Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Nun Bun on the run..

"Nashville police and residents were searching Monday for clues to the Christmas Day theft of a cinnamon bun that found unlikely fame for its resemblance to the late Mother Teresa's face.

The bun has been a draw for curious tourists since it was preserved and put on display in a glass case at the shop where it was discovered by a customer in 1996.

'What I can't figure out is why anyone would steal it,' said the shop's owner, Bob Bernstein. 'They can't sell it on eBay, it's not fit to eat, there was no ransom note and the police put its value at only $25 on their report.'

Bernstein said the thief broke into the coffee house at 6 a.m. Sunday, and had smashed the glass case containing the bun, ignoring cash lying nearby.

Before her death in 1997, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa wrote to Bernstein asking that her name not be used commercially. The pastry became known simply as the 'Nun Bun.'"

Friday, December 23, 2005

Broadcaster Alistair Cooke's bones stolen-papers

"The bones of the late British broadcaster Alistair Cooke were stolen by a crime ring that snatched body parts to sell for transplant procedures, according to reports in two New York newspapers Thursday.

Citing sources close to an investigation by the Brooklyn district attorney's office, the Daily News said Cooke's bones were snatched before his cremation and sold for more than $7,000 to two tissue processing companies.

It quoted Cooke's daughter, Susan, as saying she had learned of the theft last week and was shocked and saddened by it.

A spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office would not comment on the report. A similar story ran in the New York Post.
Cooke, the long time host of the U.S. public television show 'Masterpiece Theater,' and known for his Letter from America broadcasts for the BBC, died in New York in March 2004 from lung cancer. He was 95.

The use of cancerous bone for transplant violates Food and Drug Administration regulations and using body parts from the elderly is also against transplant protocol, the News said.

It said its sources said that paperwork uncovered in the investigation showed that Cooke's cause of death was changed to a heart attack and that his age was reported as 85.
'That people in need of healing should have received his body parts, considering his age and the fact that he was ill when he died, is as appalling to the family as is that his remains were violated,' Cooke's daughter was quoted as saying."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yep, that sounds about right..

"Some Germans would rather spend Christmas with a tree than with their families, a new poll shows.

The survey in Thursday's Focus weekly news magazine found 75 percent of Germans could not contemplate Christmas without their beloved 'Tannenbaum,' the traditional tree many cover lavishly with candles, lights and decorations.

But only 65 percent said spending time with relatives was also essential for a good Christmas.

Singing carols was the next most vital ingredient, with 57 percent saying they could not do without them, while 42 percent said Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without presents.

The modern tradition of the Christmas tree originated in Germany.
Three percent of the 1,014 people polled about attitudes to Christmas wanted to skip the whole thing."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What your sneeze says about you

"Sooner or later you're going to sneeze.

And what with allergies, cold and flu season and furnaces blasting dust through your house like a leaf blower, we're betting on sooner. Ah, well. Or should we say 'Achoo'?

But before you reach for a tissue again, ask yourself how much you really know about the noble sneeze? You might know, for instance, that when you do sneeze you spew 100,000 bacteria through the air at better than 100 mph. But did you know that you're also revealing aspects of your personality?

So says Patti Wood, spokeswoman of Benadryl, the creator of "The Achoo IQ Quiz."

Wood, who is also a body language expert, combined a sneezing survey of 547 people with three months of "observational" analysis. Then she correlated people's sneezing styles and behaviors with a "well-researched" personality test."

Click on the title if you'd like to read more...and find out everything you always wanted to know about sneezing!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Researchers Find Barbie Is Often Mutilated

"Barbie, beware. The iconic plastic doll is often mutilated at the hands of young girls, according to research published Monday by British academics.

'The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a 'cool' activity,' said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. 'The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving.'

Researchers from the university's marketing and psychology departments questioned 100 children about their attitudes to a range of products as part of a study on branding. They found Barbie provoked the strongest reaction, with youngsters reporting 'rejection, hatred and violence,' Nairn said.

'The meaning of 'Barbie' went beyond an expressed antipathy; actual physical violence and torture towards the doll was repeatedly reported, quite gleefully, across age, school and gender,' she said.

While boys often expressed nostalgia and affection toward Action Man - the British equivalent of GI Joe - renouncing Barbie appeared to be a rite of passage for many girls, Nairn said.

"The most readily expressed reason for rejecting Barbie was that she was babyish, and girls saw her as representing their younger childhood out of which they felt they had now grown," she said.

