| Thursday, July 26, 2007
| THE MOLAR SYSTEMS
|Some cavity-fighting weapons are simple, like a stick. Others -- say, flossing tools , some precious. Though what you use reflects where you live, humanity has long faced a shared oral enemy. New York University researchers recently used DNA fingerprinting to show that Streptococcus mutans, a tooth decay culprit, plagued the mouths of modern humans living in Africa more than 100,000 years ago.
West Africans chew licorice bush sticks till the wood fibers form a natural toothbrush. Elsewhere in Africa, twigs from other tree do the same job.
The ancient practice of ayurvedic medicine teaches that a tidy tongue is key to oral health. Solution, a scraper made of silver, which has antibacterial properties.
Plastic floss holders have caught on in recent years. They may not work any better than the old method, and cost more, but are easy to use.
Can black paste yield a white smile? South Koreans esteem charcoal for its health benefits and will pay a premium for a dentifrice spiked with the stuff.
Brush in a Ball
A vending machine in Heathrow Airport yielded this tiny scented brush for travelers who don't want to dig in their luggage. To clean your teeth, just chew on it.
Tea Tree Toothpicks
Toothpicks infused with oil from the tea tree, an antiseptic long used as a folk remedy by indigenous Australians freshen breath and remove plaque.
(Source:NATGEO/FAMILY OF MAN )
|posted by infraternam meam @ 1:29 PM
| Monday, July 23, 2007
| JUSTICE: THE NEWEST PARENT TRAP
|ELISA KELLY OF VIRGINIA probably thought she was being responsible when she bought alcohol for a party and let her underage son and his friends imbibe it under supervision. Instead, she and her then husband, George Robinson, were sentenced last month to 27 months in Jail. No one was hurt at the party or drove afterward, but underage drinking itself is one of a long list of crimes for which a violator's parents can be held responsible. These parent liability laws, mostly passed in the 1990s, differ by state, and penalties can vary widely: vandalism fines, for example, run up to $25,000 in California but only $15,000 in Arkansas. Some states are also holding parents legally responsible for less obvious "crimes" such as fighting on a playground or truancy.
Portland, Ore.: Parents can be fined up to $1,000
California: for injuring another person on school grounds, parents pay both damages and a reward for turning in the offender, each up to $10,000
Louisiana: If a child becomes a gang member, parents can face jail time, community service and a fine up to $250
Missouri: for restitution and damages caused by a minor, parents can pay up to $4,000
Arkansas: parents can be held liable for property damaged by their kids; fines up to $15,000
Under federal law, parents can be sued for a child's copyright infringement and pay fines up to $150,000
Kansas: for allowing underage drinking at home, parents can get up to 6 months in jail
California: if someone is killed or injured because a child was allowed access to a weapon, pay a fine up to $30,000 (for more than one person, pay up to $60,000)
Florida: get up to six months in jail, and pay a fine up to $500
(Source: NEWSWEEKMAG by SANHITA SEN)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 2:42 PM
| Friday, July 20, 2007
| WHERE THE NUKES ARE
|Nine countries currently own an estimated 26,000 nuclear warheads. Of these, more than 8,000 strategic weapons are operational and ready for use on short notice. That's roughly 3,000 megatons - the equivalent of 238,748 Hiroshima-type bombs. A snapshot of the nuclear powers and their total military budgets:
Strategic Weapons: 4,663
TOTAL MEGATONS: 1,299
2006 Military Budget: $560 billion
Strategic Weapons: 160
TOTAL MEGATONS: 14.4
2006 Military Budget: $57.6 billion
Strategic Weapons: 80
TOTAL MEGATONS: 1.6
2006 Military Budget: $11.3 billion
Strategic Weapons: 60
TOTAL MEGATONS: 0.7
2006 Military Budget: $4.1 billion
Strategic Weapons: 348
TOTAL MEGATONS: 46.8
2006 Military Budget: $55.4 billion
Strategic Weapons: 50
TOTAL MEGATONS: 0.6
2006 Military Budget: 22.4 billion
Strategic Weapons: 3,340
TOTAL MEGATONS: 1,597
2006 Military Budget: $24.9 billion
Strategic Weapons: 10
TOTAL MEGATONS: 0.01
2006 Military Budget
(Source: NESWEEKMAG July issue)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 1:33 PM
| Monday, July 16, 2007
| A LADY BY ANY STANDARD - Lady Bird Johnson, 1912 - 2007
|DURING THE THREE DECADES AFTER LYNDON JOHNSON'S DEATH - a period almost as long as their marriage - Lady Bird followed her own heart. She established a world class wildflower center and summered among the glitterati of Martha's Vineyard, a place her husband once derided as "some female island". She bought a house for herself in Austin so modest that Lyndon would have felt claustrophobic. Even the LBJ ranch, where Lady Bird still spent much of her time, looked different. She banished some of the more egregious remnants of her husband's taste, such as the ubiquitous triple-television sets and his big executive desk chair at the dining table. I once asked if she still used the airstrip where the president used to land. "Heavens no!" she replied. "We did'nt use it after Lyndon's death. I think that runway was always unsafe, but the federal aviation people were too afraid of Lyndon to tell him to stop using it." She had filled the LBJ spacious old hangar with her grandchildren's toys.
Her years as Lyndon Johnson's wife remained the center of her identity. She preserved his bedroom as it looked the day he died there in 1973: his colognes still in the medicine chest and his many Stetsons, ranch suits and cowboy boots still in the closet. In the early 1990s she was told that her husband had taped roughly 10,000 of his private White House conversations. Warned that such cache might include embarrassing exchanges, she asked her great friend, the LBJ Library director Harry Middleton, to open them anyway. Proud of her husband and respectful of history, she believed the good would outweigh the bad.
