• World

    News From Around the World
  • Tech

    The Latest in the Tech Sphere
  • Arts

    Fresh and Original Artforms
  • 1984

    Who Has Their Eyes On Us?
  • Science

    Breakthroughs on the Frontier of Human Knowledge
  • Sex

    The Relationships Between Men, Women, and All Stops Inbetween
  • Biz

    How Markets Move, and How They Move You
  • Español

    News With a Spanish Flavour

Ecuador: The First Nation to Create its own Digital Currency #bitcoin #ecuador

CCN reported on the government of Ecuador’s decision to ban Bitcoin, along with all other cryptocurrencies, via a National Assembly majority vote on July 23rd.

An outright ban placed on Bitcoin by one nation, or another, has always been inevitable. What is more interesting (and unexpected), in the case of Ecuador, is its concurrent announcement of plans to create its own national cryptocurrency.

Ecuador is small South American country situated in the Andes, between Peru and Colombia. The country’s booming mining economy and hydro-electric output is sizable and in 2013, Ecuador’s economic growth surpassed that of it’s giant neighbor, Brazil.

Glossing over the practical benefits such as a public record of government transaction, elimination of counterfeiting, reduction of public sector corruption, etc., the announcement is significant because it apparently defies two key principles of the cryptocurrency domain, namely:

1. Can decentralized cryptocurrency be centralized?

2. Could cryptocurrency function meaningfully once removed from the open sourced, community-owned Bitcoin model?

This commentary will focus on the technical and conceptual challenges posed by the Ecuadorian cryptocurrency proposal. However, before we explore these issues, let’s get the obvious politico-economic bugbear out in the open: With global central banking in trouble, Ecuador’s decision could not have been made on a whim and, in all likelihood, is not intended to maintain the global economic status quo.

Read more: Ecuador: The First Nation to Create its own Digital Currency #bitcoin #ecuador

Is high school curiosity a measure of university success? #education

In What to Consider If You’re Considering University, Canadian academics Bill Morrison and Ken Coates offer a stern warning. They feel too many parents push their kids into university when they would be better off at polytechnics, colleges or apprenticing, because what they’re really after is a quick route to a good job, and universities can’t always deliver. They point out that the first-year dropout rate at 13 Canadian universities is 30 per cent and conclude that about a third of students shouldn’t have gone in the first place.

Think about that. Could it really be that a third of university students don’t belong? Doesn’t that go against the Canadian ethos to give as many people as possible a chance to better themselves? 

Either way, it’s a scary proposition if you’re a 17-year-old trying to decide what’s next.

To get a better idea of what the authors are thinking, consider their five-part “Curiosity Test.” First question: “Do I like to read? More precisely, have I read many works of serious fiction other than what some teacher has forced me to read?” Zombie books, Dan Brown and Oprah’s self-help books don’t count. Second question: “Do I watch foreign films, art films, CBC documentaries, or thoughtful PBS programs and series?” This time, horror films and Adam Sandler movies don’t count.

The conclusion is that if you weren’t interested in things like foreign films, Malcolm Gladwell or The Nature of Things in high school, you’re not curious enough to get much out of university.

While the curiosity test seems like a fair way to weed people out of elite programs such as Arts One at UBC or iSci at McMaster, it’s asking too much of most teenagers.

“If we’re only going to have students who are curious,” says Maryellen Weimer, a Pennsylvania State professor emeritus, teaching consultant and editor of The Teaching Professor newsletter, “most of our universities are going to be shutting down.”

Read more: Is high school curiosity a measure of university success? #education

Can Mobile Save Linkedin? #linkedin #mobile

Linkedin has been getting a bit of a bad press from my colleagues and peers lately. What was once the darling of the upper end professional with it’ gated community approach has now become the last bastion of recruiters, SEO "specialists" and sorry to say it but spammers. Mobile seems to have saved Facebook and now Twitter. But can mobile save Linkedin? It thinks so and so do I (but it will need to do some work...)

"As commented on below - the algorithm they use for the Newsfeed and Pulse might have to be the first thing they change."

But first - The New "Mobile First" User.

A small story...

You see my wife who, works for a successful small law firm, has only just joined LinkedIn, and so it was lovely to see what she did when she joined.

Read more: Can Mobile Save Linkedin? #linkedin #mobile

Jim Carrey Is About To Blow Your Mind: The Power Of Intention And Visualization #powerofthought

Jim Carrey, a Canadian-born actor who became a U.S. citizen in 2004, is an actor and producer famous for his rubbery body movements and flexible facial expressions. The two-time Golden Globe-winner rose to fame as a cast member of the Fox sketch comedyIn Living Color (1990) but leading roles in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Dumb & Dumber (1994) and The Mask (1994) established him as a bankable comedy actor.

