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Definition of News defined by Death Count?

Saturday, August 18, 2007 by M.

We're obssessed with plane crashes and bridge collapses, yet we pay little attention to the stuff that kills the rest of us.

On any given day, an average of 148,000 people will die. That means over a million people have died in the last week. Nearly 5 million have died since around this time last month.

Other deaths and possible deaths we've heard about since then include the 11 victims found so far in the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis; the six miners missing and three rescuers killed in a Utah coal mine; hundreds dead in the earthquake in Peru. To a somewhat lesser extent, we've also heard about 100-plus troops and the 2,000-plus civilians reportedly killed in the Iraq war in the last month.

Based on estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were about 3,500 automobile-related deaths during that monthlong period. U.S. cancer deaths hover around 42,000 a month. As for heart disease, the American Heart Assn. tells us that someone dies of cardiovascular disease every 36 seconds. And that's just in the US.

As staggering as these numbers are, they don't seem to scare or interest us nearly as much as things like plane crashes, mountain lion attacks, deadly roller coaster mishaps or avian flu. And because the news media is savvy about (and complicit in) our fears and fascinations, we are fed an endless supply of death news that has little to do with how most people actually die.

It may be an act of denial, but it's also an act of self-protection. Figures from the National Center for Health Statistics suggest that the lifetime odds of dying in a plane crash are about 1 in 20,000. Those same figures put the chances of dying in a car accident about 1 in 100. But is that news?

Death doesn't discriminate, but at least when it comes to the deaths of strangers, neither is it immune to certain hierarchical precepts. A cursory glance at what we pay most attention to suggests that grand spectacle rules the day. Sinking ferryboats trump bus accidents, but plane crashes, with their unspeakable, almost supernatural brand of horror, are the most riveting of all.

Mammoth disasters like the Indian Ocean tsunami aside, small-scale blight on home soil will almost always catch more eyeballs than larger events far away. As the death toll in Peru soared past 500, on TV at least, it was the Utah mine tragedy we couldn't get enough of.

Meanwhile, 3,000 people, mostly sub-Saharan African children, will die today of malaria with nary an Associated Press story to spread the news.

Are we overly selective in what is news? Desensitized? Or is it that we've been spoon fed by a media dictatorship for so long we don't have a say?


The Top 100 Strangest Laws

Friday, August 17, 2007 by M.

A list of the world's most ridiculous laws... no wonder lawyers earn so much!

- In Victoria Australia, only a licensed electrician is allowed to change a lightbulb.

- In Victoria Australia it is forbidden to wear pink hot pants after mid-day on a Sunday.

- It England, it is illegal for a cab in the City of London to carry rabid dogs or corpses.

- It England, it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

- It England, it is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down.

- In France, it is forbidden to call a pig Napoleon.

- Under the UK’s Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006, it is illegal not to tell the taxman anything you don’t want him to know, though you don’t have to tell him anything you don’t mind him knowing.

- In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle.

- In Ohio, it is against state law to get a fish drunk.

- Royal Navy ships that enter the Port of London must provide a barrel of rum to the Constable of the Tower of London.

- In the UK, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants – even, if she so requests, in a policeman’s helmet.

- In Lancashire, no person is permitted after being asked to stop by a constable on the seashore to incite a dog to bark.

- In Miami, Florida, it is illegal to skateboard in a police station.

- In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation.

- In the UK, all men over the age of 14 must carry out two hours of longbow practice a day.

- In London, Freemen are allowed to take a flock of sheep across London Bridge without being charged a toll; they are also allowed to drive geese down Cheapside.

- In San Salvador, drunk drivers can be punished by death before a firing squad.

- In the UK, a man who feels compelled to urinate in public can do so only if he aims for his rear wheel and keeps his right hand on his vehicle.

- In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on Sundays can be jailed.

- In Kentucky, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon more than six-feet long.

- In Chester, Welshmen are banned from entering the city before sunrise and from staying after sunset.

- In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.

- In Boulder, Colorado, it is illegal to kill a bird within the city limits and also to “own” a pet – the town’s citizens, legally speaking, are merely “pet minders”.

