Friday, October 9, 2009
In the meanwhile, please reply to this post with links to any Coozer-worthy article. This way, y'all can keep each other apprised of zombie and robot and Jeff Goldblum happenings. I'll also put them up when I get back as a retrospective Coozer-Bit.
The Bible has been recreated in Lego in the world's most comprehensive illustrated online version of the Good Book.
The Brick Testament features more than 4,500 illustrations, depicting more than 400 Bible tales from Genesis to Revelations, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Displayed online at thebricktestament.com, it is the ongoing project of one man, Brendan Powell Smith, nicknamed The Reverend, who says he isn't "at all religious".
He says it is intended to educate people about the Bible "in a way that is fun and compelling, while remaining true to the text of the scriptures".
"To this end, all stories are retold using direct quotes from The Bible," said Mr Smith.
It is huge, detailed, occasionally gory and frequently satirical. The excerpts from 1 Samuel are entitled "Saul rejected for incomplete genocide", after the leader of the Israelites left some sheep and cattle alive after being ordered to exterminate the Amalekites.
OSLO — President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.
Nobel observers were shocked by the unexpected choice so early in the Obama presidency, which began less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama woke up to the news a little before 6 a.m. EDT. The White House had no immediate comment on the announcement, which took the administration by surprise.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided not to inform Obama before the announcement because it didn't want to wake him up, committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said.
"Waking up a president in the middle of the night, this isn't really something you do," Jagland said.
The Nobel Committee lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation but recognized initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.
"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," Jagland said.
Obama's election and foreign policy moves caused a dramatic improvement in the image of the U.S. around the world. A 25-nation poll of 27,000 people released in July by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found double-digit boosts to the percentage of people viewing the U.S. favorably in countries around the world. That indicator had plunged across the world under President George W. Bush.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Thousands of laid-off government employees in Puerto Rico will be doing the conga for free, thanks to Gloria Estefan.
The Cuban-born singer bought some 2,000 tickets for her weekend concert and they will distributed by raffle among the nearly 17,000 workers who learned last month that they will lose their jobs beginning Nov. 6.
Stefan bought all the remaining upper-level tickets - at $40 each - as a gift to those who were affected, said Harold Rosario, the singer's spokesman in Puerto Rico, said Thursday.
Officials have begun distributing the tickets to various government agencies, which will raffle them.
The government announced the layoffs in late September as it tries to close the gap on a $3.2 billion deficit. The U.S. territory is struggling with its third year of recession with a 15 per cent unemployment rate, higher than any U.S. state.
Women are far more likely than men to be kicked out of the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays in uniform, according to government figures released Thursday that critics said reflect deep-seated sexism in the armed forces.
Women accounted for 15 percent of all active-duty and reserve members of the military but more than one-third of the 619 people discharged last year because of their sexual orientation.
The disparity was particularly striking in the Air Force, where women represented 20 percent of all personnel but 61 percent of those expelled. That is a significant jump from the previous year and marks the first time women in any branch of the military constituted a majority of those dismissed under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” researchers said.
Nathaniel Frank, a researcher at the Palm Center, a University of California, Santa Barbara, center specializing in gays and the military, said one partial explanation is that homosexuality is more common among women in the service than among their male comrades.
But Frank and some women who served in the military said the gap could also be a result of “lesbian-baiting” rumors and investigations that arise when women rebuff sexual overtures from male colleagues or do not meet traditional notions of feminine beauty.
Immunization with an experimental anti-cocaine vaccine resulted in a substantial reduction in cocaine use in 38 percent of vaccinated patients in a clinical trial supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health. The study, published in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first successful, placebo-controlled demonstration of a vaccine against an illicit drug of abuse.
"The results of this study represent a promising step toward an effective medical treatment for cocaine addiction," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow." Provided that larger follow-up studies confirm its safety and efficacy, this vaccine would offer a valuable new approach to treating cocaine addiction, for which no FDA-approved medication is currently available."
