Roundup – “Celebrity” Christmas

Line O’ the Day:

You go to a Cosi, and the fuckers give you one scoop of buffalo chicken in your sandwich for eight bucks. THEY ARE FUCKERS. I’d give anything to waltz into a Cosi my folks owned, grab the scoop, and start eating the chicken right out of the fucking hotel pan in full view of the customers. Nothing would make me feel more powerful, because I am a very small man.” – Big Daddy Drew, “Has The President Ever Had Anal?” [Deadspin XY]

Best of the Best:

Weekend Winner: 70 Football Schools Not Named Temple [Barry Petchesky on Deadspin]

And therein is the best argument against the BCS. The defense that “one team would still be left out” in a playoff is ludicrous. No one’s going to weep for the school that just misses out on an eight-team playoff, just as no one’s weeping for the school that just missed out on a 70-team bowl system. But TCU, or whoever the undefeateds happen to be each year that don’t make the BCS Title Game? That’s very different.  So I’m quite cool with Temple not making a bowl, and not just because last year I froze my dick off in DC just to watch them lose to a .500 UCLA team. I said it last night, but it bears repeating: if you live and die with Temple football, you likely killed yourself long ago.

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex [The Guardian]

In what may prove a particularly incendiary cable, US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll behind the official pieties of Saudi Arabian royalty.

Man Accidentally Shoots Self in Line at Mickey D’s [NBC Miami]

Ubeda was hospitalized Tuesday after he inadvertently shot himself in the leg as he was ordering breakfast at a McDonald’s in the Florida Keys.  Police said the 44-year-old from Tavernier didn’t realize he was shot, and left the fast food restaurant after the manager asked him to leave.

Report: Wikileaks cables show Texas company “helped pimp little boys to stoned Afghan cops” [The Houston Press via BoingBoing]

In the Houston Press, an extensive blog post untangling an alarming story from the state department cables: “another horrific taxpayer-funded sex scandal for DynCorp, the private security contractor tasked with training the Afghan police,” and apparent proof that the company procured male children for bacha bazi (“boy-play”) parties.

An Ex-General Drops a Bombshell: We Were Willing to Kill a U.S. Soldier to Start the Iraq War (VIDEO) [TV Squad]

General Shelton alleges that a cabinet member in the Clinton administration was willing to kill a U.S. pilot to provoke war with Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

WikiLeaks cable: Hollywood helping to stop the spread of terrorism [Yahoo!]

A cable dated May of 2009 states that American film and television programs are doing more to dissuade young Muslims from becoming jihadists than virtually anything else.

CNN Inexplicably Airs Dumb And Dumber Diarrhea Scene [Deadspin]

Right after a report on London student protests, there it was: Jeff Daniels loudly evacuating the contents of his bowels. Your move, FOX News.

H1N1 didn’t kill people. People killed people. [Nature Science via io9]

To be more specific, people’s immune response killed them. The virus was especially deadly to young and middle-aged adults because their immune systems were primed to kick into a fatal, antiviral overdrive.

Poisson’s Spot: The Greatest Burn in Physics [Multiple Sources via io9]

Poisson’s Spot is proof that even if you’re right about things, you can be humiliated forever. Find out why this physics concept has caused the name Siméon Poisson to live in infamy for almost 200 years.

White Guy Becomes Black Bank Robber With Super Realistic Hollywood Mask [Los Angeles Times via Gizmodo]

Last spring, a white Polish immigrant robbed several Ohio banks wearing a hyper-realistic Hollywood mask. To security cameras and witnesses, he looked like an undisguised black man. Which is why an innocent black guy was arrested for the crimes.

Is this the strangest, sexiest scientific paper ever written? [NCBI ROFL via io9]

If electrovaginogram isn’t the 2010 word of the year – hell, if it doesn’t become the official word of the 21st century – then there’s something deeply wrong with all of us.

