Saturday, August 15, 2009

Scientists: Facebook incites jealousy.

Well, that's certainly the last time I super ninja pirate poke someone of the opposite sex! From Live Science:
Spending time on social networking sites can lead to jealousy toward romantic partners, a new study indicates.

The results are based on a survey of more than 300 college students, and reveal a vicious cycle that plays out in the digital ecosystem called Facebook and ends in a frenzy of jealousy feeding jealousy.

Facebook, which announced its 200 millionth member this year, lets users set up profile pages on which "friends" post comments, photos and other banter, for the most part.

Here's how Amy Muise of the University of Guelph in Ontario and her colleagues think the ugly green-eyed monster rears its head:

Student spends time on Facebook. He or she monitors the profile page of a significant other, finding ambiguous information about their partner that they otherwise may not have access to. This new information stirs up jealous feelings in said student, who then scours for more Facebook information that further fuels the fire.

This escalating cycle can become addictive, according to the new research published in the August issue of the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior.
Wait, there's a journal called CyberPsychology & Behavior?

Bollywood star mistaken for terrorist in Newark.

From the NY Daily News:
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who plays a Muslim mistaken for a terrorist in his latest film, says he was racially profiled at Newark Airport and detained for two hours on Friday.

The 43-year-old "Tom Cruise of India" - cited last year by Newsweek as one of the world's 50 most influential men - was released only after Indian diplomats intervened.

"I was really being hassled, perhaps because of my name being Khan," the international box office sensation charged Saturday in a text message to reporters. "These guys wouldn't let me through."

Khan, who has appeared in more than 70 films, said he was waiting for his luggage Friday when his name popped up on a computer alert list. Security then pulled him aside.

"Absolutely uncalled for, I think," Khan said. "I felt angry and humiliated."

Khan said he endured two hours of interrogation before he was allowed to call the Indian embassy in Washington. An official there vouched for the star, who was then released.

"I was really taken aback," Khan told an Indian television station. "I did not want to say anything just in case they took everything wrong, because I am a little worried about Americans because they do have this issue when your name is Muslim."

Officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not answer multiple inquiries Saturday about the case.

The actor insisted he had all the proper paperwork when he was brought to a detention room at the New Jersey airport. But, he said, Khan "is a Muslim name, and I think the name is common on their checklist."

New Dehli-based U.S. Ambassador Timothy Roemer said officials were trying to "ascertain the facts of the case."

"Shah Rukh Khan, the actor and global icon, is a very welcome guest in the United States," Roemer said Saturday. "Many Americans love his films."

But there were no Bollywood buffs in Newark as Khan came through the airport on his way to Chicago for a celebration of India's independence day.

"I told them I am a movie star," Khan said - although the line fell on deaf ears.

He recently signed a deal with Fox Star Studios to finance and distribute his new movie, "My Name is Khan" - the story of a Muslim man mistaken for a terrorist in post-9/11 America.

Trend Spotting: The male paunch.

I've had my paunch for years, before it was cool. From the NY Times:
This summer the unvarying male uniform in the precincts of Brooklyn cool has been a pair of shorts cut at knickers length, a V-neck Hanes T-shirt, a pair of generic slip-on sneakers and a straw fedora. Add a leather cuff bracelet if the coolster is gay.

In truth this get-up was pretty much the unvarying male uniform last summer also, but this year an unexpected element has been added to the look, and that is a burgeoning potbelly one might term the Ralph Kramden.

Too pronounced to be blamed on the slouchy cut of a T-shirt, too modest in size to be termed a proper beer gut, developed too young to come under the heading of a paunch, the Ralph Kramden is everywhere to be seen lately, or at least it is in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, the McCarren Park Greenmarket and pretty much any place one is apt to encounter fans of Grizzly Bear.

What the trucker cap and wallet chain were to hipsters of a moment ago, the Kramden is to what my colleague Mike Albo refers to as the “coolios” of now. Leading with a belly is a male privilege of long standing, of course, a symbol of prosperity in most cultures and of freedom from anxieties about body image that have plagued women since Eve.

Friday, August 14, 2009

ZombieWatch: Boy who died 18 times celebrates first birthday.