Like vaccines against infectious diseases such as measles and influenza, the anti-cocaine vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies. Unlike antibodies against infectious diseases, which destroy or deactivate the disease-causing agents, anti-cocaine antibodies attach themselves to cocaine molecules in the blood, preventing them from passing through the blood-brain barrier. By preventing the drug’s entry into the brain, the vaccine inhibits or blocks the cocaine-induced euphoria.
The National Institute for Computational Sciences' (NICS's) Cray XT5 supercomputer—Kraken—has been upgraded to become the first academic system to surpass a thousand trillion calculations a second, or one petaflop, a landmark achievement that will greatly accelerate science and place Kraken among the top five computers in the world.
Managed by the University of Tennessee (UT) for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the system came online Oct. 5 with a peak performance of 1.03 petaflops. It features more than 16,000 six-core 2.6-GHz AMD Istanbul processors with nearly 100,000 compute cores.
In addition, an upgrade to 129 terabytes of memory (the equivalent of more than 13 thousand movies on DVD) effectively doubles the size of Kraken for researchers running some of the world's most sophisticated 3-D scientific computing applications. Simulation has become a key tool for researchers in a number of fields, from climate change to materials.
"At over a petaflop of peak computing power, and the ability to routinely run full machine jobs, Kraken will dominate large-scale NSF computing in the near future," said NICS Project Director Phil Andrews. "Its unprecedented computational capability and total available memory will allow academic users to treat problems that were previously inaccessible."
Six young Connecticut women have been arraigned on assault charges accusing them of beating up another woman because they didn't like the way she was singing karaoke.
Five of the women were arraigned Wednesday in Stamford Superior Court, and the other appeared in court Monday.
Police say the attack on the 25-year-old woman from Port Chester, N.Y., happened on the night of Sept. 23 when she was singing a Spanish song at Bobby Valentine's Sports Gallery Cafe in Stamford.
Authorities say the six women, all under the legal drinking age of 21, knocked the singer to the floor, punched her and pulled her hair. The victim suffered bruises and a chipped tooth.
The defendants are charged with third-degree assault and other crimes. They're due back in court later this month.
Swedish tourism bodies have been swamped with inquiries from millions of men captivated by a mythical town rumoured to be home to 25,000 sex-mad lesbians.
The town of "Chako Paul City" is said to have been founded in 1820 in the northern Swedish woods by a wealthy man-hating widow.
Two blonde women are rumoured to stand guard at the town, which also features a medieval castle.
Many of the town’s female residents became lesbians “because they could not suppress their sexual needs”, Chinese news service Harbin News reports.
The myth has been embraced by the Chinese media, with millions of men crippling the country’s internet providers trying to find out how to get to the town.
However, men have been warned by media reports that they risk being “beaten half to death” by police if they dare pay a visit.
"I've no idea where this came from but it's not true," local authorities' spokesman Claes Bertilson told Sweden’s new service The Local about the rumour.
“At 25,000 residents, the town would be one of the largest in northern Sweden, and I find it hard to believe that you could keep something like that a secret for more than 150 years.”
Hero: Schoolboy compared to Mozart.
Creepy: France's Cultural Minister admits to paying boys for sex.
Awesome: Al Capone's hideout auctioned off.
Awesome: The Pill has turned women off from masculine men.
Prophesy: Asteroid to kill us all in 2068.
It's supposed to be the stuff of science fiction: A device that triggers a nuclear holocaust in the event of a U.S. strike against Russia.
But the "Dr. Strangelove"-esque technology isn't just fantasy. The Cold War-era Soviet "doomsday machine" was -- and might still be -- very much a reality.
From interviews with former Soviet arms officials and Defense Department documents, Nicholas Thompson, a senior editor for Wired magazine and author of "The Hawk and The Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War," learned that the system was built 25 years ago to ensure a nuclear retaliation if Russia were attacked by the U.S.
When triggered by an elaborate system of sensors placed around Russia, the program was designed to launch a fleet of missiles at major targets across the U.S. Some experts estimate that a Russian counter-strike could have killed more than one hundred million Americans.
