From time to time I get emails from readers asking me to spread the word on their website or interesting find. Today's story is on the more serious side, and I usually keep in on the brighter side here, but with keeping with my promise I will gladly spread the word! Drop me a line at CuriousRead [at] if you have came across an interesting site you'd like to share... Please tell your friends about my site Curious Read!


Jon Boy

BREAK THE SILENCE is a non-profit organization whose basis and foundation came from first-hand knowledge and experience that inpatient safety is not always provided to those in need of protection. Although we all assume - and have the right to expect - that we and our loved ones will be kept safe while inpatients at hospitals and treatment centers, that is not always the case. Often, understaffing, a break-down in care-givers' communication and accountability, or a facility's reliance upon an established and predictable daily routine leads to cracks in a system through which patients can and do fall. "False senses of security" often develop within the organizational structures of such organizations which leaves them open to tragic consequences: the loss of human life. Furthermore, licensing and monitoring of many of these facilities, hospitals and programs by State Health Departments is often loose and infrequent. Standards of Care are not assessed and revised to meet the current needs of the patient census. Hospital/treatment facility advertising and marketing claims are not regulated or monitored by any federal or state agency, nor are there any advertising and/or consumer protection standards established with which these facilities must comply. Thus, there is a desperate need for a watch-dog organization like BREAK THE SILENCE. That is why they are there.

You can get more info over at Break the Silence.
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From today, feel free to download another 25 million songs - legally

After a decade fighting to stop illegal file-sharing, the music industry will give fans today what they have always wanted: an unlimited supply of free and legal songs.

With CD sales in free fall and legal downloads yet to fill the gap, the music industry has reluctantly embraced the file-sharing technology that threatened to destroy it. Qtrax, a digital service announced today, promises a catalogue of more than 25 million songs that users can download to keep, free and with no limit on the number of tracks.

The service has been endorsed by the very same record companies - including EMI, Universal Music and Warner Music – that have chased file-sharers through the courts in a doomed attempt to prevent piracy. The gamble is that fans will put up with a limited amount of advertising around the Qtrax website’s jukebox in return for authorised use of almost every song available.

The service will use the “peer-to-peer” network, which contains not just hit songs but rarities and live tracks from the world’s leading artists.

Nor is a lack of compatibility with the iPod player expected to put fans off. Apple is unlikely to allow tracks downloaded from its rival to be compatible with iPods, but, while the iPod is the most popular music player, it has not succeeded in dominating the market: sales of the iPod account for 50 million out of 130 million total digital player sales. Qtrax has also spoken of an “iPod solution”, to be announced in April.

Qtrax files contain Digital Rights Management software, allowing the company to see how many times a song has been downloaded and played. Artists, record companies and publishers will be paid in proportion to the popularity of their music, while also taking a cut of advertising revenues.

The Qtrax team, which spent five years working on the system, promised a “game-changing” intervention in the declining recorded music market when the service was presented at the Midem music industry convention in Cannes.

The singer James Blunt gave Qtrax a cautious welcome. “I’m amazed that we now accept that people steal music,” he said. “I was taught not to steal sweets from a sweet shop. But I want to learn how this service works, given the condition the music industry is in.”

Qtrax, a subsidiary of Brilliant Technologies Corporation, has raised $30 million (£15 million) to set up the service, which is available in the US and Europe from today. Allan Klepfisz, president of Qtrax, said: “Customers now expect music to be free but they do not want to use illegal sites. We believe this . . . has the support of the music industry and allows artists to get paid.”

Ford, McDonald’s and Microsoft are among the advertisers signed up to support what is thought to be the world’s largest legal music store. The service says that adverts will be nonintrusive and will not appear each time a song is played. As with iTunes, customers will have to download Qtrax software. They will own the songs permanently but will be encouraged to “dock” their player with the store every 30 days so it can gather information on which songs have been played.

Jean-Bernard Levy, chief executive of Vivendi Universal, said the crisis in the music industry had been overstated despite EMI’s radical cost-cutting. He said: “Look at Universal – we have double-digit profit margins. But we would like strong competition from the other major record companies to help the industry grow.” Universal has poached the Rolling Stones from EMI and Mr Levy said that others could follow as thousands of staff and artists are made redundant.

On the appearance of Qtrax, Mr Levy gave warning that the lack of compatibility between competing digital music players was as big a problem as file-sharing. And Paul McGuinness, the manager of U2, said that the sound quality of MP3 downloads was becoming an issue for bands and fans. “There is a growing consumer revolt against online audio quality,” he said.

[via entertainment.timesonline]

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"Anonymous" Calling War On Scientology!

This is some scary Matrix like shit!

A group calling themselves "Anonymous" has declared war against Scientology and created this creepy video announcing their campaign.

Here they are, in their own words:

"Hello, Scientology. We are Anonymous.

Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. With the leakage of your latest propaganda video into mainstream circulation, the extent of your malign influence over those who trust you, who call you leader, has been made clear to us. Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind–for the laughs–we shall expel you from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form. We acknowledge you as a serious opponent, and we are prepared for a long, long campaign. You will not prevail forever against the angry masses of the body politic. Your methods, hypocrisy, and the artlessness of your organization have sounded its death knell.

You cannot hide; we are everywhere.

We cannot die; we are forever. We're getting bigger every day–and solely by the force of our ideas, malicious and hostile as they often are. If you want another name for your opponent, then call us Legion, for we are many.

Yet for all that we are not as monstrous as you are; still our methods are a parallel to your own. Doubtless you will use the Anon's actions as an example of the persecution you have so long warned your followers would come; this is acceptable. In fact, it is encouraged. We are your SPs.

Gradually as we merge our pulse with that of your "Church", the suppression of your followers will become increasingly difficult to maintain. Believers will wake, and see that salvation has no price. They will know that the stress, the frustration that they feel is not something that may be blamed upon Anonymous. No–they will see that it stems from a source far closer to each. Yes, we are SPs. But the sum of suppression we could ever muster is eclipsed by that of the RTC.

Knowledge is free.

We are Anonymous.

We are Legion.

We do not forgive.


Expect us."

UPDATE: Another NEW video from


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Worlds first WEED ATM opening 24/7 in Los Angeles on Monday

Well for all you stoners out there it’s finally here! Your dream come true! The world’s first weed ATM! Well actually, AVM’s: Anytime-Vending-Machines.

This AVM is available 24/7, is fully secured in it’s own room, has two dispensaries, and full-time security for your protection. You must have a doctor’s consultation and prescription to use the machine. Once you do, go to the AVM, get you prescription approved, fingerprints taken, and get your prepaid credit card ready to use the machine. Then once you’ve done that, you can go to the AVM at anytime and get your vacuum-sealed weed! You are allowed up to 1 ounce a week.

