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Friday, October 14, 2011

Angry Bird Playing Costs Employers $1.5 Billion

More like angry bosses?
Finding ways of injecting a little humanity into the workplace may be the current rage, as the digital revolution has ushered in a 24/7 work schedule for some. Employers may be hesitant to go so far as to install nap rooms in the office, but the merits of allowing workers to catch a short nap have long been made plain -- a 1995 NASA study that found a 26-minute nap improved performance 34 percent and alertness 54 percent.

Such constructive work/life balance offerings are one thing. But endless "Angry Birds" playing, however, is quite another. Struck by prior studies that investigated the workplace time (and therefore money) suck that is the annual ritual of the NCAA college basketball tournament, Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, did the same calculation for the mobile phone video game, Angry Birds.
The process derives from a formula invented by the Chicago consulting firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas. According to the calculations, Gray says, $1.516 billion is lost each year in wages over the wing-enhanced pillaging of worker productivity.

In doing his math, Madrigal, who is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, made use of the stat that Americans cumulatively devote 200 million minutes a day to those avian avengers. That figure came from a survey conducted by the market research firm, Ask Your Target Market. The data is based on interviews with a representative pool of 500 American workers.

There may be some good news to the game playing. As an article on the website The Star Online points out, half the 500 people polled by AYTM said the game helped them to unwind and relax, and even improved their mood and gave them joy. Such a reaction is even bolstered by a 2009 study conducted by Leonard Reinecke of the University of Hamburg published in CyberPsychology and Behaviour, which found that "individuals with higher levels of work-related fatigue reported stronger recovery experience during gameplay."

Are You Addicted To Angry Birds?

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:19 PM

Crews weigh pumping fuel from battered ship off New Zealand

88 containers fall off vessel's deck; oil coats 37 miles of beach
The Librarian-flagged container ship Rena
TAURANGA, New Zealand — A cargo ship that has already spilled hundreds of tons of oil stayed perched on a New Zealand reef Friday morning while salvage crews debated whether the remaining fuel can be pumped from the vessel before it breaks up.

Environmentalists have warned of a disaster for wildlife if all the ship's 1,870 tons of oil and 220 tons of diesel spill into the ocean.

Rescue crews have to stabilize the ship that is slowly being battered to pieces by pounding waves before any transfer of oil can start — but its severe structural damage is making the task harder.

The Liberian-flagged container ship Rena is seen Thursday stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand.
Meanwhile, 20 of the 88 containers that have fallen off its deck had washed ashore by Thursday, and authorities confirmed one container that toppled overboard contained a hazardous substance. However, an official said it should not pose a major threat.

Salvage company Svitzer identified 35 containers in the water and recovered 14, One News television in New Zealand reported.

About 1,000 people targeting the Papamoa and Mount areas were expected to collect oil from beaches, the network said. About 37 miles of coastline were coated.

Heavy seas had kept salvage crews away from the 775-foot vessel for days, but a break in the weather allowed three team members to be winched aboard the Liberian-flagged Rena, which ran aground Oct. 5 on Astrolabe Reef, 14 miles from Tauranga Harbour on New Zealand's North Island.

PhotoBlog: Stricken ship sheds containers as crack appears in hull

Ewart Barnsley, spokesman for Maritime New Zealand which is managing the emergency response, said the salvage crew found oil hoses and pumps for transferring fuel largely undamaged aboard the ship. They also concluded that the ship was safe to work from.

Barnsley said a barge was moored nearby to receive oil, but a decision on when that transfer might start would not be made before Friday.

Marine New Zealand salvage manager Bruce Anderson said the vessel needed to stop moving before the oil could be pumped out and it apparently had.

"While this is good news, we shouldn't get too excited," Anderson told reporters. "We already had a complex project to start with; it's even harder now that we've sustained damage aboard this vessel," he said, referring to recent structural cracking.

A vertical crack in the ship runs around the entire vessel — meaning the ship is now only held together by its internal components, said Steve Jones, another spokesman for Maritime New Zealand.
Image: Waves wash the Papamoa Beach dirtied Thursday with fuel oil from the Liberian-flagged container ship Rena, which has been stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand.
Natacha Pisarenko  /  AP
Waves wash the Papamoa Beach dirtied Thursday with fuel oil from the Liberian-flagged container ship Rena, which has been stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand.

