Sons and daughters of British monarchs will have an equal right to the throne under changes to the United Kingdom’s succession laws agreed to Friday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
The constitutional changes would mean a first-born girl has precedence over a younger brother. They also mean that a future British monarch would be allowed to marry a Catholic.
"The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man, or that a future monarch can marry someone of any faith except a Catholic — this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we have become," [Cameron] said.
I’m enjoying this trend of treating people like people.
“[Shortstop Elio] Chacon… was eager but not very talented. And he kept running into the outfield and knocking down Richie Ashburn as he was about to catch a fly ball. And he didn’t speak any English, so Joe Christopher went to him and tried to explain this and then he went to Richie Ashburn and said, “If you’re going to catch a fly ball,” he said, “and you see Chacon coming out, what you want to say is, ‘Yo la tengo. Yo la tengo.’—‘I’ve got it.’ And he’ll pull up.” So Richie practiced, he said, “Yo la tengo” and a game came along and it was a fly ball. He looked up for the fly ball. Chacon rushed out for him. Richie said, “Yo la tengo, yo la tengo,” and he put his hands up—and was knocked flat by Frank Thomas, his left fielder. That was the Mets.”—Roger Angell on the 1962 New York Mets, the losingest major league team in the modern era, as quoted by Geoffrey C. Ward in Baseball: An Illustrated History.
Chaya Babu of the AP with a story that’s great but then also terrible in that it happened at all:
Hundreds of Indian girls whose names mean “unwanted” in Hindi chose new names Saturday for a fresh start in life.
A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespread gender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls.
And then there’s this, which is just frightening:
Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.
Crazy paper by Tanya Khovanova and Alexey Radul on arXiv on Jewish discrimination in Russia:
In the summer of 1975, while I was in a Soviet math camp preparing to compete in the International Math Olympiad on behalf of the Soviet Union, my fellow team members and I were approached for help by Valera Senderov, a math teacher in one of Moscow’s best special math schools.
The Mathematics Department of Moscow State University, the most pres- tigious mathematics school in Russia, was at that time actively trying to keep Jewish students (and other “undesirables”) from enrolling in the department. One of the methods they used for doing this was to give the unwanted students a different set of problems on their oral exam. I was told that these problems were carefully designed to have elementary solutions (so that the Department could avoid scandals) that were nearly impossible to find. Any student who failed to answer could easily be rejected, so this system was an effective method of controlling admissions. These kinds of math problems were informally referred to as “Jewish” problems or “coffins”. “Coffins” is the literal translation from Russian; they have also been called “killer” problems in English.
These problems and their solutions were, of course, kept secret, but Valera Senderov and his friends had managed to collect a list. In 1975, they approached us to solve these problems, so that they could train the Jewish and other students in these mathematical ideas. Our team of the best eight Soviet students, during the month we had the problems, solved only half of them. True, that we had other priorities, but this fact speaks to the difficulty of these problems.
Twenty-one problems and solutions are given and they are insane.
The Associated Press with some Earth-shattering news out of Warsaw, Poland:
Brian Dede, the event coordinator, said a referee had to intervene when opponents Edward Martin from Britain and Chollapat Itthi-Aree from Thailand noticed a missing tile during the last draw of their match.
He said that led to a search on and under the table, and that both players “were asked to show the contents of their pockets.”
The missing letter was nowhere to be found, so the referee added another “G’’ to the letters to create a complete set.
Moammar Gadhafi’s blood-streaked body was on display in a commercial freezer at a shopping center Friday as Libyan authorities argued about what to do with his remains and questions deepened over official accounts of the longtime dictator’s death.
In Misrata, residents crowded into long lines to get a chance to view the body of Gadhafi, which was laid out on a mattress on the floor of an emptied-out vegetable and onions freezer at a local shopping center. The body had apparently been stowed in the freezer in an attempt to keep it out of the public eye, but once the location was known, that intention was swept away in the overwhelming desire of residents to see the man they so deeply despised.
A woman poured bleach and Pine-Sol on a Walmart customer in southern Baltimore County, police said, in an incident that closed down the store for several hours Saturday and sent 19 to area hospitals.
The Baltimore County Fire Department’s fire and medic units, who arrived on the scene just after 11 a.m., requested the hazardous materials team a short time later because of complaints about watery eyes and other injuries, said spokesman Glenn Blackwell.
