Saturday, January 5, 2013

Japan Bluefin Tuna Sells For $1.76 Million

Japan Bluefin Tuna Sells For Record $1.76 Million -- NBC/AP 

A bluefin tuna sold for a record $1.76 million at a Tokyo auction Saturday, nearly three times the previous high set last year — even as environmentalists warn that stocks of the majestic, speedy fish are being depleted worldwide amid strong demand for sushi.

In the year's first auction at Tokyo's sprawling Tsukiji fish market, the 222-kilogram (489-pound) tuna caught off northeastern Japan sold for 155.4 million yen, said Ryoji Yagi, a market official.

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My Comment: Now that is a big (and expensive) fish.

A 'Flower' On The Surface Of Mars?

Does this image taken by Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager show a "Martian flower?" (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds ‘Flower’ On Surface Of Mars -- The Slide 

NASA has released a series of new photos taken by its Curiosity rover that appear to show a “flower” on the surface of Mars.’s photo blog reports that the photos were taken as part of an effort to capture 360-degree images during Curiosity’s trek through Mars’ Yellowknife Bay.

New Jersey-based journalist and photographer Ken Kramer has assembled the Curiosity photographs, adding color to give a realistic view of what the rover is seeing on the planet’s surface.

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My Comment: I doubt that it is a 'flower' .... but it is an interesting geological anomaly.

Astronomers Estimate That at Least 100 Billion Planets Populate the Galaxy

A new analysis of data from NASA's Kepler mission finds evidence for at least 100 billion planets in our galaxy. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) 

Planets Abound: Astronomers Estimate That at Least 100 Billion Planets Populate the Galaxy -- Science Daily 

Look up at the night sky and you'll see stars, sure.

But you're also seeing planets -- billions and billions of them. At least. That's the conclusion of a new study by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) that provides yet more evidence that planetary systems are the cosmic norm. The team made their estimate while analyzing planets orbiting a star called Kepler-32 -- planets that are representative, they say, of the vast majority in the galaxy and thus serve as a perfect case study for understanding how most planets form.

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My Comment: Only a 100 billion?

More Secrets From A Famed Roman Shipwreck

Archaeologists secure an amphora from the Antikythera wreck.(Photo: Ephorate of Culture/Greece) 

Famed Roman Shipwreck Reveals More Secrets -- USA 

Today Ancient artifacts resembling the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient bronze clockwork astronomical calculator, may rest amid the larger-than-expected Roman shipwreck that yielded the device in 1901.

 Marine archaeologists report they have uncovered new secrets of an ancient Roman shipwreck famed for yielding an amazingly sophisticated astronomical calculator. An international survey team says the ship is twice as long as originally thought and contains many more calcified objects amid the ship's lost cargo that hint at new discoveries.

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My Comment: The ancient Romans were advanced .... more than what we give them credit for.

Early U.S. Flu Season Accelerates

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Early Flu Season Accelerates; No Peak Yet, CDC Says -- NBC 

The nation’s early flu season continued to grow in the U.S. this week, with no sign yet of a peak in the spread of coughing, achy, feverish illness, health officials said Friday.

"I think we're still accelerating," said Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesman.

Twenty-nine states and New York City reported high levels of flu activity, up from 16 states and NYC the previous week. Flu was widespread in 41 states, up from 31 states, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of the week ending Dec. 29, 2,257 people had been hospitalized with flu, and 18 children had died from complications of the illness, CDC reported.

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My Comment: Take the flu shot and washing my hands is my remedy.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Will This Be The U.S. Military's Future Means To Ship Materials And Soldiers?

A concept of the airship on the battlefield, where it could be used to transport tanks and soldiers directly onto the front line

Thunderbird 2 Flies Again: The Astonishing Airship Set To Revolutionise Haulage, Tourism... And Warfare -- Daily Mail

* The Aeroscraft can carry three times more than the biggest military cargo planes over thousands of miles
* Heavily backed by the U.S. military, it is now at the prototype stage and is set for its first test flight * It is capable of vertical take off and landing and doesn't even need a landing strip

A radical new kind of airship funded by the US military is about to make its first test flight - and it looks uncannily like the Thunderbird 2 craft from the classic TV show.

The Aeroscraft airship will carry three times as much as the biggest military cargo planes over thousands of miles, use a third of the fuel, and it doesn't even need a landing strip.

It could also have major implications for cargo haulage, and almost everything now laboriously transported across the planet's surface by boat, train and lorry could within years be carried through the skies, its makers claim.  

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My Comment: It's an old concept but with a modern twist. I wish them well.

Is This Samsung's Galaxy S4?

