Friday, February 27, 2009

See A Fish With A Transparent Head

Today there's a new addition to the "real life is stranger than fiction" category. Check out the fish Macropinna microstoma. It has tubular eyes and a see-through head.

Image: © 2004 MBARI


These photos blew me away today. Here's another:

Image: © 2004 MBARI


The common name for the fish is "barreleyes." Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute investigators recently figured out why this species has such an unusual head. Its eyes can actually rotate within its "skull," so the transparency allows the wary swimmer to keep a literal eye on happenings above it, as well as to the sides and directly in front.

Using video cameras, MBARI researchers Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler revealed the fish's eye movements. When remotely operated vehicles approached the fish, its eyes glowed a vivid green shade in the bright lights of the ROVs. Usually the fish were just hanging out motionless under the deep waters offshore California's central coast.

Here's a "face-on" view showing the green glow.
Image: © 2006 MBARI

Although the fish has a tiny mouth, it possesses a large digestive systems. Two net-caught individuals contained fragments of jellyfish, which must have been their last meal.

A siphonophore jelly
Image: © 2001 MBARI

Such a potentially painful dinner requires incredible stealth, so it's now thought that barreleyes carefully maneuvers its body near such stinging organisms, keeping its "eyes on the prize," as the researchers said, throughout the entire hunt. Its tiny mouth then picks at the victim while a transparent shield protects the fish's eyes.

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Support for Marijuana Legalization Getting Higher, But a Nice Kind of Calm High

POSTED BY: Dennis DiClaudio

Nate Silver sees the legalization of marijuana coming eventually.

But probably not for another decade or so


The first poll, conducted last week by Rasmussen Reports, has 40 percent of Americans in support of legalizing the drug and 46 percent opposed. The second, conducted in January by CBS News, has 41 percent in favor of legalization and 52 percent against. And a third poll, conducted by Zogby on behalf of the marijuana-rights advocacy group NORML, has 44 percent of Americans in support of legalized pot and 52 percent opposed…

My guess is that we'll need to see a supermajority of Americans in favor of decriminalizing pot before the federal government would dare to take action on it. If the upward trend since 1990 holds (and recall my earlier caution: it might not), then legalization would achieve 60 percent support at some point in 2022 or 2023. About then is when things might get interesting. But I'd guess we'll see other some other once-unthinkable things like legalized gay marriage first.

That's not quite as quickly as I was hoping. But I guess that's why god invented spray paint and paperbags.

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12-hour Viagra-fuelled orgy ends in death

Blue murder ... Russian man dies after taking way too many Viagra pills / AFP
  • Women bet man he couldn't satisfy them
  • Man proves them wrong; dies afterwards
  • Latest news video: see the top stories
THIS was one bet Sergey Tuganov was determined to win.

British newspaper, The Sun, reports the 28-year-old Russian man died after taking a bottle of Viagra pills for an apparent 12-hour sex romp.

Two women told Moscow police they bet Tuganov $US4300 that he wouldn't be able to satisfy them during a non-stop half day sex marathon.

The mechanic died of a heart attack minutes after winning the wager, Moscow police said.

"We called emergency services but it was too late, there was nothing they could do," said one of the female participants who identified herself only as Alina.

Medics said he most likely died from the quantity of Viagra he had ingested.

There are 30 pills in an average 100mg bottle of Viagra.

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Mother sets fire to her daughter's gloating rapist

By Peter Upton in Alicante

A Spanish mother has taken revenge on the man who raped her 13-year-old daughter at knifepoint by dousing him in petrol and setting him alight. He died of his injuries in hospital on Friday.

Antonio Cosme Velasco Soriano, 69, had been sent to jail for nine years in 1998, but was let out on a three-day pass and returned to his home town of Benejúzar, 30 miles south of Alicante, on the Costa Blanca.

While there, he passed his victim's mother in the street and allegedly taunted her about the attack. He is said to have called out "How's your daughter?", before heading into a crowded bar.

Shortly after, the woman walked into the bar, poured a bottle of petrol over Soriano and lit a match. She watched as the flames engulfed him, before walking out.

The woman fled to Alicante, where she was arrested the same evening. When she appeared in court the next day in the town of Orihuela, she was cheered and clapped by a crowd, who shouted "Bravo!" and "Well done!"

A judge ordered her to be held in prison and undergo psychiatric tests, provoking anger from friends and neighbours, who have set up a petition calling for her release.

Soriano suffered 60 per cent burns in the attack on June 13 and was airlifted to a specialist unit. He survived for 11 days before succumbing to his injuries.

It is understood that the woman, who cannot be named because of laws safeguarding the identity of rape victims, claims to have no recollection of the attack which took place in the Bar Mary, just 300 yards from the family home.

As decorators painted over the blackened walls of his bar last week, Antonio Ferrendez Lopez told how Soriano had walked in at lunchtime.

"The place was packed with people eating. I was sitting at a table and Soriano was standing at the bar very close to me when the woman walked in," he said. "She didn't acknowledge anyone but walked up to Soriano, who was drinking a coffee, put her hand on his shoulder and turned him round to face her.

"Then she pulled the bottle she was carrying from under her arm and began to tip it over him. At first I didn't realise what was happening, but then I smelt the petrol. I jumped up and tried to grab her, but when she struck a match I got clear.

