Don't Move On.......StaggerON!
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How to Invent a Person Online
On April 8, 2013, I received an envelope in the mail from a nonexistent return address in Toledo, Ohio. Inside was a blank thank-you note and an Ohio state driver’s license. The ID belonged to a 28-year-old man called Aaron Brown—6 feet tall and 160 pounds with a round face, scruffy brown hair, a thin beard, and green eyes. His most defining feature, however, was that he didn’t exist.
I know that because I created him.
As an artist, I’ve long been interested in identity and the ways it is represented. My first serious body of work, Springfield, used the concept of a Midwestern nowhere to explore representations of middle-American sprawl. A few years later, I became interested in the hundreds of different entities that track and analyze our behavior online—piecing together where we’re from, who we’re friends with, how much money we make, what we like and dislike. Social networks and data brokers use algorithms and probabilities to reconstruct our identities, and then try to influence the way we think and feel and make decisions. More
The modern history of swearing: Where all the dirtiest words come from
The 18th and 19th centuries’ embrace of linguistic delicacy and extreme avoidance of taboo bestowed great power on those words that broached taboo topics directly, freely revealing what middle-class society was trying so desperately to conceal. Under these conditions of repression, obscene words finally came fully into their own. They began to be used in nonliteral ways, and so became not just words that shocked and offended but words with which people could swear.
The definitive expletive of the 18th century was bloody, which is still in frequent use in Britain today, and is so common Down Under that it is known as “the great Australian adjective.” Bloody was not quite an obscenity and not quite an oath, but it was definitely a bad word that shocked and offended the ears of polite society. It is often supposed to be a corruption of the old oaths by our lady or God’s blood (minced form: ’sblood), but this is another urban legend that turns out to be false. Either it derives instead from the adjective bloody as in “covered in blood” or, as the OED proposes, it referred to the habits of aristocratic rabble-rousers at the end of the 17th century, who styled themselves “bloods.” “Bloody drunk,” then, would mean “as drunk as a blood.” More
Why do so many nations want a piece of Antarctica?
I pick a path between rock pools and settle my bottom on a boulder. A spectacular, silent view unfolds across a mountain-fringed bay.
Then there is a flash in the shallows by my feet - an arrow of white and black.
What on earth fish is that? My slow brain ponders, as before my eyes a gentoo penguin slips out of the water, steadies itself on a rock, eyes me cheekily, squawks and patters off into the snow.
Antarctica is the hardest place I know to write about. Whenever you try to pin down the experience of being there, words dissolve under your fingers.
There are no points of reference. In the most literal sense, Antarctica is inhuman.
Other deserts, from Arabia to Arizona, are peopled: humans live in or around them, find sustenance in them, shape them with their imagination and their ingenuity. No people shape Antarctica. More
Hershey Sues Edible Marijuana Company
DENVER — The Hershey Co. has sued a Colorado marijuana edibles maker, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker.
The trademark infringement lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver this week against TinctureBelle LLC and TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC.
It alleges TinctureBelle's Ganja Joy, Hasheath, Hashees and Dabby Patty mimic Hershey's Almond Joy, Heath, Reese's peanut butter cups and York peppermint patty candies, respectively. TinctureBelle did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The Denver Business Journal first reported about the lawsuit filed Tuesday. The company's website says its products, which include lotions and balms, are "diabetic safe and delicious" and helpful with a variety of issues, including pain, headaches and insomnia. More
Meet The Real Amazon Drones
At least five days a week, Myron Ballard races around Washington, D.C., with a cargo van full of Amazon Prime packages. A career delivery driver with 20 years behind the wheel, Ballard typically gets paid $1.50 for each address he visits. If he delivers 150 Amazon boxes -- a fairly routine number -- he can pull in $225. Not bad for a day's work.
That is, until he starts tallying up all his out-of-pocket costs. Ballard works for an Amazon contractor called LaserShip. He's technically an "independent contractor," not an employee, meaning all of the costs stemming from the deliveries fall on him rather than on LaserShip or Amazon.
Ballard had to purchase the cargo van he drives for work. He doesn't get reimbursed for the wear and tear he puts on it; for the gasoline he pours into it on a near-daily basis; for the auto insurance he needs to carry; or for the parking tickets he inevitably racks up downtown. He doesn't even get reimbursed for the LaserShip uniform he's obliged to purchase and wear.
At the end of the day, much of that $225 has vanished.
"It's like they want us to be employees, but they don't want to pay for it," said Ballard, 45.
Anyone who shops regularly online, particularly with Amazon, has to marvel at how quickly and cheaply packages arrive on the doorstep these days. Many of the millions of Amazon Prime members -- including this reporter -- may have noticed, however, that not all packages are ferried by workers wearing the familiar UPS, FedEx or U.S. Postal Service uniforms. Instead, they’re sometimes handled by smaller companies like LaserShip, with drivers working on contract and out of their own vehicles. More
No War, No Money, No Problems. The Island At The End Of The Earth, Where Life Is Good
It is one of the most isolated island communities in the world. The tiny Pacific island of Palmerston is visited by a supply ship twice a year – at most – and the long and hazardous journey deters all but the most intrepid visitors. What’s more, most of its 62 inhabitants are descended from one man – an Englishman who settled there 150 years ago.
Nine days of constant movement. Nine days in a boat, unable to stand. Nine days with the fear of being hit by a tropical storm, thousands of miles from rescue. The Pacific Ocean is big. Far bigger than one would imagine. This is the journey to the island at the end of the earth..
Part of the Cook Islands, Palmerston is one of a handful of islands connected by a coral reef which surrounds the calm waters of a central lagoon. But within this entire area the reef sits too high in the water for sea planes to land – and outside it the ocean is simply too rough. It is also too far from anywhere for a normal helicopter to fly to. The sea is the only access. More
Were Ancient Greeks The Original Recyclers?
It may seem like a bizarre controversy, but experts on ancient Greece have been debating for more than 60 years why potsherds so often surround archaeological sites there. These scattered fragments of pottery are routinely found in explorations.
Some regard it as simple — obvious even. They hold that, as was common in most areas of temperate Europe, people threw their household and barn waste into the fields. The theory is that people were essentially composting and enriching the soil with food, manure and other scraps, and that pottery shards sometimes found their way into these piles.
According to these archaeologists, what they find when they survey the ground of the Hellenic countryside is nothing more than centuries-old trash. Indeed, ceramic was to the ancient Greeks what plastic is to us now. It was abundant.
Still, Hamish Forbes, a professor at the University of Nottingham, decided to review the entire subject from scratch. In an article published in Hesperia — the journal published quarterly by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens — he concludes after 30 years of careful observation that, No, the ancient Greeks did not populate their fields with garbage.. More
Why Bitcoin Matters
A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers.
Political idealists project visions of liberation and revolution onto it; establishment elites heap contempt and scorn on it.
On the other hand, technologists – nerds – are transfixed by it. They see within it enormous potential and spend their nights and weekends tinkering with it.
Eventually mainstream products, companies and industries emerge to commercialize it; its effects become profound; and later, many people wonder why its powerful promise wasn’t more obvious from the start.
What technology am I talking about?
Personal computers in 1975, the Internet in 1993, and – I believe – Bitcoin in 2014. More
Hairless hero: Iranian teacher shaves head in solidarity with bullied pupil
When Iranian schoolteacher Ali Mohammadian noticed that one of his students was being bullied after going bald as a result of a mysterious illness, he decided to show solidarity and shave his own hair. In no time, his entire class shaved their heads and the bullying stopped.
Now, Mohammadian, who teaches at Sheikh Shaltoot's elementary school in Marivan, a Kurdish city in the west of Iran, has become a national hero.
President Hassan Rouhani has praised him, the government has offered financial support for the pupil's medical treatment and his story has reached the four corners of his country.
"I'm so happy that this has touched many hearts and people reacted enormously positive," the 45-year-old teacher told the Guardian by phone from Marivan. "Everyone in the school now wants to shave their head." More
Why Skim Milk Will Make You Fat and Give You Heart Disease
Joke: How do you dramatically increase sales of a new or unpopular food product to the American public?
