Technology is advancing more and more rapidly. Products that we once thought were timeless icons are becoming useless, and products introduced just a few years ago are being replaced by smaller, more efficient devices that do the same exact thing much better. Here are our predictions for technologies that will join such classics as the VCR and CRT television in the annals of electronics history within the next decade or so.

Landlocked Telephones

These days, you could probably argue that the telephone is already extinct, but I consider it more of an endangered species. If you think about friends and siblings who have an actual hard line, you probably come up empty, but reframe the query in terms of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other elders and you could probably come up with a short list of names. We expect that list to get shorter and shorter as people realize just how redundant a land line really is in the age of mobile phones, texting, email and social networking. Don’t expect to see many of these weathered warriors outside of businesses by 2020.

Fax Machines

Like its voice-based counterpart, the fax machine is a big, ugly hunk of hardware whose utility is steadily waning. Yes, when it comes to legal documents, you may still want to see the hard print. But you can always do that in person. And when it comes to just about anything less substantial than a 30-year mortgage, you better believe you’d rather read, sign at the X and resend via email. One of the most infuriating technologies ever, fax machines are large, bulky, wasteful and in need of constant maintenance and/or repair– everything our technological future is not. As digital signatures become more widely accepted, expect the average homeowner and businessperson to use any one of the aforementioned reasons to go all Office Space on the ancient relic known as fax machine.

Cell Phones

No, we don’t believe that VoIP over tablet computers will replace cell phone communication. Nor do we believe that some mystical, new interpersonal communication system is on the horizon. What we’re thinking is that with the burgeoning growth of smartphones, traditional cell phones–the ones you spent 100 percent of the time talking on–will slowly be phased out. As smartphones become more popular and less expensive to produce, there’s really no reason that all phones won’t look like the smartphones of today. In the future, we suspect that your options will be phones that offer speed and function that we can’t yet dream of and entry-level contract giveaways that look something like the iPhone 4s or HTC EVOs of today. How is a one-trick pony going to survive in that world?


There has got to be a point where many slightly differentiated versions of the same damn device is too many. And we feel that the time is right about now. With the overwhelming success of the iPad, and all of the tablets that are getting ready to hit the market later this year, it’s clear that consumers and manufacturers are strongly behind the tablet. It’s thinner, prettier and more engaging than a netbook, and if you happen to need a keyboard, you can dock up to a full-size model at will. If you want to do real work, you have a notebook for that. What exactly did you ever need a netbook for again? Just wait until we get a variety of subsidized tablets, and you’ll forget the term netbook even existed.

Blu-ray Discs

It happened to VHS. DVDs are on the chopping block about now. So if you think Blu-rays are somehow immune to extinction, prepare to be disappointed. Sure, Blu-rays offer the best picture and sound right now, but streaming services are quickly catching up. As average bandwidth expands, and streaming libraries grow, more people will certainly ditch discs in favor of streaming.

Earlier this year, CNET broke a story about Netflix upgrading to 1080p sometime in 2010. Unfortunately, official word from Netflix negated that report, but while 1080p might not be coming this year, the information points to it happening sometime soon. With Netflix and other streaming services appearing in more and more TVs, you don’t even need to dedicate dollars or space to an extra home theater device, let alone an unwieldy collection of movies that you watch once or twice in your life. So why would you?


3DTV is perhaps our riskiest inclusion on the list. While it’s way too early to tell how successful it’s been so far or how much potential it has, we just don’t see that many people paying a premium on television just so they can watch bad movies not get any better with an extra dimension. Oh yeah, and having to pay more for a pair of geeky goggles to enjoy that ’stunning’ 3D picture is a slap in the face too. I mean, the idea of 3D is hardly new and it’s never been anything but a niche technology. Why is that suddenly going to change? Only time will tell, but we don’t expect to see many 3D sets on the market by 2020, and at the very least, the glasses will be ancient history by then.

Set-Top Boxes

Let’s face it: no one ever really liked set-top boxes. There were too many different kinds that did too little and took up extra space that you just didn’t have. The best compliment that you could ever give a set-top box is that it was the best way to access certain content at a given time in history. But, everyone’s going to need to buy a new television at some point, and more and more, those new televisions integrate things like Netflix, YouTube and full-on Web browsing right into them. So, it’s already not too difficult to eliminate the set-top box that you never really liked that much anyway, and it’s only going to get easier. While their small form factor was never quite small enough in the home entertainment center, it promises to take up little room at the local landfill.