- In Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.

- In London, it is illegal to flag down a taxi if you have the plague.

- In Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman’s genitals but is forbidden from looking directly at them during the examination; he may only see their reflection in a mirror.

- The head of any dead whale found on the British coast is legally the property of the King; the tail, on the other hand, belongs to the Queen - in case she needs the bones for her corset.

- In Eureka, Nevada, USA, it is still illegal for men with moustaches to kiss women.

- In Alexandria, Minnesota, USA, it is still illegal for a man who has garlic, onions or sardines on his breath to have sex with his wife.

- In Logan County, Colorado, USA, it is still illegal to kiss a woman while she is asleep.

- In Providence, Rhode Island, USA, it is still illegal for shop owners to sell toothpaste and toothbrushes to the same customer on a Sunday.

- In Zion, Illinois, USA, it is still illegal to offer cigars to your pets.

- In St. Louis, Missouri, USA, it is still illegal for firemen to rescue women who are still in their nightdresses.

- In Ames, Iowa, USA, it is still illegal for men to have three sips of beer while they are in bed with their wives.

- In Maryland, USA, it is still illegal for radio stations to play Randy Newman's song 'Short people'.

- In Oklahoma, USA, it is still illegal to make faces at a dog, a crime that could result in a prison sentence.

- In Texas, USA, criminals are still required to give their victims at least 24 hours oral or written notice giving details of the crime they are about to commit.

- In Washington, USA, it is still an offence to pretend that you have rich parents.

- In Baltimore, Maryland, USA, it is still an offence to take a lion into a cinema.

- In Tremonton, Utah, USA, it is still an offence for a woman to have sexual intercourse with a man in an ambulance. She can be charged with a misdemeanour and have her name printed in the local paper.

- In Oxford, Ohio, USA, it is still illegal for a woman to undress in front of a picture of a man.

- In Miami, Florida, USA, it is still illegal for anyone to imitate an animal.

- In Afghanistan the Taliban militia banned women from wearing white socks just in case men find them attractive. The police are also ordered windows to be painted black to stop women being seen from the outside.

- In the USA impotence is grounds for divorce in 24 states.

- In Illinois, USA, it is against the law to give a lighted cigar to a pet.

- In Iowa, USA, it is against the law to kiss for more than five minutes.

- In International Falls, Minnesota, USA, it is against the law for a dog to chase a cat up a telegraph pole and dog owners can be fined for this.

- In Kentucky, USA, it is illegal to carry and ice cream cone in your pocket.

- In Louisiana, USA, if you bite someone with your own teeth it is classed as 'Simple assault' but if you bite someone with your dentures it is classed as 'aggravated assault.'

- In Massachusetts, USA, it is illegal for mourners to eat no more than three sandwiches at a wake.

- In Chico, California, USA, the law says that anybody who detonates a nuclear device within the city limits is liable to a fine of $500.

- In Lebanon any man may legally have sex with any animal just as long as it is a female.

- In Conorsville, Wisconsin, USA, it is illegal for a man to fire a gun while his wife is having an orgasm.

- In Tremonton, Utah, USA, it is illegal for a woman to have sex with a man while riding in an ambulance.

- In Oblong, Illinois, it is illegal to make love while fishing or hunting on your wedding day.

- In Bahrain it is illegal for a doctor to look directly at a woman's genitals while he is examining her although he is permitted to see their reflection in a mirror.

- In Ames, Iowa, USA, a husband may not take more than three gulps of beer while lying in bed with his wife.

- In Hastings, Nebraska, USA, the law says that hotel owners have to provide a clean white cotton nightshirt for each guest. Also no couples are allowed to have sex in the hotel unless they are wearing these nightshirts.

- In Willowdale, Oregon, USA, no man may curse while having sex with his wife.

- In Indonesia the punishment for masturbation is execution by decapitation.

- In Kingsville, Texas, USA, it is against the law for pigs to have sex on airport property.

- In Florida it is illegal to have sex with a porcupine.

- During World War I anyone found to be a homosexual in the French army was executed.

- Hundreds of years ago in Japan anyone who attempted to leave the country was instantly executed.