Answer: Call it a health food!
This joke, while funny, is also very sad as it illustrates with humor what common sense, logic, observation, and facts cannot for the vast majority of Westerners.
Time and time again, Americans are completely duped by the clever marketing of a food product, falling all over themselves to buy it just because it has been touted in the media and by their (equally duped) doctors as a food that will improve their health.
Don’t believe it? How about margarine? Americans, in the span of just a few short years after World War II, all but completely shunned butter and this behavior pattern continued for decades because saturated fat was supposedly the demon of heart disease. More
Big Hole, Deep Secret
Ask Pittsboro Mayor Chuck Devinney what he did when he worked for AT&T, and he offers evasions straight out of an X-Files script. "I wiped it all out of my head," he says. "When I went out the door, I never looked back."
Coming from a public utility employee turned small-town public official, that might sound pretty melodramatic. Unless, that is, the door walked out of was the secured gateway to Chatham County's underground enigma, the Big Hole. That's where Devinney and dozens of other AT&T employees holed up for much of the Cold War, soldiers in a hidden battle to safeguard a U.S. command and control system in the event of nuclear war.
The system, called the Automatic Voice Network (AUTOVON), was put in service in 1964 by the Defense Communications Agency; the Chatham facility came on-line in 1966. About 60 AUTOVON relay and switching centers were built across the country. Of those, 20 sites, including Big Hole, were underground, hardened facilities, engineered to withstand anything but a direct hit by an enemy missile. AT&T won the classified contract to operate domestic AUTOVON centers, while the U.S. military manned those established in other countries. More
Pancho Claus: A Tex-Mex Santa from the South Pole
HOUSTON -- He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat -- though often it's a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit. And he makes his grand entrance on lowriders or Harleys or led by a pack of burros instead of eight reindeer.
Meet Pancho Claus, the Tex-Mex Santa.
Amid all the talk about Santa Claus' race, spawned by a Fox News commentator's remarks that both Santa and Jesus were white, there is, in the Lone Star State, a Hispanic version of Santa in cities from the border to the plains -- handing out gifts for low-income and at-risk children.
Born from the Chicano civil rights movement, Pancho Claus is a mostly Texas thing, historians say, though there may be one somewhere in California. Lorenzo Cano, a Mexican-American studies scholar at the University of Houston, says Pancho was apparently conceived north of the border as Mexican-Americans looked to "build a place and a space for themselves" in the 1970s. His rise coincided with a growing interest in Mexican art, Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day and other cultural events. More
Edinburgh man branded Bad Santa
A GROTTO Santa claims he was forced to quit after his bosses objected to him dumping his script and letting kids sit on his knee.
Actor Mike Daviot, 55, took the ho-ho-huff at the £5-a-time Edinburgh’s Christmas grotto in the capital’s East Princes Street Gardens, branding it a “cattle-herding” exercise.
He said: “The kids are only getting about a minute in the grotto and if they ask a question which isn’t in the script you are supposed to ignore them. We’re not really meant to converse with the children at all.”
He added he had taken the decision to allow the youngest kids to sit on his knee because that had been promised in the adverts. But he was reprimanded for it.
Organisers yesterday insisted Mike was “brusque” with kids and didn’t even get on with his elves.
And Underbelly, who run the festive attraction, said they had been told by child protection experts that letting kids on Santa’s lap was not appropriate. More
The Insidious Genius of Hello Kitty-Branded Beer
Hello Kitty, having been slapped onto just about every other imaginable consumer product on this little blue marble of ours, is now being used to market beer in Asia.*
Consumers in China and Taiwan can now pick from six fruit-flavored brews, including peach, lemon-lime, passion fruit, and banana, sporting the cartoon cat on the can. With about half the alcohol content of a Budweiser, they're not very potent. But as Kotaku's Eric Jou put it, "They're so ridiculously smooth and tasty that one can barely tell they're drinking beer. It's almost like drinking fruit juice, even if the cans do say 'beer.'"
This is for the kids, right? Maybe not. Hello Kitty has plenty of adult fans, especially across Asia (we are, after all, talking about a 40-year-old icon). This seems more like a silly but smart branding ploy to reach China's great untapped booze market: women. More
No Man’s Land: 3 territories that are still unclaimed
When it comes to dividing up the planet, politicians have pretty much thought of everything. Leaders around the world have dutifully divvied up continental shelves, found and claimed islands via satellite and established laws for future reference on who gets what — including the moon. But there are a few pieces of Earth that still need an owner, and they are up for grabs.
If you’re looking for sun and sand, Bir Tawil could be the perfect place for that summer home. Bordering Egypt and Sudan, it’s a trapezoid-shaped piece of land that neither want to claim. Bir Tawil is made up of desert and mountains and is lacking any valuable natural resources, rendering it rather useless. The reason behind the two countries’ “generosity”? Both want the prettier, more useful older sister of Bir Tawil — Hala’ib, a piece of land that is much larger and comprised of rich soil. Under the border treaty from 1899, Hala’ib belongs to Egypt.
Under the 1902 treaty, that land belongs to Sudan and Bir Tawil belongs to Egypt. Both recognize the treaty that gives them Hala’ib, as it’s the better end of the deal, leaving Bir Tawil owner-less. More
The Shocking True Tale Of The Mad Genius Who Invented Sea-Monkeys
In a 2002 interview with Erik Lobo of Planet X magazine, Harold von Braunhut comes across as the kind of charming old guy who might detain you in conversation a bit too long if you were volunteering at a home for the aged. An inventor and entrepreneur who brought us legions of wonderfully gimmicky toys before he died, at 77, in 2003, von Braunhut holds forth about times gone by, interrupted only when his cockatoo chews at the wire connecting his hearing aid to the telephone.
Von Braunhut was a short, balding man who had the accent that turns “beautiful” into “bee-YOO-dee-full,” and he often cast himself as the guy they all doubted until he showed ’em. In the interview he seems to delight in telling Lobo about his most famous and successful novelty item, Sea-Monkeys. These little critters, you may recall, carry with them the promise of “a BOWLFULL OF HAPPINESS—Instant PETS!” They’re supposed to arrive in the mail, spring to life in water, and soon start horsing around and making babies. According to von Braunhut, the problem with selling Sea-Monkeys early on, ya see, was that “nobody believed it!” He adds, “It’s a little bit like the story of the Wright brothers.” More
Burning Man 2013 burns its man in Nevada’s desert
RENO, Nev. — A federal official says more than 61,000 people have turned out so far for the weekend Burning Man outdoor art and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mark Turney said Saturday that gate management was tightened Friday when organizers got close to a permitted capacity of 68,000.
Turney says the crowd ebbs and flows at the festival taking place about 100 miles north of Reno.
He says organizers reported one person
was flown to a hospital by medical helicopter this week after being struck by
No other serious incidents have been reported. More
Lima: Where the pallbearers are black
LIMA, Peru — Elegant in tuxedos and white gloves, the six black pallbearers silently and gracefully remove the mahogany coffin bearing a Lima tire magnate from his mansion. They slide it into the Cadillac hearse that will parade Jorge Reyna's body through the Chorrillos district where he was once mayor.
The pallbearers are in the job precisely because of the color of their skin, a phenomenon unique to this South American capital that was the regional seat of Spain's colonial empire for more than three centuries. In fact, prominent citizens such as Reyna, a widely respected, charitable man of indigenous origin who died at age 82, request black pallbearers for their funerals.
"He planned his funeral and wanted it to be elegant," said Reyna's widow, Clarisa Velarde. Blacks routinely bear the caskets of ex-presidents, mining magnates and bankers to their tombs in Lima. The peculiar tradition exists neither in provincial Peruvian cities nor in other Latin American countries with significant black populations such as Brazil, Panama and Colombia. More
Israelis find 2,750-year-old temple
Archaeologists have uncovered a 2,750-year-old temple near Jerusalem, along with pottery and clay figurines that suggest the site was the home base for a ritual cult, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.
