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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Online gamers are fit – physically if not mentally


David Robson

PALE, overweight couch potatoes. That's the stereotype of avid online computer gamers, but these joystick junkies are actually in better than average physical condition, a new US survey suggests, although they may be less healthy mentally.

Researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the Palo Alto Research Center, also in California, and the University of Delaware in Newark, quizzed 7000 players of the role-playing game EverQuest II about their physical and mental health. Participants were offered a specially created virtual weapon as an incentive - the "Greatstaff of the Sun Serpent". The researchers then combined the survey responses with statistics about players' online activities and playing habits.

The results suggest that adult gamers have an average body mass index of 25.2, compared to the overall American average of 28. The average gamer also engages in vigorous exercise once or twice a week, which the researchers say is more than most Americans. The reasons for this are not obvious, although the team suggest it may be because more educated, wealthier people are attracted to computer games, and these people also tend to take better care of their health.

"Average gamers engage in vigorous exercise once or twice a week"

The downside, however, was that the gamers reported more cases of depression and substance abuse than their compatriots. "They may be drawn to use the game to help deal with emotional distress," says team member Scott Caplan of the University of Delaware.

The work also suggested that young men do not dominate such games, as they are often assumed to: there were more players in their thirties than in their twenties, and older players tended to spend more time in the game. Furthermore, although fewer women played the game, those who did typically played for longer than men (Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol 13, p 993).

Mark Griffiths at Nottingham Trent University, UK, has found that most gamers simply exhibit healthy enthusiasm for their hobby rather than obsessive addiction, and says the new results sound about right. But he adds that since the research only studied one multiplayer online game, its conclusions may not be true for single-player console games. "They involve very different psychologies," he says.

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How to Be Outstanding

Photo of Gala Darling. One of the most outstanding people who I admire.

If you do what you love to do, then you won’t do it in an average way.”
~ Angela Bassett

Are you exceptional in your line of work? Do you love what you do? Perhaps that’s why you are or aren’t getting the results you want.

People who consistently achieve outstanding results all have this in common: they are passionate about what they do. It’s no longer work, but an active participation of joy and creativity.

This article takes a deeper look into outstanding performance, and gives guidance as to how you can manifest outstanding results in your life.

First, I’ll start with a slice from my own experience:

Five years of my life was spent in University getting a Math and Computer Science degree so that I could get a high-tech job with guaranteed security. School was tough and flew by quickly. After battling it out with other competitors chasing after the same jobs, I got what I wanted and landed in Seattle.

Very soon after, I realized that I wasn’t that great at programming software, nor was I very interested in it. I got my job done, but I felt that I had to work extra hard just to keep up with my peers. I longed to fit-in with other engineers and felt like a sore thumb sticking out in the crowd. “One day, they’re gonna find out…” I used to tell myself during the first six months on the job.

I knew better. I knew that I wasn’t average. I knew that my best was excellent. I pulled long hours, worked on weekends, was addicted to caffeine, and within a few month, I developed an immune system disorder called Psoriasis Rosea from stress. It was the drive to be outstanding, in a position that wasn’t fit for me or my interests which brought me to this low point.

My Story Continues …

Overtime, I recognized that I naturally gravitated towards designing graphical interfaces and that I naturally obsessed over the user’s experience while using software. I wanted to do that professionally, but lacked the education or experience. A roadblock had appeared before me. I had voiced my intentions to my manager and was told No; again, another roadblock.

I didn’t give up. I read books, took seminars, worked on personal design projects and brought my new found knowledge onto the job. I incorporated design and user experience considerations into everything I worked on as an engineer. I developed a small reputation among neighboring teams, and soon was unofficially offering my user-experience expertise to other teams within the company. Despite it not being my job, I did it anyway. I did so because it was what I loved doing, it came natural to me and I felt that I was exceptional at it.

Over the next couple of years, I faced resistance and adversity surrounding my professional transition, but I clung to my clearly desired target. Through persistence and never giving up hope for my dream job, two years later, I officially became a user-experience designer for amazon.com. Since then, I have never looked back with regret.

