The Phoenix

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Russian Gerbils In Orbit

What the hell is going on over there in Russia?

First, they claim the North Pole.

Then they test a Father of All Bombs and declare it the most powerful non-atomic bomb ever.

After that, they get real cozy with Iran.

And now, they're sending gerbils into space???

Maybe Putin should put his shirt back on and run his police-state country the right way (Putin - the other white meat. He's bringin' pasty back...yeah!).

10 gerbils were launched into space and will return after 12 days in order to test the potential effects of a manned space journey to Mars. There are special machines on board the space craft that will simulate daytime and nighttime conditions, and another neat gadget will clean their poop.

This experiment will enable scientists to determine salt exchange mechanisms in zero gravity conditions. I also strongly suspect Russian scientists just want to watch a gerbil poop while floating in mid-air.

Upon returning to Earth, several of these rodent cosmonauts will be dissected. I hear grilled gerbils taste like chicken. Scientists have sent chimps, rats, spiders, and all kinds of animals into space, but this is the first time gerbils have been sent. Many animal rights activitsts are protesting, but you can bet none of them are in Russia.

I hear Richard Gere is upset about this gerbil experiment, and is willing to plant a big fat kiss on Putin's left nipple to save the gerbils.





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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This Czech Bounced

I've written about Foreign Accent Syndrome and xenoglossy a while back. I told the story of Tiffany Noelle Roberts, born and raised in the good 'ol US of A. But after recovery from a stroke, Ms. Roberts spoke with a perfect English accent (an accurate blend of English Cockney and West County).

It seems the brain is still a mystery, and after a head trauma, you're never quite sure what you're going to get. Take Czech motorcycle speedway racer, Matej Kus for example...

The 18 year-old had a terrible accident on the track last week, and was knocked out cold for 45 minutes. His teammates rushed to his side, along with paramedics. They were all relieved when Kus finally awoke. But his buddies instantly knew something was very strange about their teammate: Matej Kus spoke perfect English.
Kus's English prior to that moment was very limited, his teammates remarked. But right there, in front of them, as Matej was speaking to the paramedics about his injuries, he spoke in absolute crystal clear English.

Peter Waite, the promoter for Kus's team, the Berwick Bandits, said: "I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was in a really clear English accent, no dialect or anything. Whatever happened in the crash must have rearranged things in his head. Matej didn't have a clue who or where he was when he came round. He didn't even know he was Czech. It was unbelievable to hear him talk in unbroken English."

Kus flew home, and his ability to speak English disappeared as he recovered. In fact, he needed an interpreter to speak with the media for him. Despite a knee injury, a near-death experience, a strange and sudden ability to speak another language, and then having that ability just as suddenly disappear, Kus still has his sense of humor. Via his interpreter, he said:

"Hopefully I can pick English up over the winter for the start of next season so I'll be able to speak it without someone having to hit me over the head first."

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

I Wanna New Drug

Many times, the proper medications can improve the quality of life for patients - may even save their lives. There are those moments, however, where this process goes awry. Sometimes, patients have to go through a trial and error process to find the right drugs and dosages. But what about those meds' side effects?

Recently, many precription drugs' side effects have made headlines. For example, because of the warning that went out in 2004 concerning antidepressant drugs contributing to suicide tendencies in teens, the number of teens even being diagnosed with depression has dramatically dropped. Why? Because doctors are afraid of being sued, so they are reluctant to even give that diagnosis - even if it is the proper one.

The result: teen suicide shot up 14%.

Don't forget about those Ambien side effects that made headlines last year. People were sleep walking and waking up in the middle of the street or eating the entire contents of their refrigerators.

Recently, the Mayo Clinic has been investigating the side effects of drugs classified as dopamine agonists - these are used to help patients with Restless Leg Syndrome. One drug is marketed as Requip. On its website, it states: Also tell your doctor if you or your family notices that you develop any unusual impulses or behaviors, such as pathological gambling or hypersexuality

Huh? Pathological gambling or hypersexuality???

