Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Donated Organ Saved from UK Plane Crash [via ABC News]

A liver en route for transplant survived a central England plane crash and was rushed to the nearby hospital, where it was successfully transplanted. The jet carrying the liver was landing in Birmingham when it clipped an antennae and crashed at the airport there. Two crew members were injured, but the organ was fished from the wreckage and enjoyed a police escort to the hospital.

A Crack in the Code Kryptos Is Keeping [via The New York Times]

An iron sculpture gracing the grounds of the Central Intelligence Agency, adorned in coded language, has puzzled cryptologists for two decades. Although much of the sculpture’s message has been successfully decoded, the final section remains a mystery, and sculptor Jim Sandborn is growing tired of waiting for someone to figure it out. To that end, he released to the Times part of the final section’s answer, translating the word “Berlin.” “I can’t do this for many more decades, O.K.?” Mr. Sanborn said. “I’m 65 now. They might get some more clues at 75. But 85?”

1,000 mph car project ‘on track’ [via the BBC]

A project working to construct a car capable of breaking 1,000 miles per hour is on track for 2012 completion and competition, project leaders say. Construction of the car itself is expected to begin in January, and a track specifically designed for the car is being built in South Africa; loose stones must be cleared as even a small pebble could cause serious damage at such high velocity. The current land speed record is 763 miles per hour, set in 1997.

Thanksgiving is this week, and with it comes myriad rich foods and starchy sides. These honey roasted sweet potatoes, however, remain light and almost fluffy while tasting strongly of honey. Even better, it’s simple to throw together and doesn’t take much attention while baking, making an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving.

 

3 red-skinned sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and put in a 9×13 dish. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, and bake, covered with tin foil, for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender. Stir after half an hour. Yeilds six servings.

Australian twins had suicide pact at shooting range [via The Denver Post]

In an update on Wednesday’s story about the twin shooting victims in Colorado, police have announced they believe the women had created a suicide pact with one another because one was to be deported back to Australia. They each put a .22-caliber pistol to the other’s head and fired at the same time; one twin, however, survived and is in serious but stable condition. According to an American cousin the two women often traveled to the U.S. but rarely kept family up-to-date on their whereabouts.

The Ultimate Guinness Record is the Record for Records [via The Wall Street Journal]

Since 1979, when he broke the world record for jumping jacks by performing the exercise 27,000 times, New Yorker Ashrita Furman has broken 312 different Guinness records, the world record for number of world records held, and he still holds 120 of the titles. Furman has also clapped his hands for 50 hours, hopped a mile on a pogo stick in 17 minutes, 45 seconds, somersaulted 12 straight miles, cut 27 apples midair with a samurai sword in one minute, spun a 14 foot, 6 inch hula hoop three rotations and constructed a 6,500-pound lollipop. “I want to inspire people,” Furman said. “If you have a dream, you can achieve your dream. I’m living my dream.”

Getting to the heart of restaurant safety [via Business Insurance]

Arturo Carvajal, a Miami doctor, is suing a restaurant there for allowing him to eat an entire grilled artichoke and not informing him the out leaves of the vegetable are inedible. Carvajal subsequently experienced “severe abdominal pain and discomfort” and a procedure found artichoke leaves lodged in his bowel. He is suing the restaurant chain for not warning him about the artichoke in what the chain’s legal counsel called a “silly notion.” “What’s next?” the lawyer asked. “Are we going to have to post warnings on our menu they shouldn’t eat the bones in our barbeque ribs?”

Scientists briefly trap a form of antimatter [via The Los Angeles Times]

Physicists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, have confirmed that they successfully trapped 38 particles of antihydrogen for two-tenths of a second. The achievement is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, although the amount stored wouldn’t provide enough energy to power a light bulb for more than half a nanosecond. The process involves cooling the antihydrogen to a half a degree abolve absolute zero and containing the atoms in a “magnetic bowl” suspended in a vacuum, briefly preventing the antimatter from touching matter and annihilating. Fine-tuning the process may allow scientists to create far more antimatter and examine why the universe appears to contain only matter.

Roman settlement found on historic estate [via The Independent]

Archaeologists excavating the site of a future west London hotel have discovered more than 11,000 artifacts from an ancient Roman settlement just half a meter below the surface. Among the 2,000-year-old finds are myriad pottery shards, coins, human remains and a road. “The archaeology at Syon Park has given us a valuable, rare insight into the daily life of an agricultural village on the outskirts of Londinium (London) that would have supplied the Roman city and provided shelter for travellers passing through,” archaeologist Jo Lyon said. “It helps us build a picture of the Roman landscape and shows how the busy metropolis of Londinium connected with the rest of Roman Britain.”

