Student parks his butt in “silver seat”. 66-yr-old woman breaks his nose with her umbrella!

An elderly Japanese woman attacked a student and broke his nose after he refused to give her his seat on a bus.

Tamiko Masuta, 66, the manager of an apartment complex, was arrested after assaulting the teenager on a bus with her umbrella.

According to witnesses, she flew into a rage when the student did not stand up and offer her his place, designated as a “silver seat” for elderly passengers.

As well as striking him with an umbrella, the pensioner kicked the 18-year-old student and inflicted bruising as well as the broken nose…

The incident in Nagasaki is symptomatic of the widening chasm between the generations in Japan, with older people continuing to expect young people to show the respect that is traditional in Japanese society for the elderly. Young people often have a very different understanding of what constitutes manners in Japan.

That’s one way to put it. I see little difference from harassing the dolts who park in spaces reserved for handicapped drivers.

Smack him upside the head, lady. I’ll donate to the defense fund.

Think your kid is getting a great college education?

American colleges are spending a smaller share of their budgets on instruction, and more on recreational facilities for students and on administration, according to a new study of college costs.

The report, based on government data, documents a growing stratification of wealth across America’s system of higher education.

At the top of the pyramid are private colleges and universities, which educate a small portion of the nation’s students, while public universities and community colleges serve greater numbers, have fewer resources and are seeing tuitions rise most rapidly…

Community colleges, which enroll about a third of students, spend close to $10,000 per student per year, Jane Wellman said, while the private research institutions, which enroll far fewer students, spend an average $35,000 a year for each one…

Tuition, on average, rose more rapidly over the decade at public institutions than it did at private ones. Average tuition rose 45 percent at public research universities and 36 percent at community colleges from 1998 to 2008, compared with about 21 percent at private research universities.

But the trend toward increased spending on nonacademic areas prevailed across the higher education spectrum, with public and private, elite and community colleges increasing expenditures more for student services than for instruction, the report said…

“This is the country-clubization of the American university,” said Richard Vedder, a professor at Ohio University who studies the economics of higher education. “A lot of it is for great athletic centers and spectacular student union buildings. In the zeal to get students, they are going after them on the basis of recreational amenities…”

Yes, truly American standards prevail. Let’s send our kiddies to country club-colleges where they can expand their recreation skills. Spend the dollars for bragging rights to the best basketball or football team money can buy – instead of outfitting student brains and bodies with lifetime sports.

The biggest University in New Mexico spent $650,000 for a football coach who gave us a winning season – whoop-de-doo! He got into fights with staff which required a 6-figure PR consultant to gloss over in the media. All important parts of a collegiate education.

Howard Webb to referee the World Cup Final

England’s Howard Webb will be the referee for the World Cup final. The 38-year-old from Rotherham has been chosen for the final by Fifa’s referees committee.

Webb and his assistants Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey will officiate in the final on Sunday between Spain and Holland at Johannesburg’s Soccer City.

He will become the first Englishman to referee the final since Jack Taylor in 1974…

Our family of football fans hoped Howard would be in line – since he didn’t set foot on the pitch for any of the winding up matches preceding the Final.

Webb’s team have not put a foot wrong in the tournament so far. Cann correctly ruled out a Fabio Quagliarella equaliser for Italy against Slovakia while Mullarkey was praised for his decision to allow Luís Fabiano’s goal for Brazil against Chile.

Howard Webb is a favorite of many who follow the English Premier League season. Not only does he work hard at being fair, he doesn’t especially tolerate diving and other pantywaist stunts.

Glad he left the constabulary and went full-time into being a referee.

Google and China work out Good Enough solution


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Google said China has given it permission to continue operating its Chinese search page, resolving a censorship dispute that had threatened Google’s future in the world’s biggest Internet market.

The news sent Google shares up 2 percent as it eased immediate concerns that Beijing would kick the company out for taking a hard stance against Web censorship…

Google had embarrassed China in January by drawing global attention to Beijing’s Web censorship practices and by accusing hackers in the country of launching a sophisticated cyber attack on Google and other major U.S. companies…

Last week, Google offered Beijing a face-saving compromise: it stopped automatically rerouting the google.cn page to an uncensored Hong Kong-based search page. Instead, visitors to google.cn have to click once to go to the Hong Kong page.

“China has renewed our license,” a Google spokeswoman told Reuters. “We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP (Internet Content Provider) license and we look forward to continuing to provide Web search and local products to our users in China.”

Analysts estimate Google’s revenue in China to be in the range of $300 million to roughly $600 million, a [small] slice of the firm’s $24 billion in annual revenue.

But China’s long-term growth prospects are key for Google. With nearly 400 million users, China only has an Internet penetration rate of 25 percent with huge market opportunities in search, e-commerce and online gaming, analysts say.

Google has around 30 percent market share of China’s 7 billion yuan ($1 billion) search market, a distant second to the dominant local player, Baidu. Shares of Baidu, which have soared about 75 percent since Google’s China problems emerged in January, fell 2.7 percent on Friday.

