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Friday, November 29, 2013

Benefits of Laughter

Benefits of Laughter
How Laughter
could Affect Your Health
Over the last ten years, many researches have studied the positive effects of laughter on the body. The research revealed many potentially interesting facts to us on how laughing can reward one’s health.
The blood vessels of those who watched comedies behaved normally and were expanding and contracting easily. 
In contrast, people who watched dramas were more likely to feel tense and thus the blood vessels restricted the blood flow.

Other studies were conducted regarding the effects on blood sugar levels when people with diabetes were shown either comedies or tedious lectures. After watching the comedies, the blood sugar levels of the group of people with diabetes had been lower but the blood sugar levels of the group of people with diabetes who attended tedious lectures tended to be slightly higher.
Decreased immune system response goes hand in hand with increased stress. Humor and laughter have seemed to raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and thereby boosting the levels of immune cells. That is a solid reason why laughter has been used extensively in therapeutic situations.

The other study concluded that people with a painful spine condition were able to feel two hours of pain-free relaxation or sleep just after watching a comedy for just 10-minutes. 

Therefore, laughter as well as humor can serve as a relief for pain.

So, whenever you are feeling run-down, why not you attempt laughing more? 

Your laughter will undoubtedly put spring back in your step and make you feel much better.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Giving Pledge + Gates Foundation

The Giving Pledge
The Giving Pledge is a campaign to encourage the wealthiest people in the world to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. The campaign specifically focuses on billionaires and was made public in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. The Huffington Post reported in April 2012 that "81 billionaires committed to giving at least half of their fortunes to charity".
As of July 2013, 113 billionaire individuals, couples and one family group have signed the pledge

The Giving Pledge is a commitment by the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

The Global Force
Called the Gates Foundation

The philanthropy's impact, already immense, will be magnified by Buffett's billions.
By Carol J. Loomis, FORTUNE Magazine June  2006

The foundation works heavily through partners (nongovernmental organizations, usually) and has focused on big causes. Its original giving was directed at providing U.S. libraries free online access - and today more than 99% are hooked up.

The foundation then broadened its efforts to global health, on which it now spends around 60% of its funds. Much of that is beamed at what Bill Gates calls "the Big Three diseases": malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. The foundation is both pushing to discover a preventive AIDS vaccine and to deliver antiretrovirals to people already afflicted with the disease.

In other areas, spending is focused on making medical "leaps" - the discovery, say, of a chemical that would block malaria-transmitting mosquitoes from smelling humans.

The national drive, meanwhile, is riveted on improving high schools, which Bill Gates has called "obsolete." 
The foundation and its partners have started 900 new schools and "redesigned" 700 others.

The Giving Pledge
40 Billionaires 
Pledge to Give Away Half

Created on August 2010 12:36   

Remember the Buffett challenge to get billionaires to give away half of their wealth? The investment genius from Omaha along with that computer-oriented piker from Seattle, Bill Gates, now have 40 billionaires who have signed onto this campaign, with letters expressing their charitable intent posted at

Buffett and Gates started buttonholing their rich and famous (or not so famous) peers from the Forbes 400 and ended up calling 70 to get 40, though they don’t plan to stop. The list, however, seems heavily weighted to billionaires who have already established big foundations and seemed well on their way to pledging billions to philanthropic institutions that they controlled. Some of the names on the list are well known in foundation circles, though billionaire philanthropy need not end up buried in foundation endowments.
Pledge to Give Away Half
Gains Billionaire Adherents
Published: August 4, 2010

More than three dozen billionaires, including well-known philanthropists like David Rockefeller and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and less familiar big donors like Lorry I. Lokey, founder of Business Wire, have promised at least half of their fortunes to charity, joining a program that Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett started in June to encourage other wealthy people to give.

Billionaire Spanx Founder
Sara Blakely
Will Donate Half of her Fortune
The First Woman to join The Giving Pledge

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, became the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world through her successful shapewear line. Now, she is also the first female to join Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge.

Ms Blakely, 42, worth $1billion according to Forbes, has committed to giving at least of half of her wealth to charity.
Ms Blakely, who owns 100per cent of her privately held company and recently topped a list of America's 50 Most Powerful Mothers, recalled to Forbes how after she appeared on the magazine's cover, she was invited to dine with Bill and Melinda Gates in Miami.

