Friday, August 31, 2012

"Crayola" Makes 3 Billon Crayons A Year

CNN Money did THIS 2 minute profile of Crayola, including an interview with their CEO. Like a lot of things on CNN in recent years, they managed to make this 'fun' topic bland to the point of boring.  But I was surprised when the CEO said that Crayola makes 3 billion crayons a year, and that they're still made in America.

Three billion seems like a lot to me.  Crayola LLC a private company, so its financial information is not publicly available. But if the crayons are still made in America, presumably they're mostly sold here as well. (Could they realistically compete on price in, say, China with knock-off products manufactured there.)  According to HERE, there were 24.3 million children ages 0-5 in America in 2010 and a further 24.6 million aged 6-11.  Can 49 million American kids really be consuming the majority of 3 billion crayons a year?  If they bought a collective 2 billion a year, that would mean each and every kid in America ages 0-11 was getting 41 new crayons a year.

I also thought it was interesting how relatively 'low tech' the manufacturing process still was.  (Though on reflection I'm not sure what else I was expecting, given the nature of the product.)

Ratings For "Honey Boo Boo" Top GOP Convention

I've been interested in politics for my entire adult life.  But I've never been particularly interested in political conventions.  I've never understood why they command three (or even four) nights of prime time TV coverage.  That seems out of all proportion to their newsworthiness, as well as their entertainment and educational value.

This morning brings the news that the ratings for TLC's reality show "Honey Boo Boo," which follows the life of a child of the same name (and her 'redneck' family) who participates in over-the-top beauty pageants for little girls, topped those for the Republican National Convention last night.

You can read more on NBC News HERE.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bigfoot Hoax Ends In Death

"A man trying to create a Bigfoot hoax on a highway died after being hit by two cars, officials in Montana said... A 15-year-old girl hit him with her car, another car swerved, and a third car driven by a 17-year-old ran him over, CNN affiliate KECI reported."

"[A]ccording to his companions he was 'attempting to incite a sighting of Bigfoot -- to make people think they had seen a Sasquatch,' Schneider said in the KECI report. But authorities received no calls from drivers thinking they had seen Bigfoot, the station reported."

You can read more at CNN HERE.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Egypt's Garbage Crisis And Pigs

"Garbage in Cairo has traditionally been collected by the Zabbaleen, Coptic Christians who for decades made the city’s waste their livelihood. After sorting organic waste from glass and plastic, the trash collectors sold the recyclable goods to national and international companies. Pigs, once omnipresent in predominantly Christian neighborhoods, would eat the rest."

"When the animals were fat, they were sent to slaughterhouses that catered to hotels. In the spring of 2009, alarmed by the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, Egyptian authorities ordered the immediate slaughter of all pigs in the country... The ban on trash-eating pigs removed a major method of disposal, sparking a crisis in the city of 19 million people. Trash cans are often overflowing and garbage is routinely left on sidewalks and empty lots, resulting in a nauseating smell and attracting rats and flies."

"But, compounding the problem, trash workers employed by companies with state contracts say their wages have been late or incomplete in recent months, as Egypt’s economy has been reeling from the 2011 revolt and its aftermath."

You can read more in The Washington Post HERE.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Data On Kids' Allowance In America Today

"Kids are raking in an average of $15 a week in allowance... While children generally receive a larger allowance the older they get, the average across all ages is $780 a year, according to a survey by the American Institute of CPAs... The AICPA's survey found that 61% of parents pay an allowance, and more than half of them starting making these payments to their kids by the time they're eight years old. Yet only 1% of parents say their child ever saves any of that money."

"Although many parents are quick to point out that their kids aren't getting a free ride. Almost all of the parents (89%) who responded to the survey said they expect their children to work at least one hour a week. On average, these kids work 6.2 hours a week."

You can read more at CNN Money HERE.

Politically Incorrect Aspect Of PEDs In MLB

You've probably heard about the 50 game suspensions handed down by Major League Baseball in recent days to Melky Cabrera and then Bartolo Colon for using 'performance enhancing drugs,' or PEDs. This news has highlighted another issue that's more awkward for the media to address, however.

