World Press Photo of the Year – 2012

Click to enlarge Photo is the work of Paul Hansen

Gaza City, Palestinian Territories

Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father Fouad was also killed and their mother was put in intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.

The best NASA images from 2012

2012 saw a number of significant milestones in star gazing and space exploration. NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity touched down on the Red Planet in spectacular fashion, super-Earth’s were discovered, the Moon pounded and Voyager 1 edged ever closer towards interstellar space and we saw more of the universe around us than ever before.

As the calendar rolls over, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has put together an album of its top images for 2012. We’ve also picked our NASA favorites, highlighting some of the fascinating discoveries and incredible imagery captured in the skies above during the last twelve months.

Head to our gallery to see the full selection.

Lovely views, wonderful collection of humans exploring and learning.

2012 Presidential Debate Drinking Game

The Mitt Romney/Barack Obama debates are finally here – which means it’s time for the 2012 Presidential Debate Drinking Games! So stock up on your favorite beverages, follow us on Twitter and check back here before each debate to drink along with us.

These were the rules for last night – Debate #1

Select a candidate to drink to:

It doesn’t have to be the person you plan to vote for – in fact it’s often more fun if it isn’t. If you are at a party, try assigning candidates randomly to the guests.

Take a drink* every time your candidate says anything on his list

If you are drinking to Barack Obama: the words may include millionaires, let me be clear, General Motors, middle class

If you are drinking to Mitt Romney: the words may include unemployment, ObamaCare, job creators, private sector

You can participate and socialize on Twitter with other players…and check back in a couple days for details on the Biden/Ryan – Vice Presidential Debate Drinking Game!

What TV pundits could possibly offer this much chemical aid to survive American politics.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

The Best Tall Buildings of 2012

Al Bahar towers in Abu Dhabi won the Innovation Award

Each year, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), a non-profit group based at the Illinois Institute of Technology, selects structures from around the world which represent a blend of sustainability, technical innovation and appealing design. This year’s winners, each impressive in its own right, hail from Australia, Canada, Italy and Qatar along with one from Abu Dhabi that took the organization’s first-ever Innovation Award. An international panel of jurors made the picks which will be formally recognized at an awards ceremony in Chicago this October.

The winners display remarkable creativity, as well as a respect for the environment, connection with place, and the urban surroundings,” said awards committee chairman Richard Cook. With 88 buildings over 656 ft (200 m) completed globally last year and 78 entries submitted for consideration, the jurors faced quite a challenge.

Click the link in the post to get to Gizmag coverage of the awards. Beaucoup photos and details available through their own links. Modern Architecture is alive and well around the world.

Winner — International Garden Photographer of the Year

Click photo to enlarge

Magdalena Wasiczek has won the International Garden Photographer of the Year 2012 competition with her image called Upside Down.

Andrew Lawson, one of the judges, said: “I love the subtlety and balletic simplicity of this picture. The brimstone alighting on a sweet pea is a fortuitous event, brilliantly seen. The butterfly and the flower are the the perfect complement to each other. The outlines of the insect’s wings are continuous with the lines of the flowers; and the patterning on its wings picks up an echo of the pink colour of the flowers.”

Magdalena also won first place in The Beauty of Plants category as well as other Finalist and Highly Commended awards.


Support for the Tea Party drops even in Republican Party strongholds – which is plummeting faster and further!

Support for the Tea Party — and with it, the Republican Party — has fallen sharply even in places considered Tea Party strongholds, according to a new survey.

In Congressional districts represented by Tea Party lawmakers, the number of people saying they disagree with the Tea Party has risen sharply over the year since the movement powered a Republican sweep in midterm elections, so that almost as many people disagree with the Tea Party as agree with it, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center.

Support for the Republican Party has fallen more sharply in those places than it has in the country as a whole. In the 60 districts represented in Congress by a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, Republicans are viewed about as negatively as Democrats.

The survey suggests that the Tea Party may be dragging down the Republican Party heading into a presidential election year, even as it ushered in a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives just a year ago.

Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Folks outside the ranks of True Believers looked at who bought and paid for the “movement” and recognized them for what they are – and always have been. The moneybags for rightwing extremists and reactionaries who found a home in the Republican Party decades ago.

Many of those inside the Tea Party were either deluded by their own ignorance – or the agitprop they were fed. Many of those, especially seniors, have realized how truly dumb it would for them to be working to scuttle Social Security or Medicare. How foolish it would be to continue the downward spiral of American education – especially for their own kids and grandkids.

Continue reading

French agency worried apocalypse fears will end in mass suicide

The tiny southern French hamlet of Bugarach has drawn scrutiny from a government sect watchdog over droves of visitors who believe it is the only place in the world that will survive a 2012 Apocalypse.

A report by the watchdog, Miviludes…said the picturesque village near Carcassonne should be monitored in the run-up to December 21, 2012, when many believe the world will end according to an ancient Mayan prophecy.

Miviludes was set up in 2002 to track the activity of sects, after a law passed the previous year made it an offence to abuse vulnerable people using heavy pressure techniques, meaning sects can be outlawed if there is evidence of fraud or abuse.

Surrounded in legend for centuries, Bugarach and its rocky outcrop, the Pic de Bugarach, have attracted an influx of New Age visitors in recent months, pushing up property prices but also raising the threat of financial scams and psychological manipulation, Miviludes said in its report.

“I think we need to be careful. We shouldn’t get paranoid, but when you see what happened at Waco in the United States, we know this kind of thinking can influence vulnerable people,” Miviludes president Georges Fenech told Reuters.

Bugarach, with a population of just 200, has long been considered magical, partly due to what locals claim is an “upside-down mountain” where the top layers of rock are older than the lower ones.

If there is a critical mass of nutballs clustered in Bugarach – or anywhere else – who are in such despair over the world NOT coming to an end that they feel required to commit suicide, I do hope they are at least civil enough to be tidy.