The duo proposed the Giving Pledge to her (current pledgers include Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg), and she spent a few months mulling it over.

Deciding to join The Giving Pledge, she told CNN Money that she told her three-year-old son, Lazer, she was going to give away at least half of her money - and that she hoped one day he think she had done the right thing. 'Okay, Mommy,' he said, 'can we do a puzzle now?'

Warren E. Buffett distributed 17.5 million Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway on Monday to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a gift valued at about $2 billion, based on Friday’s closing price.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reasons To Love Costco - Nothing To Do With Shopping

11 Reasons To Love Costco
That Have Nothing To Do With Shopping

Huffington Post  |  By Posted:

costco logo

It's not just the bulk toilet paper and $1.50 hot dog combos. 
There's more going on here.

1. The company pays a living wage. 
Costco's CEO and president, Craig Jelinek, has publicly endorsed raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and he takes that to heart. The company's starting pay is $11.50 per hour, and the average employee wage is $21 per hour, not including overtime. Most other big box retailers start their employees at minimum wage.

2. Workers get benefits.  
About 88 percent of Costco employees have company-sponsored health insurance, according to David Sherwood, Costco's Director of Financial Planning and Investor Relations. "I just think people need to make a living wage with health benefits,” Jelinek told Bloomberg. “It also puts more money back into the economy and creates a healthier country. It’s really that simple.”

3. The CEO makes a reasonable salary. 
Costco's CEO makes far less than most executives, with a total compensation package of about $4.83 million in 2012. In contrast, Walmart CEO Mike Duke made roughly $19.3 million during the same year. Walmart's CEO earns as much as 796 average employees, according to CNN Money, compared to Costco's CEO making 48 times more than the company's median wage.

costco jelinek

4. Costco helped its employees weather the recession. 
When the economic crisis hit and other retailers laid off workers, Costco's CEO approved a $1.50-an-hour wage increase for many hourly employees, spread out over three years.

5. Costco doesn't kill Thanksgiving.
While many of its competitors are forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving Day, Costco will buck the trend and stay closed.

6. It also doesn’t waste money on expensive advertising. 
The company doesn't advertise nor does it hire a public relations staff. Meanwhile, Walmart dropped $1.89 billion on ads in 2011.

7. Its prices aren't horrendously high.  
Costco never marks up products by more than 15 percent, while most retailers commonly mark products up by more than 25 percent.

8. It embraces equality. 
Costco scored extremely well (90/100) on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, an assessment of LGBT policies in the workplace.

9. It hires from the inside. 
More than 70 percent of its warehouse managers began their careers working the register or the floor.

10. Costco's employees are loyal. 
For employees that have worked at the company for more than one year, the annual turnover rate is below six percent, according to Sherwood. For executives, the turnover rate is less than one percent.

11. Free samples. 
Need we say more? 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jean-Claude Van Damme's 'Epic Split' for Volvo

How'd They Do That?
Jean-Claude Van Damme's
'Epic Split' 
The easy part: 
Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme before the trucks started backing up and he did his "epic split."

by Mark Memmott - November 16, 2013

Let's all take a minute to watch one of the latest viral videos:
Naturally, it's got folks asking questions.
a) Whether it's real?
b) How did they do that?

According The Wall Street Journal, what you see is really what you get.
Volvo says Van Damme does have one foot on each truck as the two vehicles slowly back up and get farther apart.

But Van Damme, known to fans as the "muscles from Brussels," wasn't in any real danger. The Journal writes that:

"Van Damme's feet [weren't] secured to the mirrors, video director Andreas Nilsson said, "but we had him rigged [with a wire] so that if he would fall off he wouldn't die, obviously."
The ad is designed to show off the trucks' Volvo Dynamic Steering.

The trucks go backwards, Volvo public relations manager Anders Vilhelmsson tells the Journal, because "we all know that going in reverse is a bit more difficult than going forward. ... We felt that would be the ultimate test."