"When it comes to steroid busts in baseball, Se Habla Espanol. Latin America has a history of producing baseball stars that is more than a century old - and a recent history of over-producing steroid cheaters... Four of the five big-league players ensnared by baseball's PED testing program this season are from Latin America. And a whopping 23 of the 37 suspensions by major league baseball since 2005 have gone to players born in Latin America."  You can read more, including some explanations for this trend, in the Miami Herald HERE.

23 of 37 is 62%.  Major League Baseball has 32 teams, each with a 40 man roster, a total of 1,280 players.  According to statistics on Wikipedia HERE, 207 current players were born in Latin America and the Caribbean.  That's 16% of 1,280.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, August 24, 2012

The "James Bond" Myth: Low Pay At MI6

Real life spies in the British secret service (MI6) are paid annual salaries that range from $40,000 - $60,000 a year according to THIS CBS News article, a meager amount that is apparently causing morale problems.

A store manager at McDonald's in the United States earns $39,000 a year on average, according to HERE,

D'oh: USPS Loses $1.2M On "Simpsons" Stamps

A few years ago the United States Postal Service printed one billion stamps featuring "The Simpsons," commemorating the cartoon's 20th anniversary.  But they didn't sell, apparently, and over 600 million of them have now been destroyed.  The already struggling USPS lost $1.2 million.

You can watch a 30 second segment about it from the NBC Nightly News HERE.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Art Restoration Gone Cartoonishly Wrong

Over the years you've probably seen dozens of fawning news items about various painstaking efforts to restore Renaissance-era paintings and frescoes in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

I'm always impressed by this work. But the fact that every such endeavor is presented with pride as a resounding success has made me wonder about about the inevitable errors we're not being shown.  Surely there must've been a few grievous disasters here and there.

Well, today CNN beings us news of one HERE  from Spain. This article juxtaposes a photo of the original masterpiece (depicting Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns) against the 'restored' fresco, which looks to me like a Shrinky Dink of Edvard Munch's "The Scream."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Coming Soon: Paid Advertising On Toilet Paper

CNN's Jeanne Moos profiles a former College Entrepreneur of the Year and his new business: printing paid advertisements on toilet paper rolls and then giving the rolls away for free to bars and restaurants.  You can watch the 2 minute segment HERE.

I thought this was a clever (if slightly off-putting) idea.   "An average advertisement is seen for between 2 and 5 seconds.," this young entrepreneur asserts confidently. "But one of our ads is seen for between 1 and 10 minutes, depending on what you had for dinner the night before."

But maybe it's not the best medium for some of the advertisers highlighted in this piece, like "Pita Pit" and "Smoothie King."

"Inside The Actors Studio" Remix

If you've ever watched the TV show "Inside the Actors Studio" you'll probably remember that the host, James Lipton, would end each episode by asking whatever famous actor he was interviewing a set of questions designed to solicit one word answers (i.e. "What's your least favorite word?")

A new 2 minute video posted on You Tube HERE has blended together and juxtaposed many of these responses, revealing how startlingly identical many of the celebrity answers were.

Most Frequently Stolen Cars In America

According to a new study released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the most stolen cars in America last year were:
  1. 1994 Honda Accord
  2. 1998 Honda Civic
  3. 2006 Ford F-Series
  4. 1991 Toyota Camry
  5. 2000 Dodge Caravan
  6. 1994 Acura Integra
  7. 1999 Chevrolet Silverado
  8. 2004 Dodge Ram
  9. 2002 Ford Explorer
  10. 1994 Nissan Sentra

The fact that 20 year old Honda Accord topped the list and that a 20 year old Nissan Sentra completed it really surprised me.

You can read more at NBC News HERE.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Junior Seau: No Brain Damage From Football

"Junior Seau had no alcohol or common drugs of abuse in his system when he shot himself in the chest with a .357 caliber magnum revolver at his Oceanside home on the morning of May 2, according to the autopsy and toxicology reports released Monday by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office. In addition, an initial autopsy of the brain of the former San Diego Chargers great and beloved San Diego sports icon showed no apparent damage from his illustrious NFL career, during which he distinguished himself as one of the best defensive players ever to play the game."

You can read more in the San Diego Union-Tribune HERE.

Why do I doubt these findings will get anywhere near the coverage that the hysterical speculation about football-related concussion syndrome did at the time of his death?