The discovery was made during excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) west of Jerusalem, during preparations for work on a new section of Israeli's Highway 1, the agency said in a statement.
"The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple," excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz were quoted as saying in the statement. That’s some imaginative cursing. More
How much gold is there in the world?
Imagine if you were a super-villain who had taken control of all the world's gold, and had decided to melt it down to make a cube.
How big would it be? Hundreds of metres cubed, thousands even?
Actually, it's unlikely to be anything like that size.
Warren Buffet, one of the world's richest investors, says the total amount of gold in the world - the gold above ground, that is - could fit into a cube with sides of just 20m (67ft). But is that all there is? And if so, how do we know?
A figure that is widely used by investors comes from Thompson Reuters GFMS, which produces an annual gold survey.
Their latest figure for all the gold in the world is 171,300 tonnes - which is almost exactly the same as the amount in our super-villain's imaginary cube.
A cube made of 171,300 tonnes would be about 20.7m (68ft) on each side. Or to put it another way, it would reach to 9.8m above ground level if exactly covering Wimbledon Centre Court.
But not everyone agrees with the GFMS figures. More
How to piss off a Spaniard
I should probably preface this whole thing by saying that it’s really not that easy to piss off a Spaniard, unless you’re overtly trying to do so. They, along with the people of Bali, are probably the most easy going and good natured people I’ve ever encountered.
However, it is possible to anger a Spaniard, especially in certain circumstances.
Insult their mother.
The Spanish don’t curse like we do. There’s no equivalent in the language for a simple “Fuck you.” Instead, most real curses invoke the purity, or lack thereof, of the cursee’s mother. I have two favorites I heard while I lived in Madrid. There’s the sort of standard, “I shit in the milk of the mother who bore you,” which is sometimes shortened to just, “the milk!” But my all time favorite is, “I shit in the fourteenth kilometer of the cuckold’s horns of your father.” That’s some imaginative cursing. More
The Science Behind Coffee and Why it’s Actually Good for Your Health
Coffee isn't just warm and energizing, it may also be extremely good for you. In recent years, scientists have studied the effects of coffee on various aspects of health and their results have been nothing short of amazing.
Here's why coffee may actually be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
Coffee Can Make You Smarter
Coffee doesn't just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well. The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Caffeine's primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine.
By blocking the inhibitory effects of Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function. More
Should We Establish National Parks On Mars?
There’s an old proverb that states “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” And if some in the scientific community have their way, that sentiment will extend to other planetary bodies as well. A movement among some in the spacefaring community believe that humans need to set up a kind of national parks system for planets prior to human and further robotic exploration to ensure that pristine environmental value--both scientific and intrinsic--is preserved beyond Earth orbit.
Earth orbit might be a good example as to why. The area of space where human activity has been most prevalent is filled with debris--the leftovers and byproducts of our presence there. And with private spaceflight now rapidly making up technical ground on even the world’s most capable space programs, it’s only a matter of time before manned exploration is happening elsewhere in the solar system and outside of the strict oversight of a state-sponsored space agency, advocates argue. More
Off the Grid and Loving It in Belize
Turquoise waves lap the shore 30 feet from where I sit writing on my borrowed veranda in southern Belize.
As a pair of large birds glides gracefully through the sky, I think to myself that this remote, off-the-grid home is exactly where I belong at this moment.
When my husband and I first started dreaming about taking a six-month “family sabbatical” with our four young kids somewhere in Central America, we’d considered Costa Rica and Panama as well as Belize.
But then I met a British couple who lived in southern Belize. We stayed in touch and they often gave me advice about our unfolding plans. When they decided they needed a house sitter, they asked if we would be interested. We were!
We now live in their darling 2,400-square-foot furnished home directly fronting the Caribbean Sea. The house is only accessible by boat. We have two large bedrooms, two and a half baths, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and several porches, as well as a cabana for our guests’ use, and a caretaker’s home. We have access to a paddle boat, a sailboat, fishing equipment and two sea kayaks. More
11 Amazing Facts about the McDonald's McRib
The McDonald's McRib is back, hitting restaurants nationwide today.
The legendary boneless pork sandwich, famously molded to resemble a rack of ribs, is both a feat of modern engineering and shrewd marketing.
It garners almost as much attention for its pseudo-meat shape as its impermanence on restaurant menus.
The barbecue-sauce-smothered sandwich was supposed to return at the end of October, but was pushed back to help boost end-of-the-year sales.
Better late than never. More
‘Santa’ arrested for driving with suspended license
Two men were arrested on warrant charges in Jackson County on Dec. 8 after a deputy ran the license tag number of a 1977 Ford truck on Plainview Road that appeared to be driven by Santa Claus.
The deputy spotted a white male with a long beard wearing a red Santa Claus cap and a dark sleeveless shirt, an incident reported filed at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office states.
The deputy ran the vehicle’s tag number through the Georgia Crime Information Center and lost sight of the vehicle while the results returned, showing that the registered owner, Glyndon Coker, had a suspended license for failure to appear and outstanding warrants with Gainesville and Forsyth police departments.
After checking the area, the deputy made contact with the vehicle in the driveway of a Pine Tree Circle residence, where a man met him in the yard. The deputy asked the man where the driver was, but the man said he didn’t know. Johnson, did, however, tell the officer the driver’s named was “Glyndon Coker.”
The deputy walked around the residence and made contact with the man he saw driving the LGT, who was still wearing the red Santa hat, the dark sleeveless shirt and camouflage pants. The man identified himself as Coker. When the deputy asked Coker if he was driving the red Ford truck, Coker responded, “yeah.” More
35,000 rubber ducks in Santa, reindeer outfits seized at L.A. port
They may have had better luck on Santa’s sleigh, but more than 35,000 holiday-themed rubber ducks from China were detained by U.S. Customs officials at the Port of Los Angeles.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized the ducks -- dressed as snowmen, gingerbread men, penguins and reindeer -- which were valued at $18,522, after determining they contained the chemical phthalate in excess of the limit which may be harmful to children.
Phthalates are used to make vinyl and other plastics soft and flexible, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. Consumer officials prohibit the sale, distribution and import of any child's toy or child care item that contains concentrations of more than 0.1% of phthalate. More
Sir Patrick Moore dies aged 89
Sir Patrick Moore, the astronomer and Sky at Night presenter who inspired a generation of stargazers, has died at his home at the age of 89.
The broadcaster “passed away peacefully" in Selsey, West Sussex, after a short spell in hospital last week, a group of friends and staff said in a statement.
“It was determined that no further treatment would benefit him, and it was his wish to spend his last days in his own home, Farthings, where he today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy,” the statement said.
Sir Patrick reckoned that he was the only person to have met the first man to fly, Orville Wright, the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. He outlived them all.
Brian May, the Queen guitarist and astronomy PhD, paid tribute to a "dear friend and a kind of father figure to me".
He said: "It's no exaggeration to say that Patrick, in his tireless and ebullient communication of the magic of astronomy, inspired every British astronomer, amateur and professional, for half a century.
"Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life," he added. "Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one." More
Mock Zombie Invasion Held in San Diego
Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors: An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of Marines, Navy special ops, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.
"This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay. "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."
Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.
In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bit by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment. More
Khan Academy: The man who wants to teach the world
What Salman Khan, the founder of the non-profit online school Khan Academy, has to say to the parent of an 11-year-old is frankly terrifying: 'If your child is not placed in the fast track for math in sixth grade, his chances of going to Stanford are close to zero. His chances of becoming a doctor or an engineer are probably zero. And it’s decided when he’s 11 years old.’
That’s tragic, I find myself blurting out when we meet at his office in Mountain View, California, the heart of Silicon Valley.
As the mother of an 11-year-old who has just started sixth grade at a California middle school – and still waiting for the results of the deciding test – this pronouncement hits rather too close to home.
'It is,’ Khan agrees wholeheartedly. 'And many of those kids who don’t get into the fast track could easily be there. They just didn’t test well on the day.’
