California is the #1 producer?

California’s percentage of the total U.S. crop are:

Olives – 100%
Almonds – 99%
Walnuts – 99%
Figs – 98%
Kiwis – 97%
Pistachios – 96%
Apricots – 95%
Celery – 94%
Tomatoes – 94%
Broccoli – 93%
Plums – 93%
Nectarines – 93%
Strawberries 90%
Carrots – 89%
Lemons – 89%
Grapes – 88%
Garlic – 86%
Avocados – 84%
Dates – 82%
Lettuce – 78%
Peaches – 76%
Honeydew – 73%
Asparagus – 55%
Cantaloupe – 54%
Bell Peppers – 47%
Onions – 27%
Cabbage – 22%
Milk & Cream – 21%
Artichokes – 19%
Honey – 18%
Spinach-18%

[hardworkin’ trying out something new Blog of Note link]

Principles of perception

Few engineers have taken the time to study art and few artists have spent time programming or conducting usability tests. But times are changing.

Visual designers working on the web need an understanding of the medium in which they work, so many have taken to code. Many have entered the usability lab. But what about the other side?

Are developers and human factors professionals immersed in literature on gestalt and color theory?

Principles of perception:

types of visual perception

proximity, similarity, continuance, and closure.

But understanding the psychological manner in which we group visual information is not enough if we want to be able to communicate a specific message. In order to do that, we need to know how to use visual relationships to our advantage —we need to know what makes things different.

Visible Narratives: Understanding Visual Organization

Is cancer inherited?

It seems that cancer is not inherited.

Ariel Frailich of Ginseng Press reports:

Science believes that genes play a major role in our health. We believe that, if our parents lived a long life, so will we, and if they had a major illness, we’re bound to get it too. Much research is devoted to finding the genes responsible for all kinds of diseases and conditions as well as ways to manipulate the genes to prevent the disease from being passed on.

Now some doubt has been cast on this theory. While many things are inherited, it seems that there are very few diseases that we’re likely to get just because our parents got them. Cancers, for instance, which are thought to be strongly inherited, turn out not to be.

In a study conducted in 2000 that looked at nearly 45,000 pairs of twins, researchers found only three types of cancer that are likely to occur in both twins. And even for those, the probability was very low: if one twin had the disease, the chances of the other one getting the same cancer was only 15%.

This, and much more, is described in a wonderful article in “The New York Times” (“Live Long? Die Young? Answer Isn’t Just in Genes”).

Emotion and motivation

The idea that creative geniuses might not be entirely sane isn’t exactly new. But just how much do creative types have in common with people suffering from psychosis?

A new study shows that poets and artists have as many ‘unusual experiences’ as people with schizophrenia.

What saves them from the disabling effects of schizophrenia is that they don’t suffer from the lack of emotion and motivation – known as ‘introvertive anhedonia’ – also associated with the illness.

More posted at the British Psychological Society Blog

And mathematicians? They reported even fewer unusual experiences than the healthy controls, but that they tended to score highly on lack of emotion and motivation – the opposite pattern to artists and poets.

Rating local services

I saw this brave site rating, ranking and recommending local home services for Toronto – plumbers, cleaners, roofers — and I wondered what local American neighborhoods would be like in twenty years. Will we flush out the hustlers? Will a new ability to choose top quality and fair prices emerge? If the Yellow Pages could rate a peach…

dead site: www.homestars.ca

New Way to Generate Peace

Antiwar Orgasm Day FoundersLiving on their houseboat off the Marin County coast, anti-war activists Donna Sheehan and her partner, Paul Reffel, concocted a way for the world to communally create a lot of peaceful vibes.

They want everyone to have an orgasm on the same day.

On Dec. 22, they’re asking the world to contribute to the Global Orgasm for Peace. Sheehan said not to worry if you don’t have a partner.

Busy multitaskers shouldn’t despair about trying to cram this global activism into their busy schedules, either, she said. Take any time during the 24-hour period at the beginning of the winter solstice to join the demonstration. Just make sure to think of peace before or after participating.

Once you’ve committed, there’s even a secret sign to show others that you plan to take part: Flash the universal “OK” sign and wink. Or, as it has been redubbed, “The O” sign.

