Friday, December 29, 2006

Situs Inversus

I learned something new yesterday. So it turns out there is a rare congenital condition called "situs inversus" in which your heart and other internal organs are reversed -- a mirror image of the ordinary body. I had never heard of it, and frankly, it's kind of mind-bending.

Here's the kicker -- a person with this condition usually functions normally! It's kind of crazy. So basically, the portions of the body that are not normally mirrored about the body's center are all transposed, but the body goes about its business anyway. It doesn't know any different. I wonder, would a right-handed person with situs inversus actually originally be left-handed?

The reason I discovered this condition is because it turns out that Minnesota Timberwolves rookie, Randy Foye, has the condition. How unbelievable is the human body that in an instance when everything internally is backwards from the way it's supposed to be, an individual can still perform at the highest level possible athletically?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Quick, what's the most common noun?

If you had to guess the most commonly used noun in the English language, what would it be? See the comments section below for Oxford dictionary's answer.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Sad Reminder

I don't mean to continue to harp incessantly on the topic, but numbers this stark can serve as a reminder that as we enjoy this holiday season, we must remember and continue to speak for those who will not ever be able to.

As the year ends, many year-end statistics, sometimes from the year prior, are becoming available and this one speaks for itself:

[In 2005] 122,725 babies were born in New York City.


The number of reported abortions in the city was ... 88,891 in 2005.

What more can be said? What more could the future of New York City offer with the added influx of human capital provided by nearly 100,000 more residents each year?

By way of comparison, since the war in Iraq began, 2,979 American soldiers and up to 57,368 Iraqis have been killed. These lives lost are just as frustrating and worthwhile as those lost here in the States, but the numbers themselves do pale compared to the grim statistics reported above.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Double Standard?

So there was a fight in an NBA game over the weekend. Needless to say, the reaction was swift and stern. Involved players were suspended a combined 47 games, including 15 games for Carmelo Anthony, who threw a punch.

Some have pointed out that in light of fighting in other sports like baseball and hockey, where reactions are much more muted, this punishment was too severe.

Might the hubbub even be racist? Bill Simmons points out in his chat on the topic,
Chris, Seattle: The fact that everyone makes such a big deal about an NBA brawl and not so much about a MLB brawl smacks of racism, I don't care what people say.

Bill Simmons: Couldn't agree more. Everyone involved in this fight was black, so the players are now "out of control" and the whole thing is "a disgrace." But when a white baseball player charges a white pitcher, it's all in good fun. It's a little weird.
Do we hold a double standard when it comes to black athletes fighting?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Surprising Truths

Recently, I've been reading a book by Gregg Easterbrook called "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse". It's filled with facts that challenge our perceptions, and just for that reason, I'd recommend it. Many of us enjoy being a contrarian, but in this case reality backs Mr. Easterbrook up, and so I'm sure I'll be using a few of his points.
Did you know, for instance, that,
Environmental trends for Western Europe are also almost entirely positive, though Europe trails America in most categories of improvement. Despite the common perception that Europe is environmentally advanced compared to the United States, U.S. environmental rules are stricter than European Union rules--Paris has worse smog than Houston [who are the worst in the U.S.], for example, and the Mississippi is far cleaner than the Marne. Generally, Europe lags about ten years behind the United States in ecological cleanup...

Monday, December 11, 2006


the proposed Chicago Spire (graphic from the Chicago Tribune)

On the heels of a redesign to the proposed Chicago Spire (I prefer the original), it is worth looking at the state of the world's skyscrapers.
As luck would have it, Wired has done a great job of running it down for us:

The world's cities are getting taller – and fast. Between 2001 and 2012, almost as many skyscrapers will be constructed as were built in the entire 20th century. While vertical metropolises like Hong Kong and New York continue to mint monoliths, the most dramatic changes are happening in lower-profile places. Thanks to globalization and the steady migration of people to urban cores, cities that once had only a few high-rises are morphing into mini-Manhattans. Miami, for example, had only five skyscrapers (buildings more than 150 meters, or 492 feet, tall) in 1999 but will have 71 by 2012. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, will soar from two in 1999 to 90 by 2012. Here's a snapshot of the world's fastest-changing skylines...
Be sure to check out the pictures showing what will be a progression of world's tallest buildings until 2012.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Link Dropping

Rather than just one link of the day, I'm gonna drop a whole smorgasbord. I hope you enjoy. Let me know which is your favorite.

Without any further ado, here's a look at some of the articles I've been reading online this past week:

Absolute Must-Reads:
What It Takes to Make a Student
Three Things You Don't Know About Aids in Africa

Worth a look-see:
A Free-for-All on Science and Religion
The Leastern Conference
The God Who Lives and Works and Plays in Russia
A man who hated government
The Gospel According to Jim Wallis

Peculiar and interesting:
A Russian skyscraper plan
The last cargo cult