Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My resolutions for 2010.

I believe what Marty McFly said about accomplishing whatever we put our minds to. Though I guess it helps to have a genius inventor for a friend and access to plutonium.

With that in mind, here are my resolutions for 2010, which I believe are not only possible but easily attainable, in part because I don’t need to better myself in any way.

2010 Resolutions

1. Meet that world-traveling silly dance guy.

2. Seduce him and force him to settle down after many years of silly dancing. He will therefore grow to resent me and will ultimately return to dancing, a slow, bitter dance that will make the children of the world cry and flee in terror.

3. Following the success of Transformers, pitch a live-action Snorks film and cast myself as Tooter Shellby, a tooting Snork gone mad by the sea.

4. Win an Academy Award for my riveting portrayal of Tooter Shellby, crazy Snork.

5. Design a tampon specifically for emo bands.

6. Volunteer my time for a good cause. LOL!

7. Finally catch that elusive, slippery, slippery elm, used in so many of my medicated teas.

8. Write a bestselling book on how the true secrets of Jesus’ life can be revealed in the painting “Dogs Playing Poker.”

9. Write a hilarious joke book on all the things that are funny about peace, love, and understanding.

10. Become the first Jew to get intestinal cramps… ON THE MOON!

(Note: This originally appeared on ReadJunk.com)

Monkey flosses teeth, considers war on mankind.

Today floss, tomorrow nuclear warheads. From Discovery.com via Coozer-Phile Jeff:
A monkey in Japan flosses its teeth with its hair, demonstrating that humans aren't the only animals that clean their teeth and invent tools to help with the task.

The flosser, a free-ranging, middle-aged, female Japanese macaque named Chonpe, may have come up with the tool and the idea, according to a new study that will appear in the January issue of Primates.

Lead author Jean-Baptiste Leca told Discovery News that dental flossing could have been a fortuitous yet "accidental byproduct of grooming."

Leca, a post-doctoral fellow at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute, explained that "Japanese macaques sometimes bite into hair or pull it through their mouths to remove external parasites."

The hair might have become stuck in Chonpe's teeth, and as she drew the hairs out, "she may have noticed the presence of food remains attached to them."

"The immediate reward of licking the food remains off the hair may have encouraged her to repeat the behavior for the same effect in the future," he added.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

UK radio DJ sacked for interrupting Queen's speech.

From The Guardian:
A radio DJ has been sacked after interrupting the Queen's speech on-air, telling listeners: "Two words: Bor-ing."

Stand-up comic and radio presenter Tom Binns made the comments during a Christmas Day show on Birmingham radio station BRMB.

The station took a feed of the Queen's annual address by mistake and Binns – who was working alone in the studio – took the decision to take it off air.

Binns then made a joke about the French royal family being beheaded and introduced the next song, Last Christmas by Wham!, with the words "from one Queen to another..."

The station's parent company Orion Media said a "small number" of listeners complained and confirmed that Binns would not be working for them again.

The Queen used her Christmas message to the nation to express her sadness at the loss of UK troops in Afghanistan in the bloodiest year for British forces since the invasion in 2001.

Cockroaches inspire running robots.

Combining the speed and scurry motion of cockroaches with the indestructible power of man-hating robots. What could go wrong? From Science Daily:
The sight of a cockroach scurrying for cover may be nauseating, but the insect is also a biological and engineering marvel, and is providing researchers at Oregon State University with what they call "bioinspiration" in a quest to build the world's first legged robot that is capable of running effortlessly over rough terrain.

If the engineers succeed, they may owe their success to what's being learned from these insects and other animals, such as the guinea hen, that have their own remarkable abilities.

The latest findings -- just published in the professional journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics -- outline how animals use their legs to manage energy storage and expenditure, and why this is so important for running stability. The work is being supported by the National Science Foundation.

"Humans can run, but frankly our capabilities are nothing compared to what insects and some other animals can do," said John Schmitt, an assistant professor in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at OSU. "Cockroaches are incredible. They can run fast, turn on a dime, move easily over rough terrain, and react to perturbations faster than a nerve impulse can travel."

Scientists discover how memories are cemented.

From BBC News:
US scientists believe they have uncovered one of the mechanisms that enables the brain to form memories.

Synapses - where brain cells connect with each other - have long been known to be the key site of information exchange and storage in the brain.

But researchers say they have now learnt how molecules at the site of the synapse behave to cement a memory.

It is hoped the research, published in Neuron, could aid the development of drugs for diseases like Alzheimer's.

The deteriorating health of the synapses is increasingly thought to be a feature of Alzheimer's, a disease in which short-term memory suffers before long-term recollections are affected.

A strong synapse is needed for cementing a memory, and this process involves making new proteins. But how exactly the body controls this process has not been clear.

Now scientists at the University of California Santa Barbara say their laboratory work on rats shows the production of proteins needed to cement memories can only happen when the RNA - the collection of molecules that take genetic messages from the nucleus to the rest of the cell - is switched on.

GOP distancing itself from racist, homophobic colleague who started "Muslim Obama" rumor.

This guy's a real nutjob. From CBS News:
The Republican Party is shunning a perennial political candidate, this time running for an Illinois Senate seat, after he launched a political attack ad questioning the sexuality of his main Republican primary opponent.

Candidate Andy Martin launched a radio ad on Monday against Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination in the 2010 Illinois Senate race. The ad calls into question Kirk's sexuality. Martin claims Kirk "lives in some kind of 'Animal House' in Washington with another gay congressman," reports CBS 2 Chicago.

Martin says his ad is based on a "solid rumor on the Internet," CBS 2 reports. The attack is the latest of many over-the-top claims from Martin, yet WBBM Newsradio 780 is required to run the ad because it cannot censor political advertising.

The Illinois Republican Party released a statement condemning Martin and his ad.

"His statements today are consistent with his history of bizarre behavior and often times hate-filled speech, which has no place in the Illinois Republican Party," the statement said. "Mr. Martin will no longer be recognized as a legitimate Republican Candidate by the Illinois Republican Party."

Martin, who has run for political office several times, was convicted of attacking two photographers in Florida, CBS 2 Chicago reports, and was denied admission to the Illinois Bar for "moderately severe character defect." He reportedly once ran for Congress to "eliminate Jew power in America."

In a bid for the presidency in 1999, Martin ran a television ad in New Hampshire contending that his opponent George W. Bush "had a cocaine problem" and suffered from "alcohol abuse," the Chicago Tribune reports. He also reportedly attacked Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, claiming he is a Muslim and questioning whether he is a U.S. citizen.

Disinfectants train superbugs to resist antibiotics.

This is why I only treat wounds with prayer and urine. From BBC News:
Disinfectants could effectively train bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics, research suggests.

Scientists know bacteria can become inured to disinfectant, but research increasingly shows the same process may make them resistant to certain drugs.

This can occur even with an antibiotic the bacteria have not been exposed to.

Writing in Microbiology, the National University of Ireland team, who focused on a common hospital bacterium, urges a rethink of how infections are managed.

Coozer-Bits.

Local: Terrorism, swine flu, girlfriend-beating politicians put my home in the national spotlight! Yeah, Queens Pride! Up yours, Brooklyn!!

Science: The Year in Space.

Film: Half of the movies coming out in 2010 are from 2008.

Duh: Dumbest quotes of the 2000's. (Somehow, not all are from Bush!)

Trends: Anti-energy drinks. (Isn't that called "beer"?)

RUW: Robot helps grandma shop. Our elderly are doooooomed!!

Awesome: Italy gets $95 billion from illegal money held in Swiss banks!

Science: Scientists discover how wild mushroom cancer drug works.

Homeless man steals airplane, crashes, lives.

From CBS News:
Calvin Cox, a 51-year-old homeless man trying to take off, ended up grounded, and behind bars instead, when he crashed a stolen single-engine airplane on a municipal airport runway, according to police in Frederick, Md.

