Friday, January 9, 2009

Coozer-Bits.

Creepy: Mosquitoes sing lovely, harmonic duet before mating.

Comics: Meet Your Friendly Neighborhood Barackobamaman.

D'oh: Several security guards at nuclear power plant caught sleeping.

Awesome: Tetris helps reduce flashbacks for the traumatized.

Robotic exoskeleton suit helps paralyzed walk.

And what happens when the robotic exoskeleton takes over your body and forces you into turning on your own human race, hmmm?? From CNN:
A new robotic suit could transform the lives of paralyzed people, giving them the ability to walk again.

The invention, known as ReWalk, acts like a kind of exoskeleton. It consists of lightweight, motorized leg supports and an assortment of intricate motion sensors.

Users wear a backpack that holds a computerized control box which helps the medical device recognize when a step needs to be taken.

"Standing changes my whole environment. I don't have to look from the bottom up. Now I am eye to eye with everybody," Radi Kaiof, who has used the device, told CNN.

Coozer-Bits.

Sad: Venezuela's Jews close down schools amidst growing tensions.

WTF: Chicago high school principal forces strip search of three girls.

WTF: Prison inmates sue for emotional damages over chicken that didn't taste good.

Zombie Watch: Man builds meth lab in funeral home.

Sad: Unemployment jumps to 7.2%; most jobs lost since 1945.

Health: The 11 best foods you aren't eating.

Did Bush cause the financial crisis?

Something tells me I'm going to get an email from Louie D., the Coozer Files' sole conservative reader... From BBC News:

On [Bush's] watch, the US authorities did little to prevent the sale of millions of mortgages to people who could never afford them.

They failed to police the market in mortgage-backed securities which has now collapsed with such devastating consequences.

And credit default swaps, those multi-billion-dollar bets on other people going bust, went virtually unregulated.

In recent days, Congress has been holding hearings to determine how the regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) missed numerous warning signs - "Red Flags" - about Bernard Madoff, the man accused of running a gigantic Ponzi scheme which has defrauded investors of at least $50bn.

Paul Kanjorski, the Democratic Representative who is chairing the hearings, argued that the SEC's failings were - in part - due to chronic understaffing, implying that the Bush Administration had starved the agency of the resources needed to do its job.

In the blame game for this financial crisis, George W Bush comes a close second to greedy and unscrupulous Wall Street bankers.

Congressional panel: We have no idea how banks used bailout money.

Gee, who didn't see this coming? From ABC News:
A scathing new report by a congressional watchdog panel blames the Treasury Department for failing to track how banks are spending taxpayer money provided through the government's $700 billion financial rescue package, also known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

The panel, which has been charged with overseeing TARP and is led by Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, said in its 56-page report that it "still does not know what the banks are doing with taxpayer money."

By investing in banks that have refused "to provide any accounting of how they are using taxpayer money," the Treasury Department has "eroded" public confidence, the report stated.

The panel also asked whether the Treasury Department, which has allocated more than $350 billion from the rescue package so far, failed to comply with Congress' instructions to tackle the country's foreclosure crisis.

The department took "no steps to use any of [the $700 billion rescue package] to alleviate the foreclosure crisis," and that "raises questions about whether Treasury has complied with Congress' intent that Treasury develop a 'plan that seeks to maximize assistance for homeowners,'" the report said.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Compulsive hoarder gets lost in own apartment, dies of thirst.

From The Sun:
Human mole Gordon Stewart, 74, had filled his rooms up to the ceiling with ten years’ worth of garbage and clutter, making it impossible to walk around.

The compulsive hoarder is believed to have become disorientated inside the walls of rotting trash and unable to find a way out — then collapsed with dehydration.

Neighbours raised the alarm after failing to see him leave his house in Broughton, Bucks, for several days.

When cops arrived, the stench from the rubbish was so foul they brought in a police diving team equipped with breathing apparatus.

It is believed they crawled around the tunnel network until they uncovered Mr Stewart’s body.

Cthulhu Watch: Mystery roar from faraway space detected.

Something in the far reaches of space, beyond colour and time, is stirring.... From Space.com:

Space is typically thought of as a very quiet place. But one team of astronomers has found a strange cosmic noise that booms six times louder than expected.

The roar is from the distant cosmos. Nobody knows what causes it.

Of course, sound waves can't travel in a vacuum (which is what most of space is), or at least they can't very efficiently. But radio waves can.

Radio waves are not sound waves, but they are still electromagnetic waves, situated on the low-frequency end of the light spectrum.