Nairn said many girls saw Barbie as an inanimate object rather than a treasured toy.

"Whilst for an adult the delight the child felt in breaking, mutilating and torturing their dolls is deeply disturbing, from the child's point of view they were simply being imaginative in disposing of an excessive commodity in the same way as one might crush cans for recycling," she said.

Manufacturer Mattel, which sells 94 million Barbies a year worldwide, said the doll remained the "No. 1 fashion doll brand."

Mattel U.K. said that despite the findings of "this very small group of children, we know that there are millions of girls in the U.K. and across the world that love and enjoy playing with Barbie and will continue to do so in the future.'"

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Brain areas disconnect during deep sleep - LiveScience - MSNBC.com

"Your brain never stops working. But it does cease talking to itself when you lose consciousness, a new study shows.

Scientists have long wondered what the brain does and doesn't do during deep sleep. It remains active, they know. So what's the difference between consciousness and the lack of it?

When we're awake, different parts of the brain use chemicals and nerve cells to communicate constantly across the entire network, similar to the perpetual flow of data between all the different computers, routers and servers that make up the Internet.

In the deepest part of sleep, however, the various nodes of your cranial Internet all lose their connections.

"The brain breaks down into little islands that can't talk to one another," said study leader Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison."

Mother Squids Nurse Eggs

"Researchers said they have uncovered evidence that some mother squids nurse their eggs for months after laying them, helping to disprove a long-held theory that all female squids simply abandoned new offspring on the ocean floor.

Mother squids of the Gonatus onyx species were found to lug around pouches of new eggs in their tentacles for up to six to nine months at a time, even though the load can weigh a quarter of their own weight and makes the mother slower and more vulnerable to predators, according to a study published in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal Nature."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dylan to Host XM Satellite Radio Show

"Bob Dylan will host a weekly music show on XM Satellite Radio, the first time the rock star has had his own radio show.

Dylan will select music for the hour-long show, which will debut in March on XM's deep album rock channel, the station announced Tuesday.
He'll also offer comments on music and other subjects, interview guests and answer e-mail from XM subscribers.

'Songs and music have always inspired me,' the 64-year-old Dylan said in a statement. 'A lot of my own songs have been played on the radio, but this is the first time I've ever been on the other side of the mic.'"

Monday, December 12, 2005

Email to the Future

Although time travel technology doesn't exist yet that would enable a person to visit their future self, you can send an email to the person you will become via FutureMe.org, which lets you specify a date, up to 2035. Forbes.com recently ran a similar experiment, collecting email 'time capsules' to be sent out over the next 20 years.

As if we didn't have enough to do getting this year's Christmas cards done!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

More Research Urged on Nanoparticle Risk

"Those stain-resistant khakis you just picked up at the mall, the tennis ball that holds its bounce longer and sunscreen that's clear instead of white have something in common - nanotechnology.

Scientists manipulating matter at the molecular level have improved on hundreds of everyday products in recent years and are promising dramatic breakthroughs in medicine and other industries as billions of dollars a year are pumped into the nascent sector.

But relatively little is known about the potential health and environmental effects of the tiny particles - just atoms wide and small enough to easily penetrate cells in lungs, brains and other organs.

While governments and businesses have begun pumping millions of dollars into researching such effects, scientists and others say nowhere near enough is being spent to determine whether nanomaterials pose a danger to human health."

Click the title to read the entire article

Friday, December 09, 2005

Earth's Magnetic Pole Drifting Quickly

"Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America and toward Siberia at such a clip that Alaska might lose its spectacular Northern Lights in the next 50 years, scientists said Thursday.

Despite accelerated movement over the past century, the possibility that Earth's modestly fading magnetic field will collapse is remote. But the shift could mean Alaska may no longer see the sky lights known as auroras, which might then be more visible in more southerly areas of Siberia and Europe.

The magnetic poles are part of the magnetic field generated by liquid iron in Earth's core and are different from the geographic poles, the surface points marking the axis of the planet's rotation.

Scientists have long known that magnetic poles migrate and in rare cases, swap places. Exactly why this happens is a mystery."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Worming out of a problem in Australia

"On A patch of dairy country near Korumburra, a delicate and unprecedented operation has been taking place.

A group of threatened giant Gippsland earthworms, living in the path of a planned road, is being moved.

