Archive for October, 2010

Marathon Math: How Not to Hit the Wall

21 Oct

A marathoner’s worst nightmare — hitting “the wall” — may be completely avoidable if athletes adhere to personalized pace limits proposed by a biomedical engineer and runner. Benjamin Rapoport’s mathematical formula, published online Oct. 21 in PLoS Computational Biology, shows the speediest pace any marathoner can sustain for the entire race.

sciencenews“A 10-second difference in pace per mile could make the difference between success and a dramatic failure,” says Rapoport, of Harvard Medical School and MIT, who experienced his own traumatic wall splat in the 2005 New York City Marathon. He started out pushing too hard, he says, and was out of steam by the last few miles. Rapoport finished, but with a slower time than he wanted.

To avoid this scenario, a runner has to maintain a pace that conserves carbohydrates, the body’s main source of quick-burn energy, all the way to mile 26.2. Rapoport calculates the ideal pace from a measure of aerobic capacity called VO2max, along with a few other variables. VO2max indicates how efficiently a body consumes oxygen.

“This is a unique area that hadn’t been addressed in the medical literature in any substantial way,” says Mark Cucuzzella, a physician and running coach based in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. “He’s lending some hard numbers to what experienced runners and coaches have been doing.”

A man with a VO2max of 60 — which, after training, is attainable by only the top 10 percent of male runners — can achieve a 3:10 marathon finish time, according to the model. This time happens to be the cutoff for 18- to 34-year-old men to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Elite male marathoners clock in with a VO2max in the high 70s. The average untrained young man’s number is in the 40s. (Incidentally, Rapoport, who has run 18 marathons, has a VO2max above 70 and breezes through marathons in less than three hours.)

VO2max is usually measured with specialized equipment while someone exercises at maximum exertion, but the value can also be estimated by measuring heart rate while running at a constant pace.

Rapoport’s model also shows that a slightly faster pace can be maintained by consuming a midrace snack.

This carb-eating strategy can help, but it can’t win races, since the body can store only so much fuel, says Cucuzzella, chief medical consultant for the Air Force Marathon and a marathoner himself. “It’s not about how much sugar or spaghetti you eat the night before a race,” he says. “There’s a critical pace.”

Rapoport plans to put an easy-to-use version of his formula on the Internet to help runners calculate their ideal pace. “My primary goal is to give any marathon runner a qualitative plan for their training,” he says.

Image: Flickr/Stijn Bokhove

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19th century New York City was knee-deep in trash

21 Oct

A couple of years ago, I wrote a story for Boys' Life about privy pit archaeology—the fine art and science of digging up the contents of centuries old toilets. It's less horrific than it sounds, mainly because privy pits weren't just toilets. In the time before regular sanitation service, they did double-duty as landfills. Most of what you pull out of a privy pit is people's trash—a pretty basic element of studying how people lived, and what was going on in their lives.

That's part of why I love this interview with Robin Nagle, the New York City Department of Sanitation's anthropologist-in-residence. As part of her (unpaid) position, Nagle is digging into the cultural and political history of trash in one of the world's largest cities. Turns out, 19th century New York City was a pretty vile place to live, with a sanitation-related death rate to rival medieval London.

Wasn't the public outraged? Why didn't the powers-that-be respond better?

Nagle: Because the corruption at that time was so deep. The money set aside for street cleaning was going into the pockets of the Tweed and Tammany politicians. Eventually, it got to be that it was so dirty for so long, no one thought that it could be any different. Imagine, on your own block, that you can't cross the street, even at the corner, without paying a street kid with a broom to clear a path for you, because the streets were layered in this sludge of manure, rotting vegetables, ash, broken up furniture, debris of all kind. It was called "corporation pudding" after the city government. And it was deep -- in some cases knee-deep.