Source: http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/jim-carrey-is-about-to-blow-your-mind-the-power-of-intention-and-visualization

A couple's guide to intimacy #sex #relationships

The famous psychotherapist, Dr. Albert Ellis, helped launch America's sexual revolution. He is well known for stating his views on love and sex in an earthy tone. For women he offers this advice: "She’d better let her partner know, in no uncertain terms, what she really wants in bed and what he can do to help her get what she wants.” (Ellis, The Sensuous Person: Critique and Corrections pp. 15-16.)

Here is a sample of Ellis' ideas that apply to having an extraordinary love-sex life:

1. The sexual revolution that started in the 1960s encouraged people to choose what they sexually wanted to do, and what they did not want to do. This invigorated communications among couples about being loving as well as sexual.

2. Sexual flexibility (choosing among positive alternatives and acting with openness to experience) is consistent with good mental health. Although this is less likely today, some still suffer from rigid, puritanical, sex ideas, such as sex is wrong and wicked. This sex is sordid view places artificial restrictions on sexual enjoyment and can lead to sexual guilt.

Read more: A couple's guide to intimacy #sex #relationships

Top Ten Reasons Why I Quit Facebook & Why You Should Too…#fb

10. Decorum

The infinite space of social media creates a false sense of anonymity. A significant number of Fcbk users will post, share, and/or like things online that they would not in public (or they will “like” or “follow” a cause that they could not explain if you wanted to know the details). Most importantly, the vocabulary, lack of grammar, and complaining environment of the Fcbk space is annoying.

9. Social Politics

With my business clients and professional networks, with my coworkers at the water-cooler, and as often as possible with my friends & family, I stay away from discussions of party politics, government actions / inactions, religious views, and entertainment news media unless I know that the present company can have an educated and passive conversation. Similar to precarious conversations about religion or politics, Fcbk has created a new type of social politics that is easy to get sucked into and fall victim to the backlash.

8. Huge Amount of Risk (Personal & Professional)

Ever hear anyone say “we broke up because of Facebook,” or “I lost my job because of Facebook?” Personally, I firmly believe that responsibility lies within our own actions and that the blame isn’t really on Fcbk. The truth though, is that people are sharing, communicating, and are more closely connected than ever before. One mistake- shared with thousands- could lead to personal, professional, financial, and reputational losses that could significantly change the trajectory or outcome of your future.

7. Better Ways to Connect

I feel that Facebook has given friends, family, co-workers, and clients an easy excuse to be impersonal and feel okay or complacent about it. “THAT MAKES NO SENSE” you’re probably screaming; especially after I just wrote that we are more connected in 2014 than ever before. The thing is, I believe in deep waters not vast shallow kiddie-pools…. The people I physically spend time with, the people that I verbally talk to on a regular basis and who call me, the friends I meet for coffee, or the people I play sports with are the relationships that I strongly rely on. “Following,” re-posting or sharing, “Liking,” or sending birthday messages because the computer reminded you are not the ways in which I want to connect.

Read more: Top Ten Reasons Why I Quit Facebook & Why You Should Too…#fb

Why Facebook (the company) Is A Juggernaut

As I'm prepping for CNBC's Squawk Alley this morning, here's the big story on my mind:

Let's put it this way: Facebook's earnings last night showed it's in a class of its own in the social media world.

Revenue came in at $2.92 billion. Profit (as measured by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) came in close to $2 billion. Mobile ads delivered 62% of overall ad revenue. And 1.32 billion people logged into Facebook at least once a month.

These numbers so far outstrip any other social media player, you'd be forgiven for picturing Mark Zuckerberg as the Juggernaut with his helmet super-glued on. (Comic book fans will know what I'm talking about.) Unstoppable, basically.

Read more: Why Facebook (the company) Is A Juggernaut

Why Mediocre Bosses Get Promoted #zoomer #business


Are you disgusted by the promotion of inept or mediocre executives?

How many times have you seen the mediocre, or even inept executive not get fired, but get promoted -- 1, 5, 10, 100 times?

You have to ask how dumb are the big bosses, or the boards? I just read an article that corroborates this entitled, “Higher Paid CEOs Do A Worse Job – Study Says.”

