Random links

IDF to appeal human shield ban
Different from what you might normally hear about use of human shield's in the region's conflicts: "The Israeli Defence Ministry will appeal against a supreme court ruling banning the use of Palestinian human shields in raids, officials said. Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz is prepared to make a personal appearance in court to defend the practice, ministry officials added." Not sure what current IDF practice is.
Get ready. Your baby is coming early.
"Only about 1 in 30 women give birth on their due date. You are more likely to give birth a week early than you are to give birth 'on time.'"
Too much time on your iPad? It can cause an allergic reaction
"[T]he popular tablet computer may contain nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals. Recent reports in medical journals detail nickel allergies from a variety of personal electronic devices, including laptops and cellphones."
Cambodians are quitting traditional faiths for Christianity
"Many Bunong, church officials included, admit financial realities have driven them to convert. 'All the people here have a lot of problems – they don't have money, they don't have animals for the ceremonies, so they become Christian,' said Jan Kan, a teacher who helps manage Lumpuk church."
Gunplay is all I know
"As as young black male in America, I’d rather be caught with a gun than without one" - the difficulty of getting past gun culture.
Ray Bradbury was Once Told His Interpretation of His Own Book Was Wrong
On Fahrenheit 451: "[Bradbury] has always insisted that the main theme of the book is the role of the mass media and its effect on the populace ... However, virtually nobody accepts this as the true theme of the novel, even though it’s an exact-ish quote from the guy who wrote the bloody thing. The perfect example of this was a time when Bradbury himself was giving a lecture on the novel to a class of college students and upon casually mentioning that the theme of the novel was the dangers of television, he was stopped in his tracks by someone loudly exclaiming 'no, it’s about censorship!'."

Brands and ignorance

Here's some interesting data on who's more likely to buy generic brands of products. The short summary: the more of an expert you are about a particular areas the more likely you are to buy the generic stuff.

Pharmacists, for example, are especially likely to buy store brands of headache medicines. Chefs are far less inclined to select national brands of salt and sugar than are nonchefs who are otherwise demographically identical. In other words, national brands are succeeding largely because of consumer ignorance.

The article notes that those lacking a college education are more likely to buy brand-name products but that pharmacists aren't quite as likely to buy generic foods as chefs are. The article does note that:

The effects are smallest for first-aid and eye-care products -- which suggests that informed consumers might find genuine differences in their quality.

There are a few things that I buy brand-name that I haven't found a good non-brand-name replacement for. To take this to another level, there are also generic labels that may be more reputable than another - e.g. in Canada President's Choice is generally tastier than No Name in my experience (both are "generic brands" owned by Loblaws).

This is one interesting area wherein the Internet has opened up some interesting possibilities. People have, by and large, grown to trust eBay seller ratings, certain hotel review sites (and even AirBNB). The original article linked here notes:

It is the least informed consumers who are the most likely to waste their money. Unfortunately, many of them have little money to waste. One implication is clear: Stores ought to be doing a lot more to help people recognize their potential savings.

The question is how they can do so. And, and I mentioned with the President's Choice vs. No Name, different "generic brands" seem to have arisen and now these seem to be getting marketing campaigns of their own. If cost isn't enough, how else could you convince people to try something new?

More random links

Church of England General Synod approves female bishops
"The synod had been threatened with parliamentary action if the measure had failed, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had prepared contingency plans to dissolve it and call fresh elections if the vote had gone the wrong way. But the crisis was averted by a change of mind, and vote, among lay members." Sounds ever so slightly coercive though I what should you expect from a state church.
Mom Jailed Because She Let Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Play in the Park Unsupervised
The kid was apparently given a phone and sent to play for a few hours while the mom was at work as apparently the laptop she'd previously been using at the mom's workplace had been stolen.
Free as a Snowbird? Maybe not
I hate tax / immigration law. Basically as of end of June the US and Canada have started data sharing on the time their citizens spend in each other's countries rather than only tracking when they're admitted. Strangely US immigration and the IRS track time in slightly different ways. I've never been even remotely close to the limits but they're still annoying.
Scientists Blow The Lid on Cancer & Sunscreen Myth
"a major study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die as those who sunbathe every day."

Random links

Google Co-Founders: “Thanks, But No Thanks”
One of Google founders on whether Google would tackle healthcare: "Generally, health is just so heavily regulated. It’s just a painful business to be in. It’s just not necessarily how I want to spend my time. Even though we do have some health projects, and we’ll be doing that to a certain extent. But I think the regulatory burden in the U.S. is so high that think it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs." The articles also notes their claims that data mining would probably save a non-negligible number of lives per year: "I imagine that would save 10,000 lives in the first year. Just that. That’s almost impossible to do because of HIPAA."
Ford stays in seat for Pride ovation, brushes off homophobia charges
Multiple papers criticizing an individual for failing to give a standing ovation is more what you'd expect from a totalitarian state. Not to imply that I'm a big fan of Rob Ford.
Finally, Farm Tools For Her
"As the engineers began videotaping women farmers shoveling, for example, they discovered women use tools very differently. They put shovels into the ground at an angle to take advantage of lower body strength, rather than straight down as men do. 'Women’s strength is in their lower body,' Adams explains, 'so we decided to create a shovel that capitalized on how women put shovels in the ground.'"
Coffee makes you sleepy! Nutritionist explains the surprising truth about caffeine
"So why is coffee bad for all-nighters? Basically, the caffeine in coffee induces diuresis. In other words, it makes you have to pee. ... every time you relieve yourself, you’re losing water. As you become more and more dehydrated, your blood thickens and moves more slowly through your veins. This means that your body is using oxygen at a slower rate, and thus it becomes sluggish."
Cognitive Dissonance and Tech ‘Diversity’
"If you want to equalize the races—be your concern tech companies or colleges, the two places this argument seems to pop up more than anywhere else***—you must do so at the expense of Asian Americans. Rather than saying 'Ugh, these institutions are disproportionately Asian,' the diversity set says 'Wow, these places are mostly white!'" I seem to recall when looking at the Google racial diversity stats that the percentage of whites was about equivalent to that of the US population whereas Asians were overrepresented by roughly a factor of six.
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