I'm alarmed by the number of zombie babies in the news lately... From
[...] After extreme complications at birth, his British parents Leigh Dumighan and David Newcombe, were told he would have an appalling life ahead of him if Warwick survived.

They were also told that if Warwick pulled through he would still be severely disabled, not be able to see, hear, move around, or even know who they were.

The Coventry couple were forced to make the hardest decision of their lives, choosing to take him out of his incubator, withdraw his treatment and allow him to die with dignity in their arms.

They stayed with him in a private hospital room for eight days, giving him the cuddles they had been unable to and waiting for him to pass away.

But Warwick fought to survive and, despite him stopping breathing 18 times, today celebrated the first birthday his parents thought they would never see.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eating fast food will turn you stupid.

From Daily Mail:
Eating too much fast food will make you thicker in more ways than one, according to a study.

As well as expanding the waistline, a high-fat diet of curries, kebabs, burgers and chips can make you less intelligent.

The research was performed by scientists at Oxford University on rats.

A high-fat diet over less than ten days damaged the rodents’ short-term memory and made them less mentally alert, as well as significantly decreasing their ability to exercise.

The group of biological experts say their results – dubbed a ‘high-fat hangover’ – show an important link between what people eat, how they think, and how our bodies perform.

JetBlue offers $599 pass for unlimited flights.

This would be awesome if they flew anywhere good. From CNN:
JetBlue Airways will offer an "all-you-can-jet" pass for $599 in which passengers can book an unlimited number of flights within a one-month span, the airline said Wednesday.

Pass holders can fly to any of JetBlue's (JBLU) 56 destinations between Sept. 8 and Oct. 8, with no seat limitations or blackout dates, the company said in a release.

Airline equities analyst Bob McAdoo, of Avondale Partners, said he "has never seen a promotion like this before."

In fact, Air Canada had a similar promotion in 2007, where it offered an unlimited flight pass starting at $1,657 per month.

Still, with JetBlue flights already slashed as low as $100, customers might have to fly 6 or 7 times in a month before they break even.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

67 US soldiers in Iraq have swine flu.

From Army Times:
The number of American troops in Iraq diagnosed with swine flu has climbed to 67, making U.S. soldiers the largest group in the country to come down with the potentially deadly virus, Iraqi health officials said Wednesday.

The figures were released by the Iraqi health ministry as it detailed steps being taken to control the spread of the virus, which last week claimed its first fatality in the southern holy city of Najaf. A 21-year-old Iraqi woman, who had visited the city’s Shiite shrines, later died of the disease.

The health ministry has also confirmed that 23 Iraqis and six other foreigners have been diagnosed with the virus. Their nationalities were not disclosed.

All the U.S. troops had either been treated or were undergoing treatment, said Dr. Amer al-Khuzai, the deputy health minister. There have been no fatalities among American forces, he said.

The fabric of space-time is rough, grainy.

From New Scientist:
On the night of 30 June 2005, the sky high above La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands crackled with streaks of blue light too faint for humans to see. Atop the Roque de los Muchachos, the highest point of the island, though, a powerful magic eye was waiting and watching.

MAGIC - the Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov Telescope - scans the sky each night for high-energy photons from the distant cosmos. Most nights, nothing remarkable comes. But every now and again, a brief flash of energetic light bears witness to the violent convulsions of a faraway galaxy.

What MAGIC saw on that balmy June night came like a bolt from the blue. That is because something truly astounding may have been encoded in that fleeting Atlantic glow: evidence that the fabric of space-time is not silky smooth as Einstein and many others have presumed, but rough, turbulent and fundamentally grainy stuff.

It is an audacious claim that, if verified, would put us squarely on the road to a quantum theory of gravity and on towards the long-elusive "theory of everything".

Ship disappears after sailing through English Channel.

Ghost ship! From HuffPo:
First the ship reported it had been attacked in waters off Sweden. Then it sailed with no apparent problems through one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. And then it disappeared. The Arctic Sea, a Maltese-flagged cargo ship, was supposed to make port in Algeria with its cargo of timber on Aug. 4. More than a week later, there's no sign of the ship or its Russian crew.

Piracy has exploded off the coast of lawless Somalia – but could this be an almost unheard of case of sea banditry in European waters?

