Taste test

first_imgUsing data collected from Facebook, Harvard sociologists have addressed one of the great unsolved puzzles of social science — do we form friendships with people because we share similar interests, or do we share similar interests with people because they are our friends?As described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, the findings suggest that while people who share similar interests in music and movies are more likely to befriend one another, few interests are likely to spread among friends. It’s a result that challenges earlier research, which found that a host of social problems, from obesity to smoking to loneliness, quickly spread across social networks.“The idea that ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is something we’ve known about for a long time,” said Kevin Lewis, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology who co-authored the paper with independent scholar Jason Kaufman and sociology graduate student Marco Gonzalez. “It’s not terribly surprising that, if you and I like the same things, we might become friends.“What we’ve been able to show, however, is that this phenomenon is not actually as widespread as we once thought,” Lewis added. “There are only certain types of tastes that breed a connection. We’re also finding that this very common notion that what your friends do and like rubs off on you is not very widespread at all. We are not suggesting, of course, that taste in movies or music necessarily operates in the same way that obesity or depression does; but this paradigm that ‘everything spreads’ — it’s simply not true.”The researchers gathered information from the profiles of students at an anonymous college. Once a year for four years, the researchers took snapshots of students’ profiles, recording their friends and what kinds of music, movies, and books they liked. That information was then broken down further, into genrelike “clusters” representing broad areas of interest that might diffuse throughout a network of friends.Armed with that data, researchers used a computer program to evaluate how students’ friendship networks and preferences evolved over time, and to model the possible causes behind the changes.“We used a simulation-based approach,” Lewis said. “So if we have a snapshot taken at two different times, the model examines all the possible trajectories that could have led from one point to another and identifies which is most likely.”Importantly, Lewis added, the model controlled for a variety of possible causes for why two people might become friends or reasons why someone’s tastes might change over time, ensuring that researchers weren’t misdiagnosing the causes of those changes.In the case of music, the results showed that people who listen to classical or jazz music are likely to be friends. The same was true for fans of light and classic rock. When it comes to onscreen entertainment, fans of raunchy comedies and gory movies are likely to be friends, as well as fans of darkly satirical films. Surprisingly, Lewis said, there was no connection between book preferences and friendship.Only one type of taste — an interest in classical or jazz music — was found to spread across friendship networks, Lewis said.“It’s not often you find a non-finding to be important, but I think this finding absolutely is important,” Lewis said. “There is a tendency to believe in peer influence — we all believe that what our friends like rubs off on us because it’s very easy to think of examples when that has happened. But we don’t remember the myriad instances that it doesn’t happen.”“Much of Facebook’s business model is based on the assumption that Facebook users ‘influence’ one another through displays of things they ‘like’,” said Kaufman. “If you say you like a band, product, movie, etc., Facebook purports an ‘influence’ effect whereby your friends become more likely to adopt that preference in turn.“What we found is that only in very specific instances does anything like ‘influence’ occur,” he continued. “This stands in contrast to an active research literature on the ‘contagiousness’ of various behaviors, such as obesity, smoking, and happiness, and gives pause at the millions, if not billions, of dollars spent every year on so-called ‘social media’ advertising campaigns.”last_img read more

