Saturday, November 15, 2008

ZombieWatch: England wants to harvest your organs.

Yipes. Why does Gordon Brown want to feast on Britons' fleshy organs??? From Times Online:

History, if it has any sense, will come to judge Gordon Brown with deep moral disapproval. Somehow the man has managed to blind most of us to his obvious faults, but I will take only one – his obstinacy in clinging, with all the force of his moral authority, such as it is, to morally dubious policies, against all advice and in defiance of the evidence.

I mean his emotional support for a scheme to turn us all into organ donors, willy nilly, unless we individually opt out. In January Brown went public in an impassioned newspaper article, saying a system of presumed consent could save thousands of lives and “close the aching gap” between the benefits of organ transplants and “the limits imposed by our current system of consent”.

This is wrong in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, and embarrassingly for the prime minister, the organ donation taskforce he set up will firmly oppose presumed consent this week. The experts think such a system would do little or nothing to help the people who now face avoidable deaths because of the shortage of organ transplants.

[...] The thinking behind this is pure socialism. You and all your assets belong to the state to tax, teach, reeducate, redistribute and, generally speaking, harvest as it sees fit. It is an attitude that was tested to destruction in the bitter miseries of the 20th century but, like Dracula, it is mysteriously undead.

The more civilised view, surely, is that although we share our assets with others, and they with us, it is because we feel a common duty to give, not because anyone has a right to take. We pay our taxes, most of us, and give to charity, by political choice and out of a sense of solidarity, through democratic agreement. However, our bodies and our incomes and our talents and our thoughts are our own, most particularly our bodies. This is an essential assumption of freedom and personal autonomy.

Chicken or egg? Scientists discover answer.... dinosaurs.

This article has a tantalizing headline, but it's a bunch of disingenuous BS. C'mon, Live Science. You're better than this.

Which Came First? Eggs Before Chickens, Scientists Now Say

A rare fossilized dinosaur nest helps answer the conundrum of which came first, the chicken or the egg, two paleontologists say.

The small carnivorous dinosaur sat over her nest of eggs some 77 million years ago, along a sandy river beach. When water levels rose, Mom seems to have fled, leaving the unhatched offspring.

[...] Well, it’s still unclear whether chicken eggs or chickens came first (the intended question in the original riddle), said Darla Zelenitsky, a paleontologist of the University of Calgary in Alberta who was the first scientist to closely analyze the dinosaur nest.

But interpreted literally, the answer to the riddle is clear. Dinosaurs were forming bird-like nests and laying bird-like eggs long before birds (including chickens) evolved from dinosaurs.

"The egg came before the chicken," Zelenitsky said. "Chickens evolved well after the meat-eating dinosaurs that laid these eggs."

Okay, so now which came first? The dinosaur or the egg?

Top 10 ugliest famous buildings and monuments.

True this! Reuters hits the nail on the head - at least the ones I've seen. Here's the list and click here for the write-up and pics.

1. Boston City Hall; Boston, MA
2. Montparnasse Tower; Paris, France
3. LuckyShoe Monument; Tuuri, Finland
4. Metropolitan Cathedral; Liverpool, England
5. Port Authority Bus Terminal; NY, NY (I didn't realize this was considered a famous landmark)
6. Torres de Colon; Madrid, Spain
7. Liechtenstein Museum of Fine Arts; Vaduz, Liechtenstein
8. Scottish Parliament Building; Edinburgh, Scotland
9. Birmingham Central Library; Birmingham, England
10. Peter the Great Statue; Moscow, Russia

Personally, I'd like to add:

- The Swiss Re Tower (aka The Gherkin); London, UK
- Pompidou Centre; Paris, France
- Anything by Frank Gehry (especially the EMP in Seattle)
- Any type of space needle, sky needle, or variation thereof

Happy News redesigned.

Happy News got a facelift and is now 30% happier.

I like Happy News because they only post feel-good news items, as opposed to, well, the rest of any type of media.

Their credo:

We believe virtue, goodwill and heroism are hot news. That's why we bring you up-to-the-minute news, geared to lift spirits and inspire lives. Add in a diverse team of Citizen Journalists reporting positive stories from around the world, and you've got one happy place for news.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Xinhua: Scientists make breakthrough in database research.

BBC: 100 countries to sign cluster bomb ban. (Guess who's not signing.)