We know that Steve Jobs thinks that PCs are dying (or at least he thinks he’ll sell more iPads that way). What device or technology do you think won’t make it past the next 10 years? What do you hope to see replaced, changed or improved?
Mehran Rafaat, 6, left, and her twin sisters, Benafsha, center and Beheshta, near their home in Badghis Province, Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Six-year-old Mehran Rafaat is like many girls her age. She likes to be the center of attention. She is often frustrated when things do not go her way. Like her three older sisters, she is eager to discover the world outside the family’s apartment in their middle-class neighborhood of Kabul.

But when their mother, Azita Rafaat, a member of Parliament, dresses the children for school in the morning, there is one important difference. Mehran’s sisters put on black dresses and head scarves, tied tightly over their ponytails. For Mehran, it’s green pants, a white shirt and a necktie, then a pat from her mother over her spiky, short black hair. After that, her daughter is out the door — as an Afghan boy.

There are no statistics about how many Afghan girls masquerade as boys. But when asked, Afghans of several generations can often tell a story of a female relative, friend, neighbor or co-worker who grew up disguised as a boy. To those who know, these children are often referred to as neither “daughter” nor “son” in conversation, but as “bacha posh,” which literally means “dressed up as a boy” in Dari.

Through dozens of interviews conducted over several months, where many people wanted to remain anonymous or to use only first names for fear of exposing their families, it was possible to trace a practice that has remained mostly obscured to outsiders. Yet it cuts across class, education, ethnicity and geography, and has endured even through Afghanistan’s many wars and governments.

Afghan families have many reasons for pretending their girls are boys, including economic need, social pressure to have sons, and in some cases, a superstition that doing so can lead to the birth of a real boy. Lacking a son, the parents decide to make one up, usually by cutting the hair of a daughter and dressing her in typical Afghan men’s clothing. There are no specific legal or religious proscriptions against the practice. In most cases, a return to womanhood takes place when the child enters puberty. The parents almost always make that decision.

In a land where sons are more highly valued, since in the tribal culture usually only they can inherit the father’s wealth and pass down a name, families without boys are the objects of pity and contempt. Even a made-up son increases the family’s standing, at least for a few years. A bacha posh can also more easily receive an education, work outside the home, even escort her sisters in public, allowing freedoms that are unheard of for girls in a society that strictly segregates men and women.

Read the full story here.

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English is a screwy language. There’s just no logic to it. Why is daughter pronounced daw-ter, but laughter not law-ter? How can though, through, and tough look so similar and yet sound so different? Why does I come before E except after C? What’s so effing SPECIAL about C?

This is the reason that people who speak more sensible languages approach English with stumbling trepidation. English is insane. It has the capacity to confuse even the smartest of its native speakers—including scientists, engineers, and company presidents—especially when it has to be put down on paper.

1. YOU’RE and YOUR

If you have no idea when to use which … well, you’re not on your own. This is perhaps the most common mistake of all. Heaven knows why. The distinction is really quite simple:
You’re is used to substitute the words you are.
Your is a word you use when referring to something that belongs to the person you’re speaking to. “Your purse,” “your coat,” and so on—and not “Your late!” or “Your wrong!”

2. IT’S and ITS
Close cousins of you’re and your, it’s and its suffer about the same amount of misuse.
It’s (with an apostrophe) replaces It is or It has. (It’s easy to remember!)
Its (with no apostrophe) refers to something that belongs to “it.” (Its meaning is clear!)

Ah, the triple treat … or terror, as the case may be.
They’re is short for They are.
Their refers to something that belongs to “them.”
And there is simply “not here.”
“They’re going to their house, which is over there.”

4. TO and TOO
When you mean overly, please remember to add the extra O—or face the consequences. I once received a heated text message that was meant to make me angry: “TO BAD!” it shouted in loud, aggressive capitals. I ended up in uncontrollable giggles instead. Too bad indeed.

This one really drives me batty. And when I lose my mind, I often let loose a string of expletives. When what you want to say is the opposite of find, then lose the extra O. Loose (with two o’s) is the opposite of tight.

Like I said, these little confusions are pretty common. They don’t actually bother me half as much as the non-words I often find littering notes, emails … even official business memos. Words like:

Hundreds of people use this word (often with passion!), both in speech and writing, every day—but the truth is, it doesn’t exist! The real word is regardless.