Lessons from Following My Passion

Here is a summary of lessons I’ve learned through this experience:

  • Anything is possible if you want it bad enough
  • When you follow your heart, not only will you contribute more to your organization, you will utilize less energy and you will feel happier.
  • We are all naturally gifted at certain disciplines. You’ll know when you find it, because you can quickly grasp new concepts, you find it enjoyable, and doing it comes easy to you; almost like breathing.
  • Doing something that is not natural to our abilities and interests is like swimming against the current. You’ll eventually get to the shore, but it will take you longer and will excerpt extra energy.
  • Doing things that come natural to us and align with our interests feels like swimming along with the current. You’ll get to the shore smoothly and with little effort.
  • When you are clear about wanting something, take action towards its attainment, and persist until you reach it, the universe will conspire to make it a reality. Your energy and determination will move people, and they will find ways to help you.
  • Insecurities and negative self-talk derived from fear achieves nothing, except to convince us that we are failures and losers. These are lies that only appear real in our imagination.
  • The roadblocks you encounter on the way to reaching your destination are actually gifts. Treat them as challenges that you were meant to experience and learn from. They are like small tests that the universe presents us with, as if asking: “How bad do you really want this? Have you given up yet?”
  • When you listen to your heart, follow your passion, and do what you love to do, it’s hard not to be outstanding. You’re almost guaranteed to succeed.

Finding Your Passion

At any given point, we have the option to choose one of many potential lives for ourselves. Ask yourself, which of the many lives will inspire me more? Which do I desire the most? What do I gravitate towards? What does my heart say?

outstanding2.jpg
Photo by Mike BG

Some of you may be wondering, what if I don’t have a passion? Then, go out and find one. The thing to note is that we’re not restricted to a single passion, we may have many. But at any particular moment there is only one that we want more than the rest. Make that your focus.

There are no right or wrong answers. Your interests, desires and passions are a reflection of the unique brand that is you. No one else can discover or express your passions for you.

Here are some questions and tips aimed at helping you discover your passion. I recommend grabbing a pen and notepad to answer some of them on paper. Write down the first few answers that come to mind without editing.

  • Interest - Explore activities you are interested in; whether they are professional or personal interests. Remember that personal interests can turn professional very quickly if you believe in yourself and keep persisting.
  • Try Something New - Is there a job or activity that you’ve always been curious about? Maybe it’s starting an online store, or the project manager role at your company, or running a marathon. Learn as much as you can about it. Explore your interests, try them out and see what sticks. Much of life is about making choices and filtering out options. What you’re doing here is filtering out potential activities that you can get passionate about.
  • Play By Strength - Look at your strengths and see which jobs or activities demand those skills. Try asking yourself the following questions:
    • What am I good at?
    • What tasks do I find easy to do?
    • What parts of my job do I enjoy doing? Why?
  • Ask People - Sometimes, other people can see our qualities clearer than we can, since their minds are not inhibited by our negative self-talk. Ask your friends, family and close co-workers what they think your best qualities are? Ask them what they think you are good at and what professions they think you would excel in?
  • The Questions - Answer any or all of the questions below. Consider the answers and how they can be applied towards understanding your passions.
    • “If I could have any job, what would it be?”
    • “If I could try any job in my current organization, what would that be?”
    • “If all of my expenses were suddenly paid for every month by an invisible source, what would I be doing with my time?”

Keep in mind that your passions can change, especially after they have been attained. Be flexible, open and sensitive to your feelings. Adjust your current situation as you see fit.

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The Volt Isn't A Prius. It Might Even Be Better

By Chuck Squatriglia


The Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius look a lot alike, but they are fundamentally different cars that blaze separate paths toward the inevitable electrification of the automobile. And while the Prius is the world's most-popular hybrid and the poster child for green(er) motoring, the Volt is more technologically advanced.

