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9 Reasons To Bring Back Cocktail Parties

Posted: 02/27/2014 8:34 am EST Updated: 03/19/2014 11:59 am EDT

Your grandparents probably enjoyed one trend that has sadly since died a thousand deaths: The cocktail party. These gatherings dominated the 1950s and 1960s, then fell by the wayside for a variety of reasons. The hub of socialization shifted away from the living room and into bars, which poses limitations (time, energy and money, mainly). But I think it’s time to bring back the cocktail party. Here’s why.

1. You can drink what you want, without paying a ridiculous sum.
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I remember being aghast when the price of a cocktail hit $11 — and now we live in the era of the $15 martini. Even dives are raising their prices. Of course, I’m in the NYC region, where the cost of living has replaced pickpockets as the thing most likely to take all your money. Even still, when you think about a budget martini and the dubious ingredients mingling in the glass, wouldn’t it be much better to get one bottle of really good gin, rather than spend that money on bad drinks?

2. Going out on a Friday or Saturday night will erode your faith in humanity.
When you finally get everyone’s schedules together, you’re likely to agree that Friday or Saturday night is the best time to see friends. Guess who has the same idea? Everyone in the world. Particularly loud, obnoxious types. Bars and restaurants try to drown them out with people who DJ from Macbooks. It would be horrible, if you could get a spot to sit in the first place.

3. You can use those fancy glasses you got on your registry/found at a thrift store.
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We all have them, but they’re likely gathering dust. If they’re going to take up space, you might as well put them to use.

4. You can accommodate your friends’ food allergies/intolerances/dietary restrictions.

Some friends are a Russian nesting doll of specifics. They won’t eat at Restaurant A because they’re gluten-free now. They can’t go to Restaurant B because they garnish everything with cilantro. They can’t go to Restaurant C because it’s too far to walk. You get the drill.

4.a. No “surprise” cilantro.
O.K. it’s not like there’s a cilantro epidemic, but it’s more about the unanticipated cilantro. It’s the time you ordered a margarita and it came with jalapeno slices in it. It’s the time the bartender got creative with a Manhattan and somehow garnished it with sweet potato puree (!!). It’s ordering a burger, only to be told that you can only have it with a cheese that’s $5 extra. Some people love the element of surprise, others don’t. If you’re with a group of at least 4 others, there’s bound to be someone who doesn’t.

5. You can stay as long as you like.

No one is popping by to say “Can I get you anything else?” in a not-so-subtle way to turn over your table.

6. You can actually have a conversation.

Not only because the noise factor is way less bothersome at home, but because there isn’t a stranger pressed up against you while you’re trying to discuss the latest work gossip.

7. You can dress to impress…or not.

cocktail party

In our grandparents’ day, people dressed up to go to a friends’ house for cocktails. Would it kill us to raise the bar on everyday dress now and then? No. But I digress. In the comfort of home, you can comfortably dress up or dress down. No hobbling down the sidewalk in heels. No self-consciousness because you’re one of those people who would rather wear flip-flops everywhere. It works for all types.

8. No. Bathroom. Lines.

Along with the questionable nature of the bathroom once you finally reach it. Even if it’s a nice place, when you get lots of people and give them lots of food and drink, the bathroom situation devolves faster than you can say, “Is this the line to the bathroom?” Save yourself the hassle and the shower you’ll need later by hosting the party at home.

9. As a kid, there’s nothing more interesting than overhearing cocktail party chatter.
And then imitating your parents (and their friends) behind their backs. The point here isn’t “do it for the children!” but more like being able to have fun in one’s own home. Stop making excuses about babysitters, decor, whatever. Just have people over.

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The Worst Places To Seek Refuge During The Zombie Apocalypse

Posted: 10/21/2014 8:26 pm EDT
If and when the zombie apocalypse is nigh, we will all have to make one monumental decision: Where to seek refuge?

