Uncommon talent illustrates the commonplace

Rio Rancho High School (Rio Rancho, NM) earned serious bragging rights after claiming top prize…at the Vans Custom Culture Art & Design Showcase at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The four shoes chosen from Rio Rancho High School came from a pool of over 900 participating highschools, with designs spanning four categories: art, music, action sports, and local attitude. The students earned their school $50,000 towards its art programs, in addition to an additional $5,000 for creating shoes that best embodied their “local attitude…”

The five national finalists were chosen by more than 100,000 votes place through online voting: Big Bear High School (Big Bear, CA), Mountain View High School (Meridian, ID), Watkins Glen High School (Watkins Glen, NY), Rio Rancho High School (Rio Rancho, NM) and Eastern High School (Louisville, KY)…

Earlier this year, each of the nearly 900 participating high schools were sent four pairs of Vans shoes as a blank canvas to design their creations. Each shoe was to represent one of four themes: Action Sports, Music, Art and Local Flavor. Schools then submitted photo entries via the Vans Custom Culture website with global voting eventually whittling the entries down to the “Final Five” showed their work at the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Kudos to the kids in Rio Rancho. This is the 2nd time they’ve won big for their high school art program.

Prove to the people of America that Mitt Romney is not a unicorn!

As you all probably know by now, a group named Left Action is calling on Mitt Romney to prove that he is not a unicorn and is therefore eligible to run for president. Below, you will find startling true facts about Romney’s origins, as well as an analysis of the very real dangers of having a unicorn in the White House.

How do we know Mitt Romney is a unicorn?

Many people believe he is a unicorn.

Many people say he is a unicorn.

I read on the internet that Mitt Romney is a unicorn.

The Man from Ulandia: The Unauthorized Biography of Mitt Romney, states that Mitt Romney is a unicorn. If it is in a book, it must be true…

Why should you be concerned that Mitt Romney is a unicorn?

Unicorns are un-American.

Unicorns practice a weird religion that involves rainbows, puffy clouds, swirly pastels, and moonbeams.

The Constitution of the United States specifically prohibits unicorns from holding public office.

If a unicorn is president of the United States, our number one enemy, Unilandia, will soon dominate the world stage. While Unilandia has a small army in comparison to ours, their military complex boasts many horns. In fact, recent intelligence reveals that Unilandia has horns of mass destruction (HMD).

If we have a unicorn for president, back room deals with Unilandia will certainly lead to the loss of American jobs, particularly in the crucial areas of circus acts and stuffed animals.

A unicorn in the white house would lead to young people to engage in promiscuity

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SpaceX Dragon splashdown return to Earth from ISS rendezvous

Photo provided by SpaceX – capsule in Pacific right after splashdown

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully returned to Earth Thursday, becoming the first privately-owned spacecraft to complete a mission to the International Space Station.

The pilotless Dragon left the ISS after a nine-day mission loaded with 1,455 pounds of cargo on early Thursday morning. After separating from the space station, Dragon fired a series of engine burns to slow itself down enough to drop from orbit. The craft encountered temperatures of up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit on the most intense part of the fall.

Dragon also fired a series of thruster bursts to keep itself on target for a splashdown a few hundred miles from southern California. At 45,000 feet above the Earth, the craft deployed two small parachutes that stabilized its flight path. Once those parachutes were fully deployed, three main brightly colored chutes were released, each with a diameter of 116 feet. Dragon’s altitude loss then slowed to about 17 feet per second, allowing it a comfortable aquatic arrival.

While Dragon descended from the heavens, a NASA aircraft watched via infrared camera and a pre-positioned group of ships owned by SpaceX sat ready to recover the 19-foot-long spacecraft. The craft touched down in the cloud-covered Pacific Ocean at 11:42 a.m. ET.

The ships’ crewmembers initially had trouble locating the spacecraft because of the heavy cloud coverage in the area, but the orange-and-white main parachutes caught their attention. SpaceX dive teams then disconnected the main parachutes and towed the craft to the barge, which used a heavy-lifting crane to take it on board…

Dragon launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 22 after a series of delays. It docked with the ISS on May 25, becoming the first privately-owned spacecraft to do so. The spacecraft brought experimental equipment and other cargo to the ISS.

Bravo. Another milestone completed.

Citigroup whistleblower refused to be intimidated — she’s awarded $31 Million

Sherry Hunt never expected to be a senior manager at a Wall Street bank. She was a country girl, raised in rural Michigan by a dad who taught her to fish and a mom who showed her how to find wild mushrooms. She listened to Marty Robbins and Buck Owens on the radio and came to believe that God has a bigger plan, that everything happens for a reason.

