Find out the latest news and topics of interest from Dr. James G. Hood, D.D.S., M.A.!
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Pentagon report: China extending military reach
The report, an annual assessment sent to Congress, notes that some of those capabilities have been positive, like humanitarian and anti-piracy efforts, but others are meant to give China “extended-range power projection.”
While China’s continued effort to be able to sustain military operations far from its shore are concerning to the U.S. military, “China’s ability to sustain military power at a distance, today, remains limited,” the report says.
As in the past, the U.S. program to sell military equipment to Taiwan continues to create tension with China and has led to cessation at times of military relations between the two countries.
The assessment notes that China has the most active ballistic and cruise missile program in the world, including developing anti-missile technology. Also of concern are Chinese efforts to develop a long-range anti-ship ballistic missile with a reach of more than 900 miles, which would include areas in which the U.S. Navy is active. Such a measure would give the Chinese military “the capability to attack ships, including aircraft carriers, in the Western Pacific Ocean,” according to the report.
The Chinese could start building their first aircraft carrier this year, and China has started to train pilots to operate off such carriers. It already has a Russian carrier that it is refurbishing.
Its naval muscle is also being flexed with additional nuclear powered submarines, and it has nearly completed a navy base on Hainan Island, “with direct access to vital international sea lanes,” which will allow for “stealthy deployment of submarines,” the report says.
This article is courtesy of CNN News at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/08/16/us.china.military/index.html?hpt=Sbin
Grad Rates Put Harvard in a League of Its Own; School Regains Top Spot on U.S. News College List Source: Fox News
Grad Rates Put Harvard in a League of Its Own; School Regains Top Spot on U.S. News College List
Published August 17, 2010
| Associated Press
Harvard pulled ahead of Ivy League rival Princeton in the latest edition of the influential U.S. News & World Report university rankings, while a stronger emphasis on graduation rates drove other changes in the Top 10.
The nation’s oldest university and traditionally one of its most selective, Harvard has topped the list two of the past three years. Last year, the two elite schools shared the top ranking.
Yale was the No. 3-ranked university this year, followed by Columbia, and Stanford and Penn tied at No. 5.
Williams College in Massachusetts was ranked the nation’s top liberal arts school, repeating its feat of last year.
The most closely watched of a growing number of college rankings, the U.S. News & World Report list is both credited for helping students and families sort through a dizzying college selection process and criticized by those who say it’s too arbitrary and pressures colleges to boost scores at the expense of improving teaching.
A change in how rankings are determined led to some shifts in the magazine’s “Best Colleges” rankings, which were released online Tuesday and examine more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools based on 16 factors.
How did Harvard edge Princeton by 1 point on an 100-point scale? Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News & World Report, credited Harvard’s higher scores on graduation rates, and financial and faculty resources.
The rankings take into account factors such as SAT scores, selectivity, graduation and retention rates, alumni giving and peer reputation. This year, high-school guidance counselors’ opinions were added to the mix.
Most notably, graduation rate performance was given greater weight, accounting for 7.5 percent of the final score for national universities and liberal arts colleges, up from 5 percent last year. The variable is the difference between a school’s actual graduation rate and one predicted by U.S. News based on test scores and schools’ resources.
Morse said the shift helped Columbia University rise from eighth to fourth this year and contributed to Cal Tech and MIT falling from a tie for fourth to a tie for seventh.
Nationally, graduation rates are getting more policy attention as higher-education leaders and advocates focus increasingly not just on getting students in the door but also out with a degree or certificate. One of the Obama administration’s signature education goals is for the U.S. to regain the world lead in college graduation rates by 2020.
The University of California, Berkeley is the highest-ranked public university, at No. 22 overall in the U.S. News report. Despite a severe budget crisis, five schools in the UC system were among the top 10 public universities.
More schools were ranked this year, a reflection of both increased consumer demand and improved data collection, Morse said. The survey now displays the rank of the top 75 percent of schools in each category, up from 50 percent. The schools in the bottom tier are displayed alphabetically and not given numeric rankings.
The magazine also publishes a list of “Up and Comers,” based on a survey of college administrators who were asked to nominate schools they think are making promising and innovative changes. The University of Maryland-Baltimore County was No. 1 among national universities in that category — and ranked No. 159 overall.
Earlier this month, Forbes magazine ranked Williams College No. 1 in its third “America’s Best Colleges” rankings — and Harvard No. 8. The business magazine weighs student satisfaction, graduation rates, student debt and other factors.
