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Friday, May 27, 2011

In the News: May 27, 2011

I know I just had an ItN, but there were some good stories out there today.

Not quite news, but awesome nonetheless:

From the Time Capsule: Dominique Strauss-Kahn Meets Barack and Michelle Obama

"Some pictures say a thousand words. This one just says two: No Touching."

For more retrospectively awkward photos of DSK and world leaders check out our slideshow."
(link thanks to Matt)

Crazian Jumps Out The Window After Fiance Calls Off The Wedding
(Crazian- best contraction ever?)

"Devastated Li-Wan sat sobbing on a window ledge 80ft up in Changchun, eastern China, just hours after partner Wang Lu called off the big day. But as she jumped off the ledge to certain death, local care worker Guo Zhongfan managed to catch her and hold her dangling by the neck above the sheer drop. One eye witness said: “On the floor below there were more people trying to hold her up by her feet while he pulled her back inside by her long skirt."

(via Barstool)


Chinese Prisoners Forced to Virtually Farm Gold in Video Games
Worse than making license plates?

"Being a prisoner in China really seems like it would suck. Liu Dali, a (pseudonymous) former prisoner, was jailed for "illegally petitioning" the government about corruption, and sentenced to three years in a hard labor camp. During the day, according to The Guardian, he worked 12-hour shifts in a coal mine, and at night, he was forced to farm virtual gold online, which would be sold by the prison guards for a huge profit.

In games like World of Warcraft, gamers can virtually "farm gold", which essentially means playing in a tedious and repetitive way to score some in-game currency--it might mean fighting the same bad guy over and over again, or completing a small task a few thousand times. Players (or, in this case, slavedrivers) actually sell that virtual gold for real-life currency, usually to people in developed countries who want a better character but don't feel like arduously spending days leveling up, and would rather just pay for the stats. Apparently, the guards at Liu's prison realized that they could make even more money forcing prisoners to farm gold than by forcing them to perform manual labor. The 300 prisoners forced to farm gold could earn their guards up to $1,000 per day, not that the prisoners ever saw a single yuan of it.

On a more serious note:

In Shift, Russia Agrees to Try to Talk Qaddafi Into Leaving

I bet they bonded over their respective all-female guards/troop.

"President Dmitri A. Medvedev on Friday offered to leverage Russia’s relationships in Libya to try to persuade Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to leave power, an act of high-wire diplomacy that for the first time casts Russia as a central player in events unfolding in North Africa.

Mr. Medvedev’s announcement, which came a day after a 90-minute bilateral meeting with President Obama in France represents a pronounced shift in Russia’s tone on Libya. Russia’s criticism of NATO attacks had become increasingly tough over the last months, reviving a longstanding critique of American unilateralism that had quieted since Mr. Obama took office.

By attaching Russia’s prestige to the effort, Mr. Medvedev is taking a gamble. If Colonel Qaddafi could be convinced to leave, Russia would win international plaudits but would also bear some responsibility for guaranteeing his safety. If he cannot, Mr. Medvedev might find it more difficult to keep his distance from the military campaign, which is not popular in Russia.

Pope 'shuts down irregular monastery in Rome'
Bet this was a rockin' monastery... (and not so monastic)

You go girl!   Sister Nobili: former lap-dancer

"Pope Benedict XVI has shut down a famous monastery in Rome, Italian media reports say.

The Santa Croce in Gerusalemme church is being closed because of rumours of a lack of liturgical, financial and moral discipline, La Stampa reports.

It is understood the few remaining Cistercian monks will be transferred to other communities in Italy.

The basilica's abbot, a flamboyant former Milan fashion designer, was moved two years ago.

"One of the nuns at the monastery, Anna Nobili, a former lap-dancer, reportedly took part in dance performances with other nuns during religious ceremonies.

But the Vatican was reportedly not pleased by rumours that circulated about the behaviour of the monks.

"An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk," Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, is reported as telling the Guardian newspaper.

'Grandma Bandit' suspect dies in shootout
Gotta pay for her meds somehow...

"A robbery suspect nicknamed the "Grandma Bandit" died in a shootout Friday in Atlanta, authorities said.

Police had issued an arrest warrant on Thursday for the woman, 58-year-old Roxanne Taylor, charging her with three robberies.

The "Grandma Bandit" gained notoriety because of her age and signature robbing style -- approaching cashiers at Atlanta-area CVS and Rite-Aid pharmacies and demanding cash after producing a revolver from her purse.

"Taylor led police on a car chase that ended with a multicar accident off an interstate exit.

"When officers pursued to investigate the accident, they heard a shot ring out," Parish said. "The responding officers returned fire."

It was not immediately known whether Taylor's fatal gunshot wounds were self-inflicted or caused by police, Parish said.

The arrest warrant for Taylor said she had netted about $400 from the three holdups.

What Paddington tells us about German v British manners
Gotta love the Germans... Casual small talk = lying. They don't have time for that crap!

"There are Britons in Berlin who get taken aback by the directness of Germans. And there are Germans who get really annoyed when Britons (and Americans), in an effort to appear friendly, say things they don't really mean. Some Germans call this "lying".

So, what do the experts say on the matter?

Professor Juliane House, of the University of Hamburg, has studied groups of people interacting in controlled situations, watching with academic rigour how they behave as human guinea-pigs.

She found (or verified) that Germans really don't do small talk, those little phrases so familiar to the British about the weather or a person's general well-being, but which she describes as "empty verbiage".

In academic language, this is "phatic" conversation - it's not meant to convey hard information but to perform some social function, such as making people feel good.

The German language doesn't even have an expression for "small talk", she says. It is so alien that in the German translation of A Bear called Paddington - Paddington unser kleiner Baer - it was omitted.

So this exchange of small talk occurs in the English original: "'Hallo Mrs Bird,' said Judy. 'It's nice to see you again. How's the rheumatism?' 'Worse than it's ever been' began Mrs. Bird."

In the German edition, this passage is simply cut.

This Time Lapse Video of the Very Large Telescope At Work is the Coolest Thing You'll See Today
Maybe, maybe not; but it's still pretty sweet.

"There’s very little we can write to preface the imagery below, so we’ll just set the scene and get out of the way. The video below was captured by Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile’s Atacama Desert. And it might make you cry.

What makes this time lapse particularly amazing--because we’ve all seen plenty of time lapse videos of the night sky--is the four telescopes in the foreground. Watching these instruments work against a black background would be endlessly fascinating on its own. Unfortunately you won’t be able to pay them too much attention. Because damn, what a sky.


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