Thursday, December 30, 2010

Magnets: Lowering Morals Since 2010

In April 2010, Liane Young and the fine people at MIT and Harvard reportedly discovered a way to lower peoples' moral judgement using transcranial magnetic stimulation. The procedure "briefly disrupts neural processing with a magnetic field induced by electric current".

20 volunteers were asked to judge 24 scenarios that involved moral questionable behaviour on a 7 point scale. The scale ranged from morally forbidden to morally permissible. After ranking each scenario, the volunteers' brains were then stimulated in their temporoparietal junction aka
"a region theorized to play a role in our ability to figure out others' intentions"
and ranked the 24 scenarios once more. After being stimulated, the subjects consistently ranked the actions of the characters closer to the morally permissible side.

Young's interpretation to this study was that once the subjects were "zapped" they tended to focus more on the outcome (nobody died) opposed to the intent of the character in each scenario.

I would like to conclude by quoting the last paragraph of this article by Daniel Lametti:
"Manipulating morality with a magnet may sound diobolical, but Young has no interest in mind control. Her goal, she explains, is to learn more about why intentions matter to us when we make moral judgements."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bird's Eye View

Thank you Atiya for showing me this mind-boggling image taken by photographer Robert B. Hass. He captured this image for National Geographic in the Yucatan peninsula. When describing the photo, Hass has been quoted saying the following:

"People are stunned by the improbability. What are the odds that hundreds of flamingos form a shape like that?"

I could not agree more, what are the chances that hundreds of flamingos are chillin' in the formation of a giant flamingo?! Impressive and exceptionally rare to say the least.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bubble Boy Gone Festive

With 11 days left until Christmas I feel a festive post is appropriate. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to introduce you to Ben Erkerson aka "Snowglobe Boy". The man who holds the world record for the longest time spent in an inflatable snowglobe.

By logging onto, people had access to live audio and video being streamed. In addition, there were chat applications and blogging to interact with "Snowglobe Boy" himself!

Ben's wife said, "Ben loves Christmas more than any 5-year-old" and was not surprised about this record attempt. It started off as an idea for an eco-friendly digital holiday card and quickly turned into something quite buzz-worthy!

So just how long did Ben last in that inflatable snowglobe you wonder? ... 78 hours and 30 minutes! After completion, this is what he had to say:

"Thank you everyone for making this world record happen. It was so much fun spreading holiday cheer to everyone around the world!" - Source

I hope everyone has a great holidays and spreads some Christmas cheer! :) Just like you, Darren!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Zeitgeist 2010: Year in Review

So good I don't even mind if it's too wide for my template. 2010 in a nutshell, take it in. (Double click the video to open in separate screen)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Make it Rain

Welcome to the new and improved Fact Snacks! I hope you like the new banner and template. A special thanks to my main man Phil for helping creating this new look, you rock don't ever change!

I wanted to take this time to thank all who follow my blog even during its puke green themed phase. If you have any suggestions or interesting Fact Snacks feel free to send them my way! Here is an interesting video loyal FactSnacker Simone brought to my attention about lung fish.

Not only can it take oxygen directly from the air, but at times of drought it can stay dormant for years waiting for water! Check it out...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Carrying the World on Your Shoulder

When working at the oneofakind Show this weekend in Toronto I stumbled across this booth that really intrigued me. The company is Joy Apparel and the product is the Joy T-Shirt.

You design and purchase your Joy T-Shirt on by choosing a person and a shirt to put the face on. Each visage (face) represents a real person and the tag will have information on the stranger (ie name, where he/she is from, goals in life). The idea is that
"when you wear your shirt you are encouraged to think about that person and how your everyday actions can affect others and the world we live in"
Then, once you bought your Joy T-Shirt, you can then upload your visage to the website. It will then be hand drawn and put onto a shirt for others around the world to wear next to their hearts. How cool is that?!