This article is courtesy of Fox News at http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/08/17/harvard-regains-spot-atop-news-college-rankings-focus-grad-rates-spurs-movement/
Clouds Can Communicate, Scientists Say
By Jeremy A. Kaplan
Published August 13, 2010
Little, fluffy and talkative? Clouds can communicate, a new paper suggests — but what are they talking about?
A new study has found that clouds “communicate” with each other, much like chirping crickets or flashing fireflies on a summer night. The surprising findings, published online in the journal Nature, may have significant implications for our understanding of the Earth’s climate.
So the next time you find yourself laying on your back picking out shapes among the clouds, mull on this one: Are they talking among themselves about you?
“Cloud fields organize in such a way that their components ‘communicate’ with one another and produce regular, periodic rainfall events,” explained Graham Feingold, a research scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and the paper’s lead author.
In other words, Feingold found clear evidence of self-organization in the regular patterns of rainfall and repeating growth of those floating puffs of cotton.
How does such synchronization come about? Falling rain cools the air as it descends. This creates downward air currents. These downdrafts hit the surface of the planet, flow outward, and collide with each other, forming updrafts. The air flowing up creates new clouds in previously open sky as older clouds dissipate. Then the new clouds rain, and the oscillating pattern repeats itself.
“In a sense what’s going on is that the clouds are communicating with each other by driving down to the ground. If you have a number of clouds doing exactly that, air is forced to go sideways from one cloud and meets the air from another,” Feingold told FoxNews.com.
Voila! cloud speech!
Earlier theories about cloud structure explained that temperature change was at the heart of cloud generation, that warming and cooling shifts were the key forces. Precipitation as a driving factor is something of a radical shift.
But talking clouds? That’s even more radical.
Feingold is nevertheless quite serious, citing a lengthy history of research into cloud communication.
“If you go back far enough, the basic physics behind this phenomenon was recorded in the early 1900s by a French scientist,” he explained.
He was looking at the sun though a telescope and noticed convection patterns. Lord Rayleigh later put it into a theoretical framework, explaining the hexagonal patterns observed in the lab, Feingold told FoxNews.com.
“1933 is the earliest report of patterns in the clouds,” by a scientist known as Graham, he said. But Feingold thinks the idea of cloud communication might date back far further.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancients were looking up at the clouds and seeing patterns early on,” he told FoxNews.com.
Scientist lives as Inuit for a year to save disappearing language
London, England (CNN) — A British anthropologist is setting out on a year-long stay with a small community in Greenland in an ambitious attempt to document its dying language and traditions.
Stephen Pax Leonard will live with the Inughuit in north-west Greenland, the world’s most northernmost people, and record their conversations and story-telling traditions to try and preserve their language.
The Inughuit, who speak Inuktun, a “pure” Inuit dialect, are under increasing political and climactic pressure to move south, says Leonard.
“They have around 10 to 15 years left in their present location, then climate change and politics will force them to move south and they will be assimilated into a different culture, into a broader community, and their way of life will be lost,” Leonard told CNN.
Leonard, who flies out to Copenhagen on Sunday before heading to Greenland, says there are about 1,000 speakers of Inuktun, an undocumented language.
Although most Inughuit are trilingual, also speaking Danish and Greenlandic, their primary language is still Inuktun.
“There is no doubt that this is a major linguistic challenge… they speak a very pure form of Inuit, partly because of their geographic isolation. Their entire culture is based on a story-telling culture.”
–Stephen Pax Leonard
Leonard, an anthropological linguist at Cambridge University, England, is under no doubt about the physical and cultural hurdles that face him. The average temperature is minus 25 degrees Celsius, although it can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the winter.
Inughuit, which is the name of the northern Inuits, are hunter-gatherers; they do not have a cash economy and the men can spend weeks away from home hunting for walruses, seals and other mammals. They still use dog sleds in the winter and kayaks in the summer.
Hivshu, an Inughuit who now lives in Sweden, helped Leonard establish contacts with his former community in Greenland.
He has written about the Inughuit way of life on his website: “Even before I went to school I began assisting my father when he was out hunting, summer or winter, no difference. That was the way I heard the stories about my ancestors and their songs told and sung by the old people as it was a tradition to tell the stories and sing the traditional drum songs of Inuit to all of us during the hunting.”
Leonard says he is determined to become a part of their community and plans to hunt with the men if he is allowed.
He is taking solid-state audio recorders that should work in the freezing conditions and plans to produce an “ethnography of speaking.”
That he hopes will be a permanent record that shows how their language and culture are interconnected.
Article Courtesy of CNN at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/08/13/greenland.inuit.language/index.html?hpt=Sbin