Author Archive | bluemana

U.S. Fails on Happy Planet Index

Reports Peter Aldhous on New Scientist:
It's easy not to trash the planet — if you're dirt poor and die young. But is it possible for all of us to live long and satisfying lives without costing the Earth? That's the question behind a measure of national well-being called the Happy Planet Index (HPI). Its latest update, released this week ahead of the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, names Costa Rica as the world's most "developed" nation and puts the US on the sick list. To show how different the world looks when viewed according to the HPI, rather than conventional wealth, New Scientist applied distorting lenses. In the top map, countries are sized according to their GDP, and shaded by GDP per capita. As sub-Saharan Africa almost shrinks from view, western Europe, the US and Japan swell and flush a deep red. But this wealth has fuelled massively unsustainable use of natural resources. Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation in London developed HPI as an alternative measure, "to capture the tension between good lives now and good lives in the future"...
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Homeless Man in Texas Finds $77,000, Gets to Keep It

Reports Ashley Jennings on ABC News:
A Texas city council ruled this week that a homeless man who found $77,000 worth of gold collectible coins and $100 bills in a river could keep his treasure. Bastrop City Council voted 6–0 Tuesday night that the money Timothy Yost found while washing his feet in the Colorado River Jan. 18 belonged to him. The city has had possession of the money since that time. “It was a considerable sum of money, and we anticipated it would draw a fair amount of attention,” Bastrop Mayor Terry Orr said. “The city could have kept the money, because no one came forward to claim it, but we elected not to do that. It’s clearly Mr. Yost’s.” Yost, 46, said he was close to Fisherman’s Park when he found the money in a bag. He told police he’d kicked it, and the bag made a weird sound. When he opened it up, he found 70 $100 bills and 40 Krugerrand gold coins from South Africa inside...
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Male Spider Castrates Himself And Gets More Stamina

Writes Ed Yong on Discovery News:
To become both a lover and a fighter, the male spider Nephilengys malabarensis snaps off his penis inside his partner while they have sex. He becomes better at fending off other males who try to mate with her, because his now-lightened body can fight for longer without tiring. And while he’s playing the guardian, his detached genitals can continue pumping sperm into the female. Through self-castration, he gets more stamina, and he gets more stamina. I first wrote about the self-castrating spider a few months ago. Then, Daiqin Li from the National University of Singapore confirmed that the severed penis continues to pump sperm into the female. That allows the newly minted eunuch to fertilise her remotely, while also blocking the way to other males...
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After 115 Years Together, Tortoise Couple Splits Up

Via CTV News:
More than a century's worth of matrimony wasn't enough to keep them together. After 115 years as an item, two tortoises at an Austrian zoo have decided to call it quits. Trouble began recently when Bibi and Poldi started to pester one another in the cage they've shared at the Klagenfurt Austrian Zoo, where they've resided for 36 years. The two hulking creatures grew up together and, until now, have been inseparable. But now, the star-crossed tortoises refuse to share a cage with one another. "We get the feeling they can't stand the sight of each other anymore," Zoo Director Helga Happ told Austrian Times.
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Nonbelievers Who Aren’t Atheists?

Writes David Niose on Psychology Today:
If you don’t believe in any gods, you are an atheist, right? This definition seems pretty basic, not the kind of material that requires an advanced degree in theology to understand. But apparently it isn't accurate. In fact, as I circulate in the secular movement on a daily basis, I frequently meet nonbelievers who are unwilling to identify as atheists. Of course, there are other words that might describe those who don't believe in deities — agnostic, humanist, skeptic, etc. — and quite a few nonbelievers prefer one of those terms as their primary means of religious identification, but many reject outright the atheist identity even as a secondary or incidental label. "Don't call me an atheist!" one such nonbeliever recently told me. "I refuse to identify according to what I reject. I don't believe in astrology or unicorns, but I don't label myself according to that — so why should I identify according to my rejection of god-belief?"...
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Nearly Half Of Americans Believe in Creationism

Writes Mike Riggs on Reason:
According to a new Gallup poll, a plurality of Americans—46 percent, to be exact—believe that God made human beings just as they are today sometime in the last 10,000 years. That number is up from 40 percent in 2011 (which was down from 46 percent in 2006). The number of people who believe God guided the process of evolution over millions of years fell from 38 percent to 32 percent in the last year; during the same period, the number of people who believe God is a lie and humans came from damn dirty apes fell from 16 percent to 15 percent...
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Why Some People Blame Themselves for Everything

Writes Stephanie Pappas on LiveScience:
People prone to depression may struggle to organize information about guilt and blame in the brain, new neuroimaging research suggests. Crushing guilt is a common symptom of depression, an observation that dates back to Sigmund Freud. Now, a new study finds a communication breakdown between two guilt-associated brain regions in people who have had depression. This so-called "decoupling" of the regions may be why depressed people take small faux pas as evidence that they are complete failures. "If brain areas don't communicate well, that would explain why you have the tendency to blame yourself for everything and not be able to tie that into specifics," study researcher Roland Zahn, a neruoscientist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience...
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Visit Jerusalem, Think You Are The Messiah: The Jerusalem Syndrome

I wonder if this sort of thing happened to a certain carpenter say around 2,000 years ago? Writes Chris Nashawaty in WIRED:
Shortly after his 40th birthday, the life of a man we’ll call Ronald Hodge took a strange turn. He still looked pretty good for his age. He had a well-paying job and a devoted wife. Or so he thought. Then, one morning, Hodge’s wife told him she no longer loved him. She moved out the next day. A few weeks later, he was informed that his company was downsizing and that he would be let go. Not knowing where to turn, Hodge started going to church again. Even though he’d been raised in an evangelical household, it had been years since Hodge had thought much about God. But now that everything seemed to be falling apart around him, he began attending services every week. Then every day. One night, while lying in bed, he opened the Bible and began reading. He’d been doing this every night since his wife left. And every time he did, he would see the same word staring back at him—the same four syllables that seemed to jump off the page as if they were printed in buzzing neon: Jerusalem. Hodge wasn’t a superstitious man, he didn’t believe in signs, but the frequency of it certainly felt like … something. A week later, he was 30,000 feet over the Atlantic on an El Al jet to Israel...
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Dead Cat Turned Into Remote-Control Flying Helicopter

I can't see how cats would be happy about this development ... Writes Deborah Netburn in the LA Times:
We've seen a lot of strange things on the Internet, but this dead cat turned into a remote-control flying helicopter may be the strangest yet. The cat helicopter was conceived by Dutch artist Bart Jansen, and debuted for the public at the KunstRai ArtFair in Amsterdam that ended Sunday. Jansen calls his creation the Orvillecopter and describes it as "half-cat, half-machine." The Orvillecopter is exactly what it looks like: A taxidermied cat with a plastic propeller attached to each paw. No animals were harmed for this project. The cat, who was conveniently named Orville, belonged to Jansen and died after he was hit by a car.
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