The image that website Sammobile claims is the new Samsung Galaxy S4 

 Is This Samsung's Galaxy S4? Pictures Claiming To Be New Flagship Handset Leaked Online -- Daily Mail 

* New images claim o show the next version of Samsung's best selling Galaxy Handset - which could go on sale next year
* Image shows sleek design with no button - but does not appear to show rumoured 'bending' screen
* Could be revealed at the CES event in Las Vegas next week

The latest version of Samsung's hugely popular Galaxy S mobile phone has been spotted, according to one online site.

An image obtained by Sammobile shows the new gadget sporting a 5 inch display, and a new design with no buttons on the case. The handset is also believed to have a quad core processor and a 13 megapixel camera.

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My Comment: I guess we will have to wait for a few weeks to find out if this story is accurate.

An Alternative To GPS?

A U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Uses An Army Issued Smartphone To Pull Up A Map For Afghan Villagers United States Army via Wikimedia

New Ground-Based Indoor Positioning Tech Is Accurate Down 
To Just A Few Inches -- Popular Science

Locata's technology goes where GPS can't, delivering a signal one million times stronger than those beamed from satellites.

 Indoor navigation is most certainly the holy grail for positioning system makers right now. Satellite-based location technologies like GPS work wonderfully out under the open sky, where signals bounced from satellites to receivers on the ground are unhindered by man-made structures or natural obstructions. Take that same technology into the subway or a large shopping mall, and the signal goes dead. But a new ground-based positioning system called Locata could soon replace or augment satnav using radio signals that are a million times stronger than GPS signals, indoors or out.  
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My Comment: The military will love this .... if it works.

What's On Darpa's 2013 Wish List?

U.S. Navy Diver DARPA wants a new dive suit that automatically monitors the diver's physiology and adjusts his or her air mixture accordingly. U.S. Navy

On DARPA's 2013 Wish List: Extreme Diving, Portable Brain Reading, And Gravity Vision -- Popular Science

The Pentagon's mad scientists want to bring brain scans to the smartphone, swarming satellites to space, and self-healing software everywhere.

DARPA solicitation days are like Christmas morning for technology nerds, occasions whose bounty defense tech geeks look forward to precisely because we have no idea what we are going to get. And in case you thought DARPA might scale back its far-out R&D ambitions in light of impending defense budget cuts, be advised: the DoD’s blue-sky researchers fear no fiscal cliff (in fact, it has likely already developed a self-assembling hypersonic vehicle that will automatically scramjet the agency to safety should any cliff, fiscal or otherwise, be autonomously detected). So what does DARPA want in 2013? Read on.

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My Comment: I call this the "golly-gee' stuff from Popular Science.

The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever

The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever -- DMagazine  

In a bowling alley one night, Bill Fong came so close to perfection that it nearly killed him.

When Bill Fong approaches the lane, 15-pound bowling ball in hand, he tries not to breathe. He tries not to think about not breathing. He wants his body to perform a series of complex movements that his muscles themselves have memorized. In short, he wants to become a robot.

Fong, 48 years old, 6 feet tall with broad shoulders, pulls the ball into his chest and does a quick shimmy with his hips. He swings the ball first backward, then forward, his arm a pendulum of kinetic energy, as he takes five measured steps toward the foul line. He releases the ball, and it glides across the oiled wooden planks like it’s floating, hydroplaning, spinning counterclockwise along a trajectory that seems to be taking it straight for the right-hand gutter. But as the ball nears the edge of the lane, it veers back toward the center, as if guided by remote control. The hook carries the ball back just in time. In a heartbeat, what was a wide, sneering mouth of pins is now—nothing. He comes back to the table where his teammates are seated—they always sit and bowl in the same order—and they congratulate him the same way they have thousands of times over the last decade. But Fong looks displeased. His strike wasn’t good enough.

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My Comment: If you have ten minutes to spare, read this story. The incredible part is at the end.

1,000-Year-Old Jewish Documents Discovered In Afghanistan

Documents from a collection of discarded religious Jewish, discovered inside caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan, which date back from the 10th century are displayed to the media during a press conference on January 3, 2013, at the national library in Jerusalem. (AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana) 

Collection Of Ancient Jewish Manuscripts Found In Afghanistan Fox Cave -- RT 

Israel's National Library has acquired 1,000-year-old Jewish documents discovered in Afghanistan. The collection of 29 pages includes writings by Saadia Gaon, and has been compared in significance to the 19th-century discovery of the Cairo Genizah. ­

The rare documents were discovered by villagers near the Iran-Uzbekistan border in a cave believed to be the home of a family of foxes. The manuscripts include religious writings, as well as letters and civil contracts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and Persian, and in a variety of alphabets.