: Michael Jackson gives up Neverland Ranch.

Science Daily: Schools of fish vote for leader in elections. Palin to run.

New Scientist: Food tastes good because of mouth bacteria.

Daily Mail: Britain's "Erin Brockovich" wins landmark battle against pesticides.

Breitbart: Inmate granted early parole because he's "too fat for jail".

Boston Globe: Cervical cancer vaccine also prevents male genital warts!

McClatchy: Scientists rethinking what makes us old.

Gawker is selling/shuttering Consumerist.

It would be a shame if the Consumerist closes down. It's the only one in the Gawker stable of snarky sites that's of any use. The Consumerist not only points out the bad behavior of retailers and other companies, but holds their feet to the fire. Consumerist and its readers have built up enough voice and clout to stand up to companies that behave badly, oftentimes resulting in positive changes.

One commenter quoted from Gawker (didn't find the source quote):
"Of 18 titles launched at Gawker Media, we've already spun off or shuttered six. Even now, 91% of advertising revenues come from the top six remaining titles. ... It's time to choose which properties make it aboard the lifeboat."
As another commenter noted:
"Irony at it's best. You would figure a company blogging about the downturn would be able to keep THE blog about how it affects our consumerism habits in the green."

Girls attacked with acid at Afghan schools.

From FOX News:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — No students showed up at Mirwais Mena girls' school in the Taliban's spiritual birthplace the morning after it happened.

A day earlier, men on motorcycles attacked 15 girls and teachers with acid.

The men squirted the acid from water bottles onto three groups of students and teachers walking to school Wednesday, principal Mehmood Qaderi said. Some of the girls have burns only on their school uniforms but others will have scars on their faces.

One teenager still cannot open her eyes after being hit in the face with acid.

"Today the school is open, but there are no girls," Qaderi said Thursday. "Yesterday, all of the classes were full." His school has 1,500 students.

Afghanistan's government condemned the attack as "un-Islamic" and blamed it on the "country's enemies," a typical reference to Taliban militants. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, denied the insurgents were involved.

Girls were banned from schools under the rule of the Taliban is the hard-line Islamist regime that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Women were only allowed to leave the house wearing a body-hiding burqa and accompanied by a male family member.

Mexico City to give out free Viagra to older men.

Yet abortion is illegal in most of Mexico. From Breitbart:
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico City is giving out free Viagra and other impotence drugs to men 70 and older.

Mayor Marcelo Ebrard says the city is implementing the plan because sexuality "has a lot to do with quality of life and our happiness."

City Health Secretary Armando Ahued said Thursday that the government will start handing out doses of one or two Viagra, Levitra or Cialis pills on Dec. 1.

They will be distributed at three centers that specialize in sexual health for the elderly. The men will receive medical examinations before receiving the pills.

Ahued says an estimated 112,000 men 70 or older live in the Federal District, which has a population of 8.7 million.

Nonwhite kids more likely to die waiting for heart transplants.

From ABC News:
New research showing that children of color are more likely to die waiting for a heart transplant than their white counterparts has the scientific community asking more questions than before about why this might be the case.

Using data from the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) during an eight-year period, the study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston, showed that wait-list mortality was 14 percent for white children, 19 percent for black children, 21 percent for Hispanic children and 27 percent for other groups awaiting a heart transplant.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What happens if you eat dog food?

I know the economy is bad, but cmon people! From LiveScience:
If you just eat a little bit of dog food, probably nothing will happen. But you don't really know that for sure because dog food is not subjected to the same health and safety regulations that human food is required to have.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for setting human food safety guidelines to prevent sickness due to contaminated or improperly handled products. In addition, the FDA is responsible for ensuring that food product labels are accurate in terms of ingredient listing and nutritional content.

Dog food does not have these same strict rules that human food has. Although most dog food contains the same basic components that are in people food — protein, carbohydrates and fats — the proportions of these ingredients are different than in human food and can be harmful if ingested in significant quantities or for prolonged periods of time. The same is true if you feed a dog the wrong proportion of these nutrients by giving it an unbalanced human diet.

Dog food contains many of the same ingredients as human food, like chicken, meat, and vegetables, but it may also contain animal by-products — for example, ground-up animal bones or organs like the intestines.

The best advice is to keep dog food for dogs and human food for humans!

More severed feet washing up in Canada.