Anyone who insists this is a word is spouting ALOT of baloney. If you’ve ever written this non-word, what you probably meant was either a lot (meaning “many”) or allot (to ration or allocate).

Boy, would I love to get a hold (two words, not one) of the person who decided to just forget the space and make up “ahold new word.”

Guilty? Don’t sweat it. Its nothing to loose sleep over. Your not to bad. Their are alot of people in the same boat, irregardless of what you may think. Just get ahold of you’reself, take a few mental notes, and move on from here.

For the last three years, doctors have been trying to figure out what makes Twinkle Dwivedi‘s body ooze blood through her eyes, feet and even her head, but she remains a medical mystery.

When Twinkle’s case first appeared in the international media, many hurried to call her a fake, but after countless tests and procedures, including blood transfusions, doctors are still baffled by her strange bleeding. A group of medical specialists, led by dr. George Buchanan, recently traveled to North India to investigate the 14-year-old Twinkle, but all they have been able to say was that “she really suffers from a condition we have never seen before.”

The young teen remembers her disorder first appeared when she was just 11, and her classmates started mocking her and calling her disgusting. Although her bleeding didn’t hurt at all, she felt scared and alone, because no one would come near her. At first she would cry when she saw her clothes soaked with blood, but now she just keeps quiet, and prays she will eventually get better.

Despite her parents efforts, who took her to see the best doctors, Twinkle Dwivedi still bleeds from her eyes and pores, up to 14 times a day.

PRACTITIONERS of the oldest profession have been found at work on the icy shores of Antarctica plying their trade in a dress of black and white feathers - they are penguin prostitutes.

The first recorded examples of bird prostitution have been observed in colonies of Adelie penguins on Ross Island, about 800 miles from the South Pole, by Dr Fiona Hunter of Cambridge University and Dr Lloyd Davis of the University of Otago, supported by the New Zealand Antarctic Programme.

They observed how male Adelies pay for sexual favours with rocks and stones, a limited resource that can prove crucial for the survival of broods. In no other bird have such extra-marital exchanges been recorded, said Dr Hunter, a post-doctoral researcher who has made annual visits to Antarctica to study their sex life.

She described how, at the start of the breeding season, the penguins hunt for stones. Once all the loose rocks have been collected, they attempt to peck them out of the frozen mud to construct a nest platform, crucial to keep eggs high and dry above mud and chilly melt water.

Stones are so valuable that they will steal them from each other, though they risk being attacked by the owners of the hard currency. In the journal Auk, Drs Hunter and Davis describe how females have developed another strategy: they lure nearby male penguins for sex in exchange for the rocks. "Females have figured out that one way to steal the stones without being attacked is to swap copulations for them," said Dr Hunter.

They slip away from their partner and wander over to the nest of an unpaired male. Standard courtship follows, with a dip of the head and a coy look from the corner of her eye. If he shows interest, she will lie prone which, in the language of penguin love, is an invitation to mate or carry out what the scientists call "extra-pair copulation".

Once mating is over, the female picks up her payment, a stone, and carries it to her nesting platform. Sometimes their customers are so satisfied that the females can return for second helpings of stones, without having to offer more sex. Other females found that a little courtship was enough to persuade a male to allow them to play with a rock, then cart it away. One especially teasing female managed to collect 62 stones this way, said Dr Hunter. "The males were probably duped into thinking that she was a possible partner."

The zoologists are now analysing the benefits of penguin whoredom. While the male may lose some of his rocks, he gains the possibility of fathering extra chicks. The benefits to the females are less clear. "I don't think that she is just after his stones," said Dr Hunter. "Perhaps the female mates with an extra male for another reason, say to increase the quality or genetic variability of her offspring. This seems reasonable given that not all males actually father the chicks they help to rear."

Another reason for seeking male company could be to form a relationship with a potential mate for the next season if her partner dies. The team is now planning another trip to the frozen continent to uncover more details of the penguin's complicated love life.
When a nearby college, Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., started offering classes on Star Trek's place in popular culture years ago, the old guard shook their heads in confusion and disgust. Had I a starship and a wormhole, I'd perhaps go back and offer up a new course that will be available at the University of Baltimore: Zombies 101.