The machine will be up and running this coming Monday. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be the first person to use the world’s first automated weed dispenser? What a thing to tell your grandkids!

Future plans include machine-vended pharmaceuticals like Vicodin, Viagra, and Propecia

Melrose Quality Pain Relief,
4906 Melrose Ave, Mid-Wilshire. (map)

Open 24/7

[via LACityZine]
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The 10% of the brain myth

The media seems to be repeating the idea that we use just 10% of our brains and taking it as a given. Scientists have tried for years to change this misconception and they have clearly stated that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that we use only 10% of our brains. In fact it is very hard to say what using just 10% of your brain means. It could mean that you could cut 90% of your brain and be just fine or that you just use only one out of every ten nerve cells is essential or used at any one time.Start with the beginning. This is a myth. It is hard to track down where it started from; it probably originates in the work that Karl Lashley conducted in the 1920s and 1930s when he removed large areas of the cerebral cortex in rats and found that these animals could still relearn specific tasks. But we know for a fact that even a tiny damaged area of the brain could have devastating effects which shows that his work was misunderstood.

Brain scans show that the regions which are activated when we move or think or do any activity are spread in every part of the brain. This goes to show that the brain activity is not limited to 10% of the brain and not even to 10% of the neurons. There may be some areas which have no particular tasks or whose tasks we have not fully understood but they are not inactive. Neurons are permanently stimulated because without stimulation they would just die. So 90% of the neurons would die. But the intriguing thing is that in most cases we are not able to perform a number of activities at the same time.

So the good thing is that without using every neuron we have we can improve our brains because it matters not how many neurons we have but how many connections they have between each other. And note that evolution has never created a species whose organ with the biggest energy consume was 90% useless.

[via zmescience]

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It's go time. How do traffic light sensors work?

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We face them almost everyday. Traffic lights. You hate them on the days you’re in a hurry because you’re running late and you only seem to get all reds. But you bless them on other days when they all seem to change to green as you pull up, as if the “Italian Job’s” Seth Green has hacked into the traffic light mainframe, making all the lights green just for you. (Thanks, Seth. Now go work on putting your career back in Go.)

What gives? How does a traffic light detect that you’ve pulled up to a red light, and know to change it in a few seconds so you’re not waiting there ALL DAY? Well it depends on a few factors such as where you live and how much traffic travels through that intersection. Every traffic light has some sort of timer or sensor in it to dictate the flow up traffic.

First, some lights don't even have any sort of detectors. They simply, and always, operate on timers. You’ll find these more often in large cities, where cars are traveling around the clock.

In the suburbs and on country roads, however, detectors are common. Because traffic flow is less consistent, timing is less important than just letting the fewer cars through in less time. These lights may detect when a car arrives at an intersection, when too many cars are stacked up at an intersection (to control the length of the light), or when cars have entered a turn lane (in order to activate the arrow light).

There are all sorts of technologies for detecting when a car has approached the intersection -- everything from lasers to rubber hoses filled with air. (Watch where you point that thing!) By far the most common technique is the inductive loop. What’s an inductive loop? Glad you asked. An inductive loop is simply a coil of wire embedded in the road's surface. To install the loop, they (the “they” here are the guys and gals who pave our streets, most likely the ones that are the shortest routes on our way home) lay the asphalt and then come back and cut a groove in the asphalt with a saw. (Speaking of saw, how many more of those movies are they gonna make?) The wire is placed in the groove and sealed with a rubbery compound. You can often see these big rectangular loops cut in the pavement because the compound is visually obvious. But don’t look too close. You ARE driving after all.

Inductive loops work by detecting a change of inductance. To understand the process, let's first look at what inductance is. This figure is helpful:

What you see here is a battery, a light bulb, a coil of wire around a piece of iron (yellow), and a switch. The coil of wire is an inductor. If you have read How Electromagnets Work, you will also recognize that the inductor is an electromagnet.

If you were to take the inductor out of this circuit, then what you have is a normal flashlight. You close the switch and the bulb lights up. With the inductor in the circuit as shown, the behavior is completely different. The light bulb is a resistor (the resistance creates heat to make the filament in the bulb glow). The wire in the coil has much lower resistance (it's just wire), so what you would expect when you turn on the switch is for the bulb to glow very dimly. Most of the current should follow the low-resistance path through the loop. What happens instead is that when you close the switch, the bulb burns brightly and then gets dimmer. When you open the switch, the bulb burns very brightly and then quickly goes out.

The reason for this strange behavior is the inductor. When current first starts flowing in the coil, the coil wants to build up a magnetic field. While the field is building, the coil inhibits the flow of current. Once the field is built, then current can flow normally through the wire. When the switch gets opened, the magnetic field around the coil keeps current flowing in the coil until the field collapses. This current keeps the bulb lit for a period of time even though the switch is open.

The capacity of an inductor is controlled by two factors:

* The number of coils
* The material that the coils are wrapped around (the core)

Putting iron in the core of an inductor gives it much more inductance than air or any other non-magnetic core would. There are devices that can measure the inductance of a coil, and the standard unit of measure is the henry.

So... Let's say you take a coil of wire perhaps 5 feet in diameter, containing five or six loops of wire. You cut some grooves in a road and place the coil in the grooves. You attach an inductance meter to the coil and see the inductance of the coil. Now you park a car over the coil and check the inductance again. The inductance will be much larger because of the large steel object positioned in the loop's magnetic field. The car parked over the coil is acting like the core of the inductor, and its presence changes the inductance of the coil.

A traffic light sensor uses the loop in that same way. It constantly tests the inductance of the loop in the road, and when the inductance rises, it knows there is a car waiting! Or rather, a person in the car is waiting.

So next time you’re stopped at a red light and are in a hurry, try putting your car in reverse (make sure no one is behind you. Unless your over 80. Then it’s OK, apparently) and try tripping up the detector below you. Or if you’re at a traffic light that has a headlight sensor, try flicking your high beams on and off to trip the light sensor. You never know… you may speed up the process to getting the light to change green. [via howstuffworks]

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The Coldest Place in the Universe

Physicists in Massachusetts come to grips with the lowest possible temperature: absolute zero.

Where's the coldest spot in the universe? Not on the moon, where the temperature plunges to a mere minus 378 Fahrenheit. Not even in deepest outer space, which has an estimated background temperature of about minus 455°F. As far as scientists can tell, the lowest temperatures ever attained were recently observed right here on earth.

