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1. An “Interview” with the Apostle Paul on the Law, Life, and Death

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2. “The Pope Is Not a Pedicurist”

From Judge Kleinfeld’s concurrence in the judgment in Spencer v. World Vision :

The core of Judge Berzon’s dissent is the idea that performance of activities that are often performed in a secular context cannot be religious. That is mistaken. When the Pope washes feet on the Thursday before Easter, that is not secular hygiene, and the Pope is not a pedicurist.

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3. Scientists create ‘dry water’

The substance resembles powdered sugar and could revolutionise the way chemicals are used.

Each particle of dry water contains a water droplet surrounded by a sandy silica coating. In fact, 95 per cent of dry water is ”wet” water.

Scientists believe dry water could be used to combat global warming by soaking up and trapping the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

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4. “ Lullabies of the world ” is a collection of animated films based on lullabies of different nations. Here is the one for Yiddish:

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5. Why So Many Short Stories Are Boring

. . . my topic here: the centrality of imagination in enduring fiction. In general, the topic is born out of writing workshops, in which I’ve noticed, almost always to my alarm, that classroom discussion seems to revolve almost exclusively around issues of verisimilitude. Declarations such as these abound: I didn’t believe in that character. I need to know more about that character’s background. I can’t see that character’s face. I don’t understand why that character would behave so insipidly (or violently, or whatever).

These are legitimate questions. But for me, as a reader, the more dangerous problem with unsuccessful stories is usually much less complex: I am bored. And I would remain bored even if the story were packed with pages of detail aimed at establishing verisimilitude. I would believe in the story, perhaps, but I would still hate it. To provide background and physical description and all the rest is of course vital to fiction, but vital only insofar as such detail is in the service of a richly imagined story, rather than in the service of good botany or good philosophy or good geography.

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6. Weird News of the Week: Man shot in head, but notices only 5 years later

Police said a Polish man living in Germany was shot in the back of his head, but that it took him five years to realize it. Police said Tuesday that the 35-year-old men was hit by a .22-caliber bullet in the western town of Herne as he was out in the street partying drunk on New Year’s Eve five years ago. They say the man recalled receiving a blow to the head, but told them he didn’t seek medical assistance at the time.

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7. What Would Happen if Two Planets Collided?

Imagine: the twin suns, so close they appear to almost touch, set toward your western horizon. As dark rises to the East, so does the rim of a vast disk. After an hour, it clears the horizon: a disk of light in the heavens so bright you have to squint, and so big it spans half the sky. It’s a rogue planet, and only a year before it was barely more than a brilliant point of light in the sky. Now it looms so large you feel you could fall into it.

A strong earthquake shakes the ground as they have for the past few days; the result of the titanic tidal stress induced on your planet from the other’s gravity. On the other planet, with your naked eye, you can see networks of hundreds of massive cracks lit dull red from magma, the tides from your home world stressing and tearing apart the interloper. The disk grows as you watch, blotting out the majority of the sky by the time it sets a few hours later.

The suns rise, and happily you’re on the side of the planet facing away from the location where the two worlds will touch. You’re spared the actual sight of the catastrophe.

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8. Quote of the Week: “If you spend 72 hours in a place you’ve never been, talking to people whose language you don’t speak, and you come back as the world’s biggest know-it-all, you’re a reporter. Either that or you’re President Obama.” - P.J. O’Rourke

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9. Massive Traffic Jam in China Could Leave Drivers Stuck for an Entire Month

If you thought the traffic congestion to or from your vacation destination of choice was bad, be grateful that you weren’t traveling along China’s Beijing-Tibet Expressway: Thousands of trucks have been stuck there for nine days, according to a China National Radio report yesterday, and the 100-kilometer-long jam is not expected to dissipate until September 13, when the government finishes up construction on a key expressway.

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10. Can You Really Open A Padlock With A Bullet?

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11. Peter Lawler on strange and stupid conservative trends :

Randianism is some strange mixture of Marxian (about the uninhibited life at the end of history) and Nietzschean fantasies that can’t help but have some appeal to the vanity of the youthful and inexperienced. But it’s hard to believe real grown ups–who are allegedly devoted to the laws of nature and Nature’s God–are buying this stuff these days.

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12. Image of the Week: Mila’s Daydreams

Adele Enersen: “This is my maternity leave hobby. While my baby is taking her nap, I try to imagine her dream and capture it.”

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13. How To Write A Scientific Paper

1. Introduction

Scientific papers (e.g. Schulman 1988; Schulman & Fomalont 1992; Schulman, Bregman, & Roberts 1994; Schulman & Bregman 1995; Schulman 1996) are an important, though poorly understood, method of publication. They are important because without them scientists cannot get money from the government or from universities. They are poorly understood because they are not written very well (see, for example, Schulman 1995 and selected references therein). An excellent example of the latter phenomenon occurs in most introductions, which are supposed to introduce the reader to the subject so that the paper will be comprehensible even if the reader has not done any work in the field. The real purpose of introductions, of course, is to cite your own work (e.g. Schulman et al. 1993a), the work of your advisor (e.g. Bregman, Schulman, & Tomisaka 1995), the work of your spouse (e.g. Cox, Schulman, & Bregman 1993), the work of a friend from college (e.g. Taylor, Morris, & Schulman 1993), or even the work of someone you have never met, as long as your name happens to be on the paper (e.g. Richmond et al. 1994).

