“Unfriend” is the word of the year

The word of the year, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is unfriend.

Unfriend means to remove a person as one of your friends on a social media web site.

I have done a fair bit of unfriending myself as of late, cleaning up my own Facebook contact page.

The word is a verb, and was chosen for the covetted Word of the Year from a list of finalists.

“In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year,” said Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program.

Other words to make it to the final list, included: freemium, birther, hashtag,, intexticated, deleb and sexting.

“Unfriend” beat out a tech-heavy field that included “netbook,” “hashtag” and “sexting” to take the annual honor.

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” said Christine Lindberg, a language researcher for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program. “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year.”

Oxford defines “unfriend,” a verb, thusly: “To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”

Every year, Oxford tracks how the English language is changing. Researchers debate the merits of newly birthed terms and choose their word of the year “to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance and use.”

A hashtag is the symbol (#) used on Twitter posts to allow them to be found more easily by other users, a netbook is a small portable laptop, and “sexting” is the act of sending sexually explicit texts or photos on a mobile phone.

Other tech-related finalists this year were “paywall,” a way of blocking parts of a Web site to all but paying customers, and “intexicated,” the state of being distracted while driving because of sending a text message.

The economy provided “zombie bank,” a financial institution still operating even though its liabilities are greater than its assets, and politics brought us “birther,” which Oxford describes as “a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s U.S. birth certificate.”

On blogs Tuesday, debate about the decision was ongoing. Chief among the issues of dispute: whether “unfriend” or “defriend” was the proper word for weeding someone from one’s online circle.

“Frustrated that ‘unfriend’ is the word of the year. It’s definitely ‘defriend’ when referencing Facebook,” one Twitter user wrote, adding the hashtag #dictionaryfail.

Others defended the choice: ” ‘Defriend’ makes me think of ‘defoliate’ and, well, I dunno, it sounds weird,” one wrote.

Oxford spokesman Christian Purdy said researchers found that “unfriend” was more commonly used.

Facebook spokeswoman Meredith Chin said that, both internally and on the site, Facebook uses several terms for the act of removing a friend. She said site managers now are considering making “unfriend” the official term.

“Overall, we’re thrilled that the idea of people connecting, or even unconnecting, with each other on sites like Facebook has officially become part of the lexicon,” she said.

For the past few years, Oxford and other dictionaries that pick words of the year have leaned heavily on the digital world.

In 2004, Merriam-Webster kicked off the trend by adding “blog” to its lexicon. The Webster’s New World Dictionary went with “overshare” last year, inspired in part by the habit of spewing too much personal information on social networking sites and blogs.

With gas prices spiking, Oxford’s word last year was “hypermiling,” the act of conserving gasoline by making fuel-saving changes to one’s automobile and driving habits.


Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good For You

Here is a list of 10 things that can actually be good for you, even though they are believed to be bad for your health, or are socially, even legally, unaccepted:


The newest bad kid on the block, beer has long been overshadowed by its healthier alcoholic cousins. While no one’s suggesting you switch that glass of antioxidant-rich Pinot Noir for a tall glass of lager-there’s still that beer gut to worry about-new research has suggested that moderate beer intake can actually improve cardiovascular function. Now if only a scientist will discover the health benefits of ballpark franks and chicken wings. Heaven.



If you’re one of those people who tends to bottle things up, only to explode … don’t hold it in so long. Studies show that bursts of anger here and there are good for the health, and can be an even more effective coping mechanism than becoming afraid, irritated or disgusted. Anger, like the consumables in this list, however, is best in moderation: stay angry for long periods of time and you’ll be plagued with a host of health issues, like blood pressure, sleep disorders and lung damage.



Java is one of the most debated substances around. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? Both? The consensus, now anyways, seems to favor those who enjoy their morning jolt-unrelated studies claim coffee is a major source of antioxidants in our diet and can help lower your risk of diabetes. Something in the beans is also thought to ease the onset of cirrhosis of the liver and pancreatitis, good news for those who like to party hard all night before their morning caffeine boost.



