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Old 05-10-2011, 01:35 PM   #2501
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http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease...ter-shapes-dna

How Water Shapes DNA

Water molecules surround the genetic material DNA in a very specific way. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have discovered that, on the one hand, the texture of this hydration shell depends on the water content and, on the other hand, actually influences the structure of the genetic substance itself. These findings are not only important in understanding the biological function of DNA; they could also be used for the construction of new DNA-based materials.

The DNA's double helix never occurs in isolation; instead, its entire surface is always covered by water molecules which attach themselves with the help of hydrogen bonds. But the DNA does not bind all molecules the same way.

"We've been able to verify that some of the water is bound stronger whereas other molecules are less so," notes Dr. Karim Fahmy, Head of the Biophysics Division at the Institute of Radiochemistry. This is, however, only true if the water content is low. When the water sheath swells, these differences are adjusted and all hydrogen bonds become equally strong. This, in turn, changes the geometry of the DNA strand: The backbone of the double helix, which consists of sugar and phosphate groups, bends slightly. "The precise DNA structure depends on the specific amount of water surrounding the molecule," summarizes Dr. Fahmy.


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Old 05-10-2011, 01:38 PM   #2502
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...oys-house.html

Dog opens four doors to get into basement and sit in bath full of cold water as huge blaze destroys house

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz1LypUht11



A home was destroyed in a blaze that firefighters took six hours to get under control, but Mia the family's dog miraculously survived the ordeal.

The one-year-old Belgian Malinois had to open four doors to get down to the basement to hide in a bathtub filled with cold water.

Firefighters in Greenville, South Carolina, were amazed to find her uninjured Thursday.
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Old 05-10-2011, 01:48 PM   #2503
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Some golden quotes from Terence Mckenna
from Dedroidify by R
So you know what we have to do is stop looking for leadership from the top, because the least among us make their way into those positions of power, I mean you can see that now, those guys are not fit to throw guts down to a bear, any of them.
So what we have to do is knock off this fantasy of being citizens inside a democratic state, I mean, what we are, are the propagandized masses inside a fascist dictatorship, and what people have to do is begin to form affinity groups, get their own ship together, get their own goals defined, and then move out into it and do it, it's not gonna come from the policy council of the republic or democratic party, that's just silly to think that.


The mushroom said to me once, it said: "If you don't have a plan, you become part of somebody else's plan. Because there are only planners and plannees. So what do you wanna do?"


I once said to the mushroom, why me? Why are you telling me all this stuff? And it without hesitation, it said: because you don't believe anything, you don't believe anything." Belief makes it impossible to believe the opposite proposition, and that means you just truncated your freedom. No matter how noble the belief you have taken on. You have just rejected and limited your ability to believe other things.

My favorite story in the gospels, and this shows you how ... I am, my favorite story in the gospels, is the story of the apostel Thomas. Because you will recall that after the crucifixion - this is a good place to end, this is an alchemical story - after the crucifixion Christ appeared to the apostels in the upper room in Jerusalem, 40 days after, and Thomas was not there. I don't know where he was, somewhere, they sent him out for sandwiches or something. Anyway he came back, and they said "the master was with us" and he said "come oooon you guys," he said, "you been smoking too much red lab we brought in 3 weeks ago," and they said "no no the master was with us," and he said, "unless I put my hand into the wound, I will not believe it."
So then time passed, and then Christ came again to the apostels, and Thomas was among them on this second get go, and Christ walked in and kicked off his overshoes and looked around the room, and he said "Thomas, come forward, put your hand into the wound," which he did, which he did.
Now, people have different interpretations of this story, my interpretation of it ... is that alone among all human beings, in all of human history, only one person was ever so priviliged as to be allowed to touch the resurrected body, it was Thomas the Doubter, who was allowed to touch the resurrection body because he didn't believe, and so if you want to touch the resurrection body, be very careful with where you commit your belief, keep your eyes open, stay smart, take it easy...


