Saturday, May 22, 2010
The survey of 1,200 seven - to 14-year-olds, commissioned for children's charity World Vision, found that more than a quarter had not written a letter in the last year and 43% had not been sent one. But in the previous week alone, almost half had either sent or received an email, or a message on a social networking site. Boys were twice as likely as girls never to have never written a letter.
Child education expert Sue Palmer, the author of Toxic Childhood, said: "If children do not write or receive letters, they miss out on key developmental benefits. Handwritten letters are much more personal than electronic communication. By going to the trouble of physically committing words to paper, the writer shows their investment of time and effort in a relationship. That's why we tend to hang on to personal letters as keepsakes.
"The effort of writing is a very real one for a child. Painstakingly manoeuvring the pencil across the page, thinking of the best words to convey a message, struggling with spelling and punctuation. It is, however, an effort worth making, because it's only through practice that we become truly literate – and literacy is the hallmark of human civilisation." Half of 11-year olds were not sure how to lay out a letter and a third of 14-year olds weren't either. The traditional thank you letter was the most common reason for putting pen to paper, making up 70% of children's efforts. Only one in five wrote letters to friends
Friday, May 21, 2010
It’s been 30 years since the introduction of the arcade classic Pac-Man — a game that became an icon of the 1980s and succeeded in bringing videogames to new segments of players.
The game, created by a Japanese company called Namco, was originally titled Puck Man when it was released in Japan in May of 1980. But the name was changed to Pac Man for the U.S. introduction that fall. It became such a phenomenon that Pac-Man is now the most recognizable videogame character and is known by 94% of American consumers, beating out Mario of Super Mario Bros., which has 93% recognition.
Google is celebrating Pac-Man’s birthday by putting a version of the game on its home page.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
A computer algorithm capable of identifying sarcasm in written text has been developed by Israeli researchers. The novel formula could pave the way for more sophisticated communication between humans and computers – the Holy Grail of artificial intelligence.
Devised by computer scientists at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the algorithm has been programmed to recognise sarcasm in lengthy texts by analysing patterns of phrases and punctuation often used to indicate irony.
In tests on 66,000 product reviews posted on the Amazon shopping website, the algorithm had an impressive 77 per cent success rate in picking out sarcastic comments – arguably higher than some humans. The researchers "trained" the algorithm to recognise sarcasm by teaching it nearly 5,500 sentences from Amazon reviews that human volunteers had marked as either sarcastic or non-sarcastic.
The sarcastic phrases from the pool of Amazon reviews used for the research included "Great for insomniacs", "Are these iPods designed to die after two years?" and "Defective by design". From its learned list of sarcastic phrases, the algorithm was taught to recognise patterns of words commonly used by writers to show that they do not mean to be taken literally.
This is not good news for someone like me.
You can read all of the science here.
Someone has finally come up with a way to keep New Yorkers from being driven mad by slow-moving tourists who get in their way -- dividing the sidewalk into separate lanes for residents and out-of-towners.
A white line mysteriously showed up in the center of the Fifth Avenue sidewalk between East 22nd and 23rd streets.
One side -- clearly the fast lane -- is marked "New Yorkers."
And camera-toting out-of-towners can amble along in the "Tourists" lane without being trampled when they stop to take pictures of the big buildings.
So when are the wheelchair and walker lanes put in?
UPDATE: It’s a joke. This sidewalk designation was put here by an anonymous street artist.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
A Boulder County psychic has been arrested and charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers.
Police said Nancy Marks, 54, who went by several aliases, threatened her victims, saying that if they told anyone, bad things would happen to them.
Marks ran a psychic business out of Lafayette. Police said she convinced clients that certain numbers were bad and they needed to give her their credit card and bank account numbers. Investigators say she also convinced customers to give her large amounts of money so she could cleanse it of evil spirits.
As the saying goes "a fool and his money are easily parted".
