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.

McDonald's too expensive in Iceland, closes stores.

Wait, the Economist has a Big Mac Index? From the Chicago Tribune:
The Big Mac, long a symbol of globalization, has become the latest victim of this tiny island nation's overexposure to the world financial crisis.

Iceland's three McDonald's restaurants — all in the capital Reykjavik — will close next weekend, as the franchise owner gives in to falling profits caused by the collapse in the Icelandic krona.

"The economic situation has just made it too expensive for us," Magnus Ogmundsson, the managing director of Lyst Hr., McDonald's franchise holder in Iceland, told The Associated Press by telephone on Monday.

Lyst was bound by McDonald's requirement that it import all the goods required for its restaurants — from packaging to meat and cheeses — from Germany.

Costs had doubled over the past year because of the fall in the krona currency and high import tariffs on imported goods, Ogmundsson said, making it impossible for the company to raise prices further and remain competitive with competitors that use locally sourced produce.

A Big Mac in Reykjavik already retails for 650 krona ($5.29). But the 20 percent increase needed to make a decent profit would have pushed that to 780 krona ($6.36), he said.

That would have made the Icelandic version of the burger the most expensive in the world, a title currently held jointly by Switzerland and Norway where it costs $5.75, according to The Economist magazine's 2009 Big Mac index.

Sandra Bullock in custody battle with porn star.

On one hand, you've got a woman who may be surrounded by drugs, pornographers, instability, and disease. On the other hand, you've got a woman partially responsible for The Net and Speed 2: Cruise Control. Hmm. From
Miss Congeniality star Sandra Bullock is in a custody battle with her husband’s porn star ex-wife.

Bullock is trying to prove that she is a better parent for her husband’s five year-old daughter, Sunny, than the girl’s mother, 40-year-old Janine Lindemulder, who has just served six months in prison for tax evasion.

Lindemulder is currently in a halfway house and can apply for custody of her child at the beginning of next year but Bullock’s husband, US television star Jesse James, has already taken action to keep the child with them.

Bullock, James and Lindemulder all have homes in the wealthy Los Angeles beach front suburb Orange County.

“Good cause exists for the court to conduct a review to determine if (the girl) will be safe with (Lindemulder),” James said in a statement to the court. “She should be restrained from allowing the child around pornographers, drug addicts, guns and firearms, felons and other unsafe environments.”

Man opens museum dedicated to Mad Max 2.

I hope this doesn't detract attention from my upcoming Natural History of Krull Museum. From Ananova:
A Mad Max-obsessed Yorkshireman has ploughed his life savings into his dream of opening a museum to the movies in the town where Mad Max 2 was filmed.

Adrian Bennett, from Bradford, has moved to Silverton, in the Australian outback, with his wife and teenage sons, reports Sky News.

His love affair with the trilogy of films starring Mel Gibson began when a friend persuaded him to go along to a Mad Max double-bill 28 years ago.

"From the opening credits of the first film to the closing credits of Mad Max 2, my jaw was on the floor and I was just blown away by what I'd seen," he said.

He bought an old Ford Falcon from a collector in Texas, shipped it to England, and turned it into a replica of the Interceptor car driven by Mel Gibson's character.

Then after a holiday in Australia, he decided to give up his job as a panel beater and move there permanently, first settling in Adelaide, and then buying a property in Silverton earlier this year.

His wife Linda said: "It's gone from a hobby, to an obsession, to here," she said - adding that because it was a gradual progression, she thinks it is all quite normal.

Mr Bennett has several other replica vehicles, including a buggy covered in kangaroo skin, plus many other items of memorabilia.

He also has a dog called Dog, just like Mel Gibson's canine sidekick in the movie, and together they cruise the outback roads in the Interceptor, attracting the attention of tourists.

Mr Bennett plans to open his museum next year, and is convinced there is enough interest to make it a viable business venture.

Clean smells promote moral behavior.

This may explain why my butt is so immoral. From Science Daily:
People are unconsciously fairer and more generous when they are in clean-smelling environments, according to a soon-to-be published study led by a Brigham Young University professor.

The research found a dramatic improvement in ethical behavior with just a few spritzes of citrus-scented Windex.

Katie Liljenquist, assistant professor of organizational leadership at BYU's Marriott School of Management, is the lead author on the piece in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science. Co-authors are Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

The researchers see implications for workplaces, retail stores and other organizations that have relied on traditional surveillance and security measures to enforce rules.