The Prius, like the Honda Civic Hybrid and the forthcoming Insight, is a parallel hybrid that uses both an electric motor and a gasoline engine to drive the wheels. It is designed to deliver optimal fuel economy at low speed or in stop-and-go traffic, when the electric motor does all the work. At highway speeds, it's just another fossil-fuel burner, albeit one that gets 45 mpg and emits less CO2 than almost anything else on the road.

The Volt, which General Motors finally unveiled Tuesday, is a series hybrid, also called a range-extended electric vehicle. Like the Prius, it's got an electric motor and a gasoline engine, but the engine merely charges the battery as it approaches depletion. Electricity alone turns the 17-inch wheels. The Volt is designed to travel 40 miles on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery, meaning most drivers will never burn a drop of gasoline.

Assuming it works, of course.

GM is confident it will, and it's given 700 people -- many of them veterans of the groundbreaking EV1 electric car GM unceremoniously killed in 1994 2003 -- a blank check to make sure the Volt is in showrooms by the end of 2010. The company reportedly will spend $400 to $500 million on the project during the next two years. "We can do anything we want to make this happen," Andrew Farah, the Volt's chief engineer and a veteran of the EV1, tells us. Many industry analysts and battery experts say it'll be close, but GM almost certainly will meet that deadline.

"GM is staking its reputation on the Volt working and it's spent a lot of money to make sure it will work," says Mike Omotoso of JD Power & Associates. "I think they'll be able to mass produce them by 2010."

The heart of the car is a T-shaped 16-kilowatt-hour battery comprised of 220 lithium-ion cells and a 111-kilowatt (150-horsepower) electric motor good for a top speed of 100 mph. GM says the drivetrain will produce acceleration similar to that of a V-6 engine. The goal is to get the battery down to 396 pounds and no more than 64-inches long and 33 1/2-inches wide across the top of the "T." That's light-years ahead of the similarly shaped lead-acid battery that powered the earliest EV1s; it weighed 1,200 pounds and was 92.5-inches long. The Volt's battery will run the length of the cabin, taking up the space beneath the center console and the rear seat.

GM is testing batteries around-the-clock at labs in Michigan and Detroit, where engineers have as many as 40 battery packs on test rigs that measure life-cycle depletion rates, thermal behavior and load performance. "Extreme cold temperature and battery life are the biggest challenges," Denise Gray, director of advanced battery technology, says. The objective is to build a battery that works as well in Nome, Alaska or Flagstaff, Arizona as it does in the lab -- and is good for 150,000 miles. "It's a high hurdle to clear," Gray concedes. "Maximum" Bob Lutz, VP of global development for GM and the guy cracking the whip to keep the Volt on schedule, says the batteries are performing "flawlessly" and "it's almost scary that we aren't seeing any problems with them." GM is testing batteries from LG Chem/Compact Power and A123 Systems/Continental, and Lutz says the company's decided who'll get the contract but won't announce it until the end of the year.

General Motors wants the Volt to recharge in eight hours using a standard 120-volt wall outlet or three hours with a 240. Of course, that won't do you any good if you're miles from home when the batteries are winding down. At that point, the Volt's 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine kicks on, powering a 53-kilowatt generator that will keep the battery going. The original plan called for a 1-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine, but GM went with the four because it's lighter and simpler. "To be honest with you, we've got enough technology in the Volt," says Micky Bly, director of hybrid drivetrain engineering. "We don't need the added complexity of a turbocharger."

Bly says the engine will produce less than 100 kilowatts (134 horsepower) but promises that's enough to do the job. And because the engine drives a generator that will run at a constant speed, the power band can be optimized for maximum fuel efficiency and lowest emissions. "We can run it in the sweet spot at all times," he says. Just how sweet that spot is remains to be seen, because GM isn't saying what kind of fuel economy or emissions we'll see from the Volt, although 50 mpg has been mentioned.