We’re definitely not in the business of advocating drug use. But check out this interesting science: In heavy drinkers, small doses of LSD have been thought to help bypass the rock-bottom stage of alcoholism and prevent relapses. These studies-some decades old-were done in closely monitored, clinical settings; many patients haven’t had a drink in the many years since. It’s an interesting finding that needs a lot more investigation, and not a remedy that should ever be tried at home. Meantime, and this may come as no surprise, recent study of 36 volunteers who took an LSD-like drug in a lab setting had them reporting mystical experiences and behavior changes that lasted for weeks.



Exposure to the sun’s rays is necessary to survive, but can also kill you in gross, cancerous quantities. Asthmatics, at least, could benefit from measured doses of ultraviolet rays, according to scientists. Sunlight suppressed the immune reactions that cause asthma in some lab studies with mice and could be used to treat humans afflicted with the disease in the future. And sunlight-even if indirect, such as on a shaded porch-is known to boost the mood. Extra sunlight can help office workers avoid afternoon drowsiness, a recent study found. There’s still no excuse to head outside and bake, however.



They’re creepy, slimy and altogether ooky, but maggots can save your life. These squirmy larvae are science’s newest wonder-cure and were approved in 2003 as the Food & Drug Administration’s only live medical device. Placed on serious wounds, maggots mimic their “wild” lifestyle and munch on bacteria and dead tissue, stimulating healing and helping to prevent infection.



It’s medicinal, we swear! Marijuana, often associated with memory loss, is ironically now being hyped as a way to stave off the ultimate form of memory loss: Alzheimer’s. Recent studies on mice suggest that anti-inflammatories found in the drug prevent the clumping of brain proteins, one major cause of the disease. So when should you start preventative therapy? We suggest waiting for the human studies to wrap up.


Red Wine

A crucial ingredient in the diets of the world’s heart-healthiest populations-like those Bordeaux-guzzling French-red wine has long been known to have potent anti-cancer and artery-protecting benefits. The key, some studies indicate, is an antioxidant found specifically in the skin of red wine grapes, called resveratrol. The latest studies even link resveratrol to greater endurance, a reduction in gum disease and Alzheimer’s. White wine, which is fermented after the skins are removed, is less beneficial according to some studies.



Chocolate lovers rejoice: study after study lately has touted the magical benefits of the indulgent treat, which is packed with the antioxidant flavonols that prevent certain cancers and keep your arteries from clogging. The most recent news? These powerful chemicals may even increase blood flow to the brain, warding off dementia. Just stick to the highest cocoa content possible-the bars packed with sugar don’t help your health one bit.



Scientists have found that the benefits of sex go beyond immediate, ahem, gratification and satisfying the goal of procreation. Besides the obvious evolutionary purposes, we can all take pleasure in the news that having sex is an easy way to reduce stress, lower cholesterol and improve circulation throughout the body. As if you needed another excuse.


Bourbon Makes For Worse Hangovers than Vodka

A new study may help drinkers pick their poison. In a head-to-head comparison, bourbon gave drinkers a more severe hangover than vodka, report Damaris Rohsenow of Brown University and colleagues in an upcoming issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

But vodka drinkers aren’t off the hook: Drinkers’ sleep suffered equally with both drinks, as did their performance on tasks requiring attention and quick responses. Understanding the lingering effects of alcohol after a night of heavy drinking is important for people who engage in safety-sensitive tasks, such as driving, while hung over Rohsenow says.

The researchers recruited 95 healthy young adults, ages 21 to 33, and gave them caffeine-free cola mixed with bourbon, vodka or tonic water. The drinking ended when participants’ breath-alcohol concentrations hit an average of 0.11, well over the legal intoxication limit. Participants were then hooked up to sleep monitors, which record brain activity, and allowed to sleep it off. At 7 a.m. the next day, the researchers roused the subjects from bed (a wake-up that did not include coffee or aspirin) and asked them to rate the severity of their hangovers.

Overall, bourbon drinkers reported feeling worse than vodka drinkers, rating higher on scales that measure the severity of hangover malaise, including headache, nausea, loss of appetite and thirst. It should come as no surprise that alcohol drinkers said they felt much worse than those who had drunk only tonic water.

