December 11, 2013 |
The latest international test scores of 15-year-olds are in, and the results are appalling. The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, found that the United States - the most affluent country in the world - failed to rank in the top 20 in any category. In math - the subject most critical for careers in high-paying science, technology and engineering fields - slightly more than a quarter of U.S. students scored below baseline proficiency. But we shouldn't have been surprised.
December 6, 2013 |
As if crocodiles and alligators weren't terrifying enough, scientists have discovered that these ancient, sharp-toothed beasts are incredibly cunning. So clever that they use lures to trap and gobble unsuspecting birds. The discovery in two crocodilian species - mugger crocodiles and American alligators - is the first report of tool use in reptiles, according to a study in the journal Ethology Ecology and Evolution. Some birds, like egrets, actually choose to nest around crocodile and alligator hangouts because they offer some protection from tree-climbing predators like raccoons, snakes and monkeys.
November 22, 2013 |
LG this week confirmed that its Smart TV sets are collecting information on users' viewing habits even when they have not been authorized to do so. The South Korean tech company's Smart TVs include a feature that gathers information on what users are watching and sends it back to LG in order to come up with recommendations for other content that they might like. LG gives users the option of turning the feature off, but LG said it has verified that its TVs continue to collect that information even if users opt out. LG looked into the issue after it was brought to its attention by a tech-savvy user . PHOTOS: Top 10 ways to take advantage of the 'sharing economy' "LG regrets any concerns these reports may have caused and will continue to strive to meet the expectations of all our customers and the public," the company said in a statement.
November 21, 2013 |
Academic and author Noam Chomsky is a creative but very structural thinker, stringing ideas together like dominoes. One thought progresses to the next, carefully placed with a logic and precision born of years of linguistics analysis shoring up each one. Filmmaker Michel Gondry is a creative thinker as well, though he's more deconstructive in his methods. Enthralled by the process of pulling ideas apart, he's not content with tipping a single domino, but crashing the entire pile, then setting about to make sense of the jumble.
November 12, 2013 |
Jon was notified recently that SoCalGas would be installing "smart meters" in his neighborhood. He's got some questions about that. What sort of info will these things gather? Is the wireless technology safe to be around? ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions Can you opt out? Good questions. I put them to the utility. For the answers, check out today's Ask Laz video. If you have a consumer question, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz .
November 7, 2013 |
"The Armstrong Lie" is about as angry and confrontational as documentary titles get, but filmmaker Alex Gibney has good reason to feel aggrieved. One of the top documentarians working today, with films such as "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" and the Oscar-winning "Taxi to the Dark Side" to his credit, Gibney was finishing a Lance Armstrong film with a very different, more upbeat title, "The Road Back," when the evidence became indisputable that the cyclist had used performance-enhancing drugs.
November 5, 2013 |
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is joining the ranks of the smart-card set later this month when it becomes available with a chip. The card will continue to have a magnetic stripe -- the standard most often used in the U.S, in which the card is swiped, then the receipt signed to complete a transaction. However, the new card also will have an embedded computer chip, the standard used in much of the world. The new cards will still require a signature; they are, not surprisingly, called chip-and-signature cards.
October 22, 2013 |
With dire reports of the Obamacare website's dysfunction rising by the hour--and the deadlines for signing up for insurance moving nearer by the day--the question on everyone's lips is: Has the time come to delay the individual mandate? Health economists Nicholas Bagley and Austin Frakt say no. But they do have a workable plan for saving Obamacare from the website's meltdown. Here's the best news: It doesn't require action by Congress. The proposal is not to delay the mandate but to waive the penalty for going without coverage, which hits people who don't have insurance by next April 1. The law sets the penalty for 2014 at $95 per person or 1% of household income, whichever is greater.
October 17, 2013 |
You know the nightmare where you show up naked at the office? Kristian Burford has captured something of that horrifying feeling in his latest installation at Nye + Brown. It consists of two glass-enclosed, generic office cubicles, each populated by a matte gray sculpture of a nude, bald woman. The woman in the first cubicle pokes her head up to look at the second figure with a somewhat startled expression. More relaxed, the other woman occupies an equally nightmarish reality. The interior of the glass in both structures is covered with a mirrored coating that creates an infinite, internal reflection.
October 12, 2013 |
The folks at Clever Travel Companion came up with the smart idea of making underwear with built-in zippered pockets to keep cash, credit cards, keys and other valuables safely undercover. They are a sensible alternative to cumbersome money belts. The clothing is available in shorts, long johns and tank tops in multiple colors and patterns. Perhaps the most versatile garment is the company's plain white or gray unisex T-shirt, which has a roomy zippered pocket in front large enough for a passport.