The engine will not fully charge the battery. Instead, it will keep the battery in what Farah calls "charge sustaining mode" at about 30 percent of its capacity, providing enough juice to keep the car going. The idea, like so much of the technology in the Volt, was born of the EV1. Engineers testing the EV1 in the early 1990s needed a way to keep its battery charged as they racked up miles on the track. They fashioned a generator from a snowmobile engine strapped to a trailer towed behind the car. Farah thought it was a great way to improve the EV1's range, and some of the engineers urged GM to incorporate it into the car.

If it had, what was the EV1 might have been the Volt.

Photo by General Motors.

Original here

Unknown Mozart fragment found in French library

AP Photo
AP Photo/DAVID VINCENT

PARIS (AP) -- It's a forgotten melody, sketched in black ink in a swift but sure hand. The single manuscript page, long hidden in a provincial French library, has been verified as the work of Mozart, the apparent underpinnings for a Mass he never composed.

The previously undocumented music fragment gives insight into Mozart's evolving composition style and provides a clue about the role religion may have played for the composer as his life neared its turbulent end, one prominent Mozart expert says.

A library in Nantes, western France, has had the fragment in its collection since the 19th century, but it had never been authenticated until now, partly because it does not bear Mozart's signature.

Ulrich Leisinger, head of research at the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, Austria, said Thursday that there is no doubt that the single sheet, the top third of which has been cut off, was written by the composer.

"His handwriting is absolutely clearly identifiable," he added. "There's no doubt that this is an original piece handwritten by Mozart."

Leisinger said the work had been "entirely forgotten." Such a find is rare: The last time unknown music in Mozart's handwriting came to light was in 1996, when a portion of an aria was sold at Christie's, Leisinger said.

The library does not plan to sell, but if it did, the single sheet would likely be worth around $100,000, the expert said. In all, only about 100 such examples of musical drafts by Mozart are known.

There have been up to 10 Mozart discoveries of such importance over the past 50 years, Leisinger said.

The sheet was bequeathed to Nantes' library by a collector in the 19th century, along with one letter from Mozart as well as one from his father. Both the letters were published in Mozart's complete correspondence, said Agnes Marcetteau, director of Nantes' municipal library.

In an annotation dated Aug. 18, 1839, Aloys Fuchs, a well-respected autograph hunter who collected works from more than 1,500 musicians, authenticated that the handwriting was that of "W.A. Mozart."

But strangely, the work never attracted much attention, partly because it did not bear Mozart's signature and partly because the catalog notation about it was extremely brief and bland, Leisinger said.

The library contacted Leisinger to authenticate the work last year.

Some of the first part of the fragment is in D minor, while the second is in D major and marked "Credo" - a major clue that the work is a sketch for a Mass, which typically includes such a movement, said Robert D. Levin, a professor at Harvard University who is well-known for completing unfinished works by Mozart.

Circumstantial evidence, including the type of paper, suggests Mozart did not write the material before 1787, said Leisinger. Mozart died in 1791 at the age of 35.

"What this sketch leaf confirms in a most vivid way is Mozart's true interest in writing church music toward the end of his life," Levin said.

Mozart had planned to become the choir and music director of Vienna's main cathedral, although he died before he could take up the post. But because Mozart had become a Freemason, some have questioned the sincerity of his interest in religious composition at that period of his life, Leisinger said.

Mozart's famous Requiem, unfinished at his death, was commissioned by a mysterious benefactor. But the rediscovered fragment likely stemmed from inspiration alone and suggests "to a certain degree that being a Freemason and a Roman Catholic was not a real contradiction" in Mozart's eyes, Leisinger said.

For anyone who wants to try sight-reading the fragment, a bit of detective work is required. Musicians must work out the key signature and clef based on other clues in the music. The tempo is also mysterious. And there is no orchestration.

"It's a melody sketch, so what's missing is the harmony and the instrumentation, but you can make sense out of it," Leisinger said. "The tune is complete."

Philip Gossett, a music historian and a professor in music at the University of Chicago, urged caution about interpreting the fragment.

