Friday, October 29, 2010
WWIII Watch: North Korea, South Korea exchange gunfire.
Eats: World's largest gummy worm on sale.
Science: 1 in 4 Sun-sized stars have Earth-like planets.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Chris Voigt, Executive Director of the Washington State Potatoes Commission, has vowed to eat 20 plain potatoes for 60 days in an attempt "to remind the public about the nutritional value of potatoes."
Make no mistake: This is a Grade-A stunt, but Voigt had no idea what he'd gotten himself into. He started October 1st; he's almost over the hump. Only 33 more days to go!
His original promise was to eat only plain potatoes. "No toppings, no chili, no sour cream, no cheese, no gravy, just potatoes and maybe some seasonings or herbs and a little oil for some of the cooking," he wrote on his website.
But Voigt's blog reveals an increasingly broken and desperate man. See the posts (no permalinks, ugh) in which he frets about things like having to eat four pounds of potatoes before going to bed. Who worries about such things? But worst of all, he even — gasp! — started cheating and used toppings like Taco Bell hot sauce and balsamic vinegar.
His stunt makes us concerned for his health: At a Thai restaurant to celebrate his son's ninth birthday, there were no potatoes. So he was left to eat a 1/2 oz bag of potato chips. They were expired. He ate them anyway.
His stunt makes us grossed out: One day's meal was composed of three small bags of chips for breakfast, one baked potato for lunch, and an order of french fries at McDonald's for dinner.
His stunt has resulted in even more gross stunts: His wife made him potato ice cream by blending riced potatoes and ice and putting it in freezer. Topped with an ersatz chocolate sauce composed of a 1/2 cup cocoa powder, a 1/2 cup artificial sweetener, and water. What love will do!
His stunt makes us worried. Very worried: He told the Tri-City Herald about Tuesday. Tuesday was a bad day. Voigt really wanted a pickle. What does a man, who commits to eating only 20 potatoes a day for 60 days, do when he wants a pickle? Does he say, "Screw this stunt!" and just eat a pickle? No. He does not. He soaked a potato in pickle juice. And then he ate the potato.
We pray for you, Chris Voigt. We pray for you.
ZombieWatch: Spirit of the dead alive and well in Haiti.
Science: Hints of lightweight dark matter particle found in space.
Misc: Stewart/Colbert rally schedule revealed.
Awesome: Time traveler talking on cell phone caught in 1920s Charlie Chaplin film.
Using laxatives and plenty of bananas, police in India have recovered 2,060 diamonds and precious stones from the stomach of an alleged jewel smuggler from Sri Lanka.
According to the Times of India, a "reliable informant" phoned authorities in the Indian city of Chennai in the early hours of Oct. 26 and said the suspect would arrive on an Air India flight later that morning. "That was the only information available and no other clue, but we zeroed in on him as soon as he came out of the airport and tried to board a taxi,'' Chennai suburban police commissioner S R Jangid said.
Police searched the man's two pieces of luggage to no avail, and grew suspicious as he struggled to sit still during questioning. The Sri Lankan blamed his discomfort on hemorrhoids. But the Indian super-sleuths couldn't be fooled. "The police," the paper reports, "took him to Chromepet Government Hospital. When doctors examined him, they found the stones lodged in his gut."
The man later admitted to acting as a human courier on three previous occasions, and he claimed to have received $225 each time. In this instance, he had placed the jewels into 42 condoms and swallowed them two and a half hours before his flight.
After police fed him laxatives, it took him six hours to eject the stones, estimated to be worth between $337,000 and $674,000. If only passing a stone were always so lucrative. . .
Paul the octopus, an unlikely star of the 2010 World Cup who predicted the outcome of eight matches, has died at an aquarium in Germany.
Staff at the Sea Life centre in Oberhausen said they were devastated to learn that he had passed away during the night.
Paul made his name by successfully choosing a mussel from one of two boxes bearing the flags of competing nations.
Octopuses rarely live beyond two years so his death was not unexpected.
Paul was two-and-a-half years old and had been hatched at another centre at Weymouth in England in 2008.
The centre's manager, Stefan Porwoll, said that Paul had correctly guessed the outcomes of seven of Germany's World Cup matches, including their defeats, and had "enthused people across every continent".
As the tournament progressed, the octopus's uncanny knack of selecting the correct box drew increasing interest from the world's media, culminating in his choice of Spain as the eventual winner.
He became an instant hero in Spain, prompting a request to have him put on display at Madrid zoo.
Amid the euphoria, he was even made an honorary citizen of a Spanish town before being made an ambassador for England's 2018 World Cup bid.
The Oberhausen centre said he had seemed fine when last checked on Monday night but was found dead on Tuesday morning.