OnEarth: Digging into New York City's Trashy History

(Via Philip Bump)

Image: Some rights reserved by D'Arcy Norman


The golden age (is ending)

21 Oct

As has been oft remarked on this blog, we are in a golden age of astrophysics and cosmology. The data is pouring down from the heavens, in large part from 14 state-of-the-art NASA space telescopes. However, this cornucopia of astronomy is about to come to a crashing stop. We are at the high-water mark, and the next few years are going to see a rapid decline in the number of observatories in space. In five years most, if not all, of these telescopes will be defunct (WMAP is already in the graveyard), and it’s not clear what will be replacing them. This is brought into startling focus by the following plot:
NASA space missions
The dotted line shows “today”. In a few years, the only significant US space observatory may be the James Webb Space Telescope (assuming it’s on budget and on time, neither of which are to be taken for granted). The reasons for the current “bubble” in resources, and the impending crash, are myriad and complex. These missions take many years, if not multiple decades, to plan and execute, and we are currently reaping the harvest of ancient boom times. But one aspect subtly implied by this graph is the impact of JWST on space funding. The cost of this mission is now over $5 billion, and continues to rise. Very optimistically, the mission will be in space in 2014, and will continue to consume major developmental resources until then. In an era of fiscal austerity, it is difficult to imagine that the immense ongoing cost of JWST leaves room for much else to be done. The community has gone through the painful exercise of winnowing down its “wish list” to a few key, high-impact missions (as detailed by Julianne here, here, and here; my summary here). It is not immediately apparent that even this fairly “modest” list is attainable given current budget realities. Astronomical data from space over the next decade will pale in comparison to the previous one. We are at a unique moment in the history of space astronomy; it is highly unlikely that we will have fourteen major space astrophysics missions flying again within our lifetimes. We need to make the most of what we have, while we still have it.


Want to Watch a Mars Rover Being Built? There’s a Webcam for That | Discoblog

21 Oct

curiosity-camWant to see your tax dollars at work? There’s a more exciting way to do it than watching a road crew pour asphalt for the latest highway expansion. Now you can watch the next Mars rover being built in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, thanks to a well-positioned webcam.

Curiosity rover, also known as the Mars Science Laboratory, is a hulking beast compared to its smaller cousins, Spirit and Opportunity. The six-wheeled Curiosity is about the size of a car and weighs 2,000 pounds. The rover is scheduled to blast off toward Mars in the winter of 2011, and to reach the planet in August 2012. Its mission: to probe rocks, take pictures, and generally cruise around looking for signs of life, past or present.

The “Curiosity Cam” went live today. It will typically show technicians working from 8 in the morning until 11 at night, Monday through Friday, but the bunny suit-clad engineers sometimes disappear from the shot when their work draws them to other parts of the building. (During their lunch break today one commenter groused that it was boring to stare at an empty room.) Right now the technicians are working on the rover’s instruments, tomorrow they’re scheduled to put the suspension system and wheels on. Be sure to tune in!

Related Content:
80beats: It’s Alive! NASA Test-Drives Its New Hulking Mars Rover, Curiosity
80beats: James Cameron to Design a 3D Camera for Next-Gen Mars Rover
80beats: Spirit Doesn’t Return NASA’s Calls; Rover Might Be Gone for Good
80beats: Mars Rover Sets Endurance Record: Photos From Opportunity’s 6 Years On-Planet

Image: NASA / JPL


[krekk] Religions venn diagram of the day

21 Oct


Religions venn diagram of the day

[Reposted from lolnerd via return13]


Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition

21 Oct

News image

The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2010 exhibition will open on 25th October, just a month before the Cancún climate-change conference.

Read more and comment »


How Google’s Refusal To Pay US Taxes Means US Taxpayers Fund Its Innovation, Resulting In A Benefit Of $100/Share

21 Oct

We first discussed the topic of cash repatriation (or lack thereof) about a month ago. Since then, more and more seem to be waking up that of the over $1 trillion in cash on the corporate "balance sheet" not only is most of it unusable domestically (without being taxed at the marginal tax rate upon repatriation), but that companies are effectively boosting earnings by not paying taxes (money which should be going to the US coffers to pay for the same corporate friendly policies enacted by the government, that is currently being funded almost exclusively by individual taxpayers, and the Fed of course). And massively so. An expose in Bloomberg details how courtesy of various, perfectly legal, tax avoidance schemes, Google's effective tax rate is 2.4%, which has resulted in $60 billion in less taxes paid to the US, and which has boosted the company's stock price by a whopping $100/share!