Experts discuss Pope’s impact

first_img Wiedower said Francis’ vision of the Church emphasizes solidarity with the poor and marginalized. O’Malley said the renewal of the Church occurs at the “existential margins” of the Church, an idea which he said Pope Francis continually expresses. Daley closed the Notre Dame panel by saying the interview must be understood in a context of love, and that while Pope Francis still believes in the rules and doctrine of the Church, these rules and beliefs must be grounded in a position of love. The Notre Dame discussion was hosted by Campus Ministry and titled “What did he just say?! Pope Francis Unfiltered” The panel featured Theology Professor Fr. Brian Daley, S.J., Kathleen Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and Tim O’Malley, director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy. “What he’s saying is stop worrying about how I’m going to change the Curia, and if you want the renewal of the Church, go to the existential margins,” O’Malley said. “The renewal of the Church doesn’t occur, as Francis is very clear in this interview, solely through hierarchical structures.” O’Malley said interviews are still important, but they do not play as large a role as the media seems to believe they do. “Pope Francis’ message is very uplifting, one that calls for healing and seeks love and refuge.” “Interviews don’t renew the Church. If interviews changed everything, necessarily, then Barack Obama would have solved the Congressional problem by now. [But] I’m not saying that interviews aren’t important,” he said. “The important thing about them is not that they’re rules, but that they embody a love that God has given to us,” Daley said. “And so I think getting your priorities straight is really part of the rhetoric of this and what [Pope Francis] wants to communicate.” At the Notre Dame panel, the group offered general thoughts on the impact of Pope Francis’s interview before opening the discussion to audience members, giving particular focus to the role of the media in the Church and Francis’s papacy. Cummings said one of the ways in which Pope Francis suggested this reform in the interview was with regard to the role of women in the Church. Daley, a Jesuit priest, said he thought Francis’ mission as Pope would not be centered on doing such interviews.center_img In light of Pope Francis’s recent, extensive interview in “America” magazine, groups at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s hosted separate panel discussions Monday to discuss the pope’s comments and their impact on the Catholic Church and on the faith lives of students. Cummings said she believed the interview marked the beginning of a reform movement led by Pope Francis. “He did talk about the need for a profound theology of womanhood that the Church does not yet have,” Cummings said. “I think my biggest takeaway from it, as someone who is interested in what this portends for the future of the Church, is that Pope Francis has made pretty clear … that he is preparing the faithful for a fairly significant program of reform, and he’s tipped his hand in the interview toward that in a variety of ways,” Cummings said. Cummings cited a direct quote from the interview in “America” in which Pope Francis said, “We should not even think … that ‘thinking with the church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the church.” At the Saint Mary’s panel, Piecuch said it is valuable to think of the Church as a field hospital, taking care of all. “I think giving interviews will not be the way to [accomplish Francis’s goals]. Some of these have been good, but it’s time now to kind of quiet down and do some other things,” Daley said. “My initial feeling about this interview was one of hope, ‘mustard seed’-type hope,” Wiedower said. The Saint Mary’s panel featured Sr. Veronique Wiedower, vice president for mission, Phyllis Kaminski, professor of Religious Studies, sophomore Sofia Piecuch and senior Haley Koth. “This is a call to take time to truly listen to people,” she said. “The Church is meant to bring us together rather than divide.”last_img read more

SBA offers $10 million surety bond guarantee

first_imgBuilding on Recovery Act provisions implemented earlier this year, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced today it can now provide surety bond guarantees on federal contracts valued at up to $10 million, if the contracting officer certifies that the guarantee is in the best interests of the government. An Interim Final Rule is available for public inspection at The Federal Register.Currently, under a related provision of the Recovery Act that was implemented in March, SBA can provide bond guarantees up to $5 million through September 2010 on all public and private contracts and subcontracts. SBA partners with the surety industry to help small businesses that would otherwise be unable to obtain bonding in the traditional commercial marketplace. Under the partnership, SBA provides a guarantee to the participating surety company of between 70 and 90 percent of the bond amount. Raising the surety bond limit is a critical step in making sure small businesses in the construction and service sector have access to federal contracting opportunities that will help drive economic recovery, SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. These changes support small and emerging businesses nationwide, particularly construction contractors who have seen their markets hurt by a poor economy and lagging construction.Additional program enhancements published in the rule include:a new small business size standard for this program;authorization for SBA to exercise discretion in deciding bond liability issues; and,a definition of Order issued under an Indefinite Delivery Contract.The new size standard (which will be in effect until Sept. 30, 2010) temporarily replaces the current size standard for the surety bond guarantee program. It states that a business is small if the business, combined with its affiliates, does not exceed the size standard designated for the primary industry of the business combined with its affiliates. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes contained in 13 CFR Part 121 establishes size standards for all industries http://www.sba.gov/contractingopportunities/owners/basics/GC_SMALL_BUSIN(link is external)….Through its Bond Guarantee program, SBA will also help by guaranteeing bid, payment and performance bonds to protect the project owner against financial loss if a contractor defaults or fails to perform.Finally, the rule adds a definition for an Order issued under an Indefinite Delivery Contract to clarify that SBA bond guarantees apply to individual orders, as well as contracts.SBA assistance in locating a participating surety company or agent, and completing application forms, is available online. For more information on SBA s Surety Bond Guarantee Program, including Surety Office contacts, go online to http://www.sba.gov/osg/(link is external) , or call 1-800-U ASK SBA.Source: SBA. July 23, 2009.last_img read more