As part of the advanced English course, students will learn about zombies from Arnold Blumberg, a renaissance geek who already teaches about comic books at the University of Maryland and has written or co-written books on Doctor Who collectables and penned fiction for the "Doctor Who: Short Trips" series.

Blumberg also co-authored "Zombiemania," a guide to zombie cinema, and when he first discovered the University of Baltimore was starting a pop culture minor, he knew he wanted to take on the undead who want to eat your brains.

"Zombies are one of the most direct and potent reflections of where we are at any given time as a people, as a culture--what we think, feel, and fear," he told CNET. "They're our family, our friends, even ourselves, and it's always important to take a close, critical look at our entertainment and examine what it says about us and to us."

And if the course is a success, will there be others? A class on vampires perhaps? "I would be very interested in building on this with other courses in the future (Doctor Who is a personal favorite so time travel will likely rear its head one day,) but I might leave 'Twilight' to another professor," Blumberg said. Oh, snap!

The course, which began last week and runs through early December, will include in its curriculum movies ranging from 1932's "White Zombie," to films by George Romero (who's practically the godfather of Zombie culture), to recent fare like "28 Days Later" and "Zombieland." Students will also explore novels like "World War Z" and the comic and TV adaptation of "The Walking Dead." I'm jealous.

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Fans of royal pomp and splendour will be surprised at how much there is to do and see, without dipping into your own coffers. One key bit of pageantry that takes place regularly is the Changing of the Guard. Watch this traditional ceremony outside Buckingham Palace, where guards swap places wearing red tunics and bearskin hats. 11am outside Buckingham Palace, but check beforehand as it only takes place on certain days,


Entry to the Tower of London usually costs £17 for an adult, £9.50 for a child, but there is a way to get inside for free. The Ceremony of the Keys takes place every evening at the Tower of London, home to the Crown Jewels. Dressed in his red tunic, the Chief Yeoman locks the gates - important when you know what treasure lies within - before delivering them to the Resident Governor of the Tower, a ritual that has gone on for 700 years. Tickets are free, but need to be booked two months in advance by written application. More details:


With the elections over, keep your MP busy with the task of helping organise your free tour of St Stephen's Tower, home to the Big Ben bell. Said to be the most accurate clock in the world, the tour guide will outline the history of the tower and bell and how it all works. Space is limited and so early booking is advised (usually three to six months in advance). Further information at


Anyone interested in the 2012 Olympics can tour the Stratford Olympic stadium for free - just book in advance and take photographic ID (over eight-year-olds only). Tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays, last an hour and go by bus from Stratford station. or call 0300 2012 001.


Before you jump on an expensive organised sightseeing tour, consider a DIY tour which comes with an added bonus. Some of the buses are vintage Routemaster models and go past some of London's most iconic landmarks. There are two key routes: the number 9, which takes in neon-clad Piccadilly, Hyde Park, the Albert Hall and Kensington Palace. Number 15 includes Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London and St Paul's Cathedral. The routes will take you through the West End, West London and the City to the East End. Using an Oystercard would cost an adult £3.90 to travel all day by bus. More information:

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The new Barclays Cycle Hire scheme means you can see the capital for under a fiver - a day's hire, plus the activation key comes to £4. As long as you ensure that no journey lasts more than 30 minutes, the bicycles won't cost you anything.


London's major museums - including the British Museum, the V&A and the Tate Modern - are free, but for something a bit more unusual, head to the Gagosian Gallery in Kings Cross. Currently, it has an exhibition of some rarely-seen Picassos and looking at them won't cost you a penny. More details:


The Mayor's Thames Festival takes place from 11-12 September and is one of the best free events in the capital. This year there will be performances as well as archaelogical walks along the foreshore, while the weekend will be rounded off with a huge firework display. Following the current fashion for all things vintage, classic sailing boats will be on show at St Katherine's Dock. For further information:


Enjoy some of the West End's biggest hits during Kids Week, when children go free if accompanied by adults. This promotion, which includes Mamma Mia!, Oliver! and the Railway Children lasts until 3 September.

More information:, but you can also buy half-price theatre tickets year-round from the Tkts booth in Leicester Square. See


See inside buildings never usually open to the public over the weekend of September 18-19. The Open House event includes tours of the Bank of England, the BT Tower and City Hall, as well as private houses and historic buildings. And all tours are free. See

Swallow (right) is smaller than the average sheep

A cow whose tiny stature saved her from the abattoir has entered the record books as the world's smallest.