Chicopee Police Sgt. Christopher Lareau told 22News, 24-year-old Matthew Brace allegedly offered the 3-month-old girl to a maintenance man working outside in exchange for two 40-ounce beers. The infant's mother, 31-year-old Wendy Arsenault, was inside the Pride store at the time.
The maintenance man called police who found the couple at the nearby Econo Lodge where they are living on public assistance. The infant girl was placed in the state's custody.
Brace was not arrested, but he was summoned to court on charges of reckless endangerment of a child. Sgt. Lareau said Arsenault was not involved in the crime.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Conservative political commentator Debbie Schlussel considers herself to be an expert on Islamic terrorist and claims that Miss USA, Rima Fakih, was supported by terrorists.
She claims that Fakih’s many relatives are top Hezbollah terrorists and some have “martyred” themselves against Israel. She won the Miss Michigan USA pageant on September 19, 2009, and the Miss USA pageant this past Sunday. Fakih was born in Srifa, Lebanon in 1986, to a prominent Shi'a Muslim family and moved to New York with her family in 1993. Fakih is the first Arab American, the first woman of the Muslim faith, and the first immigrant to win the Miss USA title.
Schlussel claims Fakih is a supporter of Hezbollah and used the pageant name at a forum promoting Islamic subjugation of women. So you are wondering how could a devout Muslim woman be parading around at a pageant in a bikini? Well Schlussel will tell you that Fakih is a Muslim activist and propagandist extraordinaire. In other words she will stoop to anything to further her terrorist goals - even wear a bikini. And let's not forget pole dancing in radio show contest 3 years ago (below).
Rima Fakih may seem like an ordinary assimilated immigrant who is trying to dispel a stereotype of Muslim woman but she is really living in America in order to destroy it from within. Debbie Schlussel isn't being fooled.
An employee at Marc Jacobs' SoHo store intercepted a delivery of cocaine; she called the cops because she thought it was anthrax. It can be hard to tell the difference between drug dealers and terrorists. The NYPD took Marc Jacobs' poor, naive shopgirl in for questioning, but did not charge her, probably because anyone who works in the fashion industry and hasn't yet learned to recognize a shipment of nose candy is too dumb to be involved in a drug buy.
Monday, May 17, 2010
For the first time in 40 years, Heinz ketchup is changing its famous recipe -- by lowering the salt content in an effort to appeal to more health-conscious consumers, the company said yesterday.
Company officials have taste tested the new blend and believe it will be as popular as their old recipe, which has a 60 percent share of the ketchup market.
But Heinz fans fear that the company may be messing with perfection and that the switch could wind up a flavor debacle equal to the infamous rollout of New Coke.
The new Heinz ketchup recipe will contain about 15 percent less sodium, dropping the amount per tablespoon from 190 to 160 milligrams. Heinz will also make changes to the secret spices.
A Toronto woman whose husband left her after discovering that she had been having an affair is putting the blame squarely where it belongs: With her cellphone service provider, Rogers Wireless.
Rogers sent one “global” invoice to the home she shared with her husband, in which he discovered she had been making hours-long calls to one number; from there, he called the number, spoke to the “third party” with whom she had been having the affair, and walked out.
“I lost everything,” she says. “I want others to know what a big corporation has done. I trusted Rogers with my personal information. We had a contract — and agreement that put my life right in their hands.”How much should the evil corporation, whose fault all of this is, cough up? $600,000, according to the woman behind the suit.
In a statement of defence, Rogers denies it terminated the contract and says the company “cannot be held responsible for the condition of the marriage, for the plaintiff’s affair and consequential marriage break-up, nor the effects the break-up has had on her.
Hey if you can sue tobacco companies then why not Rogers? Wouldn't be nice to a sue third party every time you got caught being bad? You get caught doing 160 on the 401, sue Toyota for making a car that goes that fast. You get caught on video sneaking into the subway without paying, sue the TTC for invasion of privacy.
