Thursday, July 25, 2013

Best apps... For throwing a good party

BarNotes puts an encyclopedia of classic cocktails and new innovations right at your fingertips, together with users’ stories and comments. (Free, iOS only)

Quilt uses photos and videos that guests post in real-time to create an instantly archived scrapbook of the big night. (Free, iOS or Android)

Invy streamlines the task of picking a party date. Post the dates that’ll work for you, and invitees weigh in to arrive at a consensus choice. ($2, iOS only)

Songza, a music streaming site, can serve as a “discount DJ.” The app offers various “expertly arranged” party mixes, cataloged by theme. (Free, iOS or Android)

Seedio connects the music libraries of your guests’ phones, allowing users to create a “group-approved party playlist” that’ll stream through the phones. ($3, iOS only)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Best apps for meditating

Simply Being offers a user-friendly introduction to guided meditation. The same company also offers Walking Meditation, an app better suited for “meditation on-the-go.” ($1 each, for iOS and Android)

Buddhify gets high ratings from its online users for its “clear, simple design” and relaxing guided meditations. Choose the guide that fits your location, whether you’re at home, at the gym, or walking your neighborhood. ($3 for iOS; $1 for Android)

The Mindfulness App provides “a little nudge to help you stick with your meditation routine”: Set an alert and it will remind you to meditate when you reach a particular location. ($2 for iOS; $2 for Android)

Mindfulness Meditation by Mental Workout features an eight-week instruction program created by Zen teacher Stephan Bodian. ($17, iOS and Android)


Friday, April 19, 2013

Some of my favorite quotes this week

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.
Bill Gates

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
Martin Luther King Jr.

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.
Julia Child

Any compulsion tries to justify itself.
Joan Didion

Time is really the only capital that any human being has and the thing that he can least afford to waste or lose. Thomas Edison

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Only in America from "The Week" magazine

-A Florida homeowners association has decided to ban all outdoor play to keep neighborhood children safe. No skateboards, roller blades, or bicycles are allowed on the complex’s roads or common grounds. Even ball playing is prohibited. “They wanted to play when they were kids,” didn’t they?” said a local 9-year-old. “These people don’t know what freedom is!”

-A Kentucky teen was charged with disorderly conduct for falsely yelling “bingo” in a bingo hall. District Judge Douglas Grothaus likened 18-year-old Austin Whaley’s prank to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, and ordered the teen not to say the word “bingo” for six months. “People take their bingo very seriously,” the judge said.

Friday, March 29, 2013


French President Francois Hollande pressed his country to accept reduced pension and welfare benefits, among other economic measures, as part of a national effort to revive a moribund economy and stem a rise in unemployment that has caused his popularity to slump. In a national television interview last night, Hollande also promised to enforce a rule in which companies that pay their employees more than 1 million euros ($1.3 million) will be required pay 75 percent payroll taxes on those salaries. The changes to jobless benefits and a proposed cut in payouts to families would be unprecedented in France, the region's third-largest economy, while a plan to lengthen the number of work years would extend moves begun by Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. [Bloomberg, TIME]

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bitter Melon May Fight Pancreatic Cancer Cells

A fruit commonly consumed in Asian countries could also play an important role in fighting cancer, according to a new study in mice. Researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that the juice of the bumpy-skinned bitter melon may stop pancreatic cancer cells from metabolizing glucose — a crucial development because cancer cells need glucose to survive, and blocking off their glucose supply kills them. Researchers tested bitter melon juice's effects on pancreatic cancer cells in mice, and found that the mice that were given the juice had a 60 percent lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with control mice. [Huffington Post]

Thursday, March 14, 2013


In a medical first, a woman who received a five-organ transplant has given birth to a healthy baby girl at a Miami hospital. "It's the best feeling in the world," Fatema Al Ansari, a 26-year-old from Qatar, said Wednesday at the same hospital where she was given a new liver, pancreas, stomach, and small and large intestine in 2007. "It's a hard feeling to express." Her doctor said he had searched medical literature and found cases where patients who had received two new organs had given birth, but not five. Just over 600 five-organ transplants had been recorded as of 2011.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Woman has plastic surgery to look like a living doll!

