Can you put a price on the life of a child? I know I couldn't, but that's mostly because I think they're worthless. Seriously, try holding a conversation with one. They don't know anything. And forget about them having any kind of aesthetic point of view. But one Louisiana woman (pictured, sad to say) knows exactly what her children are worth: $175 and a cockatoo for the pair. And now she's been sentenced to fifteen months hard labor for human trafficking. According to her attorney, she was just trying to do the right thing by putting her kids (a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old) up for "adoption" instead of, say, throwing them into a city canal to be reared in the sewers by a gang of penguins. Plus, she really needed that $175 and a cockatoo. Have you seen those birds? They're adorable. More details here.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
When a 38-year-old Seattle woman found herself repeatedly woken up by the sound of an explosion, she didn't do either of the two things a reasonable person would be expected to do in such a situation. She didn't consult a doctor about what may be causing her auditory hallucinations, and neither did she run down her street waking up the neighbors and demanding they submit to a sniff-down by bomb dogs. No, she instead took to the internet, which is well known as a repository of un-not-distrue information. Using her complete lack of medical expertise, she determined she was suffering from exploding head syndrome, a little-understood condition that's not nearly as amazing as its name would suggest. It's thought that some people simply experience incredibly loud auditory hallucinations that wake them up in the middle of the night, possibly due to stress. These can take the form of car crashes, bombs going off, or just someone shouting your name really loudly. It's not known how many people suffer from exploding head syndrome, but the numbers are probably pretty negligible, since most of us aren't twitchy lunatics who never get any sleep. So, statistically speaking, if you think you're experiencing exploding head syndrome, it's probably more likely you're just being held prisoner in Guantanamo Bay. More details here.
Some are very disturbed by the logo that now graces the new U.S. Missile Defense Agency website. And by "some", of course, I mean "idiots". Not only is the logo a blatant ripoff of the venerable seal of the LEGO Space Agency, but it's also rather O-shaped. I don't know if you realized, but President Obama's campaign logo was also O-shaped. Even more damning, his surname begins with an O. But that's just the tip of the rabbit hole, people, because the MDA logo also bears a striking resemblance to a Muslim star and crescent. Now, it's true that when viewed in semi-shadow, the earth itself appears crescent-shaped. And it's also true that the earth is almost never seen against anything other than a starry backdrop. But let me remind you that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is also...NOT a Muslim. Sometimes there are so many dots, you can't help but connect them. Of course, the government is seeking to downplay the truth by pointing out that this logo was used before Obama's presidential campaign even began. But that's just a smokescreen. And you know who uses smokescreens? That's right. James Bond. Who previously battled whom? Communists. Checkmate. More details here.
As an avowed chubby chaser, I appreciate curves, especially on a woman. Extra weight usually serves only to enhance the uniquely feminine form, which I find aesthetically pleasing. However, it's important not to place fatness on too high a pedestal. If you're too big, you might endanger your own health, and there's nothing sexy about that. And if you think you might need to lose a few pounds, that's not always a bad idea. Most importantly, though, no matter how much lovable junk you have in your trunk, don't expect it to stop a bullet. But that's just the lesson a 35-year-old Florida woman took away after being accidentally shot in an Atlantic City bar by an unknown gunman. Luckily, she survived. Unfortunately, she now believes her love handles are what saved her life. "I want to be as big as I can if it's going to stop a bullet," she told reporters. Here's the thing: It may be true that her surplus flesh slowed this stray bullet down and kept her from receiving a mortal wound. But the sad fact is that the bigger you are, the harder you are to miss. More details here.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
CBS News has been investigating Feed the Children, the Christian charity that tries to guilt you with TV ads showing fly-ridden hovels while you're watching Dancing with the Stars. Seems like there's a difference of opinion between Rev. Larry Jones, the charity's founder and spokesman, and the Board of Directors, led by Jones' daughter Larri Sue. Jones claims Larri Sue used charity money to pay for her lavish Los Angeles home and tried to cover up her own tax evasion. The Board and Larri Sue claim Jones and his wife are the real thieving liars, skimming money off the top of donations for themselves and bugging executive offices. Jones fired his daughter from the charity and all Board members who opposed him. A court ruling reinstated all of them, then Larri Sue fired her father. Then the Board claimed to find incest porn in Jones' office. Then Jones' claimed Board members sent around racist and sexually charged emails! And while all this is going down, there are serious questions as to whether or not Feed the Children is doing any charity work at all in Haiti, which it has claimed to be doing since the recent earthquake. But really, all my attention is focused on the incest porn v. racist emails conundrum. Assuming there's no kiddie stuff involved, is it worse to be into some family roleplaying or to be a dirty racist prick? I'd say the latter. But then again, I don't know from Christian morality. More details here.