Swallow, a Dexter cow from Cheshire, stands 33.5in (0.8m) tall from hind to foot - shorter than most sheep.

The 11-year-old, who is currently pregnant, has produced nine calves and is described by owner Caroline Ryder as the "nanny of the herd".

Swallow secured a slot with the tallest dog, longest snake and oldest gorilla in the 2011 Guinness World Records.

The tiny cow was born in Newbury, Berkshire in 1999 and bought by the Ryder family at a rare breed auction in 2006.

'Genetic anomaly'

Brought up in Rishworth, West Yorkshire, her small size means she is used for breeding, explained Mrs Ryder, who recently moved to Crossley Hall Farm, near Congleton.

"She was quite small when she was born and she has grown proportionately," she told the BBC.

"She is really sweet - an asset to the herd. For a small cow with short legs she can't half move fast."

The family approached Guinness after noticing a posting on a Dexter cattle forum from someone looking for the smallest cow.

After putting her name forward last year, Guinness confirmed the record a few months ago.

The other new entries in Guinness World Records 2011:
  • Widest tongue: Jay Stoot from Australia measuring 7.9cm
  • Longest beard: Sarwan Singh measuring 7ft 9in
  • Greatest weight lifted by nipples: Sage Werbock, aka, The Great Nippulini, who lifted 31.9kg
  • Furthest distance a double-decker bud has been pulled with hair: Manjit Singh - 21 metres
  • Most gurning wins: Tommy Mattinson - 11 wins
  • Longest dog tongue: Puggy measuring 11.43cm
  • Longest snake: Fluffy the Anaconda measuring 24ft
  • Oldest Gorilla: Colo aged 51
  • Fastest time a dog can pop 100 balloons: Anastacia in 44.49 secs

watch the video of the Guinness World Records

Retail giant Wal-Mart is the world’s largest public company, and whether or not you’re a fan of shopping at the House that Sam Walton Built, you’ve got to admit that the store stocks just about everything. But not quite, though. There are a number of things that Wal-Mart has banned from its stores at some point. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

1. Barbie’s Pregnant Pal

In 2002 Wal-Mart cleared its shelves of Barbie’s pregnant friend, Midge. The doll, which featured a removable stomach complete with deliverable baby, was part of Mattel’s “Happy Family” set that also included her husband and son. However, customers complained about seeing pregnancy enter into Barbie’s universe, and Wal-Mart pulled all of the Happy Family sets from its stores.

2. This Underwear:

That’s right: panties that say, “Who needs credit cards…” on the front and “When you have Santa” on the rear. The undergarments started showing up in Wal-Mart’s juniors departments in December 2007 and quickly started an Internet firestorm over the perceived message of using Kris Kringle as a sugar daddy. While the same joke would be fairly harmless on, say, a t-shirt, many women felt that its placement on underwear added a sinister sexual undertone aimed at adolescent girls. In response to the public outcry, Wal-Mart pulled the offending underthings from its shelves.

3. Confederate-Themed Barbecue Sauce

You may remember the raucous debate about whether the Confederate flag should be flown over the South Carolina State House in 2000, but you probably didn’t know the battle spilled over into Wal-Mart’s grocery aisles. At the time, 90 Southern Wal-Marts were marketing a mustard-based sauce created by Maurice Bessinger, an outspoken advocate of flying the Rebel flag over the State House and owner of eight Piggie Park restaurants.
During the flag debate, Bessinger replaced all American flags at his eateries with Confederate flags, a move that Wal-Mart saw as objectionable and needlessly provocative, so the company yanked his sauces from its stores. (Don’t feel too bad for Bessinger, though; it took nothing less than a 1976 Supreme Court intervention to force him to serve African Americans in his restaurants.)

4. A Shirt That Read “Someday a Woman Will Be President”

In 1995 a Miami-area Wal-Mart pulled this shirt from its racks after consumer complaints. The shirt, which featured the character Margaret from Dennis the Menace, ran afoul of “the company’s family values,” so it went back to the stock rooms. Eventually more reasonable, non-Stone-Age heads prevailed, and the shirt made it back onto the shelves after three months in limbo.

5. Workplace Romance

In November 2005, German courts ruled that Wal-Mart could not ban all workplace romance at its German stores. The retailer had unsuccessfully tried to force all employees to sign off on a 28-page code of ethics that included prohibitions on “lustful glances and ambiguous jokes” and “sexually meaningful communication of any type.”