- The very first country to abolish capital punishment was Austria in 1787.

- In Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, in 1917, it was illegal to tie a male horse next to a female horse.

- In San Diego, USA, hypnotism is banned by public schools.

- Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore.

- In Paraguay duelling is legal just as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

- In Milan, Italy, there is still a law that requires citizens to smile at all times or risk a hefty fine. The only exceptions are visiting hospitals and funerals.

- In Switzerland every citizen is required by law to have access to a bomb shelter.

- In Burma it is illegal to get internet access. If a person is found in possession of a modem he can be imprisoned.

- In Bangladesh it is against the law for schoolchildren to cheat at school exams. Pupils as young as 15 can be imprisoned for this.

- Until 1984 Belgians were made to choose their children's names from a list of 1500 drawn up in the days of Napoleon.

- In Romania, in 1935, Mickey Mouse was banned because the authorities thought that the sight of a 10ft high rodent on screen would terrify the nation's children.

- Donald Duck comics were once banned in Finland because he never wore pants.

- Belgium is the only country that has never imposed censorship on adult films.

- Karate films were banned in Iraq in 1979.

- In Indiana, USA, during the 1950's, all Robin Hood films were banned because authorities thought that robbing the rich to give to the poor was an act of communism.

- In Iceland it was once against the law to own a pet dog.

- The bloodhound is the only animal in the world whose evidence is admissable in court.

- In Basle, Switzerland, in 1471, a cockerel was found guilty in a court of law for laying an egg "In defiance of natural law". The bird was then burnt at the stake as a "Devil in disguise".

- In Stelvio, Italy, in 1519, a court issued a warrant for the arrest of a gang of moles that had severely damaged crops. The moles were sumoned to court but when they failed to appear they were sentenced to exile.

- In South Bend, Indiana, USA, a monkey was once found guilty of smoking a cigarette.

- In Munster, in 1670, the courts banished a plague of fleas from the city, prohibiting them from returning for ten years.

- In Seville, Spain, in 1983, an alsatian dog was arrested for snatching handbags from shoppers.

- Judge J.H. Logan from California, USA, created the Loganberry fruit. He crossed a wild blackberry with a cultivated raspberry and came up with his own fruit.

- In ancient Sparta men were required by law to eat at least two pounds of meat every day. This was supposed to make them brave.

- In Turkey, during the 16th and 17th centuries, it was illegal to drink coffee and anyone caught doing so was sentenced to death.

- In Venice all gondolas have to be painted black unless they belong to a high ranking official.

- In England, in 1865, a law was passed stating that any self propelled carriage on an English highway had to have a crew of three, one of whom had to walk in front of the carriage with a red flag to warn horse drawn vehicles of it's approach.

- In Rome, 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar banned chariots from the centre of Rome to ease congestion.

- In London, England, there is still a law that states London Taxi cabs must carry a bale of hay at all times.

- In Bermuda, up until 1948, all private cars were banned.

- At one time it was against the law to slam car doors in Switzerland.

- In Britain, in 1888, a law was passed which stated that every cyclist had to constantly ring the bell on his bicycle non-stop while the machine was moving.

- In Singapore it is illegal for a person to walk around the house naked and not flushing the toilet. Also a person can be executed if they are found in possession of more than 200g of cannabis resin. Oral sex is banned unless it is used only during foreplay and if a person is caught littering the streets he is forced to make an appearance on TV with a bib around his neck saying "I'm a litterer."

- In Birmingham, England, it is illegal for a man and a woman to have sex on church steps after sundwon.

- In Iowa, USA, it is illegal for horses to eat fire hydrants.

- In Denmark it is not illegal for a convicted prisoner to escape from prison. If the escapee is caught he only serves the rest of his sentence.

- In Denmark it is illegal to start your car without first checking to see if there are any children asleep underneath it.

- In Thailand it is illegal to step on a banknote, leave your house without wearing underwear and if you drop a piece of bubblegum on the pavement you can be fined $600.

- In Thailand all cinema goers must stand up during the National Anthem before a film starts.

- In Switzerland it is against the law for men to urinate standing up after 10pm which is the same time that it is illegal to flush the toilet.

