Saturday, February 25, 2012

On the lighter side.... 2/25/12

Good week/bad week

Good week for...

Austin Smith, 15, of Michigan, who saved his grandfather’s life by lifting a 2,000-pound Buick a foot off the ground after the car slipped off cinder blocks and trapped the older man underneath. The teen attributed his amazing burst of strength to “all the adrenaline.”

Liking it hot, after New Mexico State University scientists identified the world’s hottest pepper: the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. On a scale of hotness, it rates at 1.2 million Scoville units, compared with 5,000 for a jalapeƱo.

Having a knack with freeze-dried creamed chicken, after NASA announced it was seeking volunteers to serve as chefs during a simulated, four-month mission to Mars on a Hawaiian lava flow. Applicants will be asked to whip up tasty meals from space-appropriate packaged supplies, while wearing spacesuits.

Bad week for...

Rhode trips, after Vice President Joe Biden’s office released a schedule showing him visiting Providence, “Road Island.”

Impatience, after a San Francisco man decided to swerve around a lane of cars that had come to a standstill, and drove his Porsche 911 into a lane of freshly poured cement. The car sank about a foot and got stuck.

Stoners, after a Florida teenager was charged with crawling into a window to steal what he thought was a marijuana plant. “You stupid little brat, it’s a tomato plant,” the plant’s owner called out as she chased him down the street.

The Week Magazine

Not all bad news this week 2/25/12

When Michael Rorrer found a stash of comic books in his great-uncle’s Virginia home after his death, the 31-year-old thought they were “cool”—but he soon discovered that some of them were among the rarest issues ever published. The collection, which fetched about $3.5 million at auction this week, includes Action Comics No. 1 (1938), which introduced the world to Superman, and Detective Comics No. 27 (1939), which marked the first appearance of Batman. “The scope of this collection is, from a historian’s perspective, dizzying,” said comics publisher J.C. Vaughn.

Builders in France literally struck gold last week, uncovering a fortune as they tore down a derelict outbuilding at a 19th-century winery in the Champagne region. When the workers broke through the plaster ceiling of the dilapidated building with their crowbars, they were showered with a cascade of golden coins. The 497 pieces of gold, worth around $1 million, are thought to be the proceeds of illicit trading with U.S. customers during Prohibition. The winemakers who own the building say they will share proceeds from the haul with the construction team.

Two Iraq War veterans are cycling 4,163 miles across the U.S. to raise awareness of the hard times many fellow soldiers face once they return home. Jeremy Staat and Wesley Barrientos have already set off from the Wall of Valor in Bakersfield, Calif., and hope to reach the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in less than 100 days. Barrientos, a double amputee injured in a roadside bomb in 2007, will complete the journey on a hand-cranked bicycle. The object of the ride, he said, is to highlight the rise in suicides among U.S. veterans. “We’re not getting the treatment that we need once we get home,” he said.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Internet... Manage your digital identity

Clean house. The Googles of the world are getting more aggressive about using your Web history to create a consumer profile of you, so make it your business to limit what they can learn. Start “dusting off your digital life” by deleting any profiles you created at sites you no longer use—like MySpace, perhaps.

Organize your passwords. Keep a running list of the sites that do know you by storing all your active passwords with LastPass​.com, a browser add-on that’s mostly used for streamlined sign-ins. Your passwords should be safe with the firm because “security is its business.”

Stalk yourself. Go to to get alerts when new information goes online citing your name, nickname, or business. Use to get a better handle on the information that’s already out there.
Source: The Washington Post

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cool info about the Oscars

A night at the Oscars

The world’s biggest awards ceremony, which will take place this year on Feb. 26, has a history of playing it safe.

When did the Oscars begin?

The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in May 1929, over dinner at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel. It was attended by 270 people, including some who paid a $5 fee as guests of those with invitations, and was hosted by silent-movie actor Douglas Fairbanks, who handed out the awards in just a few minutes. The 15 winners had been disclosed three months earlier, and the very first Oscar—a 13-inch-tall gold-plated statuette designed by MGM’s art director, Cedric Gibbons—had already been presented to German actor Emil Jannings, who had sailed to Europe a few weeks before. The silent-movie star was actually the runner-up in the leading-actor category. Celebrity dog Rin Tin Tin had picked up more votes, but was denied the award by an embarrassed academy.