What the hell is up with Canada? From CNN:
What appears to be a separated human foot inside a shoe -- possibly the sixth discovered in Canada's British Columbia in the past 15 months -- has been found on a riverbank, Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Wednesday.

[...] Before Tuesday, five feet -- all inside running shoes -- had washed ashore in southern British Columbia since August 2007. One of them, a right New Balance shoe, was found May 22 on Kirkland Island. That foot was determined to belong to a female, authorities said.

The provincial coroners' office said in July that DNA tests determined that two of the five feet -- a right foot found February 8 and a left foot found June 16 -- were from the same male, but they said they didn't know to whom any of the feet belonged.

Obama win triggers run on guns.

People are scary and so very, very lame. From the Chicago Tribune:
HOUSTON — A week after the election of Barack Obama, gun buyers across the country are voting with their feet, flocking to gun stores to stock up on assault rifles, handguns and ammunition.

Some say they are worried that the incoming Obama administration will attempt to reimpose the ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004. Others fear the loss of their right to own handguns. A few say they are preparing to protect themselves in the event of a race war.

But whatever the reason, gun dealers in red and blue states alike say they've never seen anything like the run on weaponry they've been experiencing since Election Day— surpassing even the panic buying in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"People are terrified of losing their right to protect themselves," said DeWayne Irwin, owner of Cheaper Than Dirt, a large gun store in Ft. Worth. "The volume is 10 times what we ever expected. It started with assault rifles, but at this point people are buying ammunition, high-capacity magazines, Glocks—it's all flying off the shelf. With the economy the way it is, people are worried about instability. They are scared of civil unrest."

[...] One expert sees a darker motive driving some post-election gun purchasers.

"Why are white people buying assault weapons?" said Ben Agger, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington who wrote a book about the Virginia Tech slayings. "I almost hate to say it, but there is a deep-seated fear of the armed black man, because Obama now commands the military and other instruments of the justice system. They are afraid Obama will exact retribution for the very deep-seated legacy of slavery."

Man attacks girlfriend over macaroni.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster does not condone domestic violence. From Breitbart:
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) - An unemployed man faces a domestic assault charge after he allegedly attacked his girlfriend last Saturday for making him macaroni for dinner. Investigator Dale Matuszczak said the woman called for help after locking herself in a bathroom.

Matuszczak said she apparently had been hit with a cooking pot, suffering a cut on her nose and bruise on her face.

According to the police report, the man was intoxicated and assaulted the woman when he discovered she made macaroni for his dinner. Food was tossed around the house as he hit the woman with the pot.

The man was arrested and charged with second-degree domestic assault.

Diamonds can be produced from tequila.

Maybe you can use the worm as the ring band! From BBC:

A method of producing synthetic diamonds using tequila - Mexico's favourite alcoholic drink - has been discovered, scientists there say.

The amazing discovery was made by physicists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and could have many industrial uses.

There is one catch however. The synthetic diamond crystals are too small to be turned into jewellery.

[...] The head of the scientific team, Miguel Apatica explained to the BBC how they came up with their discovery. "First of all we turn the liquid tequila into vapour by using a lot of heat. The gas molecules are then broken up into tiny particles. Then we increase the heat even further - to around 800 degrees celsius."

"The end result is that we get carbon atoms which are then deposited in the shape of a very thin diamond film," he added.

The synthetic diamond crystals can only be seen under an electronic microscope.

ZombieWatch: Victoria's Secret bras causing rashes, hives, scarring.

Formaldehyde, rashes and scarring... Is Victoria's Secret trying to create a race of busty zombies?? From ABC News:
The secret is out for one of the world's most recognizable lingerie brands, according to a potential class action lawsuit in which consumers claim they've experienced very uncomfortable symptoms, like rashes, hives and permanent scarring from Victoria's Secret bras.

"I had the welts ... very red, hot to the touch, extremely inflamed, blistery. It itched profusely," said Roberta Ritter, who describes herself as a longtime Victoria's Secret shopper. "I couldn't sleep, waking up itching.

[...] The firm representing Ritter has done some investigating of its own. The firm said it purchased the same bra types named in the suit from Victoria's Secret and sent them to a lab. It said the bras tested positive for the chemical formaldehyde.

But, Victoria's Secret denied the accusation.

"We have strict quality controls around our products, and we do not use formaldehyde in our bras," the company said in a statement.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Scottish tourists go on Aussie McDonalds rampage.

