Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Love him or hate him, Christopher Hitchens is one of the most-interesting, most-prolific journalists working today. He writes reviews for The Atlantic. He writes a column for Vanity Fair. And he sits on more editorial boards than I can count.

One week, a few months back, I felt like I couldn't go through a newspaper or magazine without spotting his byline. During the election, he was on Hardball every other night. (In full disclosure, we've had him on TOTN a few times.)

Earlier today, I saw this article on The Guardian's website. On a trip to Beirut, Hitchens "found himself at the wrong end of a bruising encounter that has left him walking with a limp and nursing cuts and bruises."

More details on this link: Hitchens Beaten Up In Beirut : Blog Of The Nation : NPR

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It still isn't known why a man apparently walked up to a campus police officer at Virginia Tech yesterday and fatally shot the 39-year-old father of five. And the identity of the gunman, who authorities believe died of a gunshot wound shortly after the attack, hasn't yet been released.

But we are learning some more details about the harrowing events that shook a campus still recovering from the April 2007 mass murder of 32 people by a student who then killed himself.

— Blacksburg's WDBJ reports that "the State Police and Bureau of Criminal Investigations say the dash cam video taken from Officer Deriek Crouse's patrol car shows the man found dead at the second crime scene on campus was at the original traffic stop. That dash cam video shows the man with a gun."

Virginia Tech officer Deriek Crouse, who died Thursday.
Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech officer Deriek Crouse, who died Thursday.

— About 30 minutes after Crouse was shot, according to the student-run Collegiate Times, "an officer saw a man in the I lot of Duck Pond Drive, commonly referred to as 'the Cage,' acting suspiciously, and upon return, found the man dead from a bullet wound." It's thought he killed himself.

— The attack on Crouse apparently happened while the officer was making a routine traffic stop involving another person, and authorities say "Crouse was shot to death in front of witnesses," according to The Roanoke Times.

— Crouse, according to the university, "joined the Virginia Tech Police Department on Oct. 27, 2007, and served in the patrol division. He is survived by his wife, five children and step-children, and his mother and brother."

More details on this link: Slain Virginia Tech Officer's Dash Cam Shows Suspected Shooter : The Two-Way : NPR

Barcelona celebrate

Fabregas scored his first El Clasico league goal to seal the pointsBarcelona bounced back from conceding the fastest goal in El Clasico history to stun Real Madrid and replace their rivals at the top of La Liga.

Real were three points ahead of Barca with a game in hand and Karim Benzema gave them the lead inside 23 seconds.

Goalkeeper Victor Valdes was at fault but his blushes were spared by Alexis Sanchez's drilled equaliser.

Xavi's deflected strike put Barca ahead before Cesc Fabregas completed the triumph with a diving header.

Three-time European champion Manchester United was eliminated from the Champions League when it lost 2-1 at FC Basel, with Manchester City joining its local rival on the sidelines despite beating Bayern Munich.

United needed only to avoid defeat in Switzerland on Wednesday to secure a 15th knockout round appearance in 16 Champions League seasons but drops into the Europa League while Basel advances.

City, the Premier League leader, also heads into the second-tier tournament despite a 2-0 win over already qualified Bayern.

Napoli's 2-0 win at Villarreal took the Italian side through instead. Lyon won 7-1 at Dinamo Zagreb to complete a remarkable turnaround and qualify ahead of Ajax, which lost 3-0 to Real Madrid.

CSKA Moscow won 2-1 at Inter Milan to take the final spot and complete the 16-team lineup for the next round.

'A Swiss team ... it's crazy'

After losing three of the last four finals, United was expected to join Chelsea and Arsenal in the next round after the London clubs progressed on Tuesday.

But, with United defender Chris Smalling lying dazed from a collision with teammate Nemanja Vidic, Basel captain Marco Streller put his team ahead with a ninth-minute shot past goalkeeper David de Gea.

Things got worse for United in the 43rd when captain Vidic was carried off on a stretcher after twisting his right knee while making a challenge.

And despite almost constant pressure from United, Basel doubled its lead through Alex Frei in the 84th. United's Phil Jones got a late goal and his team twice hit the bar but to no avail.

Benfica topped Group C with 12 points after a 1-0 win over Otelul Galati. Basel finished with 11 and United was two points further back.

