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Archive for the ‘Nonsense’ Category

Staying dry in rain depends on body size – Telegraph

In Nonsense on July 24, 2012 at 20:53

Staying dry in rain depends on body size

While the natural response to a downpour may be to find shelter as quickly as possible, scientists have long argued that the situation is far more complicated than it appears.Some have suggested that running or walking made little difference to your overall exposure to raindrops, but others have argued that an optimal speed may exist depending on the direction and strength of the wind.Now an Italian physicist has complicated the problem further by arguing that the answer depends on another, previously unexplored factor: the body shape of the person in question.Writing in the European Journal of Physics, Prof Franco Bocci explained that while running through a shower will get you to shelter quicker, walking may mean less rain falls on your front at any one time.In calm conditions when rain falls directly downwards, or when there is a head wind blowing the rain towards you, Prof Bocci found that the most sensible solution would generally be to seek cover as quickly as possible.

When the rain blows in from behind, the best answer in theory would be to match your pace to the exact speed of the wind, meaning both your front and back would stay largely dry. But in certain weather conditions the optimum strategy for staying dry becomes more complex, depending on factors including raindrop size and even a persons body shape, Prof Bocci added.When the wind comes in from the side, he explained, thinner people are exposed to much less of the rain than larger people with a more rounded figure.In such cases the fatter person should run as fast as they can to escape the rain while a thinner person who presents a smaller target would still be better matching their speed to the wind, he said.Prof Bocci summarised his findings by telling the BBC: “Lets say that in general, the best thing is to run, as fast as you can – not always, but in general.”If youre really thin, its more probable that there will be an optimal speed. Otherwise, its better to run fast.”Prof David Tong, a Cambridge physicist who was not involved in the research, said: “Its surprisingly complicated, actually. The new factor that comes in is when you have some wind, so the rain is coming in and falling at an angle. Now it actually depends on the shape and size of your body as to what you have to decide to do.”Asked about the significance of the paper, he added: “Its not exactly the Higgs boson – I think its just a fun bit of mathematics that a few people have been playing with.”


US condom crackdown impeding efforts to prevent HIV, study finds | World news | guardian.co.uk

In Nonsense on July 19, 2012 at 12:21


US condom crackdown impeding efforts to prevent HIV, study finds

Police in major cities in the United States are criminalising women who carry a stock of condoms, making sex workers and their clients less likely to use them and increasing their risk of contracting HIV, says Human Rights Watch.

A new report compiles evidence from sex workers in four major cities – Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Interviews with more than 300 people show that those most at risk of HIV, such as sex workers and transgender women, are afraid to carry condoms in case they should be stopped and searched by police.

“Some women told Human Rights Watch that they continued to carry condoms despite the harsh consequences. For others, fear of arrest overwhelmed their need to protect themselves from HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy,” says the report.

One of the interviewees, Carol F, a sex worker in Los Angeles, told HRW she had been arrested partly on the basis of carrying condoms. “After the arrest, I was always scared … There were times when I didn’t have a condom when I needed one, and I used a plastic bag,” she said.

Prostitution is a crime in 49 states of the US. Law enforcement agencies view the possession of multiple condoms as evidence that could help a court prosecution for a breach of the law.

But HRW says they are impeding efforts to prevent the spread of HIV, costing millions of dollars. “Enforcement … must be compatible with international human rights law, and governments should ensure that police policies and practices do not conflict with equally important public health policy imperatives, including those designed to curb the HIV epidemic,” says the report.

The report is published before the International Aids Conference, which begins in Washington DC at the weekend.

Washington, which has an HIV prevalence of over 3%, has taken strong measures to tackle an Aids epidemic as serious as that in some parts of Africa.

The District of Columbia distributed 4 million condoms in 2010 through a programme it calls “The Rubber Revolution”.

But sex workers and transgender women told HRW that they are searched and questioned by police if they are carrying multiple condoms.


