Monthly Archives: January 2015

Healthy Reasons to Eat a Rainbow of Colorful Fruits and Vegetables (1)

Red Fruits and Vegetables

Red fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigments called “lycopene” or “anthocyanins:.Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, for example, may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Lycopene in foods containing cooked tomatoes, such as spaghetti sauce, and a small amount of fat are absorbed better than lycopene from raw tomatoes.

Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and other fruits and vegetables act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Antioxidants are linked with keeping our hearts healthy, too.

There are some examples of the red group:

Red apples                               Red peppers

Beets                                        Pomegranates

Red cabbage                            Red patatoes

Cherries                                    Radishes

Cranberries                                Raspberries

Pink grapefruit                             Rhubarb

Red grapes                                   Strawberries

Tomatoes

Watermelon

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‘American Sniper’: The Fantasy That Fuels Its Popularity

As the continuing dominance of “American Sniper” at the box office shows, sometimes it pays to be polarizing. All the attention the Clint Eastwood film has drawn from figures as varied as Michael Moore, Bill Maher and John McCain is free promotion at its finest.

But watching the big-screen adaptation of Navy Seal Chris Kyle’s autobiography in its second week in theaters is probably a fundamentally different experience now that perceptions of the narrative are filtered through controversy. A mental checklist of the various criticisms that have been leveled at the film can be applied: Does Eastwood glorify the Iraq War? Did he demonize Muslims? Is there any moral ambiguity? Is the cinematic Chris Kyle too different than the real one?

None of these criticisms resonated much with me by the time the credits rolled. But one I hadn’t yet heard did, and it might explain just why “Sniper” has become as stunningly successful as it has.

True to his billing as the sniper with more “kills” than anyone else in U.S. military history, Kyle is depicted as a freakishly talented marksman who knows his way around a war zone.Bradley Cooper has gotten plenty of praise in the lead role, though it’s a little difficult to understand why: He portrays Kyle as a man of near-robotic demeanor. Matt Damon and Jeremy Renner did more emoting playing equally lethal but fictional automatons in the Jason Bourne movies than Cooper does playing a real person.

Particularly bizarre is the final five minutes of the movie, when Kyle returns home for good. At his wife’s prompting, he sees a shrink who puts him to work helping severely injured military vets, and voila: he is cured, shaking off his PTSD like it was a 24-hour flu.

It’s not as if “Sniper” makes Kyle seem entirely carefree. Perhaps the most brutal scenes in the movie aren’t even on the battlefield but back at home between tours of duty. At one point Kyle stares blankly at a TV set while sounds of gunfire ring in his ears though there isn’t a weapon in sight. In another scene, Kyle snaps at the sight of some roughhousing between a child and a dog at a backyard party, raising his hand to whip the poor creature right up until his wife intervenes.

But Cooper’s Kyle doesn’t deviate from the stoic dignity that seems more appropriate in Eastwood’s early Westerns. He never so much as sheds a tear, not to mention the wide range of symptoms typical to vets suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, from insomnia to drug abuse.

It’s entirely possible that there are PTSD sufferers who, as Kyle is depicted to be, simply retreat into their shells. But when that comes off as nothing more than steely resolve, it’s not an effective way to convey how awful his condition is.

Playing his wife, Taya Kyle, Sienna Miller is the movie’s emotional center. She gets increasingly distraught as her husband slips deeper into a war-centric mindset he can’t turn off even in civilian mode. But we never really see Chris Kyle agonize over his growing disconnect with his wife. Kyle doesn’t have a problem insofar as his problem is really just that his wife has a problem with him.

By this point, the comments section below this article is probably already filling up with suggestions that I am projecting my own wussy ways onto a character who just happens to be the opposite of the pansy that I no doubt am. The real Chris Kyle may have very well been this superhuman soldier, but if he was, what is the point of telling this story?

Maybe because the reason “Sniper” is striking such a chord in the U.S. right now is that it sells us on a fantasy we want to hear instead of the more troubling truth we’d rather ignore. After many costly years of military intervention in Iraq that has left us little to show for our sacrifice given the region is more unstable than ever, what better way to soothe a war-weary public than with a tale of a fighter who never seems to grow weary. Chris Kyle collectively relieves our anxiety about the damage done to so many of our young men and women over there by offering the example of a man who emerged miraculously unscathed.