"It's incredible," Basel goalkeeper Yann Sommer said. "A Swiss team, a little country, against Manchester United, one of the biggest teams in the world - it's crazy.

"Manchester are a good team, they had a lot of pressure and sometimes we were a bit lucky not to concede, and this is a crazy night. We are through and Manchester are out - it's super."

City needed to beat Bayern to have any chance of prolonging its first season in the Champions League and did so with ease, scoring a goal in each half through David Silva and Yaya Toure.

But Gokhan Inler and Marek Hamsik scored second-half goals to secure Napoli's place as the Group A runner-up to four-time European champion Bayern.

Napoli labored to find a way through the Villarreal defense and the home side had a first-half goal ruled out for offside before Inter launched a 25-meter drive that left goalkeeper Diego Lopez motionless in the 65th. Hamsik added a second goal 11 minutes later with a close-range finish.

Napoli finished with 11 points to Bayern's 13. City had 10, while Villarreal became the first Spanish club to suffer six straight group stage defeats.

"We're very sorry for our supporters and I'm sorry for our players," City manager Roberto Mancini said. "I think we need to improve as a team because we got a tough group this year."

Seven-goal swing

Lyon started its match at Dinamo Zagreb three points behind Ajax and needing a seven-goal swing to overturn the Dutch club's advantage on goal difference.

Real Madrid, which was already assured of top spot in Group D, helped out by completing this season's only perfect first-round record but Lyon did much of the hard work itself with a 7-1 rout of 10-man Dinamo.

Things looked bad for Lyon when Dinamo Zagreb overcame the 28th-minute sending off of Jerko Leko for a second yellow card, Mateo Kovacic putting the home side ahead five minutes before halftime.

But Bafetimbi Gomis equalised just before halftime and scored another three goals after the break, with Maxime Gonalons, Lisandro and Jimmy Briand adding the others as the home side fell apart.

Jose Callejon scored twice and Gonzalo Higuain once to give Madrid a 3-0 win at Ajax, which had two goals isallowed, leaving Lyon tied on points with the Dutch side but ahead on goal difference.

More details on this link: Manchester United out of Champions League - Football - Al Jazeera English

The story of Carmen Winstead is a chain letter about a 17 year old girl who died when she was pushed down a sewer by five girls she thought were her friends.

Carmen Winstead

Carmen was 17 years old when her parents decided to move to Indiana. Her father had lost his job and the only way he could find new employment was by moving to a new state. The relocation caused a lot of problems for Carmen. She had to leave her friends behind and attend a whole new school in Indiana.

Carmen had a hard time making friends when she changed schools. It was the middle of the school year and most of the students had no interest in befriending the new girl. Initially, she spent many days alone, walking from class to class without speaking to anyone, but she eventually started hanging around with a group of five other girls. Carmen thought these girls were her friends, but it wasn’t long before she discovered that they had been talking about her behind her back and spreading vile rumors.

When she confronted them, the girls turned on her and began bullying her every day, making her life a misery. They started out calling her names, but then the bullying got much worse. One day, she left her school books in the classroom at break time. When she returned, she found someone had taken a sharpie and written dirty words all over her books. Another day, she opened her bag and discovered someone had poured yoghurt all over the insides. Sometimes, she would come to school and find her locker had been vandalized. The final straw came when she put on her coat at recess and found that someone had stuffed dog poop in her pockets.

There and then, Carmen decided that she couldn’t take the bullying any longer. She planned to stay behind, that evening, after school, and tell her teacher what had been happening. Unfortunately, her decision came too late to save her life.

After lunch, her teacher announced that the school was holding a fire drill. When the alarm sounded, Carmen and the other students filed out of the classroom and assembled in the yard outside. As the teachers read out the roll call, the gang of five girls decided that this was a great opportunity to embarrass Carmen in front of the whole school during the fire drill. They moved over to where Carmen was standing, near a sewer drain, and began crowding the poor girl, getting in her face and nudging her towards the open manhole.

They pushed her and she tripped over and fell head-first down the manhole. When they saw her falling, the girls started giggling and when Carmen’s name was called out, they shouted “She’s down in the sewer!”

