Welcome to Medary.com Thursday, March 23 2023 @ 09:20 AM CST

Current Affairs

Shuttle Atlantis set to launch

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Yahoo News:  Good weather predicted for space shuttle
Forecasters are predicting an 80 percent chance of good weather at space shuttle launch time tonight, and the fueling of the huge external tank began on time shortly before 10 a.m. EDT. The blastoff of Atlantis is scheduled for 7:38 p.m. EDT Friday on a mission to continue construction of the international space station.

The global savings glut

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Cato Institute:  The global savings glut and its consequences

The world is experiencing an unprecedented glut of savings, driving down real interest rates. It is a good time to borrow rather than lend, and to buy equities rather than bonds. This has implications for central banks, corporations and individual investors.

China is investing $3 billion, a tiny fraction of its $1.2 trillion of reserves, in Blackstone, a U.S. private equity company. More such equity investments will surely follow. India, OPEC members, and other developing countries with large foreign exchange reserves should emulate China's strategy.

Foreign exchange reserves are typically invested in bonds of G-7 countries, above all in U.S. Treasury bonds. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers estimates that developing countries are holding more than $2 trillion of reserves in excess of their needs to combat currency volatility. If this excess is invested in equities rather than bonds, the resultant gains could exceed $100 billion.

Apes and culture

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Ah, another simian story from the friendly folks at ScienceDaily:
"We have robust evidence that in chimpanzees there is a considerable capacity for cultural spread of innovations," said Dr. Andrew Whiten of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "This strengthens the interpretation of cases of behavioral diversity in the wild as socially transmitted traditions. Moreover, we have now shown that chimpanzees can sustain cultures that are made up of several traditions. This again is consistent with what is seen in the wild, where chimpanzees are thought to show up to 20 traditions that define their unique local culture."

Why low-carb works

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The science guys did a study:
"Although the purpose of both of these studies was to glean insights into metabolic physiology, our findings suggest that increased levels of FGF21 may be a potential mechanism behind low-carbohydrate diets' beneficial properties when it comes to lipid metabolism," says Maratos-Flier. "Diets that limit carbohydrates and eliminate transfats, and at the same time emphasize fiber and good fats, appear to be healthiest, especially among individuals who are predisposed to developing diabetes."
(Emphasis mine)

The "consensus" on global warming

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Reporter Lawrence Solomon of Canada's Financial Post set out to document those "few" scientists who aren't on board with the common view on climate change.  He titled the series "The Deniers."  He thought he'd turn up a few wackos.  But then . . .

My series set out to profile the dissenters -- those who deny that the science is settled on climate change -- and to have their views heard. To demonstrate that dissent is credible, I chose high-ranking scientists at the world's premier scientific establishments. I considered stopping after writing six profiles, thinking I had made my point, but continued the series due to feedback from readers. I next planned to stop writing after 10 profiles, then 12, but the feedback increased. Now, after profiling more than 20 deniers, I do not know when I will stop -- the list of distinguished scientists who question the IPCC grows daily, as does the number of emails I receive, many from scientists who express gratitude for my series.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position.

Right Said Fred

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Fred's too sexy for his show, too sexy for his show, too sexy . . .
WASHINGTON - Republican Fred Thompson took the first formal step toward a widely expected bid for the presidency, establishing a preliminary campaign committee on Friday.

The "testing the waters" committee allows Thompson — a former Tennessee senator and actor best known for his film and television roles, including as a prosecutor on NBC's "Law & Order" — to raise money, hire staff and gauge support without officially committing to a White House bid and without having to publicly disclose donations or expenditures.
Too sexy.

(See, 'cause he's "on the right" and his name is Fred.  IT'S FUNNY!!!)

When the going gets tough, take some hostages

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Hey, it worked well enough the first time (just ask Jimmy Carter), so the Iranians have started taking Americans hostage again:
Rarely have so many journalists, politicians and commentators so totally missed a headline. There are now five American hostages in Iran. Each case has been largely treated by itself, almost as if it were an oddity, something requiring a special explanation, instead of another piece in a luminously clear pattern whose meaning should be intuitively obvious to us all.
Of course, the first time around was an act of war rather than the current petty thuggery, but unfortunately we had history's worst American President in office at the time.

Orang-utans and walking upright

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I've been worried, it's been almost a week since the last simian article of note.  But never fear, ScienceDaily comes through with:
Lessons From The Orangutans: Upright Walking May Have Begun In The Trees
Because these ancestors were probably fruit-eaters, as orangutans are, they would have needed a way to navigate the thin, flexible branches at the tree's periphery, where the fruit typically is. Moving on two legs and using their arms primarily for balance, or "hand-assisted bipedalism," may have helped them travel on these branches.The researchers analyzed nearly 3,000 examples of observed orangutan movement, and found that the orangutans were more likely to use hand-assisted bipedalism when they were on the thinnest branches. When bipedal, the animals also tended to grip multiple branches with their long toes.