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Toxic Meltdown

Findings by Canadian scientists are confirming what Swiss scientists reported in 2008, that melting glaciers are releasing toxins, including PCBs and others used decades ago but banned since:

The Chimp and the Cubs

A chimp in a Thai zoo is taking care of orphaned tiger cubs (video):

A Thousand Voices

The amazing voice impressionist Jim Meskimen will be at The Acting Center July 29, 30, 31. Here he is performing a speech from Shakespeare's Richard III using celebrity voices (video):

New Faces, Same Problems

from The Grapes of Wrath
British journalist Paul Mason traces the journey made in The Grapes of Wrath and finds that the more things change, the more they stay the same (video):

"Life in a Day"

Almost 900 submissions and 4,500 hours of footage later, Life in a Day ("the day" being July 24, 2010 ~ what were you doing that day?), a compilation of YouTube videos from around the world, is now in theaters (video):

By Any Other Name

I don't know if this is true, but I remember once hearing that someone in the Lear family named a daughter Chanda. And of course, there are the famous Ima Hogg and Ima Pigg (apparently, the rumor that there was also a Ura Hogg is just that, a rumor). Here are some more (shall we say?) unusual baby names:

Home At Last

Six young Grauer's gorillas, orphaned by poachers, are home at a rehabilitation center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the story, "catching a ride on a helicopter is not a gorilla’s idea of a good time."

All Hail Londinium!

Time to go back to London ~ or go back IN London ~ with an iPhone/iPad app that lets you see and hear what would have been going on around you in any given location around the middle of the first century C.E. It's an update of an older app:

Speed Show on the Menu

An artist takes over an internet cafe for a speed show (added bonus: Now you know why your seat on the plane won't recline!) (video):

That's Odd

Mass mud bath, longest table (seating 550), air guitar championships, a 200-year-old "petite folie," and bell-ringing in a garage: A rundown of the week's bizarre stories from around the world, as only the BBC can do it (video):

Sunny at Chincoteague

The 86th Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim (video; not much to see after about minute 5):

A New Leaf

Amazing! How does Spanish artist Lorenzo Duran cut these beautiful, intricate scenes out of leaves? (credit where credit is due: this came from PCCL science/math/art teacher Erin):

Tragedy in the Making

Archive photos chronicling the building of the Titanic:

Otterly Entertaining

Mazu, a Congo clawless otter who was rescued after his mother was shot by a hunter, shows off his otterly ways ~ and in the process inspires a village to place a ban on otter hunting (video):

In Our Prime

The significant, fascinating, and consequential mystery of prime numbers:

A Hairy Journey

Starting out clean-shaven, a young man walks across China and chronicles his trip in a unique way. Credit where credit is due: This came to me via my amazing bro, Mark (video):

The Water Next Time

In a quasar far, far away ~ 12 billion light years away, to be (more or less) exact ~ lies a mass of water vapor 140 trillion times the size of all of Earth's oceans put together:

Possibly Maybe

Researchers at Chicago's Tevatron think they saw glimpses of what they hope is the elusive Higgs boson particle:

Women of War

A female historian dresses up like a woman who dressed up like a man so that she could fight in the Civil War (video):

Nom de Moon

Pluto's newly discovered moon needs a name. Learn how Pluto and its other moons got their names and be inspired:|utmccn=%28direct%29|utmcmd=%28none%29&__utmv=-&__utmk=231179807

Six Degrees of Education

Why, in many cases, a bachelor's degree just isn't enough anymore ~ or is it?:

The Last Starfighter?

A Q&A with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who in May officially retired from his government duties despite pleas from the Tibetan people:

Recycling 101

Death of a Buddha, Revisited

photo from
It was 10 years ago that, in a startling display of chauvinism, ignorance, and philistinism, the Taliban systematically destroyed the extraordinary and beautiful Buddhas that had been carved into the cliffs of Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan 1,400 years ago:

A Right Proper Argy-Bargy

A list of Americanisms that have the Brits' knickers in a twist:
... and, as turnabout is fair play:

Climb Everest Mountain

Apparently, there's still some debate over exactly how tall Mount Everest really is and how it should be measured, but fear not. We are expecting the definitive answer shortly:
Watch climber and World Tri founder Charlie Wittmack solve a Rubik's Cube on the summit of Mount Everest for Save the Children (video):


Fantastic time-lapse video of the work that was done on Mulholland Bridge, start to early finish, while the rest of us reveled in the empty streets of Carmageddon:

Dang! Caught in the Act!

