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Sunday, January 30, 2011

'Saturday Night Live': 'The Social Network' Live

Mark Zuckerberg surprises Jesse Eisenberg on "SNL"
Dana Edelson/NBC

Last night's "Saturday Night Live" got off to a hot start, featuring a buzzworthy cameo by none other than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whom host Jesse Eisenberg famously portrayed in "The Social Network." Andy Samberg got in on the action as well uniting the 'bergs' onstage. To quote Samberg: "Awk-berg!" Watch the whole encounter unfold below along with a few other highlights.

Jesse Eisenberg Monologue

Mark Zuckerberg, meet Mark Zuckerberg. No seriously, the real Mark Zuckerberg. Fiction meets reality during the opening monologue when the inventor of "poking" meets his "evil twin" for the first time. Let's just say things get kind of uncomfortable when Jesse asks Mark if he's seen "The Social Network."

Bruno Mars Cuts Deal to Clear Cocaine Conviction

Super hot R & B sensation Bruno Mars is said to be trying to cut a deal on pending cocaine possession charges ahead of this years Grammys, as he is nominated for 7 awards and would love to attend without the shadow of scandal hanging over his head.

The talented singing sensation is due to appear in a Las Vegas court room this week where sources say he will plead guilty to the charge that he was in possession of cocaine at the Hard Rock Cafe last year. It is believed that as he is a first time offender he will be able to pay a fine and be placed on probation rather than face any jail time. If he manages to stay out of trouble for a year, all records of the conviction would be wiped from his official record (not that it matter because the whole world followed the story)

The 'Doo-Wops & Hooligans' creator, taken into custody last September after he was caught with the narcotics in a bathroom stall at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, entered a plea deal with Nevada's Clark County District Attorney's Office. According to TMZ, the D.A. has agreed to a "deferred adjudication"--if Mars steers clear of trouble for 12 months and performs 200 hours of community service, the conviction will be dropped.

As part of the deal, orchestrated by attorney Blair Berk along with prosecutors, the seven-time Grammy nominee will undergo private counseling in addition to performing community service. The felony will be officially dismissed at the close of the 12 months.

Next month, Bruno will team with B.o.B. and Janelle Monáe to perform a collaborative set at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, airing live on Feb. 13 at 8PM on CBS

Monday, January 24, 2011

Deadly blast rocks Moscow's busiest airport

FILE -- In this Dec. 26, 2010 file photo a general view of the Domodedovo airport is seen in Moscow, Russia. An explosion ripped through the arrivals AP – FILE -- In this Dec. 26, 2010 file photo a general view of the Domodedovo airport is seen in Moscow, …

MOSCOW – An explosion ripped through the international arrivals hall at Moscow's busiest airport on Monday, killing 31 people and wounding about 130, Health Ministry officials said.

The state RIA Novosti news agency, citing sources in law enforcement, said the explosion at Domodedovo Airport may have been caused by a suicide bomber.

Moscow police were put on high alert and immediately beefed up patrols in the subway system, a previous target of terrorists.

Mark Green, a British Airways passenger who had just arrived at the airport, told BBC television he heard the huge explosion as he was leaving the terminal.

"Literally, it shook you," he said. "As we were putting the bags in the car a lot of alarms ... were going off and people started flowing out of the terminal, some of whom were covered in blood."

"One gentleman had a pair of jeans on that was ripped and his thigh from his groin to his knee was covered in blood," he added.

Green said thousands of people were in the terminal at the time of the blast.

Domodedovo is generally regarded as Moscow's most up-to-date airport, but its security procedures have been called into question.

In 2004, two suicide bombers were able to board planes at Domodedovo by buying tickets illegally from airport personnel. The bombers blew themselves up in mid-air, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.

Built in 1964, Domodedovo is located 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of the center of Moscow and is the largest of the three major airports that serve the Russian capital, serving over 22 million people last year.

Terrorists have targeted other transportation centers in Moscow.