Steer clear of the 25 cities on the map below, produced by real-estate website Trulia. Unless you’re a zombie, in which case, live it up! (Oh wait, you can’t.)

zombieapocalypse

When the undead rise up, hitting the beach in zombie-free bliss will not be an option. Honolulu is ranked as the most appetizing city for hungry zombies.

Residents of Honolulu will make easy targets for the walking dead, what with the city’s high walkability and lack of hardware stores (where there are potential zombie-killing weapons). Honolulu also has a high hospital density, making it easy for zombies to find weak victims, and it is extremely congested, with some of the worst traffic in the nation.

New York is number two on the list, followed by Newark, Boston, and Washington D.C.

Trulia calculated the survivability of the cities using the following criteria: highest walk score, lowest hardware store density, highest hospital density, and most congestion.

So where should we find refuge? We might take a page from the book of “The Walking Dead’s” Rick Grimes and build a fortress in Atlanta — it doesn’t even appear on the map.

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The Worst Places To Seek Refuge During The Zombie Apocalypse

Posted: 10/21/2014 8:26 pm EDT Updated: 10/21/2014 8:59 pm EDT
If and when the zombie apocalypse is nigh, we will all have to make one monumental decision: Where to seek refuge?

Steer clear of the 25 cities on the map below, produced by real-estate website Trulia. Unless you’re a zombie, in which case, live it up! (Oh wait, you can’t.)

zombieapocalypse

When the undead rise up, hitting the beach in zombie-free bliss will not be an option. Honolulu is ranked as the most appetizing city for hungry zombies.

Residents of Honolulu will make easy targets for the walking dead, what with the city’s high walkability and lack of hardware stores (where there are potential zombie-killing weapons). Honolulu also has a high hospital density, making it easy for zombies to find weak victims, and it is extremely congested, with some of the worst traffic in the nation.

New York is number two on the list, followed by Newark, Boston, and Washington D.C.

Trulia calculated the survivability of the cities using the following criteria: highest walk score, lowest hardware store density, highest hospital density, and most congestion.

So where should we find refuge? We might take a page from the book of “The Walking Dead’s” Rick Grimes and build a fortress in Atlanta — it doesn’t even appear on the map.

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Russian Cops Ban Short Skirts After Skirts Get Too Short

In Russian police force, uniform modifies you!
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Or at least the public’s perception of you. That is the principal argument behind the Russian Interior Ministry’s recent ban on short skirts and other uniform modifications, the Moscow Times reports.

“When you meet people, the first thing you see is their clothing, and for a police officer fulfilling his duties, it is crucial to have a tidy and neat appearance. From time to time, we have seen instances of officers improperly wearing their uniforms. … Heads [of departments] must pay more attention to the appearance of their subordinates,” Deputy Interior Minister Sergei Gerasimov said in a memo obtained by Russian newspaper Izvestia.

The Moscow Times reports that the ban was imposed to counteract a growing trend of rising hemlines among female officers, as well as a tendency of male officers to cut off their shirt sleeves. Department heads are encouraged to inspect uniforms daily to make sure they’re appropriate.

Here’s a photo that allegedly depicts a small group of infractions just waiting to happen:

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(We can’t think of a single police force where high heels are standard uniform.)The photo ran in the Moscow Times, but we’re taking it with a grain of salt.

We’re always hungry for more proof. Feel free to tweet your modified Russian police uniforms at us (before the state’s hammer blow crushes your freedom).

It’s worth noting that in the U.S., female officers commonly wear pants.

NOTE from me:  (The validity of this story cannot be confirmed, but just figure Putin would ruin another good thing, just like the Ukraine.)

 

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Stonehenge Discovery ‘Blows Lid Off’ Old Theories About Builders Of Ancient Monument

Stonehenge Discovery ‘Blows Lid Off’ Old Theories About Builders Of Ancient Monument

From who built it to what it was used for, Stonehenge is surrounded by many enduring mysteries — and researchers from the University of Buckingham in England now say they’ve solved one of them.