As stated by the people at Joy Apparel:

It is about taking an active stance against racism and discrimination while being an advocate for peace and equality... because in someway or another, we are all connected!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Forbes' Money Honeys

When Forbes published its list of highest-earning women in Hollywood, it was no surprise that the lovely ladies above made the cut. The top ten women earned $835 million between June 1, 2009 - June 1, 2010 (compared to the top men who earned $1.2 billion). That being said, Oprah Winfrey-who made $315 million- out earned everyone male or female! The other chicka who gave the men a run for their money was Beyonce Knowles, the 2nd highest earning women, would have placed 9th on the male list. The list of Hollywood's Top 10 Highest-Earning Women is as follows:

1. Oprah Winfrey at $315 million
2. Beyonce Knowles at $87 million
3. Britney Spears at $64 million
4. Lady Gaga at $62 million
5. Madonna at $58 million
6. Sandra Bullock at $56 million
7. Ellen DeGeneres at $55 million
8. Miley Cyrus at $48 million
9. Taylor Swift at $45 million
9. Judge Judy at $45 million

To view a complete slideshow with a write up explaining each person's worth click here

PS: were you surprised about Judge Judy? I was!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Girl Effect

(Double click on video to watch full screen)

The Girl Effect is passionately dedicated to spreading awareness about the tragic lives of adolescent girls in the developing world. They stress the importance of education-among other things- in order to keep the girls safe as well as empower them to inflict change.

Here are some FactSnacks provided by The Girl Effect's website:

- An extra year of primary school boosts girls' eventual wages by 10%-20%. An extra year of secondary school: 15 %-25% percent

- When a girl in the developing world receives 7+ years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer children

- When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30%-40% for a man

- 1 in 7 girls in developing countries marry before 15 (38% marry before 18)

- One quarter to one half of girls in developing countries become mothers before the age of 18

In Nicaragua, 45% of girls with no schooling are married before 18 versus only 16% of their educated counterparts. In Mozambique, the figures are 60% versus 10; in Senegal, 41% versus 6!

Girl Effect is full of passionate people striving to eradicate poverty and give girls the chance at a better life. To visit their website CLICK HERE and you can make a donation, spread their key messages/videos through Twitter and Facebook, and learn more on what they are all about. I encourage you to visit their website and learn about how these young girls can make a difference.

Addicted to Love

**This post has no relevance to "singer" Ke$ha aside from the fact that her lyrics are dangerously related to my quoted FactSnack of the day... **

"In laboratory studies, scientists have learned that, when it comes to love, a very tiny portion of the brain is actually involved. For example, friendship lights up receptors all over the cerebral cortex, but this isn't true with love, which activates parts of the brain more commonly associated with emotional responses like fear and anger. The brain of a person in love will show activity in the amygdala, which is associated with gut feelings, and in the nucleus accumbens, an area associated with rewarding stimuli that tends to be active in drug users. Or, to recap: the brain of a person in love doesn't look like the brain of someone overcome by deep emotion, It looks like the brain of a person who's been snorting coke" - Jodi Picoult's "House Rules" (pages 401-402)

Friday, November 19, 2010

LGBT Bullying Epidemic

LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) bullying amongst teens in North America has been a hot topic this year in the media. As seen above, Ellen DeGeneres has continuously shed light on what has been happening and encourages those being bullied that they are not alone and there is help. She has had many guests recently on the show to talk about their bullying experiences and this issue including Ricky Martin and actors Chris Colfer and Mike O'Malley from GLEE. This Monday, November 22, Ellen will have Graeme Taylor on her show.

Graeme is a 14 year old gay student who defended high school teacher, Jay McDowell. One of McDowell's students told the class he "didn't accept gays". McDowell did not like where this was going and asked the student to leave the classroom. As a result, McDowell was then suspended without pay for a day. Here is what Graeme had to say about this at a Howell school board meeting:

"I want to force adults to look at what situation we've created,'' he said. "I would really like us to be more aggressive in our policing of harassing and bullying.'' - McDowell

There are many campaigns right now creating awareness of and trying to rid North America of this tragic bullying epidemic. Love is Louder is another example, it was started by Brittany Snow, the Jed Foundation, and MTV. MTV Canada also dedicated this week to talking about this issue and encourages others to talk about it as well.