In more recent suicide bombings, twin blasts in the subway last March killed 39 people and wounded more than 60 people.

In December 2009, Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for blowing up a high-speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, an attack that killed 26 people and injured scores.


AP writer Raphael G. Satter in London contributed to this report.

Dubai keeps aiming for skies with "highest" restaurant

Women sit at a table during the opening of "At.Mosphere" the world's highest restaurant in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai
Reuters – Women sit at a table in the lounge section during the opening of "At.Mosphere" the world's …

DUBAI (Reuters Life!) – Dubai's boom may have fizzled, but you can still live the high life perched atop the world's tallest building as the glitzy Gulf emirate unveils one of the world's highest restaurants.

Atmosphere, on the 122nd floor, is one private elevator ride up the glass and chrome Burj Khalifa.

Its designers say that Atmosphere, touted as the world's highest restaurant, shows that Dubai may have lost its luster as a business hub after the financial crisis, but for those seeking the lifestyle of the rich and famous, it can still dish it out.

"Up here, you feel elegant and luxurious, you feel sexy," said the restaurant's designer, Adam Tihany, pointing to the mahogany-paneled rooms and cozy leather booths.

"You are floating ... it's a journey. This is your luxury yacht in the sky," he said.

Atmosphere is a 57-second elevator ride up 442 meters (1,350 feet) that makes ears pop. Dwayne Cheer, the executive chef, tries to limit the number of times he goes up each day.

"I came up yesterday five times and after five times, you feel a bit dizzy. You only want to come up twice."

Cheer recommends the house specialties of foie gras or the beef tartare--but prices here may burn the pocket books of all but Dubai's most well-heeled denizens.

Entrees at the contemporary grille, serving up what Emaar Hospitality's chief executive calls "eclectic, European cuisine", cost an average of 340 dirhams ($93). Appetizers will set you back another $50 each.

Atmosphere's views at noon show ritzy Dubai's past and present: its ambitious artificial island project, The World, lies unfinished amid the blue waves on one side, and the sandy expanses of stalled construction sites are on the other.

Dubai's six-year boom, which fueled construction of the world's tallest building and artificial island archipelagos, slammed to a halt in 2008 after the global financial crisis.

Millions of dollars of construction projects were slashed or put on hold and the emirate is struggling to dig out from under a massive debt burden, estimated at more than $100 billion.

Developers at Emaar Hospitality, of Emaar Properties, say the restaurant opening at these soaring heights is a sign that the low point of Dubai's recession is ending.

"I think really the hospitality business has picked up quite nicely," said Emaar Hospitality chief executive Marc Dardenne. "Dubai is still a very attractive destination, with world class hotels and world class restaurants available."

The restaurant, for which owners declined to reveal the costs, faced some delays when Dubai's economy first stumbled. But it was eventually completed, Tihany said, because construction for Burj Khalifa is already almost finished.

"The top of the crown jewel has to be beautiful," he said. "The economy will follow suit, hopefully."

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Yahoo To Allow Users To Sign In Using Facebook and Google IDs

Yahoo is turning to its “greatest competitor” to save its dying race. In the official blog, Andy Y Wu, the product manager of Yahoo Membership announced that they are opening third-party user authentication with Facebook and Google across the Yahoo Network. Henceforth, from now on, all those who have accounts in Google or Facebook would be able to sign into Yahoo and avail the services. This is a bold step from Yahoo and might help it regain some lost ground. Users who are redirected from Facebook or Google to Yahoo, are reluctant to login using another id and password, and can now login with the service they want.


And guess what! Now you can chat with your friends and post question on yahoo answer community without having an id on the server. Spending time on creating an id, remembering the password and all other password recovery details… these are basically hazards. Instead the new feature would let you sign with Facebook or Google Ids. On their part, Yahoo authorities have made it clear that whether a user signs in by using his stable yahoo id or via third party authentication service, there won’t be any discrepancy in the services offered by them.