Valeria Lukyanova is a real-life Barbie doll, said Shaun Walker in The Independent (U.K.). The 23-year-old Ukrainian has undergone extensive cosmetic surgery in her quest to resemble her favorite childhood toy. She has huge almond-shaped eyes, perfect porcelain skin, and a voluminous bust that tapers to a 17-inch waist. Even up close, Lukyanova looks like she’s made of plastic, rather than flesh and blood—which is fine by her. “I always try to perfect myself further both inside and out, because I think perfection has no limits,” she says. To maintain her tiny frame, she subsists solely on fruit and vegetable juices. “I’ve been on a liquid diet for a year now. In recent weeks I have not been hungry at all; I’m hoping it’s the final stage before I can subsist on air and light alone.” Regarded as a spiritual leader by her millions of online fans, Lukyanova gives lectures on “being sincere with oneself” and “finding a life partner”—her own husband is a construction magnate. She dismisses those who call her a freak. “They are women who are unhappy with their lives,” she shrugs. “They are sitting at home making cabbage soup. I feel sorry for them.”

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Belated ratification of the 13th amendment in Mississippi

Ranjan Batra watched the Oscar-nominated film Lincoln, and began looking into whether the state had ever endorsed the end of slavery. Batra discovered that by December 1865 the measure had been ratified by the three fourths of states needed, but not by Mississippi. In 1995, the state finally ratified the amendment, but failed to make it official by informing the Office of the Federal Register. Batra and a colleague notified Mississippi’s secretary of state, who sent a copy of the 1995 resolution to the federal government, certifying the state’s approval of the 13th Amendment. “Everyone here would like to put this part of Mississippi’s past behind us,” Batra said.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

When going ‘green’ makes people sick

When communities like San Francisco and Seattle began banning plastic bags, said Ramesh Ponnuru, it seemed like a public-spirited thing to do. But benign-seeming laws often have unintended consequences—and the plastic-bag ban is now producing a sickening result. The reusable shopping bags that people now use to bring groceries home turn out to be breeding grounds for bacteria carried by raw meat and unwashed vegetables. Studies have found that half of reusable bags contain coliform bacteria from feces; if these bags are left in a warm car trunk for two hours, the number of bacteria grows tenfold. “Kind of gross,” no? After San Francisco banned plastic bags, another study by two law professors found, emergency-room admissions caused by E. coli infections began climbing; researchers estimate that the plastic ban leads to five additional deaths a year from food-borne illness. Regular washing and drying can clean out a reusable bag’s bacterial colonies, but it’s a habit many consumers simply don’t have. It’s a stomach-turning reminder that governments should “just let people make their own decisions.”

Ramesh Ponnuru

Friday, March 1, 2013


Former basketball star Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea raised eyebrows from the start. But the tattooed former Chicago Bull really pushed the envelope on Friday, when he wrapped up his visit by calling the Hermit Kingdom's enigmatic young leader, Kim Jong Un, an "awesome kid." The unlikely pair on Thursday watched an exhibition basketball game together — featuring members of the Harlem Globetrotters, who traveled with Rodman to shoot an episode of a sports documentary — and Rodman declared that he had told Kim "you have a friend for life."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jeans that fight cellulite!

In a world of “crazy fashion gimmicks,” Wrangler’s new Smooth Legs jeans are redefining crazy. Made of denim that contains retinol, caffeine, and algae, they’re supposed to fight cellulite as you wear them. Wrangler cites a study in which 69 percent of wearers claimed that their thighs looked better after several weeks in the jeans, but that’s not proof. A better bet might be the brand’s new aloe vera and olive extract jeans, which are said to release moisturizers through about six washes. Making it easier to slide into skinny jeans “doesn’t sound like the worst idea in the world.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stats- Football, Guns, Campaign spending 2/20/13

In 1983, the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl with a single 300-pound player on the roster. This year’s Super Bowl teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, had 24 players who weigh more than 300 pounds.
The Wall Street Journal

Since 2009, there have been 43 mass shootings of four or more people—an average of one such killing spree a month. In only four of the 43 shootings had anyone raised concerns about the mental health of the killer to authorities.
The Washington Post

The total amount of money spent on the 2012 elections, from the bottom to the top of the ballot, was a record $7.3 billion, the Federal Election Commission said this week. Candidates spent $3.2 billion, parties $2 billion, and outside political committees $2.1 billion.