"Companies often employ heavy-handed interventions to regulate conduct, but they can be costly or oppressive," said Liljenquist, whose office smells quite average. "This is a very simple, unobtrusive way to promote ethical behavior."

England falling in love with US-style buffets.

Mmm... all-you-can-eat blood pudding and treacle... From BBC:
Taybarns is modelled on the American all-you-can-eat chain, Golden Corral, which opened in 1973 and now turns over more than $1bn a year. It claims its focus on freshness differentiates it from other steakhouses, featuring a large hot and cold buffet, grill, carving station and bakery.

The all-you-can-eat concept originated in the US's working areas in the 1930s. Golden Corral has capitalised on that trend, focusing on small-town America, it now has more than 450 restaurants across 41 states.

But with warnings that the UK is following the US with rising levels of obesity, isn't this sort of dining experience a cause for concern?

Mr Ewins is adamant that offering variety, as well as value, is the key to Taybarns success too. It is not about encouraging overindulgence he says. It is about offering the opportunity to experiment with food in a non-risky way.

"People want to try new things. But if you go out on a Friday night and you try a new main course in a traditional restaurant and you don't like it, that's a disaster. At Taybarns you can just try something else or go back to your favourites."

So it could be that in cash-strapped times Taybarns offers a safe way to eat out. You know exactly how much it costs and what you get for the price.

But some believe the all-you-can-eat concept promotes poor dietary habits. And, that contrary to the suggestion that more choice encourages experimentation, it actually stifles it.

Net set for language shake-up.

Soon we can call each other n00bs in other languages! From BBC:
The internet is on the brink of the "biggest change" to its working "since it was invented 40 years ago", the net regulator Icann has said.

The body said it that it was finalising plans to introduce web addresses using non-Latin characters.

The proposal - initially approved in 2008 - would allow domain names written in Asian, Arabic or other scripts.

The body said if the final plans were approved on 30 October, it would accept the first applications by 16 November.

The first Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) could be up and running by "mid 2010" said the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

"Of the 1.6 billion internet users today worldwide, more than half use languages that have scripts that are not Latin-based," said Rod Beckstrom at the opening of Icann's conference in Seoul, South Korea.

"So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world's internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the internet continues to spread."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Study: Younger wife secret to marital bliss.

From BBC:
The secret to a happy marriage for men is choosing a wife who is smarter and at least five years younger than you, say UK experts.

These pairings are more likely to go the distance, particularly if neither has been divorced in the past, according to the Bath University team.

The findings predict a happy future for pop star Beyonce Knowles, 28, and rapper husband Jay-Z, 39.

The work is published in the European Journal of Operational Research.

The researchers studied interviews of more than 1,500 couples who were married or in a serious relationship.

Five years later, they followed up 1,000 of the couples to see which had lasted.

They found that if the wife was five or more years older than her husband, they were more than three times as likely to divorce than if they were the same age.

If the age gap is reversed, and the man is older than the woman, the odds of marital bliss are higher.

Add in a better education for the woman - Beyonce has her high school diploma, unlike husband Jay-Z - and the chances of lasting happiness improve further.

Those who have never divorced fare better too. But couples in which one member has been through a divorce in the past are less stable than those in which both members are divorcees.

Hugo Chavez orders Venezuelans to stop singing in the shower.

Being president of Venezuela sounds like fun! I would outlaw humming in confined public places. From Ananova:
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has instructed his citizens to stop singing in the shower.

As his country suffers from a chronic water and energy crisis, Chavez told the public to limit the amount of time they spend in the bathroom.

"Some people sing in the shower, stay in the shower for half an hour," he fumed in a televised cabinet meeting, according to the Daily Mail.

He then revealed that he was taking the lead in the fight against wasted energy.

"No, kids," he urged, "three minutes is more than enough. I've counted, three minutes, and I don't stink."

Warming to his subject, he continued: "If you're going to lie back in the bath with the soap and you turn on the Jacuzzi, imagine that - what kind of Communism is that?"

Increased demand and a lack of investment have caused serious blackouts in Venezeula in recent months, with the situation made worse by low rainfall affecting the hydroelectric dams that generate much of the country's power.

Chavez has already announced measures to curb energy use, instructing government departments and nationalised companies to reduce their consumption by 20%.