Garbage Tightly Correlated To US Economy

"U.S. GDP growth has long been tightly correlated with the change in carloads of trash that are being shipped off by rail to landfills across the country... In fact, the trash index has had an 82.4 percent statistical correlation with U.S. economic growth since 2001."

"And that’s worrisome because... the garbage indicator... appears to have plummeted for the third quarter of 2012. That could be a sign that the U.S. economy is heading for a rough patch, dragged down by the recent slumps in both Europe and China."

"Then again, as a wild alternative hypothesis, this might just be a sign that U.S. economic activity has somehow become decoupled from garbage of late."

You can read more at The Washington Post HERE.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Binge Drinkers Are "Happier" Than Non-Drinkers

"College students who binge drink report being happier with their social lives than their non-binging counterparts, according to a new study presented here today (Aug. 20) at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association."

"The first finding was that the students' anecdotal perceptions about who drinks were right. Higher-status students had higher rates of binge drinking, whether status was defined as race, wealth, class, sexual orientation or Greek life participation. These same high-status students also had the highest satisfaction with their college social lives... 'We think this is a terrible thing,' Hsu said."

You can read more at CBS News HERE.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Your Gym's Dirty Little Secrets

"Gym users with monthly memberships can end up paying 70 percent more than those on pay-per-visit plans... In fact, over six months, the average member would have saved more than $150 by paying a drop-in rate."

"We suggest you Purell before reading further... One study found that three-fourths of weight equipment was contaminated with cold-causing rhinoviruses, and even wiping surfaces down twice didn't completely nix germs"

"And next time, you may want to rethink using gym-provided towels: Outbreaks of MRSA have been associated with shared towels. Ask if your gym launders them in hot water and hot dryers. If the staff can't say for certain, bring your own"

You can read more at ABC News HERE

Scool Lunches Now A $1B Nutrition Battlefield

"School lunches have become a billion dollar battlefield. On one side there are those pushing for changes in the way millions of kids eat. On the other is an industry that has had a long and successful run inside lunchrooms." 

"The Food Industry had a full menu of objections. 'Salt and sodium have important functional properties.... Trans fat should not be inadvertently discouraged... Limiting starch makes lunch unappealing and confusing.'"

You can watch the 2 minute segment from the CBS News HERE.

The adjective "confusing" made me laugh.  But perhaps that's funny only because it's true.

Authentic Picasso Found In Indiana

"The staff at the Evansville Museum in Evansville, Ind. didn’t exactly foresee that scenario — but it’s most definitely real. The piece, now identified as Picasso’s Seated Woman with Red Hat, had been erroneously cataloged as one 'inspired' by Picasso and instead credited to an artist named 'Gemmaux,' the Evansville Courier & Press reports. Gemmaux, it turns out, is simply the plural of 'gemmail,' which refers to the fired-glass technique used in creating the piece."

"In 1963, industrial designer Raymond Loewy donated the piece to the museum, where it sat in storage until New York auction house Guernsey’s decided to inquire. The museum voted on Tuesday to authorize the auction house to sell Seated Woman with Red Hat privately, citing concerns about maintenance and insurance costs."
 You can read more (including a photo of the piece) in Time magazine HERE.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Japan's "Fast Food War"

American fast food chains have apparently been waging an escalating (and highly competitive) war for customers in Japan, leading to the introduction of some fairly amazing (if not outrageous and/or rococo) new products for the local market, including Wendy's foie gras burger and 'lobster surf and turf' burger, McDonald's Ebi Filet-O and cheese katsu burger, and Pizza Hut's mini corn dog pizza.

You can view the 25 item slide show at Business Insider HERE.

At the end of that slide show there's also another link HERE to another slide show of 12 McDonald's products that failed in Japan.  McLobster was an outrageous one that caught my eye.  But mostly, they're American McDonald's standards that simply failed to catch on in Japan, apparently.

The "Berlin Wall" Was Actually A Circle

The communist East German government completed construction of the Berlin Wall on this date back in 1961. Everyone's seen photos of segments of the concrete wall spray painted with graffiti, and other photos of refugees running through barbed wire to escape East Germany.  But I'd always wondered what the Berlin Wall looked like in its entirety.