"If this is a criminal act, it appears to be following a new business model," Marine intelligence expert Graeme Gibbon-Brooks told Sky News on Wednesday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the country's defense minister on Wednesday to take "all necessary measures" to find the missing cargo ship and, if necessary, to free its crew, the Kremlin said. Wives and other relatives of the crew members issued an appeal to the Russian government to carry out a full-scale rescue mission, using all of Russia's special services.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Woman who loved to feed bears eaten by one.

From NY Daily News:
A 74-year-old woman who was known for leaving food outside her home for bears — despite several warnings that it was illegal and dangerous to do so — was killed by one of the animals, an autopsy confirmed.

Donna Munson's body had been partially eaten by a bear or bears when it was found outside her home in Ouray County, in southwestern Colorado, on Friday, but Colorado Division of Wildlife officials couldn't immediately confirm what caused her death.

County Sheriff Dominic Mattivi said Monday that an autopsy, performed in neighboring Montrose County, showed Munson had scratches and maul marks consistent with being attacked by a bear. She had no signs of heart damage, ruling out the possibility that she died of a heart attack before being attacked, Mattivi said.

State wildlife officers had received "numerous" complaints during the past decade that Munson was feeding bears. But she never was ticketed, partly because wooded hills around her property made it hard to gather evidence to prove it, said division spokesman Tyler Baskfield.

Orwell Nation: Britain has 1 surveillance camera for every 14 people.

From Daily Mail:
Britain has one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist China, despite having a fraction of its population, shocking figures revealed yesterday.

There are 4.2million closed circuit TV cameras here, one per every 14 people.

But in police state China, which has a population of 1.3billion, there are just 2.75million cameras, the equivalent of one for every 472,000 of its citizens.

Simon Davies from pressure group Privacy International said the astonishing statistic highlighted Britain's 'worrying obsession' with surveillance.

'Britain has established itself as the model state that the Chinese authorities would love to have,' he said.

'As far as surveillance goes, Britain has created the blueprint for the 21st century non-democratic regime.

'It was not intended but it has certainly been the consequence.'

It is estimated that Britain has 20 per cent of cameras globally and that each person in the country is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chicago judge sentences man to 6 months for YAWNING.

This judge sounds out of control. From Chicago Tribune:
Clifton Williams arrived at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet and sat in the fourth-floor courtroom where his cousin was pleading guilty to a felony drug charge.

As Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak handed down the cousin's sentence -- 2 years' probation -- Williams, 33, stretched and let out a very ill-timed yawn.

Williams' sentence? Six months in jail -- the maximum penalty for criminal contempt without a jury trial. The Richton Park man was locked up July 23 and will serve at least 21 days.

"I was flabbergasted because I didn't realize a judge could do that," said Williams' father, Clifton Williams Sr. "It seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action."

Chuck Pelkie, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, said the prosecutor in the courtroom that day told him that "it was not a simple yawn -- it was a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings."

Jason Mayfield, the cousin of Williams who was pleading guilty at the time, said it was "not an outrageous yawn."

A Tribune review of a decade's worth of contempt-of-court charges reveals that Rozak jails people -- typically spectators whose cell phones go off or who scream or shout profanity during sentencing -- at a far higher rate than any other judge in the county. There are now 30 judges in the 12th Judicial Circuit, but since 1999, Rozak has brought more than a third of all the contempt charges, records show.

And while it is not uncommon for judges to jail people for ignoring subpoenas or court orders or appearing in court drunk or under the influence of drugs, Rozak's charges tend to involve behavior that would not otherwise be criminal.

ZombieWatch: Man opens coffin to find baby is ALIVE.

From Ananova:
A grieving Paraguayan man opened his baby son's coffin - and discovered he was still alive.

Jose Alvarenga was told by doctors at a hospital in Asuncion that his son had been pronounced dead shortly after birth.

Hospital orderlies delivered the premature baby's body, which had been placed in a temporary coffin, to Mr Alvarenga's home fours hours later.

Shortly afterwards, the grieving father opened the coffin to bid an emotional farewell to the infant, reports the Daily Telegraph.

"I opened it to look at his remains and found that the baby was breathing," Mr Alvarenga said. "I began to cry."

He rushed back to the hospital with his unnamed son in his arms and nurses placed the infant in an oxygen chamber.