Cox ran off a runway at the Frederick airport in a stolen Piper Super Cub and upended in the grass at about 2:15 a.m. Monday, police said. A canine team tracked the wannabe fly-boy into nearby woods, said Police Lt. Clark A. Pennington.

Cox wasn't hurt, and remained in custody after bail was set at $10,000 on felony charges including theft, burglary and trespassing.

Gay couple in Malawi arrested for getting engaged.

From BBC News:
Two gay men arrested in Malawi after getting engaged are to be charged with gross public indecency, police say.

"We arrested them because they committed an offence; homosexuality in Malawi is illegal," police spokesman Davie Chingwalu told the BBC.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza held a traditional engagement ceremony over the weekend - believed to be the first gay couple in Malawi to do so.

Homosexuality carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years in Malawi.

The pair are being held in separate cells in Blantyre until their case is heard, Mr Chingwalu told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Scientist cracks every mobile phone code, publishes details.

Good job, jerkface. From BBC News:
A German computer scientist has published details of the secret code used to protect the conversations of more than 4bn mobile phone users.

Karsten Nohl, working with other experts, has spent the past five months cracking the algorithm used to encrypt calls using GSM technology.

GSM is the most popular standard for mobile networks around the world.

The work could allow anyone - including criminals - to eavesdrop on private phone conversations.

Mr Nohl told the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin that the work showed that GSM security was "inadequate".

"We are trying to inform people about this widespread vulnerability," he told BBC News.

"We hope to create some additional pressure and demand from customers for better encryption."

The GSM Association (GSMA), which devised the algorithm and oversees development of the standard, said Mr Nohl's work would be "highly illegal" in the UK and many other countries.

"This isn't something that we take lightly at all," a spokeswoman said.

Mr Nohl told the BBC that he had consulted with lawyers before publication and believed the work was "legal".

"Best job in the world" winner stung by deadly jellyfish.

Poor guy. From News.com.au:
The winner of the so-called "Best Job in the World" has been stung by a potentially deadly jellyfish.

Ben Southall said he had experienced a "crazy 24 hours" after the tiny irukandji struck off the coast of Queensland in Australia.

"I was enjoying a post Christmas jet ski session with some friends at a quiet beach on Hamilton Island," he wrote on his blog.

"As I climbed off the back of the ski and onto the beach (I) felt a small bee-like sting on my forearm."

"I was feeling pretty hot and sweaty, had a headache and felt pretty sick too with pain in my lower back and a tightness in the chest and a really high blood pressure.

"I had a minor brush with what can be a very serious jellyfish."

Mr Southall said he was feeling 100 per cent again.

"Horrible incident. Lesson learnt - always wear a stinger suit."

Mr Southall is the winner of a competition run by Tourism Queensland to experience the best the Australian state has to offer - and to tell the world about it.

Escaped criminal taunts police on Facebook.

This guy sounds like a real dumbass. "OHNOES SIRENS! OMGLOL!" From Ananova:
An escaped prisoner has celebrated his first Christmas on the run by taunting police with photos of himself on Facebook.

On Christmas Day, Craig 'Lazie' Lynch, 28, even posted a photo of himself adorned in tinsel, making a rude gesture and holding a turkey, reports the Daily Mail.

Lynch has been on the run from Suffolk's Hollesley Bay Prison since September but rather than hide from police he has regularly updated them on his movements via the social networking site.

Below the Christmas Day photo he wrote "If any of you was doubtin my freedom. Here's proof. How the f*** could i get my hands on a bird like this in jail. ha ha."

The same day he said: "Wow it really is xmas ha ha i cant beleive i made it f*** tha police."

But Lynch also revealed that at one point he heard sirens in the early hours outside his house and assumed he was about to be arrested.

He wrote an update, saying: "Oh No sirens!! It's happening."

China executes mentally unstable Briton, despite UK plea.

Jeez, executing mentally challenged people from other countries... Who does China think it is -- Texas?? From ABC News:
China brushed aside international appeals Tuesday and executed by lethal injection a British drug smuggler who relatives say was mentally unstable and unwittingly lured into crime.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "appalled" at the execution of 53-year old Akmal Shaikh — China's first of a European citizen in nearly 60 years. His government summoned the Chinese ambassador in London to express its anger.

China defended its handling of the case, saying there had not been documentary proof Shaikh was mentally ill. Beijing also criticized Brown's comments, but said it hoped the case would not harm bilateral relations. The Foreign Ministry called on London not to create any "obstacles" to better ties.

Shaikh's daughter Leilla Horsnell was quoted by the BBC and other British media outlets as saying she was "shocked and disappointed that the execution went ahead with no regards to my dad's mental health problems, and I struggle to understand how this is justice."

GPS strands couple in snow for three days.

Obviously, this is the first parting shot from the robot rebellion. From ABC News:
A Nevada couple who was rescued after three days stuck in their car on an unplowed road said it was GPS directions that led them deep into an Oregon forest.

John Rhoads, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhoads, 67, were heading home to Reno on Christmas Day from a trip to Oregon, using the GPS in their SUV as a guide for the 500-mile drive. But the GPS -- which makes travel so much easier for millions of Americans -- turned their trip home into a chilling lesson about relying on technology.

After following the directions onto a remote road, John Rhoads realized they were in trouble "when we noticed that the snow was getting deep and we were over 30 miles into this road. We thought we didn't have much farther to go."

Coozer-Bits.

Some stuff that I bookmarked during the holiday madness.

Lame: $500 million booty returning to Spain.

Sad: New York unhappiest place in the US.

Eats: Is there are any rational, intellectual, or moral argument to eat meat?

Yipes: Man accidentally kills wife with remote control. (Thanks Jen!)

WTF: Insane person writes cookbook devoted to Brussels sprouts.

Aww: Wheelchair-bound gift giver is Britain's kindest grandma. (Read this and quit complaining about having to buy holiday gifts, ya jerk.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Man walks into diner with 5-inch knife in chest, orders coffee.

From FOX News:
WARREN, Mich. — A man who walked into a Michigan diner with a 5-inch knife stuck in his chest ordered a coffee and complained only about the cold weather.

The 52-year-old man, who has not been identified, called a 911 operator in Warren on Sunday night to ask that an ambulance be sent to Bray's, an eatery in neighboring Hazel Park.

He said he had been stabbed during an attempted robbery half a mile away, then walked to the restaurant and called 911 from a pay phone.

On a recording of the call, the man gives a vague description of his attacker before saying, "I'm gonna sit down at Bray's 'cause they got a chair and it's cold out here."

Restaurant employee George Mirdita tells The Detroit News the man calmly ordered coffee.

Police said Tuesday that the man is recovering.

How China wrecked the Copenhagen climate deal and blamed Obama.

A must read from The Guardian:

Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful "deal" so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.

China's strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world's poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait. The failure was "the inevitable result of rich countries refusing adequately and fairly to shoulder their overwhelming responsibility", said Christian Aid. "Rich countries have bullied developing nations," fumed Friends of the Earth International.

All very predictable, but the complete opposite of the truth. Even George Monbiot, writing in yesterday's Guardian, made the mistake of singly blaming Obama. But I saw Obama fighting desperately to salvage a deal, and the Chinese delegate saying "no", over and over again. Monbiot even approvingly quoted the Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping, who denounced the Copenhagen accord as "a suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries".

Sudan behaves at the talks as a puppet of China; one of a number of countries that relieves the Chinese delegation of having to fight its battles in open sessions. It was a perfect stitch-up. China gutted the deal behind the scenes, and then left its proxies to savage it in public.

Microbes survive 30,000 years inside salt crystal.

From New Scientist:
Thrifty microbes entombed in a salt crystal have survived for 30,000 years by feeding off the remains of algae that were trapped along with them. This is the most convincing example to date of long-term survival.

Brian Schubert, a microbiologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and colleagues studied salt crystals in a sediment core taken from Death Valley in California. The crystals contained tiny pockets of liquid, and the team found that they could grow live colonies of archaeans from samples of it. The team dated the liquid at between 22,000 and 34,000 years old

Vegans faced with dilemma of plants wanting to live too.