(PS, thanks Baja...)
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Old 05-10-2011, 01:53 PM   #2504
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http://www.disinfo.com/2011/05/the-c...-adult-babies/

National Geographic’s Taboo looks at phenomenon of people who choose to live their lives as “adult babies”. Is it a metaphor for the “nanny state” we live in? A retreat from the pressures of modern life? Or just the most disturbing subculture to ever emerge in history? (Scandinavian black metal has nothing on adult infantilism.) Warning: this cannot be unseen.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB1gPgcycQ8
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:59 AM   #2505
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It was pretty much known about since last night, but Microsoft and Skype have now obliterated any lingering doubt in the matter: the Redmond-based software giant will acquire the internet telephony company for a cool $8.5 billion in cash. Xbox and Kinect support are explicitly mentioned in the announcement of this definitive agreement, as is Windows Phone integration -- both the gaming and mobile aspects being presumably key incentives for Microsoft to acquire Skype. Importantly, this purchase shouldn't affect Skypers outside of the Microsoft ecosystem, as Steve Ballmer's team promises to continue "to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms." Skype was first sold for a relative bargain at $2.5b to eBay in 2005, who in turn sold most of it off to Silver Lake in 2009 at an overall valuation of $2.75b, and now Redmond is concluding proceedings by tripling those earlier prices and offering Skype a permanent home. A new Microsoft Skype Division will now be opened up to accommodate the newcomers, with current Skype CEO Tony Bates becoming president of that operation and reporting directly to Ballmer. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year and you can read Microskype's full announcement after the break.

Update: Microsoft has just disclosed a couple more details about the deal. It was signed last night, May 9th, though the price was finalized on April 18th. You can follow a live stream of Steve Ballmer and Tony Bates' presentation right here.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/10/m...ecomes-offici/

Microsoft's acquisition of Skype for $8.5 billion becomes official
from Engadget by Vlad Savov
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:01 AM   #2506
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https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/m...ef=todayspaper

Acts of Mild Subversion
How to Beat High Airfares


When a US city's airport is controlled by a single airline, that city becomes disproportionately expensive to fly into -- the airline has no competition. But you can often get a bargain by booking a ticket that has a layover in that city and then abandoning the second leg of your trip. For example, to fly from Des Moines to Dallas costs $375; flying Des Moines to LA via Dallas costs $186 -- all you need to do is get off the plane in Dallas with your carryon-only bag. Airlines' terms of service prohibit this, but their only remedy if you get caught is to bar you from flying with them anymore.





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1. Look to employ the switcheroo when your final destination is at a hub airport dominated by just one or two carriers, like Atlanta, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, Detroit, Cincinnati or Chicago O'Hare, all of which have overpriced tickets.

2. When you're traveling to one of those cities, you should search for phantom flights into airports that are more competitive -- New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Boston are good examples. Search engines like Kayak.com will allow you to select your routing through your desired layover airport.

3. Book your itinerary as a set of two one-way flights, rather than as a round trip. If you miss any segment of your itinerary, the airline will usually cancel the rest of it.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:23 AM   #2507
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http://www.realitysandwich.com/2012_..._consciousness
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:27 AM   #2508
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13333473#

Shale gas drilling operations increase the risk of nearby drinking water becoming contaminated with methane, a study has suggested.

Researchers found, on average, methane concentrations 17 times above normal in samples taken near drilling sites.

Growing demand for energy has led to a sharp increase in shale gas extraction around the globe, prompting concerns about the impact of the technology.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We found surprising levels of methane in home-owners' wells that were close to natural gas wells, " co-author Rob Jackson, Nicholas Professor of Global Change at Duke University, North Carolina, explained.

"We found that within a kilometre of an active gas well, you were much more likely to have high methane concentrations," he told BBC News.

The team from Duke University collected samples from 68 private water wells in the north-eastern states of Pennsylvania and New York.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:29 AM   #2509
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http://www.newstatesman.com/ideas/20...-essay-pattern

The formula of life

Ian Stewart

Published 27 April 2011

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Biology is undergoing a renaissance as scientists apply mathematical ideas to old theory. Welcome to the discipline of biomathematics, with its visions of spherical cows, football-shaped viruses and equations that can predict the pattern of a zebra’s stripes.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:33 AM   #2510
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http://news.discovery.com/archaeolog...od-110509.html

Crocodile God Temple Featured Croc Nursery
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:33 AM   #2511
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renenutet

In Egyptian mythology, Renenutet (also transliterated as Ernutet, and Renenet) was the anthropomorphic deification of the act of gaining a true name, an aspect of the soul, during birth. Her name simply meaning, (she who) gives Ren, with Ren being the Egyptian word for this true name[dubious – discuss]. Indeed, it was said that newborns had Renenutet upon their shoulder from their first day, and she was referred to as (she who) rears, and Lady of the robes (referring to birth-robes). Initially, her cult was centered in Terenuthis.