This is exactly what happened to his cousin Nadia. Usually a straight-A student, she had done poorly in a maths streaming test in sixth grade because she had failed to understand one concept. This one test result, Khan says, might have harmed her academic destiny. Nadia’s distraught mother turned to Khan for help. More
Crusader Era Hoard of Gold Coins Found in Israel
The treasure, more than 100 gold pieces weighing about 400 grams, is estimated to be worth more than $100,000.
The coins were found hidden in a partly broken pottery vessel at the Appollonia National Park near Herzliya, the site where archaeologists believe the ancient Crusader town of Apollonia-Arsuf once stood.
The hoard includes 108 gold coins, among them 93 weigh four grams each, and 15 weigh about 1 gram each. The archaeologists suggest that the gold was part of someone’s family treasure or business investment. The coins were probably minted in Egypt about 250 years prior to their burial under the floor tiles of the 13th century CE fortress that has been under excavation for more than 30 years.
In addition to the gold treasure, the archaeologists found a large cache of arrowheads – hundreds, in fact – and other weaponry, including stones used in catapults. They said the find indicated a fierce battle had taken place at the time the Mameluks seized the area from the Crusaders. More
Drug decriminalization in Portugal decreases number of addicts
On July 1, 2001, Portugal decriminalized every imaginable drug, from marijuana, to cocaine, to heroin. Some thought Lisbon would become a drug tourist haven, others predicted usage rates among youths to surge.
Eleven years later, it turns out they were both wrong.
Over a decade has passed since Portugal changed its philosophy from labeling drug users as criminals to labeling them as people affected by a disease. This time lapse has allowed statistics to develop and in time, has made Portugal an example to follow.
First, some clarification.
Portugal's move to decriminalize does not mean people can carry around, use, and sell drugs free from police interference. That would be legalization. Rather, all drugs are "decriminalized," meaning drug possession, distribution, and use is still illegal. While distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense, possession and use is moved out of criminal courts and into a special court where each offender's unique situation is judged by legal experts, psychologists, and social workers. Treatment and further action is decided in these courts, where addicts and drug use is treated as a public health service rather than referring it to the justice system (like the US), reports Fox News.
The resulting effect: a drastic reduction in addicts, with Portuguese officials and reports highlighting that this number, at 100,000 before the new policy was enacted, has been halved in the following 10 years. Portugal's drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states, according to the same report . More
eBook replaces all mentions of the word 'kindle' with rival 'Nook' - and ends up destroying War And Peace
War and Peace, one of the most well-known and hefty books in history, went through many revisions during the lifetime of Leo Tolstoy.
But the latest edition is not bowing to cultural pressure, or the posthumous demands of an author, but by an apparent over-zealous use of the 'Find and Replace' function before an e-book was re-released for a virtual print run.
The version available on the 'Nook' reader - the second most-popular bookreader in the US and arch-rival of Amazon's Kindle - lacks any use of the verb to 'kindle'.
Every use of the verb - in it's various forms - has been replaced with 'Nook' - or even 'Nookd'.
Some lazy employee had been preparing the e-book - and had apparently simply taken the Kindle edition, and thought a quick 'find and feplace' would be enough to bring the book up to date.
But he did not count on the Russian author - or to be more accurate, the English translator's - love of fires, and the art of making them.
The error was discovered by shop-owner and book-lover Philip Howard after he was given a copy of War and Peace, but as the book weighs in at a hefty 1,400 pages - and is not exactly bag-friendly - he took the opportunity to try out his new eBook reader. More
Somewhere in North America, there is a place where little girls don’t give the slightest thought to what kind of wedding dress they’ll wear one day. A place where young men have never heard the expression: “why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?”—because the milk is always free. A place where no one asks an unmarried couple expecting a baby if they’re getting hitched.
This place is the province of Quebec. The French language spoken here is no guarantee for romance. Couples are practical, and lovers treasure their individuality.
Quebec has become one of the least marrying places in the world, thanks to the institution known as “de facto spouses,”
But now, thanks to a bizarre legal case entangling a Quebec billionaire and his de facto spouse , the freedom to un-marry is under threat. More than 1 million Quebecois in this kind of relationship may soon be automatically married by the state, against their will. More
USDA Buys 7 Million Pounds of ‘Pink Slime’ For School Lunches
School lunch programs have been in the spotlight recently. Just last week, the Blaze posted two stories about a North Carolina school where the food police were aggressively monitoring lunches that parents give to their children. Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama lead a very public campaign to announce that healthier foods would be coming to school cafeterias and military mess halls.
Today, many parents will be questioning the wisdom of a government-controlled school lunch program. Why? Because the Feds have announced that the USDA is buying seven million pounds of something that is affectionately known as “pink slime.”
The seven million pounds of this frankenmeat product purchased by the USDA is not a new addition to the lunch programs in schools, just a substantial increase. The New York Times reported that in 2009 the U.S. government purchased 5.5 million pounds of the stuff.
Pink slime is a mixture of leftover trimmings, sinew, and other beef parts culled from a cow once the expensive and more recognizable cuts of meat have been harvested and sent to a butcher. The collection of leftovers is spun in a centrifuge to remove excess fat, washed in a disinfecting solution and then minced for use in various applications. More
Female Gladiators? Tantalizing New Evidence From Ancient Rome
Female-gladiator fights appear to have been rare spectacles in the Roman Empire. But new analysis of a statue in a German museum adds to the evidence that trained women did fight to the death in ancient amphitheaters, a new study says.
The bronze statuette is only the second known representation of a female gladiator, according to study author Alfonso Manas, of Spain's University of Granada.
The roughly 2,000-year-old artwork, which resides at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbein in Hamburg, shows a bare-chested woman in a loincloth brandishing a scythe-like object in her left hand.
Manas believes the woman is holding a sica, a short, curved sword associated with a type of gladiator known as a thraex, or Thracian. Thraexes typically fought in plumed helmets, with small shields and metal leg guards called greaves. Their unarmored backs were particularly vulnerable—and were likely ripe targets for sica.
Experts had previously interpreted the curved implement as a strigil, which Romans used for scraping the body clean.
The woman's pose, though, doesn't support that explanation, Manas said. More
Slab City, Here We Come: Living Life Off the Grid in California's Badlands
"Chicago" Joe Angio and his wife Anna did everything by the book to secure their slice of the American Dream. They earned college degrees, started a small business, bought a house and pair of cars, paid their taxes and credit-card bills on time.
But when the economy tanked, so did the dream. Between two jobs they could barely pay their mortgage, reaching a point where they had to choose which creditor to shortchange at the end of the month in order to keep the lights on. With foreclosure no longer a matter of if, but of when, the couple looked on the Internet for the ideal place to lay low, spend less and experiment with solar power to "get more for our buck out of our environment." They bought a used RV and went off the grid. Way off.
Slab City, their home for the past three months, is a squatters' camp deep in the badlands of California's poorest county, where the road ends and the sun reigns, about 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles and hour's drive from the Mexican border. The vast state-owned property gets its name from the concrete slabs spread out across the desert floor, the last remnants of a World War II–era military base.
In the decades since it was decommissioned, dropouts and fugitives of all stripes have swelled its winter population to close to a thousand, though no one's really counting. These days, their numbers are growing thanks to a modest influx of recession refugees like the Angios, attracted by do-it-yourself, rent-free living beyond the reach of electricity, running water and the law. And while the complexion of the Slabs, as the place is locally known, may be changing in some ways, the same old rule applies: respect your neighbor, or stay the hell away. More
States seek currencies made of silver and gold
NEW YORK ) -- A growing number of states are seeking shiny new currencies made of silver and gold.
Worried that the Federal Reserve and the U.S. dollar are on the brink of collapse, lawmakers from 13 states, including Minnesota, Tennessee, Iowa, South Carolina and Georgia, are seeking approval from their state governments to either issue their own alternative currency or explore it as an option. Just three years ago, only three states had similar proposals in place.