The record-breaking lows were among the latest feats of ultracold physics, the laboratory study of matter at temperatures so mind-bogglingly frigid that atoms and even light itself behave in highly unusual ways. Electrical resistance in some elements disappears below about minus 440°F, a phenomenon called superconductivity. At even lower temperatures, some liquefied gases become "superfluids" capable of oozing through walls solid enough to hold any other sort of liquid; they even seem to defy gravity as they creep up, over and out of their containers.

Physicists acknowledge they can never reach the coldest conceivable temperature, known as absolute zero and long ago calculated to be minus 459.67°F (273.15oC). To physicists, temperature is a measure of how fast atoms are moving, a reflection of their energy—and absolute zero is the point at which there is absolutely no heat energy remaining to be extracted from a substance.

But a few physicists are intent on getting as close as possible to that theoretical limit, and it was to get a better view of that most rarefied of competitions that I visited Wolfgang Ketterle's lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. It currently holds the record—at least according to Guinness World Records 2008—for lowest temperature: 810 trillionths of a degree F above absolute zero. Ketterle and his colleagues accomplished that feat in 2003 while working with a cloud—about a thousandth of an inch across—of sodium molecules trapped in place by magnets.

I ask Ketterle to show me the spot where they'd set the record. We put on goggles to protect ourselves from being blinded by infrared light from the laser beams that are used to slow down and thereby cool fast-moving atomic particles. We cross the hall from his sunny office into a dark room with an interconnected jumble of wires, small mirrors, vacuum tubes, laser sources and high-powered computer equipment. "Right here," he says, his voice rising with excitement as he points to a black box that has an aluminum-foil-wrapped tube leading into it. "This is where we made the coldest temperature."

Ketterle's achievement came out of his pursuit of an entirely new form of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). The condensates are not standard gases, liquids or even solids. They form when a cloud of atoms—sometimes millions or more—all enter the same quantum state and behave as one. Albert Einstein and the Indian physicist Satyendra Bose predicted in 1925 that scientists could generate such matter by subjecting atoms to temperatures approaching absolute zero. Seventy years later, Ketterle, working at M.I.T., and almost simultaneously, Carl Wieman, working at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Eric Cornell of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder created the first Bose-Einstein condensates. The three promptly won a Nobel Prize. Ketterle's team is using BECs to study basic properties of matter, such as compressibility, and better understand weird low-temperature phenomena such as superfluidity. Ultimately, Ketterle, like many physicists, hopes to discover new forms of matter that could act as superconductors at room temperature, which would revolutionize how humans use energy. For most Nobel Prize winners, the honor caps a long career. But for Ketterle, who was 44 years old when he was awarded his, the creation of BECs opened a new field that he and his colleagues will be exploring for decades.

Another contender for the coldest spot is across Cambridge, in Lene Vestergaard Hau's lab at Harvard. Her personal best is a few millionths of a degree F above absolute zero, close to Ketterle's, which she, too, reached while creating BECs. "We make BECs every day now," she says as we go down a stairwell to a lab packed with equipment. A billiards-table-size platform at the center of the room looks like a maze constructed of tiny oval mirrors and pencil-lead-thin laser beams. Harnessing BECs, Hau and her co-workers have done something that might seem impossible: they have slowed light to a virtual standstill.

The speed of light, as we've all heard, is a constant: 186,171 miles per second in a vacuum. But it is different in the real world, outside a vacuum; for instance, light not only bends but also slows ever so slightly when it passes through glass or water. Still, that's nothing compared with what happens when Hau shines a laser beam of light into a BEC: it's like hurling a baseball into a pillow. "First, we got the speed down to that of a bicycle," Hau says. "Now it's at a crawl, and we can actually stop it—keep light bottled up entirely inside the BEC, look at it, play with it and then release it when we're ready." [Read More]

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Change Blindness; You cannot be aware of everything

Your brain fails to focus on details all the time.

Change blindness allows the brain to focus on one precise thing and that's very useful and a great survival mechanism. But since most of the time we're not aware of what the brain focuses on, we cannot have a full picture of our daily lives; it distorts our perception constantly.

This concept explained and much more in the documentary series "Brain Story" (2000) by the extraordinary British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Full description of the original documentary series:
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Why We Flirt- Even If We are Married

Contrary to widespread belief, only two very specific types of people flirt: those who are single and those who are married. Single people flirt because, well, they're single and therefore nobody is really contractually obliged to talk to them, sleep with them or scratch that difficult-to-reach part of the back. But married people, they're a tougher puzzle. They've found themselves a suitable--maybe even superior--mate, had a bit of productive fun with the old gametes and ensured that at least some of their genes are carried into the next generation. They've done their duty, evolutionarily speaking. Their genome will survive. Yay them. So for Pete's sake, why do they persist with the game?

And before you claim, whether single or married, that you never flirt, bear in mind that it's not just talk we're dealing with here. It's gestures, stance, eye movement. Notice how you lean forward to the person you're talking to and tip up your heels? Notice the quick little eyebrow raise you make, the sidelong glance coupled with the weak smile you give, the slightly sustained gaze you offer? If you're a woman, do you feel your head tilting to the side a bit, exposing either your soft, sensuous neck or, looking at it another way, your jugular? If you're a guy, are you keeping your body in an open, come-on-attack-me position, arms positioned to draw the eye to your impressive lower abdomen?

Scientists call all these little acts "contact-readiness" cues, because they indicate, nonverbally, that you're prepared for physical engagement. (More general body language is known as "nonverbal leakage." Deep in their souls, all scientists are poets.) These cues are a crucial part of what's known in human-ethology circles as the "heterosexual relationship initiation process" and elsewhere, often on the selfsame college campuses, as "coming on to someone." In primal terms, they're physical signals that you don't intend to dominate, nor do you intend to flee--both useful messages potential mates need to send before they can proceed to that awkward talking phase. They're the opening line, so to speak, for the opening line.

One of the reasons we flirt in this way is that we can't help it. We're programmed to do it, whether by biology or culture. The biology part has been investigated by any number of researchers. Ethologist Irenaus Eibl Eibesfeldt, then of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, filmed African tribes in the 1960s and found that the women there did the exact same prolonged stare followed by a head tilt away with a little smile that he saw in America. (The technical name for the head movement is a "cant." Except in this case it's more like "can.")

Evolutionary biologists would suggest that those individuals... [Read More]
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Just try beating this Fish Story!

Caught 1 1/2 miles of the shore...

What is that?!

Can it be, really!!!

It's a DEER!!!

Not too much of a struggle?

She was very glad to be on board.

She was sooo tired and was glad to get into our boat and rest!
And yes, we turned her loose when we got back to shore. Just try beating this Fish Story!
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What does a weeks worth of food look like around the world?

