Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dead: The pastor who got "under God" into Pledge of Allegiance.

From the NY Daily News:

ALEXANDRIA, Pa. (AP) -- The Rev. George M. Docherty, credited with helping to push Congress to insert the phrase "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance, has died at 97.

Docherty died on Thanksgiving at his home in central Pennsylvania, according to his wife, Sue Docherty. She said her husband of 36 years had been in failing health for about three years.

[...] Docherty, then pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, just blocks from the White House, gave a sermon in 1952 saying the pledge should acknowledge God.

He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was unfamiliar with the pledge until he heard it recited by his 7-year-old son, Garth.

"I didn't know that the Pledge of Allegiance was, and he recited it, 'one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,'" he recalled in an interview with The Associated Press in 2004. "I came from Scotland, where we said 'God save our gracious queen,' 'God save our gracious king.' Here was the Pledge of Allegiance, and God wasn't in it at all."

There was little effect from that initial sermon, but he delivered it again on Feb. 7, 1954, after learning that President Dwight Eisenhower would be at the church.

The next day, Rep. Charles G. Oakman, R-Mich., introduced a bill to add the phrase "under God" to the pledge, and a companion bill was introduced in the Senate. Eisenhower signed the law on Flag Day that year.

Goldblum: Extended Adam Resurrected clip online. has a 3+ minute clip from Adam Resurrected, a film in which the Goldblum performs miracles. (So I guess he's playing himself.)

More on the Wal-Mart stampede.

Shameful. From My Way:

NEW YORK (AP) - Police were reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down.

Criminal charges were possible, but identifying individual shoppers in Friday's video may prove difficult, said Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, a Nassau County police spokesman.

Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

At least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries. The store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.

Police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the Wal-Mart doors before its 5 a.m. opening at a mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the employee, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.

"This crowd was out of control," Fleming said. He described the scene as "utter chaos," and said the store didn't have enough security.

Dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help Damour were also getting trampled by the crowd, Fleming said. Shoppers stepped over the man on the ground and streamed into the store.

Damour, 34, of Queens, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 6 a.m., police said. The exact cause of death has not been determined.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital, where she and the baby were reported to be OK, said police Sgt. Anthony Repalone.

Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping."

Hometown News: Wal-Mart employee trampled to death by idiot shoppers.

Already in the mainstream news, but (proudly beams) did you know this happened in my hometown?? Well, now you know.
Other than glaziers out front fixing the doors broken off their hinges by a throng of impatient shoppers, there were no outward signs Saturday at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart of the chaos that turned this year's Black Friday into a day of death and mayhem.

[...] But the specter of the stampede that killed Wal-Mart seasonal worker Jdimytai Damour, 34, Friday morning hung over the morning.

Shoppers echoed the sentiments of the Nassau County police detective supervising the investigation, who told reporters in the aftermath of Damour's death that the store could have and should have better prepared for the large crowds that camped out as early as 9 p.m. the night before for the post-Thanksgiving bargains.
Not a fan of Wal-Mart, but weird that everyone is blaming the store instead of blaming the barbaric rioting of mindless consumers gone amok:
In the melee, shoppers had pushed the doors to the ground, bending their aluminum frames like an accordion. The stampede resulted in the death of Damour, who was in the front vestibule helping to open the store for the morning. A cause of death is still pending an autopsy, police said.
That said, it's disgusting that it's business as usual the next day at Wal-Mart. I wonder if they'll at least do anything for his family, maybe help cover funeral costs.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Man tries to hug panda in zoo, gets mauled.

Thanks Jen! From BBC:
A man has been attacked by a panda at a park in southern China, after he climbed into its enclosure hoping to cuddle the creature.

The 20-year-old student had ignored warning signs and scaled a two-metre (6.5ft) barrier to get into the pen.

State media say the panda bit him on his arms and legs, and he had to be rescued by the animal's keepers.

Speaking from his hospital bed, the injured man said the panda had looked so cute he had just wanted to hug it.

Study: Women don't want to bother with foreplay.

Jeez, what am I going to do with all this edible body paint now?? From the Daily Mail:

Poor men. All that time and effort wasted. A study has shown that foreplay adds little to a woman's overall enjoyment of sex. The main event itself is far more important, the researchers found.

Their findings contradict traditional bedroom etiquette, which dictates that men must take it slow.

More than 2,300 women were quizzed about their sex lives for the study. Questions covered areas such as the division of time between foreplay and intercourse, and how often the women had an orgasm.

Foreplay lasted for an average of 15.4 minutes and intercourse for 16.2, the Journal of Sexual Medicine reports.

Further scrutiny of the results, collected in the Czech Republic, led the researchers from the University of the West of Scotland and Charles University in Prague to conclude that foreplay contributed little to a woman's enjoyment of the encounter.

The researchers said: 'In contrast to the assumptions of many sex therapists and educators, more attention should be given to improve quality and duration of intercourse rather than foreplay.'

They added that the figure of 16.2 minutes for intercourse dwarfed the figure of seven minutes found in American studies, suggesting Europeans are better in the bedroom.

PS - In defense of American sexual habits, we only do it between the commercials.

Robot Uprising Watch: Some want to give battlefield robots complete autonomy.

