use a trusty dieters' trick to keep track of the things you normally do without thinking -- like polish off a quart of ice cream. Or, in this case, shop. Attach a small, thin notebook around your wallet with a rubber band so that it can serve as a reminder to write down your feelings whenever you're tempted to mindlessly reach for plastic. Pretty soon you'll begin to recognize what sets you off before you click "Buy Now!" -- and learn to find healthy distractions instead. "Go for a run, talk to a friend, see a movie, do anything that will get you out of a shopping mode," says Leslie.
Related: 20 Ways to Shop Smarter, Cook Faster, and Eat Healthier

Fatal Flaw #3: You binge when your goal weight is within sight.
You've earned some quality just-us girls time with your old pals Little Debbie, Mrs. Fields, and Sara Lee.
The ugly truth:
You may not have been prepared for the male attention your new body brings, which can make you feel vulnerable. Or maybe your friends seem jealous of your success, and you're uncomfortable with their scrutiny. Getting down to a healthy weight also means maintaining it, which is a tough task unto itself. Plus, when things don't go your way -- you get dumped or you don't get the job you went after -- you can't use your "It's because I'm fat" excuse. "Life often feels simpler without these issues, and it's easier to eat a whole bag of potato chips and retreat to your fatter, safer world," explains Connie Tyne, executive director of the Cooper Wellness Program in Dallas.
The fix: See yourself the way others do. It's hard to stop thinking of yourself as overweight even after the pounds are gone. But improving your self-image can help ease the emotional transition into smaller sizes, says Linda Spangle, RN, author of 100 Days of Weight Loss. "Enroll in a public-speaking class to build self-esteem and increase your comfort level around people." You can also get a boost by making a list of your greatest attributes, which is what most people notice anyway. "Describe what you're like at your best," Spangle suggests. "Maybe you're energetic or you smile a lot or regale your friends with funny stories. Thinking in terms of confidence and strength makes you act in terms of confidence and strength."
Related: Real Women, Real Beauty: Why Our Flaws Are Beautiful

Fatal Flaw #4: You're habitually late.

It's never your fault -- your mom called, the dog got sick, traffic was brutal...
The ugly truth: Being late could be your passive-aggressive way of getting back at those who force you to adhere to their timetable. "Blaming your tardiness on a hectic schedule is easier than admitting you're resentful about constraints being placed on your time," says Spangle. Your chronic lateness may also be a sign that you're subconsciously trying to undermine the situation, lash out at a friend or, in the case of work, get fired. If you're late for something that is a big taboo, like a job interview, it may show your ambivalence about whether you really want the gig. "Rather than risk a poor showing in the new position, you ensure that the opportunity never arises," says Rebecca Curtis, PhD, professor of psychology at Adelphi University.
The fix: Make up your mind. Be clear about what you want. "If it's a career issue, ask yourself if your interest in your job is waning," says Kathryn Cramer, PhD, author of Change the Way You See Everything Through Asset-Based Thinking. "Being late is a way of disconnecting. This can be a warning that it's time to take stock and either recommit yourself or make a change." Bonus hint: Be proactive and adjust your actions or attitude rather than wait to get canned. You're always better off controlling events instead of waiting for them to control you.
Related: Stress Busters: Simple Ways to Chill Out Now

Fatal Flaw #5: You pick fights with your partner.

"I can't help it. He used to be great but now he's just driving me crazy."
The ugly truth:  Creating unnecessary drama in your relationship is typically a holdover from childhood, explains James Tobin, PhD, clinical instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. While you were growing up, a parent unknowingly may have established conditions for love, and you've unconsciously learned that you have to look a certain way, act in a particular manner, or achieve certain goals before you're deemed worthy. The result: "You end up fearing that just as you're ready to make a commitment, your partner will see your true self and find a reason to not love you," says Tobin.
The fix: Don't jump to conclusions. Maybe your analysis of his behavior is just wrong. For instance, if your boyfriend had to cancel your big night out on the town, that doesn't necessarily mean he wants out of the relationship. Maybe he really did have to work late. Remember, even people who love you get caught up in their own lives. The realization that many things have little or nothing to do with you can mitigate the drama, says Tobin. "It's like changing the rearview mirror in your car. If you rotate it just a little bit, you get a whole new perspective."

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400mm falls in one morning in Seoul

SHOOT: If the icecaps are melting, then more water and water vapour enters the system, and it stands to reason that more places will experience flooding. Which is exactly what we are seeing in Australia, the USA, parts of Europe, South Africa, South Korea and the Philippines. Did I say 'if' the icecaps are melting...?

