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Facebook Scrabble is terrible, and doesn’t really resemble Scrabble at its core essence. Scrabble excellence required a skilled trilogy of (1) strategy, (2) special Scrabble vocabulary (special 2 letter words and Z, X, Q, J words), and (3) regular vocabulary.

The terrible Facebook Scrabble and its awful built-in dictionary

The terrible Facebook Scrabble and its awful built-in dictionary

The dictionary built into the game on FB has eliminated the last 2 and totally taken the vocabulary (and my edge) out of the game. Now it’s just a contest to see who has the most patience to enter unlikely word after unlikely word into the built-in dictionary to get that perfect play. That’s not skill, that’s data entry.

In regular Scrabble, if you played a word that wasn’t a word, I could challenge you and you would lose your turn. If I was wrong, I’d lose MY turn. Challenges added another level of skill that is now gone.

And now rereading this, I think this might make me an old man. Bastage, bring me their heads!

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It is truly amazing that each day, numerous new scientific breakthroughs are discovered.  Science Daily is a great resource to keep up on the latest exciting discoveries.  Below is just a small samping of recent discoveries.

Punishment Important in Plant-Pollinator Relationship

However, wasps do not always pollinate the fig. Fig trees “punish” these “cheaters” by dropping unpollinated fruit, killing the wasp’s offspring inside, report researchers working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

and

“Sanctions seem to be a necessary force in keeping this, and other, mutually-beneficial relationships on track when being part of a mutualism is costly,” said Jandér. “In our study, we saw less cheating when sanctions were stronger

Appendicitis May Be Related to Viral Infections

Statistical data revealed peaks, which may be outbreaks of appendicitis, in the years 1977, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1994 and 1998. In addition, researchers uncovered some seasonal trends for appendicitis, documenting a slight increase in appendicitis cases during the summer.

“The peaks and valleys of appendicitis cases generally matched up over time, suggesting it is possible that these disorders share common etiologic determinates, pathogenetic mechanisms or environmental factors that similarly affect their incidence,” Dr. Livingston said.

 Mice and Humans With Same Anxiety-Related Gene Abnormality Behave Similarly

“But both the mice and humans found to have the alternation in the BDNF gene took significantly longer to ‘get over’ the innocuous stimuli and stop having a conditioned fear response,” explains Dr. Fatima Soliman, lead author of the study, who is currently a Tri-Institutional MD-PhD student, and has completed her Ph.D. in the labs of Drs. B.J. Casey and Francis S. Lee.

Artificial Muscles Restore Ability to Blink, Save Eyesight

Surgeons from UC Davis Medical Center have demonstrated that artificial muscles can restore the ability of patients with facial paralysis to blink, a development that could benefit the thousands of people each year who no longer are able to close their eyelids due to combat-related injuries, stroke, nerve injury or facial surgery.

Self-Control, and Lack of Self-Control, Is Contagious

In a just-published series of studies involving hundreds of volunteers, researchers have found that watching or even thinking about someone with good self-control makes others more likely exert self-control.

If still can’t get enough science, the IMAX Hubble 3D experience starts March 19th, 2010 exclusively at IMAX and IMAX 3D locations.

by Joshua Wilson

Join the ‘Bring Conan to Comedy Central’ Facebook group

Network television is a dinosaur.  Comedy Central should land Conan O’Brien, and let Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, and Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report lead into Conan.

Three Wee Kings of Comedy (okay, 2)

Sure, this might mean moving up the lineup by half an hour, but young viewers are where it’s at, and young viewers are watching Comedy Central.

The kings of comedy are well suited to work together

In addition to the nightly handoff, Stewart and Colbert often appear on their counterpart’s show.  Imagine the ratings Bonanza if you added the clout wielded by Conan O’Brien.

Conan wields mad clout in the comedy world

Past skits involving these three on The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien have all been hillarious.  A healthy rivalry between the 3 for ratings would only build a mutually beneficial situation for them and for Comedy Central, and owner Viacom.

The world is staring at Conan, guessing his next move

As a bonus, let’s throw in a little Andy Richter, and let this team be the meteor that drives the network dinosaurs into late night extinction.

Andy Richter is alwasy a barrel of laughs

P.S.  Just one last request:  Please, let’s have Norm Macdonald as the first guest on Conan and Andy’s new Comedy Central show!

