Today I Learned…

…about a bunch of things that coffee can do besides keep you awake!  (Thanks to slashdot.)

First of all, coffee has been shown to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementiaRead the rest of this entry »

Today I Learned…

…that in his first few days in office, President-elect Barack Obama will enact several changes that will, symbolically and otherwise, undo some of the injustices and wrongs committed during (and even before) the W. Bush administration.  He is reportedly going to close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, ban all interrogation techniques that could be described as torture, and rescind Bush’s bar on funding going to the creation of stem cell lines and to overseas public health organizations which provide abortion counseling (as opposed to the woefully inadequate abstinence-only programs).  What’s more, and this is what made me the happiest, he will end the Clinton-era “compromise” policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which bans gays and lesbians from openly serving in the United States military.

And people wonder why I voted for the guy.  Actually, nobody really wonders that.  But I appreciate his commitment to making these changes, even if they are nowhere near the most pressing issues facing him as he takes the oath of office on Tuesday.  Obviously the economy and the war are going to be the top priorities.  That goes without saying.  But there were so many little injustices that have taken place and root over the last eight years (and yes, I realize that DADT was put into place under Clinton that get less attention then illegally invading a sovereign nation and destroying perhaps the most robust economy in the history of the world through negligence and legalized theft.

EDIT: It occurs to me that I did not provide a link to where I found this information.  So here you go.  What?  You thought it would be an American news outlet?  How silly of you.

Today I Learned…

…that not only am I not very good at keeping promises about my blog, but that British scientists have invented a new kind of cement that absorbs more carbon as it hardens than is burned in its production.  This is a major breakthrough in materials science, and stands to be a big step in combating global warming as the two billion tons of cement produced every year account for 5% of the world’s total carbon emissions (!) — more than the entire aviation industry (!!).  For more information, check out this article at EcoWorldly and written for The Guardian.

For those of you who are interested in lowering your own carbon footprint, check out TerraPass, which gives you the ability to offset your emissions with monetary donations as well as lower them with different techniques and products.  My car’s emissions for the past year have been offset, and yours could be too!

Today I Learned…

…about a new product coming out this fall — the Powermat.  It’s a pad that will wirelessly charge up to four pieces of electronics — your cell phone, an iPod, a handheld game, even a laptop!  Check it out at that link.  I’ve thought for years that one of the next big revolutions would be wireless power — this isn’t quite the same as having your laptop always wirelessly “plugged in” to power like it can be to wireless internet when it’s in your house, but it’s a step in that direction.

Today I Learned…

…that Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, widow of Star Trek creater Gene Roddenberry, and an actor and producer in her own right, died last month from complications stemming from leukemia at the age of 76.  She is perhaps most well known for being the voice of the Federation’s computers in every Star Trek series, as well as playing the role of Nurse Chapel in the Original Series and the indomitable Lwaxana Troi in Next Generation.  She will also voice the computer in the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie coming out in May, as she has already completed all of her voiceover work.

Today I Learned…

…that Milk, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk — the first openly homosexual elected official in America — is very and incredibly moving.  Penn’s performance as the political leader is fantastic, and he should be a nominee for Best Actor when the Oscars come up before too long, as should Milk for Best Picture.  Currently, my best picture list consists of this and WALL-E, although I’m sure it will grow once I see films like Revolutionary Road and The Wrestler, whose Mickey Rourke should also contend for the Best Actor prize.

Long story short, go see Milk.  Be prepared to cry if you have any gay relatives/friends who were alive at that time.

Today I Learned…

…that the name “Idaho” is completely made up.  One-hundred percent fake.

In the early 1860s, lobbyist George M. Willing suggested that Congress name their potential new Rocky Mountain territory “Idaho.”  He claimed this came from a Shoshone word meaning “gem of the mountain” or “the sun comes from the mountains.”  He later claimed to have made the name up — Congress didn’t officially accept the name, but it stuck amongst the locals.