How did the Oscar get its name?

Legend has it that a librarian at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the prizes, took a peek at a statuette and said, “Gee! He looks just like my Uncle Oscar.” The name stuck, and so did the “Little Man,” which remains the single most prized award in the movie business. And this year’s 84th Oscar ceremony will be much like the previous 83, with studio bosses, actors, directors, sound editors, and makeup artists doing their utmost to be called up on stage. Their fate rests on the votes of the Academy’s members, whose numbers have climbed from 36 in 1927 to 5,783 today.

How do you become a member?

You’re either invited to join after being nominated for an Oscar, or you’re elected by at least two other members for your services to the film industry. Members join for life, making the Academy a large and unwieldy band: Among those in this select club are anonymous insiders, major Hollywood players like Steven Spielberg, and the occasional outlier, like Mother Dolores Hart, a 73-year-old Benedictine nun who appeared opposite Elvis Presley in 1957’s Loving You.

How does the Academy vote?

It has used the same Byzantine voting system since 1936. In stage one—choosing the nominees—members of the Academy’s 15 branches vote in their own fields. So directors vote for Best Director, cinematographers for Best Cinematography, and so on, with each voter naming five choices in order of preference. (Everyone gets to nominate for Best Picture). Using a complex system to weight the votes, auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers then tabulates the results and determines the top five nominees in each category—or the top nine, in the case of Best Picture. Stage two—choosing the winner—is simpler. All members are allowed to vote in each category, and the nominee with the most ballots wins the statuette.

What’s wrong with the system?

Not only is it confusing even to the members of the Academy, it produces some very puzzling results. The movie industry’s most prestigious honor somehow managed to elude Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Burton, Cary Grant, and Greta Garbo. Academy voters chose How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane in 1942, and Rocky ahead of Taxi Driver in 1977. Critics of the Oscars say the Academy’s voters routinely discriminate against certain genres—comedies, science fiction, and Westerns—and shrink from any kind of controversy and “brave” filmmaking, instead favoring strong, crowd-pleasing story lines. Popularity, in other words, often trumps art.

How is the system to blame?

The biggest problem is that the average Academy member is 57, white, male, and looking for his next Hollywood project. Only a minority, some 1,500, are actors or directors. The rest are the producers, set builders, visual-effects specialists, sound guys, and PR execs that make the industry tick. They’re known as the “steak eaters,” because they’re mostly red-blooded males, and when it comes to the decisive second round of voting, they are by far the Academy’s largest voting bloc. “Call it the steak-eater vote, call it the old-geezer vote, call it the babe vote. They always vote for the babes,” says Jeffrey Wells, who runs Steak eaters are not big fans of films with gay or foreign themes, like Brokeback Mountain or Munich, and in any given year, about 700 of them will be associated with an Oscar-nominated film, quietly lobbying their peers on its behalf.

Does winning matter?

You bet. In crude financial terms, winning an Oscar, or even being nominated, can have a huge effect on a film’s success. U.S. ticket sales for Slumdog Millionaire jumped more than 200 percent when it was nominated, in 2009. Studies have shown that nominations alone can extend a film’s presence in cinemas for weeks. At the real business end of Hollywood, however, Oscars are a bonus but don’t massively boost the grosses of box-office smashes. Of the top 50 grossing films of all time, just three have won Best Picture: Titanic, Forrest Gump, and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

How to win an Oscar

When it comes to winning an Academy Award, it pays to be a drama queen. A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, and Harvard University found that performers who appear in a drama rather than a comedy are nine times more likely to be nominated for an award. And actresses are twice as likely to be nominated as their male co-stars. “Because there are fewer female than male performers in films, and both are eligible for the same number of awards, actresses stand a better chance,” said sociologist Nicole Esparza. “It’s simple arithmetic.” Perversely, not showing up at the ceremony—a sure sign that you’re an established megastar—can also improve your chances. Marlon Brando didn’t pick up his Oscar for The Godfather in 1973. Paul Newman turned down an invite in 1987, convinced he wouldn’t win on his seventh attempt. And when Woody Allen’s Annie Hall won Best Picture in 1978, he was already tucked into bed in New York, having unplugged the phone and soothed himself to sleep by reading Conversations With Carl Jung.