From the NY Times:
[...] Before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.

When plant biologists speak of their subjects, they use active verbs and vivid images. Plants “forage” for resources like light and soil nutrients and “anticipate” rough spots and opportunities. By analyzing the ratio of red light and far red light falling on their leaves, for example, they can sense the presence of other chlorophyllated competitors nearby and try to grow the other way. Their roots ride the underground “rhizosphere” and engage in cross-cultural and microbial trade.

“Plants are not static or silly,” said Monika Hilker of the Institute of Biology at the Free University of Berlin. “They respond to tactile cues, they recognize different wavelengths of light, they listen to chemical signals, they can even talk” through chemical signals. Touch, sight, hearing, speech. “These are sensory modalities and abilities we normally think of as only being in animals,” Dr. Hilker said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today is Frank Zappa Day!

From ThisIsBrandX:
The city of Baltimore declared today Frank Zappa Day in honor of the iconoclastic rock musician and composer, who was born there 69 years ago on Dec. 21, 1940. Last week the city's public art commission also announced that a bronze statue of Zappa would be erected outside of a public library sometime next year. When will Los Angeles, where Zappa raised his family and lived most of his adult life, follow suit? Maybe a nice statue somewhere in Laurel Canyon?

Also in Zappa news, today marks the release of a previously unheard concert from Philadelphia in 1976 on two CDs. The liner notes for "Philly '76," taking a cue from its bicentennial date, reproduce the Declaration of Independence, but with a twist: Endeavoring to show how history repeats itself, the Founding Fathers' claims against the King of England are highlighted, drawing parallels that probably would have made the independently minded composer smile.

Massive snowball fight in Times Square.

Neat photos from CNN:
Professional photographer dougkim ran into a massive snowball fight in Times Square on Saturday night. “The snowball fight was such an amazing spontaneous event and it has become such a hot topic online, I wanted to share these images which I feel capture the feel of an impromptu snowball fight at the height of a blizzard among strangers,” he said.

Tequila saves boy's life.

Is there nothing alcohol can't do?? From CBS13.com:
A Galt teen is back home for the holidays after the successful, seven-month-long treatment of a brain tumor that was only discovered after he made a dangerous mistake before school one day.

Last May, 13-year-old Evan Hamilton took a dare from his friends at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt last May and downed eight shots of tequila as fast as he could.

He passed out and was rushed to the emergency room to be treated for alcohol poisoning, and a CT scan at the UC Davis Medical Center revealed a tumor in the brain of the unsuspecting eighth grader.

The dangerous lapse in judgment turned out to be a blessing, according to his family.

Lithuania hosted secret CIA torture prisons.

From BBC:
The CIA used at least two secret detention centres in Lithuania after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the US, a Lithuanian inquiry has found.

The report by a Lithuanian parliamentary committee says that in 2005 and 2006 CIA chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania.

It says that no Lithuanian officials were allowed near the aircraft, nor were they told who was on board.

Poland and Romania hosted similar CIA "black sites", media reports say.

In Lithuania, at least eight terror suspects were held at one centre on the outskirts of the capital Vilnius, the investigation found.

It was formerly a riding school and the suspects were reportedly held there between 2004 and 2005.

In August this year, US media reports claimed that Lithuania, Poland and Romania all hosted secret CIA interrogation centres.

But the parliamentary report appears to absolve Lithuania's political leaders of responsibility for any human rights violations that may have been committed by the CIA, the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Moscow.

It says even the president was unaware of exactly what the US intelligence service was doing.

Citigroup hacked by Russian cyber gang, millions stolen.

From ABC News:
In a bizarre case of cyber crime, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Russian hackers may have stolen tens of millions of dollars from Citigroup, a charge the bank denies.

Citing anonymous government officials, the newspaper reported that the hackers were connected to a Russian cyber gang and that two other computer systems, at least one connected to a U.S. government agency, were also attacked. The FBI is investigating the case, according to the Wall Street Journal, but the company has flatly denied the story.

"We had no breach of the system and there were no losses, no customer losses, no bank losses," the banking giant said in a statement. "Any allegation that the FBI is working a case at Citigroup involving tens of millions of losses is just not true."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dead Australian boy has miraculous powers.

From News.com.au:
A Sydney couple believes their son - "hand-picked by God" - could be Australia's first male saint.

Mike Tannous died three years ago but a mysterious oil that weeps from the walls of his bedroom has been hailed by his parents, George and Lina, as having helped heal dozens of people, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The oil started to appear in the Guildford home just weeks after the 17-year-old died in a car accident in September 2006.

"Mike is a messenger between us and God. He has healed so many people," Mrs Tannous said.

Extensive scientific testing of the oil has failed to identify exactly what it is but that has not stopped hundreds praying at the home.

The Tannous' push for sainthood for their son emerged as Mary MacKillop fever swept the nation.

NJ Transit bus stolen from mall.

From MSNBC:
A thief who stole a New Jersey Transit bus from a northern New Jersey mall remained at large Saturday afternoon, authorities said. The bus, which runs on the No. 73 line between the Livingston Mall and Newark, was taken from the mall's parking lot at about 7:30 a.m., said Dan Stessel, an NJ Transit spokesman.

It was found undamaged about 25 minutes later, parked about four miles away in the area of the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange. Stessel said the bus driver, whose name was not released, was on a layover before starting a return trip to Newark and went inside to use the mall's restroom. When the driver returned to the parking area, the bus was gone.

Chewing gum could detect malaria.

From MSNBC:
Chomping on a stick of gum could cheaply diagnose malaria and other diseases in developing countries.

Using a recent grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Andrew Fung and his colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles are developing Maliva, a malaria-detecting gum that could offer cheap, new way to diagnose or monitor diseases.

[...] When a person chews the gum, saliva, containing molecules produced by the malaria parasites, pour into the mouth. The magnetic nanoparticles are tipped with antibodies that latch onto these very molecules.

After a few minutes chewing, the gum would be removed and placed on a paper strip. The nanoparticles, bound to the malaria proteins, would show up as a thin line. No line, no malaria.

Credit card has 80% interest rate.

Unbelievable. From FOXNews:
The bloated APR is how First Premier Bank, a subprime credit card issuer, is skirting new regulations intended to curb abusive practices in the industry. It's a strategy other subprime card issuers could start adopting to get around the new rules.

Typically, the First Premier card comes with a minimum of $256 in fees in the first year for a credit line of $250. Starting in February, however, a new law will cap such fees at 25 percent of a card's credit line.

In a recent mailing for a preapproved card, First Premier lowers fees to just that limit — $75 in the first year for a credit line of $300. But the new law doesn't set a cap on interest rates. Hence the 79.9 APR, up from the previous 9.9 percent.

"It's the highest on the market. It's the highest we've ever seen," said Anuj Shahani, an analyst with Synovate, a research firm that tracks credit card mailings.

Minorities might not benefit from stem cell research.

From BusinessWeek:
Human embryonic stem cell lines currently used for research come mostly from white donors, a new report finds.

That could mean that nonwhites will benefit less from any medical breakthroughs that emerge from that research down the line, experts say.

Blacks could be especially affected. In fact, none of the most widely used stem cell lines studied showed any traces of recent African ancestry, the team reported online in a Dec. 16 letter in the New England Journal of Medicine.

To increase the diversity of embryonic stem cell lines, the researchers urge increased efforts to include stem cells from other populations.

Hackers steal S. Korean-US military secrets.

From Yahoo! News:
South Korea's military said Friday it was investigating a hacking attack that netted secret defense plans with the United States and may have been carried out by North Korea.

The suspected hacking occurred late last month when a South Korean officer failed to remove a USB device when he switched a military computer from a restricted-access intranet to the Internet, Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said.

The USB device contained a summary of plans for military operations by South Korean and U.S. troops in case of war on the Korean peninsula. Won said the stolen document was not a full text of the operational plans, but an 11-page file used to brief military officials. He said it did not contain critical information.