"The petrol was in a pool around Soriano, and she threw the match into it. It ignited with a whoosh, and he screamed and staggered about covered in flames. As people rushed outside to escape the flames, she just looked at him, then turned and walked away."

Customers helped Mr Lopez put out the fire with extinguishers and doused Soriano with water until paramedics arrived.

Soriano's attack on the woman's teenage daughter took place in 1998. The girl was going to buy a loaf of bread when Soriano snatched her from the street, threatened her with a knife and raped her. Her mother is said to have suffered mental illness ever since.

Soriano was convicted of the rape and ordered to serve 13 years in jail. The sentence was later reduced to nine years on appeal.

The woman's lawyer, Joaquín Galant, told The Sunday Telegraph last night: "The family has suffered a double tragedy. First the attack on their daughter and now this. Both the father and his daughter would like to express their sadness at the death of Soriano."

Earlier, Mr Galant said that the woman did not deserve to be kept in prison. "For seven years she has been deeply affected by what was done to her daughter," he said. "This man, fresh from prison and asking how her daughter was, might be considered to have provoked her."

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Are fathers optional?

father and son

Judging by their behavior, American women appear to think that fathers are optional. According to the recently published birth statistics (Births: Final Data for 2006), the proportion of births to unmarried women has reached 38.5%, the highest rate ever recorded.

… [T]he proportion changed relatively little during the years 1998–2002, but has since climbed sharply, reaching 38.5% compared with 34.0 in 2002. While the overwhelming majority of teenage births have long been nonmarital .., these proportions have risen very steeply for women aged 20 years and over. For example, among women aged 20–24 years, the proportion increased from 37% in 1990 to 58% in 2006. Similar increases are seen for other age groups ... The proportions of nonmarital births among population subgroups ranged widely: … 26.6% for non-Hispanic white, 49.9% for Hispanic, … and 70.7% for non-Hispanic black births.

In other words, more than ¼ of white children, ½ of Hispanic children, and almost ¾ of black children were born to mothers who did not feel that marriage was necessary. Since marriage reflects the commitment of mother and father to stay together permanently, it means that a large proportion of women chose to give birth without taking steps to make sure that the father would live with his child and be a permanent presence in his or her life.

Fathers are not optional, though. On almost every possible parameter of child well being, children with resident fathers are far better off than those with absentee fathers. A concerted push is being made, particularly within the black community, to alert fathers to their responsibilities. Everyone from Bill Cosby to Barack Obama (who was deeply affected by growing up without his father in his life) has been exhorting black men to be a part of their children’s lives. Obama, in a particularly blunt campaign speech, delivered in an African-American church declared:

We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled - doubled - since we were children. We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it…

… [W]e … need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child - it's the courage to raise one.

Both Cosby and Obama are correct. Black men owe it to their children to be present in their lives. All men owe it to their children to be present in their lives. More importantly, all children deserve to have a father who is an active participant in their lives, preferably one who lives with them and their mother.

However, as the birth statistics demonstrate, the problem is not simply one of abandonment. Women are actively conceiving and bearing children in the knowledge that their fathers will almost certainly not be living with them throughout childhood. Simply put, women are behaving as if fathers are optional.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Having an active, involved, resident father is the birth right of every child. It is not the birth right of every mother to have children simply because she wants them. It is morally imperative for women to recognize that if marriage is unappealing or inconvenient, they shouldn’t be having children. It doesn’t matter how much they want them, and it doesn’t matter that they can financially provide for them. A child is owed a father, and any woman who is unable or unwilling to provide one is making a self indulgent, selfish choice to conceive a child.

Nadya Suleman, the poster child for irresponsible pregnancy, did not think it was necessary for her children to have any father, let alone an absent father. Hollywood stars and athletic icons of both sexes seem to think that fatherhood is optional. And large swaths of our society apparently believe that a resident, involved father is a luxury that they need not provide.

Absent fathers represent a serious social problem, and a serious moral problem. Children deserve to have an active, involved, resident father in their lives. While it is important to exhort men that fatherhood does not end at conception, it is equally important to exhort women that fatherhood does not end at conception. Children cannot be conceived without fathers, and although, they can be raised without them, it is wrong to deliberately embark on such a plan.

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Disabled woman given mermaid tail to help her swim

Mermaid tail Nadya Vessey: Disabled woman given mermaid tail to help her swim
The mermaid tail made for Nadya Vessey by staff at Weta Workshop Photo: WETA WORKSHOP LTD

Nadya Vessey was born with a condition that meant her legs would never develop properly and by the time she was 16 she had both her legs amputated.

Now in her fifties, with false legs, she was approached by a little boy who asked her what had happened to her legs, so she told him she was a mermaid.

Miss Vessey said: "One day a little boy came up, he must have been about four and he saw me taking off my (prosthetic) legs and he started with the 'why' questions, you know, 'why haven't you got any legs', etc.

"And I said 'have you heard of The Little Mermaid and he said 'yes' and I said 'I'm a mermaid' and he got this look on his face and he said 'wow that's cool' and ran off to tell his dad.

"I'll have to turn up to that beach again sometime with my tail - just in case he's there."

The idea grew on her and so she wrote to Oscar winning Weta Workshop, which was also behind the stunning visuals in 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and 'King Kong', and asked them to make her a tail.