Doctors seemed hopeful that tragedy would not strike again, describing the boy's condition as "stable".

Husband jumps in river to escape wife's nagging.

From Ananova:
A Chinese lorry driver jumped into a fast-flowing river because he couldn't take his wife's nagging anymore.

Zhou and his wife were on a ferry on the Yangtze River when it all became too much for him, reports the Chongqing Evening Post.

Members of the ship's crew saw the man suddenly run out of his cabin with his hands covering his ears, and shouting: "I can't stand it any longer."

They initially thought he was suffering from an ear injury and went to help him but found he was unhurt.

"While we were still puzzling over the this, his wife ran up and continued nagging him," said one crewmate.

"The husband covered his ears again and said: 'I need a break' before jumping over the side into the rushing river.

"We immediately found lamps to light up the water but found nobody. The possibility of survival can be zero."

However, later that night, police found the man who had managed to swim more than a mile across across the broad river.

"I felt I was dying, but even that's better than my wife's nagging," he reportedly told the police.


Eats: 267-pound matzoh ball breaks world record.

D'oh: $20,000 in taxpayer money spent prosecuting man who stole a 25-cent banana (and he's found not guilty).

TV: Why neocons love Jon Stewart.

Eats: Sugar price reaches 28-year high.

Duh: Worst criminals in Russia are actually the police.

Lame: Millionaire hockey player arrested after row over 20 cents.

World: Taliban now winning the war in Afghanistan.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Scientists untangle causes of bee colony collapse disorder.

A little old, but just saw it. Thanks Jen!
A microscopic pathogen and pesticides embedded in old honeycombs are two major contributors to the bee disease known as colony collapse disorder, which has wiped out thousands of beehives throughout the United States and Europe over the past three years, new research at Washington State University has confirmed.

Working on the project funded in part by regional beekeepers and WSU's Agricultural Research Center, entomology professor Steve Sheppard and his team have narrowed the list of potential causes for colony collapse disorder.

"One of the first things we looked at was the pesticide levels in the wax of older honeycombs," Sheppard said. Using combs contributed by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sheppard found "fairly high levels of pesticide residue."

Bees raised in those hives "had significantly reduced longevity," he said.

One easy solution is for beekeepers to change honeycombs more often. In Europe, for example, apiarists change combs every three years.

"In the U.S., we haven't emphasized this practice and there's no real consensus about how often beekeepers should make the change," said Sheppard. "Now we know that it needs to be more often."
More here.

Dogs as smart as 2-year-olds.

From LiveScience:
The canine IQ test results are in: Even the average dog has the mental abilities of a 2-year-old child.

The finding is based on a language development test, revealing average dogs can learn 165 words (similar to a 2-year-old child), including signals and gestures, and dogs in the top 20 percent in intelligence can learn 250 words.

And the smartest?

Border collies, poodles, and German shepherds, in that order, says Stanley Coren, a canine expert and professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia. Those breeds have been created recently compared with other dog breeds and may be smarter in part because we've trained and bred them to be so, Coren said. The dogs at the top of the pack are on par with a 2.5-year-old.

While dogs ranked with the 2-year-olds in language, they would trump a 3- or 4-year-old in basic arithmetic, Coren found. In terms of social smarts, our drooling furballs fare even better.

"The social life of dogs is much more complex, much more like human teenagers at that stage, interested in who is moving up in the pack and who is sleeping with who and that sort of thing," Coren told LiveScience.

Vegetarian outrage as supermarket sells old meat for energy.

This is pretty nasty. From Daily Mail:
Tesco is sending 5,000 tons of leftover meat a year to be burned to generate electricity for homes, it emerged yesterday.

The supermarket disposes of enough meat that has passed its sell-by date to power 600 homes for a year through the National Grid.

Other major supermarkets plan to follow suit. But animal rights campaigners yesterday said many homeowners would be 'horrified' to learn that their electricity was generated by the 'macabre' recycling scheme.

Tesco has hailed the scheme as part of a 'green' drive which had enabled it to stop sending any of the waste it produces to environmentally damaging landfill sites.

But the campaigners said the environmental benefits were far outweighed by the greenhouse gases produced by all the extra animals unnecessarily reared for slaughter in the first place.