Conan O’Brien’s list of DC superheroes that suck [Conan O’Brien via io9]

While on a tour of Warner Brother’s animation studios, Conan O’Brien took it upon himself to point out to the DC Comics animators which DC superheroes truly suck — with hilarious results. Sorry Bat Lash, Conan’s coming for you.

Nassim Taleb Imitates Kanye West [Eric Falkenstein on Falkenblog]

As to its flaws, it reminded me of one of my favorite aphorisms: “the man who early on regards himself as genius is lost.” He inverts the observation that geniuses are often misunderstood to the insight that misunderstood people are geniuses, and critics of such people are imbeciles who don’t even have the taste to appreciate genius. My criticisms are therefore consistent with him being right or wrong, but falsification is not symptomatic of punditry in general or Taleb in particular.

Ron Paul, Author of ‘End the Fed,’ to Lead Fed Panel [Bloomberg]

Representative Ron Paul, Texas Republican and author of “End the Fed,” will take control of the House subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.

Iran’s Women: Canaries in the Coal Mine [Azar Nafisi via The Huffington Post]

Perhaps most intolerable for the regime was the huge presence of youth, the children of the revolution. The main difference between this generation and their parents was that young people have been jailed, flogged and tortured or, in the case of the 23-year-old Neda Agha Soltan, murdered, for their desire for freedom. Another example among many is Shiva Nazar Ahari, now 26, who has been protesting against the regime since she was 17, whose story is told below.

As Juarez Falls [The Nation]

These are the desolate remains of Riberas del Bravo, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Ciudad Juárez. The city, opposite El Paso, Texas, is the fulcrum of the US-Mexico borderline and the kernel of the war that rages throughout Mexico. Some 28,000 people have been killed—many of them with perverse cruelty—since President Felipe Calderón mobilized the Mexican military in December 2006.

Social media shapes new investment strategy [USA Today]

That’s the idea behind “mirrored investing,” an invention that could be one of the most dramatic experiments in the world of online investing since the ability to place trades over the Internet shook up the brokerage industry more than a decade ago.

The Best, Most Deranged Story About Gwar You’ll Ever Read [J. Bennett on Decibel Magazine via Deadspin XY]

Don’t ask how it came to this. It’s a long and painful story. But the bottom line is this: It’s 2pm on a Thursday, and Decibel is in Richmond, VA, smoking crack behind a Dumpster with GWAR front-cretin Oderus Urungus. [ed note – it only gets more NSFW from there]

The Great Recession vs. The Great Depression [The Atlantic]

According to a trove of early Gallup surveys compiled by the Roper Center, Americans in the 1930s were not nearly as down on government as we are today. They wanted more, not less, from Washington in the way of services and protection from the private market. Incredibly, despite their much deeper recession, Americans were more optimistic than we are today.

Richard Holbrooke dies: Veteran U.S. diplomat brokered Dayton peace accords [Rajiv Chandrasekaran on The Washington Post]

He underwent a 21-hour operation that ended on Saturday to repair his aorta.  As Mr. Holbrooke was sedated for surgery, family members said, his final words were to his Pakistani surgeon: “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”

The physics experiment that will one day let you walk through walls [Physics World and Physics Review Letters via io9]

This isn’t a hologram or a projection. It’s not a way to trick the eye, or the way the brain processes images. It’s a way to manipulate incoming electromagnetic waves into not ‘seeing’ a gap in a physical barrier. That’s something new.

Cultural genome project mines Google Books for the secret history of humanity [Abundance Tapestry via io9]

The sheer scale of the enterprise is hard to imagine. This cultural genome is many thousands time larger than any previous corpus or database, including 4% of everything ever published. There’s a thousand times more letters in the cultural genome than there are DNA base pairs in the human genome. Writing the entire corpus out in a single line would reach to the Moon and back ten times over. It would take eighty years to read just the works from the year 2000, and that’s assuming you never stopped to eat, drink, or sleep.