Won said authorities have not ruled out the possibility that Pyongyang may have been involved in the hacking attack by using a Chinese IP address — the Web equivalent of a street address or phone number.

Protein found that helps prevent liver damage.

From Yahoo! News:
A protein switch called TAK1 helps prevent liver damage, including inflammation, fibrosis and cancer, according to a team of scientists from the United States and Japan.

Learning more about how TAK1 works could improve understanding about the development of liver disease and cancer, and lead to new therapies, the researchers noted in their report, released online the week of Dec. 14 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"TAK1 appears to be a master regulator of liver function," study co-leader Dr. David A. Brenner, a professor of medicine and dean at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, said in a university news release.


It was already known that TAK1 activates two proteins that play a role in immunity, inflammation, programmed cell death and cancer. But it wasn't clear whether TAK1 promotes or prevents liver cancer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Patrick Stewart to be knighted.

Yet another snub to Scott Bakula. From the Daily Record:

Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart is to be knighted in the New Year's Honours.

The 69-year-old movie star and thespian will be one of the big names in the honours list announced by the Queen.

Patrick has had a 50-year career in theatre and films including 16 years with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

But he is best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men films.

Senior sources said the Queen was an admirer of the famously bald star.

The truth about hangovers revealed in drunken study.

From LiveScience:
If you've ever had one too many drinks during a night out, you're probably familiar with the dreaded aftermath: the hangover. Turns out, your liquor of choice could influence your morning headache.

A new study finds that, compared with vodka, if you down too much bourbon, you're likely to have a worse hangover. But when it comes to your next-day activities, it doesn't matter which of the two beverages you drink, your performance is likely to be the same.

The study involved 95 participants ages 21 to 33 who were heavy drinkers, but had no history of alcohol abuse. Their arduous task: Get drunk. And they got paid — $450, to boot!

The authors weren't simply looking at the effects of alcohol, however. They were specifically interested in the levels of toxic substances called congeners in the alcohol. These compounds are byproducts of alcohol fermentation, and they are partly responsible for the alcohol's color. Darker liquors and wines have more congeners than lighter ones — for instance, the amount of congeners in bourbon is 37 times the amount in vodka, according to the study.

NFL asks players to donate their brains to science.

I guess since they're not using 'em anyway... From HuffPo:

The NFL is partnering with Boston University brain researchers who have been critical of the league's stance on concussions, The Associated Press learned Sunday.

The league now plans to encourage current and former NFL players to agree to donate their brains to the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which has said it found links between repeated head trauma and brain damage in boxers, football players and, most recently, a former NHL player.

"It's huge that the NFL actively gets behind this research," said Robert Cantu, a doctor who is a co-director of the BU center and has spoken negatively about the league in the past. "It forwards the research. It allows players to realize the NFL is concerned about the possibility that they could have this problem, and that the NFL is doing everything it can to find out about the risks and the preventive strategies that can be implemented."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Scientists unlock genetic code in major cancer breakthrough.

From CNN:
The entire genetic codes of two common types of cancer have been cracked, according to scientists, who say the breakthrough could unlock a new era in the treatment of deadly diseases.

Scientists at the UK-based Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute catalogued the genetic maps of skin and lung cancer and have pinpointed the specific mutations within DNA that can lead to dangerous tumors.

Researchers predict these maps will offer patients a personalized treatment option that ranges from earlier detection to the types of medication used to treat cancer.

The genetic maps will also allow cancer researchers to study cells with defective DNA and produce more powerful drugs to fight the errors, according to the the study's scientists.

"The knowledge we extract over the next few years will have major implications for treatment," Peter Campbell from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute said.

"By identifying all the cancer genes we will be able to develop new drugs that target the specific mutated genes and work out which patients will benefit from these novel treatments."

Drug money saved banks in global crisis.

Thanks JenK! From The Guardian:
Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

This will raise questions about crime's influence on the economic system at times of crisis. It will also prompt further examination of the banking sector as world leaders, including Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, call for new International Monetary Fund regulations. Speaking from his office in Vienna, Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor," he said.

Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, he said.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tool-using octopus discovered.

From Huffington Post:
Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter – unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal.

The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot.

Julian Finn and Mark Norman of Museum Victoria in Melbourne observed the odd activity in four of the creatures during a series of dive trips to North Sulawesi and Bali in Indonesia between 1998 and 2008. Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal Current Biology.

"I was gobsmacked," said Finn, a research biologist at the museum who specializes in cephalopods. "I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh."

Man who fought off violent burglar gets jail, while burglar goes free.

The UK is seriously messed up. From Daily Mail:
A millionaire businessman who fought back against a knife-wielding burglar was jailed for two-and-a-half years yesterday. But his attacker has been spared prison.

Munir Hussain, 53, and his family were tied up and told to lie on the floor by career criminal Waled Salem, who burst into his home with two other masked men.

Mr Hussain escaped and attacked Salem with a metal pole and a cricket bat. But yesterday it was the businessman who was starting a prison sentence for his 'very violent revenge'.

Jailing him, Judge John Reddihough said some members of the public would think that 56-year-old Salem 'deserved what happened to him' and that Mr Hussain 'should not have been prosecuted'.

But had he spared Mr Hussain jail, the judge said, the 'rule of law' would collapse.

He said: 'If persons were permitted to take the law into their own hands and inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting the criminal justice system take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse.'

Salem, who has previous convictions, has already been given a non-custodial sentence despite carrying out what the judge called a 'serious and wicked' attack.

Mr Hussain's nightmare began on September 3 last year when he, his wife, 18-year-old daughter and two sons aged 18 and 15 returned from their mosque during Ramadan to find three intruders in their home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

Rush snubbed.

Are you seriously telling me that Genesis is more deserving than Rush?! Seriously? Genesis? From ReadJunk:

Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation announced ABBA, Genesis, Jimmy Cliff, The Hollies and The Stooges as its 2010 artist inductees. Also being inducted this year as individual recipients of the Ahmet Ertegun Award will be David Geffen and songwriters Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Elle Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Jesse Stone, Mort Shuman and Otis Blackwell. The ceremony will take place on March 15, 2010 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and will air live on Fuse, Madison Square Garden’s national music television network, as part of the three-year broadcast deal between the Foundation and Fuse.

“We are very happy to present this year’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as they represent a great cross-section of artists that define the broad spectrum and history of rock and roll and people that have contributed immeasurably to our business” says Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President & CEO Joel Peresman.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Toyota ad called incestuous.

From News.com.au:
Car giant Toyota has pulled an advertisement slammed as incestuous, degrading and sexist.

The winning entry in the Toyota-sponsored Clever Film Comp has been yanked from the event site after an online backlash against sexual jokes including a father alluding that his daughter "can take a good pounding".

Dubbed "abuser-generated content", the clip features a young woman's boyfriend and father sharing innuendo about her losing her virginity with promises to "have her on her back" and being "ready to blow".

Iran puts three US hikers on trial for espionage.

Bill Clinton, do your thing! From BBC:
Iran is to put on trial three US citizens who crossed into Iran while hiking in Iraq, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said.

He did not specify any charges but the three young American friends, who were detained in July, have been accused of entering Iran illegally.

Iranian officials have also alleged that Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were spying.

Their families say they were hiking and strayed across the border accidentally.

They say the spying allegations are "entirely at odds with the people Shane, Sarah and Josh are and with anything that Iran can have learned about them since they were detained".

The United States government has said there is "no evidence to support any charge whatsoever" and called for their release.

'Deliberate provocation'

Mr Mottaki told a news conference that "interrogation of the three Americans who have illegally entered Iran with suspicious aims is ongoing".

"They will be put on trial by the judiciary and rulings will be made," he said in comments broadcast on state television.

China tightens Central Asia hold with new gas link.

From Reuters:
China's President Hu Jintao opened a pipeline linking a gas field in Turkmenistan with his country's Xinjiang region on Monday, extending Beijing's reach into Central Asia's natural resources.