To her surprise they agreed, creating a prosthetic tail from wetsuit fabric and plastic moulds.

Miss Vessey, from Auckland, New Zealand, said: "I never had a fantasy to be a mermaid. I am still getting used to it because it requires you to swim in a different kind of way.

"Children sort of go 'oh, a mermaid.' People who like it more, I think, are adults."

Miss Vessey approached Wellington based Weta with the ambition of making a tail that was both practical and beautiful and is delighted with the finished article.

She added: "A prosthetic is a prosthetic, and your body has to be comfortable with it and you have to mentally make it part of yourself."

The unique articulated construction of the tail allows her to propel herself through the water with an undulating movement as if she was a mermaid.

Every aspect of the tail has been custom made to her body and includes a poly carbonate spine and tail fin that has been digitally printed with a stunning 'scale' pattern designed by one of Weta's concept artists.

Costumer Lee Williams said: "It was absolutely amazing. It's beautiful to watch Nadya swim and to see that dream come true and to be a part of it. I feel quite blessed.

"We wanted Nadya to be beautiful and sexy and it was important the tail looked realistic. What became apparent was that she actually physically wanted to look like a mermaid."

Weta Workshop director Richard Taylor, more used to winning Oscars for visual effects from movies such as Lord of the Rings, was delighted to make it happen.

He said: "She was very patient. We have not always been able to fulfil some requests. We were engaged in it pretty quickly because it was a challenge."

Miss Vessey says she is thinking of using the tail to help her complete the swimming section of a triathlon. She said: "I thought rather than just having it as a plaything, I would take it further."

Miss Vessey began swimming after she had her first leg amputated at seven.

Despite having her other leg amputated at 16, she swam competitively in high school and now swims as often as she can.

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8 Overkill Punishments Dished out by Greek Gods

The Greeks brought the world a number of awesome things. The first Olympics, delicious Gyros, but most importantly The Greek Gods. Today we’re going to jump into the Delorian and take a look at what might have happened if you somehow disappointed one of them.


Does the punishment fit the crime? In many cases we’d like to say no, but we’ll let you be the judge.

Actaeon - Actaeon was a hunter who spent his days chasing wild life with his hound dogs. One afternoon he was hunting in the woods when he stumbled across Artemis who was bathing. Like any heterosexual male, he took a moment to admire her cans.


His Punishment - Artemis didn’t like the fact that she was being stared at by a nobody, so she cursed him with forbidden speech. Talking would result in a shape shift. Basically he had to shut the fuck up for the rest of his life or he would turn into a deer. Sadly, he couldn’t keep quiet long and he tried to call out to his hunting party. Upon doing so, he was turned into a stag and ripped to pieces by his own dogs. Pretty steep fine for accidentally stumbling across a set of tits.

Arachne - Archne was a weaver, and a damn good one. Like many people who become the best at something, she slowly started to develop a monster ego. She even went so far as to tell people that she could out weave Athena (the goddess of wisdom and war as well as the weaving arts). Athena gets pissed, disguises herself, and challenges Archne to a ‘weave off’. Arachne weaves up several portraits of the gods displaying infidelity (oops). Although the tapestry was flawless, it sent Athena into a rage.


Her Punishment - Athena (now pissed) completely destroys Arachne’s work, and touches her forehead. Doing so instilled the notion of guilt upon her. This sent Arachne into a depression and eventually she hanged herself. Now feeling bad that Arachne had off’d herself, Athena decides to bring her back to life…as a fucking spider.

IO - Zeus liked to play the field. One of the hunnies he liked to mess with was a slammin’ betty named IO. One day they were getting it on, when Zeus’ jealous wife (Hera) rolls up on them. Not wanting to get caught, Zeus quickly turned IO into a cow. Hera wasn’t completely fooled though so she demanded the cow as a gift.


Her Punishment - Poor IO really didn’t do anything wrong. Sure she was grabbing her ankles for Zeus, but what would’ve happened if she had said no? Exactly. Eventually Zeus decides he wants her back so he gets Hermes to kill Argus (who was gaurding IO in her cow state). The now very jealous (and bat shit crazy) Hera just became more upset and had a gadfly chase down IO, stinging her in the ass, so she could never rest again.

Sisyphus - Zeus had taken the daughter of the river god Asopus for his sexual desires. Sisyphus knew where she was, so he made a stupid move and told Asopus of her whereabouts.


His Punishment - Naturally this made Zeus furious, so he gave him a slap on the wrist. By slap on the wrist I mean, being cursed to push a gigantic boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down again - for eternity.

Narkissos - This guy was a regular lady killer. By the time he was 15 years old, every girl in town wanted to be with him. One day, a nymph by the name of Echo stalked him into the woods. When she finally showed herself he wasn’t the least bit interested and basically said “tits or gtfo” (without the tits part). This devastated Echo.


His Punishment - Since Echo was a total crybaby, she spent the rest of her life doing so, until Nemesis heard her prayers. Apparently Nemesis was tired of her belly aching as well so he decided to give Narkissos a taste of his own medicine. Later, Narkissos saw his reflection in the water, fell love with it, realized that it was an image of himself, and died (knowing he couldn’t act upon his love). His soul was sent to the darkest hell (the narcissus flower grew where his body once laid). Keep this story in mind next time you’re about to shun the girl with fucked up teeth at the bar.