Dark Knight Rises: Bane character part of political plot against Mitt Romney | Film | guardian.co.uk

In Nonsense on July 18, 2012 at 20:34

Bane and Mitt Romney


Dark Knight Rises: Bane character part of political plot against Mitt Romney |

When Christopher Nolan announced two years ago that the character Bane would be Batmans nemesis in The Dark Knight Rises, more than a few eyebrows were raised. While the villain has played a prominent role in the caped crusaders comic book canon, he is not nearly so well known as traditional bad guys such as Joker, Penguin or the Riddler. Now, the real reason behind the hulking antagonists deployment in Nolans forthcoming superhero blockbuster has been revealed – at least, in the mind of the rightwing US commentator Rush Limbaugh: its all a thinly veiled attack on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.According to Limbaugh, who was speaking on his syndicated radio show on Tuesday, “Bane” is designed to get Americans thinking about “Bain” Capital, the investment fund that Romney founded in 1984. The presidential hopeful is currently embroiled in a political spat with Barack Obamas team, who have accused him of being in charge during a period in which the private equity firm made a high number of layoffs at the companies it owned. Romney says he left the firm before the layoffs occurred.”So this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And theres discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters,” said Limbaugh. “A lot of people are going to see the movie. And its a lot of brain-dead people – entertainment, the pop culture crowd – and theyre going to hear Bane in the movie and theyre going to associate Bain.”And the thought is that when theyre going to start paying attention to the campaign later in the year and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital but Romney and Bain, that these people will start thinking back to the Batman movies: Oh yeah, I know who that is!”Back in reality, Bane was not invented by Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises but first rose to prominence in the 1993 Batman comic book series Knightfall, in which he breaks Bruce Waynes back. Unless the British director had the ability to see into the future in 2010 when he was finalising his plans for the new film, it seems unlikely that he decided on utilising the villain for political reasons. Then again, Nolan began his superhero trilogy with 2005s Batman Begins, featuring a sinister organisation named The League of Shadows, known for manipulating events in order to forge the future in its own image.


French cows reared on fine wine – Telegraph

In Nonsense on July 10, 2012 at 21:02

French cows are enjoying up to two bottles of high quality wine every day as farmers attempt to produce the best beef in Europe.

French cows reared on fine wine 

French cows are enjoying up to two bottles of high quality wine every day as farmers attempt to produce the best beef in Europe.

The extraordinary development has seen a ‘Vinbovin’ label of meat established which is already being championed by some of the best restaurants in Paris.

It follows an experiment in Lunel-Viel, in the southern Herault region of France, which saw three cows fed local wine for four months.

Jean-Charles Tastavy, who came up with the idea, said the two Angus and one Camargue were initially fed the wine in a mix of barley, hay and grapes.It soon became clear that they were ‘happy cows’ who ended up producing an exceptionally succulent meat.

Outlining how he encouraged the cows to enjoy a tipple, Mr Tastavy said: “For each animal, alcohol intake should be equivalent to the amount recommended by health authorities for a man – namely two or three glasses of wine a day. In the case of cows, this amounts to between a litre and a litre-and-a-half a day.”

After a rough mix of grapes and water, the cows were allowed wine from Saint-Genies des Mourgues, a Languedoc village near Montpellier renowned for its vineyards.”The cattle loved what was on the menu and drank it with relish,” said Claude Chaballier, owner of the farm where the experiment started last year.

Referring to the Muscat grape, Mr Chaballier added: “I thought that next time we may try Muscat so as to give the meat a more musky taste.”

Laurent Pourcel, a Michelin-starred chef, is among those enthusing about the ‘luxury meat’ saying: “It has a very special texture – beautiful, marbled and tender, and which caramelises during cooking. All the best Parisien restaurants will take it.”

Japanese Kobe beef, which is made with beer, is currently considered among the best in the world, but the possibility of cows enjoying vintage wine will guarantee an even more luxurious product.

There is a down side, however: the introduction of wine into the feed of the Lunel-Viel cows tripled the cost of their feed, adding up to £80 to the cost of a prime beef cut.