Russian woman calls in fake bomb threat to prevent daughter’s marriage [via CNN]

According to officials a Russian woman hoping to stop her daughter from marrying in Morocco told police her daughter was planning to blow up the plane. The daughter was questioned and cleared for the flight, which left late after officials determined there was no threat. The mother was arrested for making a terror threat after the call was traced to her.

Welcome to the Convo, where ACG Blog contributors get together for discussion and analysis. Today’s topic is last night’s episode of “Glee,” “The Substitute.”

●○●○●○●

Last night’s episode of “Glee” was riddled with problems and came out as the worst episode since the Britney fiasco. But then, after a string of great episodes I suppose the narrative had to come down at some point. Terri and her poorly-written character coming back is always trouble. Yet again we had Sue rapidly and unbelievable promoted beyond her purview. But perhaps the greatest folly was making Gwyneth Paltrow the centerpiece; after all, to save glee club from dated songs they chose a mid-to-late-’90s actress with limited singing experience? The whole thing felt like a plug for her new movie, “Country Strong,” which coincidentally aired several commercials throughout the hour.

It all begins with an illness, which as any teacher knows runs rampant through claustrophobic and unhygienic student populations. Sue finally got to employ germ warfare by strategically aiming infected sneezes at Figgins, one of the funniest scenes of the night. Schue also catches the flu, which he only admits once he turns around and sees glee babies! I have to admit, this is possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and if you thought the same you absolutely must watch the following behind-the-scenes video. It is positively adorable.

Okay, take a minute to bask in the cuteness, then it’s back to the episode. Actually, so far so good, though we’re only a few minutes in. It kind of starts to go downhill from here. With Schue gone Kurt convinces substitute Holly Holiday—only a double entendre away from being a Bond girl—to also take over glee club to stop bossy Rachel. Holly gives the club essentially free reign to choose their songs, and Puck suggests “that new Cee Lo song,” since of course they can’t say “Fuck You!” on the air. Instead they perform a high-powered if watered-down version called “Forget You!” Ironically, in an attempt to give the glee clubbers freedom their freedoms had to be curtailed; the very message espoused by being allowed to sing the song was subverted by the necessary censoring. Perhaps Rachel sat out the song and pouted because she sensed the contradiction.

Mr. Schue, meanwhile, is floundering around at home, sweating and hallucinating, when — dun dun DUN — Terri appears out of the mist with soup, a DVD “Singin’ in the Rain” and sex, because people coughing up mucus and generally lying around in their own filth are so attractive. Don’t do her it, I thought. Since I was so spot-on about in-the-closet bully Salt Karofsky, I’m saying it right here, right now: Terri is totally going to get preggers from that one-night stand. Real preggers, too, not fake preggers. Damn you, “Glee” writers! We were this close to being rid of her and her horrendous plotline altogether!

Meanwhile, Sue, as acting principal, tries unsuccessfully to disband the football team before Bieste points out the Cheerios will have no one to cheer for. Sue practically mutters, “Curses! Foiled again!” as she stalks off. She also fires Schue, successfully, because, what the hell, why not? It’s not like there’s a teacher’s union or any sort of accountability. She also sets her sights on cafeteria tater tots, for some reason, and has the Cheerios dump them in trash cans right in front of tot-loving Mercedes. You know this won’t sit well, especially when Sue replaces all the food with probiotic foam and crap like that. Um, what? Have the writers ever even been to a school? It takes forever to get this kind of thing done, and it has to be done at the district level, the principal has no control over nutrition services, and oh yeah probiotic foam is expensive! ACG Blog readers know that I give “Glee” a lot of artistic license, but this just goes too far. Is a sliver of reality too much to ask? Come on.

There’s even an entire subplot involving Mercedes shoving tater tots up Sue’s car’s exhaust pipe that was so contrived and pointless recounting it would be an insult to you, the reader. The only positive to come out of the tots situation is a hysterical Breadsticks scene with Mercedes, Kurt and Blaine when they talk about nothing but Proposition 8, Patti LuPone and gay gay gay gay gay. Mercedes imagines their conversation becomes so gay that a teensy pocketbook spits out of Kurt’s mouth. “Oh my gosh, I opened my mouth and a little purse falls out.” “So gay,” Blaine says admiringly. “How’d that get in there?” Kurt wonders. It’s possibly one of my favorite “Glee” moments of all time.

Holly finally feels the pressure of being a full-time teacher — you know, actually having to control students and teach them stuff — and this leads to a Very Special Conversation about the role of a teacher. She tells Schue it’s about creating connections and stopping kids from dropping out, the statistic for which she has handily memorized. Schue rebuts that substitutes can afford to be flippant; regular teachers have responsibility to shepherd students into a wider worldview and new ideas. The lovely point-counterpoint ends with each one realizing they can incorporate parts of both methods and better appeal to students while also introducing new ideas. This actually leads to a nice mash-up of Rihanna and Jay-Z’s “Umbrella” with the truly classic “Singin’ in the Rain.” Schue gets rehired, blah blah blah.

