Friday, December 31, 2010

Facebook passes Google as most popular site on the Internet, two measures show

By Ylan Q. Mui and Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post

This may go down as the year that social networking trumped searching as America's favorite online pastime.

Coming soon: Parking rates that go up at busiest times

Seattle is about to embark on a new age of market-based pricing for parking, ultimately charging more on the busiest blocks at the busiest times, and less at times when there tend to be extra spaces available.
By Mike Lindblom
Seattle Times

Until now, Seattle drivers have known that, if they could wriggle their way to an open curb, parking fees would be relatively inexpensive and straightforward.

Days of Auld Lang What?

The origin of the New Year's anthem—and what it means to us.

You know exactly when you'll hear it, and you probably won't hear it again for a year. The big clock will hit 11:59:50, the countdown will begin—10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4—and the sounds will rise: the party horns, fireworks and shouts of "Happy New Year!"

Abandoned Horses Are Latest Toll of Drug Trade

New York Times

PHOENIX — Found tottering alone in the desert with their ribs visible and their heads hung low, horses play a backbreaking, unappreciated role in the multibillion-dollar drug smuggling industry.

Beware the Exploding Champagne Cork

Expert gives safety tips; warns it can reach a speed of 50 mph and cause severe eye damage.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

FRIDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Be careful when opening the champagne bottle on New Year's Eve -- a popped cork can reach a speed of up to 50 miles per hour, warns an eye expert.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Primero Hay Que Aprender EspaƱol. Ranhou Zai Xue Zhongwen.

New York Times

A quiz: If a person who speaks three languages is trilingual, and one who speaks four languages is quadrilingual, what is someone called who speaks no foreign languages at all?

Answer: an American.

Prosperity Starts With a Pea

New York Times

AT year’s end, people around the world indulge in food rituals to ensure good luck in the days ahead. In Spain, grapes eaten as the clock turns midnight — one for each chime — foretell whether the year will be sweet or sour. In Austria, the New Year’s table is decorated with marzipan pigs to celebrate wealth, progress and prosperity. Germans savor carp and place a few fish scales in their wallets for luck. And for African-Americans and in the Southern United States, it’s all about black-eyed peas.

Working (Part-Time) in the 21st Century

New York Times

UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS — Remco Vermaire is ambitious and, at 37, the youngest partner in his law firm. His banker clients expect him on call constantly — except on Fridays, when he looks after his two children. [Slide Show]

New Look for Mecca: Gargantuan and Gaudy

New York Times

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — It is an architectural absurdity. Just south of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Muslim world’s holiest site, a kitsch rendition of London’s Big Ben is nearing completion. Called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the centerpiece of a complex that is housing a gargantuan shopping mall, an 800-room hotel and a prayer hall for several thousand people. Its muscular form, an unabashed knockoff of the original, blown up to a grotesque scale, will be decorated with Arabic inscriptions and topped by a crescent-shape spire in what feels like a cynical nod to Islam’s architectural past. To make room for it, the Saudi government bulldozed an 18th-century Ottoman fortress and the hill it stood on. [Slide Show]

For Some Travelers Stranded in Airports, Relief Is in 140 Characters

New York Times

ATLANTA — Some travelers stranded by the great snowstorm of 2010 discovered a new lifeline for help. When all else fails, Twittermight be the best way to book a seat home.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Words of the Year 2010

Wall Street Journal

A data analysis of words printed in The Wall Street Journal reveals a trove of intriguing terms that starred in 2010 but could barely wriggle their way into 2009 coverage. Luge, robo-signer, Tamaulipas and jeggings registered spikes in usage.

A Pinpoint Beam Strays Invisibly, Harming Instead of Healing

New York Times

The initial accident report offered few details, except to say that an unidentified hospital had administered radiation overdoses to three patients during identical medical procedures. [Interactive Graphic]

10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Technology

New York Times

Your gadgets and computers, your software and sites — they are not working as well as they should. You need to make some tweaks.

But the tech industry has given you the impression that making adjustments is difficult and time-consuming. It is not.

Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation

Envoy of Ennui Calls a Meeting; An Energy Bar for Everybody
Wall Street Journal

LONDON—"Brace yourself for five piping-hot minutes of inertia," said William Barrett. Then he began reciting the names of every single one of 415 colors listed in a paint catalog: damson dream, dauphin, dayroom yellow, dead salmon…and on and on and on.

Can Democrats rebuild? Yes – if they listen to Toby Keith

To win in 2012, Democrats must rebrand themselves. Country music lyrics could help.
By Patrick Cottrell
Christian Science Monitor

After the "shellacking" Dem­ocrats suffered in the midterm elections, many political consultants urged the party to revamp its communication strategy.

Amazon patents procedure to let recipients avoid undesirable gifts

By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post

Undoubtedly, the Thread and Bobbin Sewing Kit that Aunt Mildred sent from for Christmas will never see a stitch. The Stallion Stable Music Boxmight have looked pretty on the computer screen, but under the tree's flickering lights, it is frightful. The polka-dot nightgown has never been a good idea, even with free shipping.

In Mexico, only one gun store but no dearth of violence

By William Booth
Washington Post

MEXICO CITY - In all of Mexico, there is only one gun store. The shop, known officially as the Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales, is operated by the Mexican military. The clerks wear pressed green camouflage. They are soldiers.

The only gun store in Mexico is not very busy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ariz. roof contractor's dog climbs ladder

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PHOENIX (KABC) -- A talented dog from Arizona is making a name for himself - he taught himself to climb a ladder.

More Consumers Are Letting Insurers Monitor Their Mileage

New York Times

CAR insurance rates have always been based on risk, and risk has usually been measured by the number of miles driven. So drivers often underreport the miles they travel to keep their rates low — at the expense of other drivers.

Save Money by Weatherizing Your Home

By: Joanne | December 28, 2010 | Category: Money
GovGab: You U.S. Government Blog

A few years ago, we replaced half the windows in our house and we saved about $500 in heating oil that winter and got a tax credit. When you’re a homeowner it can be hard to find the money to make improvements to the weatherization of your home, but it really does pay off in the long run. Our house is about 100 years old, so there’s no end to our list of home improvement projects, but whenever anything is replaced, I make sure that I consider energy efficiency.

Some Israelis Question Benefits for Ultra-Religious

New York Times

JERUSALEM — Chaim Amsellem was certainly not the first Israeli Parliament member to suggest that most ultra-Orthodox men should work rather than receive welfare subsidies for full-time Torah study. But when he did so last month, the nation took notice: He is a rabbi, ultra-Orthodox himself, whose outspokenness ignited a fresh, and fierce, debate about the rapid growth of the ultra-religious in Israel.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming

New York Times

THE earth continues to get warmer, yet it’s feeling a lot colder outside. Over the past few weeks, subzero temperatures in Poland claimed 66 lives; snow arrived in Seattle well before the winter solstice, and fell heavily enough in Minneapolis to make the roof of the Metrodome collapse; and last week blizzards closed Europe’s busiest airports in London and Frankfurt for days, stranding holiday travelers. The snow and record cold have invaded the Eastern United States, with more bad weather predicted.

Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community - mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street.
(Associated Press)
Seattle Times

These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community - mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street.

In a Tale That Wags Dog Owners, They Rent Flocks for Bored Collies

Compulsive Sheep Herders Need a 'Job' to Entertain Them; 'That'll Do'
Wall Street Journal

BATTLE GROUND, Wash.—Sue Foster knew what she needed to do when her border collie, Taff, was expelled from puppy school for herding the black Labs into a corner.

She rented some sheep. [Slide Show]

So Young and So Many Pills

More than 25% of Kids and Teens in the U.S. Take Prescriptions on a Regular Basis
Wall Street Journal

Gage Martindale, who is 8 years old, has been taking a blood-pressure drug since he was a toddler. "I want to be healthy, and I don't want things in my heart to go wrong," he says.

Making 2011 the Year of Great Relationships

Wall Street Journal

Made any New Year's resolutions yet? Here's an idea: Focus on the state of your relationships instead of the state of your abs.

The Top Ten Trends for 2010


December 22, 2010 - The Nielsen Company provides a complete understanding of what
consumers watch and buy. Throughout 2010, several popular media and consumer spending
trends emerged. This document highlights the trends across: