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30 August 2007

How To Eat Vegetables We Don't Like

In March of 1990, then President Bush said:
"I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it and I'm the President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli."
Well, Mr. President, perhaps your mom didn't know how to cook it right - that's why!

Don't forget that broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies out there.

"Broccoli is packed with anti-cancer antioxidants: vitamin C, beta carotene, lutein, glutathione and quercetin. It also tops all other foods for chromium content. Almost nobody gets enough chromium, a trace mineral that regulates insulin and helps to normalize blood sugar."

What can we do to give it a good taste? Hack it with a flavor enhancer: Garlic!

I learned the following recipe from a Chinese friend of mine and its easily done in less than 15 minutes.

INGREDIENTS: Bunch of broccoli, 1/3 cup butter (or olive oil), 3 cloves of garlic, water and salt.

1. Wash broccoli, cut into small florets and place them in a large pot.
2. Cover with boiling water until barely tender and still bright green for 5 to 7 minutes.
3. While broccoli is steaming, finely chop garlic and melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
4. Drain broccoli and toss it in the pan along with garlic. Add salt according to taste.
5. Simmer over low heat until garlic is fragrant (about couple of minutes). Serve immediately.

So, what is your formula to deal with those dreaded veggies?

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What Happens to Your Body in Space

When the human body is suddenly exposed to the vacuum of space, a number of injuries begin to occur immediately. Though they are relatively minor at first, they accumulate rapidly into a life-threatening combination. The first effect is the expansion of gases within the lungs and digestive tract due to the reduction of external pressure. A victim of explosive decompression greatly increases their chances of survival simply by exhaling within the first few seconds, otherwise death is likely to occur once the lungs rupture and spill bubbles of air into the circulatory system. Such a life-saving exhalation might be due to a shout of surprise, though it would naturally go unheard where there is no air to carry it.

In the absence of atmospheric pressure water will spontaneously convert into vapor, which would cause the moisture in a victim's mouth and eyes to quickly boil away. The same effect would cause water in the muscles and soft tissues of the body to evaporate, prompting some parts of the body to swell to twice their usual size after a few moments. This bloating may result in some superficial bruising due to broken capillaries, but it would not be sufficient to break the skin.

Within seconds the reduced pressure would cause the nitrogen which is dissolved in the blood to form gaseous bubbles, a painful condition known to divers as "the bends." Direct exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation would also cause a severe sunburn to any unprotected skin. Heat does not transfer out of the body very rapidly in the absence of a medium such as air or water, so freezing to death is not an immediate risk in outer space despite the extreme cold.

For about ten full seconds– a long time to be loitering in space without protection– an average human would be rather uncomfortable, but they would still have their wits about them. Depending on the nature of the decompression, this may give a victim sufficient time to take measures to save their own life. But this period of "useful consciousness" would wane as the effects of brain asphyxiation begin to set in. In the absence of air pressure the gas exchange of the lungs works in reverse, dumping oxygen out of the blood and accelerating the oxygen-starved state known as hypoxia. After about ten seconds a victim will experience loss of vision and impaired judgement, and the cooling effect of evaporation will lower the temperature in the victim's mouth and nose to near-freezing. Unconsciousness and convulsions would follow several seconds later, and a blue discoloration of the skin called cyanosis would become evident.

At this point the victim would be floating in a blue, bloated, unresponsive stupor, but their brain would remain undamaged and their heart would continue to beat. If pressurized oxygen is administered within about one and a half minutes, a person in such a state is likely make a complete recovery with only minor injuries, though the hypoxia-induced blindness may not pass for some time. Without intervention in those first ninety seconds, the blood pressure would fall sufficiently that the blood itself would begin to boil, and the heart would stop beating. There are no recorded instances of successful resuscitation beyond that threshold.

Though an unprotected human would not long survive in the clutches of outer space, it is remarkable that survival times can be measured in minutes rather than seconds, and that one could endure such an inhospitable environment for almost two minutes without suffering any irreversible damage. The human body is indeed a resilient machine.

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29 August 2007

Delivery Failed: New Form of Spam?

Is it just me or are you getting these delivery notification failed spam emails as well? I get about thousands of these past the SpamGuard everyday and it's really annoying to pick out the "real" emails amongst them. What's more is that these emails don't have any links or product advertisements in them so I really don't understand what's their point. I might change the email links on my site to normal text with [at] and such. Any other suggestions?

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27 August 2007

How Firms Use Subliminal Mind Control on You


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Gothic Stalinist Soviet Skyscrapers

Some Never Built, Some Standing Today. Many grandiose Stalinist architectural projects churned out from the mid 1930s to the early 1950s. However, the projects came at staggering costs such that most never got beyond the drawing board, at a time when the country was lying in ruins. Stalinist architecture is not, per se, an architectural style characterized by its distinct appearance. Instead it describes an architecture that resulted from the way the state communicated with the masses through its constructions, using them as an expression of state power.

The combination of striking parade monumentalism, patriotic art decoration and traditional motifs has become one of the most vivid examples of the Soviet contribution to architecture. The ensemble that a Stalinist building will contain can be very broad, not only in the overall motif, but also in the technology that lies underneath the rich decorations.

In the Soviet policy of rationalisation of the country, all cities were built to a general development plan. Each was split into districts, with allotments drawn based on the city's geography. Projects would be drawn up for whole districts, visibly transforming a city's architectural image. It relied on labor-intensive and time-consuming masonry, and could not be scaled up to the needs of mass construction. When the time finally came to tackle the housing crisis, this inefficiency spelled the end of Stalinist architecture and a turn to mass construction while Stalin was still alive and active.