The last paragraph may be a bit misleading. The part about soaring 75%. There were other marketing moves kicking in – and Baidu also did a 10:1 stock split in the same timeframe that kicked up their share price, as well.

From my personal point of view, staying in the market, staying in China and competing for the attention of netizens is smarter, economically and politically, than taking your marbles home in a snit.

Antibodies found that prevent HIV infection – and maybe more

Scientists have discovered two potent human antibodies that can stop more than 90 percent of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory, and have demonstrated how one of these disease-fighting proteins accomplishes this feat.

According to the scientists, these antibodies could be used to design improved HIV vaccines, or could be further developed to prevent or treat HIV infection. Moreover, the method used to find these antibodies could be applied to isolate therapeutic antibodies for other infectious diseases as well…

Led by a team from the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC), the scientists found two naturally occurring, powerful antibodies called VRC01 and VRC02 in an HIV infected individual’s blood using a novel molecular device they developed that homes in on the specific cells that make antibodies against HIV. The device is an HIV protein that the scientists modified so it would react only with antibodies specific to the site where the virus binds to cells it infects.

The scientists found that VRC01 and VRC02 neutralize more HIV strains with greater overall strength than previously known antibodies to the virus.

The researchers also determined the atomic-level structure of VRC01 when it is attaching to HIV. This has enabled the team to define how the antibody works and to precisely locate where it attaches to the virus. With this knowledge, they have begun to design components of a candidate vaccine that could teach the human immune system to make antibodies similar to VRC01 that might prevent infection by the vast majority of HIV strains worldwide…

Kudos to the researchers who led this work. It’s now published for peer review here and here.

Yes, I will send off a note to my Congress-critters to remind them to continue funding for work like this at the NIH and our universities.

Fortunately, at least one of those representing me in Congress is bright enough to know that “protein” describes something more than BBQ. He can explain it to the rest.

Judge rules Federal gay marriage ban unconstitutional

In a victory for gay rights in the United States, a U.S. district court judge in Massachusetts has ruled that a federal ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Judge Joseph Tauro in Boston ruled in favor of gay couples’ rights in two separate challenges to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, arguing that the law interferes with the right of states to define marriage.

Massachusetts had argued DOMA denied benefits to same-sex couples in the state, where such unions have been legal since 2004. Four other states — Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa — also allow same-sex marriage, as does Washington, D.C.

Tauro agreed with the state’s argument and said DOMA forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens.

“The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment,” Tauro said. “For that reason, the statute is invalid.”

The Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The Justice Department argued the federal government can determine eligibility requirements for federal benefits, including requiring that those benefits go only to couples in marriages between a man and a woman…

In a second case, filed by civil rights group Gays & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Tauro ruled that DOMA violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

Under the ruling, the plaintiffs — seven married same-sex couples and three widowers from Massachusetts — would be entitled to the same federal spousal benefits and protections as opposite-sex married couples…

Congress enacted DOMA when it seemed that Hawaii was on the verge of legalizing gay marriage, and opponents feared that the movement would become a nationwide trend. States allowing same sex marriage are still a small minority.

A flock of not-very-brave politicians in Congress. Today as in the past.

They haven’t the perception to challenge the past or the courage to lead the way to the future.

England are paying the price of foreign Premier League


EPL Champions 2009/2010 – how many Brits in the photo?

England’s dismal failure at the World Cup can be blamed on the Premier League’s inability to promote home-grown talent, according to the president of Spain’s La Liga.

José Luis Astiazarán has questioned the number of young foreign players at Premier League clubs and said the principal reason Spain have reached Sunday’s final against Holland is that “77.1%” of footballers in their domestic league are Spanish-qualified, a direct result of home-grown players being given the opportunity in their clubs’ first teams. In the Premier League fewer than 40% of players are English…

Astiazarán said. “Our strategy is to work very hard with young home-grown players and to try to have a mix between them and experienced players.

Why is it not a high number of foreign players in La Liga? Because we invest more and more in young Spanish players than in young foreign players. England has many times taken young players from outside who are 14, 16 years old. These kind of players are not English. This is one of the most important differences between Spain and England. We invest in young Spanish players. In Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United there are a lot of young Spanish, French and Italian players – maybe this is why at the moment you are not creating young English players…

Spain are also the reigning European champions and Astiazarán does not deny that imported, established foreign stars have aided the development of domestic footballers. “OK, there are very good foreign players who help improve the Spanish players’ level because we have players coming from the major leagues who have played in the Champions League and big competitions in Europe and this is important,” he said.

I agree. But, anyone who knows me – already knows this.

Our own MLS is just getting into the addition of star imports as well as a healthy addition of a number of players from Central and South America. That is only natural. But, I doubt we have much worry of repeating the days of the NASL.

Now, we’re getting full steam into pushing our best players forward into Euro leagues; but, that’s a different problem/context than what the Brits face. Think about the fact that nine players on the Dutch Team, Sunday, also were in Madrid for the Champions League Final.

The rap from those who favor the “international teams” like Arsenal and Manchester United – or even Inter Milan in the Serie A – is that these are teams that provide the most entertaining and winning football. Maybe so.

Maybe they don’t need fans anymore, either.