All of the other students began laughing. But when the teachers looked down the manhole and saw Carmen’s body lying at the bottom in the muck and the poop, the laughter abruptly stopped. Her head was twisted around at an odd angle and her face was covered in blood. Worse still, she wasn’t moving.

There was nothing any of the teachers could do for her. Carmen was dead. When the police arrived and went down into the sewer, they determined that she had broken her neck. Her face had been torn off when she hit the ladder on the way down and her neck snapped when she landed on her head on the concrete at the bottom.

The police hauled Carmen’s body out of the sewer and sent her to the mortuary. Everyone had to stay behind after school while the police questioned all of Carmen’s classmates. The five girls lied to the police, saying they had witnessed Carmen falling down the sewer. The police believed the girls and Carmen Winstead’s death was ruled an accident and the case was closed. Everyone thought that was the last they would hear of Carmen Winstead, but they were wrong.

Months later, Carmen’s classmates began receiving strange e-mails on their MySpaces. The e-mails were titled “They Pushed Her” and claimed that Carmen hadn’t really fallen down the sewer, she had been pushed. The e-mails also warned that the guilty people should own up and take responsibility for their crime. If they didn’t there would be horrible consequences. Most people dismissed the e-mails as a hoax, but others were not so sure.

A few days later, one of the girls who pushed Carmen down the sewer was at home taking a shower, when she heard a strange cackling laugh. It seemed to be coming from the drain. The girl started to freak out and ran out of the bathroom. That night, the girl said goodnight to her mom and went to sleep.

Five hours later, her mom was awoken in the middle of the night, by a loud noise that resounded throughout the house. She ran into her daughter’s room, only to find it empty. There was no trace of the girl. The worried mother called the police and when they arrived, they conducted a search of the area. Eventually, they discovered the girl’s grisly remains.

Her corpse was lying in the sewer, covered in muck and poop. Her neck was broken and her face was missing. It had been completely torn off. One by one, all of the girls who pushed Carmen that day were found dead. They had all been killed in exactly the same way and were all found at exactly the same spot. In the sewer at the bottom of the same uncovered manhole where Carmen had met her doom.

But the killing didn’t stop there. More and more of Carmen’s former classmates were found dead. It seemed that anyone who didn’t believe that Carmen had been pushed, was eventually found down in the sewer with their necks broken and their faces torn off.

They say that Carmen’s ghost is still on the rampage, hunting down anyone who doesn’t believe her story. According to the legend, Carmen will get you, whether it’s from a toilet, a shower, a sink or a drain. When you go to sleep, you’ll wake up in the sewer, in complete darkness, paralyzed, unable to move, hearing cackling laughter all around you. Then, as you scream in horror, Carmen will come and tear your face off.

So be careful who you bully, because you just might find yourself on the receiving end of the curse of Carmen Winstead.

More details on this link: Carmen Winstead Story | Scary For Kids

Monday, December 12, 2011

Korn frontman Jonathan Davis has hit out at Barack Obama and the effect he has had on America, saying he feels like the president is ''an Illuminati puppet" and that he has "dragged the country down to the worst it's ever been".

Korn released their new 'dubstep' album 'The Path Of Totality' on Monday (December 5). The album, which is the band's 10th, is comprised entirely of songs made with dubstep producers and features a track entitled 'Illuminati'.

Davis spoke about the lyrics for the track, which deals with the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama is controlled by a secret society and said that he believes that the White House is now "a house of shame".

Speaking to Billboard about the track, Davis said: "I feel like Obama's an Illuminati puppet. He's basically dragged this country down into the worst it's ever been. Like I say about the White House, 'You've built this house of shame'. Everybody looked up at the White House and America and now I think it's like a house of shame. I miss the old days when people were proud to be American."

Davis went on to say he has studied the 'Illuminati', which is a much-discussed secret society, and says he believes that the theory that the world will be ruled by "one world government" has a lot of truth to it.

The singer also said that he and his band felt inspired to make 'The Path Of Totality' as they believe that the world of rock music is "really stale" at the moment.

Asked about the decision to include 'dubstep' on their new album, Davis said that the band had felt compelled to "push the envelope" with their music.

He said: "I feel that the rock world is really stale and all the new stuff that's been coming out of that has been pretty lame. The basis of our band has always been about experimenting and pushing the envelope. We didn't expect it to turn into a record. We were just trying something new out, see what happened."