- In Canada, by law, 1 out of every 5 songs on the radio must be sung by a Canadian and in British Columbia it is illegal to kill a Sasquatch or Bigfoot if one is ever found.

- In Alberta a released convict is entitled to a gun and a horse to ride out of town on.

- In London, England, it is illegal to use a camera tripod, throw a stick for your dog or use an offensive powder like pepper on your jacket potato in any park.

- In London, England, wife beating is legal just as long as it is not after 9pm and it doesn't disturb the neighbours.

- In London, England, it is illegal to impersonate a Chelsea pensioner which once carried the death sentence in the 19th century.

- In Lebanon men are allowed to have sex with any other animal just as long as it is a female. If a man is caught having sex with a male animal then the penalty is death.

- Non-Christians have been banned from being within 20 metres of churches in Rovato, Italy. The move, instigated by the local government, has angered police because a major highway passes within 15 metres of one of the churches. Officers claim that they cannot be expected to stop motorists and demand to see a Baptism Certificate.

- North Carolina has a law to ban people from swearing in front of cadavers. The law also sets out guidelines transporting the recently deceased after one funeral firm was caught piling stiffs onto the back of a pick-up truck. It outlaws 'profanity, indecent or obscene language in the presence of a dead human body' making it technically illegal to say the 'f' word in front of a hearse!

- In Minnesota, USA, it is still against the law to hang male and female underwear together on the same washing line.

- In Indiana, USA, in the 1950's anything to do with Robin Hood was banned on the grounds that robbing from from the rich to give to the poor was a communist act!

- In England, in 1837, a law was passed that entitled a woman to bite off a man's nose if he kissed her against her will!

- The Egyptian government banned male belly-dancing in 1837 because of the enthusiastic riots that it caused.

- In Arizona, USA, it is illegal to hunt camels.

- In California, USA, in 1986, Judge Samuel King became so annoyed that jurors were absent from his court because of heavy rain that he issued a decree which stated "I hereby order that it cease raining by Tuesday."
Amazingly it stopped raining on Tuesday and California suffered a 5 year drought.
In 1991 the judge then decreed "Rain shall fall in California beginning February 27th." Later that day California had the heaviest rainfall in ten years.

- In Alexandria, Minneapolis, USA, it is against the law for a man to make love to a woman with the smell of sardines on his breath.

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Great Productivity Tips

Saturday, August 4, 2007 by M.

  1. Focus on value creation. From Steve Pavlina:

    “It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the purpose of a business is to make money. But the real purpose of a business is to create value. While it’s possible to make money in the short run without creating much value, in the long run it’s unsustainable.”

  2. Learn to beat daily stress. From Dumb Little Man:

    “Simply put, there is no remedy to stress. There are however things we can do to lower the level a bit.”

  3. Create a personal stability plan. From Wisebread:

    “Taking the time to sit down and write out the areas of our lives that are unstable, brainstorm ideas to provide more stability … and make a firm commitment to act on them, accompanied by a concrete schedule. For those of us who really want more stability in our lives, it just may be a great way to take the first step towards a more stable, actualized life.”

  4. Build your business before quitting your job. From Lifehack.org:

    “There should be much more consideration to making a decision to quit your job than simply “look before you leap.” There are ways to approach this without burning bridges, while building wealth and increasing the likelihood of success in the new venture.”

  5. Use free or cheap productivity tools. From Lifehacker:

    “Getting organized, focused and productive doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.”

  6. Take time to develop relationships. From The Simple Dollar:

    “When you have a chance to connect one friend to another, make it happen. It might take you some time and effort - it might even make you grumble a bit. But when things happen in your own life, you will be met with an abundance of blessings.”

  7. Decide whether you’re ready to start your own business. From Wisebread: “Let’s face it: most of us have ideas that we think might sell. And most of us think we’d love to work for ourselves. But is that really a good idea? Here are 10 things to consider if you’re thinking of starting your own business.”

  8. Simplify your online life. From Web Worker Daily:

    “If we focus on simplifying our online lives, we can drastically reduce the amount of time we spend online, the amount of time we spend working, the amount of information we have to consume, and the amount of stuff we have to keep track of.”