To read the full story with regards to McDowell please click here
For more information about Love is Louder please click here

Also, remember to tune into The Ellen DeGeneres Show Monday to hear more about Graeme's story and the impact standing up for someone has on an individual and an epidemic like this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


For those of you who live under a rock, we are currently on Day 11 of Movember. Movember being the month where men commit to growing a mustache to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer.

"The mustache becomes a ribbon for men's health" -

Did you know...

- This clever idea was generated back in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia.

- In 2004 432 Mo Bros raised $55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (aka the largest donation they had ever received)

- Movember has now spread to Canada, USA, the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, South America, the Netherlands, and Finland!

- In 2009 there were 255,755 Mo Bros & Mo Sistas globally raising $47 million

And last, but not least...

"Last year’s Canadian campaign was the second largest in the world behind Australia, with 35,156 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas coming together to raise $7.8 million for Prostate Cancer Canada."

Shout outs to all the guys committed to rocking their Mos (and of course the ladies to support it)! Here are a few:

The fundraising during Movember is something to be very proud of but it is equally important to remember the reason why the money is being raised and the awareness being made. In a recent survey of the Movember community it was found that "because of their involvement in Movember, 39% of the Mo Bros sought medical advice, whilst a further 36% encouraged someone else to seek medical advice. "

Happy Movember everyone! Special thanks to those who showcased their pictures for FactSnacks, much appreciated :)

For more information and/or to show your support please visit

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giving Art Deeper Meaning

This blog highlights some of my favourite pieces from Chis Jordan's "Running the Numbers: an American self-portrait" collection. He has an unbelievable gift to not only create remarkable artwork, but also have the end product speak volumes. Each piece of art illustrates an alarming American statistic which is stated in the caption. Take a look at the following I have chosen to get the picture...

Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every 30 seconds.

Now if we take a closer look at the piece, we can see that it is in fact made with 106,000 aluminum cans!

Depicts 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006

Again, when you zoom in, it is made clear that the piece is comprised of 32,000 Barbies.

Depicts 28,000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of oil consumed in the United States every 2 minutes

Depicts 320,000 light bulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage

I strongly encourage you to visit Chris Jordan's website to take a close look at his artwork. The website actually allows you to slowly zoom in on each piece so you can see the intricate details that make up the big picture. To visit CLICK HERE (it's worth the look!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gotta Go... In Style

Accepting Award

I am certain that everyone can attest to having to use some dangerously sketchy bathrooms; I know I can! It is safe to say that there are a broad range of bathrooms out there ranging from debatable sanitary to surprisingly immaculate. Apparently some are so impressive they are awarded the title of Best Restroom. This year's winner for Canada's Best Bathroom Award went to Cactus Club Cafe in Burnaby, BC.

Highlights of the winning bathroom included magnifying make-up mirrors, exotic foot flush toilets, stall screens streaming Food Network footage, and privacy stalls equipped with fans, a sound system and lighting.

The Top 5 Restroom in Canada 2010 are as follows:
1. Cactus Club Cafe in Burnaby, BC
2. Spice Route Asian Bistro & Bar in Toronto, ON
3. Mildred's Temple Kitchen in Toronto,ON
4. The Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver, BC
5. Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto,ON

Even more interesting is the 3rd place finish because I did a very shocking FactSnack on them earlier in the year. Click Here to find out what else goes on in their restrooms...

Also, I think what we can take away from these awards in not only people's appreciation for a classy bathroom but that bathrooms outside of Ontario and British Columbia need to step up their game.