To read a feature about Korn's 'The Path Of Totality', pick up this week's issue of NME, which is on UK newsstands and available digitally now.

You can watch a video of the band performing their new song 'Kill Mercy Within' by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking.

More details on this link: Korn's Jonathan Davis: 'I feel like Barack Obama's an Illuminati puppet' | News | NME.COM

Playboy magazine is advancing the newsstand date for its upcoming issue with nude pictures of actress Lindsay Lohan in part due to photos that were leaked online in advance, Hugh Hefner said.

The Playboy founder tweeted that the issue will now go on sale late next week, which roughly coincides with the December 15 airdate for Lohan's planned interview on Ellen DeGeneres' TV talk show.

"Because of the interest and the internet leak, we're releasing the Lindsay Lohan issue early," Hefner posted on Twitter.

He later added that "her issue goes on sale late next week," although he did not give a specific date.

A spokeswoman for the men's magazine did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking more information.

Lohan, who has seen her career spiral downward in recent years due to drunken driving, drug and theft convictions, recently posed for the pictures that will be featured in the magazine's January/February issue.

This week, a picture snapped of the cover featuring Lohan was leaked online, and on Friday, nude pictures of the actress also landed on the web. Those pictures are very similar to Marilyn Monroe's iconic centrefold photograph used in 1953's first Playboy issue.

More details on this link: Playboy advances Lohan issue due to leaked photos | ENTERTAINMENT News

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I remember when I first found reddit. It felt like I found a place online where I belonged. Interesting links was posted and the discussion was civil, informative and on topic. It was a place I looked forward to check out, every single day.

Of course this statement will tell you nothing about how reddit was back then. Mainly because it's centered around me, me, and even more me. Reddit used to cater to me and as you might suspect, I'm writing this short piece because it no longer feels like it does that. Now why is that?

Back in the days, reddit used to be a rather small community. As far as I know, it consisted mostly of hard geeks, programmers and people with a general interest in technology. In other words: A rather homegenous userbase with few if any needs of structuring or managing the content posted and with no needs for an ability to seperate or filter out the parts which was or wasn't relevant to you.

Taking a look at reddit these days, it should be fairly obvious that this is no longer the case.

The userbase

Reddit is a site where all the content is user-submitted, and it's fair to say that the userbase has literally exploded the last few years. Where they've come from, I have no idea. Digg? K5? Slashdot? Dailykos? Who knows? Who cares? It's really not relevant.

What matters is that the userbase has widened massively. Now you will encounter more people, more viewpoints and all that stuff which is supposed to be good. But you will also encounter more cultures which in theory and ideology also is good, but in practice it's not all that rosy red.

There will be parts of reddit considering all the new users uncivilized. They will consider the topics they post and discuss to be insulting to any intelligent being (Disclaimer: You might position me here). On the other side you may have parts of reddit who consider these old-timers grumpy, undiplomatic, demanding, elitist or simply taking online life way too seriously.

On both sides you may have people who couldn't give a bigger shit about the US election and they are tearing their hair off seeing the influx of US election related posts and topics. Where's my awesome python hacks or hilarious lolcats?

Some people (disclaimer: again, like me) wants substance when they visit reddit. Nothing pisses them off more than half the frontpage being self-posts only looking for having their views acknowledged. Add "Vote up if" posts to the mix and the same crowd will get grumpy, real grumpy.

The problem

In short: People have different tastes, and when the userbase explodes, this does cause problems. You get conflicts on every single thing you can get conflicted on: content, topics, nettiquette and general culture. This leads to friction, hostility and people feeling alienated, overrun or ignored.

The main problem facing reddit these days (in my opinion) is that this is starting to affect the civility and general quality of the community and discussion on the site.

The solution?

Any good solution to this problem should be me-centric. What made reddit special was how it made you feel at home, how you felt it catered to you and allowed the same for everyone else. A good solution should allow the user to be selfish and greedy about what they are exposed to, without it negatively affecting the rest of the userbase. It should allow the user to make reddit theirs. A good solution will also allow this for a maximum number of users.

The solution so far has been to allow for subreddits and user-created subreddits. This has worked out reasonably well, although not one hundred percent. However Looking for a solution which satisfies everyone fully is futile.

