Science proves ‘dark gravity’ makes push-starting your car even harder

image I certainly feel a deeper kinship with the surrounding universe. Particularly after reading how, like my own waistline, it is continuing to expand as it gets older. According to an article in TIME magazine last week, astrophysicists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are close to answering one of the fundamental mysteries of space: how members of the Kardashian family can take up so much of it in tabloids.

To fully understand this phenomena, researchers at the center have turned to a property of space called “dark matter,” which I promise only sounds like another Vin Diesel “Chronicles of Riddick” sequel. In fact, dark matter is something parents have suspected for eons, but astrophysicists have only now proven the existence of: An invisible matter with a gravitational force stronger than normal gravity that pulls in the opposite direction. It is this property that 1) keeps the universe expanding in spite of the pull of planets, and 2) naturally occurs in children, which explains their ability to pull parents in two directions at once. Continue reading

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Six reasons this morning needs a Long Awkward Pause

It’s Saturday morning, and that means I’m over at Long Awkward Pause chiming in with the rest of the staff for this week’s Saturday Six, which is a collection of six observations we probably should’ve kept to ourselves. This week’s topic? That “Sexy Mug Shot Guy” who made millions of women wish there was a Cell-Match.com…

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Katie: This is the first time I’ve thought sexy mugshot guy was actually sexy, and that’s only because he’s next to Ben Stiller.

BrainRants: I’m too hetero to comment on the sexiness of either guy, real or imagined, but if I had to, I’d pick Stiller because he’d get his junk zipped up and I’d be off the hook.

Ned: This is actually a “Before/After” photo: Before he knew he was sharing a cell; after meeting his cellmate, “Three-legged Jack.”

(Okay, I’m no mathematician, but I believe that leaves, uh… *removes one Dos Eques bottle from six-pack*… five more over at LAP)

Even when making stuff up, honesty is still the best policy for writers

image It’s time for Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when we gather together and, in a politically correct manner, sit criss-cross Indian style as I share corn-like kernels of wisdom from 15 shucking years as a columnist.

I should point out this weekly feature has been recognized by Publishers Digestion as “…Tips that often get overlooked. Usually on purpose…” and what The Master of Horror® Stephen King has heralded as “…A weekly reminder of what scares me…”

But enough accolades!

Being a humor columnist, I am often asked:

“Where do you get this stuff?”
“How did you even think of that?”
“Do you just make this [censored] up?
“Isn’t marijuana legal in Oregon?”

The answer to all of those questions is a definitive “Yes,” particularly on Ballot Measure 5. However, each of the first three include an important addendum that reads as follows:

While the consumption of humor shall be made available to everyone regardless of race, color, creed or whatever they happen to be eating that may unintentionally exit a nostril, the distributor of said humor is required to provide a basic standard of truthfulness, therefore guaranteeing consumers a more pure grade of laughter. At least until they try passing mixed-berry yogurt through their nose.Continue reading

One person’s mold is another person’s meat substitute

Am I the only one uncomfortable with the term "Naked Chik'n?"

Am I the only one uncomfortable with the term “Naked Chik’n?”

In today’s society, the relationship between carnivores and vegetarians is often tentative at best. Meat eaters look upon vegetarians with suspicion because, hey:
If we weren’t meant to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?

Vegetarians, on the other hand, point out what separates us from animals is our ability to override our natural instinct, as human beings, to gag on tofu.

This uneasy co-existance is nothing new, and actually dates back to the very first vegetarian caveman who, after swearing-off meat in front of his clan and a panel of cave elders, was promptly eaten. Because of this, mistrust between carnivores and herbivores exists to this day. One example can be seen in the design of supermarkets, which strategically puts meat at the back of the store and fruits and vegetables near the front; should carnivores suddenly riot in the event of a rump roast shortage, herbivores will at least have a head start in getting to the exits. Continue reading

Future of human evolution could be in hands of our noses

image As any biologist will tell you, in order for a species to survive, it must evolve. It is this process of evolution that allows an organism to pass along vital, physical improvements to the next generation. One such example is the opposable thumb, which distinguishes us from the apes — most notably through our ability to use all three holes in a bowling ball.

However, there would be no evolution without propagation. And soon there may be no propagation without nasal spray.

What makes nasal spray so important to man’s future is a drug under development at Palatin Technologies. According to studies, the drug PT-141 has been shown to cause an increase in sexual activity among rats by stimulating the brain’s melanocortin receptors. These receptors, which are used by male rats to pick up subtle transmissions from female rats, are also present in the human brain, which males often use for picking up subtle transmissions from ESPN. Continue reading

Six reasons Saturday mornings are time for a Long Awkward Pause

Every Saturday morning, I and the rest of the staff over at Long Awkward Pause take turns chiming in on The Saturday Six, which is a series of (Warning: spoiler alert!) six related items that should probably be destroyed after reading. This week’s list asks: What if ad slogans had to be truthful?

imageChris: The BBQ pizza scares me…what is that meat they use? Is it even legal?

