by Nate Chura
The 2009 U.S. Open kicked-off yesterday in New York style. Before night matches began, a record 36,085 fans poured into the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens to attend the last grand slam tennis tournament of the season.
While some came to see men’s world #1, Roger Federer, and others filed in to see Serena Williams, one thing all fans had in common was a desire to witness the best tennis in the world, which was in fine form.
All the major seeds progressed to the second round. ATP Tour veteran, Tommy Haas struggled a bit in his four-set victory over journeyman, Alejandro Falla. And underdogs like Devin Britton, the 2009 NCAA Champion and wild card in the tournament got a lesson about what it takes to win in New York City.
The volunteers were out in full force. Ushers were ushering. There was no shortage of people pointing and passing along directions. To the casual tourist, these were the signals of a carnival, fitting of a world’s fair. But to the concessionaires and retailers, all the deliberate choreography lead to a singular objective: a job.
Inside the National Tennis Center there were no signs of recession. Indeed. Outside Louie Armstrong Stadium in the food court, where at the Fulton Fish Market a lobster roll costs $17 and a pint of Heineken beer will set you back seven big ones, the economy was booming as large as Andy Roddick’s serve. As summer draws to a close, hopefully the two-week tournament billed as the “largest annual sporting event in the world” will serve as a harbinger of prosperity to come in the days ahead.
For the past year, the Utah government have been experimenting with a four-day work week for state workers. The state experiment's original goal was to increase energy savings among state buildings, but many other benefits have been proven as a result of the policy change. 'If you shut offices down one day a week, you don't have to cool them, heat them, and workers don't have to drive to work. Everyone saves money,' says Bryan Walsh of Time Magazine. In addition to the millions of dollars Utah has saved on energy costs, many workers are saving money used for transportation costs while playing a part in environmental conservation. 'We found that there was less traffic and less air pollution because there were less people on the roads' says Walsh.
NYS Assemblyman Mike Gianaris (D-36, Queens) is another person who has subscribed to the idea and expressed his interest in having a four-day workweek instituted in New York State. This program is 'estimated to save New York $3 million a year,' says Gianaris. In addition to the issue of government and energy sayings, Walsh saysthat the majority of workers surveyed commented on the difference in their quality of life. 'A lot of people found that they had more time to do errands. Other people found themselves volunteering and exercising.'
The two Democratic mayoral candidates vying to prevent Mayor Bloomberg from winning a third term squared off in their first debate last night.
City Councilman Tony Avella took City Comptroller Bill Thompson to task for taking campaign cash from developers and money managers who also do business with the city's ...
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Flea markets, casinos, bars, and the internet search engine all tap into what Emily Yoffe of Slate Magazine calls the 'human motivation to seek'. Studies done on lab rats and humans revealed an area of the brain called the 'seeking center' and that we are driven to search as a reward in itself.
Yoffe spoke with guest host Andrea Bernstein on The Brian Lehrer Show. An excerpt of the interview:
Andrea Bernstein: So there is this incredible human motivation just to search or to seek or to hunt?
Emily Yoffee: The brain is over-wired for this, seeking, curiosity, exploration...If you think of it in evolutionary terms, it all makes sense. If you have a creature that is very easy satisfied and is just sitting there being happy, it’s probably going to be eaten pretty quickly. We are strongly, strongly motivated to get out of our beds, our dens, our holes and go out and seek and search.
Bernstein: Is that is what is happening when you are reading a mystery or a thriller? You love the hunt and maybe why you feel a little let down when you get to the end?
Yoffe: Yes, this is why flea markets are so great, gambling, going to pick up bars. It is not that we don’t feel the reward, but the reward only lasts a little bit of time and then the seeking urge is renewed again. It’s not just that we are compelled to seek to in order to get the reward to feel good. Seeking, wanting, feels good itself...It feels great to be in that aroused, excited state. Drugs, like amphetamines, and cocaine stimulate that system. It’s the dopamine system. It feels good to be excited. It feels good to feel “I can do anything.”
Bernstein: Is Googling really changing anything or is it just helping us do what we would do anyway?
Yoffe: Googling, and all our electronic devices that help us search or find or get constant tweet updates from people, it hasn’t created a new sensation in the brain.
'If humans are seeking creatures, we have now created the perfect seeking machines.'
The dopamine system is the neurotransmitter for the seeking system, it is also believed that it controls our sense of time. That is why you can sit down to find one thing and you find it is an hour later. Where did that hour go?
Chris Christie starts to lose the news cycle over an undisclosed loan and Bill Thompson comes under the klieg lights. Andrea Bernstein and Bob Hennelly mull it all over in this week’s “Digesting Politics.”
'Digesting Politics.' We're back!...
Forestry experts are evaluating the extent of damage done to hundreds of trees in Central Park during last night's fast-moving thunderstorm. About 100 trees were knocked down, and hundreds more have broken limbs, and may need to be taken down.
"Many of them are just snapped off ...
'A tourist looks an awful lot like a spy', says Robert Young Pelton, adventurer and author of Licensed to Kill. 'You have a camera, a video camera, they can Google you very quickly and find out you've work in other countries.' In the age of the blogger, Pelton argues, many young adventure-seeking tourists are blurring the boundary between amateur and professional. 'Quasi-journalists', says Pelton, are often compelled to 'report' on their experiences. Writers, photographers, and plain thrill seekers may take unwise risks, turning normal situations into 'dangerous vacations.'
Earlier this month, three American tourists were arrested and detained near the Iraq-Iran border by Iranian officials while hiking. This occurred shortly after the pardoning of American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee from illegally entering North Korea. Tourist or journalist; the risk factor remains the same when exploring a politically-unstable country. The author and filmmaker discusses the tendency of traveling youth to place too much trust in the visiting country's ability to keep them safe.
On the other hand, Pelton supports adventure seekers, as well as the 'quasi-journalist', as long as they take precautions. 'Before you choose a destination, go on the internet and deal with people from the area', as opposed to gathering your information from the media, says Pelton.
'Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.'
On The Media wants to hear your thoughts on the slow death of newspapers – are you sad to see them go or glad to see the back of them? Either way, send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and write ...
The Labor Department released unemployment numbers this morning, indicating that only 247,000 jobs were lost in July, as compared to 443,000 in June. The unemployment rate fell from 9.5 to 9.4, the first drop since April 2008, leading some to cautiously suggest that the worst of the recession is over. ...
On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped nuclear bomb "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 140,000 people.
Chaplain William Downey delivers a prayer for the crew of the Enola Gay before their flight:
“We pray Thee that the end of the war may come soon and that once more we may know peace on earth. May the men who fly this night be kept safe in Thy care and may they be returned safely to us. We shall go forward trusting in Thee knowing that we are in Thy care now and forever in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
President Harry Truman announced the bombing from aboard the USS. Augusta. Here he discusses the event:
"A short time ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb has more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb, we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form, these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development. It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosened against those who brought war to the Far East."
A block along Brooklyn's Lincoln Road has won an award for being the "greenest" residential block in the borough. Judges in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden contest gave the stretch of Lincoln between Bedford and Rogers Avenues the prize because of its full trees, lush sidewalk gardens and ...
On August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson calls on Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which would give him broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on United States forces.
“As president and commander in chief, it is my duty to the American people to report that renewed hostile actions against the United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action in reply. The initial attack on the destroyer Maddox on August 2nd was repeated today by a number of hostile vessels attacking two U.S. destroyers with torpedoes....Repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defense, but with positive reply. That reply is being given as I speak to you tonight.....The determination of all Americas to carry out our full commitment to the people and to the government of South Vietnam will be redoubled by this outrage.