The Amputee Rap by Josh Sundquist

10:38:04 PM, Saturday, April 30, 2011

-- A-M-P-U-T Double EE, the glass is half full yea I still got threeee! This guy is great!

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Wild Mandarin Duck on Dark Green Lake, UK by David Slater

1:32:56 AM, Saturday, April 30, 2011
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The Australian Peacock Spider’s Mating Dance

1:32:38 AM, Saturday, April 30, 2011

-- Australian Peacock Spider is one good looking spider! Also a pretty interesting video, but also one of the worst nature show narrations ever?...

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Eiffel Tower by Przemyslaw Stradczuk

12:55:08 AM, Saturday, April 30, 2011
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Home Builder Turns Trash into $10,000 Green Homes

12:24:44 AM, Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Dan Phillips is one of the most unconventional home builders you'll ever find. In fact, he's more an ecological social messiah than a home builder (see video below). For $10,000, he builds affordable homes for low-income people that are attractive, energy-efficient and save landfills. Most builders purchase building materials -- piles of wood, sheet rock, nails, bricks, and tiles -- that are used in construction and then, when the house is finished, the waste is discarded to the dump. Phillips, 66, salvages those materials, hauling them from the trash or even picking them up on the road, to build or remodel homes for low-income buyers.

He says he's just doing what people have been doing for years -- using whatever they can scrounge up to to build shelter.

"And if you ponder what could be used," says the Huntsville, Tex., resident, "then building materials are everywhere."

Phillips himself has been "everywhere": He worked as an intelligence officer in the Army, then as a dance instructor, an antiques dealer and a puzzle maker. Fourteen years ago he started a new career: Creating affordable homes for low-income families out of trash. He is a self-taught carpenter, electrician and plumber. His motivation came from the disparity he saw between landfills overflowing with discarded building materials and a lack of affordable housing. He started Phoenix Commotion, a for-profit company that hopes to solve the world's social problems associated with housing.

Phillips builds homes for as little as $10,000, making them energy-efficient with tight insulation, solar hot water and even a rainwater catchment system. He hires unskilled workers, teaches them marketable construction skills and then helps them find jobs when the project is complete. He keeps the landfills shallow by using truckfuls of leftover building materials such as lumber, tile and granite. Locals even hand off their old fixtures and doors to Phillips when they remodel, which he keeps in a warehouse and distributes free to low-income and needy people and organizations..."

-- Sounds like something I would do! Good man.

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The Tornado Took My Hamburger, Fries, and a Drink!

10:00:55 PM, Friday, April 29, 2011

-- I know the devastation caused by the recent tornadoes is no laughing matter and by no means am I trying to make light of it, but I had to share this guy. DAMN NATURE, YOU SCARY!!!

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Stem Cell Research Ban Overturned By U.S. Appeals Court

1:47:50 PM, Friday, April 29, 2011

"WASHINGTON -- A divided federal appeals court has ruled that opponents of taxpayer-funded stem cell research are not likely to succeed in a lawsuit to stop it.

In a 2-1 decision Friday, the panel of the U.S. court of appeals in Washington overturned a judge's order that would have blocked taxpayer funding for stem cell research.

The panel reversed an opinion last August by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who said the research likely violates the law against federal funding of embryo destruction.

The 1996 law prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars in work that harms an embryo, so private money has been used to cull batches of the cells. Those batches can reproduce in lab dishes indefinitely, and the Obama administration issued rules permitting taxpayer dollars to be used in work on them."

-- Finally, science and common sense have won out over religious fanaticism­.

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China to Launch Carrier in 2011: Taiwan Spy Chief

10:34:57 PM, Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Taiwan's spy chief on Monday said China could bring its first aircraft carrier into service before the end of the year, kindling fears in Taipei over Beijing's continued naval build-up.Tsai Teh-sheng, head of the island's National Security Bureau, said the "Varyag" a half-completed Soviet era aircraft carrier Beijing obtained from Ukraine in 1998, is expected to make its maiden voyage before the end of 2011.