The leaders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan joined Hu at a remote spot near the Turkmen-Uzbek border to commission the 1,833-km (1,139-mile) pipeline that snakes across Central Asia through their countries.

The pipeline, starting near a Chinese-developed gas field in eastern Turkmenistan, is expected to reach full annual capacity of 40 billion cubic metres by 2012-13 and help Beijing propel its explosive economic growth.

In the windswept settlement of Saman-Tepe, festooned with Chinese and Central Asian flags, officials cheered and hugged after the four presidents symbolically turned the pipeline tap, injecting the first gas with a loud humming noise.

A nearby gas plant, its metal chimneys sparkling in the sun, was adorned with huge portraits of Hu and Central Asian leaders.

"We have to join forces at a time when the world is going through a difficult period," Hu said at the ceremony. "I hope we will be not only good neighbours but also reliable partners."

China's foray into Central Asia represents a challenge to Russia which still sees the Muslim region as part of its sphere of influence. It is also a worry for Europe, which sees the energy-rich region as an alternative new supplier of gas.

Critics: Atheist NC councilman "unworthy of seat."

How can someone possibly be able to legislate zoning laws if they don't believe in angels and talking snakes?? From FOX News:
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government -- but he doesn't believe in God. His political opponents say that's a sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they've got the North Carolina Constitution on their side.

Bothwell's detractors are threatening to take the city to court for swearing him in, even though the state's antiquated requirement that officeholders believe in God is unenforceable because it violates the U.S. Consititution.

"The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it's certainly not relevant to public office," the recently elected 59-year-old said.

Raised a Presbyterian, Bothwell began questioning Christian beliefs at a young age and considered himself an atheist by the time he was 20. He's an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville and he still celebrates Christmas, often hanging ornaments on his Fishhook cactus.

Bothwell ran this fall on a platform that also included limiting the height of downtown buildings and saving trees in the city's core, views that appealed to voters in the liberal-leaning community at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. When Bothwell was sworn into office on Monday, he used an alternative oath that doesn't require officials to swear on a Bible or reference "Almighty God."

That has riled conservative activists, who cite a little-noticed quirk in North Carolina's Constitution that disqualifies officeholders "who shall deny the being of Almighty God." The provision was included when the document was drafted in 1868 and wasn't revised when North Carolina amended its constitution in 1971. One foe, H.K. Edgerton, is threatening to file a lawsuit in state court against the city to challenge Bothwell's appointment.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hundreds of icebergs heading towards Australia!

From JenK and Treehugger.com:
Ships passing through the southern Pacific Ocean have been issued a warming: beware of hundreds of massive icebergs. Seems that they've broken off of an Antarctic ice floe and are now drifting towards New Zealand.

Scientists have counted over 100 icebergs drifting north to New Zealand. It's a rare event--according to the BBC, the last time such a huge flotilla was amassed was in 2006. Before that, the last record incident of this magnitude was in 1931. Quick, who wants to guess what might be responsible?

There's no major cause for concern, since the waters in which the icebergs are flowing in aren't a major shipping lane, and few boats tread there. And though they're en route to New Zealand, it's doubtful that they'll make it all the way. But they would be a sight to see--some of them have been determined to be over 30 ft high and 650 ft long. Even so, as the BBC reports, "scientists have said they believe these segments will break up long before reaching the New Zealand coastline."

Texas accidentally bans straight marriage.

From Newser:
The geniuses who wrote Texas’ gay marriage ban may have accidentally banned all marriage in the state, according to one Houston lawyer. Subsection B of the ban, a constitutional amendment ratified in 2005, states, “This state…may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” The intent was to prevent even civil unions for gay couples—but it doesn’t actually specify the “gay” part.

The wording essentially “eliminates marriage in Texas,” Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Democratic candidate for state attorney general tells the McClatchy Papers. “You do not have to have a fancy law degree to read this and understand what it plainly says.” Conservatives scoffed at Radnofsky’s tactics. “It’s a silly argument,” said the head of an organization that helped draft the amendment. A lawsuit based on it would have “about one chance in a trillion” of succeeding.

Japanese man weds video game character.

Just stay away from Rikku, buddy. She's mine. From Boing Boing:
On Sunday, a man named Sal9000 married the love of his life. Her name is Nene Anegasaki, and she lives inside of a Nintendo DS video game called Love Plus. The wedding took place during a Make: Japan meet-up held at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In attendance were a live audience, an MC, the bride's virtual video game girlfriend — who made a speech — and a real human priest.

Hospital sign has secret meaning.

From Queens Crap:
It shined briefly as a strange beacon of commiseration: the hospital sign that declared in large neon lights something that looks a lot like, “I’m hurt.”

Now the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, where the sign marks the entrance to the emergency room, has decided to cut power to the sign until it is repaired, probably next week, a hospital spokesman said.

“It’s too much attention that wasn’t intended and is not needed,” said Dario Centorcelli, the spokesman. “It will be fixed.’

The strange message was the result of the neon bulbs in two letters in the hospital name burning out — the “E” and “S” — prompting passers-by to find hidden meaning in the surviving text “lmhur t.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sushi DNA tests reveal widespread fish fraud.

From Wired:
A biologist walks into a sushi bar and orders some tuna. What does he get? Escolar, a nasty fish with buttery flesh that can cause bizarre episodes of diarrhea, accompanied by a waxy intestinal discharge.

It’s not a joke. It happened five times to the same scientists during a brief research project. The results of that study were published Wednesday in PLOS One.

“A piece of tuna sushi has the potential to be an endangered species, a fraud or a health hazard,” wrote the authors. “All three of these cases were uncovered in this study.”

The team of researchers from Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History ordered tuna from 31 sushi restaurants and then used genetic tests to determine the species of fishes in those dishes. More than half of those eateries misrepresented, or couldn’t clarify the type of fish they were mongering. Several were selling endangered southern bluefin tuna.

Although their results were shocking, exposing sloppy sushi joints wasn’t their main goal. The scientists were trying to improve on a new species-identification technique, called DNA barcoding. A coalition of labs has been collecting fish, reading their genes and uploading the information to a database called FISH-BOL.

Their goal is to build a catalog of every fish species on earth so that anyone with a handheld DNA reader could definitively identify fish within minutes. Wildlife officials could use that technology to spot-check fish markets, and fine people who are selling protected species.

Obama speechless by reaction to bow.

I don't buy it. Clearly, our president was bowing to our new Gundam Mobile Suit Command overlords. From CBS News:
President Obama's bow to Japan's Emperor Akihito in Tokyo earlier this month ignited anger from some conservatives who complained, in the words of blogger Donald Douglass, that the United States "now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world."

Now the president is responding – kind of. The Atlantic quotes "a US government official who was on the trip" who says the president was left "speechless" by the controversy.

"Obama's attitude was, this is an elderly gentleman in a country where this kind of greeting is customary," said the official. "It does not seem extraordinary to show this kind of gesture to him."

"The Fox News poll said that 67 percent of Americans thought [the bow] was a good thing for him to have done," the official continued. "When the president heard that some people had complained, I'd characterize his reaction as: The notion that the United States is somehow humbling or humiliating itself by showing respect for a local custom, when it is transparently the most powerful country in the world, leaves me speechless."

Coozer-Bits.

Yipes: China executes two over tainted milk scandal.

Science: Large Hadron Collider makes first crossings of proton beams. (I think to stop Zuul.)

Duh: Judge blocks law allowing guns into bars, thinking it might be a bad idea.

Science: Why kids ask why.

Rush: Greatest band in the world bizarrely attacked in KISS review.

World's biggest animal sacrifice begins.

Awful. From News.com.au:
Up to a million Hindu devotees have gathered in a village in Nepal to witness the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals in a mass sacrifice that has drawn widespread criticism.

Worshippers travelled long distances, many coming from India, to attend the two-day Gadhimai festival, which honours the Hindu goddess of power and takes place once every five years in southern Nepal.

A huge cry of "Long Live Gadhimai!" went up after the village temple's head priest launched the event with the ritual sacrifice of two wild rats, two pigeons, a rooster, a lamb and a pig.