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My Comment: I am impressed that these documents are still in good shape .... after 1,000 years.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Map Tracks The Location Of Drone Flights Across The U.S.

Newly Released Drone Records Reveal Extensive Military Flights in US -- 

Today EFF posted several thousand pages of new drone license records and a new map that tracks the location of drone flights across the United States. These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

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My Comment: Bottom line .... they are everywhere.

Video Tour Of The International Space Station

Video Tour Of The International Space Station -- Slate 

Before she came back to Earth in a ball of fire surrounding her Russian re-entry capsule, astronaut Sunita Williams took time out of her packing for the trip home to give a nickel tour of the International Space Station. When I clicked this, I figured I’d watch for a minute or two … and found myself watching the whole thing, because it was simply fascinating.  

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My Comment: Yup .... I also spent the next 25 minutes watching it.

The Rise Of E-Books

The Nook tablet is seen during a demonstration at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York in this 2011 file photo. The share of US adults reading a digital book jumped in 2012 while the share of those reading a traditional book fell, accoridng to a new survey. Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/File 

Digital Reading Rises, While Books Fade -- Christian Science Monitor  

Share of adult Americans reading an e-book jumps from 16 to 23 percent in a year, Pew survey finds, while traditional book reading falls from 72 to 67 percent.

The tastes of the reading public are turning digital. A Pew Internet Research Center survey released Thursday found that the percentage of Americans aged 16 and older who read an e-book grew from 16 percent in 2011 to 23 percent this year. Readers of traditional books dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent. Overall, those reading books of any kind dropped from 78 percent to 75 percent, a shift Pew called statistically insignificant.

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My Comment: My favorite e-book library is here.

A New Trend Called Rooftopping

Daring photographer Tom Ryaboi snaps the Toronto skyline from the top of skyscrapers 

Rooftopping? It's Just Jaw-Dropping! Vertigo-Inducing Pictures Taken By Rooftopper Who Wants To Take Photography To New Heights -- Daily Mail 

* Photography craze of Rooftopping sees thrill seekers climbing to dizzying new heights for the perfect picture

If the thought of walking along the edge of skyscrapers completely unprotected turns you queasy, it's probably best you look away now. Daring photographer Tom Ryaboi snaps the Toronto skyline from the top of skyscrapers as a pioneer of the heart-stopping photography movement rooftopping. To achieve these breathtaking photographs, he often has to evade security guards, dogs - and even urban falcons defending their nests.

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My Comment: The pictures are vertigo-inducing. My suggestion to those who are foolish to want to try it .... do not do it on a windy day.

What Global Warming?

Colder: Since 1977, the mean annual temperature has been steadily rising but starting in the early 2000s that has been falling

What Global Warming? Alaska Is Headed For An Ice Age As Scientists Report State's Steady Temperature Decline -- Daily Mail 

* Since 2000, temperatures in Alaska have dropped by 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit
 * Scientists reviewed weather reports from 20 climate stations operated by the National Weather Service located across Alaska
 * 19 of the 20 weather stations reported falling temperatures
* An ocean phenomenon has disrupted a storm regulating system thus allowing cold winter storms to linger longer and bring a deep chill
* Local residents have noticed the colder temps but say its no big deal since they are already bundled up for 20-below zero temperatures

New research from the Alaska Climate Research Center shows that since the beginning of the 21st century, temperatures in the snow covered land of Alaska are actually getting colder - bucking the overall global warming trend.

In the Last Frontier, where temperatures can get as cold as 50 degrees below zero, local residents have experienced the increasing chill and scientists now confirm that the Northwest state is indeed seeing a temperature drop.

A new report from the research center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks reveals that the 49th state of the union has cooled by 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 2000.

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My Comment: Dittos in Montreal (where I live) and for what my relatives (who live in Russia) are telling me this winter.

Intel Wants To Offer People The Ability To Subscribe To Individual Channels

Intel has been looking at TV for a while. Dan Frommer, Business Insider 

Intel Is Reportedly Going To Destroy The Cable Model By Offering People The Ability To Subscribe To Individual Channels -- Business Insider 

Intel is reportedly on the cusp of delivering something that consumers around the world have been wanting for a long, long time.

Kelly Clay at Forbes reports Intel is going to blow up the cable industry with its own set-top box and an unbundled cable service.

Clay says Intel is planning to deliver cable content to any device with an Internet connection. And instead of having to pay $80 a month for two hundred channels you don't want, you'll be able to subscribe to specific channels of your choosing.