The January 30, 2013 study, “Performance for Pay? The Relation Between CEO Incentive Compensation and Future Stock Price Performance,” was authored by Michael J. Cooper , University of Utah - David Eccles School of Business; Huseyin Gulen Purdue University - Krannert School of Management; and P. Raghavendra Rau University of Cambridge; UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

Read more: Why Mediocre Bosses Get Promoted #zoomer #business

Why Millennials Fell Out of Love With Obamaals Fell Out of Love With Obama #millennials

There's no heartbreak like the heartbreak of first love, and when it comes to politics, no disappointment more bitter than that of a young person who grows up to realize her one-time idol is all too human.

That's the explanation offered by Harvard Institute of Politics pollster John Della Volpe and IOP Director Trey Grayson for the precipitous drop in Millennial generation support for President Obama in this year's annual Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes toward Politics and Public Service.

"We are now seeing a sea change among this critical demographic," Grayson said. "The president has experienced a double-digit drop among Millennials over the past seven months and that rating is now the lowest we've seen during his presidency."

The poll, conducted between October 30 and November 11, found that the president's approval among 18- to 29-year-olds had dropped from 52 to 41 percent over the course of the year, and that younger Millennials—those between 18 and 24—were trending less Democratic.

"For the better part of four or five years, young people have been the outliers. They've been the folks who have been the most optimistic and most trusting of the president and Congress to actually solve the problems they most care about," Della Volpe said, explaining what happened.

Read more: Why Millennials Fell Out of Love With Obamaals Fell Out of Love With Obama #millennials

Smoking While Pregnant Could Alter Baby's DNA #smoking #pregnancy

Women who smoke while they’re pregnant may actually be impairing the DNA of their future babies. A new study comparing nearly 900 infants identified 10 genes with newly established links to maternal smoking.

A plethora of problems could result from smoking during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: premature birth, low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and a cleft lip or cleft palate, for example. Certain health and behavioral problems could follow these children into adulthood.

We have a limited understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying these effects, Science explains, though one possibility is epigenetic changes. That’s when environmental factors, like smoking or diet, chemically modify DNA by turning certain genes on or off. DNA methylation is one such epigenetic modification. This occurs when a methyl group -- a chemical tag consisting of one carbon bonded to three hydrogen atoms -- is added to certain DNA bases.

A team led by Christina Markunas from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) conducted an epigenome-wide association study to investigate the alterations in DNA methylation in infants who were exposed “in utero” to tobacco smoke by their mothers. A genome-wide association study is a tool used by researchers to compare DNA from people with a disease (or a set of circumstances of interest) to similar people without it, in order to see what shows up more frequently with the disease being studied.

Read more: Smoking While Pregnant Could Alter Baby's DNA #smoking #pregnancy

Why Successful People Don't Become Very Successful #biz

Why don't successful people and organizations automatically become very successful? One important explanation is due to what I call "the clarity paradox," which can be summed up in four predictable phases:

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.

Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.

Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.

Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success is a catalyst for failure.

We can see this in companies that were once darlings of Wall Street, but later collapsed. In his book How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins explored this phenomenon and found that one of the key reasons for these failures was that companies fell into "the undisciplined pursuit of more." It is true for companies and it is true for careers.

Here's a more personal example: For years, Enric Sala was a professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. But he couldn't kick the feeling that the career path he was on was just a close counterfeit for the path he should really be on. So, he left academia and went to work for National Geographic. With that success came new and intriguing opportunities in Washington D.C. that again left him feeling he was close to the right career path, but not quite there yet. His success had distracted him. After a couple of years, he changed gears again in order to be what he really wanted: an explorer-in-residence with National Geographic, spending a significant portion of his time diving in the most remote locations, using his strengths in science and communications to influence policy on a global scale. (Watch Enric Sala speak about his important work at TED). The price of his dream job was saying no to the many good, parallel paths he encountered.

Read more: Why Successful People Don't Become Very Successful #biz

Simple Blood Test Could Detect Suicide Risk #suicide

Researchers say they’ve discovered that a chemical alteration to a single gene could make a person at risk of attempting suicide. If confirmed, these findings, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry this week, could be translated into a simple blood test to predict suicide risk.

“Suicide is a major preventable public health problem, but we have been stymied in our prevention efforts because we have no consistent way to predict those who are at increased risk of killing themselves,” Zachary Kaminsky of Johns Hopkins says in a news release.

This gene of interest, called SKA2, is linked with the brain’s response to stress hormones. Changes to this gene could turn everyday strain into suicidal thoughts. SKA2 is expressed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is involved with inhibiting negative thoughts and controlling impulsive behavior. SKA2 is specifically responsible for chaperoning stress hormone receptors, and if there’s not enough SKA2 -- or if it’s altered in some way -- someone under stress won’t be able to shut down the effect of the stress hormone.

Read more: Simple Blood Test Could Detect Suicide Risk #suicide