Per Jesse Drucker:

Google’s income shifting -- involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” -- helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.

“It’s remarkable that Google’s effective rate is that low,” said Martin A. Sullivan, a tax economist who formerly worked for the U.S. Treasury Department. “We know this company operates throughout the world mostly in high-tax countries where the average corporate rate is well over 20 percent.”

How does Google go about legally sheltering essentially all of its net income from the IRS?

Google, the owner of the world’s most popular search engine, uses a strategy that has gained favor among such companies as Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. The method takes advantage of Irish tax law to legally shuttle profits into and out of subsidiaries there, largely escaping the country’s 12.5 percent income tax. (See an interactive graphic on Google’s tax strategy here.)

The earnings wind up in island havens that levy no corporate income taxes at all. Companies that use the Double Irish arrangement avoid taxes at home and abroad as the U.S. government struggles to close a projected $1.4 trillion budget gap and European Union countries face a collective projected deficit of 868 billion euros.

As a strategy for limiting taxes, the Double Irish method is “very common at the moment, particularly with companies with intellectual property,” said Richard Murphy, director of U.K.- based Tax Research LLP. Murphy, who has worked on similar transactions, estimates that hundreds of multinationals use some version of the method.

The high corporate tax rate in the U.S. motivates companies to move activities and related income to lower-tax countries, said Irving H. Plotkin, a senior managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s national tax practice in Boston. He delivered a presentation in Washington, D.C. this year titled “Transfer Pricing is Not a Four Letter Word.”

And with the hypocricy of such ethical stalwarths as Warren Buffett now having been exposed for all to see, it is only time that the company's which "does no evil" is exposed for its own "do as I say, not as I do" practices:

Google’s transfer pricing contributed to international tax benefits that boosted its earnings by 26 percent last year, company filings show. Based on a rough analysis, if the company paid taxes at the 35 percent rate on all its earnings, its share price might be reduced by about $100, said Clayton Moran, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in Boca Raton, Florida. He recommends buying Google stock, which closed yesterday at $607.98.

The company, which tells employees “don’t be evil” in its code of conduct, has cut its effective tax rate abroad more than its peers in the technology sector: Apple Inc., the maker of the iPhone; Microsoft, the largest software company; International Business Machines Corp., the biggest computer-services provider; and Oracle Corp., the second-biggest software company. Those companies reported rates that ranged between 4.5 percent and 25.8 percent for 2007 through 2009.

Google is “flying a banner of doing no evil, and then they’re perpetrating evil under our noses,” said Abraham J. Briloff, a professor emeritus of accounting at Baruch College in New York who has examined Google’s tax disclosures.

“Who is it that paid for the underlying concept on which they built these billions of dollars of revenues?” Briloff said. “It was paid for by the United States citizenry.”

Of course, when US citizens, especially those who have never been in Congress, decide to pursue various tax shelter loophole, the result usually ends up being jail.

And here is where the tax repatriation issue comes in:

Technically, multinationals that shift profits overseas are deferring U.S. income taxes, not avoiding them permanently. The deferral lasts until companies decide to bring the earnings back to the U.S. In practice, they rarely repatriate significant portions, thus avoiding the taxes indefinitely, said Michelle Hanlon, an accounting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Which explains why as we noted a few days ago, the vast corporate lobby is already begging for a huge tax amnesty so it can repatriate its massive cash hoard from abroad on promises it will be used for what it should have been used in the first place. Surely, we can believe these honest tax evaders... But at least we can finally put the topic of the "vast cash on the sidelines" lie to rest. 

Mure more here.