Generally, the kinds of services that most users avail are commenting on news articles, playing sports sponsored by the site along with sharing and commenting on photos on Flickr. Since both Google and Facebook have large number of users, Yahoo will surely get lots of new visitors. In the blog, Wu mentioned that in October 2010, Yahoo provided users with Google IDs to access Flickr, one of their products. But it wasn’t that user-friendly, so they had to come up with something new and something more interesting.

Wu sounds optimist about this new facility and says, “Our goal is to make it extremely simple and transparent for anyone to authenticate and engage with Yahoo! with an online identity that they already have.” However, he also speaks of the potential challenges — this new feature won’t support signing into mobile or desktop clients using Facebook or Google ids. But Wu expressed his hope that soon the developer team will appear with more upgrades.

Yahoo, instead of fighting with Facebook and Google, is accepting their superiority and using their audience to its benefit. MySpace was also competing in the race to be the face of the internet with Facebook, Google and Yahoo, but has accepted defeat already. Now , Yahoo is also leaving the race. This leaves Facebook and Google to compete for the spot of the defacto internet identity provider.

Google with Gmail, its array of services and its rumoured Google +1, and Facebook with its Open Graph, Like button and Instant Personalization, are rearing to take the fight to the next level. As for Yahoo, this step might just turn their fortune.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

18 Common Work E-mail Mistakes

Most of us rely on e-mail as one of our primary communication tools. And given the number of messages we send and receive, we do it with remarkable success.

But as with anything, the more e-mails we send, the more likely we are to screw one up. And simple e-mail mistakes can be disastrous. They can cost us a raise, promotion--even a job.

With a new year upon us, this is the perfect time to go through some of the worst e-mail mistakes employees make and how to avoid them.

1. Sending before you mean to. Enter the recipient's e-mail address only when your e-mail is ready to be sent. This helps reduce the risk of an embarrassing misfire, such as sending an important e-mail to the wrong person or e-mailing a half-written note.

[See 9 Little-Known Ways to Damage Your Reputation at Work.]

2. Forgetting the attachment. If your e-mail includes an attachment, upload the file to the e-mail before composing it. This eliminates the embarrassing mistake of forgetting it before hitting "send," and having to send another e-mail saying you forgot to attach the document.

3. Expecting an instant response. Don't send an e-mail and show up at the recipient's desk 30 seconds later asking if they've received it. They did, and they'll answer at their convenience. That's the point of e-mail.

4. Forwarding useless e-mails. I've never seen a single e-mail forward at work that was beneficial. Whether it's a silly joke or a heartwarming charity, there's never a time to share an e-mail forward using your work e-mail.

5. Not reviewing all new messages before replying. When you return to the office after a week or more away, review all new e-mails before firing off responses. It might be hard to accept, but odds are, things did march on without you. Replying to something that was already handled by a co-worker creates extra communication, which can lead to confusion, errors, and at the very least, wasted time for everyone involved.

6. Omitting recipients when you "reply all." Unless there's an important reason to omit someone, don't arbitrarily leave people off the response if they were included on the original message.

7. Including your e-mail signature again and again. Nor do you need to include it at the end of an e-mail you send to your long-time co-worker who sits six feet away. If you have your e-mail program set to automatically generate a signature with each new message, take a second to delete it when communicating with someone who knows who you are. It's always wise to include your phone number, but the entire blurb with your title and mailing address is often nothing but clutter.

8. Composing the note too quickly. Don't be careless; write every e-mail as if it will be read at Saint Peter's Square during the blessing of a new Pope. Be respectful with your words and take pride in every communication.

9. Violating your company's e-mail policy. Many companies have aggressive spam filters in place that monitor "blue" language. From that famous four-letter word to simple terms, such as "job search," don't end up tripping the system by letting your guard down.

