1. America’s Royal Family

One of the things that’s often forgotten is that, by virtue of the annexation of Hawaii as a state, the United States does have a royal family — one with no constitutional status, but one which is also widely recognized within one state of the fifty. The surviving members break up into the primary line, the House of Kamehama, and the secondary line, the House of Keoua Nui. The person usually considered the current Titular Queen Regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii is Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa; the primary heir to the House of Kamehama is Quentin Kuhio Kawananakoa, a Hawaiian politician, and the heirs to the House of Keoua Nui are the musician Owana Salazar and her children, Kapumahana Ka?ahumanu Walters (best known for being a former Miss Teen USA) and Noa Kalokuokamaile DeGuire. Since the Kingdom of Hawaii is defunct and there is no Hawaiian throne to be heir to, being a Hawaiian prince or princess is a pretty minor thing, purely titular, sustained only by polite custom. But the custom exists nonetheless.

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2. In anticipation of the fiftieth anniversary of JFK’s inauguration, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is digitizing reams of JFK artifacts , including his personal essay. In reply to the question, “Why I Want to Go to Harvard”, Kennedy wrote:

The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a “Harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.

April 23, 1935
John F. Kennedy

(Via: Gawker )

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3. Cash machines are as dirty as public toilets

The average cash machine has been found to be as dirty, and carry the same germs as public toilets, say scientists.

Experts took swabs from the numeric key pads on a string of city centre ATMs around England which are used by thousands of shoppers every day.

They then took similar swabs from the seats of nearby public toilets and compared the bacteria under microscopes in a lab.

The samples from both locations were found to contain pseudomonads and bacillus, bacterias which are known to cause sickness and diarrhoea.

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4. What Makes the King James Version Great?

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5. When Animals Fight Back of the Week: Fox shoots man

A wounded fox shot its would be killer in Belarus by pulling the trigger on the hunter’s gun as the pair scuffled after the man tried to finish the animal off with the butt of the rifle, media said Thursday.
The unnamed hunter, who had approached the fox after wounding it from a distance, was in hospital with a leg wound, while the fox made its escape, media said, citing prosecutors from the Grodno region.

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6. New York Times ’ List of Top 10 Composers

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7. Weird News of the Week: Italian man shot in head sneezes out bullet

Darco Sangermano, 28, was hit in the temple by the .22 calibre bullet while wandering with his girlfriend through Naples – a city in Italy notorious for its rowdy New Year celebrations, often involving firearms and powerful fireworks.

The bullet went through the right side of his head, behind his eye socket and lodged in his nasal passage but miraculously did no serious damage.

Bleeding heavily, he was taken to hospital in an ambulance shortly after midnight, but while waiting to be seen by doctors he sneezed and the bullet shot out of his right nostril.

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8. The 50 Worst Sports Movies of All Time

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9. To autograph seekers, Mark Twain would return a typewritten message :

I hope I shall not offend you; I shall certainly say nothing with the intention to offend you. I must explain myself, however, and I will do it as kindly as I can. What you ask me to do I am asked to do as often as one half-dozen times a week. Three hundred letters a year! One’s impulse is to freely consent, but one’s time and necessary occupations will not permit it. There is no way but to decline in all cases, making no exceptions; and I wish to call your attention to a thing which has probably not occurred to you, and that is this: that no man takes pleasure in exercising his trade as a pastime. Writing is my trade, and I exercise it only when I am obliged to. You might make your request of a doctor, or a builder, or a sculptor, and there would be no impropriety in it, but if you asked either for a specimen of his trade, his handiwork, he would be justified in rising to a point of order. It would never be fair to ask a doctor for one of his corpses to remember him by.

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10. What’s the Most Literate City in America?

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11. True Grit and the Law

Various legal bloggers have commented on the surprising number of legal issues addressed in the recent Coen Brothers’ movie True Grit. There are contract issues, evidence issues, and federalism problems, among others. The protagonist, Mattie Ross, succeeds in large part because of her extensive legal knowledge. As a property professor, I was happy to see that she knows what a writ of replevin is, and uses the threat of getting one to good advantage.

True Grit also includes some interesting law and economics concepts about incentives. In their roles as public officials, Rooster Cogburn and other law enforcement officials show little if any interest in tracking down the fugitive who killed Mattie’s father. That may be because they have little incentive to do so. But Cogburn is much more motivated and effective when Mattie offers him a reward. Once he starts acting as, essentially, a private bounty hunter, his incentives change and so does his performance. The same goes for the Texas Ranger who helps them catch the killer, and also seems to be motivated primarily by reward money. Research by economist Alex Tabarrok shows that such incentives work in the real world too. He finds that for profit private bounty hunters are, on average, much more effective in tracking down fugitives from justice than government officials are.

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12. Image of the Week:

Artist Wayne Chisnall made a 12-piece kit model of himself entitled “And When I’m a Man.” It’ll be on display at the “States of Reverie” exhibit at the Scream Gallery in London starting on January 14.

(Via: Neatorama )

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13. Online Metronome

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14. Thunderstorms Hurl Antimatter into Space

Scientists using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before.

Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF), a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning. It is estimated that about 500 TGFs occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected.

