Welcome to Medary.com Friday, July 12 2024 @ 01:52 PM CST

Current Affairs

Iraq: Bad and getting worse?

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This story reports the numbers, from the Associated Press, of the death toll in Baghdad:

December, 2006: 1,222, or 39.42 per day.
January, 2007: 954, or 30.77 per day.
February, 2007:  494 (as of Feb. 26), or 19 per day.

Now, 19 per day is still a lot in a city of 5 million, but the trend line is good.

Stromboli Erupts!

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Snookums and I cruised by the island a while ago:

Two big lava flows burst out of Stromboli's side on Tuesday, sending up vast plumes of steam as they plunged into the Mediterranean below. Authorities said there was no immediate risk to people living on the island, off the coast of Sicily.

"The eruption (lava flows) are very well fed," said Enzo Boschi, head of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology.

CompUSA retreats from Kansas City

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Kansas City Star:

After the restructuring, CompUSA will have one store in Kansas, in Wichita, and no stores in Missouri.

The company will continue to operate 103 stores in 39 states and Puerto Rico.

I'm not sure I ever bought anything at CompUSABest Buy beats the brains out of CompUSA on most things, and I'm not exactly a Best Buy fan myself.  Micro Center, now, THERE'S a store that's geek-heaven.


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Researchers at Washington University (the St. Louis one) look at how we humans behave towards money:

Now psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis have published a paper to support that claim. Studying delayed gratification and risk, the psychologists found that people are more likely to wait on collecting full payment for a non-consumable monetary reward than they are for any of three consumable rewards — beer, candy and soda.

Leonard Green, Ph.D., professor of psychology, and Joel Myerson, Ph.D., research professor of psychology, in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, along with their graduate students, Daniel D. Holt and Sara J. Estle, study the effect that delay to receipt of a reward has on the subjective value of that reward.

Their research looks at factors that affect the degree of self-control that people exercise, both the factors that increase the degree of self-control and those that increase impulsive decision-making.

More specifically, the researchers recently found that delayed monetary rewards are discounted less steeply than rewards that are directly consumable, such as soda.

For instance, if the average person were given the choice between an amount of soda right away and $50 worth of soda that they would have to wait six months to get, most people would take significantly less than $50 worth of soda now (discounting the value of the delayed soda considerably).

In contrast, the person given a choice between an amount of money right now and $50 in six months would not discount the delayed money nearly as much as the soda.

Are We Winning?

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Rich Lowry, of the Corner, received this from a "Pentagon Intel Guy."  You might not have heard this from Katie Couric or Keith Olbermann, and certainly not from any Democrat in Congress (except, perhaps, Joe Lieberman);

Since my job at the Pentagon is to follow and report these kinds of things- there are several trends we are seeing lately.

1) Definite and measurable decrease in number of sectarian killings within Baghdad: From nearly 1,400 to 680 in the last two months.

2) We are killing and capturing increasing numbers of Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda fighters. And when I say "we"- I mean Multi-National Forces Iraq as well as the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police Commando, and the newer "National Guard"/Territorial Forces in Anbar.

3) The recent bombings in ANBAR demonstrate red on red kinetic operations. Something which has been rare until the last few months. More and more Sunni tribes are pledging fealty to the Iraqi government and the Coalition and turning their back on the insurgents/AQI. This has caused them to be targeted.

We have seen the enemy bomb police recruitment drives, and now mosques of "apostate" Imams and Sheikhs who have sided with the Americans. This has happened twice in the last week. While the mainstream media considers this more proof of failure- it is actually a sign of the precarious position the terrorists are in. They need the Sunni population to protect them and shelter them. If they are now butchering them like everyone else- this could be a turning point in the relationship. This is crucial to watch. We need to protect the tribal leaders who have come over to us- and AQI knows that it is a death sentence for them if they can't stop it.

Emphasis added.

Let's call it the 'Pelosi Plunge'

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Re: today's stock market selloff--we might as well blame the new sheriff in town . . . Nancy Pelosi.

