August 23rd, 2012
07:45 PM ET

"Mwahahaha" makes it into dictionary

The latest words added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online make me feel like I'm eavesdropping at a high school. Allow me to list a few with exclamation points.

Photobomb! Ridic! Douche! Genius! Mwahahaha! Lolz!

See what I mean?

ODO says, "The world of technology remains a major influence on the English language." Many new terms originate from social media.

Read more of the list here.

July 26th, 2012
06:59 PM ET

Awesomely bad portraits of Olympic athletes


A photo exhibit of Team USA 2012 opens in New York on Friday. A press release from the art gallery reads, "You will not see world-class athletes like this anywhere."

Critics will say that's because the pictures by AFP photographer Joe Klamar are terrible. They pick at the lighting, awkward poses and shoddy backdrop.


His supporters call the work honest and original. AFP defended Klamar in a blog post addressing the controversy.

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Filed under: Over and Out There • Sport
May 29th, 2012
03:58 PM ET

Diamond Jubilee: UK puts weather before Windsors

I remember the Queen’s Golden Jubilee ten years ago. When the commemorative flypast took place, I was festering in a box room on an ex-council estate in East London. I think I was hungover.

Actually, I was 22 years old. I know I was hungover.

Three miles west of my less-than-regal living quarters, more than a million individuals had mobbed The Mall and the wider environs of Buckingham Palace. Many were armed with union flags, others just with cameras, hoping for a fleeting glimpse of the boyishly handsome Prince William. There was, by all accounts, a party atmosphere – aided I’m sure by the fact that the Great British elements had opted not to rain on this particular parade.

But more than the event itself, I recall an outpouring of surprise from the press and the public alike that the occasion had not been a washout in the wider sense. The Windsors were perceived to have a popularity problem.  Papers such as "The Guardian" decreed that they were out of touch with the populace, and the populace would be out of sight come the Jubilee.


May 10th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Instagram: My addiction and affliction

Nicol Nicolson's Instagram page

I made an exhibition of myself on CNN last night.

My dear friend and colleague Ramy Inocencio was proficiently analyzing Toyota’s latest earnings when, 35 seconds into his hit, a pair of arms rose up over his left shoulder. They belonged to me. And they proceeded to run the gamut of soccer-style celebrations: the fist pump, the airplane, the Saturday Night Fever 45° point…  The spectacle lasted 15 seconds but, watching it back, it’s an agonizingly long 15 seconds. And the thing is, as shamelessly scene-stealing as this episode appeared to be, it wasn’t my fault. It was Instagram’s.

While the wider world obsesses over the imminent opportunity to purchase shares in Facebook, I am instead obsessing over Facebook’s latest purchase. Don’t get me wrong. I was "gramin" long before Mark Zuckerberg got his prosperous paws on the photo-sharing site. But as with any addiction, Instagram crept up on me, posing as a harmless hobby before eventually enveloping me in its allure.


March 29th, 2012
10:25 PM ET

Food coloring controversy is not so rosy

Some people are freaking out after finding out that their favorite Frappuccino is colored by bugs. The Strawberries & Crème blended beverage at Starbucks contains cochineal extract.

Image courtesy Starbucks

The coloring additive gives the drink its pretty pink hue.

A cochineal, by the way, is an insect.

And guess what... this drink is not the only place you will find it. Until 2009, companies could put it on their ingredients list as "natural coloring."

Now the FDA requires the specific labeling of cochineal extract, sometimes called carmine.

The alternative is artificial. Usually Red Dye #40. That is derived from petroleum. Yum!

So, bugs or oil? Neither sounds appetizing. Both come with their own health concerns.


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Filed under: General • Over and Out There
March 20th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

Flying robots

Technically they're called "Autonomous Agile Aerial Robots." But it's also accurate to call them Really Awesome Self-Flying Robots.

The University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab created these UAVs to be light and maneuverable. They measure about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and weigh 60-70 grams.

Professor Vijay Kumar explained how they work at a recent TED talk. There is no GPS system guiding their movements. Instead, they are equipped with a Microsoft Kinect and a Hokuyo laser scanner. They can actually be sent into a building and create a map of it on the fly.

When they're not making music, of course.

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Filed under: Over and Out There • Science • Technology • Viral Videos
November 2nd, 2011
06:22 AM ET

Longest complaint email address...ever

How do you usually report counterfeit currency?

You probably called the bank hotline or emailed the customer complaints department.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, not if you are complaining to one Bank of China branch in Fujian province, which asks people to send complaints to what must be one of the world's longest email addresses.

How long?

Try 76 characters long: 0xLJB3F6C4C9D3EBCFD6BDF0B9DCC0EDzFJPJKFBCNYXJGL@mail.notes.bank-of-china.com.

One shocked netizen, @木遥, posted a picture of the bank sign on China's popular microblog Sina Weibo last Saturday, triggering more than two thousands comments and tens of thousands of reposts.

While some netizens laughed about the sheer absurdity of the email address, many expressed frustration towards the bank, accusing the management for “deterring customer complaints intentionally”.  FULL POST

September 19th, 2011
08:05 AM ET

"Versailles" in China

You would be forgiven for thinking that this grandiose palace – filled with crystal chandeliers and pianos – is the Palace of Versailles in France... but it's not.

This is the new headquarters of a state-run drug maker in China.

Photos previously published on the Harbin Pharmaceutical Group's website show its unbelievably luxurious interior, full of gold and marble, and its reproductions of works by famous artists.

The HQ also features office space fit to host royalty; but it has not proven popular with people on the street, or on the web.

The photos triggered harsh criticism from Chinese netizens; it has been reported that some critics even went as far as hacking the website to express their anger.

Chinese media report that Harbin Pharmaceutical say the images are from an "internal museum" and have now limited the shots on their website to simple exteriors of the building.

September 6th, 2011
02:31 PM ET

Monster croc captured: How big is it?

That man is hugging what's said to be the largest saltwater crocodile in captivity. News reports in the Philippines say it measures 6.4 meters long and weighs a whopping 1,075 kilograms.

So just how big is that? We plugged the stats into WolframAlpha for some comparisons. Here's what we came up with:

As if that wasn't scary enough, this monster croc weighs more than the original Mini Cooper... or about the same as the current Mini Cooper Coupe.