You expect insanity out of certain state legislatures. The capitol buildings in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina are full of the kinds of people who have rapture wills, for example. Who knew Arizona would elbow its way onto that list? Not content with being known as the go-to destination for tacky turquoise jewelry and sweat lodge manslaughter, Arizona is trying to forge its own crown as the birther state. Nearly half of its state legislators (all Republicans) have approved a bill that would force presidential candidates to prove their place of birth to the state before being allowed on the ballot. This is because they're pretty sure Barack Obama's parents entered into a secret conspiracy with Hawaiian hospitals and newspapers to create the false impression that the President was born on U.S. soil. There's no evidence for this, of course, but there's also no evidence that Arizona is a place you'd ever want to visit, despite what its tourism board would have you believe. The bill's sponsor, State Rep. Judy Burges, says this is no different than an employer demanding to see a job applicant's birth certificate. But the thing is, almost no employers do that. And the ones that do are almost always baby footprint fetishists. More details here.
Engineers at UC San Diego's Machine Perception Laboratory have created this robot to simulate the motor skills and development of a human one-year-old. It can hold a bottle and stand up in a chair. Oh, and it also has a humorously large head. Well, it's either humorous or nightmare-inducing, depending on your previous history with robot babies. I lean toward the former, though it should be noted that I've never been murdered by an infant automaton. So, why make the thing's head that big? Because its face had to be large enough to house the twenty moving parts that it uses to create expressions. How would we know when robot babies finally learn to hate if we can't see their grimaces? We wouldn't. That's how. More details here.
Monday, February 15, 2010
In 1895, Hungarian baron Franz Nopcsa claimed to have discovered the bones of miniature dinosaurs on an island that was part of his family's estate in Transylvania. The world called him a dirty liar. Partly because no one had ever discovered dwarf dinosaurs before, but also because Hungarian barons are notoriously untrustworthy. Their fortunes almost always come from deceptive email schemes. But it turns out Nopcsa was telling the truth! A team of paleobiologists have discovered several species of dwarf dinosaurs on Hateg Island in Romania. Now, we're not talking dinosaurs so small they could fit in the palm of your hand or turn into a collectible trading sensation among Japanese schoolchildren. We're talking 16-19 foot versions of species similar to the Argentinosaurus, which grew up to 82 feet long in other environments. It's believed that this is more evidence for the "island theory" of evolution, which posits that island environments tend to drive small creatures to evolve larger and large creatures to evolve smaller. There's no concrete explanation for why this would be, but it's further supported by the fact that when the Skipper finally made it back to shore, he was at least three feet shorter than Gilligan. More details here.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
It's long been thought that life on earth began in the so-called "primordial soup", a liquid stew of organic compounds and water that was fermented by UV radiation to form the first cells, which eventually evolved into higher forms of life in the oceans. But a group of scientists writing in the journal "BioEssays" (this month's centerfold: Stanislav "Hot Knockers" Schilbachers, Ph.D.) are calling bullshit on all that soup business. Their primary argument is that the soup theory doesn't allow for enough energy to create the first cells. Their alternative? Life first evolved due to energy released by geothermal vents in deep-sea environments, which caused cells to form from certain gasses. Of course, no one will know for certain until we're able to replicate this early formation of life in the laboratory. But by that time, our creations will probably have murdered us after rapidly evolving Giger-esque, razor-sharp spines. Which will be a poetic end. An antidote to our self-destructive hubris. Fin. More details here.
Hey, this asshole's now been charged with manslaughter! Neat! More details here.
You may have heard that two people recently died in a sweat lodge operated by new age bullshitter James Arthur Ray, author of the bestselling "Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want". Ray's book and teachings have been featured on the "Oprah Winfrey Show", "Larry King Live", and in "The Secret". Like "The Secret", Ray claims in "Harmonic Wealth" that you can receive fame and fortune just by wishing hard enough. It's really that simple. Which seems especially odd considering Ray's fame and fortune has come from writing and selling books and charging up to $10,000 a pop for spiritual retreats. It was at one of these retreats outside of Sedona, Arizona where Ray crowded over fifty people who had just come off a long fast into a plastic-covered lodge, jacked up the heat, and killed two people. Nineteen others were sent to the hospital for burns, dehydration, breathing problems, and kidney failure. The police are looking into whether Ray and his company can be prosecuted for criminal negligence, but Ray says he's not sure he's to blame. He's so not sure, in fact, that he's hired his own independent investigators to look into the deaths. No word on whether these are the same investigators hired by O.J. Simpson to find his wife's real killers. And, curiously, no word yet from Oprah, who used her massive media presence (not a fat joke) to push Ray's nonsense on America. She's probably too busy wishing this never happened. James Arthur Ray, that miserable piece of shit, is probably doing the same. I'll let you know if it works. More details here.