The warship has been docked in China's eastern Dalian harbour where it has undergone extensive refurbishing work since 2002.

"Varyag has restored its sailing capability, and is expected to start providing training missions before the end of 2011," Tsai said in response to a parliamentary question by Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang party.

Tsai said the warship will have "certain combat capability" and will serve as a base for an unknown number of China's home-grown fighter jets which are modelled on Russian-made Su-33s.

Taiwan's defence ministry has expressed alarm at China's naval buildup although experts say it may still take time for the People's Liberation Army to operate its first carrier group complete with fighter jets.

"The Chinese communists' acquisition of their first aircraft carrier will threaten not only Taiwan but the stability of Asia," Taiwan's defence ministry spokesman David Lo told AFP..."

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First Stars in Universe May Have Spun Like Crazy

10:21:47 PM, Thursday, April 28, 2011

"The first stars in the universe may have been extraordinarily fast spinners, whirling at more than a million miles per hour, scientists say.

These stars, which researchers called "spinstars," formed right after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and were likely massive giants, with eight times or more the mass of our sun, according to a new study. They lived fast and died young, after no more than 30 million years. The nuclear fusion reactions that drove these stars also provided the universe with its first elements heavier than helium.

A 12-billion-year-old globular cluster of stars known as NGC 6522 provided the basis for the proposal of spinstars.

NGC 6522 -- the oldest known globular cluster in our galaxy -- probably witnessed the early phases of the seeding of these heavy elements across the cosmos. However, a study of the light from the cluster's stars, which reveals what elements lie within, yielded contradictory evidence about the nature of the first stars.

Astrophysicist Cristina Chiappini at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany, and her colleagues re-examined data they had gathered on NGC 6522 using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT). They discovered eight old stars with strangely high levels of the rare elements strontium and yttrium..."

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Proposed Destruction of Smallpox Virus Creates Controversy

4:39:05 PM, Thursday, April 28, 2011

"After ravaging humanity for three millennia, the virus behind smallpox is facing its comeuppance. In May, at a meeting of the World Health Organization, nations will decide if it's finally time to sterilize and incinerate into oblivion the known remaining samples of the virus.

Smallpox is sometimes described as the most devastating disease in human history, and the eradication of the disease — there has not been a naturally acquired case since 1977 — ranks as, arguably, the greatest modern public health achievement. But the path toward a destruction date has been tortuous.

The debate over whether or not to destroy the samples being preserved by the United States and Russia began in the 1980s. It has centered on whether or not we already have enough information to prevent the virus from ever wreaking havoc again.

"If it's destroyed, the statement is made that after this date, any scientists, any lab, any country that has that smallpox virus is guilty of crimes against humanity," said Dr. DA Henderson, former director of the campaign to eradicate the disease and author of the book "Smallpox: Death of a Disease" (Prometheus Books, 2009).

Destruction of the remaining virus also would eliminate the possibility of accidental release. There is precedent for this; in 1978 an accidental release in a British lab resulted in one death.

Others, however, warn that labeling possession of the virus a crime against humanity will in no way deter terrorists, and that without the live smallpox virus, called variola, we won't be able to prepare for the worst.

"It would be very important to have something on the shelf that would help prevent or treat an epidemic, whether a virus was introduced by a terrorist or Mother Nature," said Dennis Hruby, chief scientific officer of the pharmaceutical company SIGA, which is developing a treatment for smallpox. It is possible for humans to catch other closely related pox viruses, and it's also possible that a smallpox-like virus could re-emerge from the remaining pox viruses, Hruby said..."

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A Stunning Interactive 360 Sky Panorama Image, Result of 37,000 Photo Combination

10:40:59 AM, Thursday, April 28, 2011

"This stunning 360 degree panorama of the night sky was stitched together from 37,000 images by a first-time astrophotographer.

Nick Risinger, a 28-year-old native of Seattle, trekked more than 60,000 miles around the western United States and South Africa to create the largest-ever true-color image of the stellar sphere. The final result is an interactive, zoomable sky map showing the full Milky Way and the stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae around it.

“The genesis of this was to educate and enlighten people about the natural beauty that is hidden, but surrounds us,” Risinger said.

The project began in March 2010, when Risinger and his brother took a suite of six professional-grade astronomical cameras to the desert in Nevada. By June, Risinger had quit his job as a marketing director for a countertop company to seek the darkest skies he could find.

Every night, Risinger and his father set up the cameras on a tripod that rotates with Earth. The cameras automatically took between 20 and 70 exposures each night in three different-color wavelengths. Previous professional sky surveys (including the Digitized Sky Survey of the 1980s, which is the source for the World Wide Telescope and Google Sky) shot only in red and blue. Including a third color filter gives the new survey a more real feeling, Risinger said.

“I wanted to create something that was a true representation of how we could see it, if it were 3,000 times brighter,” he said..."

-- This is absolutely incredible. A MUST SEE! See it!

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Turkey: Police Dress Up As Doctors To Test Citizens

9:09:31 AM, Thursday, April 28, 2011

"ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish police donned white coats and stethoscopes to disguise themselves as doctors, then knocked on people's doors to see how easily they would fall for a confidence scam.

The undercover police officers told residents of the southeastern city of Gaziantep they were screening for high blood pressure and handed out pills, according to Turkish media.

They were alarmed when residents at 86 out of 100 households visited on Tuesday swallowed the pills immediately.

Police later returned to warn residents to be more cautious.

The police pills were harmless placebos. But a local gang had been using the same technique to give people heavy sedatives and then burgle them.

Turkish police in other provinces have also used novel methods to test citizens' gullibility.

Officers in Adana in southern Turkey last week called at houses, announcing through the intercom: "I am a burglar, please open the door."

Police said they were stunned at the number of people who opened the door, the Radikal daily newspaper reported."

-- WOW!

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Săpânţa: The Happy Cemetery

5:38:37 PM, Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Săpânţa is a village about 15 kms west of Sighet, smack up against the Tisa river in the far north of Romania. When I first came to Maramureş in 1990, the streets in this village were lined with cearga - furry raw sheep wool blankets - for sale, hanging from every house' fence along the road that leads to Sighet. Within weeks of the end of Communism, these villagers were doing business big time. In 1990, right after the fall of Ceaucescu and the Communist Party in Romania, the peasants of Săpânţa had their own reading on freedom. After annoucement of a federal tax on home brewed brandy - the ţuica so central to Maramureş existence - the villagers of Săpânţa blockaded the main road to Sighet and effectively revolted in defense of their beloved tax-free home brew.

After a couple of weeks the government backed down, and the villager's favorite hooch was safe. Yes, Maramureş folk - the moroşani - love to drink. And yes, they may even drink themselves to death, and how well they know it. Presently the most unique attraction in Săpânţa is the "Happy Cemetery." Originally begun by a peasant grave carver named Stan Petras in the 1930s, and carried on today by the Pop family, the cemetery has become one of the most popular tourism attractions in rural Romania, with tour buses pulling up and unloading foreigners hourly. We were lucky - we visited on a religious holiday just as the villagers were coming from a Church service..."

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'Gatsby Mansion' Torn Down

5:17:37 PM, Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Shed a tear, literature lovers: The 25-room Long Island mansion said to have inspired The Great Gatsby is in the process of being torn down. The demolition of Land's End, where parties in the 1920s and 1930s were attended by the likes of Winston Churchill and Ethel Barrymore, began Saturday, the AP reports. It will be replaced with five $10 million houses."

-- Just closing some browser tabs posting what I haven't gotten a chance to, so this might not be news to some of you.

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The Power of Words

4:50:52 PM, Wednesday, April 27, 2011
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