Her name also could be interpreted in an alternate way, as renen-utet, rather than ren-nutet, consequently having the more esoteric meaning - nourishment snake. As a nourishment snake, Renenutet was envisioned, particularly in art, as a cobra, or as a woman with the head of a cobra. Snakes are another animal without sexual dimorphism and seeming only to be female to the Ancient Egyptians so there was only a goddess. This secondary meaning also led to her being considered the source of nourishment, thus a goddess of the harvest; gaining titles such as Lady of granaries, and Lady of fertile fields. The importance of the harvest caused people to make many offerings to Renenutet during harvest time, leading to her being seen as a goddess of riches and good fortune.

Sometimes, as the goddess of nourishment, Renenutet was seen as having a husband, Sobek. He was represented as the Nile River, the annual flooding of which deposited the fertile silt that enabled abundant harvests. However, more usually, Renenutet was seen as the mother of Nehebkau, who was the deification of another important change concerning parts of the soul - the binding of Ka and Ba, who occasionally was represented as a snake also. When considered the mother of Nehebkau, Renenutet was seen as having a husband, Geb, who represented the Earth, since it was from the ground that snakes appear to arise.

Later, as a snake-goddess worshiped over the whole of Lower Egypt, Renenutet was increasingly confused with Wadjet, Lower Egypt's powerful protector and another snake goddess represented as a cobra. Eventually Renenutet was identified as an alternate form of Wadjet, whose gaze was said to slaughter enemies. Wadjet is the cobra on the crown of the pharaohs.

The Hymn of Renenutet says:
Quote:
I will make the Nile swell for you,
without there being a year of lack and exhaustion in the whole land,
so the plants will flourish, bending under their fruit.
The land of Egypt is beginning to stir again,
the shores are shining wonderfully,
and wealth and well-being dwell with them,
as it had been before.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:35 AM   #2512
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Sobek

Gradually, Sobek also came to symbolize the produce of the Nile and the fertility that it brought to the land; its status thus became more ambiguous.[2] Sometimes the ferocity of a crocodiles was seen in a positive light, Sobek in these circumstances was considered the army's patron, as a representation of strength and power.

In Egyptian art, Sobek was depicted as an ordinary crocodile, or as a man with the head of a crocodile. When considered a patron of the pharaoh's army, he was shown with the symbol of royal authority - the uraeus. He was also shown with an ankh, representing his ability to undo evil and so cure ills. Once he had become Sobek-Ra, he was also shown with a sun-disc over his head, as Ra was a sun god.

In other myths, which appeared extremely late in ancient Egyptian history, Sobek was credited for catching the Four sons of Horus in a net as they emerged from the waters of the Nile in a lotus blossom. This motif derives from the birth of Ra in the Ogdoad cosmogony, and the idea that as a crocodile, Sobek is the best suited to collecting items upon the Nile.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:39 AM   #2513
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http://zenarchery.com/?p=1540

So this girl comes over and asks you to dance
She’s a warm refugee from the cold middle class
And you wanna take her home and sing her
All your love songs
But you feel so awkward and stupid and lame
That you can’t even manage to spit out your name
And she walks away disappointed
And you walk away with your heart on

With your heart on your sleeve
‘Cause you’d love to believe
That in love it is better
To give than receive
That someone’s waiting for you in the night
Yeah, you’d love to believe that forever and ever
Is not just some poet being clever
That everything will all work out alright

At least sometimes

So you stumble back to your sad little room
And your roommate laughs, ’cause you’re home so soon
And you crumble in about a thousand little ways
And you watch all the movies on late night TV
About people in places you’d rather be
Falling for each other
As the soaring music plays

And nobody goes for the kiss too soon
And everything’s lit by the glow of the moon
And when he calls
She answers the phone
And nothing ever ends in regret
For the words that were spoken
Or weren’t spoken yet
And nobody ever
Ends up alone

At least sometimes

So this girl comes over and tries to be cool
But she’s stumbling over her words like a fool
And you slowly realize,
And you start to smile…
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:44 AM   #2514
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I'm really enthralled with the Dogman stories from MI:

http://from-the-shadows.blogspot.com...ng-dogman.html

Last edited by alkemical; 05-11-2011 at 09:46 AM..
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:51 AM   #2515
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http://www.disinfo.com/2011/05/morge...mass-hysteria/

Morgellons: A Hidden Epidemic Or Mass Hysteria?



Is Morgellons disease from out of this world or all in our heads? Will Storr from the Guardian writes:

It all started in August 2007, on a family holiday in New England. Paul had been watching Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix with his wife and two sons, and he had started to itch. His legs, his arms, his torso – it was everywhere. It must be fleas in the seat, he decided.

But the 55-year-old IT executive from Birmingham has been itching ever since, and the mystery of what is wrong with him has only deepened. When Paul rubbed his fingertips over the pimples that dotted his skin, he felt spines. Weird, alien things, like splinters. Then, in 2008, his wife was soothing his back with surgical spirit when the cotton swab she was using gathered a curious blue-black haze from his skin. Paul went out, bought a 40 microscope and examined the cotton. What were those curling, coloured fibres? He Googled the words: “Fibres. Itch. Sting. Skin.” And there was his answer. It must be: all the symptoms fitted. He had a new disease called morgellons. The fibres were the product of mysterious creatures that burrow and breed in the body. As he read on, he had no idea that morgellons would turn out to be the worst kind of answer imaginable.

[Continues at The Guardian]
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:56 AM   #2516
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:59 AM   #2517
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What Does Your Boss Do All Day?
from mental_floss Blog by Brett Savage
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In a classic episode of The Office, Jan tasks Pam with documenting in detail what, exactly, Michael does with his time at work. Pam begins compiling a time-use diary. Michael, oblivious to the assignment, casually resists Pam’s subtle suggestions to perform his typical duties, and the time log ultimately includes such inane activities as Michael doing his Bill Cosby impression, and standing in line for a free pretzel in the lobby.

This intriguing subplot raises the question—”What do bosses do with their time?”

Harvard Business School researchers adopted a similar approach for a working paper, asking the chief executives of 94 Italian companies to have their assistants record their activities. The results give us some idea of how top tier executives manage their time. Here are some interesting findings:

• The executives worked 48 hours per week and spend 60% of their time in meetings

• Bosses complain about getting bogged down in day-to-day operations (“small picture stuff” in The Office)

• Bosses spend only about 3-4% of their time thinking about long-term strategy

• Bill Gates took regular “think weeks” to contemplate his company’s future

• The more time spent with employees of the firm, rather than outsiders, correlates to higher profits

Read the full article at The Economist. Or, you can read the source material here (opens PDF).

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/87168

http://www.economist.com/node/186518...ry_id=18651811

http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/11-081.pdf
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:02 AM   #2518
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http://www.disinfo.com/2011/05/is-se...ntidepressant/

Jennifer Abbasi writes in Popular Science:

Back in 2002, psychologists at the State University of New York at Albany published a study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior looking at the potential role of semen in alleviating depression in women. The researchers presented evidence supporting an earlier hypothesis that the hormones in semen have a mood-boosting effect on women. For any woman who has had sex — and enjoyed it — this may not come as a huge surprise.

Cut to this past February. Lazar Greenfield, the incoming president of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), wrote a short Valentine’s Day-themed editorial about mating in Surgery News. In it, he discussed the sex lives of fruit flies, rotifers and humans. He cited the SUNY Albany study before concluding: “So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.” That gift, of course, being semen.

Greenfield’s editorial sparked a controversy among ACS members, many of whom felt it was blatantly sexist. In response to the flap, Greenfield — a highly respected retired professor at the University of Michigan with a reputation for supporting women in surgery — apologized and stepped down from his post as editor of Surgery News; two weeks ago, as the controversy continued, he also resigned from his position at the College. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press Greenfield said, “The editorial was a review of what I thought was some fascinating new findings related to semen, and the way in which nature is trying to promote a stronger bond between men and women.”