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My Comment: I have trouble seeing content providers giving Intel that type of power over their means to distribute their product. Cable has been good to these providers, Intel will have to offer something better.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

U.S. And New Zealand Secretly Tested 'Tsunami Bomb'

U.S. And New Zealand Secretly Tested 'Tsunami Bomb' Designed To Trigger Tidal Waves And Destroy Coastal Cities In WWII -- Daily Mail
* Countries carried out covert tests of a device designed to use underwater explosions to trigger massive tidal waves
* Testing saw almost 4,000 bombs detonated in waters around New Caledonia and Auckland during the Second World War
* Details of top secret Project Seal unearthed in military files in New Zealand's national archives by an author researching a new book

The U.S. and New Zealand collaborated on a top-secret plan to develop a 'tsunami bomb' capable of devastating coastal cities, it has emerged. The countries carried out covert tests of the potential weapon of mass destruction - designed to use underwater explosions to trigger huge tidal waves - in waters around Auckland and the Pacific island of New Caledonia during the Second World War. Details of the secretive operation, code-named Project Seal, were discovered in military files buried in New Zealand's national archives by author and film-maker Ray Waru.  

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More News On The 'Tsunami Bomb'

'Tsunami bomb' tested off New Zealand coast -- The Telegraph
Tsunami bomb feasible, secret WWII test showed -- Sydney Morning Herald
NZ and US tested 'tsunami bomb' that could devastate small cities -- TNT Magazine
From UFOs to 'tsunami bomb': N.Z. archive secrets revealed -- France24/AFP

The Growth Of Snapchat

Snapchat Withstands Facebook Challenge -- Financial Times 

A smartphone app that shares self-destructing photos has emerged as Silicon Valley’s latest obsession after withstanding a head-on challenge from social-networking group Facebook. Snapchat, whose popularity among teenagers has made it a US hit, has been in the App Store’s top 10 for the past few months. The free app’s disposable photos mark it out against rivals such as Instagram, one of last year’s most-hyped apps.

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My Comment: This is a smart idea .... and does help to create that personal and private environment that many people crave for.

Approaching Comet May Be The Brightest In Decades

Approaching Comet May Outshine The Moon -- Reuters 

* Comet ISON discovered in September
* Could be brightest comet in decades Dec 28

(Reuters) - A comet blazing toward Earth could outshine the full moon when it passes by at the end of next year - if it survives its close encounter with the sun. The recently discovered object, known as comet ISON, is due to fly within 1.2 million miles (1.9 million km) from the center of the sun on Nov. 28, 2013 said astronomer Donald Yeomans, head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. As the comet approaches, heat from the sun will vaporize ices in its body, creating what could be a spectacular tail that is visible in Earth's night sky without telescopes or even binoculars from about October 2013 through January 2014. If the comet survives, that is.

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Update #1: 2013 could be the best year for comet spotting in generations -- CNet  
Update #2: 2013 Has A Spectacular Comet In Store For Us -- Business Insider

My Comment: Something to look forward ro at the end of the year.

Africa's Energy Demands Are Starting To Skyrocket

Africa's Energy Consumption Growing Fastest In World -- Christian Science Monitor

Africa's energy demands are skyrocketing, but with 64 recent major discoveries of fuel deposits, it is in a good position to meet its needs. As the sun sets over Africa each day, instead of flicking a light switch or heating up the oven, most people put a match to a kerosene lantern or a burning ember to a charcoal stove. Africa, home to 15 percent of the world’s population, consumes just 3 percent of the world's energy output, and 587 million people, including close to three-quarters of those living in Sub-Saharan Africa, still have no access to electricity via national grids. But the situation is changing, and swiftly. At 4.1 percent growth, Africa’s per capita energy consumption is growing faster than anywhere else, driven by improved infrastructure, inward investment, and efforts to tackle corruption.  

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My Comment: These energy trends are going to guarantee a few things .... (1) global oil and energy prices will remain high, (2) global warming advocates will be alarmed, and (3) tensions and conflicts will start to develop between different African countries over energy supplies (i.e. South Sudan - Sudan oil deposits, Ethiopia wanting to dam the Nile river, Nigeria delta oil reserves, etc.).

Did Neil Armstrong Lie About The Origins Of His ‘One Small Step’ Speech?

Did Neil Armstrong Lie About The Origins Of His ‘One Small Step’ Speech? And Did He Still Fluff His Lines? -- Daily Mail 

A new documentary has cast doubt on Neil Armstrong's claims that he came up with his iconic 'one small step' line hours after touching down on the surface of the moon. The first man on the moon had stubbornly maintained up until his death in September that his historic words were unplanned, but a recent interview with his brother claims that he thought up the famous speech months before the July 1969, Apollo mission - and that the phrase he planned to utter did include an 'a'. Hundreds of millions around the world heard the NASA astronaut say, 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind', but Armstrong insisted that he said 'a man' but that the 'a' was not heard because of static.  