10. Failing to include basic greetings. Simple pleasantries do the trick. Say "hi" at the start of the message and "thanks" at the end. Be sure to use the recipient's name. Be polite yet brief with your courtesy.

11. E-mailing when you're angry. Don't do it. Ever. Recall buttons are far from a perfect science, and sending a business e-mail tainted by emotion is often a catastrophic mistake. It sounds cliche, but sleep on it. Save the message as a draft and see if you still want to send it the next morning.

[See Don't Make These Interview Mistakes.]

12. Underestimating the importance of the subject line. The subject line is your headline. Make it interesting, and you'll increase the odds of getting the recipient's attention. Our inboxes are cluttered; you need to be creative and direct to help the recipient cut through the noise. You should consistently use meaningful and descriptive subject lines. This will help your colleagues determine what you're writing about and build your "inbox street cred," which means important messages are more likely to be read.

13. Using incorrect subject lines. Change the subject line if you're changing the topic of conversation. Better yet, start a new e-mail thread.

14. Sending the wrong attachment. If you double-check an attachment immediately before sending and decide that you need to make changes, don't forget to update the source file. Making corrections to the version that's attached to the e-mail does not often work, and it can lead to different versions of the same doc floating around.

15. Not putting an e-mail in context. Even if you were talking to someone an hour ago about something, remind them in the e-mail why you're writing. In this multi-tasking world of ours, it's easy for even the sharpest minds to forget what's going on.

16. Using BCC too often. Use BCC (blind carbon copy) sparingly. Even though it's supposed to be a secret, it rarely is. Burn someone once, and they'll never trust you again. Likewise, forwarding e-mail is a great way to destroy your credibility. When people send you something, they aren't expecting you to pass it on to your co-workers. The e-mail might make its way back to the sender, who will see that their original message was shared. They might not call you out on it, but they'll make a mental note that you can't be trusted.

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.]

17. Relying too much on e-mail. News flash! No one is sitting around staring at their inbox waiting for your e-mail. If something is urgent, use another means of communication. A red "rush" exclamation point doesn't compare to getting up from your desk and conducting business in person.

18. Hitting "reply all" unintentionally. This is a biggie. And it's not just embarrassing; depending on what you wrote in that e-mail, it can ruin your relationship with a co-worker or even your boss. Take extra care whenever you respond so you don't hit this fatal button.

Now it's time to fess up: Are you guilty of any of these common work e-mail mistakes? Any you'd like to add to the list?

Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job.

Rich, famous, and in foreclosure

How does Nicolas Cage get behind on his mortgage payments? The same way other rich and famous people do.

"They've stretched themselves higher than they probably should have," says John Anderson, owner of Twin Oaks Realty in Minneapolis and a National Association of Realtors expert in foreclosures. Some couldn't keep up when the rates on their adjustable rate mortgages shot up, Anderson says. Price drops at the high end of the market were so steep that a sale wouldn't cover the debt. In other words, high-end homeowners face the same problems that plague the not-so-rich-and-famous.

Here are five of the biggest names on the of list homeowners falling to foreclosure. We've included a bit of info about the current markets where these stars once lived. You know, in case you'd like to hunt for a foreclosure deal in one of those tony neighborhoods.


Nicolas Cage

The star: He's an Academy Award-winning actor (for "Leaving Las Vegas"), nephew of multiple-Oscar-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and the former son-in-law of Elvis.

The house: Make that "houses." In November 2009, Cage lost two New Orleans homes -- one in the French Quarter, the other in the Garden District -- worth a combined $6.8 million, according to a report. Cage was behind $5.5 million in mortgage payments and he owed $151,730 in property taxes to the city of New Orleans. Regions Banks paid $4.5 million for the properties.

The market: One in 720 homes in Orleans Parish had foreclosure filings in November 2010, according to RealtyTrac. The average foreclosure sales price in the city was close to $110,000.


Erin Moran

The star: She's best known as Richie Cunningham's freckle-faced little sister Joanie on the 1970s sitcom "Happy Days" and co-star of the spinoff "Joanie Loves Chachi."