“to effect change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy.” [link to more]

And don’t forget to wink.

via the eclectic drmenlo

Germ fighting with silver

Silver in clothing keeps odors away – Associated Press – a silver bullet for keeping the stink out of your socks. Not to mention your underwear, workout clothes, travel outfits, and hiking and hunting gear.

Scranton-based Noble Biomaterials, embeds silver in clothing worn by U.S. soldiers, elite athletes and weekend warriors alike – thus capitalizing on the precious metal’s increasing popularity as a way to keep clothes smelling fresh, even after multiple wears without a wash.

Noble is among a handful of companies that produce silver-coated textiles for use in the burgeoning market for high-tech performance clothing. The 10-year-old, privately held company’s sales have grown an average of 50 percent per year, and doubled in the last 18 months.

Silver kills odor-causing bacteria; it also redistributes body heat, keeping the wearer warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather.

Samsung Electronics Ltd. has launched a line of washing machines and refrigerators that use silver to kill germs. Sharper Image Corp. offers food-storage containers lined with tiny silver particles. Curad sells silver bandages. And Motorola Inc.’s i870 phone includes an anti-bacterial silver coating.

Noble: http://www.noblefiber.com/

Silver Institute: http://www.silverinstitute.org/

Everyone should see this graph

The 5% sickest people in our country make up HALF of our costs.
The HALF of us that are the healthiest make up 3.4% of our costs.

And the sickest people aren’t generally people that you see and think “Wow, they look ill.” They’re 10 times sicker. They’re people that spend months—MONTHS—in an ICU. They get admitted for something serious, and then they get a hospital infection. Or they have something else bad happen to them. They’re incredibly, incredibly sick. They’re on 20+ medications. They’re probably at least 50, if not 60, 70, 80, or 90. They probably have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.

So see? When all the Talking Heads talk about “Health Savings Accounts” and being in control of your health care dollars, they’re focusing on a leaking faucet when there’s a Niagara Falls right next door.

Kaiser healthcare costs chart

Working employees until they leave

Forty-seven percent of your most productive, most creative, most valuable workers are mailing out resumes, going on job interviews, even contemplating other offers.

Even worse, many managers are actually accelerating those departures by how they treat those employees, said Mark Murphy, chief executive of Leadership IQ and co-author of The Deadly Sins of Employee Retention: Cutting Edge Strategies for Keeping Your Best People.

“Frankly, we treat our high performers worse than any other employee,” he said.

more from Hugh MacLeod

Learn directly from Nobel Laureates

Designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists, The Honeywell – Nobel Initiative establishes a forum for students worldwide to learn directly from Nobel Laureates in Chemistry and Physics through a combination of live on-campus events, interactive content and broadcast programs that expand upon Nobelprize.org’s educational outreach efforts.

http://www.honeywellscience.com

Society’s attitude to depression

A patient with depression, writes a heart-felt analysis of society’s attitudes toward cancer patients compared to society’s attitude to patients with depression.

Depression’s not sexy. It’s common as dirt and every bit as dull. Depression’s boring, both for the patient and for everyone else in the vicinity. For one thing, there aren’t visible battle lines. Depression isn’t an invasion by foreign or mutated cells. If anybody’s come up with a sexy metaphor for neurotransmitter imbalances, I haven’t heard it yet.

via doctoranonymous

Immigrants built 40% of tech industry

Look at the top dogs: Google was co-founded by Russian-born Sergey Mikhailovich Brin; Yahoo’s Jerry Chih-Yuan Yang was born in Taiwan; eBay’s co-founder Pierre Omidyar was born in Paris to Iranian parents; and Intel’s Andy Grove came to the U.S. from Hungary.

The public policy study, entitled American Made, reported that over the past 15 years immigrants have started one-quarter of venture-backed U.S. public companies, equaling a market capitalization of $500 billion US. In the high-tech sector, the amount of immigrant-led U.S. companies rises to 40 per cent.

link

The study seems to be a promo to Congress to expand the H1-B visa program. This comment says a lot to counterbalance the hype:

The study counts the number of companies that had at least one founder who was an immigrant. If you have 100 companies, each with 5 founders – one of whom is an immigratn, this study claims all of those firms are “founded by immigrants”. If you take that one immigrant out of the equation, would these companies still have been founded?

Probably most.