"The reality is the vessel could break up at any point," Jones told The Associated Press.

Waves wash the Papamoa Beach dirtied with fuel oil
Six vessels have been mobilized to intercept the drifting containers and other debris in the water.

There were 1,368 containers on board, 11 of which contained hazardous substances, Maritime New Zealand said. One of the hazardous containers is among those that have fallen overboard, Jones said.

Agency spokesman Nick Bohm said the container held alkyl sulfonic acid, which can be harmful in its original state, but becomes less toxic when diluted with water. The whereabouts of that container are unknown.

Some of the contents of containers that had washed ashore were strewn across the coastline on Thursday, including thousands of meat patties that littered the sand.

The ship's 44-year-old Filipino captain was charged Wednesday with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk and was released on bail Wednesday at Tauranga District Court.

The ship's second officer appeared in the same court Thursday on the same charge. Judge Robert Wolff made orders suppressing publication of the defendants' names for the sake of their personal safety.

If convicted, each could face a fine of up to 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($7,800) and 12 months in prison. Their next court appearance is Oct. 19, when authorities say more charges are likely.

The government has demanded to know why the ship crashed into the well-charted reef in calm weather, but the vessel's owner, Greece-based Costamare Inc., has given no explanation.

On Thursday, Costamare released a statement apologizing for the incident and said it was investigating how the ship could have run aground.

"Our Captain is an experienced Master and has an exemplary record," Costamare managing director Diamantis Manos said in the statement. "The ship was fully certified and had recently been inspected ... They found no problems. Obviously something went very wrong and we will cooperate with the Transport Accident Investigation Commission of New Zealand (TAIC) to find the answer."

Maritime New Zealand estimates that at least 390 tons (350 metric tons) of heavy fuel oil have spilled from the hull, leading New Zealand's environment minister, Nick Smith, to call it the country's biggest maritime environmental disaster.

Clumps of oil have washed up on pristine beaches near Tauranga. Maritime New Zealand said hundreds of oiled birds had been found dead and 51 others were being cleaned at a wildlife emergency center. Three seals were also being treated.

Several miles (kilometers) of coastline have been closed to the public, and some beaches were beginning to experience severe oiling, Jones said.

"I was down there this morning," Jones said. "It was just black coming in — just black, black, black."

Witnesses said dead fish were also washing ashore as local volunteers with plastic gloves and buckets worked to clean the oily clots from the white sand.

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:28 PM

Unmasked Seattle superhero vows to keep fighting crime

Ben Fodor, a self-styled superhero who goes by the name "Phoenix Jones," 
Phoenix Jones appears in court; no charges filed
SEATTLE — The self-proclaimed Seattle superhero who goes by the name Phoenix Jones unmasked himself Thursday morning at a court hearing.

Prosecutors have filed no charges, but Jones, 23, whose real name is Benjamin John Francis Fodor, appeared in a court wearing a charcoal-colored mask and a superhero uniform under a black and gray striped shirt. A court officer asked him to remove the mask and he complied but put it back on after the hearing to speak with reporters — at which point, he dramatically removed it again to reveal his true identity.

Fodor was arrested Sunday after police say he pepper sprayed a group of people downtown as they left a nightclub. Fodor said he was trying to break up a fight when he was attacked. He spent about seven hours in jail before posting $3,800 bail.

Prosecutors told a judge they needed more time to decide whether to file charges.

Fodor said he would be back out on patrol again Thursday night.

"I will continue to patrol with my team, probably tonight," Fodor said, according to a report in the Seattle Times. "In addition to being Phoenix Jones, I am also Ben Fodor, father and brother. I am just like everybody else. The only difference is that I try to stop crime in my neighborhood and everywhere else."

Jones said he's the leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement, which has conducted late-night patrols in Seattle since last year.
Story: Costumed crusaders taking it to the streets

Fodor also goes by "Flattop" when he fights in the local mixed martial arts scene, according to

"I think I have to look toward the future and see what I can do to help the city," he told reporters.

