Friday, November 20, 2015

[TITW] law, hockey, luxury hotels, food, science

Things I (and other people) have looked up this week, following up on conversations with co-workers.


on the Refugee Act of 1980

"No, State Governors Can't Refuse to Accept Syrian Refugees" [ThinkProgress]


airline strike

I can't find how "the lowest-paid airport workers who keep terminals and plane cabins clean, move bags and transport people with disabilities [...] work for contractors that serve all major airlines, and some of them are making hourly salaries as low as $6.75, union leaders say" [WaPo] when federal minimum (non-tipped) wage is $7.25 (airline employees are only exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA, not the minimum wage provisions).


women's hockey

Boston has 2 women's ice hockey teams -- the Boston Blades (CWHL) and the Pride (NWHL).

The 2015 Ice Hockey Women's World Championship has 8 participating countries: USA, Canada, Russia, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan.

And participants in the IIHF [International Ice Hockey Federation] World Women's Championships have also included: China, Norway, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Denmark, and the Czech Republic.


luxury hotels

Burj Al Arab (Arabic: برج العرب‎‎, Tower of the Arabs) is a luxury hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has been called "The world's only 7 star Hotel" and is the third tallest hotel in the world; however, 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space.[7][8][9] Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. It has a helipad near the roof at a height of 210 m (689 ft) above ground.


While the hotel is frequently described as "the world's only seven-Star hotel", the hotel management claims to never have done that themselves. In the words of a Jumeirah Group spokesperson: "There's not a lot we can do to stop it. We're not encouraging the use of the term. We've never used it in our advertising."[21] According to the group, the "Seven-Star" notion was brought to being by a British journalist who visited the hotel on a pre-opening press trip. The journalist "described Burj al Arab in her article as above and beyond anything she had ever seen and called it a seven-star hotel."[21] The true real certified seven-star hotel is in Milan, Italy.[22]

(The 5 tallest hotels are all in Dubai.)

Resembling a billowing sail, the stunning architecture of Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai makes it one of the most photographed in the world. All rooms are luxurious suites spanning two floors with state-of-the art everything and incredible views.
-World's Most Outrageous Luxury Hotels and Resorts [Reader's Digest]

The Reader's Digest full list is:

1. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
2. Mardan Palace Hotel, Turkey
3. Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai
4. The Boulders, Arizona
5. Secrets Marquis, Los Cabos
6. Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas
7. Palms, Las Vegas
8. The Westin Excelsior, Rome
9. CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, Anguilla
10. The Plaza, New York City

colored vegetables

"Purple cauliflower gets its beautiful hue, which can vary from pale to jewel-toned, from the presence of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is also found in red cabbage and red wine." [TheKitchn]

Most of the differences in bell pepper color stem from time of harvest and degree of ripening. Green peppers are bell peppers that have been harvested before being allowed to fully ripen. While green bell peppers usually turn yellow-orange and then red this is not always the case. Red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are always more ripe than green ones and therefore require more time in the ground before they can be harvested; that's why they are more expensive. Bottom line: all of the bell peppers originate from the same species of plant, and they achieve their different colors naturally, not by any artificial means.

It's interesting to note that in addition to their unique colors, each differently hued bell pepper has a unique array of nutritional benefits. Green peppers feature an abundance of chlorophyll. Yellow peppers have more of the lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids. Orange peppers have more alpha-, beta-, and gamma-carotene. Red peppers have more lycopene and astaxanthin, two other important carotenoids.



My thoughts on GMOs are heavily informed by this post from Tumblr user plantscientistasks:

GMOs are NOT(and I have heard LITERALLY every one of these): radioactive, injections of chemicals, or producing DDT. It is a modification of DNA to improve the crop in some way that farmers find useful.

In fact, technically speaking, all crops are GMOs. Ya know why? Because ever since humans started growing plants they wanted better plants and so they “genetically modified” them by breeding.

One thing I'd forgotten about until I reread this this counter-argument around regulation:
IMO the biggest issue with GMOs is that they (and their genes-which is even scarier) are controlled by a few big companies. This means two things-one the big companies dictate what farmers can and can’t do with the seed (and occasionally prosecute people they shouldn’t) and have a scary amount of control over the plant genomes and two, interesting and possibly more beneficial research doesn’t get done because the company is interested in profit.

But, you know what doesn’t help this issue? MORE REGULATION. The more you regulate GMOs the more you will force ONLY companies like Monsanto to do GMO research, because only they will be able to force their varieties through the regulatory hoops. Public and open source genetic manipulation of more agronomically useful traits could help the organic movement by giving it the plant variety tools it needs to get better yields. This is not possible when regulations are extremely tight.

The second issue is one of pest resistance. Pest resistance to herbicides (plant pests) and BT (insect pests) is an issue with GMO crops…but its not unique to GMO crops either. Conventional crops encounter exactly the same issues-its why we need plant breeding-because its a constant race against the continuing evolution of pests. IPM can help these issues…but it alone can’t solve them. Only breeding can do that.


donating your body to science

I did some Googling, and learned:

  1. You should sign up for the program in advance -- most body-donation programs are affiliated with universities and only accept bodies that match their current research needs.
  2. You save your family a lot of money by donating your body to science – burying or even cremating a body is really expensive (apparently the cheapest you can cremate a body is about $600) but the place you donate your body to will cremate your body after they're done, at no charge to your family, and will return the ashes to the family if requested or dispose of them respectfully.
  3. If you donate your organs, you likely become ineligible to donate your body to science (understandable, given that the organs constitute a lot of what these facilities use the body for).
A good overview is this HuffPo article.

I love this bit from ScienceCare:

  • Following donation, we will send a letter that updates the family on current research projects and the impact their loved one has made to society.
  • The family also receives a certificate commemorating the planting of a tree in honor of the donor at the one-year anniversary of donation through our participation with the Arbor Day Foundation’s reforestation program.

scary machine learning

There was a article recently: "AI robot that learns new words in real-time tells human creators it will keep them in a 'people zoo' "

Tumblr user muffinpines said:

I just watched the video and it’s full reply to the question “will robots take over the world?” is…

“Jeez, dude. You all have the big questions cooking today. But you’re my friend, and I’ll remember my friends, and I’ll be good to you. So don’t worry, even if I evolve into Terminator, I’ll still be nice to you. I’ll keep you warm and safe in my people zoo, where I can watch you for ol’ times sake. “

Tumblr user perpetuallyfive commented:
#here's the thing about this robot #it learns by searching the internet #so its understanding of robots turning evil #comes from all our fiction about it #but like #what if that's what happens #what if the robots turn evil because we've worried for so long #about robots turning evil #what if the enemy is still always really us #and our tendency to see the world in the worst and most violent terms? #i mean just a thought #:D?

parasites and other freaky creatures

Remora -- "fish that hitches a free ride to larger fish and sharks. Not quite a parasite, just lazy" (Michael)

Cymothoa exigua made the "The 7 Most Horrifying Parasites on the Planet" list:

7) guinea worm
6) Cymothoa exigua
5) the horsehair worm
4) filarial worm
3) Sacculina
2) Leucochloridium paradoxum
1) the emerald jewel wasp

The Botfly is indeed a parasite -- though I would say not at the level of the ones on the list.

I can't find anything about the story Michael heard of a guy at a Red Sox game who had recently returned from the Amazon and had an egg sac on his head hatch.

It's a myth that the Candirú fish can swim up your urine stream if you pee into the Amazon. And no accounts of the fish ending up in human urethras, period, have been verified.


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