One reason for the different effects of vodka and bourbon, Rohsenow says, could be that bourbon contains 37 times more toxic compounds than vodka does, including nasty organic molecules such as acetone, acetaldehyde, tannins and furfural. A good rule of thumb for liquors, she says, is that the clearer they are, the less of these substances they contain.

Both the bourbon drinkers and vodka drinkers slept poorly compared to the nondrinkers, the team found. The next morning, when the participants performed cognitive tests that required attention and quick reaction times, the drinkers performed worse than the nondrinkers, but the type of alcohol had no effect on performance. Both groups of drinkers were impaired equally.


Lakshmi Tatma, the girl with 8 limbs

In 2008, National Geographic premiered the story of Lakshmi Tatma, the 2-year-old girl with eight limbs, and her family’s controversial decision to remove four of them. Villagers in her small town in India believe she is cursed and that a public exorcism is necessary to lift the curse. NatGeo followed the family’s struggle to win back their neighbors’ favor and ensure that Lakshmi lives a physically and psychologically healthy life.

Read more here

Parasitic Twins

More than a century before little Lakshmi Tatma and the complex operation to remove her parasitic twin made headlines, people around the world were awed and fascinated by another young Indian marvel. Laloo, as he was known, was born in 1874 in Oudh, India, with an undeveloped twin brother — two arms, two legs, a urinary system and genitalia —attached to his breastbone. In Laloo’s day, doctors had no way to fix his condition, but somehow, he not only survived, but made the best of his fate. He became a star attraction in the sideshows that once travelled with Victorian-era circuses. To shock and puzzle audiences even further, he sometimes dressed his parasitic twin as a girl. He reportedly became a wealthy man from the fees for his exhibitions, married a woman with conventional anatomy, and even campaigned for more dignified treatment of performers with disabilities like his, before dying in a train accident in Mexico in 1905.

Different as their stories are, Lakshmi and Laloo both exemplify the rare phenomenon of the parasitic twin, and the curious tangle of emotions and wonder that it has long evoked. Generations of medical researchers have struggled to understand why the peculiar abnormality occurs, and what might be done to remedy it. Today, surgical advances offer the possibility that Lakshmi and others with her condition may actually lead normal lives.

Parasitic twins begin much the same way as healthy identical, or monozygotic, twins. A single fertilized egg, or zygote, splits into two cell masses which become identical embryos. In rare instances, the two cell masses do not fully separate.

Sometimes, the result is identical twins with mostly normally developed bodies that are fused together. The most famous example of such conjoined twins is Chang and Eng Bunker, born in 1811 in what is now Thailand. The brothers were connected at the chest by a small piece of cartilage and had connected livers, but otherwise had complete, functional bodies. (Like Laloo, they became well-paid sideshow attractions and eventually relocated to North Carolina, where they fathered 21 children, before expiring on the same day in 1874.) By various estimates, such conjoined twins occur once in every 50,000 to 200,000 births. In recent years, improved surgical techniques have enabled doctors to successfully separate conjoined twins who do not share vital organs. In 1997, for example, British doctors were able to separate two sisters, Aoife and Niamh McDonnell, by using an ultrasonic tool to divide their common liver. A decade later, the pair are growing up as typical schoolchildren.

In other, even rarer cases, one of the conjoined twins stops developing. How or why this happens is not yet understood, though some medical experts have theorized that the parasitic twin’s body structure atrophies, leading to a reversal of its circulatory system wherein it is supplied with deoxygenated blood from the normal twin. The parasite remains fused to the larger, otherwise normally formed twin.

There are different types of parasitic twins. Craniopagus parasiticus refers to a parasitic twin that consists of mostly a head, attached to the head of the dominant twin. Other variations include pygopagus parasiticus, in which a parasitic twin is joined at the base of the spine; and thoracopagus parasiticus, which is fused at the chest. Yet another type of parasitic twin is a fetus-in-fetu, or inclusion twin, which actually develops inside the dominant twin. It can range in development from a shapeless mass of tissue to a fairly well-developed twin.

Despite medical advances, children born with parasitic twins face an uncertain survival rate.