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14. How 13 Dog Breeds Got Their Names

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15. Birth Order Affects Child’s Intelligence and Personality

Birth order within families has long sparked sibling rivalry, but it might also impact the child’s personality and intelligence, a new study suggests. First-borns are typically smarter, while younger siblings get better grades and are more outgoing, the researchers say.

The findings weigh in on a long-standing debate: What effect if any does birth order have on a person’s life? While numerous studies have been conducted, researchers have yet to draw any definitive conclusions.

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16. Infographic of the Week: Choose the best airline seat

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17. Water Before Meal Means Fewer Calories Consumed

Previous studies showed that middle-aged and older Americans who drank two cups of water before a meal ate about 75 to 90 fewer calories over the course of the meal. For this study, the scientists took 48 adults between 55 and 75. All ate a low-calorie diet for 12 weeks. Half of the group drank 16 ounces of water before meals. The other half didn’t.

After the 12 weeks were over, the water drinkers lost on average 15.5 pounds, while the ones who weren’t prescribed water lost about 11 pounds.

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18. A Kid Pulls Out His Own Tooth . . . With A Rocket

Note to Gerald (33 Things’ youngest and most loyal commenter): Don’t do this!

(Via: The Corner )

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19. 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Starbucks

8. There’s a secret size not on the menu.

The 8-ounce cup called the “short” may not be listed as an option, but it’s known as the “kid’s size,” according to Moore. He adds, “It’s what the kid’s cocoa is served in.” Starbucks may soon be adding a size larger than the venti to its iced drink menu. According to the blog Starbucks Gossip, Starbucks was testing out a 31-ounce cup size called the “trenta” in Phoenix as recently as March of this year.

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20. 5 Amazing Early Explorers

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21. What Prisoners Are Reading at Gitmo

He may not come riding in on the back of a hippogriff to free his favorite captives from their own version of Azkaban, but he shows up once a week on a cart of books from the prison library, offering an escape of the imagination treasured by many. Indeed, the Harry Potter series has been one the most popular titles among the 18,000 books, magazines, DVDs and newspapers on offer from the prison library at Guantánamo.

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22. HistoricalLOL of the Week

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23. The top 20 essential science fiction TV shows

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24. Fictional Science 101: Important scientific ideas that inform science fiction

General Relativity
Tragically, you must understand Albert Einstein’s revolutionary theory about the equivalence of matter and energy simply in order to apprehend how few SF stories actually adhere to it. His theory laid the foundations for the Big Bang theory of the universe, as well as atomic weapons. It also, sadly, demonstrated that traveling faster than the speed of light - which we’d need to do, if we wanted to get anywhere cool in space - was basically not survivable by a human. That’s why a lot of SF simply ignores general relativity, or invents things like teleportation or “subspace” travel to explain how spacecraft are zooming from star system to star system in a matter of days.

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25. 25 classic science fiction movies that everybody must watch

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26. Why Nerds Like Games

One explanation is that nerds want to show off their non-social skills, and so require social games so that there are others who can observe their impressive performance. But nerds seem to prefer more social interaction in their games than having a mere audience requires.

Another explanation is that while nerds like to socialize, they are terrified of making social mistakes. This explains why they tend to avoid eye-contact – it is too easy to make the wrong eye contacts. Games let nerds interact socially, yet avoid mistakes via well-defined rules, and a social norm that all legal moves are “fair game.” Role-playing has less well-defined rules, but the norm there is that social mistakes are to be blamed on characters, not players.

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27. How-To of the Week: Get out-of-print books for your iPad and iPhone

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28. King Tut Died Because of Incest

In my view, however, Tutankhamun’s health was compromised from the moment he was conceived. His mother and father were full brother and sister. Pharaonic Egypt was not the only society in history to institutionalize royal incest, which can have political advantages. (See “The Risks and Rewards of Royal Incest.”) But there can be a dangerous consequence. Married siblings are more likely to pass on twin copies of harmful genes, leaving their children vulnerable to a variety of genetic defects. Tut­ankhamun’s malformed foot may have been one such flaw. We suspect he also had a partially cleft palate, another congenital defect. Perhaps he struggled against others until a severe bout of malaria or a leg broken in an accident added one strain too many to a body that could no longer carry the load.

(Via: Kottke )

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29. The Tribe That Worships Prince Philip

The inhabitants of Tanna, in the Vanuatu islands, off the Australian coast, believe the Queen’s husband is divine, the incarnation of a spirit who emerged from a volcano and left to marry a great lady.

It was a cult which emerged from the prince’s visit in 1974, and legend has it that the ‘spirit’ will one day return in person.

But on the day of the prince’s 89th birthday in June, when the islanders gathered expecting his arrival, 18-year-old Marc realised they would be disappointed. So the teenager from Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, stood in for him.

(Via: Neatorama )

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30. Gary Arndt: 20 Things I’ve Learned From Traveling Around the World for Three Years

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31. The Stories Behind 8 Back-to-School Essentials

The Lunch Box - In the early part of the 20th Century, most kids packed their school lunch in an empty cookie, biscuit, or tobacco tin. In 1935, a company called Aladdin tried to create a market for specialized lunch boxes by putting Mickey Mouse on the cover of their tin box. But even The Mouse couldn’t convince kids to buy en masse. Aladdin didn’t give up, though, and they had their first bonafide lunchtime hit in 1950 when they released the Hopalong Cassidy lunch box to young baby boomers.

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32. Another 33 Things

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33. A Typical Conversation With My Mom

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