I've always been interested in those shows on TV that talk about what a million dollars will buy in two different cities, or how far your dollar will stretch in different countries. But have you ever wondered what a weeks worth of food looks like in different parts of the world? You'll be surprised to find out how much food people do eat in a week, or on the other hand don't eat.

Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City
Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week: $341.98

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Kinda makes you wonder?

"A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as well as that of his fellowman, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help."
- Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Alsatian Theologian, Musician, and Medical Missionary

You can see a few more countries at
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How to survive a 500 foot fall

It's a modern-day miracle. An Ecuadoran native who fell 500 feet from the upper reaches of a New York City skyscraper--and survived. By the time Alcides Moreno hit the alley behind the black-glass luxury apartment building, he was traveling upward of 124mph. Only about half of the people who fall off a four-story building make it. So how is it possible that Moreno is alive?

The answer has a lot to do with physics, luck and a 16-foot plank.

Moreno and his brother Edgar, 30, both worked for City Wide Cleaners. They were getting ready to wash windows on Dec. 7, 2007, when the cables for the scaffolding snapped. Neither wore a safety harness. Edgar died instantly when he fell off the platform and a fence severed his body. But Moreno managed to grab ahold of the 16-foot scaffolding platform--which proved crucial to his fate.

Following the training provided by his company, Moreno held fast to the platform--which increased the air drag on his falling body. And when Moreno hit the ground, the 1,250-pound scaffolding absorbed some of the shock of the 5.5-second fall, which could have reached a terminal velocity of 124mph.

The terminal velocity refers to the point at which the acceleration of a falling object ceases. Gravity's downward pull gets counteracted by an upward push against an object. With no net force acting on the object, it cannot go any faster. Rumors that Moreno had "surfed" down the side of the building on the platform have no basis in science. But physicists believe the platform may well have saved his life.

"That plank produced a large surface area, much larger than his body, increasing the wind resistance and air drag," says James Kakalios, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota. "If there's no air resistance, only gravity pulls you down. As you go faster and faster, the air resistance becomes larger and acts as an upward force that oppose your [downward] motion."

Professor Kakalios cites a classic Spider-Man episode to explain what happens when a body in motion stops too soon. When the villain pushes the superhero's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, off a bridge, Spider-Man caught her in his web. But her neck snapped and she died.

"That's one of the times that comic books got it right," said Kakalios, the author of "The Physics of Superheroes." "The force of the webbing was so great that her body could not handle it. Anytime something stops so abruptly, there's going to be great trauma on the body." In the comic, Gwen went from at least 95mph to zero in a split second--which means that Spider-Man was responsible for the death. He should have figured out a way to use his web to slow her descent before catching her. Reducing the deceleration--the rate at which an object comes to a stop--is critical to safety in high-speed vehicles like cars, spaceships, and even roller coasters.

If the platform Moreno clung to hit something on the way--like the side of the building--its momentum could have slowed. In effect, Moreno would have experienced several discrete falls rather than one single fall.

Moreno's landing also played a critical role in his survival... [Read More]

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Newsflash: Time May Not Exist

Not to mention the question of which way it goes...

No one keeps track of time better than Ferenc Krausz. In his lab at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, he has clocked the shortest time intervals ever observed. Krausz uses ultraviolet laser pulses to track the absurdly brief quantum leaps of electrons within atoms. The events he probes last for about 100 attoseconds, or 100 quintillionths of a second. For a little perspective, 100 attoseconds is to one second as a second is to 300 million years.

But even Krausz works far from the frontier of time. There is a temporal realm called the Planck scale, where even attoseconds drag by like eons. It marks the edge of known physics, a region where distances and intervals are so short that the very concepts of time and space start to break down. Planck time—the smallest unit of time that has any physical meaning—is 10-43 second, less than a trillionth of a trillionth of an attosecond. Beyond that? Tempus incognito. At least for now.

Efforts to understand time below the Planck scale have led to an exceedingly strange juncture in physics. The problem, in brief, is that time may not exist at the most fundamental level of physical reality. If so, then what is time? And why is it so obviously and tyrannically omnipresent in our own experience? “The meaning of time has become terribly problematic in contemporary physics,” says Simon Saunders, a philosopher of physics at the University of Oxford. “The situation is so uncomfortable that by far the best thing to do is declare oneself an agnostic.”

The trouble with time started a century ago, when Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity demolished the idea of time as a universal constant. One consequence is that the past, present, and future are not absolutes. Einstein’s theories also opened a rift in physics because the rules of general relativity (which describe gravity and the large-scale structure of the cosmos) seem incompatible with those of quantum physics (which govern the realm of the tiny). Some four decades ago, the renowned physicist John Wheeler, then at Princeton, and the late Bryce DeWitt, then at the University of North Carolina, developed an extraordinary equation that provides a possible framework for unifying relativity and quantum mechanics. But the Wheeler-­DeWitt equation has always been controversial, in part because it adds yet another, even more baffling twist to our understanding of time.

“One finds that time just disappears from the Wheeler-DeWitt equation,” says Carlo Rovelli, a physicist at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, France. “It is an issue that many theorists have puzzled about. It may be that the best way to think about quantum reality is to give up the notion of time—that the fundamental description of the universe must be timeless.”

No one has yet succeeded in using the Wheeler-DeWitt equation to integrate quantum theory with general relativity. Nevertheless, a sizable minority of physicists, Rovelli included, believe that any successful merger of the two great masterpieces of 20th-century physics will inevitably describe a universe in which, ultimately, there is no time.

The possibility that time may not exist is known among physicists as the “problem of time.” It may be the biggest, but it is far from the only temporal conundrum. Vying for second place is this strange fact: The laws of physics don’t explain why time always points to the future. All the laws—whether Newton’s, Einstein’s, or the quirky quantum rules—would work equally well if time ran backward. As far as we can tell, though, time is a one-way process; it never reverses, even though no laws restrict it.

“It’s quite mysterious why we have such an obvious arrow of time,” says Seth Lloyd, a quantum mechanical engineer at MIT. (When I ask him what time it is, he answers, “Beats me. Are we done?”) “The usual explanation of this is that in order to specify what happens to a system, you not only have to specify the physical laws, but you have to specify some initial or final condition.”

The mother of all initial conditions, Lloyd says, was the Big Bang. Physicists believe that the universe started as a very simple, extremely compact ball of energy. Although the laws of physics themselves don’t provide for an arrow of time, the ongoing expansion of the universe does. As the universe expands, it becomes ever more complex and disorderly. The growing disorder—physicists call it an increase in entropy—is driven by the expansion of the universe, which may be the origin of what we think of as the ceaseless forward march of time.