For the full article and pictures of the 1st place finish please Click Here

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Your Average Horoscope Reading

*Disclaimer: Take this article as it is. I thought it was interesting, you can decide its credibility.

As explained in the article "The Zodiac Signs of Serial Killers", author Robert Melkonyan states the following:
"It has been established that zodiac signs directly correlate to the type of crime they are likely to commit; additionally, the sign can, in a way, determine the crime likely to be committed"

According to the FBI website (, Cancers are the most booked criminals and are the most dangerous of zodiac signs. The list of signs in descending order of most crimes committed is as follows: Cancer, Taurus, Sagittarius, Aries, Capricorn, Virgo, Libra, Pisces, Scorpio, Leo, Aquarius, and then Gemini.

I will leave you with the link to the full article, but here is a FackSnack about each sign:

Cancer: mainly passion killers (kill multiple times and usually leave a marking) and tend to be mentally unstable
Taurus: usually involved in money laundering (and very clever)
Sagittarius: con artists, robbers, and thieves (tend to not hurt their victims)
Aries: hired to do their crimes
Capricorn: mostly involved in organized crime and are more sadistic than Scorpio
Scorpio: hot tempered
Virgo: burglars and hackers
Libra: are corrupt people
Pisces: mainly involved in drug-related crime
Gemini: doesn't take things seriously; con artists and thieves
Leo: get involved in crime for the sole reason of getting recognition
Scorpio: contract killers
Aquarius: hackers and hustlers, and con artists involved in manipulation

So there you have it, take this information however you like. I hope that you found it just a wee bit more interesting than your average horoscope reading.

PS: remind me to watch out for Cancers, yikes!

To read the article please click here

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shoes Reach New Heights

Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) has created a $300 shoe that increases your vertical jump. APL was founded by twins Adam and Ryan Goldston who combined their passion for basketball and their father's experience in the shoe industry to make this remarkable product. A spring based system is used to increase lift.

Unfortunately, the NBA has decided to ban APL's shoes due to its ability to increase vertical jump. It has been said that an average athlete can increase his/her jump by about 3.5 inches and an elite athlete can increase his/her jump by up to 8 inches! The NBA made the following statement Tuesday:
"Under league rules, players may not wear any shoe during a game that creates an undue competitive advantage"

In addition, apparently many NBA players (including about 30% of the rookies) expressed interest in the shoe. Too bad they will not get the change to wear them. Below is a video by Sports Illustrated to test the APLs. Take a look and tell me what you think...

(Click on " Video" to view)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Drug Yourself Monogamous

Did you know that only about 3% of mammals are monogamous? What if something could be done to alter this? An extensive study on prairie voles (aka furry creatures above) has lead to some very interesting findings with regards to the neuroendocrinology of social bonds.

Prairie voles are one of the few mammals that practice monogamy. A study on these little guys have provided scientists with a new understanding of the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.

"Work with voles now suggests that these hormones are involved in the development of monogamy."

Furthermore, Larry Young (a neuroscientist who studies prairie voles) claims the following:

"pair-bonding in humans (as in voles, one of the few other monogamous mammals) can be enhanced or suppressed by tinkering with brain hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin" (and predicts that we’ll be seeing new drugs to do just that

Inspiration for this post came from this excerpt in Jodi Picoult's "House Rules" [a book a highly recommend]:

"Let me stop you for a minute and just talk about prairie voles. They are part of only a tiny fraction of the animal kingdom that practice monogamy. They mate for twenty-four hours, and then, just like that, they're together for life. However, the montane vole- which is a close relative, sharing 99% of the prairie vole's genetic makeup- has no interest in anything except a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am one-night stand. How come? When prairie voles have sexual intercourse, the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin flood the brain. If the hormones are blocked, prairie voles behave more like slutty montane voles. Even more interesting, if prairie voles get injections of those hormones but then are prevented from having sex, they still become slavishly devoted to their would-be mates...