These guys are real robble-robble rousers. From

A SCOTTISH tourist who flew into a rage and threw an EFTPOS machine at a McDonald's manager in Queensland because he couldn't order what he wanted has been fined $500.

Andrew Hamish Deans, 20, from Edinburgh, pleaded guilty in Cairns Magistrates' Court yesterday to a public nuisance offence, The Cairns Post reports.

The court heard he and two friends went to the McDonald's on the Cairns Esplanade at about 5am on October 5 and when they were told that only the breakfast menu was on offer, they became angry and aggressive toward the staff.

When the manager intervened, Deans threw the EFTPOS machine at his head.

Armed robbers flee from cheese.

From Ananova:

A German supermarket cashier foiled three armed robbers by pelting them with cheese.

The masked men demanded the store's daily takings at gunpoint in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, but cashier Martina Bolle, 50, refused to hand them over.

Instead they fled when she grabbed packs of cheese from the deli counter and began bombarding the hapless gunmen with them.

"She hit one of them smack in the face with a very ripe gorgonzola which must have been like getting a dose of natural CS gas," said one shopper.

AIG, begging for taxpayer bailouts, holds $400K exec party.

Where your tax money is going.... From ABC News:

Even as the company was pleading the federal government for another $40 billion dollars in loans, AIG sent top executives to a secret gathering at a luxury resort in Phoenix last week.

Reporters for (KNXV) caught the AIG executives on hidden cameras poolside and leaving the spa at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, despite apparent efforts by the company to disguise its involvement.

"AIG made significant efforts to disguise the conference, making sure there were no AIG logos or signs anywhere on the property," KNXV reported. A hotel employee told KNXV reporter Josh Bernstein, "We can't even say the word [AIG]."

A company spokesperson, Nick Ashooh, confirmed AIG instructed the hotel to make sure there were no AIG signs or mention of the company by staff. "We're trying to avoid confrontation, keep our profile low," said Ashooh. "Some of our employees have been harassed."

"What do they have to hide," asked Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who said he had been promised by AIG CEO Edward Liddy that the company would stop such "junkets."

"They came to us and said they were drowning and needed help. A person who is drowning doesn't jump up and start partying," said Congressman Cummings.

Cummings said Liddy should resign as AIG CEO.

The AIG spokesman said Cummings "was mistaken" about the nature of the Phoenix event. "It's terrible," said former AIG chairman Hank Greenberg. "I don't think the left hand knows what the right hand is doing there."

AIG came under fire last month when Congressional investigators revealed its executives attended a seminar for independent insurance agents at another luxury resort, in Southern California.

The AIG spokesman said the meeting in Phoenix was for independent financial advisors and "was the kind of thing we have to do to run our business."

Company officials confirmed the company spent an estimated $343,000 to sponsor the 2008 Asset Management Conference. A spokesperson said much of the cost would be recouped from product sponsors at the conference.

Hair proteins originally used for making claws.

How awesome would it be if we had claws sticking out of our heads and, err, other areas? Awesome, I tells ya!! From LiveScience:

Having a bad hair day? You're excused. After all, hair has its origins in stuff that used to make just claws. Research now suggests that hair of all kinds extends much further back into evolutionary time, with birds and reptiles having genes for hair proteins.

Scientists previously had thought hair was just a mammalian thing, with its evolution cropping up after the mammalian lineage split from the reptilian lineage. The first mammals arose on Earth about 210 million years ago. Humans, birds and reptiles have a common ancestor that goes back some 300 million years, said researcher Leopold Eckhart of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria.

Turns out, the common ancestor of reptiles and mammals likely had genes for making keratin proteins, the building blocks of hair, though these proteins were used for claws not hair.

[...] Our hair also is mostly made up of keratin proteins, and so are our nails. So to figure out where our hair came from ancestrally, Eckhart and his colleagues looked for hair-keratin genes in the genomes of a chicken and a lizard, mammals' close relatives. They found one human-like keratin gene in the chicken and six such match-ups in the lizard.

The study suggests that hair keratins evolved first in our bird and reptile ancestors. In the case of the anole lizard, the hair-keratin genes were used for forming claws and possibly their body scales.

GOP congressman compares Obama to Hitler.