Ixion - One evening Zeus invited Ixion over for dinner. The not so bright Ixion started to lust after Hera. Playing footsie with Zeus’ old lady was definitely frowned upon, so he was scolded and told to stop. Being a generous host, Zeus invites Ixion to stay the night. To test his loyality he formed a cloud like replica of his wife and sent her to Ixion’s room. Ixion, without missing a beat, hit that shit.


His Punishment - Zeus was done giving this guy warnings so fired a lightning bolt at him. He wasn’t quite satisfied with just a lightning bolt though so he fastened him to burning wheel…for eternity.

Tiresias - This guy once came across two snakes mating, so he decided to kill one of them (the female snake). For some reason this turned him into a woman. Years later he saw different set of snakes mating, so he killed the male this time, turning him back into a man. Meanwhile, Zeus and his woman (Hera) were arguing about who gets the most pleasure out of sex, the man or the woman. They called upon Tiresias to settle this (since he had been bent over quite a few times when he was in his female state). Tiresias explained that men give 10 times more pleasure then they receive during sex.


His Punishment - Surprise, surprise - Hera is fucking fired up yet again. Displeased with losing the argument, she decides to blind poor Tiresias. Zeus was like “Damn dude I hate when she gets in these moods, I can’t get your eyes back but I will extend your life by 7 and also give you the gift of foresight.” There really isn’t a moral here besides ‘never try to win an argument with a woman’.

Prometheus - It is said that without Prometheus, mankind would have never had fire. He did this by putting some hot coal in a fennel-stalk that he took from the gods, then gave the contraption we call fire, back to the humans.


His Punishment - Zeus did not like this act of betrayal so he chained Prometheus to a rock. That doesn’t seem to bad does it? Oh I forgot to mention that a motherfucking eagle swoops down every day to eat out his liver which regenerated at night.

Conclusion: Sure the gods were a bit harsh, and sometimes I’d go so far as to say they were being assholes, but look what it accomplished. People knew that if they messed up, they’d be eating a shit sandwich (possibly for eternity). Wouldn’t you feel a whole lot better if the douchebag who cut you off in the Ford Ranger got a Greek God smack down? “Dear Zeus, some bro in a Ranger just cut me off, also his bumper sticker said ‘Hera sucks dick’.”

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Where's the bridge? The 7 Biggest Things Ever Stolen

By John Scrovak

We think of thieves on a spectrum from the kid who steals a candy bar from 7-Eleven, to the group of guys in a tuxedos knocking over a casino in an elaborate heist involving grappling hooks.

But there is a level of thief even above them, guys who think a little bit bigger than everybody else. Too big, it turns out. That's why they tried to steal things like...

A 3,000 Pound Bell

How often do you go to church (or in this case, a Buddhist temple) and, upon hearing the bell think, "I want one!" Well, some other guys apparently did, and they decided to make their dream come true.

You can imagine the surprise of the Buddhist monks at a temple in Tacoma, Washington when they noticed their enormous bell was missing. Especially considering the thing weighted 3,000 fucking pounds.

Experts (see local police) theorized that, unless the thieves had some kind of super powers, they would have had to have brought a forklift and a truck to load the thing onto. With all the quiet time at those temples, you'd assume someone would have heard something (it is a freaking bell, after all), but nobody heard or saw a thing.

"Well I got this forklift...might as well use it to steal a big ass bell..."

The monks said the bell, cast in Vietnam, was so valuable that they couldn't calculate its worth, which must have pissed them off even more realizing that the assholes who stole it were probably going to sell it for scrap. That, of course, raises the question of just what the thieves thought they would do with the thing after they had it, as even the shadiest pawn shops and scrap metal yards would probably give you more than a raised eyebrow as you dragged this bastard through the door.

It turns out they didn't have a plan. The monks got their bell back a year later, when some dumbass tried to sell it and some other junk for $500. The buyer went right to the cops, ruining his own chances to have a huge kickass bell on his porch.

A Beach

In July of 2007, officials in Jamaica were presumably walking along the beach when, all of a sudden, there was no more beach. After hiding their weed, they notified local police that an entire fucking beach had been stolen.

"Is it just me or was this place more beach-like yesterday?"

Approximately a half mile of beach was taken, and no one knows where it went or who took it. Natural causes were ruled out, and island officials believe approximately 500 dump trucks were loaded up with the sand and taken elsewhere on the island. Again, they don't know where it went, who took it or why, though you'd think that the dude suddenly selling timeshares for houses with the slogan "NOW WITH BEACH!" would be the key suspect.

A Tank

1995 was a simpler time. Terrorists weren't supposedly hiding under every rock and bringing too much shampoo on a plane wouldn't get you a body cavity search. Back then if you wanted to, say, borrow a tank from a military base, you could pretty much just walk in. It was all done on the honor system really.

Don't believe us? Ask Shawn Nelson. Shawn was a typical man whose life got a little tough, what with trying to sue San Diego, and a hospital, and trying to build a mining quarry in his back yard. Being the kind of guy who likes to think outside the box, Shawn decided to steal a 57-ton M60 Patton Tank from his local National Guard armory.

"Well, if this sign doesn't work, gosh, I don't know what to do.