6. An Al Snow Action Figure

In 1999 Wal-Mart put the brakes on selling an action figure featuring WWE hardcore wrestler Al Snow. Snow’s wrestling gimmick at the time involved walking to the ring while carrying and talking to a mannequin head. Naturally, his action figure came with the head as an accessory, but two professors at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University saw the inclusion of the head as a problem. They told the press that by selling the action figure society was “normalizing violent treatment of women. We are telling little boys that this is acceptable behavior.” (Please, parents: don’t ever give your sons the impression that carrying and talking to part of a mannequin is acceptable.) Following this high-profile outcry, Wal-Mart quit stocking the Al Snow action figure.

7. Megan Fox

The Wal-Mart in the starlet’s hometown supposedly banned her for life following a teenage shoplifting bust. A 2008 report on alleged that Fox got the heave-ho after being caught swiping a $7 tube of lip gloss during a rebellious shoplifting spree, which earned her the lifetime ban.

8. Lad Mags

If you’re a frisky 17-year-old looking for the latest Maxim, Stuff, or FHM, don’t head to Wal-Mart. Since 2003 the store has banned the so-called “lad mags” due to their racy photo spreads and bawdy editorial content.
It’s actually not all the uncommon for Wal-Mart to give a single issue of a magazine an ax, too. In the past, the store has refused to stock issues of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition and a 2001 issue of InStyle that featured an artistic nude shot of Kate Hudson.

9. Music

Wal-Mart has long declined to stock any music bearing a parental advisory warning for explicit lyrical content, but the company’s fastidiousness with regards to music doesn’t stop there. When the store carried Nirvana’s album In Utero, it changed the song title “Rape Me” to the less offensive (and less coherent) “Waif Me.” Similarly, the store declined to carry Prince’s 1988 album Lovesexy because of a fairly tame cover that featured a nude photo of the artist.

10. Superbad DVDs

When the comedy Superbad hit store shelves in 2007, it came with a little extra: a replica of the fake Hawaii driver’s license used by the self-dubbed “McLovin’.” Most movie fans would simply see this freebie as a little reminder of one of the movie’s funniest scenes, but Hawaiian authorities simply felt it was a fake ID. Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann requested that Wal-Mart pull the DVD from store shelves across the state, and the retailer quickly complied.

11. Cuban Pajamas

Wal-Mart’s Canadian stores found themselves in a pickle in 1997. The Canadian subsidiary had begun selling Cuban-made pajamas at eight bucks a pop across our neighbor to the North, which enraged both the company’s home office and the U.S. Treasury Department.
The stores quickly pulled the offending PJ’s, which led to a second problem: this action may have violated a Canadian law that forbids abiding by the American embargo of Cuba. After the Ottawa government pointed out that Wal-Mart could face a million-dollar fine for pulling the sleepwear from its shelves, the Canadian Wal-Marts reversed the ban after one week. [Underwear & T-shirt images courtesy of]
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1) New York City has 11 letters.
2) Afghanistan has 11 letters.
3) Ramsin Yuseb (The terrorist who threatened to destroy the Twin Towers in 1993) has 11 letters.
4) George W. Bush has 11 letters.
5) The two twin towers make an "11".

This could be a mere coincidence, but this gets more interesting:

1) New York is the 11th state.
2) The first plane crashing against the Twin Towers was flight number 11.
3) Flight 11 was carrying 92 passengers. 9 + 2 = 11
4) Flight 77 which also hit Twin Towers, was carrying 65 passengers. 6+5 = 11
5) The tragedy was on September 11, or 9/11 as it is now known. 9 + 1+ 1 = 11
6) The date is equal to the US emergency services telephone number 911. 9 + 1 + 1 = 11.

Sheer coincidence..?! Read on and make up your own mind:

1) The total number of victims inside all the hi-jacked planes was 254. 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.
2) September 11 is day number 254 of the calendar year. Again 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.
3) The Madrid bombing took place on 3/11/2004. 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 11.
4) The tragedy of Madrid happened 911 days after the Twin Towers incident.

Now this is where things get totally eerie:

The most recognized symbol for the US, after the Stars & Stripes, is the Eagle.
The following verse is taken from the Quran, the Islamic holy book:

"For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle.
The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo,
while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced:
for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah and there was peace."

That verse is number 9.11 of the Quran.