Many objects in the universe, including stars and quasars, emit radio waves. Even our home galaxy, the Milky Way, emits a static hiss (first detected in 1931 by physicist Karl Jansky). Other galaxies also send out a background radio hiss.

But the newly detected signal, described here today at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, is far louder than astronomers expected.

There is "something new and interesting going on in the universe," said Alan Kogut of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Army sent "John Doe" letters to dead soldiers' families.

To Whom It May Concern:

Sorry we got Whatshisname - your boy and/or girl killed. He/she sacrificed his/her young life for something or other. We hope you enjoy the enclosed coupon for Arby's.

Anyway....

From the Chicago Tribune:
The Army issued a formal apology to the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan after it sent them letters with the salutation "Dear John Doe."

In December, the Army sent out 7,000 letters to the families of most of the 3,544 soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001 containing information about services or gifts for which they may be eligible.

Although the envelopes were properly addressed, a software problem caused an error that printed the place-holder salutation of "Dear John Doe" at the top of the letter. The letters were printed by a private contractor.

J. Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman, said the service had not received any angry complaints, but several families called to alert the military to the error on their letters. That prompted an investigation showing that most likely all the letters were misprinted.

Gladiators to fight again in Rome's Colosseum.

About time we did something about all these Christians. (Thanks Jennifer C.!) From MSNBC:
Gladiators are to return to Rome's most famous fight arena almost 2,000 years after their bloody sport last entertained Roman crowds, local authorities announced.

According to Umberto Broccoli, the head of archaeology at Rome's city council, 2009 will be a time for the five million people who visit the Colosseum each year to experience "the sights, sounds and smells" of ancient Rome.

"We do not need to enshrine historical sites and monuments, we need to make them more spectacular. Museums and monuments must speak to the public in a new way," Broccoli told the daily La Repubblica.

According to Broccoli's plan, modern-day gladiators will engage in realistically choreographed mock fights, wearing original costumes and the same combat gear — swords, tridents, nets and daggers — that was used 2,000 years ago.

Museum of Broken Relationships offers relics of heartbreak.

Is the suggested admission price a box of chocolate, half-eaten with shame? Submitted by reader Jennifer C.:
From an empty ring box to sexy lingerie and a pair of fur-lined handcuffs, an exhibition of the relics of failed love has come to Asia, hoping to bring solace to the heartbroken.

The “Museum of Broken Relationships,” which opened in Singapore on Wednesday, is a traveling display of items related to failed relationships donated by people who live in the cities the museum has visited.

Concept founders Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic decided to set up the exhibit in Croatia after consoling friends over failed romances, and hope its global tour will offer people the chance to overcome the pain of heartbreak through art.

[...] The museum, which has actual displays as well as a virtual, online space, has everything from romantic letters to photographs to gifts given to lovers such as soft toys, but also includes unusual exhibits such as a prosthetic leg donated by a war veteran who fell in love with his physiotherapist.

In Berlin, an axe used by a woman to break up her ex-girlfriend's furniture, along with the broken furniture, was on display alongside a wedding dress and a pair of skates.

Coozer-Bits.

Creepy: Larry Craig dropping appeals (and pants! zing!).

Sad: 82-year-old man trapped in bathtub for 5 days.

WTF: Dozens of "witches" being tortured and killed in Papua New Guinea.

Creepy: Spookfish uses mirrors for its four eyes.

Science: Weird rock arrangements on Mars might not be the handiwork of bored Martians after all.

PSA: New salmonella outbreak sweeping through entire US.

Trends: Mugging Russian violinists.

Local: City Council candidate's campaign bus runs over and kills 9-year-old boy.

Science: Hubble finds some stars go "ballistic."

Eats: The New York Times wants you to eat squirrels.

Creepy: Carcass of mythical beast washes up on UK shore.

Sad: Vatican: Gaza resembles a concentration camp.

UFO damages wind turbine in the UK.

Do you think Tall Nordics or Short Uglies? From BBC News:

UFO enthusiasts are claiming damage to a Lincolnshire wind farm turbine was caused by a mystery aircraft.

The turbine at Conisholme lost one 66ft (20m) blade and another was badly damaged in the early hours of Sunday.

County councillor for the area Robert Palmer said he had seen a "round, white light that seemed to be hovering".

Ecotricity, which owns the site, said while investigations continued they were not ruling anything out - but the extent of damage was "unique".

The turbine is one of 20 at the Conisholme site, which has been only been fully operational since April 2008. The broken blade has been recovered and is being examined.

Local ufologists said they had received many reports of activity in the area and had teams searching for clues.