As it turns out, no, tanks don't require keys to start, and yes the hatches were locked, though police theorized he used a crowbar to break into three different tanks before finding one that would start. Yes, the only thing stopping Al Qaeda from taking over an armored division was that they didn't know about the crowbar thing.

The secret to American safety.

Only after it was too late did a guard notice someone, you know, was stealing a freaking tank. Being the brave soul he was, the guard did the only thing his training and pay grade allowed him to do: call someone else.

In the mean time, Nelson took his newly-found wheels out for a spin through suburban California; crushing cars, trailers, knocking over utility poles and prompting countless SUV drivers to lean out of their windows and ask him where they could buy one.

How do you stop a tank in that situation? You don't. The ensuing 23 minute chase ended only when Nelson managed to get the tank stuck on a jersey barrier in the middle of the highway. At that point, probably after shitting themselves at the sight of said tank, the cops jumped on the war machine, opened the hatch and shot Shawn to death. Yes, the man was presumably undone by the same technique he had invented: the ingenious "crowbar to the hatch" tank hack.

A Bridge

Ever had somebody say, "Well if you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you!" Well be careful if you happen to be in Russia at the time, because there's a certain chance that the dude just might have a bridge out back he's trying to move.

It may, in fact, be this bridge that was stolen in Khabarovsk, Russia. And the thieves stole it overnight! That's right, a 38-foot long steel bridge designed for automotive traffic was stolen overnight, without anybody noticing.

Something's missing...

In what has got to be the most incredible "guess what I did while I was drunk last night" story ever, the local police theorize that a group of thieves dismantled the bridge to sell the metal for scrap. You know, because it's Russia.

The worst part, is that these are probably serial bridge thieves. According to the article, two other bridges were completely stolen earlier in that same year, and police suspect the crimes are connected (though obviously not by a bridge). But of course the saddest part of this is what it suggests about Russia. One, that (unlike the bell thieves) the perpetrators were apparently able to find a taker for the scrap metal who'd turn a blind eye to the clearly bridge-shaped nature of many of the pieces ("I, uh, found it. In the river.").

"Look, it doesn't matter how I got it, do you want it or not? I'll throw in the train."

Secondly, there's the motorists who stopped when their headlights revealed a half-gone bridge, along with a group of dudes with cutting torches running away with chunks and giggling, and who didn't bother to report anything. We can just picture them doing a U-turn, shaking their heads and muttering, "Yakov Smirnoff was right."

A Church

In what is perhaps the biggest simultaneous dick-slap to the face of both God and the legal system, an entire church was stolen. In--hold on, let's see which country this was here...

Oh, right: Russia, again.

According to reports, a local businessman came by and offered villagers about four cents a brick for the church. We'll theorize he actually meant a lump sum for the building, but was rather surprised to open his door one morning to hundreds of Russian villagers with their arms full of bricks.

The theft of the church apparently happened over the course of less than a month, and officials believe that the bricks in question were re-purposed to build other local buildings which we're assuming are all hugely cursed. This in mind, they offered a reward for the return of the church. We like to imagine a large group of Russians huddled over a trashcan fire trying to determine which bricks the nearby McDonald's doesn't actually need to stay upright.

A Fully Loaded Oil Tanker

While Somalian pirates can only hijack oil tankers and hold them for ransom, others just steal these gargantuan, slow-moving boats outright.

The tanker, called the MV Asterious, was moored at an oil field in Ghana, and was being guarded by the Nigerian navy. Now, two things: one, we suspect the Nigerian navy isn't all that impressive; two, the MV Asterious had an all Russian crew. The boat happened to be chartered by two different oil companies, GNPC and Lushann Eternit, who both blamed each other when they clearly should have been blaming the Russians.

The Nigerian Navy.

The boat was never recovered and no suspects or leads have been reported. Later, in the same year, two more tankers were also stolen overnight, futher insulting the Nigerian navy. One tanker, the MV Jimoh, was found repainted. While that works great on cars (at least in the Grand Theft Auto universe), we doubt it has the same effect on ships.

"The missing ship has been arrested," navy commander Kabir Aliyu said, which without checking further we are going to assume that involved slapping a pair of comically oversized cuffs on the boat and putting it into ship prison wearing an enormous striped uniform.

The Empire State Building

Yes, you read that right. The Empire State building was stolen, and it only took 90 minutes. Let us repeat that: The Empire fucking State Building was stolen in 90 minutes. Though you may be disappointed to learn that the actual theft did not involve a massive underground drill or a super-sized Superman villain helicopter.

No, instead, the building was stolen by the New York Daily News. Through an elaborate (see not that difficult) process of forgery, the news agency managed to create documents for a bill of sale and other undisclosed legal documents convincing enough to make the New York City Office of the City Register transfer the title of the building to Nelots Properties, LLC. You noticed it too, huh? That Nelots is 'stolen' backwards? Oh you didn't? Don't worry, neither did the Office of the City Register.

You know what else they didn't notice? Some of the important names on the documents, like the witness the notary, who happened to be Fay Wray (the original King Kong star), and Willie Sutton (the famous bank robber).

NYC's notary clerk.