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15. Infographic of the Week: Facebook vs. Twitter

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16. The Catcher in the Rye ‘sequel’ to be published

If you really want to hear about it . . . the chances are you will soon be able to, unless you live in north America. A sequel to JD Salinger’s novel of teenage angst, The Catcher in the Rye, written by an obscure Swedish publisher, is to be issued in most of the world with the reluctant acquiescence of the reclusive author’s estate.

Although the book, 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, was briefly published in Britain and Sweden two years ago, lawyers acting for Salinger blocked publication in the US with a court ruling in July 2009, six months before Salinger’s death at the age of 91.

Now, according to Publishers’ Weekly and the Bookseller, agreement has been reached to publish the book, which takes an aged character, who is evidently the protagonist of the original book, Holden Caulfield, on a journey similar to his original odyssey, escaping from an old people’s home back to his old haunts in New York. Echoing the original, it ends with its character, 76-year-old Mr C, standing near a carousel in Central Park.

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17. The Music of True Grit: Some Fascinating History

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18. Why Volunteer for a One-Way Mission to Mars?

If NASA put out the word that it was looking for volunteers to suit up for the first manned mission to Mars, the line outside Cape Canaveral might stretch from there to the moon.

But what if they said it was a nine-month trip on a cramped spaceship and there was a possibility you wouldn’t be coming home?

Despite the possibility of those conditions, at least 400 brave souls have said “yes” in response to a new book, “The Human Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet” (Cosmology Science Publishers).

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19. 10 Bestselling Books That Almost Weren’t Printed

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20. Have a Food Allergy? It’s Time to Recheck

There is no question that some foods, especially peanuts and shellfish, can provoke severe reactions in a small fraction of the population. But a new analysis of the best available evidence finds that many children and adults who think they have food allergies are mistaken.

According to a definitive report compiled for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases by a 25-member panel of experts, a big part of the problem is misdiagnosis, from overreliance on two tests — a skin-prick test and a blood test for antibodies — that can produce misleading results.

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21. World’s Most Amazing and Fascinating Buildings in Early Civilizations

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22. HistoricalLOL of the Week

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23. Interview with a Wig Maker

The market for human hair is generally limited to places with impoverished populations willing to sell a two-foot ponytail — the product of two years of growth — for twenty dollars. Dark hair comes primarily from South America, India, and Mongolia. Helene says that the ample selection of hair colors and textures in South America — the result of more than twenty-five generations of intermarriage between Europeans and indigenous people — make it the ideal source region. The hair of indigenous Peruvian women is thick, straight, and black-perfect for the lace-front wigs sought by black women, who have come to represent the majority of Helene’s business — and is worn in two braids that often stretch all the way down their backs and are plaited with tassels made from Alpaca wool. Orthodox women prefer the silkier, finer texture of Argentinean hair, or else the more rare blonds and reds from eastern Europe and Russia (generically labeled as “European” hair), which garner one hundred dollars per two-foot strand. “The European hair is very bouncy,” Helene says. “It’s just characteristic — like some people have blue eyes, some people have dark eyes. With Indian hair, the bottom is poofy and doesn’t move that much. For a wig to look natural, we need the bottom to be bouncy.”

(Via: Kottke )

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24. Top 10 Pictures That Shaped America

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25. Middle School Is When the Right Friends May Matter Most

A new study, appearing in the February issue of the Journal of Early Adolescence, found that boys and girls whose friends are socially active in ways where rules are respected do better in their classroom work. Having friends who engage in problem behavior, in contrast, is related to a decrease in their grades. Having pro-social friends and staying away from deviant peers proved more effective for academic payoffs than simply being friends with high-achieving peers.

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26. 9 Developments That Prove We Really Are Living In The Future

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27. Better Book Titles of the Week

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28. How-To of the Week: Make Popcorn with Lasers

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29. Why Is the Eiffel Tower Still Standing?

Arguably the most widely recognised structure in the world, the Eiffel Tower was designed to stand for only 20 years — and some predicted it would collapse long before then.

Even as it was being built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition, a professor of mathematics sagely calculated that when the tower was two-thirds complete, its legs would buckle and the whole thing would come tumbling down, crushing workers and houses alike.

Today, the Eiffel Tower is not only standing but remains in rude health, testifying to the soundness of Gustave Eiffel’s design and the strength of “puddle iron,” the hand-made wrought iron of the late 19th century, say engineers.

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30. Your nose reveals when you’re going to die

Have you stopped being able to identify familiar smells? Then you may be about to die, according to a new study.

A group of scientists studied a group of over 1,000 older people who weren’t sick or suffering dementia. They gave each person a test to see how well they could identify 12 familiar odors. Those with the lowest scores had a much higher probability of dying over the next year than those who couldn’t.

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31. You Could Run a Complete Marathon on the World’s Longest Bridge

The now-completed Qingdao Haiwan Bridge over Jiaozhou Bay in China is 26.4 miles long. It’s three miles longer than the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana, the previous holder of the world record for the longest bridge over water

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32. 16 Creative and Clever Bench Advertisements

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33. Water Sculptures

Shinichi Maruyama, a Japanese photographer now living in New York, uses simply his hands, glasses of water and a Phase One P45 camera to create elegant water sculptures.

(Via: Open Culture > )

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