The term 'wall' always implied to me a straight line running between East Berlin and West Berlin.  But Berlin itself was deep inside East Germany.  So while a wall like that might keep East Berliners from emigrating to West Berlin, it wouldn't keep out other East Germans. HERE's a map of the wall which answers that question: the Berlin Wall was a full circle that turned West Berlin into a sort of fortified castle.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shopper Attacked In Checkout Line

"A Phillips woman accused of punching and kicking a woman in the checkout line of the Farmington Walmart last weekend is free on bail... Police said Hanson got into a fight with her husband in the parking lot and then went back into the store... Shoppers told police Hanson approached a woman in the checkout line and began yelling obscenities at her before punching her in the face and kicking her... Police did not disclose what provoked the attack."

Police may not have disclosed the motive, but I think it's pretty clear from the circumstances what underlies this "Walmart Affair."

You can read more HERE .

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gender Ratios Alter Men's Spending

"[T]he researchers conducted a data study of 143 U.S. cities. In places where  women were more 'scarce,' men cut their savings rate by 42 percent and they increased their credit card debt by 84 percent."

"In a laboratory study of about 600 people, when male college participants were told there was a scarcity of women on their campuses and in other areas of their lives, they were willing to pay $6.01 more on average for Valentine’s Day gifts and $278 more for an engagement ring than men who were not told of a supposed scarcity of the opposite sex."

"However, the researchers found that sex ratios did not seem to correlate with women’s financial practices."

You can read more on ABC News HERE.

Trailer For Upcoming James Bond Movie

Paraphrasing Kevin Dillon's character from Platoon, "Nothing beats a good James Bond movie...except maybe the Indianapolis 500." The trailer for the new James Bond film, Skyfall, has been posted on You Tube HERE, and it looks good to me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Voter Fraud Actually Very Rare

"A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent. The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters."

You can read more in today's Washington Post HERE.

What's Guantanamo Bay Watching?

"Librarians at Guantanamo Bay’s prison detention center have had to up their stock of the popular 1990s TV show 'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,' starring Will Smith... The 168 captives currently residing at the U.S. prison base in Cuba have access to an extensive entertainment selection: the main library houses 18,000 books, 2,730 movies, 390 video games, and 1,235 magazines."

"In 2005, an American Forces Press Service report noted that Arabic translations of Agatha Christie novels were hot commodities on the camp library’s shelves, according to a security official. Since then, the Harry Potter books enjoyed a period of success, as did the self-help book 'Don’t Be Sad,' which discusses happiness from an Islamic perspective. The library even stocks video games like Madden NFL."

You can read the entire ABC News article HERE

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Cold War-Era Spy Story Declassified

"It's a plot worthy of a Hollywood action movie: 40 years ago, the U.S. Navy carried out a daring mission to retrieve a top-secret film capsule that had settled more than 16,000 feet (4,876 meters) underwater on the ocean floor."

"At the time, the expedition was the deepest undersea salvage operation ever attempted. Documents released by the Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday detail the capsule's incredible recovery, using what was at the time the Navy's most sophisticated deep-sea submersible. On July 10, 1971, a classified U.S. satellite, code-named Hexagon, attempted to return a mysterious 'data package' to Earth by ejecting a capsule over the Pacific Ocean. The capsule's parachute failed, and the canister slammed into the water with an excruciating 2,600 G's of force."

"Since these satellites preceded today's era of digital technology, Hexagons recorded images on film, sending them back to Earth in capsules that re-entered Earth's atmosphere and were recovered within a designated zone near the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. During the first Hexagon mission in 1971, the parachute attached to one of these capsules broke. The capsule sank to a depth of about 16,400 feet (almost 5,000 meters) in the Pacific... At that time, no object the size of the film canister had ever been detected by sonar and been searched for underwater."

You can read more at NBC News HERE. I wrote HERE a year ago when the first public references to this event were initially made. 

25 Years of "Taco Bell" Commercials

A site has posted 25 years of Taco Bell TV commercials HERE.  I particularly enjoyed the one from 1979 characterizing Taco Bell as "The Fresh Food Place," which ends with a teaser for the 11 PM local news from the time. ("Is gasoline rationing imminent?  Details at 11.")