Law school applications have plummeted 38 percent since 2010, due to the rising cost of a law degree and declining job prospects and salaries for lawyers. “Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school,” said Indiana University law professor William D. Henderson. “Today, the law school escalator is broken.”
The New York Times

With 47 percent of global coal consumption, China now burns almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined.
Poll watch

43% of Americans say the government is “definitely” or “probably” concealing the existence of extraterrestrial life on Earth.
Angus Reid Public Opinion

27% of Americans believe God plays a direct role in determining which teams win sports events. 53% believe God rewards athletes who have faith with success.
Public Religion Research Institute

Saturday, February 9, 2013

16 year old, Sarah Kavanagh, takes on Gatorade and wins

PepsiCo is making some big changes to its Gatorade sports drink, thanks to a high school sophomore’s Internet petition, said Candice Choi in the Associated Press. Sarah Kavanagh, 16, a vegetarian from Hattiesburg, Miss., was scanning Gatorade’s ingredient list for animal products one day when she came across an item she didn’t recognize: brominated vegetable oil. A Google search led her to articles about BVO, which she discovered was patented as a flame retardant, linked to reduced fertility and altered thyroid hormones, and banned as a food additive in Japan and the European Union.
“When I went to Change​.org to start my petition, I thought it might get a lot of support because no one wants to gulp down flame retardant,” Kavanagh said. “But with Gatorade being as big as they are, sometimes it was hard to know if we’d ever win.” Kavanagh’s petition attracted more than 200,000 signatures, and last week the soda giant announced it would replace BVO in Gatorade, said Stephanie Strom in The New York Times, though it remains present in Mountain Dew and other citrus-flavored drinks. “I’m thinking about taking it to the FDA,” Kavanagh said, “and asking them why they aren’t doing something about it.”
The week magazine

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tip of the week... How to beat jet lag

Start with a boost. You can never eliminate jet lag entirely, says Ronald Kramer of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, but you can ease its effects. Start your first morning in the new time zone with a light workout, followed by a protein smoothie and a cup of coffee.

Don’t forgo naps. “One of the big mistakes is staying up all day.” Try to find time for a nap that’ll be over while the sun’s still up. Then turn in for the night at the same time the locals do.

Sleep through the night. Treat yourself to milk and cookies before bed: The light carbohydrates and stirring of childhood memories help the brain go quiet. Make sure your room is cool, and if all else fails, take a sleeping pill you’ve tried before. “Jet lag is one of the few situations” when a pill “can be really helpful.”
Source: Esquire

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Best apps... For discouraging texting while driving

blocks all calls, texts, and emails, and prevents drivers from reading or typing. When you select the app, it sends out auto replies to let people know that you’re driving. (Free; AT&T only)

automatically disables texting whenever your phone is traveling at speeds exceeding 10 mph. But you can send a request to the admin to override the block if you’re just riding in a fast-moving car, not driving it. ($30; Android)

uses the same 10 mph speed limit as Textecution, and also allows you to schedule auto-reply texts in advance, for periods when you know you’ll be on the road or otherwise occupied. (Free; Android)
doesn’t block incoming texts; instead it reads them aloud. It allows you to respond by voice instead of with your fingers. (Free; iOS, Android, Blackberry)

"We already are a welfare state" Mona Charen

Conservatives unhappy with federal deficit spending often warn that we’re on the road to becoming a European welfare state, said Mona Charen. Who are we kidding? America is already a welfare state. In fact, if you add local and state government spending to federal outlays, the U.S. government spends more per citizen than do France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The only real difference is that “we aren’t honest about our appetite for big government.” When asked, most Americans will insist they prefer small government—in theory. But in reality, we’ve grown addicted to government services and checks: 60 million depend on Medicaid benefits, 54 million get Social Security checks, 48 million are on Medicare, and 45 million receive food stamps. More than 20 million work directly for government, and millions more are private contractors dependent on government funding. If you protest that you “paid for” your Social Security and Medicare benefits, you really didn’t. The average beneficiary gets far more in benefits than he paid in. “We are, in short, a socialist-style society just like Europe.” Admitting it is the first step in recovery.