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March 2013

What a shock

"Planning expert: Raleigh not suited for light rail".

"The commuter rail plan and the light rail plan just don't make sense to me," said John Pucher, a professor in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is a visiting professor this semester at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the Department of City and Regional Planning.

Pucher has more than 40 years of experience in transportation planning. He supports alternative modes of transportation, but he said planners often underestimate cost and overestimate ridership projections.

"It's just so difficult in this very decentralized, very sprawled metropolitan area," he said.

Will this get them to stop planning and taxing for it? Not in a million years.

Three on Lego

"HBS Cases: LEGO". How not to make a comeback and how to. 

Knudstorp recognized that innovation was part of that core, but he'd also seen the result of unconstrained creativity, so new product design began to be informed by market research, user feedback, and how well the toys matched the vision of quality creative play laid out by its founding fathers. Putting parameters on how people innovate had the paradoxical effect of making them better at it.

Reining in the creative process was part of a larger push by Knudstorp to reduce overall complexity within the organization. On the supply chain side, he did away with many of the unique brick components added during Plougmann's tenure, and eventually decided to bring brick manufacturing back in-house to ensure quality control.

"Why Legos Are So Expensive — And So Popular".

The Star Wars blocks were wildly successful. So Lego kept going — it licensed Indiana Jones, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story and Harry Potter.

Sales of these products have been huge for Lego. More important, the experience has taught the company that what kids wanted to do with the blocks was tell stories. Lego makes or licenses the stories they want to tell.

"What Happened with LEGO". In the last 20 years the real price per brick has fallen nearly in half.

Grounds for optimism

Let's raise more kids like this: "NYU Student Invents Wound-Closing Goo".

A brainy NYU student has cooked up a magic gel that he says can stop even heavy bleeding — an invention that could make routine bandages obsolete. . . .

“Once I realized this was what I wanted to do, I would spend nights in the library, reading about polymer science and about the biology of a wound,” he said.

Let's invent more stuff like this: "Lockheed Martin Throws More Dirt on Malthus' Grave". 

Cheap, clean water may soon be available for the whole planet. According to Reuters, defense contractor Lockheed Martin has developed a filter that will hugely reduce the amount of energy necessary to turn sea water into fresh water. The filter, which is five hundred times thinner then others currently available, lets water pass through but blocks all salt molecules. It will use almost 100 times less energy than other methods for making salt water drinkable, giving third world countries another way of expanding access to drinking water without having to create costly pumping stations.

Before you let the Food Nazis talk you into drastically cutting your salt . . .

. . . consider this information.

"The Truth About Salt: It's Not As Scary As The Government Says It Is".

The study found that decade after decade, American adults ate 3,700 milligrams of sodium a day, similar to levels found in international studies. Some researchers think that this similarity is so stunning and consistent in different diets and cultures, that it could mean that humans have a set level of salt intake that we are hardwired to seek out, and that this level is higher than recommended doses.

"It's spooky how consistent this number is," David McCarron, a researcher at University of California, Davis, told USA Today in 2010.

"Salt and Blood Pressure: Conventinal Wisdom Reconsidered".

The “salt hypothesis” is that higher levels of salt in the diet lead to higher levels of blood pressure, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Intersalt, a crosssectional study of salt levels and blood pressures in 52 populations, is often cited to support the salt hypothesis, but the data are somewhat contradictory. Four of the populations (Kenya, Papua, and two Indian tribes in Brazil) do have low levels of salt and blood pressure. Across the other 48 populations, however, blood pressures go down as salt levels go up—contradicting the hypothesis. Experimental evidence suggests that the effect of a large reduction in salt intake on blood pressure is modest, and health consequences remain to be determined. Funding agencies and medical journals have taken a stronger position favoring the salt hypothesis than is warranted, raising questions about the interaction between the policy process and science.

"Effects of Low-Sodium Diet vs. High-Sodium Diet on Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone, Catecholamines, Cholesterol, and Triglyceride (Cochrane Review)" "Salt, Blood Pressure and Health: A Cautionary Tale".

Little controversy surrounds much of what is known about the effects of dietary sodium. Substantial variation in intake (75-100 mmol/24-h) can produce measurable, but modest changes in aggregate blood pressure. However, that effect is variable, and subjects have been arbitrarily described as salt sensitive and resistant. The effect seems to be more substantial in older subjects and in those with higher pressures. Any decision to adopt a low sodium diet should be made with awareness that there is no evidence that this reduction is either safe, in terms of ultimate health impact or that it wll produce cardioprotection. Clearly, there is no justification for a population-wide, public health recommendation for radical

"Effects of Low-Sodium Diet vs. High-Sodium Diet on Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone, Catecholamines, Cholesterol, and Triglyceride (Cochrane Review)".

In conclusion, low- vs. high-sodium diet in Caucasians with normal BP decreases BP <1%. . . . In Caucasians with elevated BP, short-term sodium reduction decreases BP by ~2–2.5%, indicating that sodium reduction may be used as a supplementary treatment for hypertension.

Three reasons I'll root for Florida Gulf Coast

Their coach and his wife: "Florida Gulf Coast's Basketball Coach Is A Self-Made Millionaire Who's Married To A Former Model".

More honest than most colleges, Florida Gulf Coast University not only is a resort, it looks like one

And you just gotta love this: "Florida Gulf Coast Has An Unapologetically Pro-Capitalist Economics Department, And Every Student Gets A Copy Of Ayn Rand".