Subreddits however no longer seems to be good enough to deal with the different cultures on the site and keeping cultural clashes to a minimum. For every second story posted, you can now predictably find people complaining about what's posted. This creates hostility and benefits noone.

Currently, the two major issues I have observed causing friction within the userbase are the following:

  • Self-posts
  • Vote-up posts

No doubt others will have other issues, but from my point of view (and let me be selfish here) these are the ones that needs to be adressed the most.

Starting with self-posts, self-posts can more or less be summarized as forum-style threads. They provide no content: They provide discussion. At best the discussion can be informative, at worst the headline can be a declaration of a particular stance, with the submitter merely seeking reinforcement of his view. The latter is particularly notories when combined with Vote-up posts.

So should we ban self posts? Require that an actual link to something is provided? As much as I would like to see these posts gone, wiped of the face of reddit, there are obviously enough users who like them, and there is this whole thing about not alienating the userbase in the quest to make reddit "yours".

Some people, in fact many people, have argued for reddit getting into this century and getting some damn tags. They argue that subreddits are arcane and 1-dimensional and that just getting some tags in there instead would solve most of the problems discussed above, not to mention be somewhat future-proof.

Like any easy solution, it has some shortcomings. My major beef with this solution is increased fragmentation in the community. You can feel a sense of community in the subreddits (hello bacon!), but it's hard to feel a sense of community around tags. How on earth can you feel any beloning to something as mundane as a tag?

I suspect replacing subreddits with tags would effectively kill any and all sense of community currently found on the site. We would be trading community for selfishness. I'll just be selfish and admit I have a problem with that.

As for the solution being future-proof, this is (in my humble opinion) normally a good thing, but I am somewhat biased against big, major changes and solutions designed to handle every single case in the universe, when the problems you are encountering can be counted on a single hand. We don't need the big, bad solve everything solution just yet. Let's not fix what isn't a problem if it means turning everything else around.

So how about just setting up a forum.reddit.com where people can discuss all they like? That would obviously be too disconnected from the main site to work. Again we have the issue with user-alienation.

My solution

Before jumping to any conclusion, you need to adress what the real problem is. As far as I see it, the real problem is that the current userbase not only want to narrow down the world to their respective interests and topic, they also have a preference for content type.

Some people want discussion-only self-post. Some people want things they can vote on to express their opinion. Other people just wants some stuff to read.

I hereby humbly suggests that the masters of reddit take their codebase to the next dimension, that is adding content-types to the submissions and let people also subscribe to the content-types they seek. This would allow to keep the communities we have today and it would allow reddit to expand on the ways which content is treated while letting things stay on topic with whatever subreddit it is submitted to.

Instead of having "Vote up if" posts, you could have actual polls with maybe even multiple choice where the results would more telling because people are probably not voting on the actual poll just to get it away.

For self-posts you could be allowed to add some context, some extra text besides the headline if you want it. If your main objective is to express yourself, my guess is that a headline alone is probably not enough. You also may notice how I decided to make a lengthy piece about this instead of a simple self-post. I'm convinced making this a self-post would sound bitter, angry or just bitchy. Being able to provide some context for your stance is good. Reddit should allow that!

Adding content types will allow people to get what they want without intruding on those who doesn't want it. It also has the benefit of being somewhat future-proof as opposed suggestions such as just adding the ability to filter self-posts.

I'll just round it off here. I hope this wasn't "TLDR", and I would appreciate some feedback on this idea.

More details on this link: The problems facing reddit

An Android app developer has published what he says is conclusive proof that millions of smartphones are secretly monitoring the key presses, geographic locations, and received messages of its users.

In a YouTube video posted on Monday, Trevor Eckhart showed how software from a Silicon Valley company known as Carrier IQ recorded in real time the keys he pressed into a stock EVO handset, which he had reset to factory settings just prior to the demonstration. Using a packet sniffer Android debug options while his device was in airplane mode, he demonstrated how each numeric tap and every received text message is logged by the software.

Ironically, he says, the Carrier IQ software recorded the “hello world” dispatch even before it was displayed on his handset.

Eckhart then connected the device to a Wi-Fi network and pointed his browser at Google. Even though he denied the search giant's request that he share his physical location, the Carrier IQ software recorded it. The secret app then recorded the precise input of his search query – again, “hello world” – even though he typed it into a page that uses the SSL, or secure sockets layer, protocol to encrypt data sent between the device and the servers.

