Saturday, December 13, 2008
WTF: Owners of 40 dogs seized from filthy trailer blame UFOs for the mistreatment. I hate these kinds of people. I wish them a special place hell where they have to live in their own feces.
Lame: Computer glitches denied widows of war veterans millions.
Duh: Vatican releases new views on bioethics. Ex: Adult stem cell research okay; embryonic stem cell research not okay.
Creepy: Mind-reading software could record dreams.
Lame: Feds refuse to reveal names of recipients of $2 trillion in taxpayer money.
WTF: Man sprays teens with fox urine.
Dead: Bettie Page
Lame: UK pushing for 20-year extensions on copyrights.
The singer in an Italian teen gothic metal band and her brother allegedly stabbed the band's guitarist dozens of times because he did not play well enough.
Police in Genoa, on Italy's northwestern coast, said the 16-year-old victim remained in hospital, but his life was not in danger.During the rehearsal, band members accused the victim of playing poorly, police said. The attack occurred moments later in a narrow alley.
He was attacked today after the band Soul Cry rehearsed in Sestri Ponente, a small town near Genoa. He was stabbed about 50 times, mainly to his back and head, said police official Alessandra Bucci in Genoa.
The 18-year-old singer, Cristina Balzano, and her 16-year-old brother, the band's bass player, were arrested on charges of premeditated attempted murder.
Ms Balzano was caught by police holding a kitchen knife with an 18-cm blade, her brother next to her and the victim in a pool of blood, police said.
Exactly what (or who) are drill sergeants drilling? From the Army Times:
Drinking parties. Sex in the laundry room. Social dates and text messaging. Sex in a truck. In a bathroom. And in the barracks.
Between February 2007 and November 2008, 12 drill sergeants and advanced individual training instructors at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., admitted in court-martial proceedings to having engaged in such forbidden sexual and social relationships with trainees.
Each soldier pleaded guilty to at least one count of violating Regulation 350-6 — wrongfully engaging in a personal and social relationship with a trainee — and dozens of other related offenses on and off post between December 2005 and August 2008.
[...] The vast majority of the offenses, according to the data, were for consensual sex. But Army leaders say there is no such thing as consensual sex between a drill sergeant and a trainee. It is against Army regulation.
Huge swarms of stinging jellyfish and similar slimy animals are ruining beaches in Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, Australia and elsewhere, U.S. researchers reported on Friday.
The report says 150 million people are exposed to jellyfish globally every year, with 500,000 people stung in the Chesapeake Bay, off the U.S. Atlantic Coast, alone.
Another 200,000 are stung every year in Florida, and 10,000 are stung in Australia by the deadly Portuguese man-of-war, according to the report, a broad review of jellyfish research.
The report, available on the Internet at http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/jellyfish/index.jsp, says the Black Sea's fishing and tourism industries have lost $350 million because of a proliferation of comb jelly fish.
The report says more than 1,000 fist-sized comb jellies can be found in a cubic yard (meter) of Black Sea water during a bloom.
They eat the eggs of fish and compete with them for food, wiping out the livelihoods of fishermen, according to the report.
And it says a third of the total weight of all life in California's Monterey Bay is made up of jellyfish.
Human activities that could be making things nice for jellyfish include pollution, climate change, introductions of non-native species, overfishing and building artificial structures such as oil and gas rigs.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
An actor narrowly escaped death after slashing his throat on stage with a real knife, instead of a blunt stage-prop blade.
Daniel Hoevels slumped to the floor with blood pouring from his neck during a performance at Vienna's Burgtheater.
He was rushed to hospital with a deep slice to his throat which fortunately missed his main artery.
Austrian police are investigating whether the incident was a mistake or a deliberate attack on the actor.
"If the actor had put a little more pressure on the knife or even struck an artery, he would probably have bled to death on the stage," a doctor who treated Mr Hoevels, 30, told the newspaper Oesterreich.