And though the Iron Curtain was lifted more than a decade ago, it's believed that the "doomsday" system was never retired, according to Thompson.
"The Soviets really did fear that the U.S. was going to launch a nuclear strike," he said. "It's still in place, but it's not as though they're sitting around waiting for America to strike. It's on lower alert."The top-secret Russian program, he continued, virtually guaranteed the ability to strike back, even if the entire chain of command had been wiped out.
A teenage girl had a smashing time when a bizarre wish she made from her sickbed allowed her to destroy garden gnomes with a guitar while dressed as a rocker from the band AC/DC.
Paige Jones, who made the request to a charity while recovering from a jaw operation, whacked her way through dozens of the garden ornaments with a bass guitar.
The 14-year-old, who dressed up as guitarist Angus Young in a school uniform and shorts, admitted she may have been under the influence of anaesthetic when she made the request to Russells Hall Wishing Well charity.
'I had a really good time; I don't really remember making the wish but it was great to do,' said the youngster from Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, who had a piece of her jaw bone removed to allow a tooth room to grow.
'I wasn't too scared of people trying to stop me, although my mum has a few gnomes which I wasn't allowed to touch of course.' Her mother, 43-year-old Jane, said: 'Paige likes her rock and pop and that is where she got the inspiration from for the wish. This is a strange request I know but Paige can be a strange girl.'
A gay man tried to poison his lesbian neighbours by putting slug pellets into their curry after he was accused of kidnapping their three-legged cat.More here.
Gary Stewart, 37, had been at loggerheads with Marie Walton and Beverley Sales for months.
But things looked brighter when he made a peace offering of some curry, claiming he had ordered too much from the Indian takeaway.
When the women started to eat, they found the curry studded with slug pellets.
They called the police and Stewart was arrested.
He appeared before magistrates in Manchester where he admitted attempting to poison the two women on September 22.
He denied a further charge of making threats to kill.
Last night it emerged that Miss Walton, a full-time mother, and Miss Sales, a goods vehicle driver, had been the victims of an apparent hate campaign by Stewart at their home in Denton, Manchester.
Stewart is even alleged to have kidnapped the family's three-legged cat, Amber, and dumped her in a village miles away.
The cat was eventually found after posters were put up with her photograph.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
In theory, the best job in American politics is the President of the United States.
But the president's now got some competition: House Representative. The Democratic-led House -- in the middle of the biggest healthcare fight in a generation -- has now trimmed their workweek to just two and a half days, leaving members of Congress plenty of time to ski or play golf.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) promised after the Democrats won the House in 2006 and then after Obama's election this year that the House would hold longer workweeks. But as the fall of 2009 wanes, the House has taken to starting on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm and adjourning "before the sun goes down" on Thursdays.
Packing heat may backfire. People who carry guns are far likelier to get shot – and killed – than those who are unarmed, a study of shooting victims in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has found.
It would be impractical – not to say unethical – to randomly assign volunteers to carry a gun or not and see what happens. So Charles Branas's team at the University of Pennsylvania analysed 677 shootings over two-and-a-half years to discover whether victims were carrying at the time, and compared them to other Philly residents of similar age, sex and ethnicity. The team also accounted for other potentially confounding differences, such as the socioeconomic status of their neighbourhood.
Despite the US having the highest rate of firearms-related homicide in the industrialised world, the relationship between gun culture and violence is poorly understood. A recent study found that treating violence like an infectious disease led to a dramatic fall in shootings and killings.
Overall, Branas's study found that people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens. When the team looked at shootings in which victims had a chance to defend themselves, their odds of getting shot were even higher.
While it may be that the type of people who carry firearms are simply more likely to get shot, it may be that guns give a sense of empowerment that causes carriers to overreact in tense situations, or encourages them to visit neighbourhoods they probably shouldn't, Branas speculates. Supporters of the Second Amendment shouldn't worry that the right to bear arms is under threat, however. "We don't have an answer as to whether guns are protective or perilous," Branas says. "This study is a beginning."