In all fairness, the stunt was designed to draw attention to a flaw in the system in which the clerks are not required to verify any information. In the article they brought attention to actual cases of this kind of entire house theft where the thieves would take out mortgages on the house, and leave the actual owners stuck to pay off the mortgages while thieves pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unlike the above mentioned assholes, the Daily News returned ownership of the building to Empire State Land Associates. We like to think we would have done the same. In exchange for a pile of money exactly the size of the building.

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Sasha Obama Keeps Seeing Creepy Bush Twins While Riding Tricycle Through White House

WASHINGTON—A little more than a month after the first family's move to the White House, reports of strange happenings have continued to surface, with Sasha Obama confirming Tuesday that she had once again been visited by the eerie specter of the Bush twins.

Enlarge Image Bush Twins

The ghostly former first daughters, shortly after a White House elevator reportedly overflowed with cherry daiquiri.

Sasha, who was playing in the East Wing of the executive mansion so as not to disturb her busy father, reported seeing the former first twins while riding her Big Wheel tricycle down the Cross Hall corridor. The frightening apparitions, the 7-year-old said, emerged out of thin air and were dressed in identical outfits consisting of spaghetti strap tank tops and denim skirts.

"At approximately 4:36 p.m., we received a detailed account from Sasha Obama about a series of manifestations in the White House," press secretary Robert Gibbs announced. "However, a thorough search conducted by security officials has thus far uncovered nothing."

Added Gibbs, "Whatever grotesque and haunting images the president's youngest daughter thought she saw must have been a figment of her imagination."

Enlarge Image White House

This 209-year-old mansion is said to be haunted by the spirits of administrations past.

According to White House security documents, Sasha told Secret Service agents that the ghostly twins spoke to her in unison and repeatedly beckoned her by chanting the phrases "come play with us," "come play with us, forever," and "Daddy's making fajitas."

White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, also detailed a disturbing vision experienced by Sasha, who at several points during her encounter suddenly saw the twin girls lying motionless in a pool of spilled strawberry margaritas.

"She said they kept whispering 'we want to party' over and over again," said one Secret Service agent, who comforted Sasha following the incident. "God, it's so horrifying."

With her father often tied up with work for hours on end, this is not the first time Sasha has reported seeing malevolent spirits while exploring the 132-room mansion. Earlier this week, the 7-year-old was startled to find an angry, silver-haired woman named Barbara in the Map Room, and on Monday, the first daughter saw what appeared to be former attorney general John Ashcroft lying naked and unconscious in a bathroom tub.

As disturbing as her encounters have been, Sasha claimed that the sounds of incessant typing emanating from the Oval Office in recent days are what worry her the most.

While some White House staffers believe the visions to be nothing more than a child's plea for attention, others are less skeptical, claiming that the building's last resident committed horrible atrocities.

"There's just something about this place—maybe it's the long hours spent isolated in the Oval Office—but it gets into a man's head and eventually becomes too much to bear," White House gardener Emery Canter said. "We don't like to talk about what happened around here with the last occupant. We just want to put those bad memories behind us."

Though the president remains unconvinced by his daughter's wild stories, similar sightings have recently surfaced from other members of the White House staff.

"I had just walked into  the Red Room to clean it, when right in front of me I saw the twins exactly as I remembered them," said Rita Wesson, a maid who has worked at the White House for three administrations. "They were slouched down in their favorite chairs, and they had their feet up all over the antique furniture."

Added Wesson, "At first I wasn't sure it was them, but then Jenna yelled at me to get the fuck out."

President Obama this week issued a statement dismissing allegations that the White House is haunted, and has turned down several of the first lady's requests to move, saying that he finally has the chance to get some work done now.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Puppy survives 200ft quarry fall

Cliff where Dotty fell
Dotty fell 200ft (60.6m) over a cliff and into a flooded quarry after chasing a bird

A puppy survived after plunging more than 200ft (60.6m) over a cliff into a flooded quarry.

The cocker spaniel called Dotty was chasing a bird near her owner's home in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, when she tumbled over the edge.

The seven-month-old pet bounced off the cliff face three times before hitting the icy water at an estimated 50mph.

But luckily a sub-aqua team were diving in the quarry, saw her splash landing and helped her.

One of the group swam over and lifted Dotty to safety before they gave her oxygen from their tanks. Moments later her tail was wagging.

Dotty the dog and owner Keli Beamon
For about three days she walked round with an astonished look on her face but she was soon back to normal
Keli Beamon, Dottie's owner

Owner Keli Beamon, 45, who could only watch as Dotty fell, climbed down into the quarry expecting to find her pet had been killed by the fall.

But instead Dotty leapt into her arms unscathed.

Keli, 45, said: "She must be the luckiest dog in the world - it's a miracle she survived.

"The fall alone should have killed her - and entering the water at that speed must have been like hitting a brick wall.

"I couldn't believe it when I found her on all fours with her tail wagging."

Physiotherapist Keli was walking Dotty across fields near her home when the dog chased after a bird.

"She must have been looking up and the ground suddenly disappeared from under her feet," she said.

"I peered over the cliff edge and I was expecting to see her splattered on a rock below.

"But then I could see her in the arms of one of the divers 200ft below."

Dotty the dog
Rescuers were amazed Dotty made such a quick recovery

She added: "One of the divers said he saw her hit the cliff three times on the way down. And they said she had gone 10ft under the surface of the water.

"She was very cold because the water was just two degrees but she escaped without a scratch.