But Kyle is far from emblematic of what war has wrought for most enlisted Americans. Just last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Army jointly revealed a disturbing new study that found veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were 41% to 61% more likely to commit suicide than the average population. After our country’s previous wars, veterans were actually statistically less likely to take their own lives than the average population.

It’s not like a nuanced cinematic treatment of PTSD is a far reach given how many movies have riffed on the subject, going all the way back to “The Deer Hunter.” But while “Sniper” should be commended for at least sensitizing people to the post-war plight of real veterans, it offers an unrealistic ideal to those who might be considering military careers.

As the audience learns via an end card at the close of the film, Kyle was shot and killed at the age of 41 by a fellow veteran, one far more disturbed than he was. By eliding what it might have otherwise depicted, “Sniper” seems to be sidestepping a cruel irony: Someone the movie portrays as not being particularly tormented by having to kill is murdered by someone else so tormented that it drove him to be a killer.

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China’s challenge: Moving from copier to innovator

When Brent Hoberman, the founder of online interior design and furniture store Mydeco.com, visited China one man in particular was keen to meet him, offering to meet any time of day or night.

When they got together, the man explained that in 2007 he too had wanted to launch some kind of web business but had had no idea how to go about it.

Then he’d found Mydeco.com and simply copied it, very successfully, and he wanted to express his gratitude personally to Mr Hoberman, perhaps best known as co-founder of online travel firm Lastminute.com.

“From his perspective it was flattery. And from the cultural perspective I understand that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” says Mr Hoberman.

But to a Westerner this kind of imitation seems pretty outrageous.
Staff at one fake Apple store in Kunming were dressed to resemble staffers at the genuine stores
In China, though, it is hardly unusual. In 2011, a US blogger discovered a fake Apple store, prompting an official investigation that uncovered a further 21 such stores in the south west of the country.

The set-up was so convincing that even some of the staff believed they worked for the US tech giant.

There are also Chinese hotels with similar or identical names to well-known Western brands such as Marriott Hotels or Hyatt, and the US embassy estimates that 20% of all consumer products in the Chinese market are counterfeit. “If a product sells, it is likely to be illegally duplicated,” it warns.

The practice of copying and producing fakes is so entrenched in Chinese culture there’s even a word for it – Shanzhai.
Last year, China's economy expanded at its slowest pace since 1990
So far this hasn’t been a problem. The world’s second largest economy has expanded at a blistering double-digit pace for almost three decades, making it the envy of its Western rivals.

But with growth slowing – last year China’s economy expanded at its weakest pace for 24 years – Chinese businesses will need to innovate if they want to succeed not only at home but even more importantly abroad.

Joe Baolin Zhou, chief executive of private education firm Bond Education, believes firms are already beginning to make the shift. He says the copying trend partly stemmed from a sort of gold rush when the Chinese government first began to open up its economy in the 1980s, allowing the creation of private firms.

Spending time and money on research and development simply wasn’t an option for these pioneers, who had limited resources and inexperienced staff.

“For business owners who seek instant success, they usually copy. At that time it was rigid or mechanical copy, they just copied everything,” he says.

In contrast, Mr Zhou says the second generation of start-ups have already started to innovate, pointing to firms such as e-commerce giant Alibaba and Tencent’s messaging service WeChat as having learnt from their Western rivals but then developed and improved their services for the Chinese market.

But ensuring innovation becomes more widespread will require a radical shake-up of the way firms are managed. In China, typically, the word of the boss is absolute and for an employee lower down the ranks to suggest another way of doing things can be seen as disrespectful.

Deng Feng, chair of Chinese venture capital firm Northern Light Venture Capital, describes the current style of leadership as “managing” rather than leading.

“Managing in China means how to control people. We have to change the mindset, myself and all these Chinese entrepreneurs, to encourage and lead people rather than just manage or tell them what to do,” he says.


One way that firms can help shift these cultural norms is to recruit from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

Chinese computer giant Lenovo, the world’s largest PC firm, has offices in more than 60 countries and 40% of its board members are non-Chinese. Many of its overseas businesses, including those in Europe, the US and Japan, are also led by local staff.

“For Lenovo, it’s crucial that in the future it will blend the cultures of both the West and the East, because for the markets they have entered they are facing very strong rivals and fierce competition. So they will have to combine Western innovative power with Eastern culture,” says founder Liu Chuanzhi.

The early signs from the second wave of start-ups founded since China opened up its economy, frequently led by people educated in the West, are encouraging.

Viktor Koo, chief executive of video-sharing giant Youku Tudou, often dubbed China’s YouTube, studied in the US and subsequently worked in Silicon Valley before returning to China.