She got married at 16 and didn’t go to college. After she had her first child at 17, she needed a job. A friend helped her find one in 1975, processing home loans at a small bank in Alaska. Over the next 30 years, Hunt moved up the ladder to mortgage-banking positions in Indiana, Minnesota and Missouri…

In November 2004, Hunt, now 55, joined Citigroup as a vice president in the mortgage unit. It looked like a great career move. The housing market was booming, and the New York- based bank, the sixth-largest lender in the U.S. at the time, was responsible for 3.5 percent of all home loans. Hunt supervised 65 mortgage underwriters at CitiMortgage’ sprawling headquarters in O’Fallon, Missouri, 45 minutes west of St. Louis.

Hunt’s team was responsible for protecting Citigroup from fraud and bad investments. She and her colleagues inspected loans Citi wanted to buy from outside brokers and lenders to see whether they met the bank’s standards. The mortgages had to have properly signed paperwork, verifiable borrower income and realistic appraisals.

Citi would vouch for the quality of these loans when it sold them to investors or approved them for government mortgage insurance…

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Exercise can jog your memory

It’s well established that exercise substantially changes the human brain, affecting both thinking and emotions. But a sophisticated, multifaceted new study suggests that the effects may be more nuanced than many scientists previously believed. Whether you gain all of the potential cognitive and mood benefits from exercise may depend on when and how often you work out, as well as on the genetic makeup of your brain.

For the experiment…recruited 54 adults, ages 18 to 36… The volunteers were healthy but generally sedentary; none exercised regularly…

The results were, in certain aspects, a surprise. As expected, many of the volunteers who’d been exercising for the past month significantly improved their scores on the memory and mood tests. But not all of them did. In general, those volunteers who had exercised for the past month and who worked out on the day of retesting performed the best on the memory exam. They also tended to report less anxiety than other volunteers.

Those who had exercised during the preceding month but not on the day of testing generally did better on the memory test than those who had been sedentary, but did not perform nearly as well as those who had worked out that morning.

Interestingly, while exercising before the test didn’t improve the memory scores of those who’d remained sedentary for the past month, it did increase their self-reported anxiety levels. They were more jittery than they had been on the first lab visit.

Perhaps most intriguing, though, was what the researchers discovered when they compared the volunteers’ BDNF gene variants and their scores on the memory test. They found that those with the variant that blunts BDNF production after exercise — a fairly common variation, existing in about 30 percent of people of European Caucasian heritage — did not improve their memories, even if they exercised regularly…

What all of this means for people who are hoping that exercise will improve their minds is unclear, Dr. Bucci says, but it does suggest that the interplay of physical activity and brainpower is more complex than we have perhaps yet acknowledged…

But the overall message of this study and of ongoing research in his lab, Dr. Bucci adds, is that exercise generally enhances the ability to remember. The people who did improve their memory test scores, he points out, were invariably those who’d exercised throughout the previous month and again the morning of the testing, suggesting a powerful cumulative effect from the exercise sessions..

RTFA for details of how the test was conducted, for information on BDNF production and genetics.

AFAIC, it’s worth posting this short article about testing for exercise and mental results. Push comes to shove, there are always a few well-paid pundits who fund their career serving as skeptic about anything positive and productive from eating healthier, living an active lifestyle – possibly and probably ignoring network television as an alternative to exercise. 🙂

Tomato genome project ready to bear fruit

Gerard Bishop and Graham Seymour, lead UK researchers

An international team of scientists has cracked the genetic code of the domesticated tomato and its wild ancestor, an achievement which should help breeders identify the genes needed to develop tastier and more nutritious varieties…

Researchers who carried out the work said that together the sequences provide the most detailed look yet at the functional parts of the tomato genome and show order, orientation, types and relative positions of all of its 35,000 genes…

“Tomatoes are one of the most important fruit crops in the world, both in terms of the volume that we eat and the vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals that both fresh and processed tomato products provide to our diets,” said Graham Seymour…one of 300 scientists involved in the Tomato Genome Consortium.

The tomato is also a good model to investigate the process of fruit ripening, so understanding its genome should help reveal the molecular circuits that make fruits ripen and give them their health-promoting properties, the team said.

For any characteristic of the tomato, whether it’s taste, natural pest resistance or nutritional content, we’ve captured virtually all those genes,” said James Giovannoni…part of the U.S. tomato sequencing team…

The scientists said the findings show the tomato genome expanded abruptly about 60 million years ago. Some of the genes generated during that expansion were involved in the development and control of ripening, making them particularly interesting to tomato breeders…

Strawberries, apples, melons, bananas and other fleshy fruits share some characteristics with tomatoes, he explained, so knowledge about the genes involved in fruit ripening could potentially be applied to them, helping breeders and growers to improve food quality and cut costs.

James Giovannoni epitomized the ethics of basic research scientists when he said, “Now we can start asking a lot more interesting questions”.

Luddites will probably begin croaking in advance. While farmers intent on feeding that significant portion of the world lacking in vegetables – follow the research hoping for better crops, abundance, drought and disease resistance.