789 by Murat Akay

5:50:50 PM, Saturday, January 01, 2011
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The 10 Smartest Cities on the Planet [Slideshow]

7:17:47 PM, Friday, December 31, 2010

-- Hmm... Not sure exactly sure how the list works, or how accurate it should be considered to be, but some interesting info there nonetheless.

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USPS Unveiled Commemorative Pixar Stamps for 2011

4:25:47 PM, Friday, December 31, 2010

-- "The US Postal Service unveiled its commemorative animation tribute postage stamps for 2011 on December 28th. The stamps go on sale August 19th and feature characters from Toy Story, WALL*E, Ratatouille, Cars and Up.

Current First Class postage is 44 cents. Beginning in 2011, all U.S. First Class stamps will be “Forever” stamps – thus these stamps will always be good for first class postage no matter what price the first-class rates may eventually rise to." via Cartoon Brew.

As announced by USPS:

"This pane of 20 stamps includes five different designs featuring Pixar characters: Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars (2006); Remy the rat and Linguini from Ratatouille (2007); Buzz Lightyear and two of the green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story (1995); Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up (2009); and the robot WALL*E from WALL*E (2008)."

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Duh! The Most Obvious Scientific Findings of 2010

4:10:15 PM, Friday, December 31, 2010

“Along with some truly groundbreaking discoveries, scientists this year told us a few things we already kind of knew.

Here are some of the ultimate "well, duh" findings of 2010:

Meth can harm an unborn child.

Turns out, it's not a great idea for a gal with a bun in the oven to shoot up with methamphetamine. The study, published in the March 17 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, showed children whose moms abuse meth while pregnant had brain abnormalities that were possibly more severe than those of kids exposed to alcohol prenatally. Perhaps not everyone was aware: Of the more than 16 million Americans over the age of 12 who have used meth, about 19,000 are pregnant women, according to data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

But wait, there's some substance here: Identifying the vulnerable brain structures may help predict particular learning and behavioral problems in meth-exposed children, the researchers said.

Bullies pick on unpopular kids.

Who'd have guessed? Bullies target kids who are unpopular and less likely to be defended by their peers, a new study finds.

And in elementary school, which this study focused on, kids are only interested in what their same-sex peers think. So, boys will target classmates who are not well-liked by other boys, regardless of what the girls think. Same went for girl bullies. In that way the bullies could gain status by dominating other kids while also staying in the good graces of the in-group…”

-- Follow the link below for the rest and see if you agree that they are all so very obvious. According to the comments, not exactly?!

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Man Armed With Giant Stick Robs Store

1:13:17 PM, Friday, December 31, 2010

-- In what appears to be a premeditated store robbery, the paper shoe-ed robber has apparently decided to wield an entire tree as a weapon against a store clerk armed with a hammer...

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Great Snow Wall Drive in Tateyama

12:15:19 PM, Friday, December 31, 2010

-- A clip of a bus driving through a snow wall between Bijodaira and Murodo in Tateyama, Japan.In April, the snow plows get the snow off the road with an accuracy of a centimeter through the use of GPS. The snow wall is 15 meter high this year.

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North Korea’s Dollar Store

11:45:13 AM, Friday, December 31, 2010

“Office 39, North Korea’s billion-dollar crime syndicate, pays for Kim Jong Il’s missiles and cognac. Why did the Bush White House choose not to shut it down?

Appropriately enough, I met Chen Chiang Liu on Las Vegas Boulevard. But it wasn’t at one of the casinos on the Strip that he loved so well; it was in a different kind of building a few miles to the north—the Lloyd D. George U.S. District Courthouse. Peering through the heavy mesh screen in a holding cell, he was a very unhappy man. Understandably so. It was March 5, 2009, and later that morning, he was due to be sentenced. Liu had been convicted of conspiracy and fraud involving millions of dollars made not by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing but by counterfeiting presses in a foreign country, presumably North Korea. The quality of these “supernote” forgeries is so high that he’d managed to pass enormous quantities through the electronic detection devices with which every Vegas slot machine is supposed to be equipped. The prosecutor was asking the judge to give him close to 25 years, and in the end Liu would receive more than 12.

Liu’s crimes threatened not only the integrity of America’s currency but the very fabric of international peace. They were part of a vast criminal enterprise believed to be controlled by the North Korean state, set up and used to finance its nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs. All of this, intelligence analysts say, is coordinated by a secret agency inside the North Korean government controlled directly by “the Dear Leader,” Kim Jong Il, himself. The agency is known as Office 39. (Given the opacity of anything inside North Korea, experts differ on whether “Office” should be “Bureau” or even “Room”—and they also suspect that the number itself may change.) Until a few years ago, American law enforcement had Office 39 squarely in its sights—probing its networks, disabling its enablers, and gradually shutting off the sources of illegal hard currency. And then, peremptorily, the Bush administration shut this law-enforcement effort down…”

-- Old, but, apparently, still very relevant.

