March 31, 2014

Camel Contemplating Needle by John Baldessari.     Photo: Courtesy of beyerprojects.com

U.S. Taxpayers to Buy $400K Camel Art

Sculpture for new American embassy

United States taxpayers might spend $400,000 on a camel sculpture for the new American embassy being built in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The State Department outlined plans to buy the work—a life-size white fiberglass camel staring at a needle—in contracting records. Titled Camel Contemplating Needle, the sculpture was created by California artist John Baldessari.     

Officials have justified the purchase on the grounds that the art is "uniquely qualified" to appear on the property of a U.S. government building in Pakistan.

"Public art which will be presented in the new embassy should reflect the values of a predominantly Islamist country," according to a four-page document.

Both the Bible and the Quran use the metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Baldessari's work alludes to the biblical saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.         

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Could bison in Yellowstone anticipate Sunday's quake?     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

4.8 Earthquake Hits Yellowstone

Did the animals see it coming?

No human knew about the 4.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the northern part of Yellowstone National Park on Sunday until it happened at 6:34 a.m., but some on Twitter and YouTube say that a group of bison in the park sensed it weeks before and fled.

Did this herd running down the highway away from Mammoth Hot Springs know something we didn't? The U.S. Geological Society reported that it had detected at least 25 minor earthquakes in the park since Thursday, and the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory has been tracking an area of recent uplift for seven months. 

Jake Lowenstern, scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, says not to be fooled. He has yet to see any conclusive research that animals can predict earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

"I have seen some of the YouTube videos," Lowenstern said. "However, I don’t find them very convincing. Some do not appear to have been filmed recently. But even if the footage is new, anyone who has spent time at Yellowstone has seen bison running along the roads … into the park, out of the park, and within the park. A horn honking is enough to get them running."

However, some European scientists hypothesize that birds and bats might be able to detect impending earthquakes by sensing fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field. Backed by the German Aerospace Agency and the Russian Space Agency, the International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS) will begin doing this research late next year.

According to University of Utah seismograph stations, Sunday's earthquake occurred about four miles north-northeast of the Norris Geyser Basin and was felt in the Montana border towns of West Yellowstone and Gardiner, both about 20 miles from the epicenter. No damage has been reported, although some preppers wonder if it's only a matter of time before the park's supervolcano annihilates everything within a 500-mile radius, covering most of the country in ash and sending the planet into a prolonged nuclear winter.

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An unexpected find for a ninth grader digging a trout pond in his father's backyard.     Photo: Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock

Ancient Bones Found in Backyard

Boy digs up 1,000-year-old remains

Ali Erturk, a Salt Lake City ninth grader, was in the middle of building a backyard trout pond for his dad when he stumbled upon what he thought was an animal bone. Digging deeper, Erturk ran into another piece of bone, but this time it was clearly a human skull. Local officials have since confirmed that Erturk discovered an archeological site containing 1,000-year-old American Indian remains.

"When I saw it looked like a human skull, then it definitely was a bit creepy. … It kind of stayed in the back of my mind even when I wasn't digging the pond, going to sleep, it was in the back of my mind that it was human remains," Erturk said of his discovery.

The Utah Department of Heritage spent most of Friday at the site, confirming that the bones dated back some 1,000 years and likely belonged to an American Indian from the region.

Erturk stumbled upon the archeological site when he was expanding a section of the pond to make it a bit deeper. He noticed the first bone about six feet below the surface.

American Indian remains aren't uncommon in Utah—groups like the Shoshone and the Utes have lived there for 10,000 years—but private-property findings are always a bonus.

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There's room for two in this tiny house—if you're feeling cozy.     Photo: Tammy Strobel/Flickr

Tiny House Dating

Find a little love

Not everyone can live comfortably in a 200-square-foot space, but for people who can, finding a small-minded mate (pun intended) can be difficult. Enter Tiny House Dating, a new dating social network designed for people hoping to find love in small homes. 

Tiny House Dating owner Kai Rostcheck explains that the movement behind small modular-style homes that allow people to go off the grid has some serious legs. The videos of elfish abodes posted on his website have received more than 27 million views, and prefabricated cabins and homes for purchase, such as Escape and Kithaus, have been garnering online attention that some might even call viral. It was only a matter of time before a dating site jumped on the trend.

But Rostcheck explains that the website isn't about finding someone who wants to buy a certain size of home. Rather, Tiny House Dating is "for people who place higher value on freedom, flexibility, and even sustainability than on stuff." It acts as a filter for individuals who prioritize rightsizing—comparable to a dating site exclusively for nonsmokers. Rostcheck says that when it comes down to it, "there are many, many people wanting to change the way they've been living." It seems that the tiny house trend is here to stay.

We wonder: What happens when Tiny House daters have kids? 

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Catching some zzz's.     Photo: Getty Images

Google Naps Finds Best Sleep Spots

The crowdsourcing project displays the sleepiest spots near you

Napping can be the heavenly break you need during a hectic workday—especially if your productivity for the remainder of it depends on some shut-eye. But what if you’ve hit the proverbial wall and you have nowhere to sneak a snooze?

Fear not, sleepy warrior. Google Naps, a parody of the popular Google Maps program, is a crowdsourcing project that shows you the best snoozing spots near you, the Atlantic Cities reports. Allow the app to find your location, and park benches and grassy knolls perfect for your napping pleasure appear on the map.

"We hope Google will join in and take this to the next level," a representative from Kakhiel, Venour, and Biko, the Dutch creative agencies that made the parody, told Mashable. "We created demand, now let's hope Google can help us supply."

A word of advice: Most of the time, napping doesn't provide the same brain and body restoration that a full night's rest can—even if that park bench near the bakery is looking particularly comfy.

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