The real-life drama happened last weekend during a performance of Friedrich Schiller's play Mary Stuart, about Mary Queen of Scots. Mr Hoevels's character was supposed to commit suicide and the actor used what he thought was a blunt prop weapon.
The audience is said to have applauded what they thought was a stunning special effect, and only realised something was wrong when the actor staggered off stage to receive treatment.
From New Scientist:
Pay attention please, using as much of your brain as possible. When your mind wanders during a boring task, it may be because parts of your brain simply disconnect.
Knowing that activity in different brain regions changes when attention lapses, Daniel Weissman of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, wondered if there were also changes in the crosstalk between regions.
Weissman asked volunteers to spend a tedious hour in a functional-MRI brain scanner, identifying letters that flashed on a screen. At times, their reactions slowed, showing that attention was wavering. During these lapses, communication between regions related to self-control, vision and language processing died down. "Attention failed to grease the connections in the brain," says Weissman. This is equivalent to these regions disconnecting, he says. Weissman presented the results at a recent neuroscience meeting.
The Mets' rapid makeover of the bullpen continued late Wednesday night as they completed a three-team trade with the Mariners and Indians to acquire J.J. Putz in a 12-player deal. Only hours after announcing a three-year, $37-million with Francisco Rodriguez, general manager Omar Minaya secured another elite closer, only this time to use as a set-up man for Rodriguez.By the way, this is a real gem from Omar:
In the complicated swap, the Mets sent six players to the Mariners, including Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Double-A first baseman Mike Carp, lefthander Jason Vargas and prospects Maikel Cleto and Ezequiel Carrera. They also shipped reliever Joe Smith to the Indians, who acquired infielder Luis Valbuena from Seattle, and the Mets picked up Putz from Seattle along with righthander Sean Green and outfielder Jeremy Reed. The Mariners also received Cleveland outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.
While the Mets' main target this offseason was K-Rod, they also had their eyes on Putz, who had 15 saves in 47 appearances for the lowly Mariners last season. In the two previous seasons, however, Putz, 31, had a combined 76 saves, including a career-high 40 in 2007. Putz will earn $5 million this season with an $8.6-million option for 2010.
"All I kept hearing on the streets of New York when I go get bagels in the morning was 'Omar, address the bullpen,'" Minaya said. "Well, to you Mets fans, we've addressed the bullpen. To win championships, you've got to have a good bullpen."So Minaya didn't realize the bullpen is abysmal until the bagel guy told him? That explains a lot.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Welcome to the world's strangest economic crisis. Argentina in general—and Buenos Aires in particular—is presently in the grip of a moneda, or coin, shortage. Everywhere you look, there are signs reading, "NO HAY MONEDAS." As a result, vendors here are more likely to decline to sell you something than to cough up any of their increasingly precious coins in change. I've tried to buy a 2-peso candy bar with a 5-peso note only to be refused, suggesting that the 2-peso sale is worth less to the vendor than the 1-peso coin he would be forced to give me in change. When my wife went to buy a 10-trip subway pass, which retails for 9 pesos, she offered a 20-peso note and received 12 pesos in bills as change. This is commonplace—a daily, if not hourly, occurrence. It's taken for granted that the peso coin is more valuable than the 2-peso note.
No one can say what's causing this absurd situation. The government accuses Argentines of hoarding coins, which is true, at least to some extent. When even the most insignificant purchase requires the same order of planning and precision as a long-range missile strike, you can hardly blame people for keeping a jar of monedas safe at home. The people, in turn, fault the government for not minting enough coins.
In fact, the nation's central bank has produced a record number of monedas this year, and the problem has gotten even worse. Everyone blames the bus companies, whose buses accept only monedas. (Buenos Aires' 140-plus bus routes are run by a number of separate, private companies.) These companies, exploiting a loophole in the law, run side businesses that will exchange clients' bills for monedas for a 3 percent service fee. This is legal, but the business community also routinely complains of being forced into the clutches of a thriving moneda black market—run by the local mob, or the bus companies, or both—in which coins sell for a premium of between 5 percent and 10 percent. The bus companies steadfastly deny any involvement in this racket, but their claims were undercut by the discovery of a hoard of 13 million coins, amounting to 5 million pesos, in one company's warehouse this October.