Also notable, I thought, was one from from 1989 in which a series of young men in a Taco Bell seem to be staring, mouths agape, at Patrick Swayze's jeans rather than the bag of food he's carrying.

"Carl's Jr." Pulls IPO

CKE, the parent company of the fast food chains Carl's Jr. and Hardees that was taken private by Apollo Management in 2010 in a $700 million deal, pulled its planned IPO yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange, citing 'market conditions.'  You can read more in the New York Daily News HERE.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Is Wendy's "Baconator" A Window On Our Soul?

It says something unflattering about us as a nation when Wendy's uses THESE TV commercials to promote its new $4.29 'Baconator' hamburger in America ("two 1/4 lb. patties topped with fresh-cooked Applewood Smoked Bacon in between a premium buttered, toasted bun," or in nutritional terms 970 calories and 63 grams of fat), while simultaneously offering a $20 lobster and caviar burger in Japan. (You can see a photo of it at the New York Daily News HERE.)

Medicare Over-Spends $400M/Year On One Drug

"The U.S. health-care system is vastly overspending for a single anemia drug because Medicare overestimates its use by hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to an analysis of federal data. The overpayment to hospitals and clinics arises because Medicare reimburses them based on estimates rather than the actual use of the drug."

"Medicare’s current estimates are based on Epogen usage in 2007 for dialysis treatments. But since then, use of the drug has fallen 25 percent or more, partly because of Food and Drug Administration warnings about its perils... The amount of the overspending is more than $400 million annually, according to calculations done separately by The Washington Post and experts."

You can read more in The Washington Post HERE

Thursday, August 9, 2012

M.I.T. Students Beat State Lottery For $8 Million

"Ten years after a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students and a professor famously took Las Vegas casinos to the cleaners counting cards, a new gambling scandal has arisen that involves MIT: a researcher and a group of students scammed the Massachussets Lottery."

"The math whizzes were looking for a unique school project when a couple of them figured out that it would only take about $100,000 in tickets to guarantee success in the Cash WinFall game. When the jackpot rose to $2 million or more, group members bought in and shared in the prize money. By 2005, the group had earned about $8 million in winnings, reported the Boston Globe."

You can read more in the New York Daily News HERE.

Big Taxes On TV Game Show Prizes

" gives the example of a 'Price is Right' winner (name withheld) whose haul included a new truck, a washer and dryer, an Apple computer, a poker table and a trip to Washington, D.C... 'I won $57,000-worth of items. I had to pay around $17,000 or $20,000 in taxes.'
Some winners, he said, decline to take their prizes because they don’t want to pay the taxes."

"Another catch: You’re paying taxes on the item’s full retail value – in the case of a car, say, on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, rather than on the discounted price a buyer on the open market might pay. Win a really big prize, and the income might be enough to lift you into a higher tax bracket, further increasing the cost of your good fortune."

You can read more from ABC News HERE

Supermarkets Really In The "Distribution Business"

"For every dollar we spend on food, only about 16 cents goes to the farmer. The other 84 cents go towards what economists call 'marketing,' which refers not to commercials and advertising, but the entire chain that ensures food makes it from farm to plate," begins THIS CNN article.

"Today, nearly all our meals arrive in our neighborhoods via supermarkets (or supercenters, the term for operations like Walmart and Target that also sell groceries). Those two kinds of stores sell about 80 percent of our food. Walmart, the biggest supermarket in the country, sells roughly one-quarter of the food bought in the U.S., making it the largest grocer in our history (and that of the world)."

 “'The misconception is that we're in the retail business,' Jay Fitzsimmons, a senior vice president and treasurer for Walmart, told investors in 2003. But in reality, 'We're in the distribution business.'”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

J. Geils Sues "J. Geils Band"

"John Geils, founder of the J. Geils Band, has filed a lawsuit against the other members of the group over use of the name in an upcoming tour that doesn't feature the guitarist."  You can read the full Rolling Stone article HERE.

This reminded me of how Wally Amos lost the rights to use the name "Famous Amos" in the 1980s after financial troubles forced him to sell the pioneering cookie company he founded in 1975, the "Famous Amos Company," which held the trademark to his nickname "Famous Amos." (In 1994, Wally Amos instead launched "Uncle Noname Gourmet Muffins," to considerably less fanfare.)

