Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Kids worldwide are less fit than their parents were, study shows -

Kids worldwide are less fit than their parents were, study shows - 

Today's kids can't keep up with their parents. An analysis of studies on millions of children around the world finds they don't run as fast or as far as their parents did when they were young.

On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did 30 years ago. Heart-related fitness has declined 5 percent per decade since 1975 for children ages 9 to 17.

The American Heart Association, whose conference featured the research on Tuesday, says it's the first to show that children's fitness has declined worldwide over the last three decades.

"It makes sense. We have kids that are less active than before," said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a University of Colorado pediatrician and spokesman for the heart association.

Health experts recommend that children 6 and older get 60 minutes of moderately vigorous activity accumulated over a day. Only one-third of American kids do now.

"Kids aren't getting enough opportunities to build up that activity over the course of the day," Daniels said. "Many schools, for economic reasons, don't have any physical education at all. Some rely on recess" to provide exercise.

Sam Kass, a White House chef and head of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move program, stressed the role of schools in a speech to the conference on Monday.

"We are currently facing the most sedentary generation of children in our history," Kass said.


AMTRAK Train Bound For NYC Takes Wrong Turn, Gets Lost In Philly Suburbs... -

AMTRAK Train Bound For NYC Takes Wrong Turn, Gets Lost In Philly Suburbs... - 

Amtrak wants to know how one of its trains took a wrong turn and got lost in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Worried and baffled were most travelers at 30th Street Station Tuesday night.

Mike Roberts of Coatesville said, “Wow, that’s crazy. That’s not professional at all. How could that happen?”

It sounds wild but Amtrak officials confirm it did happen and what they can tell us so far is this: Amtrak Train 644 that left 30th Street Station for New York City accidentally ended up on the SEPTA tracks. The train actually traveled several miles before the mistake was finally caught and the train stopped at the Bala Cynwyd station.

Peter Menendez of Princeton, NJ said, “I think mistakes happen, I come from that industry and the utilities and it’s hard to coordinate systems like that. I feel bad for those folks.”

It happened last Thursday and according to Amtrak, the 130 passengers on-board may have been inconvenienced but everyone was safely brought back to Philly, put on a different train and taken to New York, this second time around, without incident.

Jennifer Wallace of Tampa, FL said, “Definitely they need to investigate. I don’t think anybody should get fired but maybe disciplinary, definitely but they should look into it so it doesn’t happen again, be more cautious than anything.”

Steve Kulm, Amtrak’s Media Relations Director released a statement which read in part: “An investigation was launched and the crew has been held out of work until they can be fully debriefed and additional training can be conducted.”


North Texas Drivers Stopped at Roadblock Asked for Saliva, Blood -

North Texas Drivers Stopped at Roadblock Asked for Saliva, Blood - 

Some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood.

It was part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.

"It just doesn't seem right that you can be forced off the road when you're not doing anything wrong," said Kim Cope, who said she was on her lunch break when she was forced to pull over at the roadblock on Beach Street in North Fort Worth.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years, said participation was "100 percent voluntary" and anonymous.

But Cope said it didn't feel voluntary to her -- despite signs saying it was.

"I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn't let me and forced me into a parking spot," she said.

Once parked, she couldn't believe what she was asked next.

"They were asking for cheek swabs," she said. "They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that."

At the very least, she said, they wanted to test her breath for alcohol.

She said she felt trapped.

"I finally did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave," she said, adding she received no money.

Fort Worth police earlier said they could not immediately find any record of officer involvement but police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Peel said Tuesday that the department's Traffic Division coordinated with the NHTSA on the use of off-duty officers after the agency asked for help with the survey.

"We are reviewing the actions of all police personnel involved to ensure that FWPD policies and procedures were followed," he said. "We apologize if any of our drivers and citizens were offended or inconvenienced by the NHTSA National Roadside Survey."

NBC DFW confirmed that the survey was done by a government contractor, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which is based in Calverton, Md.

A company spokeswoman referred questions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An agency spokeswoman sent an email confirming the government is conducting the surveys in 30 cities across the country in an effort to reduce impaired-driving accidents.

She did not respond to another email from NBC DFW asking specific questions about the program..

But a Fort Worth attorney who is an expert in civil liberties law questioned whether such stops are constitutional.

"You can't just be pulled over randomly or for no reason," said attorney Frank Colosi.

He also noted the fine print on a form given to drivers informs them their breath was tested by "passive alcohol sensor readings before the consent process has been completed."

"They're essentially lying to you when they say it's completely voluntary, because they're testing you at that moment," Colosi said.

He also questioned the results of the "voluntary" survey -- speculating that drivers who had been drinking or using drugs would be more inclined to simply decline to participate.

Cope said she is troubled by what happened.

"It just doesn't seem right that they should be able to do any of it," she said. "If it's voluntary, it's voluntary, and none of it felt voluntary."

Asked Tuesday if she accepted the police department's apology, Cope said she would wait to see what the review showed.

"They need to make sure this doesn't happen again," she said.


LG TV phones home with your viewing habits, names of files you screen, even if you tell it not to -

LG TV phones home with your viewing habits, names of files you screen, even if you tell it not to - 

Doctor Beet was alarmed to notice that his LG TV was showing him ads on its home screen; he investigated and discovered a hidden, undocumented setting to switch off collection of his viewing habits. Still suspicious, he monitored the packets flowing from his TV’s network interface and discovered that even with the “data-collection off” setting engaged, the TV still phoned home with the name of every program it showed, as well as the filenames of every video he loaded over its USB interface. All of this data was sent in the clear to LG’s servers.

When he contacted LG, they told him that “unfortunately” he had consented to this by clicking through the EULA, and advised him that it was something he had to take up with the store where he bought the set, because they should have told him about the spying before selling it to him.


New sensors trigger red light if car is speeding... -

New sensors trigger red light if car is speeding... - 

This sign is part of the city's new effort to slow traffic on Kelly Drive near Fountain Green Drive. While the speed limit is 35 m.p.h., the average driver is going nearly 55 m.p.h. The new equipment ties green lights to the posted speed. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The speed limit on Kelly Drive near Fountain Green Drive is 35 m.p.h., but the average speed of motorists is nearly 55.

In an attempt to slow everybody down, the city has installed sensors in the roadway that determine the speed of vehicles approaching Fountain Green, about a half-mile north of the Girard Avenue Bridge.

If a vehicle passes the sensor going above the speed limit, the light at Fountain Green turns red.

Previously, the light turned red only if a car was waiting to turn onto Kelly Drive or a pedestrian pushed the crosswalk button.

On Friday, two electronic signs went up on Kelly Drive warning motorists that the light will turn red if they speed.

The $11,050 pilot project was activated at the beginning of October, and that's how the city found out that the average speed of the 25,000 vehicles passing over the sensors daily was 54.8 m.p.h.

"Speeding motorists on Kelly Drive have made that roadway unsafe," acting Streets Commissioner David J. Perri said Monday.

Daily commuters on Kelly Drive know well the frequent traffic jams caused by accidents and the occasional car veering into the Schuylkill.

Richard Montanez, chief traffic and lighting engineer for the Streets Department, said he learned about a similar system in Portugal from a friend who returned from a visit several years ago.

On Kelly Drive, three sensors spaced six feet apart have been embedded in each lane heading north and south near Fountain Green Drive, Montanez said.

Each sensor detects when a vehicle passes over and its speed, Montanez said. An average is determined from the three sensors to make the reading more accurate.

Montanez would not disclose their exact location, but said they are positioned to give drivers time to brake for the red light.

He said it was too early to tell if motorists were slowing down.

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