Right from the beginning, when he founded the merged entity’s predecessor Youku, Mr Koo said the firm built its own proprietary technology, and also did original programming, well before its international counterparts.

“We innovated to really adapt to what is happening in our local market. Well you have to adapt. Or else you won’t win. That’s really, the essence of it.”

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Tim Cook expects to ship the Apple Watch in April

Of all the mysteries still surrounding the Apple Watch, its long-awaited launch window was easily the most debated. Well, not any more. Apple CEO Tim Cook just confirmed during the company’s quarterly earnings call that the company’s oft-hyped Watch should ship in April 2015 — not March like many of us suspected/hoped.

“The creativity and software innovation going on around Apple Watch is incredibly exciting,” Cook said after diving into Apple Pay’s progress. “We cant wait for our customers to experience them when Apple Watch becomes available.”

Sure, there’s still no specific date attached to the wearable’s launch, but that’s not the big deal here. Apple hardly ever reveals launch windows for buzzy new products on earnings call (your author is straining to think of an example), preferring to drape such news in the pomp and circumstance of an on-stage event. We can only imagine that grin that must’ve played across Cook’s face when he dropped that little bombshell. Cook also noted that development of the Apple Watch was going according to schedule, as if to imply that an April launch windows was the plan all along.

For all we know it might’ve been, but ever since the Watch was first announced last September, Apple said it was prepping for an “early 2015” launch and people figured that meant a grand retail debut before the end of Q1 in March. Further reports from the usually spot-on 9to5Mac also asserted that March was the original target month, following a month of Apple Watch training sessions meant to get employees fluent with the ins and outs of Apple’s new product line. If we’re lucky, Apple decided to take a little extra time to see if could get the thing’s pesky battery working a little better — either way, it shouldn’t be long before we find out.

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YouTube defaults to HTML5 on the web

If you’ve been hoping for YouTube to drop the notoriously buggy Flash video format as its default player, well, good news. Nearly five years after the streaming giant started supporting the HTML5 standard for its videos, it’s finally now its player of choice. That means from now on, YouTube will use the HTML5 <video> format by default in most modern browsers — that includes Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and beta versions of Firefox. Why the wait? Well, YouTube says in a blog post that it was waiting for HTML5 to mature and improve — it was still fairly experimental back then. Now, however, the standard is widely adopted and has plenty going for it, like the support for live broadcasts and a more immersive fullscreen view. Seeing as HTML5 is not just in browsers but smart TVs and other streaming boxes too, this news has been a long time coming. Which makes us wonder how long Flash has left before it’s gone altogether.

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What are the functions of Vitamin C

Definition 

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development. 
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. That means you need a continuous supply of such vitamins in your diet.  

 Function 

Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. 

Vitamin C is a water soluble versatile vitamin. 
It plays an important role in human health and disease. 
Most of its functions are related to its property to undergo reversible oxidation- reduction reactions. 
It is necesary for the maintenance of normal connective tissue and wound healing processes. 
It is required for bone formation. 
It plays an important role in iron and hemoglobin metabolism. 
It has role in the metabolisms of tryptophan, tyrosine, folic acid. 
It plays in the synthesis of peptide hormones and corticosteroid hormones. 
It has sparing actions of other vitamins like A,E,some B- complexes. 
It enhances the synthesis of immunoglobulins and increases the rate of phagocytosis. 
It has preventive action on chronic diseases like cancer, cataracts, and coronary heart diseases. 

Vitamin C (absorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin which is used to form collagen in bones, teeth, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels and aids the absorption of iron you get it from fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits. Too much can be harmful though. 

What are the functions of Vitamin C.

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WikiLeaks furious at Google for keeping government data request a secret

Google is catching some heat from WikiLeaks after the company revealed that it handed over emails and other data on three WikiLeaks employees to the US government. Obviously, that in and of itself would be enough to ruffle the feathers of the activist group. But, to make matters worse, Mountain View handed handed over the data in the spring of 2012. That’s right, Google waited over two and a half years to tell Wikileaks about the government request. The warrants, which were served by the FBI in March of 2012, asked for the contents of all emails — sent, received and draft — as well as their destination or origin, IP addresses and even the credit cards associated with the accounts. How much of that information Google ultimately delivered is not known, but WikiLeaks has asked the internet giant for some insight.