Well, it's good to hear the phrase "slowly spiraling toward imminent doom and destruction" not in conjunction with the economy... From BBC:
There is a giant black hole at the centre of our galaxy, a study has confirmed.
German astronomers tracked the movement of 28 stars circling the centre of the Milky Way, using two telescopes in Chile.
The black hole is four million times more massive than our Sun, according to the paper in The Astrophysical Journal.
Black holes are objects whose gravity is so great that nothing - including light - can escape them.
According to Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), the results suggest that galaxies form around giant black holes in the way that a pearl forms around grit.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
FATAL diseases are threatening a comeback among American children as insurers fail to meet the costs of immunisation.
Half the doctors who responded to a survey by Gary Freed of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor said they had delayed purchasing new vaccines against childhood diseases like meningitis. Twenty per cent of family doctors said they were considering halting vaccinations of privately insured children.
The combined cost of recommended vaccines trebled between 2000 and 2008, to $1500 per child, and health insurance schemes now seldom cover the full cost (Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2008-2033). "The market does not seem to be responding well to the immunisation needs of our country," says Stephen Berman of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.
The name of the town is a funny coincidence. From Daily Mail:
It was once a bustling centre for the textile industry with thousands hard at work in the cotton mills.
But now Falinge in Rochdale has been branded the sick-note capital of Britain with almost half the population apparently too ill to work.An astonishing 42.9 per cent of all working-age adults living in the council ward are claiming incapacity benefits.
The Office of National Statistics revealed that 490 of the 1,141 people of working age in the area rely on the handout.
The figures are a major blow to the Government which claims new measures are helping those on incapacity benefits get back to work.
CALLAO, Peru (Reuters) - Peruvian chefs, elbow deep in more than six tons of sliced fish, onions and lime, won on Sunday the Guinness World Record for preparing the largest ceviche, a Peruvian seafood specialty.
The classic dish, made from raw fish and a spicy citrus sauce that "cooks" it, weighed in at 6.8 tons, 2 tons more than the previous record.
Some 450 students and chefs worked in an open-air sports stadium in Callao, a working-class district near Peru's capital -- slicing, dicing and mixing white fish with lime, salt, onions and aji peppers.
[...] Hundreds of people from the neighborhood waited outside the Callao stadium for a plate of food.
"A Peruvian who does not eat ceviche is not Peruvian," said Espinoza.
This is precisely why I avoid kissing. I'm also a bit wary about hugs, what with organs being smooshed. Affection can be deadly! From BBC:
A young Chinese woman was left partially deaf following a passionate kiss from her boyfriend.
The 20-something from Zhuhai in Guangdong province arrived at hospital having completely lost the hearing in her left ear, said local reports.
The incident prompted a series of articles in the local media warning of the dangers of excessive kissing.
"While kissing is normally very safe, doctors advise people to proceed with caution," wrote the China Daily.
The doctor who treated the girl in hospital was quoted in the paper explaining what had happened.
"The kiss reduced the pressure in the mouth, pulled the eardrum out and caused the breakdown of the ear."
The chorus of warnings was echoed by the Shanghai Daily, which wrote: "A strong kiss may cause an imbalance in the air pressure between two inner ears and lead to a broken ear drum."
The young woman is expected to regain her full hearing within about two months.
Local officials in Shandong Province have apparently found a cost-effective way to deal with gadflies, whistleblowers and all manner of muckraking citizens who dare to challenge the authorities: dispatch them to the local psychiatric hospital.
According to an investigative report published Monday by a state-owned newspaper, public security officials in Xintai city have been institutionalizing residents who persist in their personal campaigns to expose corruption or to protest the unfair seizure of their property. Some people said they were committed up to two years, and several of those interviewed said they had been forced to consume psychiatric medication.