Today the "Famous Amos" cookie brand is owned by Kelloggs.  But the ownership chain of the brand is really pretty amazing, as it turns out.  Kellogs acquired the brand when it bought Keebler in 2001.  Keebler came to own the brand when it purchased the President Baking Company in 1998. In 1992, President Baking Company bought the brand from The Shansby Group. And there were apparently four other owners of the well-travelled "Famous Amos" brand between 1985 and 1989.

Too Fat To Fight: Obesity And Military Recruiting

"A new report says 25 percent of young Americans who are potential recruits for the military are simply too fat to fight.  The problem is potentially so serious commanders of all ranks who spearheaded the study describe it as a potential threat to national security."  

You can read more HERE. Or you can watch a 2 minute CNN segment HERE.

Man Slices Vegetables By Tossing Playing Cards

A middle-aged Chinese man slices vegetables by tossing playing cards at them in THIS 1 minute video that's been posted on CNN.

It's sort of impressive.  But he's at very close range and appears to be doing this in his own apartment.

As I watched this clip I found myself wondering why, if you're going to perform a trick before millions of viewers on China's national TV network, CCTV, you would elect to do so in your white underwear with your hair uncombed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Home Health Care Providers Paid Fast Food Wages

Home health care workers are paid about the same as McDonald's employees, according to THIS Bloomberg Businessweek article.

"Demand for home health care workers is soaring as baby boomers — the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — get older and states try to save money by moving people out of more costly nursing homes... Nearly half of all home care workers live at or below the poverty level, and many receive government benefits such as food stamps, unions and advocacy groups say. The median pay a year ago was $9.70 per hour — 4 cents less than fast-food workers and short-order cooks, according to the most recent statistics from the Labor Department... Agencies that supply home health workers blame states and the federal government for failing to increase reimbursement rates for Medicaid and Medicare patients at a time when costs are going up."

"The qualifications and training for home care aides varies. A high school diploma isn't usually a requirement, and some states call for only on-the-job training..."

Long Before Chick-fil-A... Carl's Jr.?

When the recent controversy about Chick-fil-A first erupted, I almost wrote here that there are very few things I care about less in life than Chick-fil-A's position on gay marriage.  (I'd never even eaten at one.) But I didn't bother. At the time I thought the story would be too obscure and short-lived to be of any general interest. Boy did I get that wrong.

Now The Advocate has published an article HERE enumerating other 'Right Wing' fast food chains. I've never been much interested in trying to make political statements through my fast food choices. (When I was in college, similar concerns were raised about Domino's pizza and Coors beer.)  Nonetheless I thought that the following historical note about Carl's Jr. was interesting because I had no idea how far back this all went.  Does this really go back 35 years or more?

"Founder Carl Karcher, who died in 2008... had a mean anti-gay streak as well... and gay rights groups dubbed his hamburgers 'bigot burgers' after Karcher supported a 1978 proposition that would have allowed school boards to fire teachers who were gay or advocated homosexuality."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Las Vegas Buffets: Numbers And An Epilogue

The buffet at the Bellagio in Las Vegas goes through 2,000 lbs of shrimp a day and over 1,400 lbs of crab legs, according to THIS 3 minute interview with the head chef posted on Yahoo!  It also uses 700,000 lbs of sugar a year (or 1,900 lbs a day).

That's pretty consistent with my impression of what's piled high on the typical plate at a Las Vegas buffet.  But it stands in sharp contrast to the presentation in THIS 1 minute promotional clip for the new 'Bacchanal' buffet at Caesar's Palace, which features extensive shots of the chefs hand-slicing tomatoes and baby asparagus, and preparing artisanal breads.

Where does all the uneaten food go that people leave on their plates at all of these over-the-top Las Vegas buffets? For decades all the casinos have apparently shipped it 12 miles away to R.C. Farms, where it's turned into slop for pigs.  That's 8,000 lbs of uneaten food a day. You can read more on the Business Insider HERE.  This article includes photos from (and a link to) a recent Travel Channel profile of the operation. (Completing the circle of life, those pigs are later slaughtered and sold back to MGM Resorts, apparently.)