More details on this link: BUSTED! Secret app on millions of phones logs key taps • The Register

Miss France 2012 - Sarah Huard, Miss Champagne : son questionnaire beauté - News Election de Miss France 2012 - TF1

Du haut de ses 21 ans et de son mètre 71, la brunette Sarah Huard, candidate à l'élection de Miss France 2012, s'est prêtée au jeu de notre questionnaire beauté, surprenante.

Miss France 2012 : Miss Champagne Ardenne 2011 candidate

Elles ont tout juste une vingtaine d'années et s'apprêtent à passer la soirée de leur vie, celle où devant la France entière et un jury de professionnel, leur charme sera jugé selon des canons de beauté bien précis. A quelques jours de la cérémonie, nous avons interrogé les candidates au titre de Miss France 2012. Chacune à son mot personnel dans ce questionnaire beauté parfois surprenant...


Le jour où vous avez commencé à rêver d'être une reine de beauté...

Je n'ai jamais rêver d'être une reine de beauté.


Une femme qui vous inspire, une parente, un modèle ?

Mary Blair (dessinatrice américaine de livre pour enfant décédée en 1978, ndlr) car c'est une artiste du XXe siècle extrêmement moderne dans la manière d'aborder les illustrations, elle a notamment travaillé avec Monsieur Disney sur des dessins animés connus tel qu'Alice au Pays des Merveilles.


Une Miss dont vous aimeriez égaler la classe, en comportement, en allure... ?

Malika Ménard.


Votre look beauté (maquillage, coiffure...) pour séduire votre entourage ?

Assez naturel, un peu de crayon et de mascara avec les cheveux bien lisses.

You can download song from Music Frost program in two ways: 1) Click on the "Download" button, on the right side of the selected song. 2) Use the right mouse button and select "Download" among other options. Following the aforementioned steps will move the composition to the download field. After a download has been completed successfully, the Music Frost program will notify you.

More details on this official website link: How to download a music track?. MusicFrost

Miss Alsace, Delphine Wespiser, of Kingersheim, has been crowned Miss France 2012 tonight.

More details about the Miss France 2012's Miss Alsace

  • Wespiser, 19, at 1·75 m (5 ft 7½ in), is a management student with interests in eastern and flamenco dancing, and enjoys painting.
  • The redhead was crowned at the parc des expositions de Penfeld in Brest, ultimately chosen by a live television audience on TF1.
  • She was chosen after the final five were identified by a panel of judges, led by veteran actor Alain Delon.

  • Wespiser succeeds Laury Thilleman and is the 65th Miss France.

  • Her first words upon crowning were ‘36-37’—the number for Téléthon, urging viewers to donate.

  • Miss Réunion, Marie Payet, and Miss Pays de Loire, Mathilde Couly, were second and first runners-up respectively.

  • Miss France 2012 comes just before its rival competition, now renamed Miss Prestige National, created by former Miss France director Geneviève de Fontenay.

  • Miss Prestige National will be chosen on Sunday at the Casino in Divonne-les-Bains.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Charlie Sheen Accident, Another Twitter Death Hoax | Contactmusic

Charlie Sheen Accident, Another Twitter Death Hoax

02 December 2011 12:20

Charlie Sheen picture

Charlie Sheen is alive and well, despite another Twitter death hoax purporting that the former Two and a Half Men star had died in a snowboarding accident early on Friday (December 2, 2011).

Social networks began circulating an initial report on the Mediafetcher website that Sheen, 46, had died while vacationing at the Zermatt ski resort in Switzerland with family and friends. The original report read, "Witnesses indicate that Charlie Sheen lost control of his snowboard and struck a tree at a high rate of speed. Charlie Sheen was air lifted by ski patrol teams to a local hospital, however, it is believed that the actor died instantly from the impact of the crash". In an attempt to add authenticity to the story, the website also printed an apparent photograph of the scene, but on reflection, the tiny image appears to be a generic shot of emergency crews treating a patient. Although Zermatt is known to be one of the biggest, and potentially most dangerous ski resorts in the world (it holds the world's second biggest vertical drop), it is understood Sheen was not even in Switzerland at the time of his 'reported' death.

