December 12, 2014

Top News Stories –

Star Wars character names posted by director –
The names of characters in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to be released in December 2015 have been revealed in a mocked-up set of trading cards. John Boyega will be Finn, Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron and Daisy Ridley’s character is called Rey. Director JJ Abrams confirmed the names via some old school trading cards, in reference to when the Star Wars films were first released in the 1970s.
Oscar_IsaacOscar Issac

World’s longest ship launched –
Shanghai-based marine-shipping company China Shipping Container Lines has launched the world’s largest container ship, the “CSCL Globe”. The ship is more than 400m (1,312ft or a quarter of a mile) long, 56.8m (186ft) wide, 73m (240ft) high and 186,000 tonnes gross. The ship, which is longer than four football pitches, is making its maiden voyage from Shanghai to Europe.
CSCL_GlobeThe CSCL Globe

Marriage proposal fail –
A Dutchman’s attempt at a romantic wedding proposal using a mobile crane has resulted in the crane falling over and smashing into a neighbour’s roof. The man had rented a crane in the central town of Ijsselstein to descend in front of his girlfriend’s bedroom window, play her a song and ask her to marry him. Despite the disaster in which no-one was hurt, his girlfriend agreed to marry him.

Pope avoids Dalai Lama meeting –
Pope Francis will not meet the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama because of the “delicate situation” with China, according to the Vatican. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet and China describes him as a separatist. The Vatican does not want to jeopardise improving relations between itself and China.
Pope_Francis Pope Francis

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Star Wars – The Force Awakens Official Trailer –


December 18, 2015

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Star Wars film breaks opening night box office record –
The new Star Wars film has set a new opening night box office record in the US and Canada, industry experts said. Star Wars: The Force Awakens made $57m (£38m) on Thursday night, beating the previous record of $43.5m held by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011. Analysts say the space saga could become the biggest selling movie of all time. The film also set a new opening day box office record in the UK and Ireland. The £9.64m tally beat the previous best of £9.48m set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Midnight screenings on Thursday morning accounted for £2.4m of ticket sales. Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian, one of Hollywood’s best-known box office analysts, said the film’s opening night performance in the US and Canada “portends a massive and potentially record-breaking opening day and weekend for the film”. [BBC]

The $70m cost of Uber Force One: Price of private flights for Obama and family –
Barack Obama’s eighth consecutive Christmas vacation to Hawaii starts Friday just as a new report shows the total cost of his vacations has now exceeded $70 million to U.S. taxpayers. The costs are being savaged by a critical conservative group, which says Obama is treating Air Force One, which costs $206,000/hour to run, ‘like an Uber ride’ ahead of his next jaunt to his home state,’ says Tom Fitton, president of the Judicial Watch pressure group. Fly-time alone will set taxpayers back somewhere in the region of $3.5 million as Obama, the First Lady, Sasha and Malia and their two dogs jet off for around two weeks. The total cost of Obama’s vacations since taking office in January 2009 has now hit $70.5 million, according to a new report. Yet he still has not taken anywhere near the total number of vacations or days off as his predecessor, George W. Bush, the report shows. [Daily Mail]
Barack_Obama_meets_his_staff_in_Air_Force_One_Conference_RoomBarack Obama on Air Force One

Iceland grapples with volcano-naming responsibility –
Authorities in Iceland have decided on a name for a volcano a year after it started erupting. Council members in the rural district of Skutustadahreppur, which boasts a population of 371, took on the hefty responsibility to officially name the lava field known conversationally to locals as Holuhraun, the Iceland Review news website reports. After considering four names for the volcano – Flaedahraun, Holuhraun, Nornahraun and Urdarbruni – the vote was carried to officially use the name Holuhraun, despite only getting the backing of two of the five council members, Icelandic newspaper Visir said. [BBC]

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This Is Not A Pine Tree

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  • In the United States, a group of hospitals, 32 in 15 states, agree to pay a total of $28 million to settle charges they submitted false claims to Medicare for a type of spinal fracture treatment. This is the latest settlement stemming from a decade-oldwhistleblower lawsuit about alleged inappropriate billing for kyphoplasty. More than 130 hospitals have paid about $105 million to settle billing claims from this spinal procedure. (Reuters) (The Arizona Republic)
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January 15, 2016

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Wikipedia Celebrates its 15th birthday –
If you want a modern wonder of the internet, look no further than Wikipedia, which turns 15 years old today. It’s gigantic (more than five million articles in English alone), and gigantically useful for those seeking a grounding in any topic. It has illustrated how the internet and the power of the crowd can disrupt established businesses: both the book-based Encyclopaedia Britannica and Microsoft’s CD-based Encarta fell before the onslaught of a simple collaborative document that anyone could edit and enhance. Even Google failed with its rival, launched in 2008 and killed amid indifference in 2012. It even has a creation myth; people think it was the effort of Jimmy Wales alone, but in fact he and Larry Sanger (an “internet project developer” – thanks, Wikipedia) were working on the idea of an online encyclopedia called Nupedia, which began in 1999.  [Daily Telegraph]  [This web site is a supporter of Wikipedia]
Jimmy_WalesJimmy Wales

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22×22 rubik’s cube World Record

List of the Day

15 amazing things since the idea of Wikipedia was launched to the world on January 15, 2001. [Wikipedia]

Ward Cunningham, designer of Wikipedia

Millions of people have gathered all this knowledge by working together from everywhere around the world.