Jackass or lunatic? From Google News:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Obama's comments about a national security force came during a speech in Colorado about building a new civil service corps. Among other things, he called for expanding the nation's foreign service and doubling the size of the Peace Corps "to renew our diplomacy."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gift card holders may lose their money if companies go bankrupt.

Dang, this sucks. I have a Circuit City gift card I better use soon. From Newsday:
On Wall Street, lawmakers are talking about how "toxic debt" threatens banks and lending. Out on Main Street, shoppers better start thinking about "toxic" gift cards from companies that could go bankrupt. They won't be worth the plastic they are printed on.

There's a new realization that holding a gift card from a troubled retailer is like having a bank account without FDIC insurance.

It's not an idle worry.

Shoppers spent an estimated $26.3 billion on gift cards at retailers last Christmas season, compared with $24.8 billion in 2006 and $18.5 billion in 2005, according to the National Retail Federation.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

NJ councilman arrested for urinating on crowd.

It's refreshing to have a politician who LITERALLY pisses all over his voters. From the NY Daily News:

A drunken Jersey City councilman was arrested for urinating on a crowd of concertgoers from the balcony of a Washington nightclub, police and club sources said Saturday.

Councilman Steven Lipski was caught relieving himself onto several revelers at the 9:30 Club during a concert by a Grateful Dead tribute band Friday night, club sources said.

"He was very drunk," the source said, noting that it wasn't the first time Lipski had caused a ruckus at the popular concert venue.

"We've dealt with this man before," the source added. "He's never peed on anybody, but he gets really belligerent and drunk."


LiveScience: Facts behind popular diet pills.

New York: Can The Daily Show survive the Obama presidency?

NY1: NYC considering tolls on all East River bridges.

Universe Today: Cool image of recent asteroid impact into our atmosphere.

Consumerist: Circuit City closing 155 stores, but don't expect many deals.

WZZM13: Bowler dies just after completing life-long goal of rolling a 300.

$700B bailout being used toward executive bonuses.

This is sick. These fucking greedy assholes tanked the global economy and then took more of our money! From Alternet:
It turns out that the nine banks about to be getting a total equity capital injection of $125 billion, courtesy of Phase I of The Bailout Plan, had reserved $108 billion during the first nine months of 2008 in order to pay for compensation and bonuses (PDF).

Paying Wall Street bonuses was not supposed to be part of the plan. At least that's how Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson explained it to Congress and the American people. So, on Oct. 1, when the Senate, including Obama, approved the $700 billion bailout package, the illusion was that this would magically loosen the credit markets, and with taxpayer-funded relief, banks would first start lending to each other again, and then, to citizens and small businesses. And all would be well.

That didn't happen. Which is why it's particularly offensive that the no-strings-attached money is going to line the pockets of Wall Street execs. The country's top investment bank (which since Sept. 21 calls itself a bank holding company), Goldman Sachs, set aside $11.4 billion during the first nine months of this year -- slightly more than the firm's $10 billion U.S. government gift -- to cover bonus payments for its 443 senior partners, who are set to make about $5 million each, and other employees.

Octopuses share living ancestor.

Could this ancestor be... Cthulhu?!! From BBC:

Many of the world's deep-sea octopuses evolved from a common ancestor that still exists in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean, a study has shown.

Researchers suggest that the creatures evolved after being driven to other ocean basins 30 million years ago by nutrient-rich and salty currents.

Obama may select the Terminator for energy role.

I hope Rutger Hauer becomes Secretary of the Interior. From
Former Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, nearing the end of his days as California's governor, could take a place in President-elect Barack Obama's inner cabinet.

Speculation is rife that Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican, will be offered the energy secretary role, because of his record in cutting carbon emissions in California.

He was named as a contender on the website, as Senator Obama moves to surround himself with a high-powered bipartisan team.

Although he will not take office until January 20, Senator Obama is moving to fill key posts in his administration.

Monks brawl at holy site in Jerusalem.

This is awesome. I wonder if the monks used Snake in Eagle's Shadow Fist or drunken boxing. From ABC News:

Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb.

The clash between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks broke out in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

The brawling began during a procession of Armenian clergymen commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus.

The Greeks objected to the march without one of their monks present, fearing that otherwise, the procession would subvert their own claim to the Edicule — the ancient structure built on what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus — and give the Armenians a claim to the site.

The Armenians refused, and when they tried to march the Greek Orthodox monks blocked their way, sparking the brawl.