Well, this is crazy.
“You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments…But the biggest shock came out of a federal courtroom at the end of March…In that case, a federal judge accepted the banker-defendants’ incredible argument: If cities and towns and other investors lost money because of Libor manipulation, that was their own fault for ever thinking the banks were competing in the first place.”
Take-home lesson? Never trust what a financial institution tells you about variable interest rates. They can screw you on fixed interest rates, too, but at least with a fixed rate, the screwing won’t get worse…
I’ve liked a few Beyoncé songs, but overall, her music hasn’t been my style. This examination of her career and persona make me want to listen a little harder to her music, but I’m not sure where to start – go back to Destiny’s Child or start with the latest?
For years, the U.S. government (executive branch) has been issuing National Security Letters along with accompanying gag orders without judicial review – which means FBI agents have been able to not only demand what you’d think was private information from credit card companies, telecoms, libraries, etc., but prohibit those companies from revealing the existence of, or number of, such demands. Effectively, the companies’ clients have been barred from defending themselves; and the companies have been barred from informing their clients or the public about the extent to which the government is monitoring its citizens.
Thanks in part to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and possibly to my cell phone company, that appears to have changed.
(Damn you, Credo. I was going to switch to one of those soulless mobile providers when my contract with you ran out, but now…)
US taxpayers pay for a lot of basic scientific research – good scientific research. But a lot of it is not available to the general public. The Fair Access to Science & Technology Research Act would make public access to that research much easier. You can tell your elected officials to support the Act right here.
I realize I’m as likely to suffer as much as the typical middle-class+ American as the planet warms in the coming century and we’re hit by sea levels rising, devastating storms, and the like. But occasionally I wonder – what countries or regions might do better as things get hotter?
“If Alaska turned temperate, it would drive conservationists to distraction, but it would also open for development an area more than twice the size of Texas. Rising world temperatures might throw Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and other low-latitude nations into generations of misery, while causing Canada, Greenland, and Scandinavia to experience a rip-roarin’ economic boom…. And Russia! For generations poets have bemoaned this realm as cursed by enormous, foreboding, harsh Siberia. What if the region in question were instead enormous, temperate, inviting Siberia?”[The Atlantic, 2007]
“Britain is likely to benefit most; its 96 per cent increase in suitability [agricultural suitability?] is approached only by Germany at 71 per cent, then Canada at 61 per cent, Peru at 60 per cent and Russia at 40 per cent.
In terms of future water stress, no country approaches Egypt’s 98 per cent of the population being affected. Spain comes next with 58, Turkey with 45.” [New Zealand Herald News, 2011]
“According to the International Panel on Climate Change, global warming could improve agricultural productivity in northern Europe.
The region might see as much as a 30 percent increase in wheat production, for example, by 2080. Some countries will become hospitable to foods they can’t grow in 2012. There may be a 50 percent increase in the areas of Sweden and Finland that are suitable for growing corn.” [Washington Post, 2012]
Blame Octavia Butler for making me consider land ownership as an apocalypse-survival strategy.
So “The CW” is bringing back Whose Line Is It Anyway, with 3 of the same regulars from the US version (Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie (Ryan and Colin being from the British version too o’ course)) and hosted by Aisha Tyler.
For some memories, clips, and point-counting, check out this “Who Actually Won” page.
A large, long-lasting study in Spain suggests the Mediterranean diet improves health outcomes by about 30% more than low-fat diets:
“Doctors tracked a composite of heart attacks, strokes or heart-related deaths. There were 96 of these in the Mediterranean-olive oil group, 83 in the Mediterranean-nut group and 109 in the low-fat group.
Looked at individually, stroke was the only problem where type of diet made a big difference. Diet had no effect on death rates overall.”
Original article in the NEJM.
Also interesting – calorie labels on food should be considered averages, not necessarily that accurate, and greatly altered by how a food is prepared (cooked vs. raw, for example. See pieces on the subject in Scientific American and Mother Jones.
The folks at Mother Jones highlight a couple of agricultural reports. One of which suggests that using GMOs results in more consistency in crop production year-to-year (that is, non-GMO crops are more likely to produce a lot more and a lot less than average in any given year; while GMO crop production tends to be more stable). But:
“…in a new paper (PDF) funded by the US Department of Agriculture, University of Wisconsin researchers have essentially negated the “more food” argument as well. The researchers looked at data from U-Wisconsin test plots that compared crop yields from various varieties of hybrid corn, some genetically modified and some not, between 1990 and 2010. While some GM varieties delivered small yield gains, others did not. Several even showed lower yields than non-GM counterparts.”
A few years ago, San Francisco passed Healthy San Francisco, a law aimed at providing health care for those San Francisco residents who could not afford it. A lot of businesses complained that it would force them to charge their customers more to cover the fees, hurting business and thus tax revenue; many went so far as to print up cards for their tables blaming the fees on the city.
As it turns out, a number of those businesses have been charging customers more and then pocketing the fees:
The inconsistencies were caught after the health law was amended in 2011, requiring city audits of the surcharges. Last year, 3,652 restaurants turned in their paperwork to the labor office, which found oddities in the accounting. The documentation was then turned over to the city attorney for a full-fledged investigation.
Now I’m wondering about those extra charges I paid at Boogaloos…