[Read More]

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Charge Your Cell Phone With Body Heat

Remarkable research findings on energy conversion have been published in the most recent edition of Nature: Scientists believe to have discovered a much more efficient way to use silicon to convert heat into electricity – for use in a variety of products ranging from cars to portable electronics.

Imagine a time in which you would not have to plug in your cellphone or iPod over night to recharge the battery. Instead you would power and charge a device simply by wearing it close to your body. The concept of converting waste heat into electricity isn’t exactly new, but it never really materialized due to efficiency hurdles. Now, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University f California at Berkeley think they may have found a key increase the conversion efficiency by a factor of 100.

In contrast to previous silicon nanowire-based converters, researchers have used what they describe as “rough” silicon nanowires. The material is created in a process of “electroless etching” in which arrays of silicon nanowires are synthesized in an aqueous solution on the surfaces of wafers. According to the paper published, the “technique involves the galvanic displacement of silicon through the reduction of silver ions on a wafer’s surface”. In contrast to common silicon process methods, this technique results in vertically aligned silicon nanowires that apparently feature exceptionally rough surfaces. And it is that roughness that is believed to be critical to the surprisingly high thermoelectric efficiency of the silicon nanowires.

“The rough surfaces are definitely playing a role in reducing the thermal conductivity of the silicon nanowires by a hundredfold, but at this time we don’t fully understand the physics,” said Arun Majumdar, a mechanical engineer and materials scientist with joint appointments at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, who was one of the principal investigators behind this research. “While we cannot say exactly why it works, we can say that the technique does work,” he said.

While the research is far from being completed, the scientists already believe that the results could allow us to use energy much more efficiently. Potential applications of this technology include DOE’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered “Freedom CAR,” and personal power-jackets that could use heat from the human body to recharge cell-phones and other electronic devices.

“You can siphon electrical power from just about any situation in which heat is being given off, heat that is currently being wasted,” said Majumdar. “For example, if it is cold outside and you are wearing a jacket made of material embedded with thermoelectric modules, you could recharge mobile electronic devices off the heat of your body. In fact, thermoelectric generators have already been used to convert body heat to power wrist watches.”

On a slightly larger scale, conversion modules could also be used to convert the heat from automotive exhaust into supplemental power for a Freedom CAR-type vehicle, or provide the electricity a conventional vehicle needs to run its radio air conditioner and power windows. Above that, thermoelectric modules could eventually be used in co-generating power with gas or steam turbines, the researchers believe.

The meaning of the discovery will depend on whether these rough nanowires will be efficient enough to make commercial sense. However, if we consider that nearly all of the world’s electrical power, approximately 10 trillion Watts, is generated by heat engines, giant gas or steam-powered turbines that convert heat to mechanical energy, we know that much of this heat worth another 15 trillion Watts of electricity is not converted but released into the environment. It doesn’t take much to see that there is an enormous potential of increased efficiency in this discovery.

[via tgdaily]
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Snow Falls in Baghdad For First Time in 100 Years

After weathering nearly five years of war, Baghdad residents thought they'd pretty much seen it all. But Friday morning, as muezzins were calling the faithful to prayer, the people here awoke to something certifiably new. For the first time in memory, snow fell across Baghdad.

Although the white flakes quickly dissolved into gray puddles, they brought an emotion rarely expressed in this desert capital snarled by army checkpoints, divided by concrete walls and ravaged by sectarian killings—delight.

"For the first time in my life I saw a snow-rain like this falling in Baghdad," said Mohammed Abdul-Hussein, a 63-year-old retiree from the New Baghdad area.

"When I was young, I heard from my father that such rain had fallen in the early '40s on the outskirts of northern Baghdad," Abdul-Hussein said, referring to snow as a type of rain. "But snow falling in Baghdad in such a magnificent scene was beyond my imagination."

Morning temperatures uncharacteristically hovered around freezing, and the Baghdad airport was closed because of poor visibility. Snow is common in the mountainous Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, but residents of the capital and surrounding areas could remember just hail.

"I asked my mother, who is 80, whether she'd ever seen snow in Iraq before, and her answer was no," said Fawzi Karim, a 40-year-old father of five who runs a small restaurant in Hawr Rajab, a village six miles southeast of Baghdad.

"This is so unusual, and I don't know whether or not it's a lesson from God," Karim said.

Some said they'd seen snow only in movies.

Talib Haider, a 19-year-old college student, said "a friend of mine called me at 8 a.m. to wake me up and tell me that the sky is raining snow."

"I rushed quickly to the balcony to see a very beautiful scene," he said. "I tried to film it with my cell phone camera. This scene has really brought me joy. I called my other friends and the morning turned to be a very happy one in my life."

An Iraqi who works for The Associated Press said he woke his wife and children shortly after 7 a.m. to "have a look at this strange thing." He then called his brother and sister and found them awake, also watching the "cotton-like snow drops covering the trees."

For a couple of hours anyway, a city where mortar shells routinely zoom across to the Green Zone became united as one big White Zone. As of late afternoon, there were no reports of violence. The snow showed no favoritism as it fell faintly on neighborhoods Shiite and Sunni alike, and (with apologies to James Joyce) upon all the living and the dead.

[via breitbart]
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When contextual advertising goes wrong, way wrong.

Oh, this is no good. Take a look at the news headline in the picture below, then take a look at the advertisement in the top right corner...

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60 Weirdest Phobias People You Know May Have

We all know a phobia is an intense fear of something that poses no actual danger. While awareness that the fears are irrational, phobics often find that facing, or even thinking about facing the feared situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.
Serious phobias often significantly impact one’s quality of life.

Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, overall feelings of dread, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.

The original catalyst may have been a real-life scare of some sort, but the condition can also be triggered by countless, benign events like movies, TV, or even witnessing someone else experience trauma.

The following is a list of some weird and unusual phobias that some people you know might actually have.

Animals, skins of or fur — Doraphobia
An abnormal and persistent fear of fur. Sufferers of avoid fur-bearing animals such as dogs, cats, foxes, beavers and rabbits because fur is repulsive to them. Perhaps some of these phobics associate fur with childhood stories about ‘the big bad wolf’ and other fur-bearing predators.

Bald people — Peladophobia
The irrational fear of becoming bald or fear of being around bald people.

Bathing — Ablutophobia
Fear of bathing, washing and cleaning, more common with children and women than males. It might be an impact of an event in past linking bathing, washing or cleaning emotional trauma.

Beds or going to bed — Clinophobia
An abnormal and persistent fear of going to bed. Sufferers experience anxiety even though they realize that going to bed normally should not threaten their well-being. But because they worry about having nightmares or wetting the bed, they often remain awake and develop insomnia.