Flavor Is the Price of Tomatoes’ Scarlet Hue, Geneticists Say – NYTimes.com

In Nonsense on June 30, 2012 at 07:54

Flavor Is the Price of Tomatoes’ Scarlet Hue, Geneticists Say 

Plant geneticists say they have discovered an answer to a near-universal question: Why are tomatoes usually so tasteless?

Yes, they are often picked green and shipped long distances. Often they are refrigerated, which destroys their flavor and texture. But now researchers have discovered a genetic reason that diminishes a tomato’s flavor even if the fruit is picked ripe and coddled.

The unexpected culprit is a gene mutation that occurred by chance and that was discovered by tomato breeders. It was deliberately bred into almost all tomatoes because it conferred an advantage: It made them a uniform luscious scarlet when ripe.

Now, in a paper published in the journal Science, researchers report that the very gene that was inactivated by that mutation plays an important role in producing the sugar and aromas that are the essence of a fragrant, flavorful tomato. And these findings provide a road map for plant breeders to make better-tasting, evenly red tomatoes.

The discovery “is one piece of the puzzle about why the modern tomato stinks,” said Harry Klee, a tomato researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville who was not involved in the research. “That mutation has been introduced into almost all modern tomatoes. Now we can say that in trying to make the fruit prettier, they reduced some of the important compounds that are linked to flavor.”

The mutation’s effect was a real surprise, said James J. Giovannoni of the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service, an author of the paper. He called the wide adoption of tomatoes that ripen uniformly “a story of unintended consequences.”

Breeders stumbled upon the variety about 70 years ago and saw commercial potential. Consumers like tomatoes that are red all over, but ripe tomatoes normally had a ring of green, yellow or white at the stem end. Producers of tomatoes used in tomato sauce or ketchup also benefited. Growers harvest this crop all at once, Dr. Giovannoni said, and “with the uniform ripening gene, it is easier to determine when the tomatoes are ripe.”

Then, about 10 years ago, Ann Powell, a plant biochemist at the University of California, Davis, happened on a puzzle that led to the new discovery.

Dr. Powell, a lead author of the Science paper, was studying weed genes. Her colleagues had put those genes into tomato plants, which are, she said, the lab rats of the plant world. To Dr. Powell’s surprise, tomatoes with the genes turned the dark green of a sweet pepper before they ripened, rather than the insipid pale green of most tomatoes today.

“That got me thinking,” Dr. Powell said. “Why do fruits bother being green in the first place?” The green is from chloroplasts, self-contained energy factories in plant cells, where photosynthesis takes place. The end result is sugar, which plants use for food. And, Dr. Powell said, the prevailing wisdom said sugar travels from a plant’s leaves to its fruit. So chloroplasts in tomato fruit seemed inconsequential.

Still, she said, the thought of dark green tomatoes “kind of bugged me.” Why weren’t the leaves dark green, too?

About a year ago, she and her colleagues, including Dr. Giovannoni, decided to investigate. The weed genes, they found, replaced a disabled gene in a tomato’s fruit but not in its leaves. With the weed genes, the tomatoes turned dark green.

The reason the tomatoes had been light green was that they had the uniform ripening mutation, which set up a sort of chain reaction. The mutation not only made tomatoes turn uniformly green and then red, but also disabled genes involved in ripening. Among them are genes that allow the fruit to make some of its own sugar instead of getting it only from leaves. Others increase the amount of carotenoids, which give tomatoes a full red color and, it is thought, are involved in flavor.

To test their discovery, the researchers used genetic engineering to turn on the disabled genes while leaving the uniform ripening trait alone. The fruit was evenly dark green and then red and had 20 percent more sugar and 20 to 30 percent more carotenoids when ripe.

But were the genetically engineered tomatoes more flavorful? Because Department of Agriculture regulations forbid the consumption of experimental produce, no one tasted them.

And, Dr. Giovannoni says, do not look for those genetically engineered tomatoes at the grocery store. Producers would not dare to make such a tomato for fear that consumers would reject it.