Mr Palmer said: "I actually saw a white light - a round, white light that seemed to be hovering.

"That is the only way I can explain it - it wasn't a flare-like light - it was just round, white light with a slight red edge to it that seemed to be over the wind turbines."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Black holes precede galaxies.

The universe keeps getting weirder. From BBC:

A cosmic chicken-and-egg question has been solved by astronomers, who now say that black holes came before galaxies.

The findings were presented at a major astronomy meeting in California.

Most if not all galaxies, including our own Milky Way, are believed to have massive black holes at their cores.

It was unclear whether black holes came first, helping create galaxies by pulling matter towards them, or whether they arose in already formed galaxies.

"It looks like the black holes came first," said Dr Chris Carilli, from the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, New Mexico, who took part in the study. "The evidence is piling up."

Lily Allen: "You never hear the good things about taking cocaine!"

Yeah, I never hear cocaine praised in music or see it glorified in movies! From The Sun:

Criticising the ‘hysteria’ around cocaine, [Lily Allen] said: “The only story is that drugs are bad and they will kill you - you will become a prostitute, a rapist or a dealer. But that's not true.

“I know lots of people who take cocaine three nights a week and get up and go to work.

“But we never hear that side of the story.

“I wish people wouldn’t sensationalise it.

“Some people are just bad at taking drugs.”

Lily admits taking cocaine – because she felt left out when those around her were doing it – but says she didn’t enjoy the experience.

The singer’s comments have caused outrage among Sun readers, politicians and drug charities who have labelled her "sick", "na├»ve" and "misguided".

Man wants kidney back from wife in divorce settlement.

Just.... wow. From Newsday:
When his wife needed a kidney transplant, Dr. Richard Batista gave her one of his, attorney Dominic Barbara said.

Now that Dawnell Batista has filed for a divorce, Richard Batista wants his kidney back as part of his settlement demand. Or, Barbara said Wednesday, his client wants the value of that kidney: An estimated $1.5 million.

The case is being heard in Supreme Court in Mineola.

Boy, 6, drives to school after missing bus.

Sent in from reader Spankie. From the Daily Mail:

A six-year-old boy who missed his bus tried to drive himself to school in the family car.

The child, who has not been identified, took the keys to the 2005 Ford Taurus while his mother was sleeping and drove six miles across the American state of Virginia.

He ran off the road several times before coming to a halt after hitting an embankment and telegraph pole about a mile-and-a-half from his destination.

Astonishingly, he then tried to continue his journey on foot before being stopped by police.

The boy suffered minor injuries, despite not wearing a seat belt, and was eventually taken to school by officers after being checked out at a hospital.

NYS senator caught on tape beating girlfriend.

Who says Republicans have all the fun? From NY Daily News (Thanks Jen!):

A Queens state senator who denies beating his girlfriend was caught on security cameras dragging the scared, bleeding woman from his apartment, law enforcement sources told the Daily News.

Newly elected Sen. Hiram Monserrate "will be convicted by the security video" taken in the hallway and outside his Jackson Heights apartment after he allegedly slashed Karla Giraldo in a jealous rage, sources said.

"No one can look at the security video and think that this was an accident," said a law enforcement source who saw the footage. "The woman looks scared out of her mind and trying to get away from this guy."

The video shows Giraldo grabbing the apartment's front door as Monserrate tried to drag her out of the building, sources said.

Other video clips show Giraldo clutching a towel to her injured left eye and banging on the door of a neighbor's apartment for help, sources said.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Man dies in car with mysterious, hazardous substance.

No cause of death yet, and the hazardous substance is still a mystery. Clearly the beginnings of a zombie apocalypse, but the Chicago Tribune treats it like a traffic report:

A man died this morning in a vehicle that contained an unknown hazardous substance near the Willow Springs Woods forest preserve in the southwest suburbs. The incident prompted a major hazardous materials response.

A hazmat crew, Willow Springs Police, Cook County Forest Preserve Police and at least a dozen fire departments worked at the scene, blocking traffic about 1:30 a.m. today at Willow Springs Road and Archer Avenue in Willow Springs during the investigation.

Traffic was restored later in the morning.

The Cook County medical examiner's office confirmed that a white man had died, but his name, age and cause of death weren't known as of 6 a.m.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Warlock predicts US will invade Mexico.

My god... he knows all! From Breitbart:
Mexico's self-proclaimed "Grand Warlock" says the United States will pull troops out of Iraq in 2009 and send them to the border with Mexico in an attempt to expand its territory.

The prediction from Antonio Vazquez comes with a word of warning though: his record of projecting the future is spotty at best.