"In the event of hyperinflation, depression, or other economic calamity related to the breakdown of the Federal Reserve System ... the State's governmental finances and private economy will be thrown into chaos," said North Carolina Republican Representative Glen Bradley in a currency bill he introduced last year.
Unlike individual communities, which are allowed to create their own currency -- as long as it is easily distinguishable from U.S. dollars -- the Constitution bans states from printing their own paper money or issuing their own currency. But it allows the states to make "gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts." More
Your iPhone Was Built, In Part, By 13 Year-Olds Working 16 Hours A Day For 70 Cents An Hour
We love our iPhones and iPads.
We love the prices of our iPhones and iPads.
We love the super-high profit margins of Apple, Inc., the maker of our iPhones and iPads.
And that's why it's disconcerting to remember that the low prices of our iPhones and iPads — and the super-high profit margins of Apple — are only possible because our iPhones and iPads are made with labor practices that would be illegal in the United States.
And it's also disconcerting to realize that the folks who make our iPhones and iPads not only don't have iPhones and iPads (because they can't afford them), but, in some cases, have never even seen them.
This is a complex issue. But it's also an important one. And it's only going to get more important as the world's economies continue to become more intertwined.
(And the issue obviously concerns a lot more companies than Apple. Almost all of the major electronics manufacturers make their stuff in China and other countries that have labor practices that would be illegal here. One difference with Apple, though, is the magnitude of the company's profit margin and profits. Apple could afford to pay its manufacturers more or hold them to higher standards and still be extremely competitive and profitable.) More
African Animals Getting Drunk From Ripe Marula Fruit
Almost anyone who has read a travel brochure about Africa has heard of elephants getting drunk from the fruit of the marula tree.
The lore holds that elephants can get drunk by eating the fermented fruit rotting on the ground. Books have been written asserting the truth of the phenomenon, and eyewitness accounts of allegedly intoxicated pachyderms have even been made.
But a study published in the March/April 2006 issue of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology tells a very different story.
Steve Morris, a biologist at the University of Bristol in England and a co-author of the study, says anecdotes of elephants found drunk in the wild go back more than a century.
“There are travelers’ tales from about 1839 reporting Zulu accounts that ‘elephants gently warm their brains with fermented fruits,’” Morris said. But there is nothing in the biology of either the African elephant or the marula fruit to support the stories, he asserts.
“People just want to believe in drunken elephants,” Morris said. More
The Food Aboard Pan Am
Once upon a time, about 50 years ago, travel by air was an elegant experience, a journey to be relished from start to finish.
The accommodations were luxurious, the service was superb, and the meals, served on fine china, were divine.
Just imagine dining on filet of sole with lobster sauce, prime ribs–rare, medium, or well done (your choice)–duckling, or shrimp, with all the trimmings including a glass of wine. If you were flying first class (the only way to travel!) caviar and a cocktail of your choice served before dinner. Dessert was special too, planned to feature a taste of the destination. On a trip to Hawaii, it might be macadamia nuts on ice cream; for England, Tipsy Pudding.
First-class dinner service was a 3-hour affair, recalls Barbara Braunstein, a former Pan Am stewardess. “The standard meal was seven courses, served on two-tiered carts set with linen and flowers,” she says. More
Police Arrest 'Frosty The Snowman' At Parade
Authorities in Chestertown, Md., said a fracas between police officers and "Frosty the Snowman" at an area holiday parade landed one costumed man in custody.
According to police, 52-year-old Kevin Michael Walsh, who was donning the "Frosty" suit, was arrested Saturday during the annual Christmas parade in Chestertown after he kicked at a police dog, The Star Democrat reported.
Walsh said he has participated in the parade in costume for the last 10 years and was stirred up only after his arrest, according to the publication.
The newspaper reported that Walsh was charged with assault and disorderly conduct and released on his own recognizance. There's no word if Walsh left the police station a jolly happy soul. More
'Tis the season, ye merry retailers, for shoplifting
As America's retail brands gear up to welcome hordes of holiday shoppers, here's a little something they might keep in mind: One in every 11 people who walk through the door are likely to walk out with at least one item he or she didn't pay for. Given that retailers are likely to lose $119 billion to shoplifters this year (1.45 percent of total sales), it's not surprising that the loss-prevention folks have studied this problem from every angle.
That's how we know only 3 percent of shoplifters are "professionals" who'll fence the goods, and most offenders are amateurs whose crimes are ones of opportunity.
"Seventy percent of shoplifters tell us they didn't plan to shoplift," says Barbara Staib, spokesperson for the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention. We also know that three-quarters of shoplifters aren't troubled teens; they're adults--most with jobs. And 35 percent of losses will happen with the help of a corrupt employee.
The scariest part? Shoplifting is up 6 percent compared to 2010--and many experts predict retailers will face record losses by year's end. "Our shrinkage rate is the highest it's been in five years," says Michael C. Creedon, North American vp of retail sales for ADT Commercial Security, who adds, "The economic environment has led to stealing for need-based purposes." Johnny Custer, director of field operations for Merchant Analytic Solutions, says, "Most shoplifters simply succumb to temptation. But add a sense of desperation because of the economy and holiday pressures, and you have the recipe for theft soup." More
Woman Gets Duped Into Buying Wooden Apple iPad for $180
In a new variation on the “brick in a box” scam, a South Carolina woman who thought she purchased an iPad from two men in a McDonald’s parking lot discovered yesterday that the purported tablet was actually “a piece of wood painted black with an Apple logo.”
According to a Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office report, Ashley McDowell, 22, told deputies that she was approached by two black males who claimed to have purchased iPads in bulk and were selling them for $300 apiece. After McDowell explained that she only had $180, the duo agreed to sell her the device at a cut rate.
But when McDowell drove home and opened the FedEx box containing the iPad, she instead discovered the wood with the Apple logo. The “screen”--which was framed with black tape--included replicas of iPad icons for Safari, mail, photos, and an iPod. It also had what cops described as a “Best Buy sales ticket.” More
It's Obama Fried Chicken! OFC pops up in China
Is Obama abandoning his bid for a second term in the White House and is giving Colonel Sanders a run for his money by opening a chain of fried chicken joints?
Now that's change you can't really believe in.
But in Beijing, China, a restaurant is actually calling itself OFC with a logo that looks alarmingly like the President dressed in the colonel's clothes.
The catchphrase underneath, apparently says 'We’re so cool, aren’t we?'
The Obama Fried Chicken could be a response to the U.S. filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization about Chinese tariffs on American chicken exports.
According to the New York Times, the tariffs affect an industry that employs about 300,000 people and range from 50 to 100 per cent, which means some Chinese importers paid as much as twice the price for American chicken. More
6 Mind Blowing Ways 'Starship Troopers' Predicted the Future
We really hope the war ends soon. For one, we want our troops home and safe, as soon as possible. But, as an on-the-side benefit, we'd really like to put an end to those damn war movies that keep coming out. From dramas like Lions For Lambs and The Hurt Locker, to gritty documentaries like Restrepo and No End In Sight, to savagely critical works like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Starship Troopers, it seems like more and more sandy and depressing war movies are taking over our cine-
Yes, Starship Troopers. The campy anti-war satire about a race from a distant, desert land, who out of nowhere strikes a civilian target in a way we didn't think was possible, leading to heavy-handed patriotic propaganda, and a headlong rush into a war with a poorly thought-out strategy that results in a quagmire. You don't have to agree with the message to get that it's clearly a satirical send-up of the War on Terror. If anything, it's too on-the-nose.
What's that, you say?
The movie was made in 1997, four years before 9/11? Hmmm. That is a problem. We mean, we're not saying Paul Verhoeven traveled forward in time and then traveled back to film a commentary on a future war (because that would be an absolutely HORRIBLE waste of time travel), but... well, yeah, maybe we're saying he did that. More
Last meals for condemned cons off menu
Before white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed Wednesday night for the infamous dragging death of a black man in deep East Texas, he ordered up a literal banquet for his last meal.
Two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, large bowl of fried okra, 3 fajitas and a pound of barbeque with a half-loaf of white bread on the side.
For dessert, he asked for a pint of Blue Bell ice cream.
According to prison officials, Brewer ate little, if any, of the Texas-sized feast. This morning, after an influential state senator blasted the menu as “ridiculous” and promised to end the practice of special last meals for execution-bound convicts, prison officials officially cancelled the long-standing program.
“They will receive the same meal served to other offenders” in the prison, said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He said the change will take effect immediately. More
Anonymous set to destroy Fox News
IAn attack on Fox News from the hacker group Anonymous has been a longtime coming. Now the collective says that an infiltration on the website for the Fair and Balanced news network will occur next month with Operation Fox Hunt slated for November 5.
An operative with the hacktivist group Anonymous narrates a video posted to the Web on October 22 that announces that an all-out attack on the Fox News website will come next month as retaliation for the network’s unjust attack on protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“Since they will not stop ridiculing the occupiers, we will simply shut them down,” says the digitzed voice in the recent YouTube clip. “Fox News, your time has come . . . Operation Fox Hunt. November 5th. May the hunt begin,” the narrator adds.
November 5 has already been designated by members of the growing Occupy Wall street movement as a practical holiday, with “Operation Cashback” expected to occur then across the world. Under that initiative, demonstrators are asked to close bank accounts across the globe and move money out of large banks and into smaller, local credit unions. Protesters aligned with the Occupy movement have already staged small cashback-style closures in branches across the United States, with an attempt at closing accounts at a Lower Manhattan Citibank earlier this month resulting in the arrest of several occupies. More
Starbucks Employee Fired After Parody Song Goes Viral
CHOWCHILLA, California -- A Starbucks employee in Chowchilla, California, was fired Tuesday after a parody song he sang about the company went viral on YouTube.
MercuryNews.com reported that Christopher Cristwell, 25, was dismissed after a Starbucks blog reposted the video and it was seen by Starbucks corporate heads.
"They were really cool about it," Cristwell told MercuryNews.com of Starbucks management. "The regional manager complimented me on my creative ability -- not on that specific song -- and then asked me why I did it. They were really trying to find out about my intent behind the videos."
Cristwell said his intent was strictly to satirize his job."I knew the consequences of posting the video online, and I'm not bitter at Starbucks for letting me go, but I am disappointed; it does suck," Cristwell said in the second video. More
Why Amazon Can't Make A Kindle In the USA
Yesterday I noted how conventional cost accounting inexorably focuses attention of executives on increasing short-term profits by cutting costs.
The same thing happens in economics. Take a recent economic study that set out to shed light on role of Chinese businesses vis-à-vis American consumers. Galina Hale and Bart Hobijn, two economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, did a study showing that only 2.7 percent of U.S. consumers purchases have the “Made in China” label. Moreover, only 1.2% actually reflects the cost of the imported goods. Thus, on average, of every dollar spent on an item labeled “Made in China,” 55 cents go for services produced in the United States. So the study trumpets the finding that China has only a tiny sliver of the U.S. economy.
So no problem, right?
Well, not exactly. The tiny sliver happens to be the sliver that matters. What economists miss is what is happening behind the numbers of dollars in the real economy of people. More
Arizona not monkeying with masked speeder
PHOENIX — Speed camera photos of the man in the monkey and giraffe masks have generated lots of chuckles. But the cops aren't laughing.
Dave VonTesmar, 47, started getting the $181.50 tickets last year, but it took Arizona state police several months to realize the same driver was repeatedly triggering speed cameras and refusing to pay the fines. By the time they did, more than 50 of the tickets had become invalid because the deadline for prosecution had passed.
VonTesmar, who has now amassed $6,7000 in fines, is fighting each citation by claiming he wasn't behind the wheel.
In Arizona, people who receive photo-enforcement tickets in the mail have four options: Agree they were driving and pay the fine, say they weren't driving and send in their driver's license photo as proof, request a court date and fight the ticket, or simply ignore the ticket because law enforcement can't prove they received it. The ticket becomes invalid if a violator who ignores it isn't served in person within three months.
On Aug. 19, DPS served VonTesmar in person with 37 tickets, mostly between 11 and 15 mph over the speed limit. The pictures accompanying the tickets show a driver wearing either a monkey or giraffe masks in VonTesmar's white Subaru, which has black-and-white checkered racing stickers on its sides and a sticker on the windshield that reads "Bucktooth Racin'." More
"Planking" pandemonium in Thailand
Thailand, of all places, has developed a particularly strong affinity for "planking." The Australia-born craze invovles lying prone and stiff in an unlikely location: atop a pool table, in a crowded bus terminal or, for the daring, on the ledge of a tall building.
Thailand has absorbed this fad in typical fashion: teenagers love it and stuffy cultural watchdogs bemoan it as an erosion of traditional values.
The head of Thailand's "Culture Watch Center" has warned society that "nude planking" photos have appeared online -- though thankfully most of these filthy pranksters are foreigners.
In one public release, she expressed particular concern over nude planking inside fish tanks which, she warned, "required plankers to tense their neck and body, leading to risk of getting cramp and therefore drowning to death." Any sort of public nude planking, she insisted, will invite criminal charges. Nude planking in private is legal but still "inappropriate," she said. More
Lennon was a closet Republican
John Lennon was a closet Republican, who felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, at the time of his death - according to the tragic Beatles star's last personal assistant.
Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon's death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.
In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn't the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.
He says, "John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.
"He'd met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event... Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that... He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me. More
Soldier, spy, serial seducer: The war hero who inspired James Bond
Brussels had just been liberated. In a bedroom on the second floor of a sumptuous mansion, Geoffrey Gordon-Creed, a handsome major in the British Army, and a pretty young Belgian girl were engaged in enthusiastic sexual athletics.
Suddenly, there was a loud rapping on the door. It was the girl’s father, a rich Belgian baron, suspicious that his daughter might have company and determined to protect her honour.
The major immediately clambered out of the window and perched on the ledge. While the baron searched the bedroom, outside on the window ledge, Gordon-Creed clung to the shutters, stark naked and shivering.
‘The moon,’ he recalled, ‘was shining on my a***. My “precious gift to womankind” had shrunk to nothing and a small but enthusiastic crowd was beginning to collect below.’
At last Papa departed, apologising for his unfounded suspicions. Gordon-Creed climbed back in through the window and resumed his business.
His Belgian girl was just the latest in a long string of lovers who had livened up the war for Geoffrey Gordon-Creed. By its end, he had not only been highly decorated, awarded a Military Cross and a Distinguished Service Order for his bravery, but had notched up numerous conquests of the other sort in bedrooms across Europe. More
Women who post lots of photos of themselves on Facebook value appearance, need attention, study finds
A study on how people use social networking websites such as Facebook confirms what many of us suspected. Women who post loads of photos of themselves on their sites are conveying some strong personal characteristics, according to new research. These women are more likely to base their self-worth on appearance and use social networking to compete for attention.
The study involved 311 men and women with an average age of 23. In order to better understand aspects of social networking behavior, the researchers looked at the amount of time subjects spent managing profiles, the number of photos they shared, the size of their online networks and how promiscuous they were in terms of “friending” behavior. The participants completed a questionnaire designed to measure self worth and were asked about their typical behaviors on Facebook.
There were differences between women and men. Overall, the results suggest that, compared with men, females identify more strongly with their image and appearance and use Facebook to compete for attention, said the lead author of the study, Michael A. Stefanone, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Buffalo.
The women who had the largest social networks and posted more photos of themselves were more highly vested in their appearance." More
Elderly Woman Single-Handedly Shuts Down Armenian Internet
A 75-year-old Georgian woman shut down the Internet in neighboring Armenia for more than 12 hours last month when she sliced through a fiber optic cable while looking for scrap metal, according to Georgian officials.
Nearly all of Armenia was without Internet access on March 28 and customers of one of the largest Georgian Internet service providers, Caucasus Online, also lost access for nearly five hours, according to Bloomberg.
The woman was arrested by Georgian authorities and charged with property damage, the news agency reported Wednesday. She was "temporarily released due to her old age" on the day of the incident, Bloomberg quoted Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Zurab Gvenetadze as saying.
She has confessed to damaging a cable belonging to Georgian Railway Telecom while looking for copper near the Georgian village of Ksani. More
Maine town becomes first to declare food sovereignty
The town of Sedgwick, Maine, currently leads the pack as far as food sovereignty is concerned. Local residents recently voted unanimously at a town hall meeting to pass an ordinance that reinforces its citizens' God-given rights to "produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing," which includes even state- and federally-restricted foods like raw milk.
The declaration is one of the first of its kind to be passed in the US, and it is definitely not the last. Several other Maine towns -- including Penobscott, Brooksville, and Blue Hill -- all have similar ordinances up for vote in the coming weeks.
"Tears of joy welled in my eyes as my town voted to adopt this ordinance," said Mia Strong, a Sedgwick resident who frequents local farms. "I am so proud of my community. They made a stand for local food and our fundamental rights as citizens to choose that food." More
Egyptian father names his daughter “Facebook” after revolution
An Egyptian man has decided to show his appreciation towards Facebook for its role during the revolution in his country by naming his firstborn daughter Facebook. The report comes from the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram, translated by TechCrunch:
A young man in his twenties wanted to express his gratitude about the victories the youth of 25th of January have achieved and chose to express it in the form of naming his firstborn girl “Facebook” Jamal Ibrahim (his name.) The girl’s family, friends, and neighbors in the Ibrahimya region gathered around the new born to express their continuing support for the revolution that started on Facebook. “Facebook” received many gifts from the youth who were overjoyed by her arrival and the new name. A name [Facebook] that shocked the entire world.
Egyptian dictator Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak was in power from 1981 until February 11, 2011, when he resigned after 18 days of protests. Facebook has been credited for helping organize regime-ending protests in the country. Although the Egyptian revolution saw some planning done via Twitter, direct text messages, and other forms of electronic communication, Facebook has come to symbolize all the forms of social media that people used to organize the revolutions in the Middle East. More
Modern Earthlings would be unfazed by an alien landing
Proof that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is unlikely to upset modern Earthlings, an expert has claimed.
Times have changed dramatically since 1961 when the US Congress was warned that evidence of extra-terrestrials would lead to widespread panic, argued psychologist Dr Albert Harrison.
First contact with ET, or the discovery of ancient alien relics on Earth or Mars, would probably be met with delight or indifference today, he believes.
Meanwhile, other experts, including Dr Martin Dominik, from the University of St Andrews, said that given the right conditions Earth-like life could be a "cosmic imperative" and evolve the same way everywhere. Aliens at a comparable stage of evolution to humans were therefore likely to be little different from us.
Dr Harrison, from the University of California at Davis, US, wrote in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: "The discovery of ETI (extra-terrestrial intelligence] may be far less startling for generations that have been brought up with word processors, electronic calculators, avatars and cell phones as compared with earlier generations." More
Futurology: The tricky art of knowing what will happen next
Geoffrey Hoyle is often asked why he predicted everybody would be wearing jumpsuits by 2010. He envisioned a world where everybody worked a three-day week and had their electric cars delivered in tubes of liquid.
These colourful ideas from his 1972 children's book, 2010: Living in the Future, helped prompt a Facebook campaign to track him down. His work has now been reprinted with the year in the title amended to 2011.
"I've been criticised because I said people [would] wear jumpsuits," explains Hoyle, the son of noted astronomer and science fiction author Fred Hoyle. "We don't wear jumpsuits but to a certain extent the idea of the jumpsuit is the restriction of liberties."
Hoyle's book is a product of its time. The move towards a planned society with an emphasis on communal living colour it.
"Most of it is based on the evolution of a political system," Hoyle notes.
The author also predicted widespread use of "vision phones" and doing your grocery shopping online. More
End of an era: Last roll of Kodachrome film developed as digital revolution brings 75 years of camera history to a close
It was a photographic breakthrough that helped capture some of the 20th century's most iconic images.
But now Kodachrome, the first commercially successful colour film, has become history itself after it was developed for the last time yesterday.
Dwayne's Photo, a family-run business in Parsons, Kansas, was the last place in the world where the 75-year-old Kodak product could be developed.
The die was cast after Kodak announced in June last year that it would stop making the chemicals needed to develop Kodachrome in a round of cost-cutting after the company reported a £84million loss.
But it pledged to supply Dwayne's Photo in Kansas with the chemicals until the end of 2010. The shop's machine was shut down for the last time yesterday but only after fans of the film had travelled there from cross the world to get theirs developed. More
'People should smoke and drink more’, says Russian finance minister
Russia’s finance minister has told people to smoke and drink more, explaining that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services.
Speaking as the Russian government announces plan to raise duty on alcohol and cigarettes, Alexei Kudrin said that by smoking a pack, “you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates”.
“People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state,” he told the Interfax news agency. Alcohol and cigarette consumption are already extremely high in Russia, where 65 per cent of men smoke and the average Russian consumes 18 litres of alcoholic beverages per year, mainly vodka, according to official statistics. More
Beer Good for the Bones
As wine gets showered with publicity for its heart-fortifying, health-boosting effects, beer has maintained a reputation as a dietary wasteland, full of empty calories. But beer, according to growing research, has some powerful nutritional properties, too.
In one of the latest studies, scientists found that some varieties of beer contain large amounts of silicon, a nutrient that helps strengthen bones. Although the study didn't specifically test the health effects of a cold frothy pint, the findings suggest that moderate beer drinking might help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other diseases.
"The wine guys have stolen the moral high ground," said Charles Bamforth, a biochemist and professor of food science at the University of California, Davis. "The reality is there's now growing consensus around the world that the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages that counters atherosclerosis is alcohol. It doesn't matter if it's wine or beer." More
Gold-covered female skeleton found on Crete is 2,700 years old
A grave dating to the 7th century BC has been discovered on the Greek island of Crete. Unique in the Greek world, one of two female skeletons was completely covered with 3,000 pieces of gold foil.
Greek archaeologists have uncovered an ancient skeleton covered with gold in a grave near the ancient town of Eleutherna in central Crete.
Although some articles reporting this find have said the skeleton was covered with gold foil, excavator Nicholas Stampolidis has explained that the small pieces of gold, measuring up to 1.5 inches, had originally been been sewn onto a shroud covering the woman's body, yet that the cloth has meanwhile disintegrated.
"Over the past 25 years, during which time obesity levels have increased enormously, there has actually been no change in our levels of physical activity," he said at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.
"We seem to have homeostatic mechanism that regulates our calorie expenditure. The more exercise we do during the day, the less active we are during the evening. More
Obesity epidemic simply caused by eating too much
Despite appearances, overall physical activity levels have remained constant for the last quarter of a century during which time weight levels have rocketed, Professor John Speakman said.
He claimed that the average man burned 1380 calories per day in the 1980s and continues to do so today. The average woman has burned 950 calories a day during the same period.
What has changed is that calorie intake has increased by at least a third to on average 3,500 calories a day, he said.
Prof Speakman, who is a member of the Energetics Research Group at the University of Aberdeen, said that his research showed that small changes in lifestyle were not enough to fight the obesity crisis.
"Over the past 25 years, during which time obesity levels have increased enormously, there has actually been no change in our levels of physical activity," he said at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.
"We seem to have homeostatic mechanism that regulates our calorie expenditure. The more exercise we do during the day, the less active we are during the evening. More
New Wave of Spanish-Language Sci-Fi Films Tackle Alien Incursions
It Spanish-language sci-fi thrived in the 1960s, when Mexican filmmakers churned out dozens of outrageous B movies like Santo the Silver Mask vs. The Martian Invasion. Now, a wave of more-sophisticated films hover on the horizon.
The latest to pop onto the radar is Extraterrestre, by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo.