  9. Create a personal mantra. From Guy Kawasaki:

    “A mantra is three or four words long. Tops. Its purpose is to help employees truly understand why the organization exists.”

  10. List 3-5 things you will do the next day. From pmarca.com:

    “Once you get into the habit, you start to realize how many days you used to have when you wouldn’t get 3 to 5 important/significant/meaningful things done during a day.”

  11. Create a chain of success. From Lifehacker:

    “Daily action builds habits. It gives you practice and will make you an expert in a short time. If you don’t break the chain, you’ll start to spot opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t.”

  12. Get your inbox to zero. From 43 Folders:

    “The truth is that you probably can take the average email inbox — even a relatively neglected one — from full to zero in about 20 minutes. It mostly depends on how much you really want to be done with it.”

  13. Eliminate all but the essential tasks. From Zen Habits:

    “Simplify your list down to the barest of essentials, and you can eliminate the need for complex planning systems.”

  14. Learn the Power of Yes. From Get Rich Slowly:

    “That became my working motto: “Just say yes”. Any time anyone asked me to do something, I agreed to do it … But the power of “yes” has made larger changes to my life, too, has exposed me to things I never would have done before.”

  15. Make your to-do list doable. From Lifehacker:

    “Think of your to-do list as an instruction set your Boss self gives your Assistant self. Like a computer program, if the instructions are clear, specific, and easily executed, you’re golden. If not, you’ll get undesirable results, like fear, procrastination and self-loathing.”

  16. Remove clutter from your life. From Dumb Little Man:

    “Devote a little of your time to tossing clutter from your life, and keeping things relatively clutter-free, and you’ll be rewarded with much more pleasing living spaces, with a less stressful life, and with better organization and productivity.”

  17. Learn to check email just twice a day. From Timothy Ferriss:

    “E-mail (and all of its Crackberry/digital leash/Twitter cousins) is the largest single interruption in modern life. In a digital world, creating time therefore hinges on minimizing e-mail.”

  18. Simplify your time management. From LifeDev:

    “This system allows you to focus on what’s important, to limit your workload to something a bit more sane, and to increase your effectiveness by focusing less on the busy work and more on the high-powered tasks.”

  19. Beat procrastination with a dash. From 43 Folders:

    “My favorite tonic for procrastination—which I have mentioned in passing previously—is what I call a dash, which is simply a short burst of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time—perhaps as little as just one minute.”

  20. Learn to single-task. From Zen Habits:

    “Multi-tasking is less efficient, due to the need to switch gears for each new task, and the switch back again. Multi-tasking is more complicated, and thus more prone to stress and errors.”

  21. Find your ideal career. From Pick the Brain:

    “Your ideal career is something that can’t be forced — it needs to be discovered. Just let things happen. Try to capture your thoughts, but not to control them.”

  22. Learn to say no. From Cranking Widgets:

    “Your goal is to be effective at your work, not stretched so thin that you’re under a constant time crunch. Can you do what’s being asked of you and do it properly? If not, it’s time to practice saying no.”

  23. Use easy time tracking. From Wisebread:

    “Whether it’s tracking freelance hours worked or time spent on your own projects, keeping track of how long you’ve been working is important. My solution for keeping the hours from slipping away is simple: An old fashioned kitchen timer.”

  24. Learn razor-sharp concentration. From Lifehack.org:

    “Even a half hour of focused effort can get more done than an entire day of distraction and multitasking.”

  25. Learn to tackle the dreaded task. From The Happiness Project:

    “We all have to make ourselves do things that we just don’t want to do. Here are some tricks I’ve learned that help me power through the procrastination.”

  26. Surround yourself with productivity. From Behance:

    “Why throw away the relics of your achievements when you can create an inspiring monument to getting stuff done? A “Done! Wall” reminds you that you have moved forward in your journey.”

  27. Maximize your creative output. From Steve Pavlina:

    “For me the creative flow state is a common occurrence. I usually enter this state several times a week, staying with it for hours at a time. I’m able to routinely enjoy the flow state as long as I ensure the right conditions.”