So, in honor of the Democrats' craven spineless opportunistic policies on, well, everything, I dub this little stock market move:

The Pelosi Plunge.

UPDATE:  So, what's happening?  Apparently, the trouble started in the Shanghai market, over concerns that the Chinese government will hit the brakes by raising interest rates and/or reducing the money supply in China.  That was the first domino to fall.

What's curious is the 200-point drop in the U.S. markets at 3 pm EST.  Somebody kicked in a bigtime sell program.  Who, and why, we're yet to find out.

UPDATE 2:  Apparently, the 200-point drop was due to Dow Jones' computers melting down due to the volume of trades.  Probably no conspiracy theory there.

Find The Agenda: Health Research Edition

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Let's play Find The Agenda, shall we?

Item 1:  Painkillers raise blood pressure.

Men who took 15 or more NSAID pills a week were 48 percent more likely than non-users to have high blood pressure. The drugs can affect the ability of blood vessels to expand, and may also cause sodium retention -- two factors that can both raise blood pressure.

Being overweight reduced the risk from acetaminophen, but raised the risk from NSAIDS, the researchers found.

Of course, the news story does not discount the possibility that men who are prone to high blood pressure feel more pain than normal, and hence take more pain-killers (i.e. confusing cause and effect).

Item 2:  Garlic doesn't lower cholesterol.

Participants were randomly assigned to eat the equivalent of an average clove of garlic in either raw form or garlic pills, or dummy pills, six days weekly for six months.

Raw garlic was mixed into salsa, fat-free mayonnaise or other condiments spread on portobello mushroom sandwiches, chicken quesadillas and other specialty sandwiches. Participants in the garlic pill and dummy pill groups also got sandwiches, but without garlic.

Bad breath and body odor were reported by more than half the raw garlic eaters, and a handful of people in the supplement groups reported flatulence, but there were no major side effects. There also was virtually no effect on cholesterol levels in any of the groups.

And the answer is:  The anti-asprin-and-garlic-omelet lobby is hard at work once again.  Bastards.

Spain takes aim at impostor pigs

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That's the word on the street, er, Yahoo News, anyway:
MADRID, Spain - Spain plans to impose stricter rules on production of a staple of the national diet and increasingly popular export -- ham from free-range pigs that feed on acorns and herbs -- in order to weed out stable-bound impostors, a newspaper said Sunday.

The salt-cured ham, like Italian prosciutto but darker and chewier, is produced around Spain from a breed called the Iberian pig, a dark, long-legged creature with a pointy snout.

But because of ambiguous laws, the techniques used in many provinces do not comply with traditional standards for the ham to receive a certificate of quality, much like the 'denomination of origin' used in the wine industry, El Pais said.
Avast ye, ye swine!

Chimps use spears?

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Chimpanzee seen hunting with weapon
Pruetz's study was funded by Iowa State University and the National Geographic Society.

Her Iowa State graduate students continue to observe other emerging patterns among chimpanzees in Senegal.

"In a million years I never would've predicted that I would've seen (hunting)," she said. "I'm going to plug along and see what unfolds."

Don't they know that humans have exclusive rights to weapons use on this planet?  What's next?  Squirrels shooting BB guns back at misbehaving boys?

How much is that doggie coat in the window?

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A story from Yahoo News: 

Some coats may have fur from dogs
The Humane Society of the United States said it purchased coats from reputable outlets, such as upscale Nordstrom, with designer labels -- Andrew Marc, Tommy Hilfiger, for example -- and found them trimmed with fur from domestic dogs, even though the fur was advertised as fake.

"It's an industrywide deception," said Kristin Leppert, the head of the Human Society's anti-fur campaign.
The solution is obvious.  Buy your fur coats from Wal-Mart.  They might still be dog, but you'll at least have some comfort in knowing that the meat didn't go to waste.

Yeah, that was completely uncalled-for.  Sorry.