In a letter written by one of the organization’s lawyers, Michael Ratner of the Center For Constitutional Rights, WikiLeaks says that it is “astonished and disturbed” that it’s just learning about this information request now. In particular its upset that the three staffers in question, Sarah Harrison, Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell were not able to prepare a legal defense that may have prevented their information from being shared.

Google has said that it couldn’t reveal the requests earlier due to a court imposed gag order, though it’s not clear when that order lifted. That’s hardly the only question, though. WikiLeaks and its employees still want to know what exactly was given to the government, when it was handed over, why it was requested and whether or not Google pushed back. Mountain View has a spotty history regarding transparency and government requests for information, but this incident is still somewhat shocking.

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Three ways to make Amazon Echo smarter

Alexa and I have a love-hate relationship. She always hears me, but sometimes, she just doesn’t get me. Like Siri in the early days, Amazon Echo is still learning natural language.

As the user base grows and Amazon continues to collect and analyze voice data, Alexa will get smarter. But until then, there are a few things you can do to improve the experience.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

1. Train Alexa to better understand you

You can speed up the process of Alexa’s ability to understanding you by going through a short, 2-minute training session. During the training exercise, the Echo app will display 25 phrases you’ll read out loud. Hopefully by the end of it, Alexa will have a better sense of your cadence and pronunciation.

Here’s how: Head to the Amazon Echo app and open the sidebar. Select Voice training. For the best results, don’t read the phrases in a robotic voice — recite them naturally.

2. Provide as much feedback as possible

Each time you say a command, a “card” appears in the Echo app. The primary purpose of those cards is to give you more information about Alexa’s response to a command or question (like a link to a Wikipedia page), but there’s also a section where you can provide Amazon with feedback about whether or not the command was correctly transcribed.

Here’s how: Whenever you have a chance, look over the cards in the home feed of the Echo app and indicate whether or not Alexa understood you by selecting “yes” or “no.”

3. Set your location

For the most personalized answers, make sure Alexa knows where you are. Your location is used for weather forecasts, location-specific news in your Flash Briefings, and making sure the time is correct.

Here’s how: In the Amazon Echo app, open the sidebar and go to Settings > [Your name]’s Echo > Echo device location.

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Surprising Habits that Harm the Environment

In the ongoing battle to save our planet and its limited resources we must all make an effort to do our bit and conserve as much as possible.

Over the past few centuries mankind’s rapid technological development has been detrimental for the biosphere, and it is now more urgent than ever to change our ways and work more efficiently.

Though, as individuals, we sometimes feel helpless to effect change, we must always remember that every little bit helps.  By changing just a few daily habits, you too could be having a major impact on the world at large.

There are a number of surprising habits that we have that may be affecting the environment negatively without our knowledge. Let’s see what they are and what we can do about them.

Using Paper

This habit is adopted by most people at the workplace and carried onto other parts of life. Work usual involves tremendous amounts of paperwork and files which tend to mostly stack up and go nowhere.

The habit of writing stuff down and storing for later reference is also transferred home for most people. Although corporations and firms around the globe have realized thewaste of paper and resources in recent decades there’s still a long way to go and many businesses and individuals still use way more paper then they need too.

What You Can Do

The best way to motivate your employer or firm to adopt a paper-free work environment policy is to demonstrate the cost advantages of doing so. There’s also substantial benefits companies can gain in the form of added efficiency by going completely paperless.

Individually you could harness the power of the internet to write and store documents you need for your work of to cloud storage platforms such as Dropbox or Google Drive.  Additionally, you should log into all of your banking and billing accounts online and see if there is a paperless option, an option that almost all such organizations offer now.

Forgetfulness

The most common habit that harms the environment is, of course, forgetfulness when it comes to turning off lights, electrical appliances and water. Charges and cables continue to consume energy when plugged in and not used. This habit not only impacts the environment, but also your bills.

What You Can Do

Simply pay attention to all the ways electricity is being used in the house. You could even use smart home monitoring systems such as the NEST thermostat to conserve energy usage by optimizing heat settings automatically.  You can also invest in motion detectors for lights so that they turn on only when needed.

It may even be a good idea to post brightly colored signs next to light switches to remind you to turn off lights as you leave a room.  As for electronics, plug all items into power strips that can easily be switched off with one switch so that you don’t have to unplug everything.

Many people are intimidated and overwhelmed when it comes to what they can do to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.  But there are many easy and small ways you can change your habits to lessen your individual impact on the environment.

via Surprising Habits that Harm the Environment.

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