Archive | June, 2011

Americans Growing Tired of Traffic Light Spy Cameras

Traffic Light SpyAlex Johnson writes on MSNBC:

In more than 500 cities and towns in 25 states, silent sentries keep watch over intersections, snapping photos and shooting video of drivers who run red lights. The cameras are on the job in metropolises like Houston and Chicago and in small towns like Selmer, Tenn., population 4,700, where a single camera setup monitors traffic at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and Mulberry Avenue.

One of the places is Los Angeles, where, if the Police Commission gets its way, the red light cameras will have to come down in a few weeks. That puts the nation’s second-largest city at the leading edge of an anti-camera movement that appears to have been gaining traction across the country in recent weeks.

A City Council committee is considering whether to continue the city’s camera contract over the objections of the commission, which voted unanimously to remove the camera system, which shoots video of cars running red lights at 32 of the city’s thousands of intersections.

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Welcome to Nowhere: U.S. Recession Wipes Empire, Nevada Off The Map

Photo: aturkus (CC).

Photo: aturkus (CC)

Jessica Bruder writes in the Christian Science Monitor:

This mining town of 300 people clings like a burr to the back of the Black Rock Desert. For years, it was marked on state Highway 447 by a two-story sign reading, “Welcome to Nowhere.”

On June 20, that tongue-in-cheek greeting will become a fact. Empire, Nev., will transform into a ghost town. An eight-foot chain-link fence crowned with barbed wire will seal off the 136-acre plot. Even the local ZIP Code, 89405, will be discontinued.

Many towns have been scarred by the recession, but Empire will be the first to completely disappear. For only a few days more it will remain the last intact example of an American icon: the company town.

Since 1948, the United States Gypsum Corporation (USG), which is the nation’s largest drywall manufacturer, has held title to all of Empire: four dusty streets lined with cottonwoods, elms, and silver poplars, dozens of low-slung houses, a community hall, a swimming pool, a cracked tennis court, and a nine-hole golf course called Burning Sands…

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Nuclear Apocalypse Animation That Scared Ed Sullivan Audiences Still Scares Today

io9 and CONELRAD Adjacent detail a broadcast of the Ed Sullivan Show that “scared the hell out of kids” when a short animation was aired on 27 May 1956. Peter and Joan Foldes’ cartoon, A Short Vision, depicts a nuclear apocalypse, showing the faces of men and animals melting off, the audience off guard when Sullivan shared no warning but this introduction:

“Just last week you read about the H-bomb being dropped. Now two great English writers, two very imaginative writers – I’m gonna tell you if you have youngsters in the living room tell them not to be alarmed at this ‘cause it’s a fantasy, the whole thing is animated – but two English writers, Joan and Peter Foldes, wrote a thing which they called ‘A Short Vision’ in which they wondered what might happen to the animal population of the world if an H-bomb were dropped. It’s produced by George K. Arthur and I’d like you to see it. It is grim, but I think we can all stand it to realize that in war there is no winner.”

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Does Watching TV Lead To Obesity?

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests there’s a causal link between watching junk food commercials on television and obesity. Alice Park reports for Time:

How much TV do your kids watch? If you don’t know, you might want to find out, say experts, since the time children spend in front of a TV or computer screen can have a profound effect on their physical and developmental health.

In a new policy statement on the role of media on obesity, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Council on Communications and Media warns parents that TV watching doesn’t just make children more sedentary, but also influences their eating habits…

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Asteroid Travels Close To Earth Today

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sometimes asteroids come very close to home, about every six years. The latest asteroid to come closer to Earth than our own satellites appears today. Via Space.com:

An asteroid the size of a tour bus will fly past Earth today (June 27) so closely it will be beneath some of the planet’s satellites.

The rock, named asteroid 2011 MD will zoom by just 7,500 miles (12,000 km) above the planet, making a sharp turn forced by Earth’s gravity before winging off into space again. The flyby will occur at about 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

There is no risk of an impact, NASA scientists said. The space rock, estimated to be between 29 to 98 feet (9 to 30 meters) wide, is likely too small to survive a plunge through our atmosphere anyway. An asteroid this size, if it were mostly stony, would break apart and burn up before hitting the surface.

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Facebook Users Are More Trusting Than Other People

2714464806_ed61abf335Has the internet in general and Facebook in particular ushered in a golden age in which we better understand, trust, and connect with our neighbors? The Pew Internet & American Life Project writes:

When we control for demographic factors, we find that there is a significant relationship between trust and the use of Facebook – not other social networking sites. A Facebook user who uses the service multiple times per day is 43% more likely than other internet users, or three times (3.07x) more likely than a non-internet user, to feel that “most people can be trusted.”

When we control for demographic factors, we find that internet users are significantly more likely to trust most people. Controlling for demographic factors, internet users are more than twice as likely (2.14x) to think that most people can be trusted.

To get a measure of how much trust people have in their fellow citizens, we asked people: “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” 41% of Americans said that most people can be trusted.

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Sweden Debuts Gender-Neutral Preschool

3596182798_fdf38a900eAt best, a school model for the more-enlightened future, and at worst, an intriguing social experiment. Via Yahoo News:

At the “Egalia” preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 kids as “friends” rather than girls and boys.

From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don’t fall into gender stereotypes.

Egalia doesn’t deny the biological differences between boys and girls — the dolls the children play with are anatomically correct. What matters is that children understand that their biological differences “don’t mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities.”

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden’s efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward. Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.

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TSA Orders 95-Year-Old Woman To Remove Adult Diaper

Enough with the madness – this is way, way too far over the line. And the TSA is not even apologizing! From CNN:

The Transportation Security Administration stood by its security officers Sunday after a Florida woman complained that her cancer-stricken, 95-year-old mother was patted down and forced to remove her adult diaper while going through security.

Reports of the incident took hold in social media, with scores of comments on the topic and reposts appearing hourly on Twitter Sunday afternoon…

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