May 30, 2007

Ranking: The 121 most peaceful countries

Posted in Education, Life, Media, News, Peace, Politics, Society at 11:25 pm by deadlikeme

global-peace.jpgThe Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released the Global Peace Index today.

121 countries around the world were ranked according to their peacefulness and the drivers that create and sustain their peace. The EIU measured the countries’ peacefulness based on 24 indicators.

Rank      Country           

    1          Norway        
    2     New Zealand         
    3         Denmark         
    4         Ireland         
    5           Japan         
    6         Finland         
    7          Sweden         
    8          Canada         
    9        Portugal         
    10        Austria

For the full list, including details on all peace indicators go here.

Countries like Afghanistan and North Korea were not included because reliable data for all 24 indicators was not available.

The United States ranked 96th.

Some conclusions of the Global Peace Index are:

– Peace is correlated to indicators such as income, schooling and the level of regional integration
– Peaceful countries often shared high levels of transparency of government and low corruption
– Small, stable countries which are part of regional blocs are most likely to get a higher ranking


May 27, 2007

Japanese kids scare themselves sick

Posted in Fun, Humor, Life, News, Psychology at 7:54 am by deadlikeme

ghoststories.jpgCan you scare someone sick simply by telling ghost stories?

Students from Sakai Municipal Mikunigaoka Junior High School were on a field trip when eleven of them where rushed to hospital. They were hyperventilating as a result of anxiety caused by ghost stories they told each other during the bus ride.

How long will it take Hollywood to make a movie out of this? They surely dig japanese ghost stories.

Mainichi Daily News

May 25, 2007

Dancing toddler destroys buddhist sand painting

Posted in Buddhism, Family, Fun, Humor, Life, Religion at 9:22 am by deadlikeme

mandala.jpgEight Tibetan monks spend two days creating an intricate sand painting, when a dancing toddler destroyed their work within seconds. The site of crime was Union Station in Kansas City.

Were the monks angry? Apparently they just smiled and started over.

Visit the Kansas City Star to watch the surveillance footage of this evil toddler.

Sand paintings are an artistic tradition of Tantric Buddhism. Colored sand is used over a period of days, or even weeks to create an image of a mandala. Those paintings can be quite elaborate.

P.S.: just for fun, here is a video of a break dancing toddler. Prepare to be amazed!

UPDATE (03.08.2007): just noticed the Kansas City Star article has expired, so if you want to watch the video click here  instead.

May 23, 2007

Right turns more fuel efficient

Posted in Education, Fun, Humor, Life, Media, News, Travel, TV at 10:55 am by deadlikeme

rightturns.jpgWEWS-TV (an ABC network affiliate in Cleveland) learned that United Parcel Service (UPS) figured out a way to save millions of dollars in fuel savings by making only right turns.

Apparently UPS intructs their drivers to plan their routes so they rely on right turns as much as possible. And with 88.000 trucks on America’s road, this modification has made a difference worth millions per year.

The TV-Station conducted two tests of their own. They concluded:

– In real life, a right turn is a good guideline, but shouldn’t be a rule.

– If you can, plan ahead so that all the stops are approached from the right.

– If you can’t, go the shortest distance

So apparently it’s not an absolute rule, but still, you can safe fuel money by turning right when feasible.


May 21, 2007

Coin toss decides election

Posted in Life, Media, News, Politics, Society at 4:36 pm by deadlikeme

cointoss.jpgIn a local Philippine election two candidates got the same number of votes. They settled the issue of who won by tossing a coin.

Bryan Byrd Bellang called heads and thus won over Benjamin Ngeteg. They were both in the run for the last council seat in Bontoc, a town north of Manila.

Election supervisor Mary Umaming: “I asked them if they wanted to break the tie by tossing a coin or drawing lots, and somebody in the crowd wondered if I was cracking a joke. I said those options were in the rules, and they agreed to flip a coin.