"For about three days she walked round with an astonished look on her face but she was soon back to normal."

Diving group leader Terry Birtles said: "She is one lucky dog - I don't know how a dog could survive a fall like that.

"We got her out of the water and she was in shock but there was no sign of any physical damage.

"We brought her round with some oxygen and wrapped her in a blanket.

"But we were all amazed she made such a quick recovery."

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Colbert's Name Arrives to Woo Famous Falcon


Getty Images

Writer/talk show host Stephen Colbert accepts the Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program award for "The Colbert Report" during the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

Stephen Colbert should forget about his long-running feud with Al Gore over Grammy and other awards. After all, has anyone named a peregrine falcon after the former Vice-President?

Colbert is also clearly the king of all animal namesakes. A bird, a reptile and an insect have been named after the Comedy Central Host. Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream have even named an ice cream flavor after him.

Now - one of Colbert's namesakes has come to San Jose to woo a famous falcon.

Falcon fans have dubbed the newest male peregrine falcon living atop San Jose City Hall “Esteban Colbert” after the star of “The Colbert Report.”

The San Jose City Hall Peregrine Falcons became reality show superstars more than two years ago when staff opened up the birds' rooftop nesting box to worldwide viewers of the FalconCam.

In the third "season" of her ongoing reality show, falcon mother Clara has another new man in her life and, based on field reports, is expected to soon make him a father.

Clara has quite a history with the males.

As it became apparent that last year’s tiercel (male falcon) Carlos was not returning for a second season, falcon fans have been watching the FalconCam to see if a new beau would attempt to woo Clara.

“I’m delighted that Esteban Colbert appeared at City Hall this week, and that he and Clara are hitting it off,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who press reports have noted is an avid fan of “The Colbert Report.” “Like the City Hall falcons, the original Colbert has proven that with primitive instincts and sharp talons, anyone can survive in modern society.”

Carlos and Clara had three chicks in 2008, while the previous year Clara and her first mate Jose Fernando had three as well.

Peregrine Falcons, regarded as the fastest animal in the world with a recorded speed of up to 240 mph, had only two mating pairs remaining in the California wild in 1970.

Today, due in large part to extraordinary conservation work by the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, there are more than 250 nesting pairs, including those at San Jose City Hall.

Who is this Stephen Colbert guy I keep hearing about?

Stephen Colbert is a writer and comedian who began his career in Chicago Improvisational Comedy.

A correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” from 1997, Colbert became host of “The Colbert Report” in 2005.

Colbert has received a series of top honors, including being named one of the most influential people by both New York and Time magazines.

The FalconCam can be viewed online on the City of San Jose Web site at or on the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group

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Socks, the Clintons' White House Cat, Dies

By KASEY JONES Associated Press Writer

Socks, the White House cat during the Clinton administration who waged war on Buddy the pup, has died. He was around 18.

Photo: The Clinton's family cat is reportedly losing its battle with cancer.
In this 1994 file photo, Socks the cat peers over the podium in the White House briefing room. First... Expand
(Marcy Nighswander/AP Photo)
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Socks had lived with Bill Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie, in Hollywood, Md., since the Clintons left the White House in early 2001.

Currie confirmed Socks' death Friday evening and said she was "heartbroken." She did not give details, referring calls to the Clinton Foundation office.

The foundation released a statement from the Clintons:

"Socks brought much happiness to Chelsea and us over the years, and enjoyment to kids and cat lovers everywhere. We're grateful for those memories, and we especially want to thank our good friend, Betty Currie, for taking such loving care of Socks for so many years."

Socks had reached his late teens — an advanced age for a cat — when reports surfaced in late 2008 that he had cancer and Currie had ruled out invasive efforts to prolong his life.

"It's not a happy prognosis," presidential historian Barry Landau, a friend of Currie's, said at the time.

Socks was what feline-lovers call a tuxedo cat — mostly black with white down the front and belly and on his feet, suggesting a fashionable dandy in a black satin evening jacket with a snowy shirt peeping out. He had markings that looked a bit like a mustache and goatee.

Chelsea Clinton's pet first appeared in the news in November 1992 after then-Gov. Bill Clinton won the presidency and the family was the still in the governor's mansion in Little Rock, Ark. Socks became an early symbol of privacy-vs.-media in the Clinton era when photographers got a little aggressive as he took a stroll outside.

Life changed for Socks in the White House, when his easy access to the out-of-doors was necessarily curtailed. One official conceded that, yes, Socks was on a leash while outside.

Things took a turn for the worse in late 1997, when then-puppy Buddy, a chocolate retriever, arrived. Relations between Socks and Buddy were cool from the beginning.

"I'm trying to work that out," Clinton joked at the time. "It's going to take a while. It's kind of like peace in Ireland or the Middle East."

A few weeks later, in early 1998, the two pets had an encounter on the South Lawn. "A very agitated Buddy approached the cat and began barking as the president restrained him with a green leash," The Associated Press reported. "Socks, hair raised high, stood his ground until Clinton and Buddy made their exit to the Oval Office."

But their pairing enchanted pet lovers, especially children. In 1998, then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton put out a book of children's letters to the two pets in "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy."

"Can you please send me a picture and a paw print," one youngster wrote Socks. "Do you have fleas? I think my cat has fleas."

