Day: November 19, 2013

Today in History, November 19th

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The Internet Gives Me ‘Brain Orgasms’ and Maybe You Can Get Them Too


I am sitting in bed with my feet curled under me on a dark fall evening before the first snow. My hair is tucked beneath noise-canceling headphones that are playing the sound of a woman gently blowing into my ears. She is whispering, intimately exhaling breath on one side before moving to the other, back and forth. A shiver starts at the crown of my head and tiptoes like an electric shock down the knobs of my spine. I have to take the headphones off. The feeling, while pleasant, is simply too much.

I am having an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), a strange, tingly sensation, known in some corners of the Internet as a brain orgasm. Whispering is a primary trigger, but anything from the sound a pen makes when drawing on a piece of paper to rhythmic, monotonous speech can spark an episode. And it’s not just…

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U.S. Pledges More Aid To Philippines Typhoon Recovery


The United States promised $10 million in additional aid to the storm-stricken Philippines Monday, bringing the total U.S. contributions since Typhoon Haiyan to $37 million.

About 50 U.S. ships and aircraft carriers have been mobilized in the disaster zone, and 14 helicopters are air-dropping food and supplies to survivors, Reuters reports. The nuclear-powered USS George Washington led the American relief effort after Typhoon Haiyan slammed the Philippines on Nov. 8.

The Philippines has strategic importance to the U.S. as part of the Obama administration’s plans to counterbalance China’s rising military influence with strong American allies in the region. The U.S. and the Philippines are in the middle of negotiating an increased American military presence in the country.


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You Stay Classy, Emerson: College to Establish Ron Burgundy School of Communication


On Dec. 4th for one day only, Emerson College in Boston will name its School of Communication after Ron Burgundy, San Diego’s most memorable fake reporter, in honor of Anchorman star Will Ferrell, who is expected to introduce a special screening of Anchorman 2 at the school, before it premieres in theaters on Dec. 20.

A tongue-in-cheek press release from the college quotes “Ron Burgundy” as saying, “I can’t wait to inspire students with my story of how I got to the top…the very top. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s a lot of work, especially if you don’t have good hair.” Interim Dean of the School of Communication Phillip Glenn said the haphazard broadcaster inspires everyone to live out life “in full color and matching polyester.”

We can only hope the “Ron Burgundy School of Communication” will stock its vending machines with scotch, the character’s favorite drink, for this momentous occasion.


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China’s Great Firewall Won’t Be Touched by Beijing’s New Reforms


China boasts a Web-censorship system that would be the envy of any autocrat. The state blocks Facebook, Twitter and a growing list of foreign news sites. It polices blogs and pulls political content. After riots hit the restive far-western region of Xinjiang in 2009, Beijing managed to shut down the Internet there for months.

All this, it seems, is not enough. The ruling Chinese Communist Party on Friday released more details from last week’s meeting of top leaders in Beijing. Organized around the theme of “comprehensively deepening reform,” the 20,000-odd-character communiqué outlines what could be a major economic overhaul, as well as some positive, if limited, promises on rights and rule of law. But on matters of free expression, China’s top leaders doubled down, harping on the need to maintain social stability and control.

Judging by the statement, Beijing is pretty worried its censors can’t keep up. “As…

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SVU IRL: Man Accused of Serial Sexual Assault Allowed to Blame His Twin in Court


It wasn’t me, it was my evil twin.

That alibi could arguably be the most famous, overused and least believed response to an accusation in history. But for possibly the first time it will be admissible in court, a judge ruled on Friday.

Aaron Lucas, 32, a Fort Collins, Colo., army officer accused in several sexual assaults on female children will be able to point the finger at his twin brother, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. In his ruling, Judge David Shakes said it would be “inappropriate” to hinder Lucas’ attorneys from opening the idea of his twin, Brian Lucas, as the culprit in court because they both share the same DNA.

“Whether it’s persuasive or not – that’s not my role,” Shakes said at a Friday hearing. “It’s the role of the jury.”

In cases where a crime suspect has a twin, DNA evidence can be strongly questioned and…

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FDA Ruins Everything by Saying Super Crispy French Fries Could Cause Cancer


Were you having a good day? No longer!

The FDA announced that the crispy french fries you love so much could contain acrylamide, a carcinogen that’s known to cause cancer in animals. While the limp, pale fries no one wants are in the clear, well-done fries are reportedly to be avoided.

Although browned fries aren’t about to get banned à la trans fats, the FDA did release a report encouraging food makers to err on the side of pale:

Cook cut potato products such as frozen french fries to a golden yellow color rather than a brown color. Brown areas tend to contain more acrylamide.

The same goes for toast and coffee.

But don’t get too worried.

Dr. and chef John LaPuma told the WSJ that the “amount of acrylamide you need to cause cancer in people is astronomical.”

We’re going to go stress eat half-frozen reject fries…

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