Santa arrested for throwing paint to Las Vegas famous sign

A 69-year-old Nevada man was arrested this morning after splashing paint on the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign in what he said was an attempt to get the government’s attention. Joe Pepitone—apparently not the retired baseball player—was wearing a Santa hat, shorts, and a barrel crafted out of cardboard, but no shoes, when he hurled glass balls filled with red and black paint at the landmark sign.

He lost his job this week because of his age, and is worried he has no health care.”I am scared” says the “man on the barell”, and this is his way of calling the attention of the goverment to tell them “this is not working America”

“This fellow is a little imbalanced, it would appear. I mean look at the outfit he has,” mayor Oscar Goodman, a well-known opponent of graffiti, told Fox 5. “You almost have to feel sorry for the fact he’s trying to get this kind of attention by defacing something that’s very important to this community.”



Fail: Male cheerleader suspended after getting ass kicked by a girl

A male cheerleader for Missouri University has been suspended from the squad after he said he was assaulted by two female basketball players, according to school officials.

A spokesman for the Missouri athletic department said Justin Short has been suspended indefinitely from cheering for breaching team policies. The two players who were allegedly involved in the altercation, Amanda Hanneman and Jessra Johnson, were arrested last week on suspicion of third-degree assault. Although they were released, they are currently suspended. The two Tigers are the team’s leading scorers.

Hanneman’s mother said the two players were rushing to help a female friend when they got into the fight with Short early Friday morning. Short allegedly suffered a broken nose and an eye injury during the incident. Betsy Hanneman said he sustained the injuries while the three were celebrating a substantial 83-34 win over Texas Pan-American at Short’s apartment.

Betsy Hanneman said Short’s female roommate, a close friend of the player, complained of the noise, and Short allegedly responded angrily, saying he “had her down with his hand around her throat,” at which point “Amanda popped him in the nose.”


LOL: Holiday shopper parks like a douche, gets car scratched and sarcastic note

Someone scratched a Pennsylvania woman’s new car in the Lehigh Valley Mall parking lot and left her a note saying she deserved it for taking up two parking spaces, according to a Whitehall police report.

Township police called it an act of criminal mischief and listed damage of $150.

The nasty note, left on the passenger window of Jolene Kulaga’s 2009 Acura TSX on Sunday, ended with a sarcastic holiday greeting, ”Merry Christmas,” police said.

Kulaga, 24, of Drums said she was in the mall for about four hours Sunday and around 4 p.m. returned to her car, where she found the note that read ”Your $30,000 car isn’t worth taking up two spaces” in purple ink. She found a fresh scratch on the front quarter panel on the passenger side of the car, police said.


Parents received text messages from their dead daughter’s cell phone

The family of a Long Island woman found dead last week in Connecticut say they were the victims of a cruel hoax when they received text messages from their dead daughter’s cell phone just days after her disappearance.

According to the mother and father of 24-year-old Rebecca Koster, the first text message was received Sunday, just a day after their child was reported missing.

“Dan has me tied up in a basement, he doesn’t know that I have my cell phone. I think I’m in Commack, please help,” the text stated.

After receiving the text, Koster’s mother Barbara Ross and stepfather Larry Ross, alerted police. The couple was given false hope that their daughter was still alive.

The context of the message prompted police to issue a search warrant at the home where Koster’s boyfriend Dan Mayor had been staying. An investigation determined that the message was misleading as Koster was no where insight.

As the search continued, the couple received another text message Monday from Koster’s cell phone – adding on to their misery.

“It was driving us crazy,” Larry Ross told the New York Post. “We were elated that we might find her, and then we didn’t. These guys are just sick and twisted.”

Late Monday, authorities found a burnt and butchered body in a North Stonington, Conn. field, later identified as the missing Long Island woman.

Authorities said Koster was last seen at a local bar in Holbrook with Mayor. Mayor told police he dropped her off at home early the following morning, but her parents say she never came inside the home.

Police are still searching for a suspect, as well as the person who sent the twisted text messages to Koster’s family. Anyone with information is urged to contact Connecticut State Police at (860) 848-6500.