The house: Los Angeles County court records posted on the entertainment website show that Moran, also known by her married name Erin Fleishmann, owed $315,930 on the Palmdale, Calif., home. The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company bought the house at auction for $291,150 in July 2010. According to TMZ, Moran stayed in the home after losing it to the bank and had to be evicted.

The market: Palmdale, just north of Los Angeles, posted foreclosure filings in November 2010 on one in 80 housing units. The average foreclosure sales price was around $154,000.


Lisa Wu-Hartwell

The star: Viewers of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Atlanta," may remember Wu-Hartwell from the first season as one of the network's touted "six fabulous women from Atlanta's social elite." Hubby Edgerton Hartwell, the former Oakland Raiders linebacker, made frequent appearances.

The house: According to court records posted on, the couple borrowed $2.9 million to buy their suburban mansion in June 2007. Just more than two years later, Bank of America paid $1.9 million for the house at a foreclosure sale at the Forsyth County, Ga., courthouse, after the Hartwells defaulted on their adjustable-rate mortgage from the bank.

The market: RealtyTrac reports there were foreclosure filings on one in 248 housing units in Forsyth County in November 2010. The average foreclosure sales price was around $210,000.


Lenny Dykstra

The star: Nicknamed "Nails," the former Major League Baseball pro was an outfielder for the Mets and the Phillies during the late 1980s and early 1990s. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, Dykstra, in a move many found ironic, started an online financial advisory firm in 2010 called Nails Investments.

The house: Dykstra bought the 6.5-acre property in Thousand Oaks, Calif., from hockey pro Wayne Gretzky for $18.5 million in 2007, according to the Los Angeles Times. He lost the house in a Ventura County foreclosure sale in November 2010 to a winning bid of $760,712, the newspaper reported. Dykstra owed about $12 million to JPMorgan Chase.

The market: One in 201 homes in Ventura County received a foreclosure filing in November 2010, according to RealtyTrac. The average foreclosure sales price was in the neighborhood of $382,000.


Veronica Hearst

The star: The name is Hearst's claim to fame. She's the widow of newspaper heir Randolph Hearst and stepmother of Patricia Hearst, who was kidnapped by left-wing guerrillas in 1974.

The house: Located Manalapan, Fla., near Palm Beach, the Villa Venezia was originally built for the great-grandson of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. According to The Palm Beach Post, the 52-room, 28,000-square-foot mansion sold to New Stream Capital for $22 million at a Palm Beach County auction in February 2008.

The market: One in 211 housing units in Palm Beach County received a foreclosure filing in November 2010, reports RealtyTrac. The average foreclosure sales price was about $137,000.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shipwreck find may be Blackbeard's sword

Is this the hilt of Blackbeard's sword?

It's one of the latest finds aboard the remains of the ship the Queen Anne's Revenge, known at one time to be the flagship of Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard. The vessel ran aground on a North Carolina sandbar in 1718 and was abandoned; modern archaeologists have been excavating the shipwreck for more than a decade. The design and ornamentation of this newest discovery have led the researchers to believe it likely belonged to the notorious pirate himself.

Click image to see Blackbeard's recovered ornaments

NC Department of Cultural Resources

An imposing figure to begin with, according to historians, Blackbeard cultivated a ferocious appearance to seem even more menacing: a long dark beard, numerous knives, swords and pistols strapped to his chest -- even lighted fuses in his hair. In May of 1718, he used the ship to blockade the port of Charleston, S.C., and effectively hold the city hostage until he collected a considerable ransom.

[Photos: Explorers discover massive cave with room for jungle, skyscrapers]

He was eventually killed in battle off North Carolina by the Royal Navy, his head suspended from a naval sloop to warn other pirates.

[Discovery: One of the earliest photos of people]

Photos courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. For more pirate finds, visit the department's dedicated website, the Queen Anne's Revenge Shipwreck Project.

