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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bored of your life? Man auctions his off on Sunday

From Sunday, June 22 for one week, Usher's life is up for sale on eBay with the package including his $420,000 (US$397,000) three-bedroom house in Perth, Western Australia, a trial for his job at a rug store, his car, motorbike, clothes and even friends.

Usher, 44, told Reuters he had been inundated with emails from all over the world since he put his life up for grabs in March, largely from people supporting him but also from those who were asking for advice on how to change their own lives.

"I was taken aback by how much interest there has been and by the amount of people it has inspired and had an impact on," said Usher who is hoping to raise up to $500,000 to fund a new life.

"I've had emails from people saying they decided it was also time to sell their house and move on after suffering a loss."

Usher, who is from County Durham in Britain but moved to Perth in 2001, set up a website (www.alife4sale.com) for the sale. Critics have denounced the site as a gimmick to attract advertising revenue, but Usher says it has earned him very little and is definitely real.

The site opens cheerily: "Hi there, my name is Ian Usher, and I have had enough of my life! I don't want it any more!"

His decision followed the break-up of his five-year marriage and the end of a 12-year relationship with Laura. He has declined to give details of the break-up but Laura is now with someone else. She has not commented publicly on the auction.

"This is nothing to do with revenge or making someone feel guilty. It's about me doing what is right for me," he said.

LIFE FOR SALE

Usher said he got the idea from a friend who had the notion of selling his life through a newspaper advertisement during a bleak period but never did it.

He says he's not the first person to put his life on the block.

Australian philosophy student Nicael Holt, 24, offered his life to the highest bidder last year to protest mass consumerism.

American John Freyer started All My Life For Sale (www.allmylifeforsale.com) in 2001 and sold everything he owned on eBay, later visiting the people who bought his things.

Adam Burtle, a 20-year-old U.S. university student, offered his soul for sale on eBay in 2001, with bidding hitting $400 before eBay called it off. Burtle admitted he was a bored geek.

Usher said some people think he's mad but most are positive.

A poll on his website has garnered about 70,000 votes of which a third think the sale is an awesome idea, another third say it is interesting and about 15 percent think it is nonsense.

"My girlfriend left me today. Before I thought your idea is absolutely crazy and dumb. Now I understand you!" Kai from Germany wrote in the guestbook on Usher's website.

Usher's friends say they are used to his unusual ideas and happy to befriend and help whoever moves into his shoes.

"Rightly or not, we expect the buyer(s) to come from overseas or over east and likely to know very little of Perth. And we know how it is," they said in a statement on his site.

The auction closes at noon on June 29, with Usher hoping it will meet the reserve price, which he says is reasonable.

"As long as the auction is a success I will leave Perth with my passport and wallet and I'm off," said Usher, who didn't want to give away his plans before he's sure he can fund them.

Ferris Bueller Wannabe Faces 38 Years in Prison After Changing Grades

The Orange County District Attorney has charged 18-year-old student Omar Khan with 69 felony counts—including identity theft, computer fraud, falsifying a public record, second degree burglary and watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off and War Games 5,405 times—after allegedly getting into Tesoro High School's computers to change his grades. The pseudo-Matthew Broderick was not very subtle, though, leaving a trail the size of the Exxon Valdez's oil spill.

According to the DA and the Orange County Sheriff, Khan and fellow student Tanvir Singh committed their crimes between January and May 2008, breaking into the school on numerous times using a stolen key. The brilliant Khan also attempted to steal a teacher's password to push his grades and those of 12 other students. All of this while both were exchanging text messages discussing their activities the whole time.

Apparently, the smartymorons pushed their C, D and F grades to As and Bs, hoping that nobody would notice. However, when Khan was denied admission to the University of California, he went back to school to ask for a new transcript. It was then when all his crude plan went to hell.

Being a bad student, the school administrators noticed the new stellar grade record, starting the investigation that has ended in this court case, and Khan's potential 38-year degree in laundry systems, cooking and inter-personal communication, with a second major in shower plumbing, sponsored by California's state prison system.