The article, in The Beijing News, said most inmates had been released after they agreed to give up their causes.
Sun Fawu, 57, a farmer seeking compensation for land spoiled by a coal mining operation, said he was seized by the local authorities on his way to petition the central government in Beijing and brought to the Xintai Mental Health Center in October.
During a 20-day stay, he said he was tied to a bed, forced to take pills and given injections that made him numb and woozy. When he told the doctor he was a petitioner, not mentally ill, the doctor reportedly said, "I don't care if you're sick or not. As long as you are sent by the township government, I'll treat you as a mental patient."
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) is in federal custody on corruption charges, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.
Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois. Both men are expected in U.S. District Court in Chicago later Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors say Blagojevich, Harris and others conspired to gain financial benefits in appointing President-elect Barack Obama's Senate replacement, according to the statement.
"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement. "They allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism."
According to the statement, Blagojevich is alleged to have discussed obtaining:
a substantial salary for himself at either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;
a spot for his wife on paid corporate boards, where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
promises of campaign funds -- including cash up front;
a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.
The Obama transition team is aware that Blagojevich is in federal custody, but has no comment, according to a senior Democratic source.
That secretive rocket work being bankrolled by billionaire Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame has shed some new light on its activities.
Blue Origin is developing New Shepard, a rocket-propelled vehicle that takes off and lands vertically and is designed to routinely fly multiple astronauts into suborbital space at competitive prices. Flight tests of the suborbital craft have been staged at a private launch site in Texas.
Blue Origin is now noting that, in addition to providing the public with opportunities to experience spaceflight, New Shepard will also provide frequent opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into space and a microgravity environment.
Man, those Brits love their reality tv! From the Daily Mail:
Retired university professor Craig, 59, who suffered from motor neurone disease (MND), was filmed as he passed away comforted by his wife at a controversial Swiss euthanasia clinic.The assisted suicide - organised by Swiss group Dignitas - will become the first ever to be shown on British television tomorrow night.
But the decision to allow the documentary to be broadcast was yesterday slammed by TV watchdogs, anti-euthanasia and pro-life campaigners alike.Father-of-two Craig took the decision to end his life after motor neurone disease began to paralyse his ailing body and he was faced a drawn-out, agonising death.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
From the Toronto Sun:
NEW YORK -- You know the economy is ailing when a Manhattan fashion boutique starts offering free soup.
The temporary fashion boutique calling itself The 1929 is selling chic clothes and giving away soup and coffee. The store is located in one of the trendiest shopping districts in the city.
Manager and co-owner Aaron Genuth says the store in SoHo was inspired by the Great Depression. His partner Levi Okunov says they want people to go to the store, have a bowl of soup and try on some clothing. The store sells the work of independent designers on its ground floor. The basement is an art and performance space where the soup is doled out. The store is expected to remain open through next month.
Last night, the Colorado skies played host to a dazzling fireball event. The meteor blasted through the atmosphere, detonated and outshoneby 100 times. It is therefore expected that there were many eyewitnesses, and the Cloudbait Observatory (5 km north of the town of Guffey, CO) is appealing to people to report their accounts of the fireball. Fortunately, the observatory managed to capture an all-sky camera video of the early morning explosion.
The Colorado fireball comes shortly after a similar event over Canada on November 20th, where over two dozen meteorite fragments have been recovered from agricultural land. We wait in anticipation to see if this huge Colorado fireball produced any similar fragments, but eyewitness accounts will be critical to aid such a search…
This is scary. The entire world could be consumed by a nuclear World War III thanks to a Bubba the Love Sponge. From Times Online:
A hoax telephone call almost sparked another war between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan at the height of last month's terror attacks on Mumbai, officials and Western diplomats on both sides of the border said today.
Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani President, took a telephone call from a man pretending to be Pranab Mukherjee, India's Foreign Minister, on Friday, November 28, apparently without following the usual verification procedures, they said.
The hoax caller threatened to take military action against Pakistan in response to the then ongoing Mumbai attacks, which India has since blamed on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), they said.
Mr Zardari responded by placing Pakistan's air force on high alert and telephoning Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, to ask her to intervene.
But when Dr Rice called Mr Mukherjee, he said that he had not spoken to Mr Zardari and that his last conversation with Shah Mahmood Qureishi, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, had been quite civil.
"It's unbelievable, but true," said a Western diplomat familiar with the frantic diplomatic exchanges that eventually resolved the misunderstanding.
"It was a little alarming, to say the least."
The episode – reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr Strangelove – dramatically illustrates how easy it would be for another war to break out between India and Pakistan, even accidentally, following the Mumbai attacks.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani militants attacked a parked convoy of trucks carrying military vehicles for Western forces in Afghanistan near Peshawar early on Sunday, destroying 96 trucks, police said.
Security guards said they were overpowered by more than 200 militants who attacked two terminals on the ring road round the northwestern city of Peshawar, where the trucks carrying Humvees and other military vehicles were parked.
"It happened at around 2.30 a.m. They fired rockets, hurled hand grenades and then set ablaze 96 trucks," senior police officer Azeem Khan told Reuters.
Most of the fuel and other supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in landlocked Afghanistan are trucked through Pakistan, much of it through the mountainous Khyber Pass between Peshawar, capital of North-West Frontier Province and the border town of Torkham.
Khan said one private security guard was killed in an exchange of fire between police and the militants.
"They were shouting Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great) and Down With America. They broke into the terminals after snatching our guns," said Mohammad Rafiullah, security guard at one terminal.
Tech: Worm taking over Facebook.
Nonprofit: NYC's Animal Care & Control needs donations. Please help them help homeless animals.
Yipes: Huge, violent riots in Greece, involving thousands of protesters, after police kill teenager.
PSA: Irish pork recalled.
D'oh: Man Vs. Wild host injured in Antarctic expedition.
Duh: Today's teens way too self-confident and cocky.
Aww: Teddy bears in space! (cute pic)
Duh: 25% of employees look at internet porn at work.
Local: Man stabs female friend to death for taking remote.
Science: Postpone Christmas! Jesus born in June.
HOUSTON — Leaving on a jet plane? Is the waiting the hardest part? Try airport karaoke! Houston's Bush International Airport is setting up karaoke booths for travelers, just in time for the holidays. One was to be up and running on Thursday afternoon, airport officials said.
For the past two years, officials have invited choirs and bands from high schools and churches to perform at Bush and Hobby airports during December. Karaoke seemed the next logical step, said Caroline Schneider, assistant airport manager for customer service.
"During the holidays, we have a lot of our novice travelers," she said. "We thought while they are waiting, they can just sing a song."
Aspiring vocalists can choose from hundreds of song titles, Schneider said. Small prizes will be given to the singers.
How did you prepare for such a role [Adam Stein in "Adam Resurrected"]?
Luckily, I had a year to immerse myself in it. I went to Israel and worked with Paul Schrader, and went to Germany for a month to a concentration camp or two. I talked to survivors. I played the violin every day and took lessons. I worked with script interpretation with animals. [A dog becomes one of his closest companions in the film.] I even worked with Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. So it was quite a life-changing year, in the most nourishing part I ever had.
How was it working with Schrader?
He was up for having a real powerful experience. There's a scene where I'm at my daughter's grave and realize that she was pregnant with my grandson, and I lose my mind. I'm crying, snot's coming out of my nose and after a take he said, "That's very good, but on the next take, get a handful of dirt, put that in your mouth, and eat it." I said, "Yeah, that's a good idea. That's very crazy." And I said, "Is there any kind of edible dirt that looks like dirt?" He said, "No, Jeff. Just eat that dirt." I said, "Really? Isn't that bad, with bugs and rocks and germs?" He said, "Look, Jeff. Here." And he took up a pile of dirt and put it in his mouth and he ate it. I said, "My god, Paul. OK. Here we go." So I did it, too. We both had a very life-changing experience doing this movie.
