Saturday, July 28, 2007

social networks and obesity

A paper in New England Journal of Medicine reports that social networks "play a significant role in determining body type".
-- but do we need research to know that?

It must be difficult among a group of super models if you are overweight, I imagine. On the other hand if you are the slimmest one among your friends you may feel OK to indulge yourself in some ice cream and put on a few pounds (Some comedian said "Everyone has an ugly friend-- if you don't, it's you". Replace ugly with fat.)

In similar reasoning I'd bet social networks also play significant roles in determining your consuming habits, your fashion tastes (which, actually, must be related to your own idea of ideal or acceptable body weight/type), your music preferences......

In summary, similar people cluster together. Whether they cluster because they are similar or clustering makes them converge is another issue. Experience tells me both are going on. But why do we need statistics to know that?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Flags again

烫手的国旗

美国人民的爱国热情向来高。爱他的标志还是爱他的原则,也向来是一个问题。著名的Texas vs Johnson 的案子是在80年代末期,当时咱中国人顾着更大的事。后来《读书》上介绍过这个案子,看过以后,难免对美国人民的言论自由有些想当然。不料,这想当然的自由,差一点在十几年后丢掉:Texas vs Johnson之后,热爱国旗的人士前仆后继试图修宪,要把糟蹋国旗当作言论自由的特例予以剔除。这修正案屡过众院,总卡在参院。到了2006年六月,参院的以66对34,只差一票就到2/3赞成票,终于又颤巍巍地卡了一回。其实,参院的变化大吗?早在95年,距离2/3也并不远,那时是63赞成对36反对。(当然,过了参议院后面还有坎儿…)

06年反对的共和党参议员有三个,包括当时罗德岛的Lincoln Chafee 。他也是唯一一个对伊拉克战争投反对票的共和党。唉,林肯啊,你哪件大事办得不和我心?pro-choice, gay rights supporter, pro-environmental protection, against Bush tax cut, support stem cell research…… 这样好的人,退党吧,别共和了,赶紧的。也别民主,那也是一群孬种。

绕回来说国旗。光是不让烧就算爱国吗?当然不是。政客们点子多着呢,看不下去walmart卖的便宜中国产美国旗,又开始立法热潮了。明尼苏打打年底起就不让卖进口国旗了;田纳西好点儿,只是公款不能买进口国旗;压力桑那要求所有学校每间教室配备国产国旗(拿了多少回扣?谁不知道美国是国产货最贵?),这怎么听着象跟本朝学的呀。

立法就立法吧。爱国的美国人民,买国旗时别忘了看产地。

我有点困惑的就是,明州的商店如果在年底之前卖不完进口国旗,该怎么办呢?接着卖违法,当垃圾扔了烧了,算不算亵渎呢?要不,送到那谁,Tom Rukavina(撺掇明州立法的家伙)他家门口去讨个示下吧。来,他的地址在这儿