Thanks Larissa! Yeah, this is probably a really, really bad idea:
ATLANTA — In the heat of battle, their minds clouded by fear, anger or vengefulness, even the best-trained soldiers can act in ways that violate the Geneva Conventions or battlefield rules of engagement. Now some researchers suggest that robots could do better.

“My research hypothesis is that intelligent robots can behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans currently can,” said Ronald C. Arkin, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech, who is designing software for battlefield robots under contract with the Army. “That’s the case I make.”

Robot drones, mine detectors and sensing devices are already common on the battlefield but are controlled by humans. Many of the drones in Iraq and Afghanistan are operated from a command post in Nevada. Dr. Arkin is talking about true robots operating autonomously, on their own.

Deep-sea oil drilling awakens elder god Cthulhu.

This comes from Larissa, who warns us of disturbing what lurks beneath the sea... From National Geographic and be sure to check out the uber-creepy video:
A mile and a half (two and a half kilometers) underwater, a remote control submersible's camera has captured an eerie surprise: an alien-like, long-armed, and—strangest of all—"elbowed" Magnapinna squid.

In a brief video from the dive recently obtained by National Geographic News, one of the rarely seen squid loiters above the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico on November 11, 2007.

The clip—from a Shell oil company ROV (remotely operated vehicle)—arrived after a long, circuitous trip through oil-industry in-boxes and other email accounts.

[...] In a few seconds of jerky camerawork, the squid appears with its huge fins waving like elephant ears and its remarkable arms and tentacles trailing from elbow-like appendages.

Bush sends out Christmas card for Hannukah party.

No word yet if the White House will be serving roast pig. From the NY Post:

The president and the first lady invited leaders of America's Jewish community for a Hanukkah reception at the White House next month - but raised more than a few eyebrows by putting a picture of a Christmas tree on the invitation.

The message reads that the couple "requests the pleasure of your company at a Hanukkah reception," written beneath an image of a Clydesdale horse hauling a Christmas fir along the snow-dappled drive to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

And, no, it is not a Hanukkah bush. A close look at the wagon reveals the message "White House Christmas Tree 2008."

In the background, the White House windows are festooned with Christmas wreaths.

Japanese PM sorry for attacking old people.

So much for Japanese ancestor worship. From CNN:
TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japan's gaffe-prone prime minister is in trouble again -- this time for a remark criticizing the elderly as a tax burden for racking up medical expenses.

"They're hobbling around and constantly going to the doctor," Prime Minister Taro Aso was quoted as saying in a transcript of a Nov. 20 meeting of ministers on economic policies.

Aso also said the elderly should be faulted for not exercising enough.

The transcript was released overnight, drawing immediate criticism in the Japanese media and forcing an apology from the prime minister Thursday.

"I apologize if the remarks offended people who are suffering illnesses," Aso said on nationally televised news.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More people believe in aliens and ghosts than in God.

People need to stop acting dumb and start believing in things that actually exist. Like zombies. From LiveScience:

More people believe in aliens and ghosts than in God, a new survey finds, according to a British newspaper.

The survey, however, was done by a marketing firm in conjunction with the release of an X-Files DVD, and details of how the poll was conducted were not reported in the Daily Mail. Survey questions, depending on how they are written, can greatly skew results, along with how subjects are sampled.

That said, the poll of 3,000 people found that 58 percent believe in the supernatural, including paranormal encounters, while 54 percent believe God exists. Women were more likely than men to believe in the supernatural and were also more likely to visit a medium.

Marijuana CREATES new brain cells!

I always knew that smoking a lot of dope makes you more attentive and it also... whoa, are you eating that cupcake?

From Science Daily:

Ohio State University scientists are finding that specific elements of marijuana can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there and possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells.

Their research suggests that the development of a legal drug that contains certain properties similar to those in marijuana might help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Though the exact cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, chronic inflammation in the brain is believed to contribute to memory impairment.

Any new drug’s properties would resemble those of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant, but would not share its high-producing effects. THC joins nicotine, alcohol and caffeine as agents that, in moderation, have shown some protection against inflammation in the brain that might translate to better memory late in life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holy crap, the flight to Hong Kong is really, really long!

During the marathon, nonstop from JFK to Hong Kong, I:

1. Watched Indiana Jones & the Desperate Cashing-In of a Franchise (I kinda liked it though).
2. Watched that Jackie Chan/Jet Li/dweebie white kid kung fu flick. (I kinda liked it too).
3. Watched two episodes of Family Guy.
4. Watched two episodes of Doctor Who (OMG the doctor has a daughter!! wtf!!1).
5. Watched the first six episodes of Season 6 of 24.
6. Played Tetris, Super Breakout, and Sudoku for a couple of hours.
7. Read an entire book (Robertson Davies' "Fifth Business" - a book that every Canadian high schooler is forced to read in order to teach them how to be bland).
8. Ate four or five meals (Cathay doesn't stop feeding you).
9. Stared into space instead of sleeping, which I somehow can't do on planes. Then stared creepily at the people sleeping around me.

And after all that, I still had 2-3 hours to kill.

But here I am now, on Lantau island, just off of Hong Kong Island. My cousin's got some sweet digs in Discovery Bay, and I just drank a bottle of wine to curtail any second wind I may get. I need to sleep!