I think a bag of shit should sue Coldplay for plagiarism. From News.com.au:
It has all the hallmarks of a great musical stoush: guitar legend Joe Satriani is suing the world's biggest band, Coldplay, for plagiarism.
He claims the British band, fronted by Chris Martin, ripped off one of his tunes for their Grammy-nominated hit Viva La Vida.
Satriani is seeking a jury trial, damages and "any and all profits" attributed to the single, which he believes incorporates "substantial original portions" of his 2004 instrumental If I Could Fly.
You know the recession is bad when people are playing Russian roulette. From Houston Chronicle:
A 22-year-old man died after he was allegedly shot during a game of Russian roulette at a northwest Houston apartment early Saturday morning, authorities said.
Four men and one woman were in the 8700 block of Hammerly around midnight to celebrate a new apartment one of the men had just rented when the men decided to play Russian roulette, authorities said.
Investigators learned that one of the men pointed the gun at his head, but the weapon did not fire a live round.
For an unknown reason, that man then proceeded to point the gun at another man's head and fired a round, killing him, authorities said.
The three men then fled the scene, leaving the woman behind, authorities said.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Hollywood actor and former British soccer player Vinnie Jones has been arrested after a bar fight South Dakota.
Police said Jones got into a scuffle late Thursday at Wiley's Tavern in downtown Sioux Falls and suffered cuts on his face from a beer glass.
A police sergeant said Jones apparently charged at another patron, Jesse Bickett of Montrose, South Dakota, who hit Jones with the glass.
Bickett was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault. Jones was treated at a hospital, then charged with simple assault and posted bail Friday morning.
One of Bickett's roommates, Juan Barrera, said they were playing pool when Jones asked to play, then got offended when one of them asked if he was "that guy from X-Men."
The actor's credits include "Snatch," "Gone in Sixty Seconds" and as the character Juggernaut in "X-Men: The Last Stand."
An American has been charged with assaulting his girlfriend - by shoving a cheeseburger in her face.
Vincent Gonzalez, 22, got into a heated row with her as they ate a McDonald's meal in their car in Florida, reports The Sun.
When he would not let her out of the vehicle she retaliated by hurling his drink out of the window. He is then said to have rammed the burger in her face.
They both climbed out and Gonzalez apparently smeared it in her face once again. He has been charged with domestic violence.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson has granted Mattel's request for an injunction to stop rival toymaker MGA Entertainment from producing and selling its Bratz dolls, and, in essence, gave control of the brand to Mattel, El Segundo, Calif. MGA may no longer make, sell, advertise or license products from its core Bratz lineup or any line extensions, such as Lil' Bratz, Bratz Boyz and Bratz Petz.
The events follow Larson's ruling that MGA pay Mattel $100 million for taking its intellectual property. This will be a serious setback for MGA, Van Nuys, Calif., whose CEO Isaac Larian, said in a statement he would appeal the ruling.
"Without the Bratz revenues, [MGA's] in serious trouble," said Jim Silver, toy industry expert/editor-in-chief of Timetoplaymag.com. "If you take away the Little Tikes part of the business [which MGA acquired from Rubbermaid in 2006], Bratz probably counted for 80% of their revenue."
The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals.
The research – to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people.
Backed by some of the world's leading scientists, who say that it "waves a red flag" for humanity and shows that evolution itself is being disrupted, the report comes out at a particularly sensitive time for ministers. On Wednesday, Britain will lead opposition to proposed new European controls on pesticides, many of which have been found to have "gender-bending" effects.
It also follows hard on the heels of new American research which shows that baby boys born to women exposed to widespread chemicals in pregnancy are born with smaller penises and feminised genitals.