"We are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life," Mr Porwoll said.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
NEW YORK – As if the morning commute wasn't odd enough, intrepid New Yorkers trying to make their way to work on Tuesday had to battle past hordes of the walking dead. Two dozen zombies, their clothes spattered with fake blood, were staggering up and down the block outside Madison Square Garden. Downtown, others shuffled across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Some pedestrians looked startled or amused by the ghost-white actors with bruised-looking eyes. Some people ignored them entirely. Others whipped out their cell phone cameras.
Horror movie fan Linda Emery was thrilled to see the creatures.
"I'm into zombies, anything with zombies," said the 58-year-old home care provider from Brooklyn. It made a change from her usual commute.
"You see a lot of stuff, but not this stuff," she said.
Erik Machado, an audio engineer heading to work in New Jersey, was unfazed and passed by the scene with nary a glance at the nightmares walking around.
"Gotta commute, gotta go where I gotta go," the Queens resident said.
The stunt was part of a campaign in 26 cities worldwide promoting the Halloween premiere of the AMC television series "The Walking Dead." The show is being broadcast outside of the United States on Fox International Channels.
At one point, about 15 zombies crawled on the roof, hood and trunk of a parked, off-duty taxi.
Taxi driver David Pollack managed to escape from the horde, scrambling out of the back seat, playing along with the drama of it all.
"I think I'm going to be walking over the George Washington Bridge and heading over to Jersey, hopefully they haven't gotten there yet," he said.
He added, "I'm a tough New Yorker, but I don't mess with zombies."
The Iowa Republican Party is seeking to establish a "no-activities night" every Wednesday in the state.
"We support the establishment of a no-activities night on Wednesdays," reads section 4:33 of its platform.
The unique declaration is sandwiched between clauses stating a commitment to allowing Bibles in schools and supporting the right to teach one's kids how to drive.
It's unclear what activities will be off limits on Wednesdays, seeing as how some activities are necessary for survival.
The penalties for engaging in activities on Wednesdays is not stated, nor does the Iowa GOP specify whether the unacceptable activities will involve being indoors or outdoors, or the methods by which they will be enforced.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Tourist visas and their respective extensions are a matter of hot discussion among travelers in Southeast Asia. Many countries only issues visas for 30, 60 or 90 days, but the long term traveler often has reason to stay beyond. As a result, many simply cross the border into another country, stay for a bit and turn right around, earning another tourist visa on the inbound journey. Some even riskier folks choose to stay past their visa date and simply face any punishment that the state issues forth. Usually, that penalty is minor.
That is unless you're Kamari Charlton, a US citizen who recently overstayed his visa in Singapore and who has now been sentenced to three lashings with a cane. Mr. Charlton, who stayed nearly six months longer than his visa allowed, was in the small Asian city state while his wife was on a medical visa. On departure he was detained pending investigation of assorted fiscal adventures -- when it was then revealed that his visa was past due.
The plot further thickens with Mr. Charlton's claim that he was discriminated against in the ruling -- a similar case with an Asian relative was dismissed with a fine.
Needless to say, this serves as a pretty extreme reminder to mind your visa's due date when entering a country. The consequences could be stronger than you think.
A baby boy was killed when 12 people leapt off a second-floor balcony - to "get away from the Devil".
Eight people, including several children, were hurt, some seriously. Police are trying to get to the bottom of the bizarre tragedy.
Survivors of the mass plunge from a flat in a Paris suburb said the incident began in the early hours of the morning when a dad got out of bed naked to feed his crying baby.
They said the man's wife saw him moving around and started screaming that she had seen the Devil.
The man was then stabbed in the hand by his wife's sister and thrown out through the door of the flat.
But when he tried to get back in, the other people inside grabbed their children and jumped off the 20-foot balcony.
A spokeswoman for the local prosecutor's office said: "Panic erupted."
The family involved are of African origin, possibly from Angola. Police found no evidence of drug use or religious rituals at the flat.
One of the children, a four-month-old baby boy, died in hospital several hours after the incident.
Several of those hurt in the jump have multiple injuries.
Detectives are questioning the man who sparked the incident, and another male who jumped from the balcony with a two-year-old girl in his arms.
The prosecutor's office spokeswoman said: "A number of points remain to be cleared up."
Exposure to light at night, when the body is programmed to shutdown or go into sleep mood, may lead to weight gain -- even if the person exposed to the light is not eating extra calories.
Ohio State University researchers recently discovered that mice exposed to light at night, particularly dim light, gained more weight than their counterparts who lived in a normal light/dark cycle even thought the mice exposed to light at night didn't eat more food.
"What was actually happening was that mice with light at night were shifting when they were eating," says Laura Fonken, lead study author and a doctoral student in Ohio State's neuroscience department. "They were eating during their rest phase."
So what does this mean for humans who stay up late watching TV or surfing the Internet?
"It's hard to predict," says Fonken, "but evidence suggests this may be true in humans, too."
She suspects there may be a link between humans' increased exposure to light at night and the increase in rates of obesity nationwide.