Setting aside the unfortunate politics of this story, I decided to look into the science behind “Semengate” for my first Sex Files column. Could the stuff in semen actually be nature’s own antidepressant?

For more information, see original article.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:04 AM   #2519
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:31 PM   #2520
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http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boing...elemarket.html

If you follow an exacting script and keep careful records, you can apparently sue sloppy telemarketers (or their clients) for $500 each, and get free merchandise in the bargain. America's telemarketing laws seem tough on marketers, but they're structured in such a way as to make the process as difficult as possible for people who don't want to get phonespam. But if you are careful, you can get $500 every time a telemarketer calls you twice after being told to add you to its do-not-call list. They get to call you once without incurring this penalty, but apparently, you get to keep anything you order on the second call for free without paying for it, since "future calls will be a violation of an act of the U.S. Congress, any contract directly resulting from an illegal act is not enforceable. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) offers no 'grace period.'"

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know if the author of the article is. It's presented in Comic Sans, so caveat emptor and all that.

Quote:
May I have your company's name, address and telephone number? If you are calling on behalf of a client, may I have the name, address and telephone number of your company, as well as the name, address and telephone number of the company that you are calling on behalf of?

Put me on your "Do Not Call List". You are hereby ordered to share my "Do Not Call Request" with your affiliates, associates, and related entities. If you are a third-party service bureau (telemarketing company), put me on your company's "Do Not Call List" as well as your client's "Do Not Call List".

Send me a copy of your "Do Not Call Policy". If you are a third party telemarketing service bureau, send me your company's "Do Not Call Policy" as well as your client's "Do Not Call Policy".

If you call me again, I will use your product or service and not pay for it. My denial of payment will be based on the fact that your future calls are a violation of an act of Congress, and any contract that is entered into as a direct result of an illegal act is unenforceable.

Do you understand what I have just told you?

Will you comply with my requests?
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:08 PM   #2521
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Practice makes perfect:

http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-to-tel...someones-lying

How to tell when someone’s lying
May 11, 2011 by Editor

Professor of psychology R. Edward Geiselman at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been studying for years how to effectively detect deception to ensure public safety, particularly in the wake of renewed threats against the U.S. following the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Geiselman and his colleagues have identified several indicators that a person is being deceptive. The more reliable red flags that indicate deceit, Geiselman said, include:

When questioned, deceptive people generally want to say as little as possible. Geiselman initially thought they would tell an elaborate story, but the vast majority give only the bare-bones. Studies with college students, as well as prisoners, show this. Geiselman’s investigative interviewing techniques are designed to get people to talk.
Although deceptive people do not say much, they tend to spontaneously give a justification for what little they are saying, without being prompted.
They tend to repeat questions before answering them, perhaps to give themselves time to concoct an answer.
They often monitor the listener’s reaction to what they are saying. “They try to read you to see if you are buying their story,” Geiselman said.
They often initially slow down their speech because they have to create their story and monitor your reaction, and when they have it straight “will spew it out faster,” Geiselman said. Truthful people are not bothered if they speak slowly, but deceptive people often think slowing their speech down may look suspicious. “Truthful people will not dramatically alter their speech rate within a single sentence,” he said.
They tend to use sentence fragments more frequently than truthful people; often, they will start an answer, back up and not complete the sentence.
They are more likely to press their lips when asked a sensitive question and are more likely to play with their hair or engage in other “grooming” behaviors. Gesturing toward one’s self with the hands tends to be a sign of deception; gesturing outwardly is not.
Truthful people, if challenged about details, will often deny that they are lying and explain even more, while deceptive people generally will not provide more specifics.
When asked a difficult question, truthful people will often look away because the question requires concentration, while dishonest people will look away only briefly, if at all, unless it is a question that should require intense concentration.

If dishonest people try to mask these normal reactions to lying, they would be even more obvious, Geiselman said. Among the techniques he teaches to enable detectives to tell the truth from lies are:

Have people tell their story backwards, starting at the end and systematically working their way back. Instruct them to be as complete and detailed as they can. This technique, part of a “cognitive interview” Geiselman co-developed with Ronald Fisher, a former UCLA psychologist now at Florida International University, “increases the cognitive load to push them over the edge.” A deceptive person, even a “professional liar,” is “under a heavy cognitive load” as he tries to stick to his story while monitoring your reaction.
Ask open-ended questions to get them to provide as many details and as much complete information as possible (“Can you tell me more about…?” “Tell me exactly…”). First ask general questions, and only then get more specific.
Don’t interrupt, let them talk and use silent pauses to encourage them to talk.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:15 PM   #2522
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KANSAS CITY, Missouri— A photo of two Transportation Security Administration agents doing a full pat down on a baby, approximately 8 months old, has gone viral.