“For years people have been asking why is Stonehenge where it is, now at last, we have found the answers,” David Jacques, an archaeology research fellow at the university, said in a written statement.

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Last October, Jacques led an archaeological dig at a site 1.5 miles from Stonehenge. His team unearthed flint tools and the bones of aurochs, extinct cow-like animals that were a food source for ancient people. Carbon dating of the bones showed that modern-day Amesbury, an area that includes the dig site and Stonehenge itself, has been continuously occupied since 8820 B.C. Amesbury has now been declared the oldest continually occupied area in Britain.

The finding suggests that Stonehenge was built by indigenous Britons who had lived in the area for thousands of years. Previous theories held that the monument was built in an empty landscape by migrants from continental Europe.

Stonehenge from the air

“The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways,” Jacques said in the statement, referring to the assumption that those migrants drove Britain’s transition from a hunter-gatherer to a farming society in the 6th Century B.C. “It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building, and presumably worshipping, monuments.”

The researchers say evidence suggests that before erecting Stonehenge, people living in the area set up gigantic timbers between 8820 and 6590 B.C. — a sort of wooden precursor to the stone monument. Jacques likened the area to a “Stonehenge Visitor’s Center,” where visitors from far and wide came to feast and tour the site with local guides.

“The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself,” he said.

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4,000-Year-Old Tomb Of Doctor To The Pharaohs Discovered

4,000-Year-Old Tomb Of Doctor To The Pharaohs Discovered (PHOTO)

The Huffington Post  |  By 

tomb doctor to pharaohs

The tomb of a prestigious ancient Egyptian physician who counted pharaohs among his clients is believed to have been found in a vast necropolis southwest of Cairo.

Part of a large plot measuring roughly 70 feet by 46 feet, the tomb of Shepseskaf-Ankh was unearthed this week in Abusir near modern-day Giza, the Agence France-Presse reports. The site is a burial place for many important figures from the Fifth Dynasty, which existed about 4,000 years ago.

“This discovery is important because this is the tomb of one of the greatest doctors from the time of the pyramid builders, one of the doctors closely tied to the king,” Antiquities Minister Ibrahim Ali said in a statement, per AFP.

The Czech team, led by Egyptologist Miroslav Bárta, confirmed the tomb’s discovery on Facebook Tuesday.

After analyzing carvings on the tomb’s false door, a team of archaeologists from the Czech Institute of Egyptology were able to identify the doctor, listed as Head of Physicians of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ahram Online reports.

An impressive final resting place, Shepseskaf-Ankh’s tomb appears to be a family plot and includes a courtyard area and eight burial chambers for members of the doctor’s relatives, the outlet notes.

(Story continues below.)
tomb

Carvings on the tomb of researchers believe was one of the most prominent physicians of ancient Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty. Located in northern Egypt, Abusir is the site of three pyramids built by Fifth Dynasty kings Sahure, Neferirkare and Neuserre between 2465 B.C. and 2325 B.C., according to Britannica. In the shadow of these monuments, other kings also built their own sanctuaries, with particular reverence being paid to Re, the sun god.

Team leader Bárta has been working in the Abusir area for many years, according to Radio Prague. His research in the region has informed his theory that the collapse of Egypt’s Old Kingdom began in the Fifth Dynasty.

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Dalmanutha, Biblical Town Mentioned In Gospel Of Mark, Possibly Discovered Archaeologists Claim

Dalmanutha, Biblical Town Mentioned In Gospel Of Mark, Possibly Discovered Archaeologists Claim

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 09/17/2013 2:47 pm EDT  |  Updated: 09/17/2013 4:51 pm EDT

Dalmanutha, a Biblical town described in the Gospel of Mark as the place where Jesus sailed after miraculously multiplying a few loaves and fish to feed 4,000 people, may have just been discovered by archaeologists, reports LiveScience.