The Spanish writer-director, who made 2007’s time-travel mind-melter Timecrimes, cites Philip K. Dick’s Ubik as inspiration for the film.
Hinting at the film’s premise, he writes on his blog, roughly translated: “What if the apocalypse, instead of being a global blow, is a terminal accumulation of domestic disasters?”
Then there’s Seres: Genesis, centered on a little girl (played by Luisa Guerrero) who pays a high price after surviving a collision with an extraterrestrial spacecraft. More
The World’s Best Second Passports
It probably seems like a radical idea to those who were born and lived their lives in only one country, but individuals with financial means and a little determination can, without much trouble, become international citizens. That’s done by acquiring a second citizenship in another country. Along with that dual legal status comes an official second passport.
Acquiring a second passport can expand rights and freedom. For an American, the benefits include freer world travel and fewer problems from officious border guards or nosey customs and immigration officials. A second passport opens doors offshore otherwise closed to Americans. Best of all, dual citizenship and a second passport can be your key to reduced taxes and increased asset protection—and it could even protect your life. More
Frugal teen buys house with 4-H winnings
Lindsay Binegar was 14 the first time she spent any winnings from years of showing hogs. She bought a purse. The second time, at 18, she splurged. She bought a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a two-car garage. And she paid in cash.
"I've never heard of a teenager buying a house," said Nikki Gasbarro, spokeswoman for the Ohio Association of Realtors. "Smart girl."
The Greenfield teenager has been saving money since she was 4 years old and won $100 showing a hog. "I didn't get the money; it went to the bank," said Binegar, now a 19-year-old freshman at Ohio University's Chillicothe branch.
And so the pattern began. She'd raise a few hogs every year on the family farm in Highland County, show them at competitions and add any winnings or sales proceeds to her savings account.
"She's pretty tight," said Lindsay's dad, Gary. "She's always been big into 4-H, and every penny she made she just banked." More
Somali sea gangs lure investors at pirate lair
ISomalia - In Somalia's main pirate lair of Haradheere, the sea gangs have set up a cooperative to fund their hijackings offshore, a sort of stock exchange meets criminal syndicate.
Heavily armed pirates from the lawless Horn of Africa nation have terrorized shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and strategic Gulf of Aden, which links Europe to Asia through the Red Sea.
The gangs have made tens of millions of dollars from ransoms and a deployment by foreign navies in the area has only appeared to drive the attackers to hunt further from shore.
It is a lucrative business that has drawn financiers from the Somali diaspora and other nations -- and now the gangs in Haradheere have set up an exchange to manage their investments. One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed showed off the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved. More
Cash-strapped states go online, hoping to tax sales
For years, consumers have counted a legal quirk that allows many Internet retailers to forgo charging sales tax as one of the perks of shopping online. But as states face yawning budget gaps, there is a growing movement to lay claim to the billions of dollars lost through the loophole each year.
In most states, the burden is on shoppers to track what they buy online, calculate the sales tax owed and then pay it. In reality, few consumers fess up -- many do not even know such a requirement exists. That will result in $9 billion in unpaid state and local sales taxes this year, according to a study at the University of Tennessee.
Now, states are eyeing those dollars. About a dozen, including Maryland and Virginia, this year have considered legislation that would force online retailers to collect the tax, though only a handful of bills have passed. Some states have even taken the unusual step of asking sites such as Amazon to provide lists of what residents have bought and how much they've spent, sparking concerns over consumer privacy. More
The world's only immortal animal
The turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth.
Since it is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. Scientists say the hydrozoan jellyfish is the only known animal that can repeatedly turn back the hands of time and revert to its polyp state (its first stage of life).
The key lies in a process called transdifferentiation, where one type of cell is transformed into another type of cell. Some animals can undergo limited transdifferentiation and regenerate organs, such as salamanders, which can regrow limbs. Turritopsi nutricula, on the other hand, can regenerate its entire body over and over again. Researchers are studying the jellyfish to discover how it is able to reverse its aging process. More
‘Cannabis crown' coming to Aspen
A version of Amsterdam's “Cannabis Cup” is coming to Aspen, in which medical marijuana growers, providers, patients and others in the industry will convene over one weekend in April.
The First Annual Western Slope Cannabis Crown, organized by Glenwood Springs resident Bobby Scurlock and the owners of High Country Caregivers, will be held April 17-18 at The Gant.
The conference is open to the public and will include speakers, live music, information booths, and most notably, a competition among providers that showcases their best strains. Growers and providers will vie for the “cannabis crown.”
Scurlock said he hopes to draw about 50 dispensaries from around Colorado and their strains will be tested by Denver-based Full Spectrum Laboratories. The marijuana strains will be diagnostically tested for their THC levels and how it matches up with patients' ailments. More
Study: Men Slack Off More Than Women
DENVER -- Researchers have confirmed what wives have long suspected: Men slack off more than women.
Each day American men on average have an extra 38 minutes of leisure time compared to women in the United States, according to a study of Western countries by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
Over the year that adds up to 13,870 minutes -- or almost 10 days -- of extra time off for American men compared to the chores that women toil through on a given day.
But Italian men are the world's slacker kings. Italian men have an average of almost 80 minutes more leisure each day than Italian women do. That's double the U.S. level, according to the OECD. More
Confucius says no to ‘subversive’ blockbuster Avatar
Here is the choice: a blockbuster involving noble aliens, evil humans and stunning effects that is breaking cinematic records all over the world. Or a patriotic film featuring the life of Confucius.
In China the public may not be given the choice at all. Despite long queues for tickets to see Avatar — which was expected to earn more than 500 million yuan (£45 million) at the Chinese box office — reports claim that the film will be removed from screens for being subversive.
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that the state-run China Film Group had instructed cinemas nationwide to stop showing the 2-D version of Avatar from January 23 on orders from Beijing’s propaganda chiefs.
It is not just the desire to entertain the masses with a Chinese movie that has prompted the censors to step in and pull James Cameron’s hit from 2-D screens. The Government fears that too many citizens might be making a link between the plight of Avatar’s Na’vi people as they are thrown off their land and the numerous, often brutal, evictions endured closer to home by residents who get in the way of property developers. More
Placebos getting more effective. Drugmakers wonder why
Merck was in trouble. In 2002, the pharmaceutical giant was falling behind its rivals in sales. Even worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generics to flood the market. The company hadn't introduced a truly new product in three years, and its stock price was plummeting.
In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck's research director, laid out his battle plan to restore the firm to preeminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company's reach into the antidepressant market, where Merck had lagged while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. "To remain dominant in the future," he told Forbes, "we need to dominate the central nervous system."
His plan hinged on the success of an experimental antidepressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it looked like every pharma executive's dream: a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. More
Jesus-Shooting-Santa Display Riles Neighbors
A Christmas display featuring Jesus shooting Santa Claus and a run-over Rudolph is riling some residents of a California neighborhood, KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, Calif., reported.
Homeowner Ron Lake said his Christmas display in Nipomo is an expression of his repressed creativity, and that Santa represents the commercialism of Christmas.
His neighbors disagree and they're upset -- they say the disturbing display will upset children. A school bus stop is just outside the fence that separates the display from the town's main roads.
"I know it's freedom of speech, but it's pretty disturbing and there are lots of children. That's our main concern," one neighbor said. More
Russian missile failure sparks UFO frenzy
MOSCOW -- The failure of a new Russian intercontinental ballistic missile during testing was the cause of spectacular spiraling blue lights in the skies over northern Norway, analysts said Thursday.
Russia's defense ministry said a Bulava missile was launched Wednesday by a nuclear submarine submerged in the White Sea and its third stage suffered an unspecified failure.
Photographs and amateur video footage of the bluish-white in the Norwegian skies have been circulating on the Internet since Wednesday and spawning speculation of UFOs. The ministry did not confirm the lights were the result of the failed launch but military analysts said they clearly came from the Bulava explosion.
"This kind of light show comes from a failed missile launch," said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent military analyst. "Russia has run free fireworks for the Norwegians." More