One person was taken to the Wilmer Eye Institute for a potentially serious injury, while 18 others were taken to area hospitals, including Baltimore Washington Medical Center, Harbor Hospital, Northwest Hospital Center and St. Agnes Hospital, Blackwell said.
… a new application developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College that’s designed to take a photograph of a total stranger and, using the facial recognition software PittPatt, track down their real identity in a matter of minutes. Facial recognition isn’t that new — the rudimentary technology has been around since the late 1960s — but this system is faster, more efficient, and more thorough than any other system ever used. Why? Because it’s powered by the cloud.
With Carnegie Mellon’s cloud-centric new mobile app, the process of matching a casual snapshot with a person’s online identity takes less than a minute. Tools like PittPatt and other cloud-based facial recognition services rely on finding publicly available pictures of you online, whether it’s a profile image for social networks like Facebook and Google Plus or from something more official from a company website or a college athletic portrait. In their most recent round of facial recognition studies, researchers at Carnegie Mellon were able to not only match unidentified profile photos from a dating website (where the vast majority of users operate pseudonymously) with positively identified Facebook photos, but also match pedestrians on a North American college campus with their online identities.
Yeah, this is creepy, but it also shows just how open we’ve become in sharing things on the internet.
A surprising 80 percent of teenage boys say they are using condoms the first time they have sex, a government survey found in a powerful sign that decades of efforts to change young people’s sexual behavior are taking hold.
But another promising trend — a drop since the 1980s in the number of teenagers having sex — has leveled off.
The study, released Wednesday, is based on interviews with about 4,700 teenagers, ages 15 to 19, conducted from 2006 through 2010. It shows the percentage of boys who said they used condoms the first time they had sex climbed from 71 percent in 2002 to 80 percent in the new survey. In 1988, 55 percent of boys said they used a condom during their first sexual intercourse.
So it turns out that sex ed may in fact be effective when it actually involves education. Who knew?
A second Bush administration gun-trafficking investigation has surfaced using the same controversial tactic for which congressional Republicans have been criticizing the Obama administration.
The tactic, called “gun walking,” is already under investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general and by congressional Republicans, who have criticized the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama for letting it happen in an operation called “Fast and Furious”.
Earlier this month, it was disclosed that the gun-walking tactic didn’t begin under Obama, but was also used in 2006 under his predecessor, George W. Bush. The probe, Operation Wide Receiver, was carried out by ATF’s Tucson, Ariz., office and resulted in hundreds of guns being transferred to suspected arms traffickers.
It’s time to stop hammering Obama specifically about this and time to start talking about how THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN DOING SOMETHING INCREDIBLY STUPID FOR A LONG TIME
William Ernst, 57, the owner of a Bettendorf-based chain of convenience stores called QC Mart, sent all of his employees a memo in March, outlining a contest in which the workers were encouraged to participate. The memo read:
“New Contest – Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!
“To win our game, write on a piece of paper the name of the next cashier you believe will be fired. Write their name [the person who will be fired], today’s date, today’s time, and your name. Seal it in an envelope and give it to the manager to put in my envelope.”
Humans made an unwitting but fateful choice 10,000 years ago as we started cultivating wild plants: We chose annuals. All the grains that feed billions of people today—wheat, rice, corn, and so on—come from annual plants, which sprout from seeds, produce new seeds, and die every year. “The whole world is mostly perennials,” says USDA geneticist Edward Buckler, who studies corn at Cornell University. “So why did we domesticate annuals?” Not because annuals were better, he says, but because Neolithic farmers rapidly made them better—enlarging their seeds, for instance, by replanting the ones from thriving plants, year after year. Perennials didn’t benefit from that kind of selective breeding, because they don’t need to be replanted. Their natural advantage became a handicap. They became the road not taken.
Today an enthusiastic band of scientists has gone back to that fork in the road: They’re trying to breed perennial wheat, rice, and other grains.
James Werner, who manages reactor technologies for the Space Nuclear Systems division at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory, described the new system Sunday at the 242nd Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Denver.
Describing the new technology at the conference, Werner said: “People would never recognize the fission power system as a nuclear power reactor. The reactor itself may be about 1-1/2 feet wide by 2-1/2 feet high, about the size of a carry-on suitcase. There are no cooling towers.”