And here is a interactive graphic representation of Google's tax evasion (after the jump):




A New Answer to an Old Interview Question

21 Oct



40+ Social Media and Web Development Job Openings

20 Oct

If you’re seeking a job in social media, we’d like to help out. For starters, Mashable’s Job Lists section gathers together all of our resource lists, how-tos and expert guides to help you get hired. In particular, you might want to see our articles on How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success and How to Find a Job on Twitter.

But we’d like to help in a more direct way, too. Mashable’s job boards are a place for socially savvy companies to find people like you. This week and every week, Mashable features its coveted job board listings for a variety of positions in the web, social media space and beyond. Have a look at what’s good and new on our job boards:

Mashable Job Board Listings

Dev Ops Guru/Sys Admin/Ops Engineer at Alphabuyer in Paoli, PA.

Web Developer at Alphabuyer in Paoli, PA.

Community Manager at Newark in Chicago, IL.

Marketing Manager at Access Intelligence, LLC in Rockville, MD.

Web Developer/Designer at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.

Digital Planner at VML in Kansas City, MO.

Web Analyst at VML in Kansas City, MO.

Associate Director, Project Management at Digitas Health in New York, NY.

Digital Strategist at SicolaMartin Advertising in Austin, TX.

Senior Digital Strategist at Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau in Asheville, NC.

Information Technology Manager at Trans-Management Systems Corporation in Washington, DC.

Network Support and Integration Specialist at AppVault in Atlanta, GA.

Associate Software Engineer at Bazaarvoice in Austin, TX.

Sr. Manager, Social Media-Corporate Communications at The Walt Disney Company in Burbank, CA.

Web Application Developer at in San Francisco, CA.

Corporate Systems Administrator at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

PPC Consultant at Meltwater Group in San Francisco, CA.

PHP/MySQL/AJAX Developer at Comentum Corp. in San Diego, CA.

Assistant Communications Strategist at Oxford Communications in Lambertville, NJ.

Social Media Assistant at ideeli in New York, NY.

Coordinator at FOX in Los Angeles, CA.

Sr. PHP Developer at Flank Marketing in San Diego, CA.

Digital/Social Media Strategist at NAS Recruitment Communications in Cleveland, OH.

Digital Development Professionals at Dow Jones in Monmouth Junction, NJ.

Social Media Analyst at Just Drive Media in San Francisco, CA.

Online Producer at Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC.

Senior Manager, Global Mobile Capabilities at American Express in New York, NY.

World’s Coolest Intern at Standard Chartered in Singapore.

Sr. Manager, Global Email/Mobile Address Capture & Deliverability at American Express in New York, NY.

Project Manager at uSamp in Los Angeles, CA.

PHP Developer at Marker Seven in San Francisco, CA.

Social Media Manager at uSamp in Los Angeles, CA.

Sr. Associate, Project Management at Digitas Health in Philadelphia, PA.

Senior ASP.NET C# Developer at in Scottsdale, AZ.

Product Manager at in Scottsdale, AZ.

Marketing Assistant at (mt) Media Temple in Culver City, CA.

Senior Android Developer at R/GA in New York, NY.

Social Media Coordinator at ABC7 Los Angeles in Glendale, CA.

Web Developer/Implementation Engineer at Bazaarvoice in Austin, TX.

Good Mood Blogger at Ignite Social Media in Birmingham, MI.

Social Media Specialist at Experian Consumer Direct in Irvine, CA.

Strategy Manager at iCrossing in New York, NY.

Product Director of Campaign Solutions at Deluxe Corp in Minnesota.

Digital Marketing Content Coordinator at Found Animals Foundation in Los Angeles, CA.

Mashable’s Job Board has a variety of web 2.0, application development, business development and social networking job opportunities available. Check them out at here.

Find a Web 2.0 Job with Mashable

Got a job posting to share with our readers? Post a job to Mashable today ($99 for a 30 day listing) and get it highlighted every week on (in addition to exposure all day every day in the Mashable marketplace).

