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Showing posts with the label Best things to know

Uncle Willy and the real great escape

Late last year, I received an email from the Czech Republic. It contained an invitation from a total stranger. The sender, Michal Holy, explained that a memorial was to be unveiled to four men who had been secretly executed near the northern town of Most. The men where my uncle, World War II fighter pilot John "Willy" Williams, and three other Allied air force officers. Official Military portrait of  John "Willy" Williams on joining the RAF officers' program, December 1937. Michal, a commercial pilot and amateur historian with no direct connection to any of the dead men, was attempting to contact relatives of all four, hence the email that found me, my brother Richard and my mother. Michal wanted us to attend the unveiling, and then to join him in a very special journey. He planned to retrace these men's fateful last days on the run in Nazi controlled Europe. Their extraordinary exploits beginning with an audacious mass escape from a prisoner of war (POW) ca

A taste of Macau

With diamond rings on manicured hands (men included), my fellow passengers in the "super class" section of the hydrofoil boat appear to be native to this luxurious habitat. Women with glossy black hair and stiletto boots smile easily as their rotund companions accept food and drinks from smart dressed waitress. St Domonic's Church, a tired 17th century structure in Senado square in the Historic District.  I, on the other hand, am here by accident; I intended to purchase an economy seat, but my inability to decipher Chinese characters landed me among the first class travellers. I'm on my way to Macau, a special administrative region of China. A peninsula and two island connected by bridge lying across the Pearl River Delta from its bigger and better known Hong Kong, Macau was the first European colony in China when Portugal settled it in the 16th century and was also its last colony when handed back in 1999. A lineup outside the Louis Vuitton store at the popular Wynn

Improve your Eyesight with an App

Hate reading glasses? A new app called Glasses Off might let you drop them by training your brain to better interpret that fuzzy print in the newspaper. Users play quick games that employ special wavy images to stimulate connections in the visual part of the brain. In a recent small study, people could read paper without reading glasses after three months of training (15 minutes three times a week), and their reading speed increased by 17 words per minute. The developers plan to launch the app for iPhones and iPads by early 2013, followed by an Android version. Calculate your Heart Rate with your face Cardiio , a new app for iPhone and iPad developed by Harvard and MIT researchers, can calculate heart rate by merely gazing at your face. It uses your device's camera to measure tiny changes in blood flow in your face that occur when your heart beats. Simply line up your image with the displayed target, and the app reports your heart rate in seconds; when use in a well lit environmen

Tolkien 'bout a Revolution

It's the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit - just 36 years short of Bilbo Baggins' fabled eleventy-first birthday! The occasions is, of course, being celebrated by Tolkien fans all over the world, and will culminate in the release of the first of director Peter Jackson's three over $500 million Hobbit films at Christmas. It's a remarkable achievement for a book that was written for the literature professor's personal amusement and sneerily dismissed by many of his Oxford University colleagues. "How J.R.R and his merry band of hobbits changed our world" With total sales of his novels estimated at around 300 million, Tolkien remains a publishing powerhouse, but his influence stretches far beyond the world of books. From music to green politics, he's had a surprisingly broad impact on our lives. - Danny Scott The godfather of film epics Most experts agree that the movie blockbuster was born with  Jaws  in 1975. But Tom Craig, senior lecturer in film at Derby

Why do they do that?

You know all those jumbo shrimp you just ordered at the restaurant? Chances are they're prawns. But put the word jumbo in front of anything and customers are bound to buy it. Similarly, dry cleaning isn't really dry. Instead of using water to clean the fabric, the launderer uses an equally wet solvent called perchloroethylene. Does "dry cleaning" sound so much better than "wet cleaning"? Some launderer thought so. In this article, we'll demystify a few more intriguing business practices. We'll reveal the magic employed, the common sense practiced, the manipulation perpetrated and arm you with facts you can use to protect yourself. Why do wafer companies put so much air in their bags? To dupe us into thinking the foil bags are filled with chips? Actually, no. In fact, the bag don't contain oxygen. They're filled with nitrogen. Oxygen would quickly turn the chips rancid. The nitrogen preserves the freshness of the chips, prevents combustion, an