Don’t get me wrong — there was far more wrong with this episode than right with it. Why did Mercedes have to realize food and Kurt are proxies for real relationships by staging some Norma Ray-esque tater tots protest? What was the point of the “Make ‘Em Laugh” hallucination, besides some excellent choreogaphy? Are they building up to something with Karofsky, who surfaced yet again brings up the kiss he wants kept a dead secret? Why haven’t they released the wildly entertaining cover of “Conjunction Junction”?

Also, I think there needs to be a serious examination of whether Sue is taking advantage of Becky. She makes a cute minion, to be sure, but Sue almost seems to exploit her, something someone with so much concern for the mentally disabled would be wary of. Of course, maybe the entire situation is a commentary on how normal and accepting Sue is; after all, any Cheerio, Santana or Brittany or even Quinn, could be her clipboard-toting assistant. It may have nothing to do with Becky’s disability. But we’ll see.

Alex Guillén

●○●○●○●

Another episode of “Glee,” another week of ups and downs. Though this one consisted of more ups, in my opinion.

I went into viewing prepared to hate Gwenyth Paltrow as the cool substitute Holly Holiday (Terri gets an awesome line: “Are you a porn star or a drag queen?”), but ended up enjoying her. Paltrow really gave it her all. She’s in for Mr. Schue, ill with monkey flu, and is shaking things up by letting them do whatever they want. This led to the semi-enjoyable performance of “Forget You” and the totally discursive “Hot Honey Rag” from “Chicago.”

Sue’s been set up as principal — after engineering Figgins’ receipt of the virus, one of her best moments this evening — and promptly goes after glee club, the football team and poor nutrition in the form of banning tater tots. Mercedes, feeling sidelined by Kurt’s burgeoning relationship with Blaine, takes up the cause to bring back tater tots with zeal. Including shoving tots up the exhaust pipe of Sue’s car. The Kurt and Mercedes plots didn’t really resonate this week. I felt Mercedes in particular would have had no trouble in pointing out how she felt Kurt was abandoning their friendship. Instead we get Mercedes campaigning for tots, then thinking maybe she should just try to get a boyfriend instead replacing Kurt with food. What?

The ailing Mr. Schue heralds the return of Terri, playing nursemaid. She seems to be genuinely trying to help herself and knows how to take care of Will when he’s sick. “That’s because you like me best when I’m weak,” he observes. Burn. Predictably they engage in some sexual activity, which Will almost instantly regrets. Is this the true end of Terri? I admit I thought we would be seeing a lot more of her than we have this season, but I won’t be too terribly upset if she’s gone for good. This show needs to prune some characters.

In the end, Holly turns out to be a great substitute but not a great teacher. Mr. Schue has pretty much always been there not just as a teacher but to help the kids out however he can. But Holly’s push to let the kids perform what they want and modernize their song selection leads to a number I unashamedly adored. The “Umbrella/Singin’ in the Rain” mash-up turned out to be spectacular (even if there’s no way the glee club could have reasonably produced those water effects). I’m always up for a good “Singin’ in the Rain” remix!

There were a lot of enjoyable little moments as well. Rachel once again tries to lead the club and feature herself before Holly steps in, and the rest of the group has to physically restrain Santana from starting a fight. Brittany gets a couple great lines like, “Mr. Schue taught me the second half of the alphabet. I stopped after M and N. I felt they were too similar and got frustrated.” Paltrow as Mary Todd Lincoln.  Mr. Schue hallucinating the kids as actual little children. Overall, this episode was another move in the right direction for “Glee.” Let’s see if they can keep it up.

Alexandria Jackson

●○●○●○●

Like I said last week, “Glee” is generally better — and is able to do a whole lot more — when its musical numbers are not bound by a kitschy theme. This week, for example, there was very little tying the various songs together, and yet the show still delivered a solid demonstration of why Will Schuester is fast becoming everyone’s least favorite character.

The songs this week were fun. None of them really blew me away, although it sure seemed like the kids were loving guest star Gwyneth Paltrow’s performances. I was really disappointed by the choreography this episode, particularly in the songs that came from musicals: Schue and Mike’s cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” from “Singin’ in the Rain” and Rachel and the substitute’s version of “Nowadays / Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago. In each case, the creative team did very little to change the song from its original form either vocally or visually. “Glee” has long since passed the point where showing the high school group faithfully performing a familiar song is exciting for its viewers. The show is at its best when it takes existing music and makes it its own, as it did in this episode’s final number, a mash-up of “Singin’ in the Rain” and Rihanna featuring Jay Z’s “Umbrella.” Even then the glee club’s choreography was largely taken from the Rihanna music video, but the originality of the mash-up made the performance seem fresher.  But seriously, whatever happened to the days when New Directions would wow us with new dance routines? I’ve been saying it since Sue Sylvester’s music video of “Vogue”: The show is just boring when it recreates an existing scene with complete faithfulness. Come on, “Glee.” Shake things up.

