Fatal soccer obsession
A soccer-obsessed man from Changsha, China, has reportedly died after staying up for 11 successive nights to watch Euro 2012 matches, The Daily Telegraph says. "According to a report … the 26-year-old was found dead by his mother after his 11-day football-watching marathon, finally expiring after Ireland's 2-0 defeat to Italy on June 18. The time difference between Europe and China means that most of the Euro 2012 matches start at 2:45 a.m. local time, finishing at daybreak. Using a false name to protect the identity of the victim's family, the newspaper said Jiang Xiaoshan had been a member of his university's football team and had enjoyed good health before the tournament."
A northern land
"For its founding generation," writes Peter H. Russell in the inaugural issue of Northern Public Affairs, "Canada was 'the True North strong and free,' 'the Northern kingdom,' the 'Lady of the Snows' in Kipling's phrase. Canada was imagined by its British patrons and colonist founders as the 'Young Giant of the North.' Canada's northerliness was central to its very identity. William Hales Hingston, a professor of medicine at McGill University, could see the virtues of living in the North even in death. 'The visages of those frozen to death,' he observed, 'display a look of contentment achieved only by successful religious mystics.'"
See a flying saucer?
"A new survey finds that 80 million Americans, or 36 per cent of the population, believe UFOs are real," says Life's Little Mysteries. "One in 10 respondents say they have personally witnessed an alien spaceship. And if aliens were to invade the country some time in the next four years, 65 per cent of survey respondents said President Obama would be better suited for handling the invasion than Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney."
Believe a weathercaster?
"We humans are warming our climate … [and] Americans seem to get it," writes Anna Fahey for Grist.org. "Polling from 2011 shows that a majority of us now link an unnaturally warming climate to droughts, floods and other extremes. But, according to opinion research by George Mason University, only 19 per cent of television weather forecasters acknowledge the established science of climate change. An earlier study found that 27 per cent of TV meteorologists call global warming a 'scam,' while over half denied that humans are the cause."
Grace under pressure
"One Florida judge recently had to rule on the importance of being Ernest," says The Huffington Post. "St. Petersburg lawyer Frank Louderback asked U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday for time off from a murder trial so that he could participate as a semi-finalist in the Florida Keys' upcoming Hemingway look-alike contest on July 20. Although Mr. Louderback cited non-refundable hotel deposits and travel plans of friends and family, Judge Merryday not only denied his odd request, he used Hemingway's own zeitgeist to shoot it down. In the judge's order, he wrote: 'Between a murder-for-hire trial and an annual look-alike contest, surely Hemingway, a perfervid admirer of 'grace under pressure' would choose the trial. … Perhaps a lawyer who evokes Hemingway can resist relaxing frolic in favour of solemn duty. Or, at least, 'Isn't it pretty to think so?' Best of luck to counsel in next year's contest. The motion (Doc. 127) is denied.'"
How to take great selfies
"Not since the days of Picasso has self-portraiture been so prevalent," writes Katherine Rosman in The Wall Street Journal. Smartphones' high-quality built-in cameras and easy access to picture enhancing apps are making 'selfies' a ubiquitous form of self-expression among social media users." She cites Tina Craig, a Dallas blogger. "For most people, the most useful self-portrait is the headshot. … When Ms. Craig takes a close-up, she points the lens directly at her face, rather than using a mirror. … For the headshot, Ms. Craig says lighting is important: She stands in front of a window to capture the natural light when possible or seeks a soft but potent artificial source. She angles the camera to capture her face slightly from the left, which she believes is her good side, and lets her face and hair fill the screen. Smile at the camera, she says, even if you feel silly. 'As it is, you're taking a photo of yourself, and that's kind of funny,' she adds."
THOUGHT DU JOUR
I see Canada as a country torn between a northern, rather extraordinary, mystical spirit which it fears and its desire to present itself to the world as a Scotch banker.
Canadian author (1913-95)