His Facebook page was mostly filled Thursday with outpourings of support to keep patrolling, including posts from Germany where Fodor had been featured on television.

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 10:36 AM

Moon and Jupiter to shine close together

 But the eye-catching duo performs Thursday night, so be ready to scan the dark sky

The two most brilliant objects in our current night sky will make for an eye-catching duo tonight (Oct. 13), weather permitting.

Looking low to the east-northeast around 7:30 p.m. local daylight time, you’ll see a nearly full waning gibbous moon. Sitting just to the right of the moon will be the lordly light belonging to the largest planet in our solar system : Jupiter. 

Jupiter will hover about 5 degrees from the moon's right. Your clenched fist held at arm's length covers about 10 degrees, so moon and Jupiter will be separated by about half a fist. 

The sky map of the moon and Jupiter here shows how they will appear together tonight.

Cosmic dance of Jupiter and moon

If you stay up through the night, you may notice the moon slowly pulling away from Jupiter at a rate of one lunar diameter per hour, and the orientation between the two bright objects will change as well.

By around 1 a.m. local daylight time (early Friday morning), the moon will seem to hover high above and to Jupiter's left. By 6:30 a.m. — with morning twilight rapidly brightening the sky in the east — the moon will seem to hang high and almost directly above Jupiter.

In the days that follow, the moon will pull away to the east and diminish in illumination, leaving glorious Jupiter to rule the October night.

On Oct. 28, Jupiter will arrive at opposition against the sparse background stars of the constellation Aries, the Ram. Since it is then opposite to the sun, the planet rises at sunset, crosses the sky from east to west during the night and sets at sunrise.

Beginning in November, Jupiter will already be up in the eastern sky when the sun goes down. This will continue for the rest of the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Jupiter shining bright

Opposition generally brings a "superior" planet (an outer planet as compared with Earth) closest to the Earth, and this is why Jupiter now shines more brilliantly than it has all year.

Astronomers use a reverse number scale to measure the brightness of objects in the sky, with smaller numbers corresponding to brighter objects. A negative number, for example, represents an extremely bright object. At an eye-popping magnitude of - 2.9 — fully four times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star — Jupiter is far brighter than any nighttime star.

But this year's apparition of Jupiter is an exceptionally good one. Although "Big Jupe" comes to opposition every 13 months (every time the Earth sweeps between it and the sun), 2011 is also Jupiter's year of perihelion. This is when it is closest to the sun in its 12-year orbit, so it's also particularly close to the Earth.

Jupiter is 33 light-minutes away this month, compared to its most distant opposition of the last decade in 2005.

Actually, last October's opposition placed Jupiter about 1.5 million miles (2.4 million kilometers) closer than this year, but that makes no difference in how bright Jupiter is now compared to a year ago, and in a telescope, its apparent disk size measures only 0.4 percent smaller. Truth be told, for the next month or so, Jupiter's disk is the most generous that a planet can be: large and fully illuminated, and — when observed with a good telescope — decorated with numerous bands and other intricate features.

In fact, there are now more features and surface area visible on this one disk than on all the other planets combined. And after this year, Jupiter will not attain such a pinnacle of extreme brilliance again until the year 2022.

Jupiter's moons visible in telescopes

On Thursday evening, good binoculars or a telescope will reveal three of the famous Galilean satellites during the early evening hours: Ganymede and Europa on one side of Jupiter, with Callisto on the other.  Io and its shadow will be passing in front of Jupiter, an event that can be seen in moderate-sized telescopes.

Io's shadow will be evident as a tiny black dot and is called a shadow transit. Io itself may be invisible from insufficient contrast with the background disk of Jupiter, but it can be readily seen for a short while as a white dot just as it is about to move off of Jupiter's west limb (at 10:03 p.m. EDT, 0230 GMT).

Io's shadow will move off Jupiter's disk 23 minutes earlier at 9:40 p.m. EDT (0140 GMT). 

If you snap an amazing photo of Jupiter, the moon or the moon and Jupiter together, and would like to share the image with for a possible gallery or story please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y.

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 9:32 AM