Nice.

Don't forget about that new diet drug Alli. It's warnings include wonderful terms like "gastrointenstinal discomfort" and "oily stools." Oily stools??? The manufacturer even goes as far as to recommend that a person taking Alli wear dark or brown pants. You've got to be kidding me.

This gives new meaning to the term spontaneous combustion. Maybe they should require those on Alli to wear Depends instead. Brown pants might make your "oily stools" less obvious visually, but I'm sure the smell will give it away.

Maybe, just maybe, sometimes the side effect of a drug just isn't worth it.


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Monday, September 03, 2007

John Titor - Time Traveler, Or Crazy-Ass?

In the two years that I've been bringing you this blog, I have enjoyed bringing you stories about some real loonies out there. Here are just a few members of the Phoenix's Hall of Crazies:

Prophet Yahweh, the UFO-whisperer.
John Locke, the inventor of headgear that prevents aliens from controlling your brain.
Les Knight, the founder of a group that advocates the extinction of the human race.
Prince Mongo, the millionare alien among us.
Sharon Tendler, the woman that married a dolphin.
Dr. Burda, the man that can telepathically cure you from afar.
Matt Feshbach, the scientologist that has developed superpowers.
Derek Ogilvie, the psychic that communicates with infants.
and Nancy Lieder, the cult leader of ZetaTalk.

I have yet one more to add to the crazy bin: John Titor

The story begins with some posts on a time traveling message board on November 2, 2000. Eventually, this mystery person with seemingly intimate knowledge of how a time machine works called himself John Titor. His posts finally ended on March of 2001. Since then, many of his "followers" have collected all of his posts and put them together into one crazy-ass pile of crap.

John Titor claimed to be a US solider from the year 2036 (snicker). His mission was to travel back in time to 1975 and bring back an IBM 5100 - one of the first portable computers ever made. Why do you ask? It seems there's some sort of error involved with the programming that eventually leads to a timeout error in 2038. I'm not a computer geek, but is traveling back in time really the easiest way to fix this problem???

How did John Titor travel in time? Easy...with a time machine, duh! In one of his posts, he described his time machine as being a "stationary mass, temporal displacement unit powered by two top-spin, dual positive singularities", producing a "standard off-set Tipler sinusoid." He must've been inspired by all the Back to the Future movies, since his machine was first installed inside a Corvette, and then later a pickup truck. On the left is an actual picture of his time machine already placed inside a Corvette.

Titor also gave several "predictions" in his posts:

He said America would be plunged into a real Civil War in 2004. Um...ok.

He said that CERN (the world's largest physics lab) would discover the fundamental basis for time travel in 2001. Oops. That didn't happen.

He also said that the 2004 Olympics would be the last one to ever be held. Yikes. Anyone remember Finland defeating Canada for the hocky gold last year? (2006 Winter Olympics).
Another topic John Titor posted about were the large quantities of nuclear weapons in Iraq. Darn! So much for that one.

Like all crackpots, there are always followers. Although John Titor went back to the future, there are some suckers...ahem...I mean...believers. And of course all the money-making schemes follow, such as books, newsletters, and of course T-shirts. There's even talk of some goofy movie inspired by this crap. Check out a little trailer HERE. And of course, there's a John Titor song HERE.

It's hard to imagine people actually fall for this stuff, but people are so desperate for the answers. But the John Titor story isn't compelling enough for me to even begin to take any of it seriously. In fact, I believe there are some fictional time travelers that I find more real. Here are my top three:

Number Three: Doc, from Back to the Future - Flux capacitor equipped Delorean.



Number Two: Bill & Ted, from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - Telephone booth, a la TARDIS

My Favorite Time Traverler: Ash, from Army of Darkness - Time vortex with his Oldmobile


In an age of darkness...at a time of evil...when the world needed a hero...what it got...was him.

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