(Of course, some changes are just silly. I don’t generally mind the show’s censorship of explicit lyrics, and it makes sense that a substitute teacher, even one as loose with the rules as the improbably named Holly Holliday, wouldn’t sing the real lyrics to Cee Lo Green’s smash hit in the classroom. But that a character like Puck would refer to the song by its censored name of “Forget You” is pretty hard to swallow.)

Plotwise, the episode was a hit. Will’s sickness and the subsequent arrival of his substitute Miss Paltrow were great narrative tools for showing how Mr. Schuester’s typical methods of coaching both succeed and fail with his students. I particularly enjoyed the show’s subtle digs at its own Season One focus on the music of Journey. Will himself, as usual, is too controlling, although it seems that when he gives up control for a split second his crazy ex-wife jumps his bones. So maybe his usual manner is justified. Still, there’s no denying that everyone’s favorite glee coach is increasingly frustrating to watch. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even feel bad for him when Sue Sylvester makes fun of his hair.

Speaking of Sue, making her the new McKinley High principal seems to be a dangerous move for the show writers. Sue Sylvester’s ideal high school is one without a glee club (or a football team, for that matter), but since the show is hardly going to write off its central concept, giving the antagonist unlimited power in the school can only result in a weakening of her character. Hopefully, Principal Figgins’ time away from his office will be as short-lived as Puck’s stint in juvie.

The best thing about this episode, of course, was Will Schuester’s feverish hallucination that his glee clubbers were little children. Glee babies! I know there’s no good reason to have these children around the school, but I can’t deny how much they made me smile. If “Glee” can pull off a repeat without running the concept into the ground, I’d love to see some more of this gag.

Joe Kessler

Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe exhumed to solve mystery [via the BBC]

16th century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe’s corpse has been exhumed in Prague in an attempt to confirm a cause of death. Brahe, who served as a mathematician for Bohemian Emperor Rudolf II, had previously had his 1601 death attributed to a bladder infection. A 1901 exhumation, however, tested his hair and found traces of mercury. Scientists are now hoping to use fragments of his bone and clothing to search for new clues.

Mystery of Australian twins shot in US [via ABC News]

Two 29-year-old twin sisters from Australia appear to have shot each other at a shooting range south of Denver — and police aren’t yet certain which one died and which one survived. Although little information is available, police have video footage of just outside where the shooting occurred, and have video of one twin falling to the ground. Witnesses said there had been no fight and that the sisters had been talking prior to the incident. The surviving twin is in stable but critical condition.

Ears could make better unique IDs than fingerprints [via Wired]

Scientists have developed a new way to identify people in addition to fingerprints: the ear. Using an algorithm called “image ray transform,” scientists can identify people with 99.6 percent accuracy based on measurements of their outer ear. Proponents of the technology note that fingerprints can rub off or become callous over time, but ears stay roughly the same. Critics, however, charge there is no scientific proof ears remain the same and hold up fingerprinting’s 100-year history of accuracy.

USA 2010 Word of the Year: Refudiate [via OUPblog]

The New Oxford American Dictionary has named “refudiate,” a portmanteau of “refuse” and “repudiate” accidentally coined by former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a tweet, its word of the year. “From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used ‘refudiate,’ we have concluded that neither ‘refute’ nor ‘repudiate’ seems consistently precise, and that ‘refudiate’ more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of ‘reject.’” NOAD noted Palin was not the first to use the word, though she popularized it. Runners-up included crowdsourcing, gleek, Tea Party, top kill, vuvuzela, webisode, retweet and nom nom.

San Francisco may propose to ban circumcision next year [via The New York Daily News]

A San Fransiscan man has proposed a ballot initiative to ban “genital mutilation” of minors, intending to halt the practice of circumcision. “It’s a man’s body and…his body doesn’t belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It’s his decision,” author Lloyd Schofield said. He has to gather 7,000 signatures to get the proposal on the next ballot. According to the CDC, 32 percent of baby boys were circumcised in 2009, down from 56 percent in 2006.

Westboro protestors face jeers and slashed tires [via The Tulsa World]

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka-based group that protests at military funerals with the message that “God hates America” because of growing acceptance of homosexuals, returned to their van to find two slashed tires after protesting a funeral in Oklahoma. According to police, the protestors were unable to find a shop nearby willing to service them. The group ultimately called AAA and was towed to a Walmart where they reportedly effected repairs.