If you have a thirst for comedy, you can drink your fill if Norm Macdonald is near

Join the ‘Bring Conan to Comedy Central’ Facebook group

Inside the  Two Plus Two forums, some players are discussing what country to move to if the US bans online poker (many people mistakenly think it’s banned now but it’s not).  Naturally, PokerXanadu proposed forming his own sovereign nation.  But it was this post in the replies that cracked me up.

1. Find a country that the general population is unhappy with

2. Has a piss poor military

3. Make sure this country has no ties to any major military on major economic power, and that the members of the U.N Security Council will not interfere, and the international community will recognize our new gov.

4. Send in advance agents to initiate physiological warfare on the population, threw propaganda against the existing regime.

5. Train rebel revolutionaries

6. Develop a new gov. and economy to put in place after the fall of the old regime.

7. Start the revolution, win a fast and decisive victory

8. Establish new GOV. rule with an Iron fist to maintain power

9. Play online poker

Here are some of my favorite websites:

Daily Dose

Fark.com Catch all the major headlines of the day-with a twist.  Users submit their own funnier headlines (with a link to the real news article).

If you’re ever bored, and thought you surfed the whole internet, there are discussion forums for each story as well.  Be sure to check out the Photoshop contests for a ton of laughs.

Paul Krugman’s Blog Paul Krugman has a Nobel Prize in Economics, and a knack for explaining complicated economic concepts in simple, every day words.  His blog contains a delicious mix of economics, politics, and other musings.  Krugman repeatedly warned of the housing bubble bursting throughout the 2 to 3 years that led up to it.  He also correctly called that the Bush Administration had made up its mind to go to Iraq, and was propagating the war with falsehoods to manipulate public opinion.

Drudge Report You can always catch the latest headlines on Drudge, but expect the headlines to be politically slanted to the right.  Drudge also links to many of the major columnists and bloggers.

RichardDawkins.net If you like science, natural history, or watching the Discovery channel, then this is the site for you.  Leading evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has an endless supply of food for the mind, and the cure for insatiable curiosity.  If your mind is wandering, as mine often does, then just stick to Dawkins’ 2 minute nature video lessons.

FiveThirtyEight.com One of Baseball Prospectus statistician Nate Silver’s first claims to fame was predicting that the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, who in 2007 finished in last place at 30 games under .500, would win 22 more games in 2008 with 88 total wins.  The Rays actually won 97 games in the regular season in 2008, and while sports bettors who had bet on Silver’s massive Rays’ improvement prediction laughed all the way to the bank, the rest of the sports world took notice.

Around 2007, Silver turned his statistical mastery to political polling.  Nate assigned a weight to political polls as they came out based on (1) the statistical soundness of individual poll’s random sampling and (2) past reliability of individual polls to predict actual results.

He then aggregated the results, and Nate’s final predictions were astoundingly prescient, as they correctly predicted which candidate would carry an amazing 49 out of 50 states.

Most of the posts on Five Thirty Eight are at least somewhat related to politics, but if a subject strikes Nate as interesting, he will often research the data, apply some statistical analysis, and write a really great article.  I really enjoyed Do Americans Really Hate Flying?  Or Really Love Driving?

Incidentally, before he became famous, Nate was a long-term winning poker player and valuable poster on Two Plus Two.

Weekly Visits

Max Blumenthal Great reporting that rarely makes the mainstream.  Make sure to check out his videos!

Daily Kos A very informative liberal blog

Huffington Post A news and blog site from a liberal slant, but they also dabble in entertainment news, etc.

Two Plus Two THE poker strategy site.  2+2 features a monthly magazine with 10 or so strategy articles, but if you’re trying to improve your poker game, the forums are the pure gold.  Post hands that you played, and get the forum’s responses and suggestions.  Like any site, there are a few trolls who post only useless drivel, but stop by, and stay a while, and you’ll quickly be able to distinguish valuable advice from the drivel.

If you like poker, are disciplined, and do not have any huge emotional problems, this site will make you money.

Gold Star Games Great site for any sports fan or gift buyer of a fan.  Gold Star has college and NFL licensed gear, and a few things you might not have thought of such as an Indiana University Cornhole (bean bag toss) game or a fold up, portable Indianapolis Colts Beer Pong table.

Gold Star also features everything you need for your game room from arcade style video games and pool tables, to pinball games and decor.  If you like air hockey tables or foosball, check out their child sites Foostables.com and FastAirHockey.com.

Well, I will probably add to this list later at some point, but that’s it for now.  Happy surfing!