Katie: Another alternative: “People eat here for some reason (and that reason is because they hate themselves).”

Ned: Can’t find what you’re looking for on our salad bar? Try the sneeze guard!

(Ok, so that leaves…. uh… *removes socks* five more HERE)

Alligators, erotica and other interview styles (part 2)

image Welcome to another edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, a weekly feature when I utilize my 15 years as a newspaper columnist to offer writing insights that Publishers Digestion has called “…nuggets of wisdom similar to McDonald’s Dippers; in either case, we aren’t sure where they come from…” Or what The Master of Horror® Stephen King has heralded as, “…The last word in writing advice. Just as soon as my lawyers get involved…”

But enough accolades!

As I mentioned last week, this two-part series is a bit of a departure from my normal NWOW. Not only because of the kinky search-term hits I’ll be receiving due to having “alligator” and “erotica” in the same title, but also because it’s the second half of a post focusing on how different interview styles get subjects to reveal different things about themselves. In scientific terms, think of me as the “control subject” while Marcia Meara and Eden Baylee are the variables. Or put another way, see how Marcia’s threat of unleashing an albino alligator prompts a different answer than Eden’s constant slapping of a feather whip against her chair leg. Continue reading

Search for ‘nuggets’ believed to cause stress in chickens

(My new posting schedule here at Ned’s Blog leaves Wednesdays open to any number of things, including updates to The Box with Skippy the Rabid Squirrel, The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) or, as in today’s case, a Wednesday Rewind. This column hasn’t appeared on the blog before and comes from 2002, when Carl’s Jr. was making a run at the highly coveted chicken nugget market. The ads, which were funny, also managed to ruffle some feathers…)
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image As you may have heard, Carl’s Jr.’s recent commercials are raising quite a flap among chicken advocates. As you may not have heard, there really is a group of people who work full-time advocating for the rights of chickens (Though, as far as I can tell, not a single member of this group is, indeed, an actual chicken.)

The ad in question is the one that shows a group of scientists examining a live hen as they search for its “nuggets,” which, for me at least, helped explain a few things about my last doctor’s visit. But members of United Poultry Concerns — a chicken advocacy group based in Virginia — don’t see it that way, and want to have the commercial pulled because they say the mock examination “caused the chicken undue stress.”

In a statement given to the Los Angeles Times, UPC president Karen Davis was quoted as saying, “There’s no question that the bright lights of filming, in combination with the numerous takes, would make the experience stressful for the chicken.”

Considering that the chicken in that commercial was at least alive and flapping, one can only imagine how stressed-out a chicken must get when told it’s going to be in a commercial for KFC. Continue reading

What do Etta James, AC/DC and John Denver have in common? My Life in Six Songs.

image You may have heard of the My Life in Six Songs challenge at Running on Sober, where bloggers are invited to come tell their life story in six songs. Or less, depending on how quickly they go insane trying to pick the right songs. Obviously, the older you are the more difficult it is because 1) You’ve experienced more in your life, 2) You’ve heard more music, and 3) You keep forgetting which songs you’ve already picked. Being almost 30 40 45 FINE! 48! picking six songs and explaining why they best represent your life is a lot like picking an ice cream at Cold Stone: So many to choose from and, ultimately, you know you’re going to have a brain freeze.

In the end, my six song choices came down to music from Carole King, John Williams, Brad Paisley, Bill Withers, Etta James and AC/DC, with a bonus track from John Denver — my waffle cone, so to speak. I had the privilege of sharing the honor with Victoria at Neuronotes, who is a highly intelligent and well spoken woman who knows her way around science as much as she does the human condition — qualities that are a stark contrast to…

Well, me.

To experience this contrast firsthand, and understand how Etta James and AC/DC each play a role in my life’s soundtrack, just ask the DJ… here

Apparently, not getting to the gym adds 10 pounds of guilt to everything

image Forgive me for I have sinned; it’s been nearly two months since my last workout.

That was my thought as I entered the gym this week, ready to pay my penance in the company of those who’d kept the faith in my absence. I had my moves planned: enter quickly, cut left and directly into the weight room, bypassing the front desk and the gym’s owner to avoid a possible “confessional” situation.

But of course I couldn’t be that lucky.

“Hey there, Ned!”

I stopped in mid-stride, so close to the pivot that would’ve carried me to freedom. “Hey, Jim,” I said, smiling meekly. Apologetically.

Pathetically, really.

Jim leaned forward on the desk, dressed in his usual sweatpants and T-shirt lightly stained with perspiration after leading a 50-minute aerobics workout that helped trim his ballooning body fat from .08 down to .05. He looked at me and folded his hands together on the desktop, as if ready to pray for me. Continue reading