The system would provide energy for outposts or colonies on land where solar power is impractical. Unlike photovoltaic cells, a fission system could operate on the dark side of moons or the polar areas of planets, in caves or shaded craters, and in stormy and dusty conditions such as those on Mars.
Robert F. Moss for the Los Angeles Times on the role of delicious, delicious barbecue in American politics:
… Rufus Edmisten, who ran for governor of North Carolina in 1984. Late in the campaign, after eating barbecue at rallies three times a day for almost a year, he broke down at a public feed in Raleigh. “We haven’t had any of the damnable barbecue,” he proclaimed. “I’ve eaten enough barbecue. I am not going to eat any more!” The quote ran in local newspapers, and Edmisten lost by almost 200,000 votes.
Michelle Goldberg writing in the The Daily Beast about Dominionism, “a fringe fundamentalist movement … which says Christians should rule the world.” And which apparently has ties to Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry. What.
Damn Interesting is updating again, which is neat. Here’s Alan Bellows:
Unable to restart his engine, and struggling to keep his craft from entering a near-supersonic nose dive, Rankin grasped the two emergency eject handles. He was mindful of his extreme altitude, and of the serious discomfort that would accompany the sudden decompression of an ejection; but although he lacked a pressure suit, he knew that his oxygen mask should keep him breathing in the rarefied atmosphere nine miles up. He was also wary of the ominous gray soup of a storm that lurked below; but having previously experienced a bail out amidst enemy fire in Korea, a bit of inclement weather didn’t seem all that off-putting. At approximately 6:00 pm, Lt Col Rankin concluded that his aircraft was unrecoverable and pulled hard on his eject handles. An explosive charge propelled him from the cockpit into the atmosphere with sufficient force to rip his left glove from his hand, scattering his canopy, pilot seat, and other plane-related debris into the sky. Bill Rankin had spent a fair amount of time skydiving in his career—both premeditated and otherwise—but this particular dive would be unlike any that he or any living person had experienced before.
Absolutely insane story of a skydive through a cumulonimbus storm.
A central California man has been arrested for possession of child pornography, thanks to a tip from burglars who robbed the man’s property, authorities said.
Last month, a juvenile and a 19-year-old illegally accessed the property of Kraig Stockard, 54, of Delhi, California, according to a statement from Deputy Tom MacKenzie of the Merced County Sheriff’s Department. They broke into Stockard’s barn and stole approximately 50 CDs they believed were blank.
Stockard filed a police report on the incident on September 12, according to MacKenzie.
But the young people who stole the CDs were in for a surprise. When they began putting the discs into their computer, they discovered that some of them contained pornographic images of children, the statement said.
Despite having obtained the CDs under decidedly shady circumstances, the pair decided to report Stockard to the police.
Solar power is pretty awesome, except for that whole thing where it only works when the sun is out.
Well, that used to be the case, but Al Goodman of CNN has news for you:
Located just outside the quaint village of Fuentes de Andalucía, Gemasolar bills itself as the world’s first commercial-scale concentrated solar power plant (CSP) that uses molten salts receiver technology.
2,650 large mirrors called heliostats direct the suns rays to a receiver at the top of Gemasolar’s 450-feet tower that shines like a beacon during the day.
The stored energy can generate electricity for 15 hours without the sun shining and according to Arias the plant can provide 19.9MW of power, enough for a town of about 100,000 people.
Gloria Steinem gave a press conference to promote the documentary Gloria: In Her Own Words. Alex Strachan, writing for Postmedia News, recounts what happened:
The first question was a fireball. The bloggers in the room may not have understood it, but it certainly got their attention. A lot of women in the room owe their positions to Steinem, the questioner said. Steinem broke down barriers for women. But looking at today’s generation, did she break down those barriers “so young women today can dress like hookers and be OK with being treated like a piece of meat, whether it’s in a music video or in social situations?” Isn’t it ironic, Steinem was asked, that what she fought so hard for has been rejected by the generation that came later?
Steinem was candid in her reply, and perhaps surprising.
