Life Is Better; It Isn’t Better. Which Is It? - New York Times

NYT has an interesting article on the debate over whether we're better off now than we were in the past, despite official numbers that show very little gain in incomes for middle class Americans.

I've long thought there was something wrong with the official figures, which fail to take into account the vastly better quality of life and technological improvements. I'd much rather be here and now than in the supposed glory days of the late 70s.

Life Is Better; It Isn’t Better. Which Is It? - New York Times

Wal-Mart to offer $4 generic prescription drugs - Sep. 21, 2006

Generic drugs getting cheaper at Wal-Mart - Wal-Mart announced Thursday that it is testing a program in Florida to sell about 300 generic prescription drugs for as low as $4 for a 30-day supply.The world's largest retailer said the program, to be launched on Friday, will be available to customers and employees of 65 Wal-Mart stores, Wal-Mart neighborhood market stores and Sam's Club pharmacies in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, and will be expanded to the entire state in January 2007.

Read more at money.cnn.com/2006/09/2...


Eris -- the almost planet

It looks like the dwarf planet that caused the recent controversy over what makes a planet a planet has been given a name -- Eris, appropriately named after the goddess of Strife and Discord. Somewhat larger than Pluto, the dwarf planet formerly known as "Xena" raised concern that there could be potentially hundreds of other planet in the outer solar system.

After debating back and forth, and at one point defining everything larger than Ceres as a planet, astronmers settled on a definition that demoted Pluto and shut the door on planet Eris (and Ceres).

So long planet Eris, we barely knew you.


California politics, what more is there to say?

August 24, 2006, Sacramento, California.

Introduced by Assembly Members Richman and Canciamilla
Coauthors: Assembly Members Aghazarian, Bass, Benoit, Berg, Bermudez, Blakeslee, Bogh, Calderon, Chan, Chavez, Cogdill, Cohn, Coto, Daucher, DeVore, Emmerson, Frommer, Garcia, Goldberg, Haynes, Jerome Horton, Shirley Horton, Houston, Huff, Karnette, Keene, Koretz, La Malfa, Laird, Leno, Lieber, Liu, Matthews, Maze, Mountjoy, Mullin, Nakanishi, Nation, Negrete McLeod, Niello, Parra, Plescia, Ridley-Thomas, Sharon Runner, Ruskin, Salinas, Strickland, Tran, Walters, Wolk, Wyland, and Yee.

August 24, 2006

Relative to Pluto's planetary status.


WHEREAS, Recent astronomical discoveries, including Pluto's oblong orbit and the sighting of a slightly larger Kuiper Belt object, have led astronomers to question the planetary status of Pluto; and

WHEREAS, The mean-spirited International Astronomical Union decided on August 24, 2006, to disrespect Pluto by stripping Pluto of its planetary status and reclassifying it as a lowly dwarf planet; and

WHEREAS, Pluto was discovered in 1930 by an American, Clyde Tombaugh, at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, and this discovery resulted in millions of Californians being taught that Pluto was the ninth planet in the solar system; and

WHEREAS, Pluto, named after the Roman God of the underworld and affectionately sharing the name of California's most famous animated dog, has a special connection to California history and culture; and

WHEREAS, Downgrading Pluto's status will cause psychological harm to some Californians who question their place in the universe and worry about the instability of universal constants; and

WHEREAS, The deletion of Pluto as a planet renders millions of text books, museum displays, and children's refrigerator art projects obsolete, and represents a substantial unfunded mandate that must be paid by dwindling Proposition 98 education funds, thereby harming California's children and widening its budget deficits; and

WHEREAS, The deletion of Pluto as a planet is a hasty, ill-considered scientific heresy similar to questioning the Copernican theory, drawing maps of a round world, and proving the existence of the time and space continuum; and

WHEREAS, The downgrading of Pluto reduces the number of planets available for legislative leaders to hide redistricting legislation and other inconvenient political reform measures; and

WHEREAS, The California Legislature, in the closing days of the 2005-06 session, has been considering few matters important to the future of California, and the status of Pluto takes precedence and is worthy of this body's immediate attention; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, That the Assembly hereby condemns the International Astronomical Union's decision to strip Pluto of its planetary status for its tremendous impact on the people of California and the state's long term fiscal health; and be it further

Resolved, That the Assembly Clerk shall send a copy of the resolution to the International Astronomical Union and to any Californian who, believing that his or her legislator is addressing the problems that threaten the future of the Golden State, requests a copy of the resolution.

This text is available on the California Legislature website.


Breaking News from the 1700s

Google announced plans to provide archival news articles dating back to the 1700s to users:

Ye olde Google News: Stories from the 1700s
Under new service, users will be able to target specific dates or view coverage of an issue over time, although not all articles will be free to view.

Google Inc. has added the ability to search through more than 200 years of historical newspaper archives alongside the latest contemporary information now available on Google News, the market-leading Web search firm said Tuesday.

More here.

Search the archives here: http://news.google.com/archivesearch


CNN.com - Reports: Stingray kills 'Crocodile Hunter' - Sep 4, 2006

A sad day, but at least it wasn't a crocodile that got him...

Read more at www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/...