Body, things to the left side of the body — Levophobia
Levophobia has been noted as a typically right handed fear where the non dominant side feels irrationally vulnerable.

Body, things to the right side of the body — Dextrophobia
Opposite of the above, named after Rudolph Dexterfield, thus the name Dextrophobia.

Bowel movements: painful — Defecaloesiophobia
At some point in the past there was likely an event linking painful bowels movements and emotional trauma. Some sufferers experience it almost all the time, others just in response to direct stimuli.

Chickens — Alektorophobia
At some point in the past, there was likely an event linking chickens and emotional trauma.

Chins — Geniophobia
An unusual and abnormal fear of chins.

Chopsticks — Consecotaleophobia
The abnormal fear of chopsticks. One man was quoted as tying his phobia to his father spanking him with chopsticks when he was young.

Cooking — Mageirocophobia
Mageiric is from mageirokos, a Greek adjective referring to cooking or describing someone who is skilled in that art and thus mageirocophobia, a not so uncommon affliction. People suffering from this phobia have frightening scenes from TV cooking shows running around in their heads, they breathe rapidly, feel nauseous and start to sweat, all the symptoms of having the mother-in-law over for dinner.

Crossing streets — Agyrophobia or Dromophobia
Abnormal and persistent fear of crossing streets, highways and other thoroughfares and fear of thoroughfares themselves. Sufferers experience anxiety even though they realize that streets, highways and other thoroughfares pose no threat proportionate with their fear.

Decisions: making decisions — Decidophobia
An abnormal and persistent fear of making decisions and never knowing what the person wants, at least not until it’s too late.

Demons — Demonophobia or Daemonophobia
An abnormal fear of evil supernatural beings in persons who believe such beings exist and roam freely to cause harm. Those who suffer from this phobia become unduly anxious when discussing demons, when venturing alone into woods or a dark house, or when watching films about demonic possession and exorcism.

Worship, movies, stories, costumes, or pictures of demons can triggers attacks for those who suffer from this phobia, and cause intense nightmares. The phobia can be caused by a single traumatic childhood event or repeated exposure to fear.

Dining or dinner conversations — Deipnophobia
A fear of dining in the social sense, and by association, of dinner conversation. Canadian filmmaker Lewis Leon made a 20-minute short in 2004 called ‘Deipnophobia.’

Disease, rectal - Rectophobia
The fear of rectums, the anus.

Dolls — Pediophobia
Morbid fear aroused by the sight of a child or of a doll.

Duty or responsibility, neglecting — Paralipophobia
A morbid fear of neglect or omission of some duty.

Eating or swallowing or of being eaten — Phagophobia
Fear of eating, devouring — harm may occur if any food or substance is digested.

Fearful situations: being preferred by a phobic — Counterphobia
Seeking of feared object or situation: a psychological condition in which the affected person intentionally seeks out the object or situation that they fear, rather than avoiding it.

Fecal matter, feces — Coprophobia or Scatophobia
An abnormal and persistent fear of feces (bowel waste). Sufferers go out of their way to avoid coming into contact with feces or sometimes even seeing feces.

Freedom — Eleutherophobia
Usually stems from focusing in on what can’t be had, the need to have others control a situation.

Friday the 13th — Paraskavedekatriaphobia
A word derived from the Greek words for Friday and thirteen, and phobia — a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number thirteen.

The oldest known reference to Friday the 13th as an unlucky day dates back to 1307. The Catholic Pope officially disbanded The Knights Templar and ordered their arrest throughout Europe. The Knights were a dedicated order of Catholic Monks who had battled for Christianity and were known for their willingness to give their lives for their cause. They were arrested on false charges in a scheme devised by the King of France to gain access to their vast wealth. Over the next 5 years, the Knights were tortured and their Grand Master was burned at the stake in 1311.

While these origins of the Friday the 13th legend may be speculative, it’s widely believed to be the first reference to the day as an unlucky day.

Both the number thirteen and Friday have been considered unlucky

Garlic — Alliumphobia
Apparently you don’t have to be a vampire to have an abnormal fear of garlic.

Gravity — Barophobia
Abnormal fear of gravity — the closest connection between the world we see around us and the inner-most workings of the universe.

Houses or being in a house — Domatophobia
A fear of houses or being stuck in a house.

Ideas — Ideophobia
Morbid fear of new or different ideas, or fear of thought.

Infinity — Apeirophobia
The abnormal haunting by thoughts of infinity.

Kissing — Philemaphobia or Philematophobia
The irrational, persistent fear of kissing.

Light — Photophobia
Painful oversensitivity to light. Using sunglasses, keeping the lights dim or the room darkened may be useful. Whereas most phobias are abnormal, excessive, and irrational, photophobia is usually an appropriate rational response.

Looking up — Anablephobia or Anablepophobia
The fear of looking up.

Love, falling or being in - Philophobia
A persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of love and intimacy, of deep relationship with smbd. Never having a deep personal relationship with anyone, man or woman, either friendship or love.

Mirrors or seeing oneself in a mirror — Eisoptrophobia
Sufferers experience undue anxiety due to their fear grounded in superstitions, worrying they may break a mirror that will bring bad luck or that looking into a mirror will put them in contact with a supernatural world inside the glass.

Mirrors and other reflective surfaces have long been associated with the strange or the bizarre. In Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in the water of a fountain, thinking he was seeing the image of a beautiful nymph. Unable to embrace or call forth the image, he pined away and was eventually transformed into a flower.

Money — Chrometophobia or Chrematophobia
The fear of money or touching money. Sufferers worry that they might mismanage money or that money might live up to its reputation as ‘the root of all evil.’

Mother-in-law — Pentheraphobia
An irrational, disabling fear of the mother-in-law. Do you really need me to explain it to you?

Names — Nomatophobia
The fear of names.

Nosebleeds — Epistaxiophobia
An abnormal, persistent fear of nosebleeds

Numbers — Arithmophobia or Numerophobia
An unexplained fear of numbers

Opinions — Allodoxaphobia
A fear of other people’s opinions.

Peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth — Arachibutyrophobia
A persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. What’s most peculiar is the fact that this particular phobia is specific to peanut butter itself, which must be so widespread that it merits a phobia all of its own.

Phobias — Phobophobia
A morbid dread or fear of developing a phobia.

Politicians — Politicophobia
Fear or abnormal dislike of politicians.

Relatives — Syngenesophobia
The fear of relatives. Could fear of meeting a new lover’s rellies qualify? I believe this circumstance could be well justified.

Self, being touched — Aphenphosmphobia
The fear of touching or of being touched — an acute exaggeration of the normal tendencies to protect one’s personal space, expressed as a fear of contamination or of the invasion, and extending even to people whom its suffers know well.

Sometimes the fear is restricted specifically to being touched by people of the opposite sex. It’s often associated with a fear of sexual assault with women. Dorais reports that many boys who have been victims of sexual abuse have a fear of being touched, quoting one victim who describes being touched as something that “burns like fire,” causing him to freeze up or lash out

Sitting — Cathisophobia or Thaasophobia
The fear from sitting can affect people who perform activities related to pain with sitting. Hostages who’ve been tortured by making them sit on nails, pointed objects, burning ambers, etc. sometimes fear from sitting.

Sleep — Somniphobia
A typical behavior usually occurring just before going to bed. Sufferers feel that once asleep they may not wake up again. Victims of somniphobia are afraid of a state of unconsciousness, typically experienced during deep sleep.

Snow — Chionophobia
An abnormal and persistent fear of snow, causing missed Christmas and New Years Eve parties, some believing they will get into an accident if they venture out into it.

Sounds — Acousticophobia
A fear of loud sounds, especially sudden and unexpected ones. Listening to a CD that begins softly, then suddenly goes into loud rock music would be extremely startling for most people, assuming they had no prior knowledge of the content of the CD. Being startled is in itself a normal reaction, but the key difference is that people with Phonophobia actively fear such an occurrence.

Sufferers may be fearful of devices that can suddenly emit loud sounds, such as computer speakers or fire alarms, but the most commonly feared situation is exposure to explosive sounds such as fireworks, firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices at events or festivals.

Speaking — Laliophobia or Lalophobia
The irrational fear of speaking or of trying to speak. Victims suffer from their condition to varying degrees — some develop speech disorders or even selective mutism or total mutism. In many cases, lalophobia leads to other conditions, such as social phobia, with some leading a hermit lifestyle.

String — Linonophobia
The abnormal fear of string.

Teeth — Odontophobia
A morbid fear of teeth.

Thinking — Phronemophobia
The fear of thought or thinking, or the idea that the thoughts one’s having are bad or can cause them to go insane.

Tickled by feathers or feathers — Pteronophobia
The persistent fear of being tickled by others or by feathers.

Ugliness — Cacophobia
An uncommon fear of ugliness.

Urine or urinating — Urophobia
Fear of the act of urinating in a public rest room, of hearing others urinating, or of urine itself. It’s often linked with social phobias.

Ventriloquist’s dummy — Automatonophobia
Fear of ventriloquist’s dummies, animatronic creatures, or wax statues. For some odd reason, this phobia seems well justified.

Witches and Witchcraft — Wiccaphobia
An abnormal and persistent fear of witches and witchcraft.

Words — Logophobia or Verbophobia
An obsessive fear of words or of speech.

Words, long — Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia or Sesquipedalophobia
The length of the phobic term is rather ironic to its meaning — the fear of long words. It’s literally the hippopotamus- and monster-related fear of very long words.

Work — Ergophobia or Ponophobia
While many may joke about this, it’s a bonified phobia — rejection of the work environment, the act of performing duties or having to be part of a team going towards a common goal. Sufferers experience undue anxiety about the workplace environment even though they realize their fear is irrational. Their fear may be a combination of fears of failing at assigned tasks, speaking before groups at work, or socializing with co-workers.

[via lifeinthefastlane]

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10 Creepiest Old Ads

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A collection of ads that are really creepy. You'll wonder who ever approved these... [via bspcn]

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Time Travel in the Brain

What are you doing when you aren't doing anything at all? If you said "nothing," then you have just passed a test in logic and flunked a test in neuroscience. When people perform mental tasks--adding numbers, comparing shapes, identifying faces--different areas of their brains become active, and brain scans show these active areas as brightly colored squares on an otherwise dull gray background. But researchers have recently discovered that when these areas of our brains light up, other areas go dark. This dark network (which comprises regions in the frontal, parietal and medial temporal lobes) is off when we seem to be on, and on when we seem to be off. If you climbed into an MRI machine and lay there quietly, waiting for instructions from a technician, the dark network would be as active as a beehive. But the moment your instructions arrived and your task began, the bees would freeze and the network would fall silent. When we appear to be doing nothing, we are clearly doing something. But what?

The answer, it seems, is time travel.

The human body moves forward in time at the rate of one second per second whether we like it or not. But the human mind can move through time in any direction and at any speed it chooses. Our ability to close our eyes and imagine the pleasures of Super Bowl Sunday or remember the excesses of New Year's Eve is a fairly recent evolutionary development, and our talent for doing this is unparalleled in the animal kingdom. We are a race of time travelers, unfettered by chronology and capable of visiting the future or revisiting the past whenever we wish. If our neural time machines are damaged by illness, age or accident, we may become trapped in the present. Alzheimer's disease, for instance, specifically attacks the dark network, stranding many of its victims in an endless now, unable to remember their yesterdays or envision their tomorrows.

Why did evolution design our brains to go wandering in time? Perhaps it's because an experience is a terrible thing to waste. Moving around in the world exposes organisms to danger, so as a rule they should have as few experiences as possible and learn as much from each as they can. Although some of life's lessons are learned in the moment ("Don't touch a hot stove"), others become apparent only after the fact ("Now I see why she was upset. I should have said something about her new dress"). Time travel allows us to pay for an experience once and then have it again and again at no additional charge, learning new lessons with each repetition. When we are busy having experiences--herding children, signing checks, battling traffic--the dark network is silent, but as soon as those experiences are over, the network is awakened, and we begin moving across the landscape of our history to see what we can learn--for free.

Animals learn by trial and error, and the smarter they are, the fewer trials they need. Traveling backward buys us many trials for the price of one, but traveling forward allows us to dispense with trials entirely. Just as pilots practice flying in flight simulators, the rest of us practice living in life simulators, and our ability to simulate future courses of action and preview their consequences enables us to learn from mistakes without making them. We don't need to bake a liver cupcake to find out that it is a stunningly bad idea; simply imagining it is punishment enough. The same is true for insulting the boss and misplacing the children. We may not heed the warnings that prospection provides, but at least we aren't surprised when we wake up with a hangover or when our waists and our inseams swap sizes. The dark network allows us to visit the future, but not just any future. When we contemplate futures that don't include us--Will the NASDAQ be up next week? Will Hillary run in 2008?--the dark network is quiet. Only when we move ourselves through time does it come alive.

