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On accidents, chaos, taste and the Middle-east December 22, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in America, geo-politics, statistics, weird.
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1. Have a hard time believing studies like this.

The study, which looked at 100,000 North American drivers’ records from the past six years, puts Libras (born September 23-October 22) followed by Aquarians (January 20-February 18) as the worst offenders for tickets and accidents.

Not because I am a libran and happen to be an exception to the above, but because there has to be some reason for the these patterns to turn out.

2. And whats this now.

IT is a truism of American life that we’re too darn messy, or we think we are, and we feel really bad about it. Our desks and dining room tables are awash with paper; our closets are bursting with clothes and sports equipment and old files; our laundry areas boil; our basements and garages seethe. And so do our partners — or our parents, if we happen to be teenagers.

This is why sales of home-organizing products, like accordion files and labelmakers and plastic tubs, keep going up and up, from $5.9 billion last year to a projected $7.6 billion by 2009, as do the revenues of companies that make closet organizing systems, an industry that is pulling in $3 billion a year, according to Closets magazine.

I not only cant believe that home-organizing products is a $ 7.6 billion industry but also that this article that talks about – an anti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds, and that messy closet owners are probably better parents than their tidier counterparts in response elicits so many comments from people talking about how organized (or not) they are.

The best one ofcourse is someone who reads about the merits of chaos and comments

Thanks. There goes my New Year’s resolution. Please tell my wife.

3. Whats really new about his study ?

Dr. Lee said that the study showed that the experience of taste involved not only the sensation of a blend of ingredients, but also the “top-down” influence of expectations. Previous research with brain imaging had shown that expectations could change the
trace of activity of people’s brains when tasting drinks.

Parents of young children know this instinctively. When giving him cod liver oil as a nutritional supplement, Dr. Lee said, his mother called it “syrup.” In the spirit of blind testing, other parents choose not to create any bias at all. They answer, “What’s in this?” with, “Just try it, you’ll like it.”

Yes, my dad did exactly that, albeit less successfully because anything I eat must pass the smell test. I dont eat anything new without first smelling it – solid, liquid, paste, dry, whatever be it.

4. Wow, this is exactly what Sadiq and I were discussing the other day.

Many people write as if the sectarian warfare in Iraq was caused by coalition intervention. But it is surely obvious that the struggle for mastery has been going on for some time and was only masked by the apparently iron unity imposed under Baathist rule. That rule was itself the dictatorship of a tribal Tikriti minority of the Sunni minority and constituted a veneer over the divisions beneath, as well as an incitement to their perpetuation. The Kurds had already withdrawn themselves from this divide-and-rule system by the time the coalition forces arrived, while Shiite grievances against the state were decades old and had been hugely intensified by Saddam’s cruelty. Nothing was going to stop their explosion, and if Saddam Hussein’s regime had been permitted to run its course and to devolve (if one can use such a mild expression) into the successorship of Udai and Qusai, the resulting detonation would have been even more vicious.

The concept of a nation state is new to the middle-east where the borders are quite arbitrary -too coarse when they should be much finer. Those borders are anything but natural – as in countries within Europe or states within India. Lot of blood will be spilt and a few million will be dead and it will be decades before we see stable democratic nation-states in that part of the world.

Read this article on how Arabs are really really different from the west or even for the matter the east.

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