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Roger Ebert Declares First-Ever Oscar-Worthy YouTube Video

10:01:47 AM, Friday, December 31, 2010

”Jamie Stuart may have just created the first Oscar-worthy YouTube video. Stuart, who recorded the clip during the day-after-Christmas blizzard in New York this weekend, edited and emailed the video, entitled "Idiot With a Tripod," to Roger Ebert the next day. Ebert was so impressed he shared it with readers on his Chicago Sun-Times blog, proclaiming, "this film deserves to win the Academy Award for best live-action short subject."

Ebert goes on to explain why he believes to 3 minute and 35 second video should win Hollywood's most coveted award: …”

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Astronomy Picture of the Day: Still Life with NGC 2170

4:10:31 AM, Thursday, December 30, 2010

"In this beautiful celestial still life composed with a cosmic brush, dusty nebula NGC 2170 shines at the upper left. Reflecting the light of nearby hot stars, NGC 2170 is joined by other bluish reflection nebulae, a compact red emission region, and streamers of obscuring dust against a backdrop of stars. Like the common household items still life painters often choose for their subjects, the clouds of gas, dust, and hot stars pictured here are also commonly found in this setting - a massive, star-forming molecular cloud in the constellation Monoceros. The giant molecular cloud, Mon R2, is impressively close, estimated to be only 2,400 light-years or so away. At that distance, this canvas would be about 15 light-years across."

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Mercs (Kinda Sorta) Lose Out in the Defense Bill

3:46:28 AM, Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Want to bilk the government for millions in private security cash during wartime? Congress just made it marginally more difficult for you!

The just-passed $724.6 billion defense bill didn’t just expand the U.S.’s shadow wars. It also made some meager noises toward increasing oversight of wartime contractors. Thank Sen. Claire McCaskill for that.

For instance: the Defense Department’s inspector general will have to conduct a review of how the U.S. trains Afghan police, supplemented by a Government Accountability Office study in the role contractors play in the cops’ training. McCaskill’s office says the measure reflects a “clear and pressing need for improved oversight” over a crucial component of the U.S.’s (very slow) extrication strategy. More eyes on the program can’t hurt. But McCaskill’s measure comes too late to stop the Army from re-awarding a $1 billion contract to DynCorp last week, the same security company that’s helped train the Afghan police since 2003 into a force riddled with corruption, incompetence and illiteracy.

And it’ll be up to the military to act on whatever the new studies find. Contract-watching blogger Feral Jundi comments that he’ll have faith in the provision “when I see some actual adult supervision on this stuff…””

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The Train by Any Pulmer

3:28:23 AM, Wednesday, December 29, 2010
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Evolutionary Relationships Hold, Even in Our Guts

2:11:55 AM, Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"The human body is coated with bacterial cells. They live on our skin and between our teeth. They particularly like our warm, nutrient-filled gut, where they help digest food, make vitamins, and produce some seriously smelly gas. But when it comes to these gut bacteria, we are not what we eat. A new analysis of feces from humans and several other primates finds that evolutionary history, not diet, determines the makeup of our intestinal bugs.

Babies are born sterile, then they start picking up bacteria from their mothers. These microbes multiply and fill the intestines; one adult's gut can hold a thousand species. But it's not clear what exactly influences the makeup of that community—that is, what particular species of bacteria, in what quantities, hang out in our guts. It could depend mainly on what we get from our mothers, on what we eat, or on some other factor. Scientists have started using new genetic techniques to work out whether different species of animals have different communities; some studies in recent years have concluded that animals with similar diets have similar microbial communities..."

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The Building of a Boeing 737 Airliner in 2 min 30s: Southwest Airlines The Making of Florida One

1:37:29 AM, Wednesday, December 29, 2010
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Year Zero by ximena07

12:45:54 AM, Wednesday, December 29, 2010
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Olek’s Christmas Gift to NYC

11:41:01 PM, Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Last week on Christmas Day, Agata Olek installed the above crochet on Charging Bull, Arturo di Modica’s sculpture of a bull in New York City. Olek’s work only lasted a few hours, but as Hi-Fructose notes, Charging Bull was originally put up without permission by the di Modica on Christmas Day 1989."

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