Still unconvinced about all of this..?!
Try this and see how you feel afterwards, it made my hair stand on end:

Open Microsoft Word and do the following

1. Type in capitals Q33 NY. This is the flight number of the first plane to hit one of the Twin Towers.
2. Highlight the Q33 NY
3. Change the font size to 48.
4. Change the actual font to the WINGDINGS 1

note: May God bless the families who have lost their family members on 9/11 tragedy. N' for the victims, R.I.P n may God keep ur souls. :,)

Learning how to use the space shuttle's toilet? That's tricky.

To that end, NASA has a specially designed training room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston where astronauts can carefully hone their "technique" before departing on a trip to orbit. Astronaut Michael Massimino put the space potty trainer in the spotlight in a behind-the-scenes video with the six-man crew of NASA's current shuttle mission – going on now – on the shuttle Atlantis.

On the shuttle, urine is handled differently than solid waste, so it doesn't go through the 4-inch opening. Instead, a long hose with suction power attaches beside the seat, and each astronaut attaches her or her own funnel for urination to this hose.

Funnels are different for men and women.

Women need to place the top of their funnels directly against their bodies, so the sides of the female funnels need to be vented so that air can flow in when the suction is turned on, Weinstein explained. And women can choose among three funnels with differently shaped tops — there are two funnels with oval-shaped tops and one with a circle-shaped top.

Male funnels are simpler. They only come in one shape — the top is circular — and they do not have venting.

"For men, we do not want them ... docking to the funnel," said Weinstein, so male funnels do not need venting at the top to let in air.

Lastly, for paper waste, a separate suction hose on the side of the toilet can be fitted with a larger cup and lined with a plastic bag.

Straps on the foot rest can help to hold an astronaut in place, and there are two thigh restraints on the sides of the toilet that can be swung over the top of the legs to help a person stay down on the toilet. But not everyone uses them.

Before the most recent Atlantis mission, astronauts gathered in the room and compared their techniques for staying in position when they are weightless.

"I stick my hands on the roof," said astronaut Piers Sellers, pressing his hands palm-up over his head.

The thigh restraints are helpful as handles for getting in and out of the toilet, said astronaut Steve Bowen, but he also uses the low roof over the toilet to stay in position.

Massimino followed Atlantis' astronauts as they trained for a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.

The fence-like enclosures are designed for cars to drive in and conceal prostitutes and customers as they conduct their business.

The proposed installation was prompted by thousands of complaints about the prostitutes who line the road from locals whose homes overlook the booming red-light district in Zurich.

According to the Daily Mail, police spokesman Reto Casanova said, "We can't get rid of prostitution, so have to learn how to control it."

Prostitution is legal in Switzerland. In 2007, that country's sex industry racked up an estimated $2.6 billion in revenue. reports, "In neighbouring Germany, Italy and France, the legal age for prostitution is 18... Switzerland remains a European exception, and girls as young as 16 can in theory legally sell their services in parts of the country."

Christian Democrat Luc Barthassat in April called for legislators to raise the legal age to 18. He told, “Switzerland risks becoming a major sex tourism destination.”

A local politician, Jeannette Schlegel added, "It’s absurd that young people under 18 are not allowed to watch pornographic films, but are allowed to take part in them.”

In Switzerland, human trafficking and coercing a person into prostitution carry hefty prison sentences. According to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, this country is not exempt from the sex trafficking crisis.

It is at the Tier 2 level, worse off, according to the report, than the U.S.

Psychologists at Wayne State University looked at the life spans of 10,000 doctors, lawyers and athletes born between 1870 and 1930 and found those people whose names began with the letter “D” lived, on average, the shortest lives. At the other extreme, those who had the first initial “A” lived the longest, out-stretching “D”-people’s longevity by nearly 10 years.

The researchers speculate that having a name beginning with “D” contributes to poor self-esteem — which other studies suggest lowers a person’s defense against disease. The self-confidence knock is due to a link with the standard American school grading systems, where Ds constitute poor achievement. “Throughout life, we are constantly reminded that ‘A’ symbolizes the best, whereas ‘D’ is regarded as almost a failure,” the professors write in the journal “Death Studies.”

The latest study follows other research which found that names can influence major life decisions. For example, people with the name Lawrence are more likely to be lawyers while Dennises are over-represented among dentists.

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Funny cartoon of the day

Funny cartoon of the day