A Chilean couple are packing up and moving, because they believe their house rests on land occupied by a gang of ghosts. The thing is, like all residents of the island of Chiloe, this couple's moving plans don't involve searching Craigslist for a nice new place with a hot tub and a walk-in closet; they're moving their whole house. It's a tradition started by Chiloe's early settlers, who were too poor to build new houses when they moved. So, they employed the help of the community to relocate entire buildings. Which, frankly, seems unfair to the ghosts. The couple claim their haunting has nothing to do with the house itself, only that the house exists on land claimed by this particular band of satin-jacketed spirits. That may be true, but I'd imagine these spirits have gotten pretty used to the house all the same. Considering most ghosts spend their time scooting chairs around and slamming cabinet doors, I can imagine how bored they'll be just moping around a patch of empty land. Idle hands are the devil's playthings. But when there's nothing for these hands to play with, I'm afraid these specters may resort to the favorite pastime of all disembodied spirits with nothing better to do: mercilessly strangling gophers. More details here.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
While President Obama is trying to end military discrimination against homosexuals by working with congress instead of, say, using his goddamn authority as commander-in-chief to tell the military to just fucking cut it out, a group of 26 congresspeople have petitioned the Boy Scouts of America to end their ban on gay members. For the dirty foreigners out there, Boy Scouts of America is a private organization devoted to teaching young boys how to sew badges, whittle little race cars, and pluck chiggers and weevils off their khaki shorts. All of this, of course, is in service to God, who not only loves a crisp khaki short but absolutely cannot abide queers. This petition was spurred by a recent case in Vermont, where a lesbian couple were forbidden to enter their 10-year-old son into the Scouts for fear they would "push their lifestyle on the boys". Seems a little harsh, especially considering how difficult it is to turn a young boy into a full-blown lesbian. Still, as a private organization, the Scouts are allowed to keep out whomever they please, which, in addition to homos, also usually includes socially well-adjusted children with better things to do than race captured beetles in the woods. More details here.
Crystals have long been determined by morons and ren faire enthusiasts to have all sorts of magical powers. Wear one on a leather thong around your neck, and you'll focus all cosmic energy into your ego chakra, imbuing you with an almost preternatural sense of self-importance and a soft spot for velvet paintings of unicorns. For decades now, Japanese video game developers have been using crystals as plot devices: mystical treasures that young, androgynous, amnesiac protagonists can chase after while casting lightning spells on imps. Now, science has caught up to the wonderful world of crystals. Researchers at Imperial College London and Harvard University have created a crystal that allows them to see the entire three-dimensional structure of an enzyme called integrase, which HIV uses to copy its genetic information into infected hosts. This will allow scientists to create more effective integrase-blocking HIV medications. Unfortunately, these crystals are too small to encase in a swirly pewter fitting and sell in a booth next to the roasted turkey leg stand at a renaissance faire. More details here. (And thanks to Brad for the link!)
A Turkish sheep has given birth to a dead calf with the face of a human being. The eyes, nose, and lips are remarkably anthropomorphic, though its ears are quite sheep-like. Sheepish? I don't know. Anyway, the locals are chalking this up to a mutation. A horrible, horrible mutation. "I’ve seen mutations with cows and sheep before. I’ve seen a one-eyed calf, a two-headed calf, a five-legged calf," said Erhan Elibol, the vet who delivered the calf via c-section. "But when I saw this youngster I could not believe my eyes." It's comforting to know most of us are beyond jumping to the most ridiculous conclusion here: that this calf was the product of a bottle of booze, a lonely shepherd, and some imminently grabbable wool haunches. But that wasn't the case way back in the dark ages of last September, when a similarly mutated goat was born in Zimbabwe. This one was alive for several hours before being murdered by frightened villagers. The local governor declared the goat an abominable man-beast created via evil bestiality. If only it were so easy. If having sex with an animal could create half human/half beast offspring, I'd be sexing me some eagles right about now. I want my boy to fly! More details here. (And thanks to Heidi for the link!)
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