The opposite, though, isn't true. You cant give a shot of hormones to a montane vole and make it lovesick. It just doesn't have the right receptors in the brain." -pg 399

Sooooo, do you think that in the future we may be able to drug ourselves monogamous? Would we even want this? What will TLC do with its shows devoted to polygamy?!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shopping Never Felt So Good

Scientists from the University of Westminster conducted a study commissioned by The Institute of Promotional Marketing and came up with the following conclusion:
"Buyers get the same dose of emotional arousal, when they confront special offers and coupon codes in shops as they receive from sexual arousal"
The scientists focused on the regions of the brain responsible for emotional anxiety when the 50 participants went shopping and when they watched an erotic film. The analysis was done on a 10 point scale with rates 5-7 corresponding to the state of sexual stimulation. Shoppers reached these levels when they came across sales, discount coupons, promotions and gifts. To make a long story short- and I quote- "It was found that the discount coupons had the same effect as pornography."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lady Gaga "If you don't like it, GO HOME!"

I think the speech is self explanatory ...

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Taste of Ramadan

I thought I would acknowledge 2 special recent events for todays post and try and combine them together. NFL Football + Ramadan. Yes, this is quite the weird combo but I am going to open up your mind and fill it with some great random facts!

Minnesota Vikings player Husain Abdullah has been fasting for Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting and prayer. He does not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. This 30 day period happens to be at the same time of training camp. Even during grueling workouts (sometimes in full pads), he will not take a water break. He is very adamant in his faith. He was quoted saying the following:

"I'm putting nothing before God, nothing before my religion,'' Abdullah said. "This is something I choose to do, not something I have to do. So I'm always going to fast.''

As a rookie in 2008, Abdullah never told anyone in the organization he was fasting! He is a quite guy and has been doing it since he was 7 and will continue to do so now.

To help make sure he is getting adequate nutrients and sustenance to perform in practice and early games nutritionists have developed a meal plan unique to his fasting for Ramadan. It is based on a 3,800 calorie diet and requires him to get up at 2am to consume 400 calories. He then wakes up again at 5am with his wife Zhavon to have breakfast. Breakfast consists of scrambled eggs with vegetables, a nonpork breakfast meat (pork is forbidden in a Muslim diet), oatmeal with fruit and various liquids... and usually a shake. He then waits until after the sun goes down before he eats or drinks again.

On a slightly related note, when researching for this blog one of the first google hits was the fact that New York Jet's coach Rex Ryan consumes 7, 000 calories a day! Judging from his picture it does not look like he is burning any off. For the random -but funny- article click here.

Also I would like to wish a Happy Eid to Dina and Atiya. Time to break your fast and eat! :D

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures

When helping my dear coworker Dina pick courses for school she asked me if I took "Advertising & Society". Well, I did take that class and decided to share one of the most memorable readings from it with Dina and the rest of the FactSnackers. The picture above is Karolyne Smith from Salt Lake City, Utah. She decided it would be wise to auction off her forehead on eBay.

Karolyne was searching for a company that was willing to pay $10, 000 in return for her tattooing their company's logo smack dab in the middle of her forehead. A few days after the posting on eBay she appeared on CBS's nightly news and a variety of different radio shows. In addition, it was took the number 2 spot on eBay's list of most watched items.

Now what would possess someone to want to permanently brand herself for $10, 000!? Well her son, that's who. She wants the best for him including sending him to college and allowing him to be the best he can be. She is quoted saying the following:

"I really want to do this. To everyone else, it seems like a stupid thing to do. To me, $10,000 is like $1 million. I only live once, and I'm doing it for my son ... It's a small sacrifice to build a better future for my son."

Now I realize that college and raising a family can be quite costly but I think there may have been better-and less drastic- solutions to this predicament. The tattoo parlor "SI TATTOOING" actually spent 7 hours trying to convince her to not go through with it.

So which company ended up dishing out $10K!? Drumroll please...

PS: Dina if you enjoyed this post, I recommend the course :)


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