Today Jose Bautista was named AL Player of the Week after hitting .444 (8-for-18) with 20 total bases, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 8 R, .565 OBP, and an MLB-best 1.111 SLG. That is incredible considering he appeared to be no better than a utility player since coming to the Blue Jays in 2008 (for Robinzon Diaz who ever he is). Then something seemed to happen to him late last season. He hit 10 homeruns in the month of September and has continued to show power in 2010.
This is another Blue Jay sleeper pick up via J.P. Ricciardi.
Dedicated Jack Harris, 86, had been painstakingly piecing together the puzzle since 2002, when he was given the jigsaw as a Christmas present.
But when he put the last piece in place and stood back to admire his work, he was horrified to spot a tiny hole in the middle of his 'finished' jigsaw, where the missing piece should be.
The puzzled pensioner has searched his home in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, for the elusive piece but his family fear it has gone for good.
They have even asked the puzzle's manufacturer if they could provide a spare - but Mr Harris has taken so long to complete the jigsaw that Falcon Games has stopped making it.
Take away his belt and shoelaces and put this guy on suicide watch. I just hope he survives to complete another puzzle. I'm trying to figure out how he spent so long on this puzzle. He spent over 2,500 days to complete a 5,000 piece puzzle. Things really slow down when you're retired. Grandpa you got way too much time on your hands.
A 23-year-old man jumped from a moving vehicle on Thursday evening after his wife refused to "shut up," according to a Montgomery County Sheriff's Office report.
The report by Deputy Blake Neblett says the man, who was travelling with his wife and three children to Clarksville on Guthrie Highway, was arguing with his wife and told her to shut up.
When she refused, the man jumped from the moving vehicle.
The man sustained serious injuries and was flown by helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he is in critical but stable condition.
How many times have you thought about doing it? Just end it all quickly under the wheels of a tractor trailer on highway 401. It's not worth it. Plug in your iPod and just let her squawk away while you listen to AD/DC while you nod your head in agreement every three minutes.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
The product has been around since 1932. It was once marketed as something of a cure-all; at one time its ads even suggested taking it for "the blahs." The most effective content is ordinary aspirin. In 1951 the "Speedy" character was introduced to promote the theme of "Speedy Relief"
Did you ever wonder how Alka Seltzer worked? Though important to the overall effect of the medication, the aspirin does not contribute to the effervescent action of Alka-Seltzer; the effervescence is produced by the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid reacting to form sodium citrate and carbon dioxide gas.
|citric acid||-||baking soda||→||water||+||carbon dioxide||+||sodium citrate|
I remember a stunt by David Letterman in 1984 where he wore a suit covered in Alka Seltzer tablets and was lowered in a tank of water. When the stunt was rehearsed he was almost overcome by the carbon dioxide. So when the stunt went live on his show he had an oxygen tank with him.
"Unfortunately, many police departments in the commonwealth do not seem to be getting the message that swearing is not a crime," said Marieke Tuthill of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "The courts have repeatedly found that profanity, unlike obscenity, is protected speech." Obscenity, under the Supreme Court's definition, refers to speech that mainly appeals to the "prurient interest" in sex, according to the ACLU.
One lawsuit involves an unidentified woman in Luzerne County in northeast Pennsylvania who was given a citation which carries a maximum penalty of $300 and 90 days in jail after she yelled an offensive word at a motorcyclist who swerved close to her in October 2008. In a separate case a man was arrested, cited for disorderly conduct and briefly jailed after shouting a double expletive at a policeman who was writing him a parking ticket.
The two are among at least 750 people in Pennsylvania a year who face illegal disorderly conduct charges because of the use of profanity in Pennsylvania, the ACLU said. Citations for swearing have also been handed out in other states including Michigan and New York, according to the ACLU, which said it has successfully defended about a dozen people in profanity prosecutions. But the group added that there are more citations given out in Pennsylvania than other states. "Cops don't understand that there's a legal definition of obscenity and therefore issue citations for profanity," said Sara Mullen, a spokeswoman for the ACLU.