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang

Reviews: Mashable, iStockphoto

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22 Stunning Portfolio Designs for your Inspiration

20 Oct

A portfolio is a wonderful way to showcase artworks online and promote yourself. Here is a collection of exciting portfolio designs. The main aim of these websites is to draw users’ attention and attract potential buyers. Let’s have a look!

A online portfolio is a gallery of excellent and engaging artworks. It tells a lot about designer’s skills, his/her inner world and powerful imagination. It is also an act of communication and an effective tool for self-promotion. Portfolio is often the only thing a person sees before deciding whether or not to contact you. It can be various forms but the most successful and profitable one – is online-portfolio. We live in a digital age, so let’s take its benefits and create websites that are eye-catching, creative and accessible. Take the advantage of the Internet and showcase your works online, extend the borders and present your projects not only in a native country but also in the whole world.

The portfolio appearance is better when it has a minimal style, rich interactive elements and is easy to use. Frame your work in such unique way and provide a really unrivalled experience that can not only attract users’ attention but also show your capabilities as a designer, photographer or a simply talented artist. Don’t underestimate the role of a content, cause this part of the portfolio is really important. Let people know who you are and where you’re from. This is always not only interesting but also useful information, some clients prefer to work with people nearby or in the same time zone. And one more of the ruses – you can place your initials in the logo and in a such brainy way make a brand from your name :) .

If you are stuck with your first or next portfolio design and need new fresh thoughts, look through our showcase and we are sure that you’ll find inspirational ideas. This roundup features 22 original portfolio websites that present different styles, including illustrated, nature-inspired, textured, minimal style and others. Let’s have a look at this amazing artworks that are really worthy of your attention and time. Notice that every screenshot is clickable and leads to the website itself.

Daniel Gutierrez

Beautiful portfolio design with captivating chocolate layout, simple but neat grid-based gallery and cute paper kitten in the header.

daniel gutierrez

Go On Web

The following portfolio is created using HTML 5. Cloth imitating background that changes its color while you scroll is really stunning solution.

go on web

Snopp Media

Truly creative and lively portfolio design with funny faces in cardboard holes. It introduces Snopp Media in a sincere and outgoing manner.

snopp media

Thought & Theory

It’s amazing how some absolutely simple and unpretentious designs can be so much pleasant to look and high quality. Thought & Theory Portfolio is definitely among them.


Joe Nyaggah

This portfolio is clean, simple and featured with some spicy details – great design. Orange owl grabs attention at the first sight.

Joe NYaggah

Squared eye

Professional portfolio features a list of clients this company has worked with.

squared eye

friendly duck

Beautiful portfolio with a grey layout and friendly funny duck with a thought balloon in the header.

friendly duck


Clean and pleasant design with a creative header and changeable picture centred.


Kenny Meyers

Website uses big bold typography and vivid colors to give visitors memorable experience. Funny comic character in the header attracts attention at a glance.

kenny meyers


This portfolio website has very vibrant striking colors and a short friendly statement about what the agency offers.


PSD to XHTML Conversion

The introduction block in the top of the page blend vivid imagery with big typography.



Horizontally centred layout with a scrolling text in the header.



Portfolio with an amazing photo by Matthew Stone as a background.


Mutant Labs

Stylish website portfolio with the button “follow us” in the right corner of the page.

mutant lab


Nosotros portfolio provides prominent data visualization and info-graphics.



Splendid, original illustration is the spice that makes this site look more than awesome.



Bright colors and modest, minimal Flash animation which beautifully renders the typo, provide an enjoyable visual and content exploration experience.


Fat-Man Collective

This portfolio website will win your sympathy immediately with its amusing Flash effects and creative content presentation.



A great number of stunning visual effects and all this beauty is without Flash.



The appearance of this portfolio is everything but ordinary, creative Japanese web design.


Odd Web Things

This portfolio design stands out against the crowd of others. When pressing the mouse in the header instead of a number appears a cute picture, really unexpected solution.

odd web things


Booreiland’s portfolio gives users a perfect opportunity to jump through the sections on the website.