World Peace? We're Closer than we think

During my trip to Maui, i brought along the book “The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria. It’s a good read (not done yet). One part i really liked at the begging was when he was talking about how war and organized violence have declined substantially over the past 60 years – and dramatically over the last two decades. This was news to me. He writes:
The general magnitude of global warfare has decreased by over 60% [since the mid-1980’s], falling by the end of 2004 to its lowest level since the late 1950’s. Violence increased steadily throughout the Cold War – increasing sixfold between the 1950’s and early 1990’s – but the trend peaked just before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the extent of warfare among and within states lessened by nearly half in the first decade after the Cold War.
To that Harvard’s professor Steven Pinker argues, “That today we are probably living int he most peaceful time in our species’ existence.”
This seems so contrary to what i feel everyday due to the constant news of terrorism, bombings, airline accidents, etc. Zakaria addresses this saying:
One reason for the mismatch between reality and our sense of it might be that, over these same decades, we have experienced a revolution in information technology that now brings us news from around the world instantly, vividly, and continuiously…. Every weather disturbance is “the story of the century”. Every bomb that explodes is BREAKING NEWS. It is difficult to put this all in context because the information revolution is so new. We didn’t get daily footage on the ~2 million who died in the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1970’s or the million who perished in teh sands of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1908’s
But now the deaths of ten, because they are seen up close, make the world seem more and more dangerous. When, in fact, the opposite is true.

Caffeine No Longer Required

Sell your stock in Starbucks everyone – here’s an article in Wired about a new drug that removes sleepiness. You snort a brain chemical and it removes the effects of lack of sleep.  It’s working in monkeys but may not be on the shelves in the US for another decade.    I can’t wait!

The article:

Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep

In what sounds like a dream for millions of tired coffee drinkers, Darpa-funded scientists might have found a drug that will eliminate sleepiness.

A nasal spray containing a naturally occurring brain hormone called orexin A reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in monkeys, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests. The discovery’s first application will probably be in treatment of the severe sleep disorder narcolepsy.

The treatment is “a totally new route for increasing arousal, and the new study shows it to be relatively benign,” said Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and a co-author of the paper. “It reduces sleepiness without causing edginess.”

Continue reading “Caffeine No Longer Required”

The Week is a Great Magazine

I get way too many magazines sent to my place, but one that i read every week is The Week.   It’s a great mix of all news and i recommend it for anyone.  There was also a great little article in the New York Times about how it got started and why it is different than most publishers.   Read it here.  Some exerpts from the article:

“The Week is going to be a huge global brand. Cross my heart and hope to die, I have already been offered hundreds of millions of dollars for it,” Mr. Dennis (the founder) said this month.  Mr. Dennis recently sold the American version of Maxim, a juggernaut that was showing the strains of increasing competition. Given that he was pulling back in the United States, why not just add The Week to the sale?

“I will throw The Week onto no pile until it becomes a half a billion or billion-dollar franchise,” he said. “The Week is my baby.”

He also believes he can get a toehold in the newsweekly market because, he says, the established players Time, Newsweek and U. S. News & World Report have lost touch with the news.

“‘Golfing for Cats With Jesus Who Has Cancer’ is not something that people need to know about,” he said. The Week is all news, all the time, with editors who comb publications and republish annotated accounts from a disparate group of sources. Not only does it have the editorial reach of the Web, but it has the same significant cost benefits because most of the data and reporting are borrowed.

Amen.  It’s great.  You should get it

This would explain why i sleep so much

Ever since i started my triathlon training, i’ve been going to bed earlier and earlier. I thought it was because i’m just getting old (turning 30 in 2 weeks), but today the NY Times has informed me that it is because i’m now an “endurance athlete” and these athletes require much more sleep than regular people. There’s a scientific reason for this….

One possibility, Dr. Chediak said, is that cytokines — hormones that signal the immune system — are making these athletes sleep so much.