Internet sales taxes becoming trend with or without legislative push

first_imgIn the last three months, both Democrats and Republicans have sponsored Federal legislation to compel online retailers to collect sales and use tax and several states have moved forward with their own legislation, including Vermont, based on a review of online nexus rules by CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business and the leading global provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services (CCHGroup.com).”Whether legislatively compelled at the Federal or state level or through online retailers seeing it as inevitable, the trend is moving toward more online retailers collecting sales and use taxes,” said Daniel Schibley, JD, CCH Senior State Tax Analyst. “While it may not have significant implications for this holiday tax season, consumers should be prepared to start seeing sales tax collected on more and more of their online purchases in the years ahead as cash-strapped states look for more revenue sources.”Overall, 45 states currently have a sales tax and 16 states have enacted or have legislation proposed to require online retailers to collect sales and use tax or, at the very least, to more strongly urge in-state customers to pay use tax. Sales tax generally has two parts ‘ the sales portion paid by the retailer and the use portion paid by the consumer. Under existing rules, individuals are required to pay personal use tax in states with a sales tax if the retailer does not collect the tax. However, there is very little voluntary compliance among consumers.Below, CCH reviews the two Federal bills and outlines the strategies states are taking independently under a variety of remote seller collection bills, also known as “Amazon laws,” to increase collection of taxes for online sales.Marketplace Equity Act and Main Street Fairness ActUnder existing law, retailers are required to collect sales taxes for purchases made in states in which they have a physical presence, or nexus. In Quill vs. North Dakota , the Supreme Court, however, also ruled that sales tax structures across the United States are too complicated to require retailers to collect sales taxes if they have no physical presence and that Congress would need to determine if future systems put in place would be simple enough to compel remote retailers to collect sales taxes.Toward that end, the bipartisan-backed Marketplace Equity Act (MEA) was introduced in mid-October into the House of Representatives. The bill was in response to the Main Street Fairness Act introduced in July.The Main Street Fairness Act would give states following the Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) Agreement rules the authority to require retailers, with limited exceptions, to collect sales tax on online purchases, regardless of nexus. The SST effort is an initiative to simplify state sales tax so that there are common definitions for taxable products and uniform procedures across the states. To date, 24 states have passed laws to abide by SST rules. However, the Main Street Fairness Act was introduced in both the Senate and House with only Democratic sponsors.The MEA, which has the support of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, was introduced with the hopes of gaining support among Republicans. It would not require states to join the SST Agreement or make the system changes required under SST. Rather under MEA, a state would be authorized to require remote sellers to collect tax for sales into that state so long as state law provided the following:A small seller exception for remote sellers with gross annual receipts nationwide not exceeding $1 million, or in the state not exceeding $100,000;A single tax return for use by remote sellers and a single authority in the state with which the return must be filed; andAn identical tax base and exemptions throughout the state for remote sellers.Additionally, under MEA, states would be required to adopt a rate structure for remote sellers, with certain restrictions. The three acceptable rate structures would be:A single statewide blended rate that includes both the state rate and local rates;A maximum state rate, exclusive of tax imposed by local jurisdictions; andA destination rate, which would be the sum of the state rate and the local rate into which the sale is made.According to Schibley, it’s doubtful the MEA legislation will gain