'No,” she said simply. “This generation of young women is actually much more feminist than we ever were. If you look at the public opinion polls, they're actually much more supportive of all the issues of equality. And my question to the young woman who is dressing as you describe is: Is she doing it because she wants to? Is she body-proud? Is she sexuality-proud? Because then, I say, great. Is she doing it because she feels she has to? That she won't be popular otherwise? Then, that's wrong.
"Reese Witherspoon, whom I don’t know very well, told me she did Legally Blonde because of me. I said, ‘No kidding. How come?’ And she said, ‘Because I heard you say you should be able to dress any way you f-ing well please and be safe.’ "
Make sure to click through for her thoughts on “Pan Am” and “Mad Men” — an interesting take.
It was just a typical summer outing for Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin: Clad in a wet suit and fitted with an oxygen tank, he dived to the bottom of a bay and retrieved two ceramic jugs that dated to the sixth century A.D.
The scene, captured by a camera crew and broadcast on the nightly news, cast Mr. Putin as a broad-chested Renaissance man, just the thing for his listless approval ratings. Scenes of Mr. Putin braving the elements — tranquilizing a tigress, tenderly feeding sugar to his horse or shooting a dart at a whale from a rubber dinghy — are a staple of political life in Russia.
There have long been suspicions that his exploits were not spontaneous. Still, it was remarkable to see Mr. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitri S. Peskov, surrounded by a panel of exceedingly skeptical journalists, trying to explain as delicately as possible that Mr. Putin’s much-hyped dive in August had been staged.
“Look,” Mr. Peskov said good-naturedly in the broadcast, which was released late Tuesday. “Putin did not find an amphora that had been lying on the bottom for many thousands of years. That is obvious.”
I mean, on the one hand, no shit. Did anyone really believe that?
But it is weird that someone on his press team is actually coming out with this.
Dana Horn, writing in Science about Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who discovered that the Sun was made mostly of hydrogen — but is not given proper credit.
Since her death in 1979, the woman who discovered what the universe is made of has not so much as received a memorial plaque. Her newspaper obituaries do not mention her greatest discovery. Even today, when it has become fashionable for historians to highlight the accomplishments of great female scientists, other astronomers are given precedence, or her name is listed as merely one of many. But there is no need to visit an Astronomy Hall of Fame to see how faint the memory of Payne-Gaposchkin has become. A glance at any elementary physical science textbook will do the trick. Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.
The FBI is moving to change the federal definition of rape for the first time in 80 years, which authorities and women’s advocacy groups hope will lead to improved tracking of the crime and an attitude shift among investigators.
Critics have maintained that the current definition is archaic, too narrow and leaves crimes uncounted in police statistics, resulting in fewer resources for victims and law enforcement.
Since 1927, rape has been defined as forcible male penile penetration of a female — which excludes cases involving oral and anal penetration, where the victims were drugged or under the influence of alcohol, and male victims.
The car, a Hongqi HQ3 with full intellectual property rights developed by the National University of Defense Technology, traveled in daytime, taking only three hours and 20 minutes to finish its trip under full computer and sensor control.
"We only set a maximum speed and then left everything to the car itself," said Dai Bin, a professor in the research team.
"It knew the speed limits, traffic patterns, lane changes and roads using video cameras and radar sensors to detect other cars. It was all controlled by a command center in the trunk," Dai said.
So cool. I can’t wait for this stuff to come to market.
In August, a neighbor of Steve Jobs, Lisen Stromberg, wrote a piece about being Steve’s neighbor:
It was at Halloween not long after when I realized he actually knew my name (yes, my name!). He and his wife put on a darn scary haunted house (to be specific, a haunted garden). He was sitting on the walkway, dressed like Frankenstein. As I walked by with my son, Steve smiled and said, “Hi Lisen.” My son thought I was the coolest mom in town when he realized The Steve Jobs knew me.
Thanks for the coolness points, Steve.
From then on, when I saw him holding his executive meetings in our neighborhood, I didn’t hesitate to smile and say hi. Steve always returned the favor, proving he may be a genius, but he is also a good neighbor.
This was not a eulogy, but it’s hard not to feel that way and choke up a bit when you read stuff like this:
… the day I saw him at his son’s high school graduation. There Steve stood, tears streaming down his cheeks, his smile wide and proud, as his son received his diploma and walked on into his own bright future leaving behind a good man and a good father who can be sure of the rightness of this, perhaps his most important legacy of all.