Basketball star in the road
“A former NBA star who played for the 1976 U.S. Olympic basketball team said he has taken a job as a school crossing guard in Maryland,” reports United Press International. Adrian Dantley, who played for the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons before spending time as a coach for the Denver Nuggets, spends an hour a day helping children cross the road. The former star said he doesn’t need the $14,685.50 (U.S.) annual salary, but the job affords him health-care benefits and something to do with his time. He said he plans to keep working as a crossing guard for the next 20 years.
Keep this from the boss
“Something you may not want to show your boss: A study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals that punishment and monetary rewards are equal as performance enhancers,” says Pacific Standard magazine. “Researchers asked participants whether a shape behind a blurry window was a person or something else, and then punished ‘incorrect’ interpretations via cash penalties. Researchers found that the subjects’ performance and brain activity increased systematically as the amount of punishment increased.”
Applauding the enemy
“In the seventh century, as the Roman empire was in the decline period of its decline and fall, the emperor Heraclius made plans to meet with a barbarian king,” writes Megan Garber in The Atlantic. “Heraclius wanted to intimidate his opponent. But he knew that the Roman army, in its weakened state, was no longer terribly intimidating, particularly when the intended intimidatee was a barbarian. So the emperor hired a group of men to augment his legions – but for purposes that were less military than they were musical. He hired the men to applaud. … Applause, in the ancient world, was acclamation. But it was also communication. It was, in its way, power. It was a way for frail little humans to recreate, through hands ‘made thunderous’ the rumbles and smashes of nature.”
The tube’s era passes
As recently as a few years ago, broken computer monitors and television sets were being recycled profitably, says The New York Times. “The big, glassy funnels inside these machines – known as cathode ray tubes, or CRTs – were melted down and turned into new ones. But flat-screen technology has made those monitors and televisions obsolete, decimating the demand for the recycled tube glass used in them and creating what industry experts call a ‘glass tsunami’ as stockpiles of the useless material accumulate around the country. … In 2004, recyclers were paid more than $200 (U.S.) a ton to provide glass from these monitors for use in new cathode ray tubes. The same companies now have to pay more than $200 a ton to get anyone to take the glass off their hands.”
Do you like the odds?
“The good news is that the chances an asteroid big enough to destroy a continent or all of civilization will hit Earth this year are only one in 20,000, a U.S. congressional panel learned Tuesday,” says CNN.com. “The bad news is the government needs to spend billions of dollars in coming years for new technology to prevent such a possible catastrophe, regardless of the low probability, experts told the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. ‘The odds are very small but the potential consequences of such an event are so large, it makes sense to take the risk seriously,’ contended John Holdren, who directs President Barack Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.”
Thought du jour
Nothing is so soothing to our self-esteem as to find our bad traits in our forebears. It seems to absolve us.”
Van Wyck Brooks
American critic and historian (1886-1963)
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