Hahahaha ~ what? This cat is actually barking out the window at something or someone, then turns around, sees it's being watched, and changes its tune (video):

Beatles for Sale

A video collage of some of the newly released photos of the Beatles' first two U.S. visits, which are being put up for auction at Christie's:

this isn't one of the pictures being auctioned off, and apologies to whoever took it ~ I looked for a photo credit but couldn't find one

Dinosaur Death

A fossil find is evidence that the theory that a meteor wiped out the dinosaurs may be correct:

One Very Hot 'Summer'

David Garrett and his violin. Need I say more? (video)

Doing One's Doggie Duty

Seattle's latest, musical attempt to get residents to clean up after their dogs (I would add only that compostable bags are a good idea) (video):

Shell's 600,000-ton 'facility'

Shell plans to build the first floating natural liquefied gas platform, to work off the coast of Australia:

Main Drag

Time-Warner Cable's doing its part this weekend with a 24-hour channel, 101, dedicated to information about L.A. traffic during the closure. So is our metro service, such as it is. Go to for all sorts of information and news about discounts and free rides.
If all else fails, here's one idea for an alternate route:

National Parenting Gifted Children Week ~ July 17-23

Early Talker

After a patient, 123-year wait for new technology to be invented, Thomas Edison's talking doll has found her voice:
The poem whose first verse she recites was written in 1806 by English poet, engraver, and novelist Jane Taylor (apparently with her sister Ann). Here's the full version:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

In the dark blue sky you keep,
While you thro' my window peep,
And you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Personally, I like this version best:

Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific
Oft have I pondered your substance specific
Loftily poised in the ether capacious
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous!

Summer Privation

Need to go to the hospital but have a choice in the scheduling? A new study confirms what many have known all along: Avoid July:

The Preservation of the World

Henry David Thoreau once said, "In wildness is the preservation of the world." Some of the most beautiful wild places are in remote regions of some of our most war-torn countries, like Afghanistan. But wildness there, according to an article in the journal Oryx, seems to be doing surprisingly well:
More good news: The Wildlife Conservation Society has found signs that the endangered snow leopard population in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor may be on the rise:
One of the world's most spectacular wild areas is Band-e Amir National Park, in Central Afghanistan (video):

This Is Your Brain on Stress

A Q&A with psychologist Sian Beilock about her research on what happens in our brains when we're under pressure and why being smart might not help:

Wizard Lizard

The anolis evermanni figures out how to get to the food (story and video):

The Last Spacewalk

(story and video):

More Is Lessmore

Once upon a time, a onetime Pixar designer created an interactive children's book on the iPad (story and video):

Here Comes the Sun(flower)

Sunflowers can decontaminate soil made toxic by radiation, and residents of Fukushima, Japan, are being urged to plant them. The question then is, what does one do with the now-contaminated flowers?:
photo by Fabio Visentin

Magic Mushrooms

In Brazil, scientists have found a bioluminescent mushroom that was last seen in 1840. Apparently, its glow is brighter than that of your iPhone:

Sweet Health

Sugar vs. agave vs. maple vs. molasses vs. corn syrup vs. ... aaaggghh! Fructose vs. glucose ... AAAGGGHHH!! Here's a fact-based chart I found that might help reduce at least some of the confusion:
In addition, what I've been finding, in a nutshell, is this: glucose, good; fructose, not so good. This is basically for two reasons: because of the way the body processes them/what they turn into and because, while glucose sends the brain an "I'm full" message, the brain gets so such message with fructose. But, you ask, what about fruit, whose sweetness comes from fructose? Fruit contains fiber (not to mention other good stuff we need), which sends the body its own "I'm full" message.