Father’s brain more valuable than their wallet – Telegraph

In Nonsense on June 22, 2012 at 16:09

Father's brain more valuable than their wallet

Father’s brain more valuable than their wallet 

Although boys with wealthier fathers usually grow up to earn higher-than-average incomes themselves, researchers said their parents’ money may not be the deciding factor.

Intelligence, advice, work ethic and other “human capital endowments” which sons inherit from their fathers are more important than money in determining how successful they will be, the experts wrote in the Journal of Political Economy.

To establish what causes the link between a father’s income and their son’s, the researchers compared the effects of fathers’ money with other helpful qualities.

Such a comparison is difficult to make because fathers who are hard-working and intelligent are also more likely to have higher incomes in the first place.

To separate which factors had the biggest impact, the researchers from Brigham Young University compared detailed sets of data on Swedish fathers with sons born between 1950 and 1965.

The information included their income as well as their education and job description, which were indicative of the “human capital” which the fathers might be able to pass to their sons.

An overall comparison between fathers’ income and their sons’ showed that, as expected, wealthier fathers were more likely to have well-paid sons.

To distinguish how much of the trend was down to money alone, researchers then compared men who earned different amounts despite having similar levels of education and professional skill, for example due to different labour market conditions.

They found that differences in income like these, which were not related to the fathers’ education or skill level, had less of an impact on their sons’ wages.

In contrast “human capital” qualities passed from father to son accounted for about two thirds of the link between their earnings, researchers reported.


The great Sainsbury’s potato fraud: jail for vegetable buyer who took £5m in bribes – Telegraph

In Nonsense on June 22, 2012 at 10:25

Sainsbury's potato buyer admits corruption

The great Sainsbury’s potato fraud: jail for vegetable buyer who took £5m in bribes 

One potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four

John Maylam, 44, a senior buyer for the supermarket chain, accepted almost £5 million in bribes from a supplier, which he “frivolously” spent on lavish holidays to Monaco and the South of France, a top of the range Aston Martin and in luxury hotels such as Claridge’s.

He colluded with John Baxter, a director at Greenvale who massively overcharged Sainsbury’s for its crop.

With the proceeds, the two men lived “like millionaires”, running up a £350,000 bill at Claridge’s, where they received brown envelopes stuffed with up to £2,000 in cash and hiring a Sunseeker motor yacht during a trip to Jersey.

For Maylam’s 40th birthday, he was treated to a five–star £350,000 holiday to Monaco for the grand prix, as well as stays in luxury hotels in Cannes and St Tropez.

Maylam was treated to a five–star £350,000 holiday to Monaco for the grand prix

Three months later, he purchased a £94,000 Aston Martin V8 Vantage using funds that had been channelled from Sainsbury’s though one of two foreign bank accounts used for money laundering.

The costs of such “totally excessive” hospitality were written off in Greenvale’s accounts as “team building”.

Sentencing the men at Croydon Crown Court Judge Nicholas Ainley said it was “very nearly as serious a case of corruption as I can imagine” that involved Sainsbury’s “being bribed with its own money”.

Police disclosed that Maylam sanctioned a £40 million annual deal that meant Sainsbury’s was paying far more for certain varieties of the vegetable, particularly charlotte and baking potatoes, than it should.

By overcharging the supermarket, Greenvale was able to siphon the surplus money into a fund that was used to recompense Maylam for his business.

For two years, he reaped the rewards of the scheme, operated in collaboration with Greenvale’s finance director Andrew Behagg.

Two companies were set up to mask the flow of £1.5 million, neither of which had any legitimate business relationship with Greenvale, police said.

Detective Superintendent Tony Crampton, of the City of London Police said all three men had abused their positions and betrayed the trust of their employees.

“Maylam and Baxter both had good jobs with decent salaries. But they decided they wanted a place on millionaire’s row so they cooked up an elaborate fraud that saw them divert seven figure sums from their employers’ accounts,” he said.


How McDonald’s uses Photoshop to touch up their menu burgers – Telegraph

In Nonsense on June 21, 2012 at 19:41

Before and after photo of McDonald's burger: How McDonald's uses photoshop to touch up their menu burgers

How McDonald’s uses Photoshop to touch up their menu burgers 

fast-food giant has disclosed the cinematic secrets around a laborious process called “food-styling”, which makes burgers appear bigger, juicier and tastier in public.

In a video posted online, it showed how technicians, photographers and McDonald’s executives spend hours ensuring the products are presented with absolute precision.

It lifts the lid on a McDonald’s photo shoot that shows how they shrink cheese and shade the buns using Photoshop.

The subsequent tell-all video has become a viral hit, having been viewed more than two million times since it was uploaded on YouTube earlier this week.

The candid approach, part of a project launched by its Canadian operations to increase transparency, has surprised some retail observers who noted the move could disclose some of its most sought-after trade secrets.

But it also raises questions that images are being doctored as part of multi-million pound public relations campaigns.

The video was posted after a young customer asked “Why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store?”

In response to the question from “Isabel M”, from Toronto, Hope Bagozzi, McDonald’s Canada’s director of marketing, proceeds over the following three-and-half minutes to explain how this is done.

She first visits a local McDonald’s restaurant where she buys a Quarter Pounder with Cheese before she bring it back to one of the company’s trusted creative agencies.

it is part of a drive to increase transperency at the fast food giant (Picture: GETTY IMAGES)

It is then photographed alongside another Quarter Pounder with Cheese that had been prepped by agency officials, who have painstakingly deconstructed and rebuild the sandwich so that all the ingredients are visible.

While a burger bought in-store is made in about minute, the burger used in a photo shoot is constructed by a team of food stylists and photographers.

The cheese is carefully blasted with a blowtorch to achieve the right level of melted-ness, onion slices are positioned with surgical precision and ketchup and mustard then added using a syringe.

The image is then retouched to “finesse the product” with the sesame seeds repositioned on top and any errant crumbs removed.

Once photographed, the picture of the burger is tweaked digitally, with other blemishes airbrushed out in a similar way to a fashion shoot.

When the photographs of the burger made in the restaurant and that made in the studio are placed side-by-side, the differences are striking. Miss Bagozzi assures viewers that all the ingredients used for the photo were real.

She added: “That burger [made in a normal McDonald’s] was made in about a minute or so. The process we go through on the average shoot takes several hours.

“I think that it’s important to note that all the ingredients are the exact same ingredients that we use in the restaurant.

“So it is the exact same patty, it’s the exact same ketchup, mustard and onions, and same buns.”

She added that the photo shoot burger looks bigger than those bought in-store because steam generated from a newly-made burger when put in the box compresses the product.

She said: “The boxes that our burgers come in keep the sandwiches warm which creates a bit of a steam and it does make the bun contract.”

A McDonald’s food stylist added: “This way we can at least tell people you have ketchup, you have mustard, you have two pieces of cheese and you know what you’re getting.”

The video is part of a global campaign aimed at overhauling its poor transparency image. It has, however, previously backfired.

Earlier this year American executives attempted to harness the powers of Twitter by asking users to tell their “#McDStories”.

What transpired instead were customers and users detailing their disgust at the food.


Revenge of the nerds: Google to take over California’s Gold’s Gym – Telegraph

In Nonsense on June 21, 2012 at 15:01

Gold's Gym featured in 1994 TV series Hollywood Women

Revenge of the nerds: Google to take over California’s Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, known as the “mecca of bodybuilding,” is where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained, and featured in the 1977 documentary “Pumping Iron.”

In recent weeks weightlifters there have been reeling amid rumours the technology giant would be taking over as part of an office expansion.

They fear being evicted from their spiritual home. Mr Schwarzenegger himself said the local community was “freaking out.”

On a visit to the gym the former California Governor told the New York Times: “As soon as I walked in, they said ‘You heard about Google? It’s this conspiracy theory, ‘Google is coming! They are going to take over and wipe out our bodybuilding’.”

