Compass Roundup

Information Overload
Not only is routine correspondence taking more time out of the
workday, but such distractions are literally draining the brain.
Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist at King’s College London, found that
when test subjects who were asked to carry out problem-solving
tasks were bombarded with e-mails and phone calls, their IQs
dropped an average of 10 points (even when they were told to ignore
the interruptions). New Scientist (April 30,
2005), which reported Wilson’s findings, tells readers that other
studies have shown that those high on pot lose just 5 IQ
points.

Divine Drilling
Believing that the Bible points to a precise place to find black
gold in Israel, evangelical Christian John Brown had his
Dallas-based company, Zion Oil, begin drilling there in June,
according to Car Busters (April/June 2005).
Faithful that the project can restore Israel to its days of
biblical glory, Zion is also building a lookout tower at the site
where evangelical pilgrims can come and pray to their god(s).

One Man’s Junk . . .
Architect Yoshio Taniguchi, who designed New York City’s Museum of
Modern Art, recently helped build a $400 million incineration plant
in Hiroshima, Japan, that doubles as a tourist destination,
complete with glass walkways and a waterfront park. According to
Shameless (Spring 2005), the city’s mayor believes
that the building will beautify what is an otherwise pretty
utilitarian-looking landscape (thanks to World War II), and, if a
bulk of the city’s 1.1 million citizens — who produce way too much
garbage — actually see their waste being processed, they might
become more environmentally conscious.

Supersize That Dream
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine (May
2005) says that if the next 100 billion burgers sold under the
Golden Arches were the chain’s plant-based McVeggie (available in
select markets), consumers would eliminate approximately 550
million pounds of saturated fat and 1.2 billion total pounds of fat
from their diets while adding 1 billion pounds of fiber and 660
million pounds of protein.

Different Strokes
A new technique for verifying people’s identities, called keystroke
biometrics, reads a user’s typing speed and rhythm, which is nearly
as unique as a fingerprint (only 1 try in 50 yields a false
rejection). Wired (June 2005) reports that the
World Bank is already using the technology, which is cheaper and
more reliable than other forms of identification, from passwords
(which can be stolen) to keys (which get lost). And BioPassword of
Issaquah, Washington, one of the industry’s big players, is already
negotiating a deal with the intelligence community.

Bilingual Broadcasting
According to Arbitron, which records radio and TV ratings,
Spanish-language radio now has 15 percent of all young radio
listeners in the United States, up from 8.3 percent in 1999.
Rock and Rap Confidential (May 2005) urges readers
not to dismiss this increase as just an overdue reflection of
massive Hispanic immigration. It’s also a musical phenomenon, with
listeners across the demographic spectrum grooving on music from
south of the border. Which is why the ‘hurban’ format — half
English, half Spanish — is gaining momentum at massive chains such
as Clear Channel and many Top 40 stations are regularly programming
Spanish-language tracks for the first time.

Movies on the Move
Subversive cinephiles are squatting in parking lots coast to coast
and projecting films on the outside walls of nearby buildings in an
effort to preserve the spirit of an imperiled American institution
— the drive-in movie. To find a guerrilla drive-in near you,
Blackbook (Spring 2005) suggests starting with the
Internet, where some groups, like rad.art in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
post locations and showtimes. Since open-air exhibition is
technically illegal, though, your best bet is to take your
sweetheart for a late-night drive and keep your eyes peeled for an
abandoned strip mall.

The Money Shot
The year’s most scintillating sex magazine is devoid of air-brushed
photos, and there is no forum for readers to tell tall tales from
the bedroom. $pread
(www.spreadmagazine.org)
is a new trade pub for workers in the sex business, which includes
everyone from strippers to erotic masseurs to call girls and boys.
City Limits (May/June 2005) observes that the
illustration-heavy, black-and-white mag is pro-sex, in favor of
legalizing (and regulating) prostitution, and up-front about the
pros and cons of the business.

Toll-Free Rejection
Next time those smarmy guys or gals at the singles bar won’t take a
hint, just give them what they want: the digits. Don’t give out
your private number, though (or a fake one) — put your tormentor
in touch with the Rejection Hotline, which Moment
(June 2005) reports is now available in some 25 cities. Callers who
dial in hear the following straightforward message: ‘The person who
gave you this number does not want to talk to you or see you
again.’

UTNE
UTNE
In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.