  28. Plan your week by identifying your Big Rocks. From Zen Habits:

    “These Big Rocks get pushed back from week to week because we never have time to do them — our days fill up too quickly, and before we know it, weeks have passed and the Big Rocks are still sitting on the side, untouched. Plan your week ahead of time, placing your Big Rocks first.”

  29. Learn to use the 80/20 rule. From Scott Young:

    “While Pareto originally used the rule noticing that 80% of the wealth was owned by 20% of the population, the rule has applications in almost every area of life.”

  30. Motivate yourself through the action phase. From Steve Pavlina:

    “When I set a goal that’s big enough and challenging enough, I never need to pump myself up with emotional rah-rah. I feel motivated to pursue the goal because my intellect is fully behind it. I just find myself doing what needs to be done.”

  31. Take control of your life with GTD. From Get Rich Slowly:

    “Taking control of your finances is easier when the rest of your life is in order. If your mind is swamped with worries about work, or home improvement projects, or obligations to friends and family, personal finance can become a low priority. You have other Stuff to worry about.”

  32. Take 5 simple steps to stop procrastination. From Dumb Little Man:

    “five simple habits will eliminate the plague of procrastination. Take them today, and you should see a huge difference in your productivity.”

  33. Cultivate the Now Habit. From Scott Young:

    “Cultivating a habit to focus on what is, not what might be or what was, is a happy way to live. Relationships can end, status can fail and religion can delude, but the now is a constant.”

  34. Create a central project list. From Lifehack.org:

    “I find that if I give the first 30 minutes of my morning towards wiping out my inbox and either turning the mail into projects or acting immediately, it goes a long way on improving my day.”

  35. Deal with social network overload. From Web Worker Daily:

    “The social computing world is messy and overloaded, and that’s what’s likely to happen to you if you try to keep up with every social network/app you create an account on.”

  36. Master the 5-sentence email. From Guy Kawasaki:

    “The optimal length of an email message is five sentences. All you should do is explain who you are, what you want, why you should get it, and when you need it by.”

  37. Learn to kill distractions. From LifeClever:

    “Reducing and eliminating pesky distractions isn’t a feat, and you don’t need a 12-step program.”

  38. Learn to manage your personal stack. From Web Worker Daily:

    “For the web worker, working hard is no longer enough. These days, genius is one percent attention and ninety-nine percent stack management.”

  39. Separate your to-dos from your email. From Lifehacker:

    “Let’s face it: email is not a task manager. One of the biggest leaps I made towards keeping on top of all my pending to-do’s was making a clean, mindful break between email and tasks.”

  40. Trick yourself into action. From David Seah:

    “I think there IS something to using the body to kick-start the mind into doing things, especially when it’s lazy.”

  41. Cut out time wasters. From Scott Young:

    “The best way to figure out the value of a task is to ask yourself, “What happens if I stop?” Breathing, eating and sleeping would then be in the top ten for valuable activities. Just because an activity is routine doesn’t mean it is less valuable.”

  42. Tap into the power of 10 minutes. From LifeDev:

    “While it may seem like an insignificant amount of time, 10 minutes can be very useful in productivity. Although there aren’t many projects that can get done in 10 minutes, you sure can get one started.”

  43. Organized your cluttered computer desktop. From LifeClever:

    “Your desktop should now be clutter-free, saving you from the visual onslaught of icons and preserving your sanity. Because each icon on the desktop takes up some bit of RAM, you might also notice your computer running faster.”

  44. Use a “Today list”. From Black Belt Productivity:

    “It pays to have a short list of stuff you have need to do today. It can be taken from your project and NA listing and put in a specific place as a reminder or a checklist.”

  45. Use a “Habit list”. From Productivity 501:

    “This tool was created with the premise that “habit” type tasks should not be on our regular todo list. There are several reasons that keeping these types of items on your regular todo list is a bad idea.”

  46. Take micro-naps. From Steven Aitchison:

    “You may have already experienced a micronap without realising it. It’s those moments when you doze off for a few moments, 2-5 minutes, and wake up with a start.”