An Eye for business

The ancient Romans believed that Vulcan, their god of fire, lived deep inside a fire-breathing mountain where he practiced his skill in forging weapons and armor and bolts of lightning flung by Jupiter, the father of the gods. Although local people and tourists won't find these sorts of military goods at the Vulcano Buono (The good Vulcano) shopping center near Naples (picture below), the artificial crater designed by top architect Renzo Piano does contain shops, a supermarket, restaurants, cinemas, a gym and a hotel. The Italian got his inspiration for the shape of the complex from nearby Mount Vesuvius. Perhaps he chose the location near Nola because the little town survived when the volcano erupted in 77AD. Not a good idea The central motif of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lords of the Rings is that Rings of Power can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. Frodo played in the film by Elijah wood achieves the almost impossible. But the suggestion which frequently appears on th


Volcanoes can change the course of history. On 24 August 79 Ad the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were laid waste by eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which cost many thousands of lives. In April 1815, Indonesia's Mount Tambora erupted with such force, fine particles floated into the northern hemisphere by the next year and caused "the year without a summer" in parts of North America and Europe, leading to crop failure and starvation. On 27 August 1883 the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa literally blew its top, causing the deaths of around 36,000 people. And the threat to human life from these types of events happening in the future remains the same. That's because there's no way of preventing volcanic eruptions. The forces lying dormant in the earth are too powerful. The only way of protecting people is to evacuate them in time. Luckily, most eruptions give us some degree of advanced warning. "The heat is on. Beautiful and terrible in equal measure -- volcanic

The Riddle of Pandit Nehru

In some respects, America's best friend in Asia is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India. This view is so contrary to general belief that I must explain it. For six weeks I travelled across India talking to people about Nehru. Peasants, land lords, shopkeepers, maharajas advanced their theories. Here are the facts that help to explain the man who rules India. Pandit Nehru is an aristocrat. He was born a Brahmin and although he has discarded the Brahmin religious customs, he continue to to think like one. He believes that a few superior people must rule a partly illiterate, unformed nation like India. As a child Nehru knew substantial wealth servants, big homes, influential friends. He was a typical Indian aristocrat. A friend points out, "He is the kind of man Communists shoot when they take over". Nehru is like an Englishman. He was born in India, Of Indian blood, but he grew up an Englishman. His governess was English. He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge,

Weight loss myths you're falling for

Editors and Yahoo! health teamed up to pull your knowledge and attitudes about dropping kilos. We discovered many of you hold onto cherished but erroneous belief that could sabotage your effort to slim down. Myth: You believe exercise is your best weight loss weapon  Of those surveyed, 71% of adults agree that the best way to lose weight permanently is through exercise. Only 41% believe restricting calories is the best way. The truth : Exercise  alone leads to a very modest reduction in total body weight: less than 3%. To achieve effective weight loss, you have to pair exercise with the right diet plan. Myth: You think cardio exercise burns the most fat While  a healthy 71% of people who responded do cardio workouts, 56% believe cardio workouts burns the most fat. The truth : Doing aerobic exercise at the same intensity isn't nearly an effective at fighting fat creep as surprising your body with interval training or strength training. In one study, as few as three 11-minut of calor

12 delicious ways to release fat

After an exhaustive review of weight loss research, editors learnt a fascinating things: not all foods are created equal when it comes to shedding kilos. These 12 contenders seem t have special abilities to thwart your body's desire to hold on fat. Image by Racool_studio on Freepik Calcium Your mum told you to drink milk because calcium was good for your bones. What she may not have known is it also helps control your hunger. Research shows people who don't consume enough have a greater fat mass and less control of their appetite. Women under 50 (and men under 70) should aim for 1000mg a day. Over those ages? push your intake up to 1200mg if needed. Dairy Yes, dairy is an excellent source of calcium, but even more excitingly, studies have found that dairy sources of calcium are markedly more effective in accelerating fat loss than other sources. Researchers theorize that other ingredients in dairy act synergistically with the calcium. In one study from the university of Tenness