– Sent from The Week iPad edition –
All You Need To Know About Everything That Matters


‘Personhood’ bill advances

Richmond, Va.

Virginia took a step this week toward becoming the first state to define a fertilized egg as a human being, when a Republican supermajority in the House of Delegates easily passed a controversial “personhood” bill. Delegate Robert Marshall’s House Bill 1 passed by a 66–32 vote and will now move to the Senate, where a conservative majority is expected to pass it as well. The bill, which would all but outlaw abortion by declaring that the legal rights of personhood apply from the moment sperm and egg unite, will be sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell, a conservative Republican and a Roman Catholic. McDonnell has not declared his position on the bill, but pro-choice advocates fear his decision. “The General Assembly is dangerously close to making Virginia the first state in the country to grant personhood rights to fertilized eggs,” said Tarina Keene of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.

Good Week-Bad Week

Good week for...

Facebook backlashes, after Tommy Jordan of Albemarle, N.C., read his teenage daughter’s expletive-ridden I-hate-my-parents Facebook rant, took his daughter’s laptop outside, and shot it nine times. The YouTube video of the laptop’s destruction generated 24 million views and an outpouring of parental support.

Retroactive justice, after a witchcraft trial held in Germany in 1627 was reopened so that city councilmen could clear defendant Katharina Henot, who was burned at the stake.

Bribery, after Dohn Community High School in Cincinnati began paying students to come to class. “Our student population is 90 percent poverty,” said school official Ken Furrier. “Money is important to them.”

Bad week for...

Classical beauty, after Italian artist Anna Utopia Giordano photoshopped famous Renaissance paintings such as The Birth of Venus to give the women thinner thighs and tummies, and larger, perkier breasts. Giordano’s point: Standards of beauty change.

Democracy, after a Pew Research Center study found that 1.8 million dead people are still registered to vote in various states, and 2.75 million people are registered to vote in more than one state. Another 51 million aren’t registered and can’t vote.

Congress, after a new Rasmussen poll found that 43 percent of Americans would rather have Congress run by a random selection of people from the phone book than by the current elected legislators. Only 5 percent think Congress is doing a good job.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

On the lighter side....-test

Good week/bad week

A dejected Brady
Good week for...

Knowing your place, after Roy and Dorothy Fleming of Brookfield, Wis., celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary. “He knows who’s boss. That’s how we got along,” said Dorothy, 95. “Whatever she says is right,” agreed Roy, 100.

David Choe, a graffiti artist who in 2005 chose to take Facebook shares, rather than his usual fee, for painting murals at Facebook’s former headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. Now that Facebook is going public, those shares may soon be worth $200 million.

“Bradying,” a new Internet craze that is a variation on “Tebowing.” People who “Brady” sit with legs stretched out, head down—just like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s dejected on-field posture after his team lost the Super Bowl.

Bad week for...

Family traditions, after a Pennsylvania man drove to a police station to pick up a son just charged with drunk driving. Police determined that the father was drunk, and charged him with DUI.

Miami, after it was rated the most miserable city in the U.S. by Forbes magazine, beating poverty-stricken Detroit. The magazine cited Miami’s crippling foreclosure crisis, unemployment problem, high crime rate, taxes, and choked commuter roads.

Living your dreams, after John C. Hughes of Butte, Mont., led police on a wild, 100-mph chase that ended only when police blew out his tires. When asked why he baited cops into chasing him, Hughes—who was sober and had committed no crime—responded, “I just always wanted to do that.”
THE WEEK18 February 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Getting Started

Well, I'm off facebook so I decided to start a blog.  Here is the reason why.

I'm out here now, so come and enjoy!