The stunt, Vihelmsson says, was done in one take.
Rob Ford Parody
Volvo Van Damme Epic Splits

How Volvo Created
Jean-Claude Van Damme
‘Epic Split’ Video

By  Barbara Chai
The Internet is buzzing about a new online commercial that shows actor Jean-Claude Van Damme appearing to perform a split between two moving Volvo FM trucks. Volvo says the stunt really happened.

The stunt is real and is performed in just one take,” said Anders Vilhelmsson, public relations manager for the Volvo Trucks brand. “It’s a daring stunt but we had full control. There was never any real danger involved.”

Van Damme, 53, was hooked to safety lines that aren’t visible in the film, and each foot is on a small platform that was built on the trucks’ side mirrors.

Van Damme’s feet aren’t secured to the mirrors, video director Andreas Nilsson said, “but we had him rigged so that if he would fall off he wouldn’t die obviously. We didn’t want to be responsible for killing the Muscles from Brussels.”
The stunt, meant to advertise Volvo Trucks’ new dynamic steering system, has drawn more than eight million views on YouTube since the video was posted on Nov. 13.

It was filmed by Nilsson on a closed-off airstrip in Spain called Ciudad Real, located just south of Madrid. Prior to filming, the production team rehearsed the stunt for three days. The final version had to be completed within just 15 minutes – from 8:05 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. – when the sunlight was just right.

“The film you see is the first take. But obviously we had tons of rehearsals,” Nilsson said. “The tension was really high. I saw a tough stunt coordinator swell up after we nailed it. That might actually be the nicest memory from the shoot.”

Nilsson said the drivers of the trucks played key roles. “What they did is fantastic. I don’t know if you have tried to drive backwards with a truck but it’s not the easiest thing,” he said. “And then [to] keep it in total control when spreading apart is very, very hard.”

The trucks go backward in the video because “we all know that going in reverse is a bit more difficult than going forward,” Vilhelmsson said. “We felt that would be the ultimate test, to have the trucks go in reverse with someone standing on the side mirrors performing a side split. And we knew that if anyone would be able to do that, it would have to be Jean-Claude Van Damme.”

Nilsson called the video an honest homage to Van Damme, “a pop cultural icon that I have had in my life since I was a kid. The spots he has been in before have looked down on him, in my opinion. I was looking up, in celebration.”

The new dynamic steering system combines conventional hydraulic powered steering with an electric motor that is fitted to the truck’s steering gear. The electric motor receives 2000 signals per second from the truck’s on-board sensors, allowing for more precise steering, according to Vilhelmsson. He said the steering system offers a more relaxed and ergonomically designed experience for truck drivers.

The “Epic Split” video is part of a series produced by Volvo Trucks that features daring stunts meant to illustrate innovations in its vehicles. A previous video dubbed “The Ballerina Stunt” filmed two trucks speeding toward a tunnel, with a woman crossing a slack line between them before they hit the tunnel. That video also went viral, getting more than 7 million views.

When Volvo began planning the launch of five new trucks 12 months ago, the creative team adopted a strategy of producing YouTube films that would create attention, and inform and entertain audiences, Vilhelmsson said. That would pave the way for future advertising and sales campaigns in local markets.

With the Van Damme video, Volvo wanted to illustrate the new dynamic steering model in a spectacular way, and reach beyond traditional markets. “We need to target not only truck drivers, but future truck drivers. Young people who are facing a choice of a future career,” he said.

“We know the media landscape is changing,” he said. “We have different media consumption habits today than a couple years ago. So that is why we invest in this cost-efficient way of reaching out to millions of people online.”

Volvo Trucks will continue to release more stunt videos, but has no more planned with Jean-Claude Van Damme at this time.

A lot of auto ads run a disclaimer that the stunt was performed by professionals and viewers shouldn't try this at home. You'd definitely be wise to take that advice with regards to this ad Volvo Trucks featuring action star Jean-Claude Van Damme.
In the ad, Van Damme does a stunt that is truly insane, involving an epic split between two Volvo trucks.
The making of "The Epic Split" 

Could you save yourself if your kitchen floor was suddenly charged with electricity? 

Van Damme could, and did, in Timecop.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Facts That Will Change Your Perspective On The World

11 Mindblowing Facts
That Will Completely Change
Your Perspective
On The World

By Todd Van Luling Posted: 10/09/2013

Life will never be the same.

