Posts by Chris Nichols

  • Mystery solved: Why dogs spin in circles before doing their business

    Chris Nichols at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    If you're a dog owner, you've probably noticed that some dogs will spin around a few times in a circle before settling in to relieve themselves. Ever wonder why?

    Turns out it's because they're trying to align with the Earth's magnetic field, according to new research.

    "Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the north-south axis under calm MF [magnetic field] conditions," according to the findings by researchers in the Czech Republic and Germany. "This directional behavior was abolished under Unstable MF." The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.

    To test their theory, scientists had 70 dogs, from 37 breeds, observed over a two-year span. The orientation of the dogs during defecation was cataloged 1,893 times and during urination 5,582 times.

  • This means war? N.C. politician quits council seat in Klingon-language letter

    Chris Nichols at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    A North Carolina politician has chosen a memorable way to step down from his Town Council seat, an event notable less for what he said than for how he said it: The resignation was submitted in Klingon. David Waddell, a councilman in Indian Trail, a town in Union County a few miles from Charlotte, invoked the language of the war-making race from "Star Trek" in saying he wouldn't serve out his first term. According to a report in the Charlotte Observer, Waddell provided the Klingon-language letter to Mayor Michael Alvarez "as an inside joke." "Folks don’t know what to think of me half the time," he told the paper. "I might as well have one last laugh." Below is a screenshot of the letter, posted on Waddell's Facebook page:


  • Walt Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass': The retelling, Twitter-style

    Chris Nichols at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    While Twitter has adopted many of the not entirely dignified conventions of modern digital communications — coarse language, thoughtless and mean-spirited arguments, widespread use of "u" instead of "you" — it on occasion draws in those among us who harbor an appreciation for the literary side of life.

    That's clearly the case for a tweeter who goes by the appellation @TweetsOfGrass and is now, for the fifth time, tweeting Walt Whitman's classic poetry text"Leaves of Grass." Here's a sample:

    "Since the account first began tweeting the poem in 2011, it has accumulated more than 11,000 followers, people who like just a bit of poetry thrown in among the daily Twitter melee. There are high school teachers, academics, poets, and, not to be forgotten, strong contingents of Lana Del Rey and John Green fans as well."

    The Atlantic indicates that Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" is currently getting a similar treatment on Twitter.

  • Can cloud seeding put a dent in China's smog problem?

    Chris Nichols at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    Authorities in China might be close to turning to cloud seeding in a bid to clear up the smog problem that's dogging the country.

    The website, citing reports from the world's most-populous nation, says the move would be part of a $277 billion government plan aimed at fighting the pollution that's hurting the air quality as China's industrial economy continues to expand.

    China (and other nations, including the United States) has used weather manipulation techniques in the past. Notably, around the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, seeding was used to coax rain showers from the skies and away from the opening ceremony.

  • Tough market: 20,000 applicants for only 400 jobs — at Ikea

    Chris Nichols at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    Like many countries around the world, Spain has been hit hard by recessionary conditions in recent years, and its unemployment rate currently stands above 25 percent, more than three times that of the United States.

    Jobs in the retail sector historically tend to attract large numbers of people with a high school diploma or less, and those groups have a higher unemployment rate than the national average. As a result, when a big store like Wal-Mart opens, it will likely get more applicants than it can hire, even if the jobs are lower-paying.

  • Presidential term limits: necessary and right, or bad for democracy?

    Chris Nichols at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    The time has come to end presidential term limits, because continuing the restrictions on how long one can serve in the country's highest office is bad for the United States, a university professor argued this week. In an opinion piece published in theWashington Post, Jonathan Zimmerman, a history and education professor at New York University, says deciding whether a president deserves a third, fourth or more terms should be left to the American people, not the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, which placed a two-term limit on the position. As background, here's an excerpt from the amendment, ratified in 1951:

    To illustrate his point, he uses two topics in the headlines: the implemention of the new health care law and the nuclear agreement with Iran.

    He writes:

  • George W. Bush: Former president now a Christmas artist

    Chris Nichols at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    In 2013, a new name is entering the mix for the first time, a fact that's notable primarily because this particular artist also served as the 43rd president of the United States. Indeed, George W. Bush, who spent eight years as the nation's chief executive, has taken to the canvas since leaving the White House, and this year, you'll have the opportunity to own a recreation of some of his artwork. The George W. Bush Presidential Center will be selling a limited-run Christmas ornament, priced at $29.98, featuring a painting of a cardinal that Bush created, according to The Dallas Morning News . A representative for the center said proceeds from the ornament sales will go to the Bush Center, which opened to the public earlier this year at Southern Methodist University. Bush originally painted the red bird, perched atop a small branch and backed by greenery, for Warren Tichenor, a friend who served as an ambassador during his time in Washington, according to the report. Bush's wife, Laura, liked it so much she decided it should be on their Christmas card, as well as being made into an ornament , and so it has been. In April, the Morning News wrote about the former...

  • Could Berkeley Ban Smoking in Single-Family Homes?

    Chris Nichols at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    If a city legislator in Berkeley, Calif., gets his way, more smokers in the Bay Area burg might be about to lose their ability to light up in one of the few places they still can -- their homes. According to a report on The San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate, Berkeley Councilman Jesse Arreguin believes it's time to ban smoking in single-family homes if children, senior citizens or lodging tenants are also there. Already, a bid to prohibit cigarette smoking in apartments and condominiums is underway, but Arreguin wants to discuss going further. "There's no doubt that smoking and secondhand smoke cause significant health problems," he said, according to the report. "I don't see why Berkeley shouldn't adopt some of the strictest smoking laws in the state. That's my goal." Berkeley, home to the flagship campus of the University of California system and long known as a politically liberal bastion, doesn't allow smoking in parks, at bus stops or in commercial areas, the report noted. It's also banned with 25 feet of buildings that members of the public can access. One of Arreguin's fellow council members, Susan Wengraf, is said to...