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My Comment: He will always be remembered for saying 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' .... and that's good enough for me.

Is There A Link Between Alzheimer's Disease And Space travel?

Little is know about the ultra high-energy cosmic rays that regularly penetrate the atmosphere. J. Yang / NSF 

 Space May Accelerate Alzheimer's In Astronauts -- NBC  

Exposure to radiation levels could speed up changes in brain, study finds. Radiation in space might harm the brains of astronauts in deep space by accelerating the development of Alzheimer's disease, a new study on mice suggests. The research reveals another risk that manned deep-space missions to places such as Mars or the asteroids could pose, scientists added. "This study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease," study author Kerry O'Banion, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a statement.

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My Comment: Maybe so .... but if I had the chance, I would still want to go up into space.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Facebook, Google And Twitter Release 2012 Trends

Felix Baumgartner's daring freefall from near space was a top trend on Google. 

Facebook, Google Release 2012 Trends -- CNN 

 (CNN) -- If you can't recall everything you loved and hated about 2012, Facebook, Twitter and Google all just released their year-in-review reports. And all three reflect what many of us experienced firsthand: Thousands of strangers gathering to watch a rover land on Mars and a man fall from space. A hurricane slamming the East Coast while the world watched tragedy strike and heroes emerge. Social media, combined with the ability to search and surface information almost instantly, repeatedly brought Internet users together to huddle around the virtual campfire, sharing their stories through image, text and sound.

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CSN Editor: For more on the trends:

Meet Roboy, One Of The Most Advanced Humanoid Robots In The World

Advanced Humanoid Roboy To Be ‘Born’ In Nine Months -- Kurzweilai 

Meet Roboy, “one of the most advanced humanoid robots,” say researchers at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich. Their 15 project partners and over 40 engineers and scientists are constructing Roboy as a tendon-driven robot modeled on human beings (robots usually have their motors in their joints, giving them that “robot” break-dance look), so it will move almost as elegantly as a human. Roboy will be a “service robot,” meaning it will execute services independently for the convenience of human beings, as in the movie Robot & Frank.

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My Comment: Impressive.

2,750-Year-Old Temple Found Near Jerusalem

An employee of the Israeli Antiquities Authority displays figurines at Tel Motza archaeological site on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Baz Ratner / Reuters 

Israelis Find 2,750-Year-Old Temple -- NBC 

Archaeologists have uncovered a 2,750-year-old temple near Jerusalem, along with pottery and clay figurines that suggest the site was the home base for a ritual cult, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said Wednesday. The discovery was made during excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) west of Jerusalem, during preparations for work on a new section of Israeli's Highway 1, the agency said in a statement.

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My Comment: More evidence that Jerusalem is built on a history that spans many millennium

The Secret Of Scotland's Islay Malt Whiskeys

The Secret Of Scotland's Islay Malt Whiskeys -- CBS  

(CBS News) We all know Scotch whisky comes from Scotland. But to true Scotch drinkers, just WHERE in Scotland makes all the difference. Willem Marx takes us on a tasting tour: At the outermost edge of Scotland's wild Atlantic coastline lies a small island with a big reputation. The Isle of Islay is called the "Queen of the Hebrides" for its natural beauty, and can seem rather a peaceful little spot. But the sleepy harbors, flowery meadows and ancient villages today play host to an increasingly global industry. While Jamaica is liked for its rums, and Madeira known for its sherries, this island is loved and famous for its unique-tasting Scotch whiskys, known as Islay malts. Islay has just over 3,000 year-round residents, but in their midst nine whisky distilleries are thriving.

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My Comment: Makes me want to move to Scotland

Is Beer Food?

Beer Now Considered Alcohol, Not Food, In Russia As New Restrictions Take Hold -- NBC 

It will be tougher for Russians to cry in their beer in 2013. Restrictions on when and where beer can be sold go into effect Jan. 1 with a law that declared beer is alcohol, not food. Under the new rules, beer can only be sold in licensed outlets — not street kiosks, gas stations and bus depots like it has been. Russians won't be able to buy it from shops between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., and beer commercials are a thing of the past. The limits are part of a government effort to reduce alcohol abuse in Russian, where one in five male deaths are linked to booze, according to world health experts. Not everyone is toasting the change, however.

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My Comment: My dad (who is Russian and when he was alive loved beer) always treated beer as food.