Vazquez has been making predictions since 1980 on events ranging from international events to the private lives of celebrities, based on his reading of tarot cards.

Vazquez erroneously predicted last year that oil prices would be stable and that Cuba's Fidel Castro and singer Britney Spears would die. This year, he says Spears will continue to triumph.

6-year-olds attempt to elope.

This is cute. From BBC:

Two German children - aged six and seven - have been stopped by police from eloping to Africa to tie the knot in the sun, reports say.

The budding lovebirds, identified as Mika and Anna-Lena, packed bathing costumes, sunglasses and a lilo and headed for the airport.

They even had the presence of mind to invite along an official witness - Anna-Lena's five-year-old sister.

The three got as far as Hanover railway station before police intervened.

The young couple were "very much in love" and had decided to get married in Africa "where it is warm", police spokesman Holger Jureczko told the AFP news agency.

Coozer-Bits.

Yipes: Woman beaten randomly outside NYC mayor's mansion.

Yipes: Child molester still has access to youth center.

Awesome: 600 ancient Roman battle relics discovered in Germany.

Trends: J-Pop plans major assault on the West in 2009.

Lame: Why is Obama silent on Gaza?

Tech: Downloadable HD movies may doom Blu-Ray before it ever took off.

Creepy: Spider ancestor discovered - and (gross) - it had a tail!

Tech: Top 10 coolest open source products of 2008.

Health: Scientists learn to customize nutrition based on DNA.

PSA: "Detox" products don't work.

Health: The truth about 10 trendy New Years diets.

Scientists: True love can last a lifetime.

Well, for 10% of couples. For the rest, true love turns into cold, hard disdain. From CNN:

Using brain scans, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York have discovered a small number of couples respond with as much passion after 20 years together as most people only do during the early throes of romance, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The researchers scanned the brains of couples together for 20 years and compared them with results from new lovers, the Sunday Times said.

About 10 percent of the mature couples had the same chemical reactions when shown photographs of their loved ones as those just starting out.

Previous research has suggested that the first stages of romantic love fade within 15 months and after 10 years it has gone completely, the newspaper said.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New, gentle robot hand delicate enough to KILL US ALL!

Once again, scientists doom us all by improving upon robots' iron fists of death. From New Scientist:

The arm is supported by adjustable springs that counteract both its own weight and that of the object it is holding, so its motors need less power to hold and move objects. The smaller motors also make the arm lighter, and so less dangerous if it hits a worker.

The hand has three fingers, each with two segments, and is controlled by cables attached to a motor in the wrist. The motor is delicate enough that it can even handle objects as fragile as eggs and tomatoes.

The team at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands that developed the device are now adapting their prototype for use in factories, and hope it could also improve artificial limbs.

Rush + Kazoo = The Spirit of Banjo.

It's hard to improve upon perfection, but this dude has come close:

Wal-Mart plans Supercenter on key Civil War site.

From My Way News:

Wal-Mart wants to build a Supercenter within a cannonshot of where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first fought, a proposal that has preservationists rallying to protect the key Civil War site.

A who's who of historians including filmmaker Ken Burns and Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough sent a letter last month to H. Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), urging the company to build somewhere farther from the Wilderness Battlefield.

"The Wilderness is an indelible part of our history, its very ground hallowed by the American blood spilled there, and it cannot be moved," said the letter from 253 scholars and others.

Wal-Mart and its supporters point out that the 138,000-square-foot store would be right behind a bank and a small strip mall, a full mile from entrance to the site of the 1864 clash that left thousands dead and hastened the war's end.

Dead man unknowingly bought winning lotto ticket.

From Yahoo! News:

DANBURY, Conn. – On the day that Donald Peters died, he unknowingly provided financial security for his wife of 59 years and their family.

Peters bought two Connecticut Lottery tickets at a local 7-Eleven store on Nov. 1 as part of a 20-year tradition he shared with his wife Charlotte. Later that day, the 79-year-old retired hat factory worker suffered a fatal heart attack while working in his yard in Danbury.

On Friday, his widow cashed in one of the tickets: a $10 million winner which, in her grief over her husband's death, she had put aside and almost discarded before recently checking the numbers.

"I'm numb," Charlotte Peters, 78, said at Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill.

Donald Peters usually bought the tickets for 10 weeks at a stretch, so the winning ticket he bought Nov. 1 for the Dec. 2 drawing was among several that Charlotte Peters put aside as she, their three children and two grandchildren coped with his sudden death.

"I was in the grocery store and I had it checked and they told me I was a winner," she said. "I had no idea how much it was."