In any event, this method of creating a bias sample is found in Chapter 1 of “How to Lie With Statistics”.

Note that none of the people metioned above came here on a guestworker visa. This propaganda piece says we have a lot of companies that had at least one founder who was an immigrant — therefore we need more guestworkers.

That is the classic “Does not follow’ logical fallacy – Non sequitur.

If Mr. Anderson had come up with a list of prominant companies founded by guestworkers, then he might have had a point. His lack of guestworkers founders is more telling.

Learning feelings

How do thoughts and emotions interact in everyday life and in therapeutic processes like cognitive behavioural therapy? Do we really have any control over our emotions or are they things that just happen to us?

“A thought comes when it will, not when I will.” – Nietzsche.

Nietzsche’s quote raises an important question about both thoughts and, implicitly, about emotions. Many people would say their emotions only come when they will and not when they want.

Robert Solomon has long been a proponent of the idea that emotions are not just things that happen to us. As existentialist philosophers like Sartre point out, we have a responsibility to take ownership of our emotions. They do not own us, we own them. To say otherwise is to cede control of a fundamental part of ourselves to…well to who?

Emotions are, in fact, strategies.

Asset words

To convert language into new content is a challenging art. The words tossed about in science, politics and business to promote ideas or the sale of products are usually copy/paste words or hastily rearranged words. Only a handful of words are constructed entirely for the reader and fewer words are built for the author. Most words lay on space, perhaps only to squeeze them into a website or advertisement. The convenience of engineering the internet is only one chapter. There is much more required.

Ask a storyteller how they create and polish their work. The draft material arrives in many different forms. Some drafts will fail in the first sentence or two. Others will flow like water but make no sense or have no impact. But in the end, a body of work begins. The work of writing original material will start to produce assets that companies around the world will want to copy/paste. Thus, the SEO professional builds commercial assets.

Can internet managers and entrepreneurs understand the complex elements in langauge assets? Will most engineers only see the organization’s structure or its transaction rates or whether they can exercise their power and influence? Will content be impatiently hurried along merely to fill the blank spaces of a screen?

If there are 10,000 vendors of a health supplement, it doesn’t take too long to see that there are only a few sources of the language used in descriptions and promotional material. Perhaps this explains why only a few dozen supplement vendors are truly profitable on the internet.

Words are the assets that fill the screen. Is there something other than words used by the search engines? Is there something other than words displayed for the reader?

Stories are the assets that fill the mind. Shrinking a company’s business plan into mere site engineering, rather than encouraging the art of the writer and designer, is similar to filling a bucket with dirt while leaving the gold on the ground.

Fluoride exposure in babies is too high

In response to growing alarm at the increase in dental fluorosis, the ADA issued interim guidance on 9th Nov 2006, advising parents to reduce fluoride intake from infant formula.

The American Dental Association, in a recently published position statement, says that mothers should be careful not to prepare baby foods with fluoridated water from the tap, as the fluoride contained in it could be bad for developing babies’ teeth:

“Recent studies cited in the report of the National Research Council (NRC), Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards, have raised the possibility that infants could receive a greater than optimal amount of fluoride through liquid concentrate or powdered baby formula that has been mixed with water containing fluoride during a time that their developing teeth may be susceptible to enamel fluorosis.”

62% of Americans are exposed to fluoridated drinking water, Europe is almost wholly fluoridation-free. via Sepp

Beef without the cattle

Chicken without the egg.

Meat Can be Grown in a Lab

Scientists know that a single muscle cell from a cow or chicken can be isolated and divided into thousands of new muscle cells.

…two techniques that have potential for large scale meat production.

One is to grow the cells in large flat sheets on thin membranes. The sheets of meat would be grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked on top of one another to increase thickness.

The other method would be to grow the muscle cells on small three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The mature cells could then be harvested and turned into a processed meat, like nuggets or hamburgers.

via gizmag

And wood without the trees…

Time to tune into robots again?

A number of scientists in the UK have started a program called “Walking with Robots” that is intended to engage people from all ages and walks of life to learn about and ask questions about robots and robotics.

The public must prepare for a technological “revolution” which could soon see robots occupying every area of human life, from space explorers to gardeners and lovers, scientists said today.

via Alice’s RealTechNews