MuscleWeek magazine pointed out the “painful irony” of the “proverbial pencil-neck geek turning the tables and kicking the bodybuilders out of Venice.”

However, a spokesman for Google sought to assure the anxious musclemen that their future was safe.

The company, which moved in to 100,000 sq ft of office space in Venice last year, will be taking over the lease on the Gold’s building in 2014, but appears to be intending to sublet the gym to Gold’s.

The spokesman said: “We have no plans to expand into Gold’s Gym space. In fact, we are working with them to extend their lease.”

Local councillor Bill Rosendahl said: “We have been thoroughly assured that Google appreciates the significance of Gold’s Gym to the Venice and bodybuilding communities, and wants the gym to stay where it is.”


‘Sexual depravity’ of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal- Observer

In Nonsense, Really?!? on June 9, 2012 at 08:39

Two Adelie penguins with a chick. The abuse of the young was something which shocked Levick.

‘Sexual depravity’ of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal 

It was the sight of a young male Adelie penguin attempting to have sex with a dead female that particularly unnerved George Murray Levick, a scientist with the 1910-13 Scott Antarctic Expedition. No such observation had ever been recorded before, as far as he knew, and Levick, a typical Edwardian Englishman, was horrified. Blizzards and freezing cold were one thing. Penguin perversion was another.

Worse was to come, however. Levick spent the Antarctic summer of 1911-12 observing the colony of Adelies at Cape Adare, making him the only scientist to this day to have studied an entire breeding cycle there. During that time, he witnessed males having sex with other males and also with dead females, including several that had died the previous year. He also saw them sexually coerce females and chicks and occasionally kill them.

Levick blamed this “astonishing depravity” on “hooligan males” and wrote down his observations in Greek so that only an educated gentleman would understand the horrors he had witnessed. Back in Britain he produced a paper (in English), titled Natural History of the Adelie Penguin. However, the section about the animal’s sexual proclivities was deemed to be so shocking it was removed to preserve decency. Levick then used this material as the basis for a separate short paper, Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin, which was privately circulated among a handful of experts.

In fact, Levick’s observations turned out to be well ahead of their time. Scientists had to wait another 50 years before the remarkable sexual antics of the Adelie were revealed. By this time his pamphlet and its detailed records of Adelie shenanigans had been lost to science .

But now a copy of Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin has been unearthed, thanks to sleuthing by Douglas Russell, curator of birds at the Natural History Museum, who discovered a copy among records of the work of Scott’s expeditions and has had it published in the journal Polar Record, with an accompanying analysis of Levick’s work.

“The pamphlet, declined for publication with the official Scott expedition reports, commented on the frequency of sexual activity, auto-erotic behaviour, and seemingly aberrant behaviour of young unpaired males and females, including necrophilia, sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks and homosexual behaviour,” states the analysis written by Russell and colleagues William Sladen and David Ainley. “His observations were, however, accurate, valid and, with the benefit of hindsight, deserving of publication.”

Levick’s lost masterpiece certainly has its eye-watering moments with its descriptions of male Adelies who gather in “little hooligan bands of half a dozen or more and hang about the outskirts of the knolls, whose inhabitants they annoy by their constant acts of depravity”. Injured females are mounted by members of these “gangs”, others have their chicks “misused before the very eyes of its parents”. Some chicks are crushed and injured, others are killed.

It is startling stuff, though Russell told the Observer that recent studies have helped understand the behaviour of these “hooligan” penguins. “Adelies gather at their colonies in October to start to breed. They have only a few weeks to do that and young adults simply have no experience of how to behave. Many respond to inappropriate cues. Hence the seeming depravity of their behaviour. For example, a dead penguin, lying with its eyes half-open, is very similar in appearance to a compliant female. The result is the so-called necrophilia that Levick witnessed and which so disgusted him.”

In addition, the penguin is the most humanlike of all birds in its appearance and its behaviour is most often interpreted in anthropomorphic terms, added Russell. For this reason, Adelie behaviour, when it was observed for the first time in detail, seemed especially shocking.