So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

-Mark 8:8-8:10, King James Version 

Dalmanutha is only mentioned in Mark’s Gospel, but the corresponding passage inMatthew 15:39 says, “And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala,” which has been identified with some certainty as the modern-day town of Migdal, located slightly inland near Israel’s Ginosar Valley. Magdala is perhaps most well-known for its association with Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala, who may have been born in the town.

Fields between today’s Migdal and the coast are rich with archaeological discoveries, reports Ken Dark of the U.K.’s University of Reading, whose team discovered the town they are proposing is Dalmanutha while conducting a field survey. They have linked it with the 1986 discovery of a 2,000-year-old boat which was found on the shoreline, and to date is the most famous artifact associated with the specific area.

boat

“Vessel glass and amphora hint at wealth,” wrote Dark in the most recent edition of Palestine Exploration Quarterly, and “eights and stone anchors, along with the access to beaches suitable for landing boats — and, of course, the first-century boat … all imply an involvement with fishing.”

The findings indicate that the town was prosperous and likely survived for centuries, as the pottery pieces date from as early as the second or first century BCE to around fifth century CE, the time of the Byzantine Empire. A Jewish community likely lived alongside a polytheistic one as tesserae cubes and limestone vessel fragments, “associated with Jewish purity practices in the early Roman period” have been found,Dark told LiveScience.

Modern-day Migdal has also been a cornucopia of ancient finds, some of which were discovered out in the open, repurposed by the current residents. Some architectural remains had been turned into seats or garden ornaments, and over 40 basalt ashlar blocks were found in a single garden.

Though Dark is not certain that the newly uncovered town is the Biblical Dalmanutha, the size of the town supports that identification. Dalmanutha is one of a few place-names known by researchers to relate to the Ginosar Valley shore, that is not already linked to an archaeological site.

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World’s Roundest Object

‘World’s Roundest Object’ May Provide New Definition Of Standard Kilogram

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 08/23/2013 4:12 pm EDT

In a world where everything strives to be the best and the biggest, scientists behind The Avogadro Project in Australia have sought a surprising superlative: the world’s roundest object.

And they aren’t just doing it for bragging rights. Instead, the remarkable sphere may provide a solution to what’s known as the “kilogram problem.”

Unlike other scientific units, which can theoretically be measured anywhere in the world based on natural properties, the kilogram is still based on a physical object: a cylinder of platinum and iridium that dates back to 1889.

roundest

So while the “meter” is defined as the distance light travels in a tiny fraction of a second, and the “second” can be counted by the precise decay of an atom, the kilogram is no more (and no less) than a physical mass that sits in a secured vault at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures in Paris.

For reasons no one understands — and despite precautionary measures — the cylinder’s mass keeps changing. In other words, the kilogram, as defined by the cylinder (and compared to 40 exact replicas of the cylinder kept in other countries), doesn’t weigh the same as it used to.

To solve that problem, researchers at the Australian Centre for Precision Optics, which is home to The Avogadro Project, are crafting nearly perfect spheres made of a highly pure and very stable form of silicon. By calculating the sphere’s volume and weight, scientists should be able to determine the exact number of silicon atoms in the object itself, thereby providing an unchanging definition for the mass of a kilogram.

Per Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), scientists settled on a sphere as the standard shape because it “has no edges that might get damaged,” and “only one dimension [its diameter] has to be measured in order to calculate its volume.”

As for how the world’s roundest objects were made, New Scientist reports two spinning rotors ground them for several months. Afterward, computer-guided lasers measured each for slight derivations that were corrected individually.

If you were to blow up our spheres to the size of the Earth, you would see a small ripple in the smoothness of about 12 to 15 mm, and a variation of only 3 to 5 metres in the roundness,” CSIRO master optician Achim Leistner said of the end result.

round 2

A second, competing method to determine a standard measurement for the kilogram is the “watt balance” — a system tied to Earth’s gravitational pull on a kilogram and the force needed to counteract it. This strategy has also earned quite a following.