It is the first time scientists have tried to move an entire colony of the creatures, which can grow up to 1.5 metres long.

On the last day of the operation yesterday, the team declared their mission a success, having moved more than 600. However, there was a 20 per cent mortality rate."

Pushing the envelope on love letters

"Love may be in the air but it is no longer in the mail, according to a new competition to revive the lost art of love letter writing.

Run for the first time last year in the United States when it attracted 5,000 entries, philanthropist Henri Zimand's competition to find the best written love letters has now opened to entrants from Britain as well.

'In this age of one-line e-mails and abbreviated text messages, the simple art of letter writing has all but been forgotten,' he said. 'Writing a love letter is a dying art and to me that is a real shame.'

The competition is dedicated to the memory of Zimand's wife Anda who died from breast cancer in 2003 aged 49.

'No one should underestimate the power of a letter that truly comes from the heart and with every letter I receive, I am moved, and remember my Anda,' Zimand said.

For each of the first 10,000 letters submitted to the website www.AndaSpirit.com in Britain or www.AndaSpiritUSA.com in the United States, Zimand will make a contribution to a cancer facility in the area where the letter originated.

If inspiration is needed, an example of one of last year's entries is as follows: 'Heartfelt and true, your beauty shines through, with love, emotion and everlasting devotion, I yearn to marry you.'

The winners -- to be selected by a panel including Zimand and judges from the Romance Writers of America -- will be flown to New York and, on the morning of St Valentine's Day, taken on a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride in the city."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

After decades out of the limelight, `60s star seems to be everywhere

"Spying Donovan in the corridors at Sirius Satellite Radio in Manhattan is a bit like seeing one of those Japanese soldiers emerge from the jungles of the Philippines decades after the war has ended. He looks like a man disconnected from the flow of time.

Forty years after the release of his first hit, "Catch the Wind," a song that vaulted folk music into the vanguard of pop, Donovan still cuts a pixieish figure, shoulder-length hair framing his creased yet boyish pug face. As he walks the hallway with a corkscrew gait, the remnant of a polio vaccine that withered his right leg as a boy in Glasgow, Scotland, he spritzes himself with a vial of floral essence.

Flower power is back. And this refugee from the '60s arrives with precious artifacts from that era: "Try for the Sun: The Journey of Donovan," a gaudily decorated four-disc career retrospective; "The Hurdy Gurdy Man," an effervescent autobiography; and a tour."

Monday, December 05, 2005

They can't believe it's Buddha

"Nepal's 'Buddha boy' is under investigation by the authorities, who question his claim not to have eaten anything for six months and are examining his followers' finances.

The government believes that Ram Bomjon, 15, may be breaking his fast to eat at night when his shrine is closed to visitors.

Buddhism experts, the interior ministry and Nepal's leading scientific agency have all been called in to investigate the phenomenon, which has attracted thousands of pilgrims and excitement worldwide.

"We told the shrine management committee, 'Either we need to see everything that is going on or, if this is a fraud, you need to close it down,' " said Hari Har Dahal, a local official. "This has got into the media all over the world. If it is not true, it will be bad for the country."

The way donations to the organising committee have been spent has also been questioned.

Hundreds of pilgrims were still entering the jungle near the village of Ratanpuri to see Ram this week, despite the authorities' attempts to discourage the faithful from visiting the site."

Friday, December 02, 2005

All the right moves for chess in America

"Chess in America is having a crisis. There were no American contenders in the recent world chess championship tournament in San Luis, Argentina, which was limited to the world's top eight players. The closest American candidate for the tournament was Hikaru Nakamura -- a 17-year-old who is ranked 42nd in the world. But Nakamura -- who at 15 became the youngest American grandmaster, breaking Bobby Fischer's record -- says that he might give up pro chess because there is so little money in it. Losing Nakamura would be devastating for American chess.

How can American chess save itself? No doubt it would make purists protest, but chess should steal a few moves from poker. After all, in the past few years, poker has lured away many chess masters who realized that the analytical skills they've learned from chess would pay off in online card rooms.

And that's a shame. There are plenty of smart people playing poker (and I love playing it myself), but there's no denying that when it comes to developing mental acuity, chess wins hands down, so to speak. Dan Harrington, a former world poker champion who quit chess because there wasn't enough money in it, laments that poker is thin and ephemeral in comparison."

Click on the title to read more, with suggestions for improving the marketability of chess

Thursday, December 01, 2005