"It is certainly not something that can just be scored up and played as Mozart's," he said.

Nonetheless, modern-day composers are going to take a crack at an orchestration. And in January of next year, the Nantes library says, Mozart's 18th century Mass is expected to have its first performance.

---

Associated Press writers John Leicester in Paris and Carley Petesch and Barbara Whitaker in New York contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

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7 Things From Pop Culture That Apparently Piss Jesus Off

By Ian Fortey

It's not that all Christians are crazy, it's just that the religion seems to give certain types of crazy people a chance to shine. These are the ones who can't worry about the homeless because they're too busy doing things like decoding secret gay propaganda in cartoons.

Here are some of the more baffling things these messengers from the Lord want us to be wary of:

#7.
Starbucks Labels

Proving not all tiny, pointless special interest groups are devoid of charm, a Christian group called "The Resistance" decided to protest the new logo at Starbucks by referring to the coffee chain by the hilarious nickname "Slutbucks," which kind of sounds like coupons for a strip club.

The story is that Starbucks cranked out a new logo, it's the one up there that has a topless mermaid that looks kind of like Helen Hunt, with her legs spread (which we realize makes no sense since it's a fish tail, but apparently no one at Starbucks majored in art or mythology) and this enraged The Resistance, who may or may not actually just be one insane man (Mark Dice) and his website.

Because Slutbucks is clearly such a blasphemous monster of an organizations, however, they've also been protested by Concerned Women for America, a group that feels one of the random quotes on the side of a Starbucks coffee cup is pretty much Satan in memorable quote form.

The above quote (about an author's own experiences repressing his sexuality) is apparently Starbucks' way of furthering the homosexual agenda. That's where it starts, in coffee houses. Then it expands into fast food, the Post Office, and finally the White House until the day we're all required to punch into work in the morning not with a pass key or by logging onto a computer, but with 15 straight minutes of sodomy.

Thank you, Concerned Women for America, for finally drawing the line.

#6.
Chocolate Sculptures of Himself

If someone were to make a giant chocolate statue of your naked body, you'd probably be flattered, and maybe a little weirded out. Jesus, on the other hand, was just plain furious. According to Catholics, who enjoy chocolate bunnies at Easter, He has no tolerance for chocolate, naked statues at any time of year. A New York art exhibit cleverly titled "My Sweet Jesus" featured a 200lb milk chocolate Jesus on the cross, sans loincloth and showing off all his sacred bits in their chocolatey glory.

Much like with the film the Last Temptation of Christ, the idea of a nudie savior just doesn't go over well with some folks. The head of the Catholic League called it "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever," which is not an understatement at all, as long as you ignore everything else bad that has happened anywhere in the world over the last two thousand years.

Being loving and pious folks intent on expressing how their sensibilities were offended in a calm and mature fashion, the local Christian populace deluged the art gallery with angry phone calls and death threats. The result was the gallery canceling the exhibit and the creative director resigning his position in protest.

But on the upside for offended Christians, they were able to go about the rest of their lives content with the knowledge that nudity doesn't exist, at least not in a public, milk chocolate way. We believe the artist, despondent over the events, retired to his apartment and ate the entire statue over the course of a long, lonely weekend.

#5.
Spongebob

You may or may not be aware of this, but Spongebob Squarepants is apparently as queer as a three dollar bill jammed in Richard Simmons' thong. And while that's all fine and good as long as aquatic, animated poriferans keep their sexuality behind closed doors, once they start making pro-homosexual videos, certain groups aren't going to stand for it.

Both Focus on the Family and the American Family Association complained about a Spongebob video that was delivered to schools in which Spongebob has the balls to try to teach children to be accepting of others. Now you know Jesus isn't going to stand for that shit.

Even though the video never actually mentions homosexuality, on the website for the video's producers they include a pledge of tolerance for all races, cultures, beliefs and, yes, sexual orientations. Just like Hitler. Or the opposite of Hitler. Whatever, fuck that cartoon sponge!