The crowd then rushed to a nearby field where 250 sword-wielding butchers were waiting to begin the mass slaughter of about 20,000 buffalo, brought by devotees to be sacrificed near the holy temple.

"This is a very special day for Hindu devotees," head priest Mangal Chaudhary Tharu told AFP as the Gadhimai festival began.

"All the people who came here to worship Gadhimai have been waiting a long time for this day. I am very proud to be part of this event," added Tharu, the fourth generation of his family to serve as a priest at the temple.

An AFP reporter at the scene said up to a million devotees were crammed into the area for the festival. Many were from India, where some states have banned animal slaughter for religious purposes.

[...] The buffalo slaughter took place in a huge field surrounded by three-metre wall, and will be followed on Tuesday by the ritual sacrifice of around 300,000 goats, sheep and birds.

Many festival-goers scaled the wall to get a better view of the killings, carried out by volunteers using specially-built bamboo cages to prevent the animals from escaping.

Man looks for his biological father - and finds out it's Charles Manson!

Wow, this has got to suck. From News.com.au:
A man who went in search of his biological father was shocked to learn it was famed serial killer Charles Manson.

Matthew Roberts, a 41-year-old DJ who lives in Los Angeles, said the shock of discovering his father sent him into depression.

"I didn't want to believe it. I was frightened and angry. It's like finding out that Adolf Hitler is your father,” Mr Roberts told The Sun.

"I'm a peaceful person - trapped in the face of a monster."

Despite his revulsion Mr Roberts has been exchanging mail with Manson, who is serving life in Corcoran State Prison in California over nine murders committed by his “Family” of followers in 1969.

“He sends me weird stuff and always signs it with his swastika,” Mr Roberts said.

Zombie Watch: Drowned man shows up looking for his clothes.

From Ananova:
A two-day police hunt for a drowned man was called off when the 24-year old turned up at the crime scene looking for his clothes.

Maciej Nowak had disappeared after being dumped by his girlfriend and was last seen drinking heavily into the early hours in Urzedow, Poland.

And when his clothes were found the next morning by a lake, friends feared he had killed himself.

But just as police divers were about to call in a submarine, Nowak appeared and asked what all the fuss was about.

"He told us that he can't remember why he had taken his clothes off because he had been drunk.

"But he woke up at a nearby house. Apparently they had found him naked and taken him in and let him sober up," said a police spokesman.

Nowak's girlfriend Kasia Lubelska, 23, said she wouldn't be getting back with him.

"It's stupid things like this that caused me to dump him. How can I allow someone like him to be the father of my children?" she said.

Insurance company cuts woman's benefits for smiling in picture.

From ABC News:
After a vacation with her mother and a few nights out with friends, Nathalie Blanchard thought nothing of posting a few pictures to her Facebook page.

In the photos, the 29-year-old Canadian woman appears to be having a good time, enjoying the company of family and friends on the beach and at a bar.

Now, Blanchard says her employer's insurance company is using those pictures against her, cutting her benefits because she appeared to be having fun.

For the past year, Blanchard has been on leave from her job at IBM's Bromont, Quebec office. After a doctor diagnosed her with major depression, she started receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from Canada's Manulife Financial Insurance.

But this fall, the checks stopped coming. When Blanchard called Manulife to find out why, she said she was told it was because the Facebook pictures indicated she was no longer depressed and ready to return to work.

Zombie Watch: Man brought back to life after dead for 47 minutes.

From WCBSTV:
CBS 2 HD recently met a Brooklyn man who lived after his heart quit for 47 minutes. We have his amazing story of survival. And it's all thanks to a team of doctors who refused to give up until they brought him back from the dead.

"These doctors did not stop …. Without them and I'm serious when I tell you I wouldn't be here," Joe Tiralosi said through tears.

Tiralosi is a medical miracle. He's been to the edge and back, to a place most people don't return from. Now he's at home in Brooklyn, but three months ago he literally died.

"I think miracle best describes it," Tiralosi said.

Tiralosi suffered sudden cardiac arrest. His heart stopped beating for 47 minutes.

"Not a moment goes by that I don't take for granted every second because I know it only takes the blink of an eye to lose your life," he said.

Last week, the 56-year-old father of two returned to New York Presbyterian Hospital to thank the medical team who saved his life and share his story with CBS 2 HD.

On Aug. 17, Tiralosi walked into the emergency room feeling sick and disoriented. He collapsed a minute later.

"The doctors themselves were responsible for giving my chance to live again," Tiralosi said.

Doctors Rahul Sharma and Flavio Gaudio led the team who worked on him.

"It's a miracle for which it is difficult to find words," Dr. Gaudio said.

"When Joe came in he was talking. It was his presence when he came in that made us all say we're not going to give up," Dr. Sharma added.

"I felt he had a good pulse with the compressions so part of me thought that we had bought some time," Gaudio said.

It took 4,500 chest compressions and eight shocks from a defibrillator to get Tiralosi stabilized at 11:55 a.m. While his doctors worked frantically to save him he barely remembers anything about that day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

French hotel lets you pay to be treated like a hamster.

From Gadling, courtesy of JenK:
Hands up if you ever had the sudden urge to be treated like a hamster for a couple of days? Well, your wish has come true, though it will involve a flight to France.

In the French town of Nantes, you can pay just under $150 a night to eat hamster food, run around in a giant wheel, and sleep in hay stacks.

According to the first two paying guests, being able to experience how a hamster lives helped them "come out of their daily routine". Well, yeah, I can see how pretending to be a hamster for a couple of days will change things a little.

The owners of the "Hamster Villa" run a company that specializes in unusual and bizarre hotels. One of the owners used to dress up as a hamster, making their venture just a bit weirder. Sadly, the new "hamsters" in this hotel are already demanding WiFi access and a flat panel TV, so the current $150/night rate will be going up in the near future.

EasyJet apologizes for "triviliaizing the genocidal massacre of Jews."

Well, there goes our Coozer Files' Hot Babes of Dachau ad campaign. From Daily Mail:
EasyJet yesterday withdrew all copies of its in-flight magazine after it published pictures of designer-clad models posing in Berlin's Field of Stelae Holocaust Memorial which commemorates the six million Jewish victims of Nazi genocide.

After Jewish campaigners accused the airline of 'trivialising the genocidal massacre of Jews', easyJet withdrew all copies - estimated at 250,000 - and issued a 'profuse apology'.

Labour MP Denis MacShane, who heads the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism, said: 'This is further evidence of the banalisation of anti-Semitism.'

The Field of Stelae Memorial is a 19,000 square metre site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or 'stelae' arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. It is designed to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ninja impales himself on fence in failed jump.

Fake ninja jump like grasshopper instead of fly like wallaby. From FOX News:
Seattle police say a man who thought he was a ninja was impaled on a metal fence when he tried to leap over it.

An officer who was looking for an assault victim nearby Monday night heard the man screaming for help.

Police supported him to prevent further injuries until medics arrived and took him to a hospital, where he was in serious condition in intensive care on Tuesday.

Police spokeswoman Renee Witt wrote in a department Web site posting that officers thought the man might have been involved in the reported assault, but he insisted he was just a ninja trying to clear a 4- to 5-foot-tall fence.

Witt says the man was "overconfident in his abilities," and that alcohol likely played a role.

His name was not released.

Coozer-Bits.

Awesome: Costco drops Coke.

Science: Music improves brain function (unless it's Insane Clown Posse).

Yipes: Nanoparticles used in common household goods cause genetic damage in mice.

Yipes: Lion opens car door during safari, tries to hitch a ride.

Cthulhu Watch: Climate change forcing coral to eat jellyfish.

Check-in system failure affects 485 airlines worldwide.

From News.com.au:

ALL Qantas check-ins have been thrown into chaos, after the computer check-in system failed across the country and the world.

The Amadeus program used by Qantas to check in passengers went into meltdown at about 5pm (AEDT) yesterday across the network, the Herald Sun reports.