The 25-Cent Flood Protection Device

The Mississippi River breached more than a dozen levees in the St. Louis, Mo., area Thursday as flooding continued to spread across the Midwest. To mitigate the damage, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alone has distributed nearly 13 million sandbags, most of which have been filled and laid down by local residents. Why do we still use sandbags?

Because they're cheap, easy to use, and usually effective. The familiar image of the burlap sack stuffed with sand goes back at least as far as the Revolutionary War—when they were used to build makeshift forts—and they have long been deployed as a defense against deluges like the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. These days, the bags used to hold back rising floodwaters are more likely to be made of polypropylene plastic, often taken from the scraps of textile manufacturers. They cost about a quarter apiece, and they are packed for delivery by the thousands to flood-stricken areas.

Then locals have to find sand to put in the bags. In Iowa, it has come from local quarries that normally serve as suppliers for construction. Sand has the benefits of being inexpensive, plentiful, and easy for untrained volunteers to handle and clean up. (Clay might be more effective at holding back a flood, but it's more difficult to bag and stack quickly—and to remove when the danger is past.) If for some reason sand weren't available, the Army Corps of Engineers says you could use silt or gravel in an absolute emergency (PDF).

The Mississippi River breached more than a dozen levees in the St. Louis, Mo., area Thursday as flooding continued to spread across the Midwest. To mitigate the damage, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alone has distributed nearly 13 million sandbags, most of which have been filled and laid down by local residents. Why do we still use sandbags?

Because they're cheap, easy to use, and usually effective. The familiar image of the burlap sack stuffed with sand goes back at least as far as the Revolutionary War—when they were used to build makeshift forts—and they have long been deployed as a defense against deluges like the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. These days, the bags used to hold back rising floodwaters are more likely to be made of polypropylene plastic, often taken from the scraps of textile manufacturers. They cost about a quarter apiece, and they are packed for delivery by the thousands to flood-stricken areas.

Then locals have to find sand to put in the bags. In Iowa, it has come from local quarries that normally serve as suppliers for construction. Sand has the benefits of being inexpensive, plentiful, and easy for untrained volunteers to handle and clean up. (Clay might be more effective at holding back a flood, but it's more difficult to bag and stack quickly—and to remove when the danger is past.) If for some reason sand weren't available, the Army Corps of Engineers says you could use silt or gravel in an absolute emergency (PDF).

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Lego Airbus A380 Is Biggest Lego Airplane in the World


Behold the biggest Lego airplane in the world, made after the largest passenger airplane in the world, the Airbus A380. Made at a 1:25 scale-9.5-foot long, 10.5-foot wingspan, 3.2-foot tall—the Lego A380 uses 220 pounds (100kg) of bricks. That's a mindblowing 75,000 pieces in eight colours—15 Lego Millennium Falcons. With that amount of bricks, and knowing how long my Falcon is taking, I'm not surprised that it took 600 hours for the entire team of professional Legoland model builders to assemble this beast. [Giz's Lego Trip]

Church provides hope of faithful spouses

WHY do people go to church? According to Jason Weeden at Arizona State University, Tempe, it is to go forth and multiply.

After analysing questionnaire responses from more than 22,000 mainly Christian Americans, Weeden and his colleagues found that factors related to sex showed the strongest links to churchgoing. These include marital status, number of children, preferred family size, and moral views on topics like cheating and contraception. Other variables that have often been linked to religiosity such as age, gender or conscientiousness failed to explain church attendance, after controlling for differences in sexual and family values (Evolution and Human Behavior, DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2008.03.004).

Weeden suggests that looking for partners within a religious community reduces the risk of adultery in couples adopting a monogamous, high-fertility mating strategy as there is a large fitness cost if the marriage fails: men risk losing substantial investment if the woman cheats; women risk being abandoned with a large brood and fewer resources to care for them.

"Religious groups make this deal more plausible to both partners," Weeden says. "You surround yourself with people who strongly believe that one of the worst things you can do is to abandon your spouse or sleep around."

For Weeden, mating preferences are at the very core of religious choices – and can even drive them.

"Hardly any of the students in our study were regular churchgoers," he says, "but those who saw themselves as having many kids in stable marriages were the ones who were anticipating regular church attendance in the future."