Not Really “Made in China” [The Wall Street Journal]

Trade statistics in both countries consider the iPhone a Chinese export to the U.S., even though it is entirely designed and owned by a U.S. company, and is made largely of parts produced in several Asian and European countries. China’s contribution is the last step—assembling and shipping the phones.  So the entire $178.96 estimated wholesale cost of the shipped phone is credited to China, even though the value of the work performed by the Chinese workers at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. accounts for just 3.6%, or $6.50, of the total, the researchers calculated in a report published this month.

Detroit paramedics fear they’re losing the battle to save lives [The Detroit News via Yahoo!]

Smith made his way to a man slumped in a chair in the back of the center. After a few furious moments trying to resuscitate him, Smith’s eyes wandered up and settled on the victim’s face. “Uncle Alvin?” he asked.  “I was lost and bewildered,” Smith recalled. “It’s bad out here. Real bad.”

Rock Bottoms and Bach [The Wall Street Journal]

The ultimate list comes from Connie Hamzy, of Little Rock, Ark., immortalized in song as “Sweet Connie.” She not only recalls who got away, like Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner, who “became a Christian.” She also knows where she scored: e.g. Eddie Van Halen, “Suite 301 at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis.”

The Santa Claus of Christmas Songs [The Wall Street Journal]

What drives Mr. Gorodetsky most is his zeal for musical archeology—and evangelizing. “I’m not a musician. I don’t play an instrument. I can’t carry a tune. But I love music and I love sharing it,” he says. Longtime rocker Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band, who has known Mr. Gorodetsky more than 30 years, describes the impulse: “For people who are beyond obsessed about music, the need to share it is almost like an emergency medical assist—it’s your duty to turn the other person on. If you don’t, they’ll die.”

The Doctor’s Dog Will See You Now [The Wall Street Journal]

Research shows that a few minutes of stroking a pet dog decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, in both the human and the dog. It also increases prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that govern nurturing and security, as well as serotonin and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that boost mood. One study found that five minutes with a dog was as relaxing as a 20-minute break for hospital staffers.

Whimsical Remains:





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(so very wrong)

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A 75,000-year-old human settlement may lurk beneath the Persian Gulf Evidence is mounting that the first human civilization outside of Africa probably evolved in what is now the Persian Gulf. Recent discoveries suggest that we’re about to find a fairly advanced civilization sunk beneath the waters of the Gulf.

Archaeologist Jeffrey Rose has published a paper in Current Anthropology where he argues that we’ll find some of the earliest human civilizations on Earth in what was once a fertile basin fed by clear streams and lush with greenery.

According to Live Science:

The Gulf Oasis would have been a shallow inland basin exposed from about 75,000 years ago until 8,000 years ago, forming the southern tip of the Fertile Crescent, according to historical sea-level records.

And it would have been an ideal refuge from the harsh deserts surrounding it, with fresh water supplied by the Tigris, Euphrates, Karun and Wadi Baton Rivers, as well as by upwelling springs, Rose said. And during the last ice age when conditions were at their driest, this basin would’ve been at its largest.

Then, about 8,000 years ago, melting ice sheets eventually led to a wetter climate that flooded the Persian Gulf basin. That is also the time when we begin to find incredibly well-developed civilizations on the Gulf shoreline – civilizations that seem to have sprung fully-formed, with advanced seafaring technologies, out of nowhere. Unless, of course, they came from sunken cities hidden beneath the Gulf waters.

Live Science continues:

The most definitive evidence of these human camps in the Gulf comes from a new archaeological site called Jebel Faya 1 within the Gulf basin that was discovered four years ago. There, Hans-Peter Uerpmann of the University of Tubingen in Germany found three different Paleolithic settlements occurring from about 125,000 to 25,000 years ago. That and other archaeological sites, Rose said, indicate “that early human groups were living around the Gulf basin throughout the Late Pleistocene.”

We’ll need underwater archaeologists to examine the Gulf more thoroughly to be sure that Rose’s theory is correct,

via Live Science and Current Anthropology

Send an email to Annalee Newitz, the author of this post, at annalee@io9.com.


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