The hoax comes just days after Sheen paid tribute to the American comedian Patrice O'Neal, who passed away earlier this week following complications of a stroke he suffered in October. Speaking on his Twitter page, Charlie said of the entertainer, "Patrice had that rare "light" around him and inside of him.my tears today are for the tremendous loss to his true friends and loving family".


Speed's death leaves great void in Wales | Other Sports | Sports | London Free Press

London - There have been cheerier days in the old parish of sport which is supposed to take us away from the harder edge of real life. Indeed, through a week of soccer at every level here in England and Wales there has been one dominating theme.

It has been the mourning of 42-year-old Gary Speed, the head coach of the Wales national team and a former player of great distinction.

Even after allowing that some famous, hugely rewarded professional sportsmen might lead lives of desperation in varying degrees of quiet, it still seemed inconceivable that Speed could possibly have been one of them.

This, certainly, was the most shocking aspect of the news that he had been found hanged, apparently by his own hand, at his mansion home last Sunday morning. Also not so easy to understand has been some of the public reaction. Minutes of silence at the football grounds have invariably given way to bursts of applause, sustained clapping.

No doubt this reflects deep respect for an extremely impressive career -- in all his time as a notably undemonstrative member of his celebrated trade, Gary Speed seldom, if ever, gave a hint of vulnerability -- but it also creates a strange disconnection with the meaning of quite what happened. Indeed, if a minute's silence, devoted perhaps to thoughts on the pain and confusion that can grip even the most successful lives, had ever been more appropriate it is hard to imagine.

Speed was the rare animal in the football jungle. He cut his own path, lived by his own values.

In a hard and volatile business, he conducted himself with a superb and easy professionalism. If there were pressures and disillusionment and the classic fear that one serious injury might ruin his way of life, he wore such worries lightly.

Out on the field, where he played for more than 20 years with great and consistent success for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton, a brief Indian summer with Sheffield United, and as a young and sure-footed manager of brilliant potential, Speed's public face was invariably composed and agreeable.

If football was indeed hard and often precipitous, it didn't offer anything he couldn't handle.

That, anyway, was the overpowering conviction of each old teammate and opponent and friend stepping forward to speak of the man who never seemed to lose his balance, who appeared to have made an unswerving pact with himself that he would always take the best of football, something he had been devoted to since boyhood, and live with the rest.

He had done it so conspicuously, unerringly well right to the moment the police made their bleak and stunning announcement.

One friend, who heard the news via a radio announcement of the minute's silence before last Sunday's Premier League game between Swansea City and Aston Villa, said, "That this should happen is just unthinkable because of everyone you knew, in any walk of life, in any situation, you would have to say he would have been the last one you might have thought could have done something like this.

"When you saw him on the television he was the same guy you saw watching his boys play schoolboy football and talking with other parents. There was nothing starry about Gary. In that way big-time football didn't seem to have touched him."

Yet many good judges within the game believed that he might well have been on the point of making a significant impact as a manager. In his first year in charge of Wales, for whom he had played 85 times in midfield with a fine balance of tough physicality and skill, the perennial also-rans of international football were showing clear signs of moving back towards the level they last enjoyed more than 50 years ago when great players like John Charles and Ivor Allchurch inspired a notable impact on the 1958 World Cup finals.

Thumbscrews would not have induced Speed to make such claims but he did admit to excitement over the possibilities created by his young captain, Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and the Tottenham superstar Gareth Bale.

The challenges of the football field could not, of course, have been more remote as relatives and friends moved to comfort Speed's wife Louise and his two sons, Tommy and Ed.

Welsh football and the wider game had lost a man of high and, apparently, uncomplicated promise. A smaller circle had been robbed of another kind of certainty. Yet, somewhat eerily, the clapping only increased in volume.

Happy birthday, Mark Twain | Open thread | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Mark Twain.
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, on 30 November 1835 – 176 years ago today. Photograph: Classic Image/Alamy

As Google has noted with one of its doodles, 30 November marks the 176th birthday of the great American author, satirist and wit. He was celebrated in his lifetime for novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but if Twain himself is right that the definition of a "classic" is "a book which people praise and don't read", then it might be said that his epigrams are his most popular surviving work.

What is your favourite Twain aphorism?

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