Yipes: Is the US planning to bomb Iran?
ZombieWatch: Edgar Allan Poe finally getting proper burial.
D'oh: Drunk man accidentally gets tattoo of giant penis.
Creepy: Man grows new skull.
WTF: Saudi man who bragged about sex life gets 5 years in prison.
Follow-Up: Disastrous iSnack 2.0 renamed as CheesyBite.
D'oh: Pirates mistaken navy ship for cargo ship, get promptly captured.
Boozalicious: Racing fans limited to "only" 24 beers a day.
Film: Propaganda film most popular film of all time in China.
Lame: Phoenix cops shoot homeowner instead of intruder and get caught trying to cover it up.
Monday, October 5, 2009
A 74-year-old Lakeland woman was hospitalized after being mauled by a pack of raccoons she tried to shoo from her yard.
Gretchen Whitted fell when five raccoons surrounded and attacked, suffering extensive cuts from her neck to her legs.
"We're not talking about a lot of little bites here," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "She was filleted."
A neighbor called for help after hearing the woman's cries and seeing her covered in blood.
Whitted received dozens of staples and sutures and was treated for rabies, though officials doubt the animals were infected.
Fire crews flooded nearby drains where some of the animals escaped, but none turned up. Animal Control officers hope to catch them in traps baited with wet cat food and sardines.
There shall be no cupcakes. No chocolate cake and no carrot cake. According to New York City’s latest regulations, not even zucchini bread makes the cut.
In an effort to limit how much sugar and fat students put in their bellies at school, the Education Department has effectively banned most bake sales, the lucrative if not quite healthy fund-raising tool for generations of teams and clubs.
The change is part of a new wellness policy that also limits what can be sold in vending machines and student-run stores, which use profits to help finance activities like pep rallies and proms. The elaborate rules were outlined in a three-page memo issued at the end of June, but in the new school year, principals and parents are just beginning to, well, digest them.
Parent groups and Parent-Teacher Associations are conspicuously given an exception: once a month they are allowed to sell as many dark fudge brownies and lemon bars as they please, so long as lunch has ended. And after 6 p.m. on weekdays, anything goes. But at that hour, most students are long gone, and as far as the Education Department is concerned, stuffing oneself with coconut macaroons and peanut butter cookies at that hour is one’s prerogative.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has made both public health and public education centerpieces of his tenure, and the changes in the schools’ food are an outgrowth of his efforts to curb trans fats, salt and other unwanted additives.
Police raided the set of a film starring veteran Star Wars actor David Prowse after reports it was being used to shoot a porn movie.
The Staffordshire bungalow location was instead found to house actors filming dialogue for The Kindness of Strangers.
David Prowse, 74, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars films, is starring in the action thriller, reports Metro.
Neighbours had jumped to the wrong conclusion after seeing a camera and lighting equipment being taken into the bungalow in Newhall.
One film crew member, who did not want to be named, said: "It was hilarious to see a bunch of policemen enter the bungalow expecting to see a porn film carrying on.
"When the officers saw two dressed actors talking, they looked quite disappointed. The curtain twitchers certainly have a vivid imagination."
Narrator: Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything ... and just may get some of it back.
"Arrested Development" creator Mitchell Hurwitz and his co-executive producer James Vallely are working on a screenplay for the long-debated feature version of their short-lived Fox series. Even as they prep a new Fox comedy series with "Arrested" star Will Arnett, the writers are spinning more bizarre encounters for the eccentric, spoiled Bluth clan for possible feature production in the spring.
Hurwitz would also direct the Fox Searchlight feature.
Hurwitz had said that he wouldn't start writing a film unless all the main actors, including Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, David Cross, Arnett, Alia Shawkat, Portia de Rossi and Jeffrey Tambor, were committed. Scheduling might be difficult, however, as several -- Bateman, Cera and Arnett -- have seen their careers bloom since the series began its three-season run in 2003.
Hurwitz and Vallely won Emmys for their writing on "Arrested Development." They work together on the animated Fox comedy "Sit Down, Shut Up."