It happened at the Kansas City International Airport.

A passenger, Jacob Jester, captured the image on his cell phone. Since he tweeted the picture on Saturday, it has had more than 200,000 hits.

The photo shows the helpless baby being held up in the air by his mother while the TSA workers do their job. Jester has an 8-month-old son and would not want his son to be subjected to a hand search by TSA agents.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:29 PM   #2523
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http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boing...es-anti-u.html

According to a Boston Consulting Group report, the US is in for a manufacturing renaissance, thanks to plummeting wages and toothless labor protection policies in the American south. These factors, combined with the rising value of the Chinese RMB, rising wages in China and government handouts for corporations who locate in the USA make it more profitable to pay sub-starvation wages in America than in China.

But will American workers be willing to sign pledges promising not to commit suicide?

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With Chinese wages rising at about 17 percent per year and the value of the yuan continuing to increase, the gap between U.S. and Chinese wages is narrowing rapidly. Meanwhile, flexible work rules and a host of government incentives are making many states--including Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama--increasingly competitive as low-cost bases for supplying the U.S. market...

"Workers and unions are more willing to accept concessions to bring jobs back to the U.S.," noted Michael Zinser, a BCG partner who leads the firm's manufacturing work in the Americas. "Support from state and local governments can tip the balance."

Reinvestment During the Next Five Years Could Usher in a 'Manufacturing Renaissance' as the U.S. Becomes a Low-Cost Country Among Developed Nations, According to Analysis by The Boston Consulting Group
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Old 05-12-2011, 01:00 PM   #2524
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Old 05-12-2011, 01:24 PM   #2525
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http://www.disinfo.com/2011/05/ten-y...-be-your-bank/



“Why is its important to have a Facebook profile? They are going to start using that to determine what your credit worthiness is.”

The tin-foil-hatted nuts at BusinessWeek explain how and why Facebook will become the largest bank in the United States. (Perhaps most disturbing is the thought of a universal currency called ‘the zuckerberg’.)

Becoming a financial powerhouse would help Facebook avoid the fate of many once-popular networks. AOL, Friendster, Second Life, and MySpace all dreamed of growing forever, too. To survive, Facebook must become more than glorified e-mail. Sharing photos and gossip with friends might make Facebook hard to leave. But upload your checking account and Facebook may just be forever.

Nongamers may have missed Facebook’s clever foray into the world of “virtual currency,” where Facebook Credits cost 10 cents each and can be exchanged for game points or cartoony gifts. Those dimes are adding up—the U.S. market for virtual goods will reach $2.1 billion in 2011. Facebook’s currency, while just part of that market, is getting real. You can now purchase gift cards for Facebook Credits at Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy.

So why couldn’t Facebook use them as real currency, too? In fact, why couldn’t Facebook become your bank?

Facebook today both owns the Web—where 500 million-plus users now spend more time there than on any other site—and is a dominant app on smartphones. Beyond this customer base, Facebook has embedded “Like” buttons on almost every major website, becoming the only real product praise utility. Facebook has persuaded large retailers to build sites, called Facebook Pages, within its platform. Facebook already has a currency, its Credits. And Facebook recently expanded its monetary systems with Facebook Payments, purportedly for paying app developers. But the incorporation documents state that Payments is “organized for the purpose of transacting any or all lawful business.” Hmmm.

If only one of every five Facebook users adopted Credits to buy things, Facebook would be as big as PayPal. And once Facebook makes us comfortable with Credits, it could then transition to a “traditional” global bank, storing your financial assets like gem points in Bejeweled Blitz.

More than a billion-dollar prize, the finance industry would also be a brilliant defensive move for Facebook. The company’s main challenge is that it may be overvalued, based on investors hoping for future growth, while current revenue models do not scale exponentially.
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