Ward Cunningham designed the wiki, the first internet platform that allowed many people to work on a document at the same time. He named it ‘wiki,’ a Hawaiian word that means ‘quick.’ (There is even a wiki-wiki shuttle in Honolulu.)

The Wiktionary logo

You know the encyclopedia, but there’s so much more.

Did you also know there’s a free dictionary, free textbooks, quotes, learning tools, a travel guide, and more?

Program for the Wikipeda exhibit

The first Wikipedia exhibition opened on March 17, 2006.

It was held at the Göttingen University Library in Germany.

An actual robot

Behind the scenes, bots do some of the repetitive jobs so that volunteers don’t have to.

There are almost 2,000 bots approved for use on the English Wikipedia alone, and they even have names. PhotoCatBot helps people find articles that need images.

The Wikipedia 'W'

Wikipedia became one of the top 10 websites in the world in 2007.

It’s the only non-profit anywhere near the top.

An angry elephant holding a glass of whiskey

People who work on Wikipedia are called “Wikipedians”.

Building the world’s largest database of information with people from all over can be challenging. Wikipedians write rules, guidelines and essays to help other people understand being a Wikipedian. “No angry mastodons” suggests that you shouldn’t edit when you’re hungry or intoxicated.

A pair of quail

The first photo ever uploaded to Commons was a pair of quail.

…while this scan of the world’s first photograph uploaded to Wikimedia Commons is entirely inscrutable. Speaking of birds and photos, there is such a thing as pigeon photography: “A homing pigeon was fitted with an aluminium breast harness to which a lightweight time-delayed miniature camera could be attached.” (There was even a stamp for pigeon mail. It’s adorable and shaped like a triangle.)

A black poodle

One of the first articles ever written was for the standard poodle.

It simply said, “A dog by which all others are measured.” The English Wikipedia page for poodleis now more than 5,000 words, and includes the many names that people have invented for poodles crossed with other dog breeds: Labradoodle, Poochon, Cockapoo, Spoodle, Maltipoo, Goldendoodle, Schnoodle, Pekapoos, Cavapoo, and Bernedoodle.

A screenshot from the Wikipedia blackout

Wikipedia helps keep the Internet open and free.

In 2012, the Wikipedia communities blacked out the site to protest SOPA.

An old-time wrestling match

The second-most-edited English Wikipedia article of all time is about pro wrestling.

A snake on a magic towel

One of the competition entries for a new Wikivoyage logo was a snake on a magic towel.

Sir Carton de Wiart

British army officer Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart’s Wikipedia article has been retweeted more than 3,500 times.

Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880–5 June 1963) was a British Army officer and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” in various Commonwealth countries. He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a prisoner-of-war camp; and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Describing his experiences in the First World War, he wrote, ‘Frankly I had enjoyed the war.’”

Lord Byron, who took a bear to college

Wikipedians keep lists of controversies and hoaxes on Wikipedia.

One hoax claimed that Lord Byron kept a crocodile and a honey badger as pets. It would not be easy to uncover this hoax—during his lifetime, in addition to numerous cats, dogs and horses, Byron kept a fox, monkeys, an eagle, a crow, a falcon, peacocks, guinea hens, an Egyptian crane,a badger, geese, a heron, and a goat. He took a bear to college when he found that dogs were not allowed.

A telescope, looking ahead

Researchers can predict the spread of illness from data on Wikipedia.

“Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory were able to make extremely accurate forecasts about the spread of dengue fever in Brazil and flu in the U.S., Japan, Poland and Thailand by examining three years’ worth of Wikipedia search data.”

 It would take 16 years to read all of English Wikipedia.

And that’s if you didn’t take any breaks, and never slept.

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February 22, 2016

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Taylor Swift donates $250,000 to Kesha after her failed lawsuit against Dr Luke and Sony –
Taylor Swift has donated $250,000 (£176,099.74) to Kesha after her failed lawsuit. Kesha on Friday lost her bid to end her contract with Sony. A New York judge denied Kesha a court injunction that would have allowed her to record new music outside of her record label. The ‘Tik Tok’ singer has been unable to record any new music for two years, as she refuses to work with her producer, Dr Luke, who she claims sexually assaulted her. According to the New York Daily News, Kesha will have to record six more albums under Kemosabe Records, Dr. Luke’s Sony imprint. In October 2014, Kesha sued Dr. Luke, accusing him of drugging, raping and abusing her a decade ago; Dr. Luke has denied all charges. [Daily Telegraph]

Jeb Bush drops out of presidential race –
A crestfallen Jeb Bush bowed to the inevitable on Saturday night and pulled out of the fight to win the Republican nomination. With the latest projections showing that Mr Bush was locked in a battle to win a distant fourth place in the South Carolina primary, the announcement was hardly a surprise. Fighting back tears he said: “Tonight, I am suspending my campaign, “I’m proud of the campaign that we have run to unify our country.” [Daily Telegraph]

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7 MYTHS You Still Believe About “Healthy Eating”

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