Exercise, Dr. Chediak said, prompts muscles to release two cytokines, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, that make people drowsy and prolong the time they remain sleeping. In fact, those cytokines also are released when people have a cold or infection, which is why people sleep so much when they are ill.

It turns out that the single most important factor for increasing the release of those two cytokines is increasing the duration and intensity of exercise, Dr. Chediak said. And, he noted, that’s what is happening when endurance athletes train. “A sprint will not get you as great an effect,” he said.

Go ahead and read the entire article HERE  if you’re interested.

Happy 4th

The first motion in the Continental Congress for independence was made on June 4, 1776. After hard debate, the Congress voted unanimously, but secretly, for independence from Britain on July 2. The Congress reworked the text of the Declaration until July 4, when the 12 colonies voted for adoption and released a copy signed only by John Hancock, President of the Congress, to the printers.

John Adams the unofficial whip of the independence-minded, wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

He forgot to mention beers, bbq’s, baseball games and fireworks – but otherwise he pretty much nailed it

Also, a song for today: Independence Day by Ani (click here)

It's All About the Product – Yahoo! Makes a Change

Yahoo! announced a change of CEO yesterday.  I love some of Yahoo! products like Flickr, MyBlogLog, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Maps, and Delicious.   When they bought Delicious, Google and Yahoo were neck in neck in terms of who had better products and a better vision.  Delicious opted to sell to Yahoo as they were better in social applications at the time.  Since then – for about a year now –  they’ve been getting their ass handed to them by Google on every front: Mail, Search, Calendar, Maps, etc.. They are just getting dusted.  Their products are no longer innovative nor even best of class.  I see this move as general frustration about this fact.  Jason Calacanis, an entrepreneur who speaks it like it is and is generally correct has a similar statement, saying:

“What this move shows is that–like Facebook, Apple, and Google–the founders are often times the best folks to run the business. Wall Street and investors are too caught up in the ‘professional CEO’ who knows how to ‘talk to Wall Street’ and get deals done. The fact is our business is about one thing: product.”

The Biggest and Baddest Pig Ever

I just read this story where  an 11-year-old boy used a pistol to kill a wild hog his father says weighed a staggering 1,051 pounds and measured 9 feet 4, from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail.  He said he shot the huge animal eight times with a .50-caliber revolver and chased it for three hours through hilly woods before finishing it off with a point-blank shot.

The story i wrote about the Biggest and Baddest Bear has gotten a tremendous amount of attention. I’m curious what those readers would think of this.

Scorsese Making a Rolling Stones Documentary

This just in…

This year’s best movie is Scorsese’s The Departed and he’s now taking a break from gangsters and going to follow around The Rolling Stones and make a feature length film documentary. Apparently he got it started when he filmed their concert in NY this past weekend.  Let’s just hope it’s better than The Aviator (most overrated movie ever).
Scorsese is no stranger to music documentaries. He made No Direction Home in 2005 about Bob Dylan and The Last Waltz in 1978 about The Band’s last concert. Needless to say, a kick-ass director and one of the best bands ever will probably make for a solid 2 hour piece of entertainment.

And speaking of music documentaries. I have heard that the Dixie Chicks vs. Right Wing documentary in theaters now is really awesome.  Anyone seen it?

And I Thought My Apartment in NY Was Small

So this is the most expensive place on a cost per foot basis i’ve ever seen. Check this out – it’s a home built on the head of a pin. While that’s not super interesting in itself, it has been constructed with ridiculously detail. The artist, Mr. Wigan, said:

I spent 15 hours a day for seven weeks sculpting a minute piece of diamond. The beams are made out of floating fibres that you see in sunlight. To paint the house, I took the hair from a dead spider’s legs and made a paintbrush. Then it was a case of being very patient and careful.

Are you serious? 15 hours a day for 7 weeks for this thing?! Well, apparently it’s worth it as it’s selling for 20,000 pounds in England. (article)