The National Basketball Association playoffs start this coming weekend, running until the finals in early June. In recent years, the NBA has been heavily criticized for the quality of its referees, with many fans suggesting that the league is biased towards larger-market, more popular teams, like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. For example, many observers criticized "unfair" refereeing helping the Lakers in 2002 against the Sacramento Kings, and the Miami Heat against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 finals.
Earlier this month, the FBI uploaded hundreds of archived reports about UFO sightings and investigations to its new "Vault." (Other topics in the Vault include the FBI's fight with the KKK and the 1997 shooting of rapper Notorious B.I.G.) Though the most famous documents, such as the Hottel memo, have been publicly available for some time, they make for entertaining reading, and, somewhat inevitably, the documents have provided fuel to the UFO existence fire.
This morning, news broke that social-networking giant Facebook has signed a deal with Chinese search engine Baidu to develop a Chinese social networking service. The deal is a winner for both sides: Facebook is currently blocked in China, while Baidu has been unable to translate its dominance of the search engine market into similar success in social networking.
This weekend, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. wraps up, with organizers promising that Saturday's Cherry Blossom Parade will go ahead even if the federal government shuts down. The festival, a Washington springtime tradition since the 1930s, regularly draws thousands of attendees, and "brings in at least $126 million to the D.C.
Today sees the theatrical release of the documentary Born to be Wild 3D, which chronicles the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned animals. The story move back and forth between primatologist Dr. Birute Galdikas, caring for orangutans in Borneo, and "celebrated elephant authority" Dame Daphne Sheldrick, caring for, well, elephants in Kenya.
Another week, another American Idol ratings victory. The smash-hit televised singing competition continues to steamroll the prime-time competition in its twelfth season. In its first season without acerbic, charismatic host and record executive Simon Cowell, the show now features a panel of “experts”—including musicians like Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler—judging amateur musicians for the chance to win a record deal. After the initial few rounds, though, viewers, not the expert judges, pick who advances, voting via text message, telephone and the Internet.
On Tuesday, grunge fans everywhere marked the 17th anniversary of the suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Cobain's suicide marked a tragic end to the almost-overnight success of Nirvana, widely credited as one of the most important bands in popularizing alternative rock in the early 1990s. Since their debut, Nirvana have sold over 50 million albums worldwide, confirming that the band is hardly a niche taste. Besides a love of flannel, though, do Nirvana lovers have anything else in common? Yes, says a 2000 study in the European Journal of Personality.
Every month, it seems, brings a new study claiming a fruit or a vegetable prevents cancer. Today, researchers from Ohio State University unveiled findings that strawberries may prevent esophageal cancer. Don't rush off to your local grocery store just yet, though: the study only had 36 participants, no control group, and has not been peer-reviewed. Plus, the strawberries were actually freeze-dried, which means they were about 10 times more concentrated.
This week, British entrepreneur Richard Branson unveiled his latest gadget: a winged submarine that he and others will pilot to the deepest parts of the world's oceans, including the Marinas Trench. And earlier today, he became the first person to truthfully tweet, "My other ride's a spaceship." An enviable life, to say the least, which leaves aspiring entrepreneurs asking: is entrepreneurship a natural or acquired ability? Innate, says Olmo Silva of the London School of Economics.
Words with Friends, one of the most popular word games on the internet, has just received a new upgrade. The update to "the excellent cross-platform Scrabble ripoff," writes Gizmodo's Kyle VanHemert, "[brings] a variety of bug fixes, full multitasking support, and, most majorly, Facebook Connect integration.