Kanye West's 'Imma Let You Finish' Britney Tweets Divide Fans

Maybe it was a bad idea for Kanye West to make light of the Taylor Swift incident in a comical note he sent to Britney Spears Friday via Twitter.

Last Tuesday, Spears released a new song "Hold It Against Me," and it immediately reached No. 1 on iTunes. Ironically, West and Jay-Z dropped a new track, "H.A.M.," the same day, and it came in at No. 2.

West's acknowledgment of Spears' chart victory sparked a wave of reaction from both West and Spears fans. "Yo Britney, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you be #1, but me and Jay-Z single is one of the best songs of all time! LOL," the controversial rapper wrote on his Twitter page.

Many West fans found humor in the message. "I LOLed at the 'I'm happy for you' you tweeted at Britney," Imoh "Im0h" Dexter Emah said to West via Twitter. "Nice to know you can make fun of yourself."

While Twitter was flooded with comments from fans who understood the joke, many took offense. Numerous profanity-filled tweets condemned West for again attacking a female pop singer.

"Did u ever really think u could touch Britney in sales?" Andrew "thekingofpop" Quintal wrote. "Go back 2 the dumpster u came from."

West's Spears tweet was later deleted from his page, likely due to the backlash. He explained himself in a subsequent post.

"I thought LOL signified a joke," West replied on Friday. "I didn't get the 2011 LOL doesn't signify a joke anymore memo ... LOL or something else I guess.", camp Spears made an effort to diffuse the situation. "Thanks for ‘letting' us be #1. Much appreciated ... " Spears' manager Adam Leber wrote on the "Toxic" singer's Twitter page.

West is a media genius. He knew this joke would prompt such an outcry. The Swift reference may have been in poor taste, but it was funny. Any good comedian will tell you that you never sacrifice a good joke for potential backlash. It comes with the territory.

Monday, January 3, 2011

iPhone alarm glitch leaves users fuming

iPhone alarm glitch leaves users fuming
AFP/File – The bells weren't ringing for many iPhone users this New Year's weekend, when thanks to a glitch …

NEW YORK (AFP) – The bells weren't ringing for many iPhone users this New Year's weekend, when thanks to a glitch the alarms on Apple's iconic mobile phones failed to go off, causing many to oversleep.

It was the second time in just a few months that the alarm function on the phone failed to activate correctly, prompting an avalanche of complaints on the social networking micro-blog Twitter.

"Dear iPhone, why didn't your alarm go off this morning? I set six of them. I've now missed church. Thanks for nothing," said one user Sunday morning.

"Some sort of digital iPhone pandemic is going on. Alarm clock failure reports are pouring in from all sources around the globe," said another Twitter user.

Apple said in a message sent to Macworld magazine that the California-based company was aware of the problem. "We're aware of an issue related to non-repeating alarms set for January 1 or 2," spokeswoman Natalie Harrison said.

"Customers can set recurring alarms for those dates and all alarms will work properly beginning January 3."

The problem seemed to be affecting Apple's most recent versions of iPhones and iPods launched in November, but website Engadget suggested that it may also have hit earlier versions.

The problem first occurred when the clocks went back at the end of October and early November when Australian and British iPhone owners complained of being late for work because their alarms had not switched over to the new time.

Apple did not immediately respond to a query from AFP on Sunday.

'Austerity,' 2010 Word of the Year

In this Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010 photo, the word "austerity" is shown on an index card file at dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster Inc. in Springfield,
AP – In this Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010 photo, the word 'austerity' is shown on an index card file at dictionary …

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – As Greece faced a debt crisis, the government passed a series of strict austerity measures, including taxes hikes and cutting public sector pay.

The move sparked angry protests, strikes and riots across the country as unemployment skyrocketed and the crisis spread to other European nations. The move also incited a rush to online dictionaries from those searching for a definition.