Moscow Master Plan (1935)

Moscow architecture undoubtedly occupies a central place in domestic construction of the socialist epoch. Among the far-reaching projections, the 1935 General plan for the reconstruction of Moscow overshadowed all others. According to this plan, Moscow was to become the showpiece capital of the world's first socialist state. The General plan envisaged the development of the city as a unified system of highways, squares and embankments with unique buildings, embodying the ideas and achievements of socialism. This plan contained a number of major flaws, especially in connection with the preservation of the historical heritage of the city.

People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry (1934)

A competition for the design of a building to house the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry (Narkomtyazhprom) on Red Square was announced in 1934. The construction of this grandiose complex of 110,000 m3 on an area of 4 hectares would have resulted in a radical reconstruction of Red Square and adjacent streets. Twelve entries were submitted for the first stage of the competition. The impressive plans drawn up by the brothers A. and V. Vesnin - leaders of the constructivist (futuristic) movement - were not noted by the jury, along with a number of other entries.

Palace of Soviets (1934)

The Palace of Soviets was planned to be a supertall skyscraper. If built, it would have become the world's tallest structure. Its height was to reach 415 metres — higher than the tallest buildings of the time, the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, The building was to be topped by a 100 metre statue of Lenin. The idea of constructing a building which could be a symbol of the "imminent triumph of communism" in the capital of the world's first state of workers and peasants was mooted in the 1920s. The chosen location was the site of the demolished Church of Christ the Saviour. The competition was launched in 1931 and carried out in stages. Overall, 160 entries were submitted, including 12 commissioned ones and 112 project proposals.

Hotel of the Moscow City Soviet (1931)

A closed competition for a 1000-room hotel was held in 1931, conforming to the highest criteria of the time. Of the six plans submitted, the best was judged to be the work of young architects L.Savelyev and 0.Stapran. Architectural publications carefully monitored all the stages of design from the point of view of urban planning. This building had immense significance since it was located at the intersection of the city's main thoroughfare, Gorky Street, with the projected new "Ilyich Avenue", an enormous street which would lead to the Palace of Soviets.

Palace of Technology (1933)

The project called for a complex of scientific and technical institutions, it was to be in the the capital city of a country which was being actively industrialised by a central administration called upon to "arm the masses with the achievements of Soviet industrial technology, agriculture, transport and communications." A site on the banks of the Moskva river was selected as the location for this Palace. The industrial resolution selected by A. Samoylov and B. Yefimovich was not a tribute to a constructivisim which was receding into the past, but rather an illustration of the "technocratic" character of the subject.

People's Defence Commissariat (1933)

Architect L.Rudnev's buildings are among the most noticeable in Moscow. For buildings of this profile the architect developed a specific style, conveying an impression of grim impregnability and crushing might to correspond to the official image of the Red Army. The project of a building on Arbat Square, which was only partly realised, reflects the architect's transition from the oppressive grandeur of the People's Defence Commissariat constructions of the 1930s to the buoyant pomposity which became a hallmark of the architecture of the 1940s and early 1950s.

The Aeroflot Building (1934)

In 1934 the crewmen of the ice-breaker Chelyuskin were adrift on an ice-floe after the ship went down in the Sea of Chukotsk. In the summer of the same year Moscow greeted the courageous survivors and the pilots who had rescued them, and who were the first to be granted the "Hero of the Soviet Union" award. The traditions of socialist life demanded the perpetuation of the memory of this outstanding feat in monumental form. The "Aeroflot" building was planned by architect D. Chechulin to the glory of Soviet aviation. Hence the sharp-silhouette, "aerodynamic" form of the tall building and the sculpted figures of the heroic airmen crowning seven openwork arches, perpendicular to the main facade and comprising a distinctive portal.

The House of Books (1934)

The plan of the House of Books is typical of early 1930s perceptions of a building. A trapezoid tall silhouette, simplified architectural forms and an abundance of sculptures on all parts of the building. Architect I.Golosov found interesting solutions in the spirit of the Soviet classicism. His work is distinguished by features which are designated "symbolic romanticism". He said that "the architect must not be bound by style in the old, historical sense of that word, he himself must be a creator of style... One must establish only absolute tenets, those which are inevitable, true and unchanging. There are many such, and these tenets, as vehicles of absolute values, are equally applicable to classical and contemporary architecture"

The Arch of Heroes (1942)

At the height of the Second World War, the newspaper "Literatura i Iskusstvo" (Literature and Art) wrote: "The competition for a monument to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War is drawing to a close. Some 90 projects have been submitted by Moscow sculptors and architects. Overall, more than 140 entries are expected". The demands of the competition included, inter alia, a monument "to the heroic defenders of Moscow." The choice of a putative location for the monument was left to the competitors. The designer of the Arch of Heroes, architect L. Pavlov, suggested erecting the monument on Red Square. The monument was, of course, never erected.

Legacy and Revival

In 1947, the Soviet government adopted a resolution concerning the construction of high-rise buildings in Moscow. By the early 1950s, tall buildings had been erected (see below). Albeit smaller than the projects above, nevertheless very impressive. Note the striking similarities between the style of architecture, especially the resemblance of current White House in Moscow to the Aeroflot Building project above.

Only the construction of a 32-floor administrative building in Zaryadye, which was envisaged as one of the salient features of the silhouette of the central city skyline, was not completed. Work on it was stopped after the 1955 resolution of the Central Committee, which condemned "excesses and over-ornamentation in architecture" and signalled a new era in Soviet architecture. The work which had been done was dismantled, and the hotel Rossiya was built on the foundations in 1967.

Zaryadye Skyscraper

Hotel Rossiya

Hotel Leningradskaya

Hotel Peking

Hotel Ukrania

Moscow State University

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Heavy Industry (Red Gates Building)

Academy of Sciences

Palace of Culture and Science

Palace of the Parliament

Triumph Palace

White House

Residential Buildings

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

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