1. The continents look entirely different than you think they do.
The map you're used to is more Western-focused and stretches out the size of continents near the poles. 
Africa and South America are actually way bigger. Here's a more accurate representation of the world, according to the The Gall-Peters Projection map, created in 1885.


2. If you believe that you're truly one in a million, there are still approximately 7,184 more people just like you.
You aren't that special! There are over 7 billion people on the planet right now. Each and every one of them should be treated with respect.

3. There are castles and even lighthouses that are less expensive than NYC apartments.

With New York City rent rising over an average $3,000 a month even in Brooklyn this year, it's becoming more and more appealing to perhaps move somewhere else. If you're one of the lucky ones who has a bit of money to burn, might as well spend it on a real-life castle or lighthouse, right?

4. The United States hasn't even made it into the Top 50 list of longest-lasting empires.
The United States has only been around for a blip in history. Institutions like Bank of America aren't even 100 years old. This doesn't necessarily discount their trustworthiness, but just make sure to remember that not all pillars of authority are eternal.

5.    10 percent of the entire world population is still illiterate.
Unfortunately certain countries are also skewing the data upwards on this statistic. Nations such as Afghanistan only have a 28 percent literacy rate for the total population.

6. You thoroughly enjoy celebrating some pretty dark holidays.
Labor Day was created as a bandaid to coverup multiple massacres of American workers. Columbus Day is named after a brutal tyrant whose history is largely a fraud. Thanksgiving is a sham celebration of Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together.

7. A whole ecosystem lives in your belly button.
Scientists found 2,368 different species of bacteria living in belly buttons after swabbing the navels of just 60 people. In that study, 1,458 might have been entirely new to the scientific record. Aladdin could have showed Jasmine a "whole new world" just by looking toward their stomachs.

8. You can't see as many colors as a chicken. You'll also never see all the beautiful colors of a rainbow.
Everyday you are missing out on aspects of the universe simply because our bodies cannot process their wonders. How can we be supreme rulers of the world and have full domain over all other living beings when chickens can see more colors than we can? We need to rethink our place. Also rainbows are actually made up of more than 1 million colors, many of which we can't see either. We are missing out!

9. We haven't figured out the secret to immortality, but this jellyfish has.
The Turritopsis nutricula can live forever by reverting back to its early stage of life after becoming sexually mature. Although immortality may not be a real possibility for humans just yet, it is good to know that the basic idea isn't just science fiction.

10. Americans spend 38 hours a year stuck in traffic.
Almost an entire work week of just being stuck! Washingtonians have it worst with an average of 67 hours a year, which is time they probably wish they could have back.

11. Maybe you already know that our Sun is just one star out of 300 sextillion (3 trillion times 100 billion, or a 3 followed by 23 zeros) in our universe and you're probably like, "DON'T REMIND ME"...
TK TK gifs
...but did you know our starry home might just be the leftover debris of another universe that emerged from a four-dimensional black hole, and on top of that, there could be many more universes out there within other black holes?
In all fairness, there are obviously quite a few theories about the creation of our universe. We might even be living in a multiverse. Regardless, as renowned scientist Carl Sagan once put it, we are just living on a "Pale Blue Dot."
West Wing - Why are we changing maps?
From season 2 - episode 16

Leo sends grumbling staffers to meet with organizations who are not usually heard from at the White House. C.J.'s assignment is the Cartographers for Social Equality .


Current World Population


Births today
  Births this year
Deaths today
  Deaths this year
 Population growth today
  Population growth  this year

Top 20 Largest Countries by Population (live)
1 China      1,407,100,799

2 India       1,292,336,952

3 U.S.A.       323,200,917

4 Indonesia  257,623,889

5 Brazil        204,751,388

6 Pakistan    190,045,127

7 Nigeria      186,691,211

8 Bangladesh 161,645,739

9 Russia        141,880,974

10 Japan       126,768,946

11 Mexico    126,195,050

12 Philippines 102,897,075

13 Ethiopia    100,503,675

14 Vietnam      93,961,473

15 Egypt          85,571,541

16 Germany     82,532,798

17 Iran             80,143,864

18 Turkey        77,314,344

19 Congo         72,435,961

20 Thailand      67,566,070