Made in China/Made in India

British photographer Adrian Fisk traveled throughout China and India, letting his subjects speak for themselves (click on New Stories, then "Ispeak China" and "Ispeak India"):

"We are the lost generation. I'm confused about the world." photo by Adrian Fisk

Things to Do ~ July 10 & Beyond

July 10, Family Flicks: The Red Pony (the original from 1949), Hammer Museum, Westwood (N.B., this is a tear-jerker; hard for sensitive kids):

July 10, "Whoo-WhOoot-Whistles," Zimmer Children's Museum, Los Angeles:

July 10, "Oh, the Monstrosity!," Hammer Museum, Westwood:

July 10, I See Hawks in L.A. and Dustbowl Revival in concert, Peter Strauss Ranch, Malibu:

Through July 10: "The Merry Wives of Windsor," Old Zoo Theater, Griffith Park:

Through July 10, America's Favorite Animal Shelter contest, online:

July 11, "Flamenco, ¡Ole!," part of J.A.M Sessions, Ford Theatre, Hollywood:

July 14, Thursday Summer Fun: "Knights, Damsels and Castles: Bijert, Goya and Savery," Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena:

July 14-16, "Hamlet," Old Zoo Theater, Griffith Park:

JULY 15: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2!!!:,+CA&date=20110714

Through July 15: "Summer Sounds," Hollywood Bowl:

July 16, E-Waste Recycling Event, Malibu:

JULY 16: Dinosaur Hall opens!, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles:

July 17, Sun Sets: Flattop Tom & His Jump Cats, Calabasas Lake:

July 19, The Magic of Printmaking (ages 8-18), Westwood Branch Library:

Aug. 6, Public Star Party, Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles:

Aug. 13, Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company, part of the Big! World! Fun! series at the Ford Theatre, Hollywood:

Through Sept. 4, "Houdini: Art and Magic," Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles:

Through Sept. 4, "More Than a Dream: Aviation Development in Southern California," Autry National Center, Griffith Park: 

Through Sept. 4, Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy," Orange County Museum of Art:

Through Sept. 5, Butterfly Pavilion, Natural History Museum, Exposition Park:

Through Sept. 11, Butterflies Alive, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History:

Through Sept. 25, "Race: Are We So Different?," Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History:

Through Dec. 31: "1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization," California Science Center, Los Angeles:

Happy Birth Day, South Sudan!

The Republic of South Sudan is now the newest nation in the world. I wish all its people great good luck and hope it takes advantage of its unique opportunity to become a model of peace, justice, equality, and compassion:
from The Globe and Mail

How Do You Say 'Internet' in Aramaic?

A new website attempts to save dying languages from extinction ~ or at least to document their existence:

What Would Cleo Do?

At home in Central Park, 1881

The obelisk Cleopatra's Needle, a gift from Egypt, has stood in Central Park for 130 of its 3,500 years. The question now is, Who should keep it, New York or Cairo? The legal issue is straightforward; the moral, not so much (story and video):

Life Is a Pointillist Painting, My Friend

... not a cabaret at all, apparently, at least according to the controversial Lynn Margulis. She believes that evolution is just the eliminator (of characteristics that won't help an organism survive), while it's symbiogenesis that is the innovator. An interview:

Points of Light

Dots at the major joints define a human walking; the walk changes according to where the sliders next to it are set: male/female, happy/sad, etc. What's more, at "more," you can suggest further attributes to the researchers:

Looks Good on Paper

Can you match the diagram of folds to the completed origami? A game that ends with downloadable patterns:

The Final Countdown

KPCC and the Planetary Society's viewing event of the final Space Shuttle launch, which is set for July 8:

And You Think YOU Have Troubles ...

FunnyZ's viral rap on First-World Problems (video): . Some of my favorites he didn't mention (from ):
  • My mom deleted her Facebook so now I have no idea when her birthday is.
  • The handrail on the escalator was slightly faster then (sic) the stairs so I had to keep adjusting my hand.
  • My diamond earring posts were poking me so I had to change positions while watching Jeopardy.
  • I ate too much pizza and now I feel sick, but there is more pizza left! What do I do?
  • I noticed my $1500 LED flat-screen TV has a broken pixel in the lower right corner. I can't watch TV anymore without it distracting me.

For a Song

A new app makes even the tone deaf sound good (story and video):

Unforgettable, That's What You Are

Crows can remember a human face for up to five years, AND the word spreads, too. Moral of the story: Be nice to crows!: