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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In the News: March 22, 2011

A few more stories of interest.

Tragic toddler weighs nine stone
For non-Brits, 1 stone = 14 lbs; 9 stone = 126 lbs.
And they try to make fun of use for using English units...

"THE desperate parents of a NINE STONE three-year-old have told how they can't make the giant toddler diet because they are scared of him.

Lu Hao, from China, is dangerously overweight, and at 9st 6lb is FIVE TIMES as heavy as other boys his age.

He is getting so big his family are frightened of him — and have given up trying to stop the youngster from gorging on huge plates of ribs and rice.

His parents claim he throws vicious tantrums if he doesn't get third or fourth helpings of dinner.
[Uh... Parents? How about you do some parenting...]

"And mum Chen Huan from Dashan, Guangdong Province, admits: "We have to let him be as if we don't feed him he will cry nonstop.""

"He has already been banned from nursery over fears his size might be a danger to other children, and usually plays alone at home.
(The Sun via Barstool)

Iran Announces Launch Of Its Unmanned Flying Saucer

Hahaha, Ohhhh-kay Iran, whatever you say...

"This photo accompanies an actual news release from an actual Iranian news service, which claims the Islamic Republic has built a flying saucer.

Of course, it’s possible Iran’s news agency chose to illustrate their announcement with a screen shot from a 1950s B movie. But the Fars News Service does not explain the photo’s origin, simply stating that the flying saucer was unveiled in a special ceremony.

The ship is called Zohal — Saturn in Persian — and is designed for aerial imaging. Zohal has a data downlink and can fly in both indoor and outdoor spaces, according to the Fars News Service. The Daily Mail points out that Fars is a hard-line state-run news service. But with this photo, we can’t help but think of the homophone farce instead.

From the news release: “The flying machine is equipped with an auto-pilot system, GPS (Global Positioning System) and two separate imaging systems with full HD 10 mega-pixel picture quality and is able to take and send images simultaneously.”


Another crazy video of the Japanese tsunami:

Japan earthquake: Moment tsunami hit Miyako City
I know it sounds a little heartless, but as news of the earthquake/tsunami was unfolding I thought to myself: "Japan is one of the most camera-happy places on earth, there are going to be some crazy/awesome videos coming out in the coming days".

(You'll need to click to watch, BBC has sharing and does not enable embedding).

And naturally the devout wonder how a godless place like Japan could ever cope with such a tragedy without turning to a higher power...

Finding faith amid disaster

"Around the world, people are still struggling to come to terms with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which have left more than 8,000 dead, thousands more missing and hundreds of thousand others homeless. The threat of a nuclear crisis only adds to the uncertainty.

In times like these, many people find comfort in their faith. But disasters can also challenge long-held beliefs. The CNN Belief Blog asked some prominent voices with different views on religion how they make sense of such suffering, where they see inspiration amid destruction and how they respond to people who wonder, “How could God let this happen?”
(Follow the link to read the responses of religious figures)

And here is Sam Harris':
"As we contemplate the great number of people who have died in this tragedy, we may feel very strongly that we ourselves, in some part or manner, also have died.

The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.

An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what’s most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: We can live in such a way that they can feel they are continuing to live in us, more mindfully, more profoundly, more beautifully, tasting every minute of life available to us, for them.

Sam Harris, author of books including “The End of Faith,” and co-founder and CEO of Project Reason, dedicated to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values

But have faith...
Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Believe in His Noodley Appendage!

"A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.
[Side note: Ireland???]

""The idea is pretty simple," said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona.

"It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility.

"For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of [the dying language] Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there's some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not."

Dr Wiener continued: "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%."

How NASA Recovers Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters
Following their video of Discovery's launch, NASA posted this cool video on how they recover the solid rocket boosters:

After they’re done getting a space shuttle into the upper atmosphere, the solid rocket boosters drop off and fall into the ocean. They’re recovered by the NASA vessels Liberty Star and Freedom Star and refurbished for additional use. This video shows how it’s done. It’s rather long, so let me point out some highlights:

0:28 — Dolphins!
1:41 — Liberty Star arrives at the location of a rocket.
2:30 — Divers attach towing rig to the rocket.
3:20 — Liberty Star begins towing the rocket.
5:00 — Freedom Star gets underway.
5:45 — Freedom Star crew watches shuttle liftoff.
6:25 — Freedom Star arrives at the location of the other rocket.
7:40 — Rocket flops over in the water.
8:05 — Freedom Star enters the harbor.
(via Neatorama)

Woman, 92, Denied Kiss Fires Shots
By far, the story of the day.

"Police said 53-year-old Dwight Bettner told neighbor Helen Staudinger, 92, to leave his home. She said she would only leave if he kissed her, but left angry when the man refused, telling her "get your [expletive] out my house."

"She appeared to have the impression that there was a relationship between them," police said in an arrest report.

The man told police investigators that he was talking on the phone in his bedroom when Staudinger fired the first in a series of shots from a handgun.

"The defendant said she came home, got her gun, and went back to shoot his car that he loved so much," the police report said.

Police said Staudinger fired from her property and aimed at the victim's carport, but hit the house four times instead.

The man said that despite him telling Staudinger that he is in a relationship, she insists he is "supposed to be her man."
(via Barstool)

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