However, the polls on monday were marred by violence and the police have reported dozens of deaths during the three-month election period.

I remember, last year a coin toss broke an election tie for the Democratic primary election for the southwestern Alaska House. It was the first time in Alaska’s history that an election was decided by a toss of a coin.

BBC Article

On a more personal note:

Voting in a political election is not a right, since not everyone is allowed to vote. Nor is voting a privilege, since you only have to reach a certain age, you don’t really have to do anything to earn it. Voting is a responsibility!

May 16, 2007

Baby Get Your Gun

Posted in Family, Fun, Humor, Life, Media, Society at 8:10 am by deadlikeme

babyid.jpgThis baby’s name ain’t Annie Oakley but Howard David Ludwig.

He is 11 month old, can’t talk or walk but has his own Firearm Owner’s Identification Card from the state of Illinois.

Howard’s grandfather bought him a shotgun as a gift, so his father applied for the FOID. And since there are no age restrictions on the cards the baby got an official gun permit.

The card lists the baby’s height at 2 feet, 3 inches (69cm) and his weight as 20 pounds (9kg) and has a scribble where the signature should be.

To quote Annie Oakley:

When I’m with a pistol
I sparkle like a crystal,
Yes, I shine like the morning sun.
But I lose all my luster
When with a Bronco Buster.
Oh you can’t get a man with a gun.


May 8, 2007

A different kind of Spider-Man

Posted in Biology, Comics, Family, Fun, Humor, Life, Nature at 12:52 pm by deadlikeme

spider-boy.jpg9-year-old Jesse Courtney had spiders living in his left ear.

In the first few days Jesse kept hearing a faint popping, “like Rice Krispies” he told his mother. Eventually it started to really hurt.

The doctor irrigated Jesse’s ear and out came a spider, dead. After a second dousing another one was flushed out, and this one was still alive.

Jesse was given the two spiders (now both dead) as a souvenir. He has taken them to school and his mother Diane has taken them to work. “Everyone we’ve told this story to has told me … they haven’t slept very well,” Diane said. “I know they’re not very big, but when they’re in your ear, they’re big enough.”

For more, read the Albany Democrat-Herald article.

Anti-terror beer yeast

Posted in Biology, Education, Life, Nature, Science, Technology at 10:34 am by deadlikeme

yeast.jpgSaccharomyces cerevisiae has been genetically altered to “sniff” for explosives.

Danny Dhanasekaran and his team (Temple University in Philadelphia) have engineered yeast cells to “express mammalian olfactory receptors and the related signaling pathway, such that cells turned green in response to an odorant“.

The genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as baker’s or brewer’s yeast, has been enhanced with a rat gene (olfactory receptor Olfr226) so that the yeast cells react to molecules of 2, 4 Dinitrotoluene (DNT). DNT is a residue from the making of the Trinitrotoluene (TNT). It is believed that dogs who are trained to sniff for explosives in fact respond to DNT molecules.

Maybe one day we can also use beer-yeast-biosensors to detect biological and chemical weapons, who knows?

Original article published in Nature Chemical Biology

May 5, 2007

The Loch Ness … Toad

Posted in Biology, Education, Life, Mystery, Nature, Science at 8:08 am by deadlikeme

lochnesstoad.jpgResearchers from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), who carried out a sonar survey of the infamous Loch Ness, found a common toad in a depth of 324ft (98m). It was alive and kicking.

The Common Toad (Bufo bufo) is widespread throughout Europe and can grow to the size of a human hand. One has to wonder why the toad was kicking mud so deep down below the surface? Sorry Mario, the princess is not here. Bowser must have hidden her somewhere else.

Bob Rines, a lecturer at MIT, will reveal more infos on the survey and the toad on Oceans 07, a conference about Marine Technology, Oceans Science and Oceanic Engineering. The conference will be held in June 2007 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Click the link below to see a picture of the toad.

BBC Article