The brain trust at Focus on the Family felt that the video was "an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids." The video does feature Spongebob dancing to We Are Family by Sister Sledge and probably few things in the world are apt to suck a child into a fugue-like state of dementia and suggestibility. So we kind of see what they were afraid of.

#4.
Dr. Who

Probably all of us have secretly known Dr. Who was up to no good. What the hell is a Tardis machine anyway? Why do the English have phone booths that apparently travel through time? What was with that fancy scarf he wore in the original series and where'd they get off replacing the actor who played the doctor like five times? Crazy Brits.

To make Dr. Who slightly more insane, there was an episode, co-starring Kylie Minogue, in which the doctor has to save the Titanic, which is now a space ship, from a meteor accident. And somewhere in all that, he sort of parallels a Christ figure.

While it sounds perfectly protestable on grounds of stupidity, it was actually protested by the group Christian Voice because they thought it was tasteless to compare the time-traveling doctor to the messiah.

Why protesters chose Dr. Who as opposed to Neo, Luke Skywalker, Superman or every other sci-fi character that has been loosely based on Christ is anyone's guess, but we assume it has something to do with Daleks.


#3.
Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola logo is one of the most recognized symbols in the world, along with the McDonald's arches and the international hand gesture for the Shocker. It's not surprising then that with such high visibility Coke was bound to make a few missteps in marketing and, say, accidentally create some satanic advertisements.

In the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, which has a population around 1.5 million, Coke let loose an ad campaign that featured Coke bottles mixed in with some local landmarks including churches and domes. Some of the pictures were skewed and inverted and if there's one thing you can't overreact to enough, it's a Coke bottle next to an inverted cross.

Local orthodox churches protested the ads as blasphemous and wanted the Coca Cola company brought to trial for "inciting religious hatred and undermining national dignity." Coke quickly withdrew the ads and tried to reassure the churches (or at least the ones with loyal Coke customers) that they in fact were not trying to summon Satan to swallow everyone's souls (and wash them down with a cool bottle of Coca-Cola).

#2.
Wacky Week

In the town of Reedsburg, Wisconsin, a local elementary school liked to have an activity it called "Wacky Week" once a year. Doesn't it sound fun even without knowing what goes on? It's Wacky Week! It's gotta be the coolest thing you'll do at school all year! The event included students dressing in costumes and, on the last day of Wacky Week, the kids could come dressed either as senior citizens or members of the opposite sex.

Oh, fuck. On God's scale of totally wrong shit, cross-dressing falls smack in between burning whole cities to the ground and letting the Wayans brothers direct movies.

Naturally, this meant some radio host somewhere flew into a rage at the idea of children dressing as members of the opposite sex. When little boys dress as girls at school one day, by the next week they're listening to Clay Aiken and giving their mothers home decorating advice. Girls, of course, will be getting buzz cuts, wearing flannel and fixing small engines.

While no one complained about this chicanery beforehand, once nationally syndicated Christian radio show Crosstalk found out about it, the world became aware of how the school was striking "at the heart and core of the Biblical values." And it's true, it's right there in Leviticus: "Thou shalt wear thine own clothes lest thou go all fruity and shit."

After the show aired, the school got hit by a pantload of phone call complaints until the school buckled and canceled the event for future years. Yes, this means there are no doubt several dozen children whose first impression of Christians was, "The mean grown-ups who killed Wacky Week."

Good thinking. We're sure they'll grow up to be loyal church-goers.

#1.
Harry Potter

If there's one thing evangelicals--or at least the insane ones--can't abide, it's the corruption of the innocent. If there's another thing they can't abide, it's not acting like complete loons and making asses of themselves in an international forum. Harry Potter presented an opportunity for some fundamentalists to kill these two birds with one stone.

Protests against the Harry Potter books and films have sprung up in dozens of cities and school boards in the US and the UK, with over 3,000 attempts to remove the books from schools between the years 2000 and 2005.