In the book, the first lady wrote she had been taking daughter Chelsea to a piano lesson in spring 1991 when they spotted two kittens in the music teacher's front yard. "The black one with white paws — Socks — jumped right into (Chelsea's) arms," she wrote.

After the Clintons left in early 2001, Socks moved in with Currie. Buddy, meanwhile, made the move with the Clintons to Chappaqua, N.Y., but he was struck and killed by a car the following year.

Socks continued to live quietly with Currie, sometimes making appearances at programs held by pet welfare groups. Landau said Socks enjoyed sitting in the sun and that Currie doted on him, cooking him special chicken dinners.

Coincidentally, the White House cat in the Bush era, India, died Jan. 4 at 18, just weeks before Bush left office. Bush daughter Barbara, then 9, named the shorthaired black cat after former Texas Rangers player Ruben Sierra, nicknamed El Indio.

Like Socks, India had to share the White House with the canine side: the Bushes' Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, who were immortalized in Internet videos.

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'Steve Irwin' boarded, police seize 'kill' video

By Anne Mather

Steve Irwin returns to Hobart / Sam Rosewarne
Home ... the Steve Irwin is welcomed to Hobart shortly before police boarded / Picture: Sam Rosewarne
  • Log book, video confiscated by police
  • Video shows whale "being shot seven times"
  • Activists hope they end up in court

POLICE boarded the anti-whaling ship Steve Irwin when it arrived in Hobart last night and confiscated the ship's log book and video footage.

The film depicts some of the most dramatic whale-killing scenes ever seen, crew on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship told Hobart's Mercury.

Tasmanian crew member Andrew Perry said the video footage was harrowing because the Japanese whalers had become more brazen by the end of the hunting season and for the first time slaughtered a whale in full view of the Steve Irwin.

Mr Perry said the footage, taken from the ship's helicopter, showed a whaler's explosive-tipped harpoon piercing a whale. "The whale was then pulled alongside the (Japanese) boat and it was shot seven times with a shotgun."

He said the helicopter crew, filming for TV documentary show Animal Planet, then saw the whale thrashing and could hear it screaming.

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Awww… Twitter helps you make friends with Shaq

by John Biggs

So you don’t like Twitter, huh? Lots of pablum, not much content? No real human-to-human connectedness? Well you’re wrong, Mr. Ludd, because Twitter helped two guys meet Shaq.

Jesse Bearden was following The Real Shaq on Twitter and saw that he was at a diner near his office. Instead of saying “Twitter is not a uniter, it is an egocasting system designed for infantile neophiliacs who have little to offer the world except search engine optimization snake oil and web marketing consulting,” Jesse and his buddy went down to the diner and saw Le Shaq sitting in a booth getting his feed on.

They did a few passes and then Shaq twittered:

I feel twitterers around me, r there any twitterers in 5 n diner wit me, say somethin

The Force is strong with this one! Long story short, they sat down with Shaq, had some pictures taken, and found out that Mr. O’Neal was a great guy with a genuine interest in gadgetry.

“Of course” he said, “Pull up a seat” The behemoth slid over and patted the booth next to him. As I pulled out my phone to take a picture he snatched it out of my hand and inspected it.

“What’s this got? Windows Mobile?”
“Um… yeah”

So before you go off half-cocked saying Shaq is using the service for what amounts to free publicity in the nerdy emo irony circuit a la Mr. T, remember that Shaq is just a boy, sitting in front of two boys, asking them to accept his direct messages.

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18 Students Are Suspended as Protest at N.Y.U. Ends

Yana Paskova for The New York Times
Clara Green, right, an N.Y.U. senior, at a rally held in Washington Square Park on Friday in support of a protest by students


A protest by New York University students seeking negotiations with school officials over financial and academic issues ended Friday after almost 40 hours, with students leaving a dining room that had been barricaded and a school spokesman announcing the suspensions of 18 of the participants pending a disciplinary review.

About two dozen students were still involved in the protest when security guards removed barricades made of tables and chairs in the late morning and swept into a third-floor dining room inside the Kimmel student center, said Banu Quadir, 21, a senior who participated in the demonstration.

Ms. Quadir said that those inside the room were photographed and asked to present identification and that school officials distributed letters to N.Y.U. students that stated, “You are suspended from, and classified as a persona non grata at New York University.”

Shortly after 1 p.m., several dozen students rallied across the street from the student center to acknowledge the protest.

Among them was Ms. Quadir, who said that about two dozen students inside the dining room awoke on Friday morning to find that electricity and their wireless Internet had been cut off.

John Beckman, an N.Y.U. spokesman, said, “From the outset, the university made clear to the protesters that they were violating the university rules and engaging in improper activity.”

He said that students had broken a lock on a door leading to a balcony that they had been forbidden to use and that a security guard had been injured on Thursday when a group of students who wanted to join the protest forced their way into the dining room.

After about 70 students took over the dining room on Wednesday night, they created a Web site (, where they listed demands, including a thorough annual reporting of the university’s operating budget, expenditures and endowment. They also asked that the university provide 13 scholarships a year to students from the Gaza Strip and allow graduate teaching assistants to unionize.

Some of the students who had been suspended said they would continue their campaign.

“We are fighting for transparency,” said Drew Phillips, a junior majoring in philosophy. “What we need right now is the support of everybody.”

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