Mrs. Johnson was one of our most important First Ladies. Quietly but firmly she advised LBJ on rhetoric, strategy and personal relations, and helped to dampen his volatile mood swings. Years later she shook her head modestly when people praised her for helping to found the modern environmental movement with her efforts for "beautification" ( a word she hated) - cleaning up cities, highways and air. But they were right.
She did not romanticize her time as First Lady. she recalled riding a train between Washington, D.C. , and New York City and realizing with a shudder that the cargo on a parallel train was the coffins of men killed in Vietnam. "The fist year or two in the White House was wine and roses," she told me. "But later it was pure hell."
Under LBJ's tutelage, Lady Bird had grown far more liberal than she was as a girl in an east Texas Mansion "built with slave labor" (as she ruefully noted). But she remained an elegant Southern woman. She presided like a benevolent aunt over the galaxy of political talent her husband had discovered, such as ex-White House aides Jack Valenti, Joe Califano and Tom Johnson. At 87, fearing she might never see them together again, she had them down for a grand spring dinner on the Pedernales - even Bobby Baker, the onetime Johnson Senate protege who had gone to prison. She was appalled that politics had grown so toxic, recalling how Lyndon, as the Senate majority leader, had dined so amiably with his Republican counterpart, Everett Dirksen. "My dear husband thought that serving in the U.S. senate was one of the most noble things on earth", she said, "but these days I barely recognize what i see".
Mrs. Johnson maintained her lifelong strict standards for herself. The autumn after that alumni dinner, after watching a C-Span interview she had done, she decided that her diction and word choices were not as precise as they used to be and that she would grant no more TV interviews. In the past five years, successive strokes robbed the once-so-eloquent Lady Bird of her speech. Yet she managed to express herself to daughters Lynda and Luci and close family and friends. Until very recently, she had herself wheeled into the LBJ Library for lectures.
In 1972, when he knew he was dying of heart disease, Lyndon Johnson gibed that his wife would soon be "the richest and prettiest widow in Texas". When Lady Bird died last week at 94, she was much more than that. He would have been unsurprised - and very proud.
(Source: NEWSWEEK MAG by: Michael Beschloss who also wrote the newly published "Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1978 - 1989" (Simon and Schuster)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 4:44 PM
| Sunday, July 15, 2007
| WHAT IS YOUR GLOBAL IQ?
Take the NEWSWEEK quiz to find out. Up for the challenge? Tackle the entire test at Newsweek.com
1. What will be the world's biggest city in 20 years?
a. Mexico City
2. When was the last time the U.S. had an election without a sitting president or vice president seeking his party's nomination?
3. What color is the woman's face in Matisse's painting 'Femme au Chapeau'?
4. Which is the top-selling music album in history?
a. Michael Jackson 'Thriller'
b. The Eagles,'Their Greatest Hits'
c. The Beatles, 'The White Album'
d. Pink Floyd, 'The Wall'
5. How many Americans die each year from food-borne illnesses?
6. How many people contract the AIDS virus everyday?
7. Who is regarded as the founder of the modern Olympics?
a. Avery Brundage
b. Pierre de Coubertin
c. Juan Antonio Samaranch
d. Demetrius Vikelas
8. Which of the following car companies sells the largest number of automobiles worldwide?
c. General Motors
9. The Jewish calendar is based on both solar and lunar years. According to the Jewish calendar, what year is it?
10. Which religion is atheistic, at least in its earliest form?
11. James Joyce based "Ulysses" on which classical work?
a. Homer, The Iliad
b. Boccaccio, The Decameron
c. Homer, The Odyssey
d. Virgil, The Aeneid
12. How old is the known universe?
a. 6,000 years
b. 4.5 billion years
c. 13.7 billion years
13. How many genes do humans have?
14. About how many bloggers will there be by the end of 2007?
a. 25 million
b. 50 million
c. 100 million
d. 6.7 billion
15. What is the most visited Web portal worldwide?
16. Who was the first African-American man to win an Oscar?
a. Denzel Washington
b. Paul Ronbeson
c. Sidney Poitier
d. James Baskett
17. What fraction of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from natural sources?
a. One sixth
b. one fourth
c. Two thirds
1./ c. Tokyo
2./ a. 1928
3./ c. Green
4./ a. Thriller
5./ c. 5,000
6./ b. 13,000 worldwide
7./ b. Pierre de Coubertin
8./ a. Toyota
9./ b. 5767
11./ c. The Odyssey
12./ c. 13.7 billion years
13./ a. 20,000
14./ c. 100 million
15./ a. yahoo
16./ d. James Baskett
17./ c. Two thirds
(SOURCE: TIMEMAG July issue)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 2:50 PM
| THE HARRY POTTER QUIZ
|How many questions can you answer about the Hogwarts gang? Here's your chance to show you're as smart as Hermione:
1). What sport do they play at Hogwarts?
2). When was the first Harry Potter book released in the U.S.?
3). What does the "J" in J.K. Rowling stand for?
4). True or False:
J.K. Rowling is worth more than the Queen of England?
5). What's the highest number of Potter books sold in the U.S. in one 24-hour period?
A. 6.9 million
B. 5 million
C. 2.7 million
D. 7.8 million
6). Which of these is nor the name of a Harry Potter book?
A. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
B. Harry Potter and the Glass Prophecy
C. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
D. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
7). Books from the series have been officially translated into the following languages except:
A. Ancient Greek
8). What is the highest-grossing Harry Potter movie to date?
A. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
B. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
C. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
D. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Answers: 1. D/ 2. B / 3. C / 4. True / 5. A / 6. B / 7. D / 8. A
(SEE more Harry Potter quiz/ Go to parade.com)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 2:36 PM