In 2001, the actual, recent 2001, Harry Potter books were burnt in a bonfire in New Mexico along with other satanic items like Ouija boards, Stephen King books and AC/DC albums. Eminem albums and copies of Disney's Snow White were saved from the flames and just tossed into the garbage. For some reason.

Most of the protests stem from the belief that Harry Potter, being a wizard, is going to seduce people away from God and into the occult where they'll start casting spells. This fear is clearly well founded since Jesus only managed to cure some leprosy and make a lot of fish and wine, whereas it is documented that wizards can turn people into ferrets, fly on broomsticks, travel through time and resurrect the dead. So basically Harry Potter will make each susceptible reader into a demigod capable of ruling the earth.

Considering they've sold about 40 billion copies of the books we'd expect a rather large magical army of these little bastards to have emerged by now, but who knows, maybe they're still practicing.

What we can't figure out is why they protest Potter but don't demand Lord of the Rings be pulled from the shelves. It not only has wizards, but in the movie the main wizard is played by a gay man, plus the book contains pages and pages of fruity musical numbers and enough homoerotic innuendo between Frodo and Samwise to incite an orgy.

We're assuming that if all of that didn't draw Jesus' wrath, then he's probably willing to let the Harry Potter thing slide, too.

For proof that Christianity can do good, or at least be extraordinarily manly, check out The 5 Biggest Badass Popes. Or, for a video chock full of guys acting like and dressed up as even bigger dicks than you read about in this article, check out A Video Tribute to The Dick Move.

Original here

20 Most Incredible Desert Oases [pics]

huacachina - small desert oasis

unknown

The yellow sand dunes stretch to infinity, whilst the scorching sun of the Sahel beats down on your head. You’re tired and you’re thirsty – you’ve been travelling for miles, searching for water. Yet nonetheless you are cautious: nothing is as it seems in this land of smokescreens and mirrors. “Water! Water!” you begin to scream. No… even imagination is playing tricks on you. But what if in the distance, past the undulating sand dunes, lay the waters of sand-locked lagoons and waterfalls surrounded by palm trees?

It is this vision of utopia, surrounded by barren wasteland that inspired us to catalogue some of the most incredible desert oases before they are devoured by the desert sands and become mirages themselves.

1. Ubari Lakes are part of Erg Awbari Oasis in the Sahara. Located near Fezzan and 30kms north of Germa in Libya, these salt water lakes are a central trading point for many locals, who gather at the edges of the lake selling souvenirs and other goods.

Ubari oasis in lybia

sfivat

Umm Al-Maa, meaning Mother of Water, is one of the largest lakes in the oasis but unfortunately, like all the lakes, the water table in the area is so low that the lakes are drying up.

As well as the waters being extremely dirty, the saline levels are now similar to the Dead Sea (which is great news if you like floating in crud). The abandoned city of Gebraoun is also relatively nearby with its impressive ruins, the settlement is testament to the life-sustaining qualities that the lakes once had.

ubari oasis, otherwise known as gabroun oasis

10 Ninjas Steve

lybian desert oasis garbroun

unknown

the ubari lake oasis

10 Ninjas Steve

ubari oasis

LucaG

2. Huacachina is a small oasis town in the Ica region of southwest Peru. This oasis, named ‘Oasis of Americas’, is a popular resort with local families and tourists. A legend says the lagoon was created when an inquisitive young hunter disturbed a beautiful princess bathing. She fled, leaving the pool of water behind which became the lagoon.

huacachina oasis

dwhaynes2214

huacachina - small desert oasis

unknown

huacachina - beautiful desert oasis

kanjiroushi

peru ica oasis

Eric Bronder

3. Turpan, or Tulufan as it’s also known, is an oasis city in the Xinjiang Uygur Region in China. It is just 8km west of the ruined city of Jiaohe, a border garrison town destroyed by Genghis Khan during the Han dynasty.