Torrential rain wreaks havoc in Seoul and beyond

Dozens dead as Gangnam area turns into a river and subway stations shut

Public buses are currently avoiding the Gangnam area altogether due to the heavy flooding.

Seoulites who thought the monsoon had come and gone and were making holiday plans this week have been shocked by rainstorms and landslides which left dozens dead nationwide.
Some 400 millimeters of torrential rain hit Seoul this morning, swamping city roads and causing massive landslides throughout the country. The rain is forecast to continue until Thursday, and central regions will likely get up to another 300 millimeters of precipitation, according to weather reports from the Korea Meteorological Administration.

Read more: Torrential rain wreaks havoc in Seoul and beyond |

Elite cyclists: Free VO2max/Peak power test and a chance to earn R3000 for doing timetrials

SHOOT: Since I've left Bellville, I'm sharing this with you lot.  Contact details below.
Hi there
I got hold of your contact details from Sunita Potgieter at Tygerberg.
At the moment we are running a lab based cycle challenge which offers elite cyclists the opportunity to get their VO2max/Peak power output tested for free.
Depending on your results you may also qualify to participate in an upcoming research trial starting early August should you be interested.
We'll be testing the effect of an antioxidant supplement on time trial performance. In total the trial lasts for 12 weeks. During this time volunteers will be on a supplement and then need to come in for a number of scheduled visits to our lab to complete a 30km time trial in each instance (e.g once every 2nd week or so). Also there will be blood samples that need to be taken at certain time points.  The rest of the time one can continue training as per normal except that ones’ diet and training is recorded in the days before each time trial.
Participants in the trial each receive R3000 as compensation for their time. Also, detailed feedback on their performance and diet etc.
Please advise if you’re at all interested so that we can schedule a time slot in the lab challenge which suits your schedule anytime next week. Thank you.
Kind Regards
Jeandre’ Viljoen
Lab manager
Exercise Lab
Department of Physiology
University of Stellenbosch
Tel: 021 – 808 4564
Cell: 072 966 1531

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Signs supporting gay marriage

SHOOT: These are funny, but I tend to support Kunstler's view on gay marriage.  Here it is:

James Kunstler:  [This] brings me to the troublesome subject of gay marriage, which is lately up for debate in the legislature of New York State where I live, making it the public's business. I have an unpopular view of it for men of my demographic (Democrat, Boomer). I'm not in favor of it. I don't think it is a good idea. I don't have empirical proof, but I suspect that unsettling such an age-old and fundamental social arrangement will produce strange unanticipated consequences that we are not prepared for. I don't believe gay marriage is a genuine social justice issue. I think it is a bid for a kind of broad social approbation which does not require ritual enactment in law, and would be socially mischievous to pursue. Civil unions would cover the necessary legal issues. Otherwise, it is a case of unwarranted relativism, a Boomer weakness. Not all conditions or states of being in this world are the same. Some things are on the margins because they are marginal.
What fascinates me in the debate is the narcissism of Boomers, males especially, who advocate so earnestly in favor of gay marriage. Is it really about the law and social relations, or is it about making yourself feel good? Is it just more posturing for moral brownie points, for approval? Is your job and social position or maybe even sense of yourself at stake if you have a differing view?

As much as the gay community wishes, they will never persuade the non-gay majority that homosexual behavior is wholesome, in particular between males. In reality, the norm of male gay social behavior is extreme promiscuity with predatory overtones -- hence, for example, all the problems the Catholic church is having with what is basically a homosexual subculture devoted almost exclusively to victimizing boys. 

Political protests are always a little more fun when the protesters are a little more fabulous. With the legalization of gay marriage in New York, the writing appears to be on the wall for opponents of marriage equality. That's a little bittersweet, since the writing on these pro-gay marriage protest signs is entertaining enough that we're definitely going to miss them when the battle is finally over nationwide.

Posted 7/14/11:

Anders Behring Breivik seeks to bring about civilisational change

“Celebrate us, the martyrs of the conservative revolution, for we will soon dine in the kingdom of heaven.” - Anders Behring Breivik

SHOOT: More likely he'll be dining in jail. Change is coming, but bombs and bullets won't start the process. Bankruptcies and economic hardship will. Faux money and fiat currencies becoming worthless are far more powerful agents. Of course, the latter process is well underway. Just watch the US debt default on August 2, at the time of writing, just 1 week away.

More: Killer personifies rise of new far-right

I Wanna Go - Britney Spears Video

SHOOT: Quite a lot of effort went into this video. I guess the girl is back.