The computer glitch was rectified just after 8pm, but the airline reported delays of between 45 minutes.

Qantas said services across the country are returning to normal.

During the system shutdown staff were forced to check people in manually, which was the major cause for delays.

All Qantas flights across the country were affected, along with another 485 airlines across the world.

Major airlines such as British Airways, Air France, South African Airways, Thai Airways, Lufthansa and United Airlines were all affected in the global check-in chaos.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tokyo is world's best place to eat.

From BBC:
Tokyo has leaped ahead of Paris as the city with the most Michelin three-star restaurants, confirming its status as the "world capital of gastronomy".

Tokyo now has 11 three-star restaurants compared with 10 for Paris, according to the latest edition of the Michelin guide to Tokyo.

The Japanese capital also has more of the coveted stars in total than Paris - 261 shared by 197 restaurants.

New York, by comparison, has four three-star restaurants.

After controversy over earlier Tokyo guides that used non-Japanese inspectors, Michelin said it used only Japanese inspectors for the latest edition.

Japanese restaurateurs and food critics had been sceptical that non-Japanese could adequately judge the country's cuisine.

Butchered man used for kebabs, meat pies.

From The Sun:
Suspected cannibals killed a young man, ATE part of him and then sold other bits to a KEBAB house.

Cops also believe the 25-year-old victim's body parts may have been used to fill PIES too.

The trio of homeless men were arrested in Russia - accused of murdering the man with knives and a hammer.

Prosecutors revealed: "After carrying out the crime, the corpse was divided up - part of it was eaten and part of it was sold to a kiosk selling kebabs and pies."

Suspicions were raised when dismembered parts of a human body were found near a bus stop in the outskirts of the Russian city of Perm - which is 720 miles east of Moscow.

Man poses as father-son team to bed women.

From News.com.au:

A 55-year-old Taiwanese man tricked up to 20 women into having sex with him in an elaborate scam where he posed as both a handsome young man and that man's ailing father, local media reported today.

Hsu Shian-ming, who was arrested on Saturday, allegedly posted photos of a youthful male model online, claiming to be that person, and attracted numerous calls from women interested in romantic liaisons, the China Post reported.

Hsu would then use the telephone conversations to tell his victims he had a father whose medical condition required constant sex to stay alive, sweet-talking them into doing what was necessary to save him, it said.

The women would then meet up with the "father", also Hsu, waiting for them at various hotels in Taipei, according to the report.

One of his victims eventually became suspicious after several attempts to see the handsome "son" were unsuccessful, and after she uncovered the truth with the help of private investigators, police became involved, the paper said.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Super Mario Bros. beat up cab driver.

This is why I ride Yoshi instead of taxis. From the NY Daily News:

The cabbie beat up by thugs dressed as Super Mario Brothers spoke out about his ordeal Sunday and demanded tougher laws against assaults on taxi drivers.

"I was really scared....At the time, I really think I'm going to die," said Ndiaye Serigne, 48, of Harlem, who was robbed and pummeled by four men dressed as Mario, Luigi and other characters at a gas station.

"We want more protection."

Serigne said he picked up the group in Gramercy around 3:30 a.m. on Halloween night. Trouble started soon after he crossed the Verrazano Bridge.

"Now it's a free ride," one passenger said as he reached over and turned off Serigne's meter. Then he reached into the cabbie's pocket and grabbed $210.

Coozer-Bits.

Some items from last week. (My wrist is almost better, by the way!)

Duh: Britons are the ugliest people in the world.

WTF: Judge orders church to stop feeding homeless.

WTF: Customs seizes rabbit poop cigarettes.

Sad: Baby dies while doctor plays online game.

Awesome: Metrosexuals banned to curb violence.

Hot Cha Cha: Spain offers masturbation class for high schoolers.

Duh: 2009 was very unlucky.

Games: Video game Modern Warfare 2 has biggest opening of any kind of entertainment.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Video: Polysics - "Young OH! OH!"

The Polysics + egg salad = AWESOME.

Britons as stupid as Americans.

From the Daily Mail:

More than half the population does not believe climate change has been caused by humans.

In a poll published just weeks before the global climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, it has been revealed only 41% of British people accept as a scientific fact that the situation is largely man-made.

The Populus research shows while 28% believed climate change was "far and away" the most serious problem facing Britain and another 51% agreed it was a serious concern, many remained unconvinced of the role humans played.

Coozer-Bits.

Some older stuff I bookmarked while my arm was out of commission:

Yipes: British nuclear expert mysteriously thrown to his death off UN building.

Lame: Afghanistan insurgency has grown 10-fold.

D'oh: Civilian in jet joyride accidentally ejects himself.

Aww: Cop shoots teen in groin after Halloween prank gone awry.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bird takes down Large Hadron Collider.

Thanks JenK! From The Register:

A bird dropping a piece of bread onto outdoor machinery has been blamed for a technical fault at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) this week which saw significant overheating in sections of the mighty particle-punisher's subterranean 27-km supercooled magnetic doughnut.

According to scientists at the project, had the LHC been operational - it is scheduled to recommence beaming later this month - the snag would have caused it to fail safe and shut down automatically. This would put the mighty machine out of action for a few days while it was restarted, but there would be no repeat of the catastrophic damage suffered last September. On that occasion, an electrical connection in the circuit itself failed violently, causing a massive liquid-helium leak and knock-on damage along hundreds of metres of magnets.

Lou Dobbs quits CNN.

CNN should replace him with a day laborer. From the NY Post:

CNN's Lou Dobbs abruptly resigned last night, astounding viewers with a vague explanation that he'd be devoting more time to "constructive problem solving."

Eight minutes into "Lou Dobbs Tonight," the veteran anchor, who joined the cable network when it was founded by Ted Turner in 1980, announced his departure without saying exactly where he's going.

"Over the past six months, it's become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us," said Dobbs.

"And some leaders of media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day."

Dobbs' anti-immigration rhetoric has made him one of the most divisive figures in TV news.

Fox Business News had reportedly sought to lure Dobbs, 64, from CNN. He met with Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes in September, but a Fox representative said last night the network hasn't had serious talks with Dobbs.

"We have had not had any discussions with Lou Dobbs for Fox News or Fox Business," a network spokeswoman said moments after Dobbs' dramatic on-air resignation.

Dobbs -- who had a contract with CNN through 2011 -- told viewers he and the network's president, Jonathan Klein, amicably agreed the pact could end immediately.

"I'm considering a number of options and directions, and I assure you I will let you know when I set course," Dobbs said.

10-ton fishing boat sunk by giant jellyfish.

JenK sent this one in. We're doooooomed!! From TreeHugger.com:

You could say it was the jellyfish, or you could say it was the overzealous fishermen on board. While trying to haul in a catch of several dozen giant Nomura's jellyfish - one of the largest in the world - a Japanese fishing trawler tipped right over.

According to the Telegraph, "The crew of the fishing boat was thrown into the sea when the vessel capsized, but the three men were rescued by another trawler, according to the Mainichi newspaper. The local Coast Guard office reported that the weather was clear and the sea was calm at the time of the accident."

It's no wonder only a few dozen could capsize a boat. Each jellyfish can weigh as much as 450 pounds. This year has seen a big spike in the numbers of these giant jellies, with a similar population boom not occurring since 2005, when the large numbers of jellyfish and their stinging tentacles ruined fishing nets and made catches of fish inedible. Both ideal weather conditions and a smaller number of predators, such as sea turtles and certain fish species have helped the jelly populations grow this year.

Toyota recalls 3.8 million cars because of floor mats.

From Freep.com:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found no evidence of mechanical causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, which has resulted in fatalities and Toyota's largest-ever recall, one of the company's top marketing executives said Monday.

"NHTSA recently closed another study finding that the only cause of unintended acceleration was an out-of-position or inappropriate floor mat," said Bob Carter, Toyota division group vice president. "There simply is no evidence of any other cause."

