How to Grow a Beard

Alexander_Graham_BellAlexander Graham Bell was once asked, “To what do you attribute your greatness?” He replied laconically: “Beard.”

Sigmund Freud, the greatest psychologist ever, was once questioned by a reporter, “What’s so special about your beard?” Immersed in a pool of thoughts, Sigmund Freud replied, “It epitomizes my commendable efforts in the field of psychology.”

That sort of passion and pizazz is extremely important to grow a beard. Beard is the mark of masculinity and gallantry. Unhappily, what plagues many men is the general and shocking inability to grow a beard. While it is not mandatory to exhibit the qualities of machismo and pluck, a beard reflects personality traits. More often than not, we drape ourselves in deference not only to our own modesty but also to that of others. However, not only is drapery itself important, but also its design. Beard complements and completes a man. If it were for otherwise, sartorial regimentation would result in shocking drabness. (more…)

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Open thread for night owls: Ready for a career as domestic drone pilot?

Looking for a new career path? According to NBC, colleges are now ramping up their drone piloting programs:

While most jobs flying drones currently are military-related, universities and colleges expect that to change by 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration is due to release regulations for unmanned aircraft in domestic airspace. Once those regulations are in place, the FAA predicts that 10,000 commercial drones will be operating in the U.S. within five years.
Although just three schools currently offer degrees in piloting unmanned aircraft, many others – including community colleges – offer training for remote pilots. And those numbers figure are set to increase, with some aviation industry analysts predicting drones will eventually come to dominate the U.S. skies in terms of jobs. […]

Among the possible applications: Monitoring livestock and oil pipelines, spotting animal poachers, tracking down criminals fleeing crime scenes and delivering packages for UPS and FedEx.

(more…)

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The World Next Week: Debt Debate Continues, Iran Talks Convene in Geneva, the African Union Discusses the ICC, and Saudi Arabia Faces MERS Fears

Furloughed federal workers join a rally with Congressional Progressive Caucus to demand a vote to end the government shutdown, outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 4, 2013. House Republicans held their ground on Friday in a standoff with President Barack Obama over the U.S. government shutdown, accusing him of intransigence and not caring about the impact on the American people as the crisis dragged into a fourth day.    REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEALTH EMPLOYMENT) - RTR3FLT2
Furloughed federal workers join a rally with Congressional Progressive Caucus to demand a vote to end the government shutdown, outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 4, 2013. House Republicans held their ground on Friday in a standoff with President Barack Obama over the U.S. government shutdown, accusing him of intransigence and not caring about the impact on the American people as the crisis dragged into a fourth day. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEALTH EMPLOYMENT) – RTR3FLT2

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the ongoing debt ceiling debate, negotiations in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program, the African Union summit in Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia’s preparations during the hajj for a potentially deadly virus.

The highlights:

  • The October 17th debt ceiling deadline is fast approaching. The news out of Washington today suggests that the impasse on Capitol Hill is starting to break just a bit; House Republican leaders offered to increase the debt limit through November 22 in exchange for a White House agreement to negotiate a longer-term tax and spending deal. Assuming that the White House accepts the offer and that Speaker of the House John Boehner can persuade his caucus to endorse his proposal, the move buys Washington six weeks to settle its differences on fiscal policy. Whether Washington can make good use of that time is debatable. Democrats continue to insist that tax increases must accompany any further spending cuts, and Republicans continue to insist on spending cuts alone. That does not sound like a recipe for agreement. So there’s a good chance that the debt ceiling debate will resemble the directions on the back of shampoo bottles—wash, rinse, and repeat.
  • African leaders will gather in Ethiopia in the coming week for the African Union’s annual summit meeting. The headline issue on the agenda is the International Criminal Court. The ICC has become increasing controversial across Africa. Many Africans argue that the ICC is quick to put Africans on trial—Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is currently being tried for crimes against humanity—while it ignores leaders elsewhere in the world who have blood on their hands. This perceived double standard is eroding the willingness of many African countries to cooperate with the ICC.
  • Representatives from the P5+1 countries—the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany—are scheduled to meet in Geneva next Tuesday and Wednesday with Iranian officials to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. The meeting will provide the first opportunity to test the sincerity of the positive words coming out of Tehran over the last month. Even if Tehran matches words with deeds, it won’t be easy to reach an agreement that sticks. Iranian hardliners have bitterly criticized Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s conciliatory words, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said publicly that some of Rouhani’s actions while in the United States last months were “inappropriate.” Meanwhile, many lawmakers on Capitol Hill doubt that the Iranian overture is genuine and are seeking to ratchet up rather than scale back sanctions on Iran. So any deal struck in Geneva or elsewhere could be a very tough sell back home.
  • Muslims from around the world are preparing for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca next week. With millions of people expected to visit Islam’s holiest city, concerns about the spread of MERS—Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus—have increased. The disease, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia last year, is deadly; in the initial wave of infections killed nearly half the people who contracted it. The disease is spread by close contact, though fortunately, so far it does not appear to spread easily. Still, the virus is not entirely understood, and scientists and medical authorities will be closely monitoring the situation.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is Janet Yellen. My Figure of the Week is $ 260 million. Our audience-nominated Figure of the Week comes from TWNW listener @NazilaVa who picked 60 percent. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:

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