much traction in the current Congressional climate.”It will be assigned to a committee and could have a hearing before next year, but chances of passage are remote,” Schibley said, adding that among the long-shot possibilities is that it is taken up by the deficit-reduction super committee.States’ Remote Seller Collection Bills Gain MomentumWhile Federal legislation appears stalled, states continue to move forward with their own approaches to require online retailers to collect sales tax. Collectively, these remote seller collection bills require online retailers that have some type of connection with the state to collect state sales tax.According to Schibley, remote seller collection bills have different state-specific nuances but tend to fall into four general categories:Click-through-nexus LegislationClick-through-nexus rules generally require an online retailer to collect sales tax if it solicits sales with links on an in-state business’ website and pays those website operators a commission. The argument is that this arrangement is akin to having an in-state sales force. Eight states have passed click-through-nexus legislation:Arkansas;California;Connecticut;Illinois;New York;North Carolina;Rhode Island; andVermont.Additionally, click-through-nexus bills have been introduced in Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvaniaand Tennessee. The Michigan legislation also includes provisions for affiliate nexus, and the Pennsylvanialegislation includes provisions for affiliate nexus and reporting and notice rules, both detailed below.”Amazon has made headlines by canceling all its relationships with partner sites in states that had enacted click-through legislation, with the exception of New York,” Schibley said. He added that last month California lawmakers gave online retailers a one-year reprieve from having to collect sales tax from in-state customers and Amazon agreed to begin collecting by January 2013.”Amazon is one of the largest online retailers, so people are watching the various disputes in which it is involved and how it is responding,” Schibley said.Affiliate-nexus LegislationAffiliate-nexus rules generally apply if the online retailer has an affiliation with a company doing business in the state; for example, a sister company or subsidiary, selling goods under a similar business name, or sharing in-state employees or facilities. Six states have recently enacted affiliate-nexus laws:Arkansas;California;Colorado;Illinois;South Dakota; andTexas.Reporting Requirement LegislationThese rules so far have only been enacted in Colorado and are included in the Pennsylvania legislation. They require a retailer selling into the state but not collecting sales tax to send the state an annual statement of everyone in the state it shipped to and the value of those purchases. The state can then pursue the individual in order to collect the use tax. According to Schibley, the Direct Marketing Association currently is challenging the Colorado law in Federal court and the court has blocked enforcement while the two parties lay out their case.Notification RulesThese rules require online retailers to place a notice on their website informing customers they are required to pay the use tax. States with notification rules include:Colorado;Oklahoma;South Dakota; andVermont.D.C. Remote Collection Bill Could Offer Added Insight into Congressional PositionAdditionally, Schibley noted that the District of Colombia adopted remote seller legislation in July and because Congress must review all District of Columbia legislation, it’s being closely watched for their reaction.”The legislation requires remote sellers to start collecting sales tax once the rules have been established,” Schibley said. “But it does not give a lot of detail on what those rules will be, so as district lawmakers define these, people will be looking at how Congress reacts.”About CCH, a Wolters Kluwer businessCCH, a Wolters Kluwer business (CCHGroup.com) is the leading global provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services. CCH is based in Riverwoods, Ill. Follow us now on [email protected](link sends e-mail). Wolters Kluwer (www.wolterskluwer.com(link is external)) is a market-leading global information services company.SOURCE CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business RIVERWOODS, Ill., Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ —last_img read more