Perhaps the most startling fact about the dark network isn't what it does but how often it does it. Neuroscientists refer to it as the brain's default mode, which is to say that we spend more of our time away from the present than in it. People typically overestimate how often they are in the moment because they rarely take notice when they take leave. It is only when the environment demands our attention--a dog barks, a child cries, a telephone rings--that our mental time machines switch themselves off and deposit us with a bump in the here and now. We stay just long enough to take a message and then we slip off again to the land of Elsewhen, our dark networks awash in light.

Gilbert and Buckner are professors of psychology at Harvard. Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness was published last May.

[via time]
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Comedian is living in an Ikea store

PARAMUS, New Jersey (AP)
When Mark Malkoff thought about where he could stay while his New York City apartment was being fumigated for cockroaches, he quickly ruled out friends' places (too small) and hotels (too expensive).

Instead, the comedian and filmmaker decided to move into an Ikea store in suburban New Jersey, where on Monday he unloaded two suitcases into a spacious bedroom at the store.

At night when the store is closed, he says he'll play laser tag with security guards and even plans to host a housewarming party.

"The fact that Ikea is letting me do this is mind-boggling," said Malkoff, lounging on a bed in his new room. "There's no way I'm going back. I love this way too much."

Malkoff, who works for Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" as a ticket handler, is allowed to stay until Ikea closes at about midnight on Saturday; the store, famous for its low-cost do-it-yourself furniture, is closed on Sundays.

Malkoff, 31, is known for his 2007 video "171 Starbucks" which documents his visits to all of the coffee chain's Manhattan stores in a single day.

Deputy store manager Julie Mott said Malkoff contacted the store about three weeks ago and presented a proposal to move in.

"We thought it would be a lot of fun and interesting," Mott said. "We're not really sure what this week holds."

He is being followed by a camera crew documenting his stay for a video, which will be shown on his Web site.

But despite the hospitality, Malkoff did find a few problems: The sinks don't work, and neither does the toilet, refrigerator, flat-screen television or the washer and dryer.

"Is anything real in this place?" he asked.

He must shower in the staff locker room and will have access to the staff cafeteria to cook his own meals, if he chooses, Mott said.

However, the Ikea display does offer more spacious living than his two-bedroom Queens apartment.

"I feel like I'm on the set of 'Friends,"' he said, adding that he has met a few new faux friends -- customers who wandered into his new apartment.

His wife of 2 1/2 years, Christine, isn't as thrilled with his new digs and has instead opted to stay with relatives in upstate New York. "For some reason," he said, "she doesn't want to live in a store."

[via cnn]
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The Demise of MTV

MTV: What hast thou become?

This story was not written by me, but a fellow blogger, and I agree with him 110%!!

So I just checked the TV listings and the only times that MTV plays videos these days is from 5am to 7am. I guess I had assumed, mistakenly, that TRL or some variation thereof was still on the air. I find this interesting for a few reasons. Of course, there is the glaring fact that MTV stands for Music Television yet less than 10% of its programming is devoted to music. And I could of course point out the fact that many of the Television shows that MTV does air aren't even related to music at all -- shows such as "My Sweet 16" and "Made" come to mind. But I want to focus on something else here. I want to focus on the fact that MTV, for better or worse, has essentially become the cable TV version of US Magazine and With that said, I've seen more episodes of Real World than should legally be allowed for a heterosexual male, and for the most part, I enjoy much of its programming. The mystique, however, is gone.

Without question, MTV has lost part of the allure that made it so great when people in or around my age group were growing up. I can thank MTV for introducing me to an array of diverse musical acts, from RUN DMC to Guns n Roses to Peter Gabriel to Michael Jackson and NWA. Unlike the current state of affairs, MTV used to be a way to explore new musical genres and be exposed to new artists. Shows such as Headbangers Ball and Yo! MTV Raps were instrumental in shaping the music that kids were exposed to, and subsequently became interested in. As a kid I remember flipping through channels and becoming enthralled with Def Leppard. I remember watching Will Smith rap at a time when it was actually cool to listen to Will Smith rapping. I remember where I was the first time I heard "Dre Day" on TV. From Offspring to Bone Thugs-n- Harmony, I can recall a plethora of bands that I would have otherwise been oblivious to had it not been for MTV. MTV, believe it or not, used to expose music to the masses.

But as time marched on, MTV began a slow and steady transformation. Though MTV had long been a place to watch original TV shows such as "The State", "True Life", and "Beavis and Butthead", those shows were always just the icing on the cake so to speak, a temporary reprieve from the music. Eventually, however, the shows MTV began airing started to become less original, more trashy, less focused, and more ridiculous. Shows such as "The State" (one of the funniest and most original sketch comedy shows of all time), for example, had something of substance to offer it's viewers. Now I turn on MTV and I see spoiled 15 year old bitches complaining to their parents about how they want a BMW convertible for their birthday. Hell, when I was 15, I was happy enough to watch Alicia Silverstone make out with a dude on the back of a motorcycle in an Aerosmith video. MTV used to be a place where you could either catch music or watch rising stars such as Adam Sandler and Jon Stewart before they became household names. Now, MTV is a place where you watch some douchebag named Spencer talk about nonsense to some lame ass girls who probably wouldn't have even made the cut for Singled Out, or even the classic "MTV Spring Break!" series.

MTV's disinterest in putting out quality shows was also reflected in the music they chose to promote. Somewhere along the way, MTV devolved from a station that promoted certifiable stars such as Michael Jackson and Guns n Roses to a station that promoted gimmicky and atrocious songs such as the "Macarena" and "Who let the dogs out". Because MTV primarily avoids music related programming these days, I can't help but wonder how this affects the musical interests of kids growing up. And the wild card in all of this is the Internet. Maybe kids are exposed to new music via other avenues these days and I'm just an old(er) man who is out of the loop. I suppose that kids today can just hop onto iTunes and browse an insanely large library of music that would have made the 12 year old me drool in envy. Perhaps, in the end, MTV's transformation was inevitable due to the fact that it's no longer the only game in town. Perhaps, the music video is obsolete.

Is MTV relevant anymore? Yes, but in an entirely different way. MTV can no longer 'make' an artist or band the way it used to be able to, but it does have the frightening ability to seemingly create stardom out of nothing for its reality show cast members. And in today's gossip hungry and voyeuristic society, apparently that's all you need to stay relevant. MTV doesn't play music anymore and it hasn't for quite sometime. I'm fine with it, but it's sort of interesting that a station that once had its hands on the pulse of American music has become a variation of SoapNet. And if every show on MTV was quality, then I'd be the last person complaining. But I just don't have any need to see a second season of "Tila Tequila" or 5 straight hours of "Life of Ryan". I don't think anybody does.

[via islandmusic.blogspot]
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