Despite these advances, the standard kilogram remains a cylinder that’s more than 120 years old — at least for now. And until the world’s roundest object proves its mettle, well, we’ll just have to roll with it.

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Use Your Laptop With Gestures Instead of Keyboard and Mouse?

Leap Motion, Gesture-Control Gadget For Your Laptop, Will Be Released This May For $80

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 02/27/2013 11:59 am EST

Leap Release
Turns out that 2013 is, indeed, a Leap Year.

Leap Motion, the company that makes the hotly anticipated gesture-control device of the same nameannounced Wednesday morning that the first Leap Motion units would ship to pre-orderers around the world on May 13, and that everyone could get their hands (and fingers) on one on May 19.

If you want one, you can order on Leap Motion’s website here or, somewhat curiously, on BestBuy.com right here. The Leap Motion Controller costs $80 at either outlet.

For a refresher, the Leap Motion controller plugs into almost any newer laptop and allows you to manipulate the screen via a series of hand and finger movements in the air. It’s sort of like having a touchscreen computer, but without actually touching the screen. Watch this video below, made by Leap Motion, to get an idea of how the small device can wholly transform your computer:

Previously, Leap Motion announced that it was sending 10,000 of its controllers to developers, so that there would be apps specifically built for gesture control; earlier this year, the company announced its app store, Airspace, and we’ve already seen one of those apps, by the developers behind the to-do list Clear, shown off.

In general, though, Leap Motion works with your existing operating system (Windows 7 or 8, or OS X 10.7 and 10.8), via zoom, scroll and zoom functions baked into the hardware, which you plug into your USB port. Wired’s Roberto Baldwin wrote that the Leap probably works best as a secondary controller, after your trackpad or mouse, and for specific apps or games written for it; but, like most reviewers, he came away very impressed by the little gizmo’s accuracy and speed.

For more on the Leap Motion Controller, and to pre-order, you can visit the official website right here.

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New Meteorite Found In Antartica

Huge Meteorite Found In Antarctica, Largest Discovered There In 25 Years 

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/01/2013 1:00 pm EST

Meteorite Found Antarctica
An unusually large meteorite has been discovered by an international team of researchers in Antarctica.

The team, searching an area known as the Nansen Ice Field, discovered the 40-pound space rock in late January, according to OurAmazingPlanet.

Scientists from Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) and Tokyo University were part of the expedition that discovered the extraterrestrial chunk, the largest such meteorite found in the region in close to a quarter century. The team was based out of the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station.

“This meteorite was a very unexpected find for us, not only due to its weight, but because we don’t normally find such large meteorites in Antarctica,” Vinciane Debaille, a geologist who led the Belgian arm of the research team, said in a written statement on Feb. 28. “This is the biggest meteorite found in East Antarctica for 25 years, so it’s a very special discovery for us, only made possible by the existence and location of Princess Elisabeth Antarctica.”

Known collectively as SAMBA, the international team had been searching the ice field since mid-December, according to the group’s website. The team’s current project is to collect large meteorites and study them. Eventually, the meteorites will be publicly displayed.

The SAMBA website describes the goal of such research:

Understanding how our planet works necessitates studying its interior. Direct geological records only document the crustal or uppermost fraction of our planet while the deeper parts remain totally outside of our reach. Meteorites coming from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter have recorded information on how other planets formed and evolved through time; from undifferentiated primitive asteroids to differentiated small planets, showing the development of a crust, a mantle, and a metallic core just like those of the Earth.

Debaille’s Feb. 28 statement also explained the group’s work. “We study meteorites in order to better understand how the solar system formed, how it evolved, how the Earth became such a unique planet in our solar system,” said Debaille.

OurAmazingPlanet notes that United States scientists also ventured “out on the polar ice to collect meteorites this season,” but they were searching on the opposite end of Antarctica from the SAMBA outfit.

While meteors generally burn up in the atmosphere, in mid-February a huge meteor exploded over central Russia, showering the area in debris and creating a shock wave that injured hundreds.

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