Toyota, which is asking owners of 3.8 million of its Camry, Avalon, Prius, Tacoma and Tundra models to remove or replace the mats, also characterized the problem of floor mat interference as an industry safety issue.

NHTSA received reports of 102 incidents in which the accelerator may have become stuck on certain Toyotas. The agency has not said how many of those incidents involved crashes. But an August accident near San Diego killed a California Highway Patrol officer and three family members when the Lexus ES350 he was driving barreled out of control. In a 911 call, someone in the vehicle reported the accelerator was stuck and the driver couldn't stop the vehicle.

100 things restaurant staffers should never do.

Had to share this great list from the NY Times. Great tips here for any wannabe restaurateur. It also makes you appreciate your waiter, assuming they've done everything correctly.

Part 1

Part 2

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Coozer on the DL.

If you were wondering why there haven't been posts of late, it's because there hasn't been any news and everything is normal throughout the world.

Nah, I broke my wrist. It's put a real dent in everything from my blogging life to my sex life. I'll try to post one-handed when I can, but I'll be back in action, 110%, no foolin', by the time of our country's annual turkey massacre. See you then! gobble gobble

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Masked men rob Halloween store.

From the new poorly-designed Newsday.com:
They wore the right costumes.

Halloween Adventure, at 1675 Sunrise Hwy. in Bay Shore, LI was robbed at gunpoint by two masked men late Thursday.

Police said they robbed the business and three employees.

"Were they dressed as robbers? I would say yes. They were masked," Suffolk Police Department spokesman Sonny DiStefano said Friday morning.

Karaoke blamed for losing Afghanistan war.

If the Taliban learns "Sweet Caroline," we're done for. From the Washington Post:
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The United States is cutting back on luxuries and distractions such as salsa and karaoke nights to free up space for troops fighting an increasingly violent eight-year war in Afghanistan.

Kandahar airfield is the main air transport hub for the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan and is so cramped its sewage pool is almost overflowing. But the plan to cut recreational facilities is causing a bigger stink.

"I think it's pretty disheartening for all the soldiers, taking away what little morale they have here," said U.S. military driver Private First Class John Armstrong as he sipped gourmet coffee, one of several comforts that may be cut.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Children's TV safari guide killed by charging elephant.

From the Daily Mail:
A Safari guide who was working on a BBC children's television programme was killed after an elephant charged and trampled over him yesterday.

Anton Turner, 38, was assisting the filming of the CBBC series 'Serious Explorers' which is retracing the footsteps of legendary explorer David Livingstone in Tanzania, Africa.

Mr Turner, a Brit who is a former Army officer and experienced safari ranger, was seriously injured after the elephant attacked him.

The crew were filming in the Selous Game Reserve - Tanzania's largest safari park - when he was trampled.

A doctor travelling with the expedition treated him, but he died soon after the rampage.

Three children who had been picked by the BBC to travel with the party were present during the fatal charge but both were unhurt.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Man dies after single sneeze.

From Daily Mail:

A father died after suffering a brain haemorrhage and a heart attack caused by a heavy sneeze, an inquest heard.

Retired design engineer John Oram, 79, collapsed after he was seen sneezing 'violently' by care home staff.

The force of the sneeze caused brain and heart trauma and he died in hospital two days later on July 18, an inquest was told.

His son Mark, 50, said his father was 'sorely missed' and it was surprised something as 'innocuous' as a sneeze could have killed him.

He said: 'It does seem to be unusual demise from sneezing but his medical history of having heart condition 30 years necessitated him being on medication.

'I guess as you get everything gets weaker more susceptible to being damaged.'

China to remake Great Wall out of chocolate.

Ingenious.. Everyone knows that the Mongol hordes hate chocolate! From Xinhuanet:
China plans to remake iconic Great Wall and terra-cotta warriors with a history of over 2,000 years. But this time, neither stones nor clay will be used.

The only building material is pure chocolate.

A Beijing company told Xinhua Wednesday that the 10-meter-long and two-meter-high "Choc Wall", a mimic of the Great Wall, will be erected at a chocolate theme park early next year.

It may be tiny if compared with the old stone-and-brick wall zigzagging thousands of kilometers across north China. But it would be as attractive as the real one, because chocolate is gaining a dazzling popularity among the Chinese, said Tan Liya, PR manager of the proposed World Chocolate Wonderland.

Located in northern Beijing, the park covering some 20,000 square meters will be open on January 29, next year, with an aim to "promote the chocolate culture" in China, Tan said.

Over 100 tonnes of chocolate will be used to remake these ancient Chinese wonders, including more than 500 duplicates of the Qin Dynasty (211-206 B.C.) warrior statues.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Junk food as addictive as heroin.

This might explain why I lie and steal from my family so I can buy Whatchamacallits. Thanks JenK! From ScienceNews:
Junk food elicits addictive behavior in rats similar to the behaviors of rats addicted to heroin, a new study finds. Pleasure centers in the brains of rats addicted to high-fat, high-calorie diets became less responsive as the binging wore on, making the rats consume more and more food. The results, presented October 20 at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, may help explain the changes in the brain that lead people to overeat.

“This is the most complete evidence to date that suggests obesity and drug addiction have common neurobiological underpinnings,” says study coauthor Paul Johnson of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla.

To see how junk food affects the brain’s natural reward system — the network of nerve cells that release feel-good chemicals — Johnson started at the grocery store. He loaded up on typical Western fare, including Ho Hos, sausage, pound cake, bacon and cheesecake. Johnson fed rats either a standard diet of high-nutrient, low-calorie chow, or unlimited amounts of the palatable junk food. Rats that ate the junk food soon developed compulsive eating habits and became obese. “They’re taking in twice the amount of calories as the control rats,” says Johnson’s coauthor Paul Kenny, also of Scripps.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Great White shark bitten in half by sea monster.

From the NY Daily News:
Swimmers were warned that a "monster shark" was prowling off a popular Australian beach, one that nearly bit a 10-foot great white shark in half last week, London's Daily Mail reported.

Based on the bite marks, experts say the larger shark must be twice its victim's size.

The smaller - relatively speaking - great white was hooked on a baited drum line when it was attacked, and was still alive when it was hauled onto a boat off north Stradbroke Island in Queensland.

The fatally wounded shark was found just a few miles away from the island's popular beaches, a haven for surfers and bathers.

"That cannibal thing is what great whites do; they'll eat anything, including their own kind," Hugh Edwards, a local shark expert, told Australia's 7 News. "It would be sensible not to swim in that area for a little while."

7,500 NYC drivers ticketed for cell phones in one day.

From the NY Post:

A ticket blitz aimed at New York City drivers using handheld cell phones has resulted in police issuing more than 7,500 tickets in 24 hours.

Each ticket handed out last Thursday carries a $130 fine.

Police did not say how many of the 7,529 tickets were given to taxi drivers.

It was the department’s third one-day initiative so far this year to encourage drivers to use a handsfree device in their vehicles. The other crackdowns occurred in May and August.

Last year, police say officers issued an average of 536 tickets a day to drivers holding handheld cell phones while driving.

Next generation of DVDs to be made out of mantis shrimp eyes.

Ha, suck it vegans! From Science Daily:
The remarkable eyes of a marine crustacean could inspire the next generation of DVD and CD players, according to a new study from the University of Bristol published today in Nature Photonics.

The mantis shrimps in the study are found on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and have the most complex vision systems known to science. They can see in twelve colours (humans see in only three) and can distinguish between different forms of polarized light.

Special light-sensitive cells in mantis shrimp eyes act as quarter-wave plates -- which can rotate the plane of the oscillations (the polarization) of a light wave as it travels through it. This capability makes it possible for mantis shrimps to convert linearly polarized light to circularly polarized light and vice versa. Manmade quarter-wave plates perform this essential function in CD and DVD players and in circular polarizing filters for cameras.

However, these artificial devices only tend to work well for one colour of light while the natural mechanism in the mantis shrimp's eyes works almost perfectly across the whole visible spectrum -- from near-ultra violet to infra-red.