turpan

wikimedia commons

4. We’re not entirely sure where this desert oasis is but we had to include it because, surely, this is what most people perceive as the typical oasis mirage? If anyone has been there, shoot us the location.

tunisian desert oasis

unknown

5. This wonderful desert lake is set within Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Maranhao, Brasil. It forms part of a system of fresh water lagoons which fill up with rainwater during the first six months of the year and then gradually evaporate over time to be topped up again the following year. Some of the lakes within the park are dotted with palm trees. This lonely lake, however, has one solitary dry branch decorating its banks.

desert lake oasis

Ric e Ette

6. Crescent Lake in China’s Gobi Desert sits on the edge of an ancient city that once saw traders embark on their journey along the Silk Road to the West. Today it is drying up and has dropped more than 25 feet in the last 30 years, in part due to water being redirected for local farmers and a doubling of population, resulting in the slow disappearance of a lake that has existed for thousands of years.

crescent lake oasis

Michael Zhao

7. The beautiful oasis of Chebika in Tunisia is probably one that most people know about without realizing it. It is where Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was filmed. The story goes that the oasis was actually named after one of the characters, Chewbacca.

chebika desert oasis

Bartek Kuzia

chebika - a desert oasis

Howard.Gees

waterfall in a desert oasis

Howard.Gees

8. This stunning image shows three men quenching their thirst at a small waterfall in the Saharan oasis of Timia, in Niger. It’s a picture perfect portrait of everyday oasis life for local desert dwellers.

timia oasis

nygus

9. There are always small enclaves or villages dispersed near bodies of water, no matter how small, and this image shows why. Even in desert areas wholes farms can exist with the life giving powers of water.

gobi desert

wikimedia commons

10. This remote desert lake, fringed by sand dunes is located in Khar Nuur, Mongolia. It’s a refreshing swimming spot for travelers who manage to venture into one of the world’s vast desert plains.

khar nur campsite - an oasis

unknown

11. Nahal David is a quiet oasis found near Bethlehem, Israel’s Palestinian West Bank. It’s certainly a far cry from the war-torn images often associated with that part of the world.

nahal david desert oasis

unknown

12. This sprawling oasis is the village of Tinerhir, located at the foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Todra Gorge and oasis are about 14km away so travellers normally visit both oases on the one trip.

tinerhir oasis

jon keegan

13. Ghardaia is the main town in M’zab oasis in northern Algeria. Founded in the 11th century, the city was built around a cave which was reputedly inhabited by the female saint Daïa, and is still revered by M’zabite women today. The oasis offers some wonderful examples of original Arabic medieval architecture and is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.

ghardaia oasis

Addounya

ghardaia, a beautiful desert oasis

Masen

14. This castle is part of an oasis on the western shore of the Persian Gulf in Saudi Arabia, called Qatif. The city dates back to 3,500 BC and was for many years the main town and port in the western Gulf, which meant it was a popular spot for invasion and take over by ruling powers through the ages. This resulted in an eclectic mix of architecture and the area now boasts some of the best archeological sites in the kingdom.

qatif desert oasis

Alib_ahj

15. This oasis is hidden in the depths of the Oman desert, where a number of green oases dot the landscape. A few oases in the tiny Sultanate, on the corner of the Arabian Peninsula, are hotspots for botanical studies into agro-biodiversity where many of the ancient oasis are in rapid decline; researchers want to figure out why.

oman oasis

loufi

16. Nakhl Fort sits overlooking a lush, green date-palm oasis in Oman. These impressive forts were strategically placed across much of the Oman desert, like many places, to protect villagers from invasion.

oman desert oasis

unknown

17. This beautiful unnamed oasis is situated in Niger. If you have any further info, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section. Considering the recent unrest in the country it’s amazing to find places like this still.

niger oasis palm trees

unknown

18. The lush green carpet of shrubland and fields sit in stark contrast to the barren hills in the background of this typical oasis village. Any clues to where it is?

beautiful desert oasis

unknown

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