The April 2018 Issue Is Live!

first_imgWe can’t believe it’s already April, but we’re happy to announce that our April 2018 issue is live and available for pickup at your local newsstand. In this issue, we discuss a proposed bill allowing mountain bikes in wilderness areas, the outdoor family guide, best trails for toddlers, endangered species, outdoor education, and Cherokee’s booming outdoor industry. Check out the articles below:[column size=one_half position=first ][/column][column size=one_half position=last ][/column][column size=one_half position=first ][/column][column size=one_half position=last ][/column][column size=one_half position=first ][/column][column size=one_half position=last ][/column]last_img read more

Home Depot facing 44 lawsuits over data breach

first_imgHome Depot is facing at least 44 civil lawsuits in the U.S. and Canada due to the home-improvement chain’s massive data breach earlier this year, according to reports.Home Depot is also under investigation by various state and federal agencies as it continues to investigate the data breach on its end as well as its financial impact. Fox Business reported that the company acknowledged that it may still identify other data that were stolen.To help prevent future cyber attacks, the company says it has recently completed a project that encrypts consumers’ card data at the store’s point-of-sale networks throughout the U.S. The company is also working to implement EMV technology throughout its stores.In a statement on its third-quarter results released last week, Home Depot reported $28 million in pretax expenses as a result of the data breach.Data breaches and cyber attacks are showing no signs of slowing down. Cybersecurity experts are predicting a “surge in attempted attacks” this holiday season, according to The Wall Street Journal. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

12 things not to do if you win the lottery

first_img 52SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Is the lottery the new American dream? Imagine becoming vastly wealthy overnight. Being a winner of a multimillion dollar lottery certainly will be a life-changing event for almost every single lottery winner. But what about when the prize is an astronomical sum of $100 million, $200 million or $300 million? Various Powerball and state lotteries have reached vast sums, and lotteries elsewhere have as well.Future Powerball and state lottery ticket winners will become incredibly wealthy in an instant. Imagine being Joe Somebody and turning into Sir Joe the Magnificent overnight. Now imagine the unthinkable, where Sir Joe becomes Joe the Village Idiot in a very short time. Supposedly most lottery winners end up broke again. That just doesn’t seem right at all.24/7 Wall St. wants its readers, particularly those few who are lucky enough to win the lottery, to avoid some of the simple and complex mistakes that have taken other lottery winners into bankruptcy. Some lottery winners have even died. continue reading »last_img read more

How to zap executives out of their comfort zones

first_img 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr What happens when a corporation’s leadership is engaged, talented and competent– but so stuck in their ways that they can’t quite grasp the importance of acting as a strategic, forward-thinking team?It could be time for drastic measures – so drastic that company vice presidents might be left mumbling, “What just happened?”“Shake them up,” says Frank Granara, CEO of General Insulation Co. and co-author with Lorraine Grubbs of Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone: Outrageous Tactics to Ignite Individual Performance.“Don’t be afraid to get their attention in an over-the-top way, even if it means pretending you’re Zeus – a very miffed Zeus.”Granara never asks anyone to fire lightning bolts he wouldn’t himself. He once dressed as the top Greek god at a company training session – complete with blaring music and swirling clouds – and required his dubious vice presidents to dress as gods, too. continue reading »last_img read more

Man who ‘Exited’ Ambulance Killed in Hit-and-Run, Cops Say

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County police detectives are investigating a hit-and-run crash Monday that killed a medical patient who left an ambulance as it was moving, authorities said.The Monday evening crash in Holtsville occurred while a Hunter EMS ambulance was transporting the patient from Stony Brook University Hospital to Brunswick Hospital Center in Amityville, police said.Police said the patient, Frank Ligrnetta, “exited” the ambulance as it was traveling southbound on Nicolls road, and was struck by a dark-colored sedan that was heading in the same direction.The 51-year-old Bay Shore man was pronounced dead at the scene by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office, police said.The ambulance was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is continuing, according to police.A woman who answered the phone at Hunter EMS said: “We just can’t comment at this time.”Detectives ask anyone who may have witnessed the fatal crash to call the Vehicular Crime Unit at 631-852-6555 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS.last_img read more

Over a Ton of Heroin Seized aboard OSV off Turkey

first_imgTurkish security forces have seized one tonne and 71 kilograms of heroin on board an offshore supply ship identified as Commander Tide, Turkish anti-narcotics police department said.The Democratic Republic of Congo-flagged cargo ship was raided by Turkish naval forces, the coastguard and special police forces, on June 2nd while sailing in international waters bound for Turkey.The contraband, estimated to be worth around USD 57 million, was found in secret compartments on the ship.As informed, this is a record drug bust for the security forces in Turkey.Commander Tide’s nine crew members were detained and taken to a naval base in Marmaris, Reuters reports.The 1984-built vessel’s current position on Marine Traffic shows that the vessel, which is said to be laid-up, was stopped.According to the data by VesselsValue, the ship was bought by Marshall-Islands-based Corbata Maritime.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more