"The Week In Review" By Jon Stewart

HERE is a 4 minute 'Week In Review' highlight clip from The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Can You Be "Poor" If You Own An HDTV?

"US poverty on track to reach 46-year high says a headline in The Washington Post. And so is the topic of what constitutes poverty in the U.S. Just how bad is it? Muses a CNNMoney headline, Are you poor if you have a flat-screen TV? The article says, 'For instance, some 62% of households earning less than $20,000 annually owned between two and four televisions, according to the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy. That compares to 68% of those earning $120,000 or more."

"[T]he conservative Heritage Foundation released a study by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield last year. Among its findings:
  • 80% of poor families have air conditioning.
  • 92% have a microwave.
  • Almost two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
  • More than half of poor households with children have a video game system.
  • Half of poor households have a computer and 43% have Internet access.
  • A third have a plasma or LCD TV, and a quarter have a digital video recorder"

You can read more on MSN Money HERE.

Lipozene "Works" (In "Mysterious Ways")

Have you seen THIS 2 minute infomercial for a fat burning pill called 'Lipozene' over-and-over, too?

If so, have you noticed the fine print that flashes at the bottom of the screen at one point stating, "Average of 3.86 lbs of weight loss over an 8 week university study." Is that really weight loss? Couldn't your weight vary by 3.86 lbs depending on what time of day you weighed yourself, I wondered?

I might've been more right than I knew, it turns out. According to The Thin Report HERE, "The video advertisement indicates that Lipozene is a fat burning formula, yet its primary component, glucomannen, does not burn fat... It is a nutritional substance used for the treatment of constipation, elevated cholesterol levels, and overweight."

The name of Lipozene's maker, the Obesity Research Institute, also caught my eye. The Thin Report states, "Also, this business is operated by Henry Den Uijl and Bryan Corlett, both recipients in 2005 of FTC fines for making misrepresentations about their weight-reduction products."

NBA Formed On This Date In 1949

The National Basketball Association was formed on this date back in 1949, as a result of the merger of two other struggling pro basketball leagues. 

But the NBA wasn't racially integrated until the following year, 1950, when the 'color barrier' was finally broken.

Where Is Mathias Rust Today?

Twenty five years ago a German teenager named Mathias Rust famously flew a light aircraft into the Soviet Union, landing in Red Square.  On this date 24 years ago, he was released from custody after spending 14 months in a Moscow prison (despite having been sentenced formally to four years in a Russian labor camp). 

You can watch a 5 minute retrospective HERE, which initially aired on Deutsche Welle just a few months ago. It includes an interview with the now 44-year old Mathias Rust.

Why did he do it as a 19 year-old back in 1987?  "For World Peace," Rust explains. He was inspired by a German comic book hero like Flash Gordon, apparently, and believed that Reagan and Gorbachev were incapable of resolving the differences between the Super Powers following the break-down of talks at  a recent summit.

"In later years Rust's fortunes took a dive," this Deutsche Welle segment concludes. "He was convicted of attempted manslaughter, shoplifting, and fraud.  Rust says he's now working as a financial analyst."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Super PACs" Funded Largely By Just 47 People

"Just 47 people account for more than half (57.1 percent) of the $230 million raised by super PACs from individual donors, according to the study by U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and Demos, two liberal research and advocacy organizations. Just over 1,000 donors giving $10,000 or more were responsible for 94 percent of the money raised." 

You can read more in today's Washington Post HERE.

Washing Machine Plays "Darth Vader Theme"

A bored husband apparently discovered that he could play the Imperial March (i.e. the 'Darth Vader theme') using the electronic 'beeps' made by the setting controls on his washing machine.  You can watch the 30 second You Tube video HERE.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Women And Children First"? Not In Reality

"A pair of Swedish economists have produced a paper that debunks the nautical notion spawned by the Titanic disaster a century ago that shipwrecks bring out the chivalry in men. Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson also found that captains and crew are actually more likely to escape a maritime disaster than any passenger. 'Women have a substantially lower survival rate than men,' they wrote."

You can read more at the New York Daily News HERE

The First Fast Food Franchise In Libya Is...

The first US fast food franchise to open in Libya is... Cinnabon. 

You can read more on CNN HERE.