Austerity, the 14th century noun defined as "the quality or state of being austere" and "enforced or extreme economy," set off enough searches that Merriam-Webster named it as its Word of the Year for 2010, the dictionary's editors announced Monday.

John Morse, president and publisher of the Springfield, Mass.-based dictionary, said "austerity" saw more than 250,000 searches on the dictionary's free online tool and came with more coverage of the debt crisis.

"What we look for ... what are the words that have had spikes that strike us very much as an anomaly for their regular behavior," Morse said. "The word that really qualifies this year for that is 'austerity'."

Runners-up also announced Monday included "pragmatic," "moratorium," "socialism," and "bigot" — the last word resulted from public uses by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former CNN host Rick Sanchez and former NPR senior analyst Juan Williams.

Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor-at-large, said this year's top 10 words were associated with a news event or coverage, which editors believe resulted in prolonged jumps in searches.

"Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint the searches on one particular news event, but typically that is what sparks people's curiosity in a word," Sokolowski said.

For example, "socialism" was searched, editors believe, because of coverage around federal bailouts and Democratic-backed federal health care legislation. And editors noticed that "pragmatic" was looked-up a number of times after midterm elections.

According to Morse, the dictionary's online website sees more than 500 million searches a year — with most of those being usual suspects like "effect" and "affect." But he said words selected for the dictionary's top 10 were words that had searches hundreds of thousands of out-of-character hits.

Also making the top ten list was the word "doppelganger." Sokolowski said the word saw a jump in searches after George Stephanopoulos of ABC's "Good Morning America" called "Eat, Pray, Love" author Elizabeth Gilbert "Julia Roberts' doppelganger." Roberts played Gilbert in the book's film adaptation and resembles the writer.

"Doppelganger" was also used in the popular television show, "The Vampire Diaries."

"Sometimes, that all it takes," Sokolowski said.

Words "shellacking," "ebullient," "dissident," and "furtive" also made this year's top list.

Allan Metcalf, an English professor at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., and author of "OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word," said the list of words shows how the country is evolving because the public is looking up words that used to be very common.

"Around 20 to 30 years ago, everyone would know what 'socialism' was," said Metcalf, who is also executive secretary of the American Dialect Society. "Same with bigot. That fact that they have to be looked up says something about us."

That's true with some words like "shellacking," said Jenna Portier, an English instructor at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. Although Merriam-Webster editors said searches for the word spiked after President Barack Obama said he and his party took "a shellacking" from voters in midterm election, Portier said the word is very common in southern Louisiana. "Where I'm from, it means to varnish something like wood," Portier said.

Shana Walton, a languages and literature professor also at Nicholls State University, said she understands how news events maybe influenced the dictionary's list.

"If 'moratorium' is one of the most looked-up words, that's clearly a reflection of how often the word was used in the wake of the BP oil spill," said Walton, a linguistic anthropologist who is doing research on oil and land in south Louisiana. "Many people in south Louisiana expressed much more outrage about the moratorium, frankly, than about the spill."

Metcalf said the American Dialect Society will release its "Word of the Year" winner in January, but it's selected by the group like Time's Person of the Year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

More than 1,000 dead birds fall from sky in Ark.

BEEBE, Ark. – Wildlife officials are trying to determine what caused more than 1,000 blackbirds to die and fall from the sky over an Arkansas town.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Saturday that it began receiving reports about the dead birds about 11:30 p.m. the previous night. The birds fell over a 1-mile area of Beebe, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area.

Commission ornithologist Karen Rowe said the birds showed physical trauma, and she speculated that "the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail."

The commission said that New Year's Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area could have startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress.

Robby King, a wildlife officer for the agency, collected about 65 dead birds, which will be sent for testing to the state Livestock and Poultry Commission lab and the National Wildlife Health Center lab in Madison, Wis.

Rowe said that similar events have occurred elsewhere and that test results "usually were inconclusive." She said she doubted the birds were poisoned.