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The Simpsons enters the world of Lego in the upcoming episode "Brick Like Me." (Fox)

What Do 'The Simpsons' Look Like In Lego?

Apr 23, 2014

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Have you heard that LEGO, the LEGO logo, the brick and knob configuration and the MiniFigure are trademarks and/or copyrights of the LEGO Group. All Rights Reserved?

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Reported by

Linda Holmes

Fox has started to release images of the Simpsons from the upcoming episode "Brick Like Me," which is — get this — the 550th episode. That means you could watch a different episode of The Simpsons every day for roughly a year and a half, weekends and weekdays, before you ran out of new ones.

The images look a lot like familiar Lego images from the many games, movies, TV projects, and everything else that's been rendered in little plastic bricks, up to and including the very successful Lego Movie from earlier this year. So it's not surprising, exactly, seeing what Homer and Marge and the kids look like. (Though they do look different from the figures that come with the actual Simpsons Lego House, which is also for sale. Lego seems to have tried to make Homer look like Homer on television, while The Simpsons seems to have made Homer look more like a Lego figure.

But it's funny to look at the captions that come with the images, because you'd better believe that there have been careful negotiations between all the parties involved here. Here's the language: "LEGO, the LEGO logo, the brick and knob configuration and the MiniFigure are trademarks and/or copyrights of the LEGO Group." So whatever you're thinking, don't even think about it.

It's sad to think Bart probably won't get to say "brick and knob configuration."

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The Simpsons enters the world of Lego in the upcoming episode "Brick Like Me." (Fox)

Top Stories: Missing Plane Latest; Why The Jet Stowaway Ran Away

Apr 23, 2014

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Reported by

Korva Coleman

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— 'Object Of Interest' Found In Search For Malaysian Jet.

— Stowaway Teen May Have Been Trying To Reunite With His Mom.

And here are more early headlines:

Russia Warns Of Retaliation If Its Interests Attacked In Ukraine. (BBC)

Obama Arrives In Tokyo At Start Of Asia Trip. (AP)

Jump In Whooping Cough Cases In Southern California. (Los Angeles Times)

Report: Human Rights Group Claims Qatar Abusing Migrant Workers. (Amnesty International)

Report: U.S. Army General Disciplined For Bungling Sex Assault Cases. (Washington Post)

Senate Panel Talks Rising Sea Levels In Miami Beach Hearing. (Miami Herald)

It's Wrigley Field's 100th Birthday! (MLB.com)

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Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize in 1982, died last week at age 87. (Getty Images)

Book News: Gabriel García Márquez Left An Unpublished Manuscript

by Annalisa Quinn
Apr 23, 2014

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Have you heard that LEGO, the LEGO logo, the brick and knob configuration and the MiniFigure are trademarks and/or copyrights of the LEGO Group. All Rights Reserved?

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The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Gabriel Garca Mrquez left behind an unpublished manuscript when he died last week at age 87, Cristobal Pera, editorial director of Penguin Random House Mexico, told The Associated Press. Pera added that Marquez's family has not yet decided whether to publish it. Meanwhile, the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published an extract of the work, tentatively titled We'll See Each Other in August (En agosto nos vemos). In the excerpt, a middle-aged woman named Ana Magdalena Bach has a fling during her annual trip to a tropical island to put flowers on her mother's grave. She stays at a hotel overlooking a lagoon full of herons. Ana, though she's married, meets a man at the hotel and begins an affair with him. The excerpt has a strong sense of place — Garca Mrquez's descriptions are lush with flowers and tropical life - and a ripple of eroticism travels through it, from the touch of perfume Ana puts behind her ear at the beginning of the chapter to the thunderstorm during her encounter with the man from the hotel.
  • David Foster Wallace's estate and his former publisher have come out in opposition to the making of the forthcoming film The End of the Tour, which is based on Wallace's conversations with journalist David Lipsky. In a press release, the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust wrote, "This motion picture is loosely based on transcripts from an interview David consented to eighteen years ago for a magazine article about the publication of his novel, 'Infinite Jest.' That article was never published and David would never have agreed that those saved transcripts could later be repurposed as the basis of a movie." It added that "there is no circumstance under which the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust would have consented to the adaptation of this interview into a motion picture, and we do not consider it an homage." Wallace committed suicide in 2008.
  • The Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world, will be awarded to Mexican author Elena Poniatowska on Wednesday in Spain. Previously won by Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz and Gabriel Garca Mrquez among others, the prize is worth 125,000 euros (about $173,000).
  • A previously unpublished story by Shirley Jackson, the writer best known for her story "The Lottery," is printed in The New Yorker. "The Man in the Woods" is a short, sinister story about a man named Christopher who walks through dark woods to find an isolated house surrounded by trees, "the forest only barely held back by the stone wall, edging as close to it as possible, pushing, as Christopher had felt since the day before, crowding up and embracing the little stone house in horrid possession."
  • Comedian Megan Amram has a book deal for Science...For Her!, which she calls "a fun, flirty, Cosmopolitan-like textbook that is tailored to you, ladies." On her website, Amram describes the book as "a science textbook written by a lady (me) for other ladies (you, the Spice Girls, etc.)," and adds that "it has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout history: female brains aren't biologically constructed to understand scientific concepts, and tiny female hands aren't constructed to turn most textbooks' large, extra-heavy covers." Amram's book may be a parody, but it's not that all that far from reality: A 2013 book titled Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape combines math tips with advice on "how to attract guys," and uses handbag shapes to explain quadrilaterals.
  • "You have no legs and your name is alliterative." "A coachman treats you saucily." "You are either ruddy, stout, or flint-eyed." The Toast has some tips for telling whether you are in a Charles Dickens novel. (Full disclosure, I've written previously for The Toast.)
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Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize in 1982, died last week at age 87. (Getty Images)

Stowaway Teen May Have Been Trying To Reunite With His Mom

Apr 23, 2014

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The latest word about the teenager who survived a ride Sunday from California to Hawaii in the frigid wheel well of a jet is that he may have hoped to eventually get to Somalia to be with his mother.

Because he's a juvenile, authorities and news outlets have not named the teen. But Hawaii News Now reports that:

"Family members of the 15-year-old stowaway did not want to talk to news reporters outside their Santa Clara [Calif.] home, but Maui police sources say the boy ran away and was trying to get to Africa. He ended up on a Hawaiian Airlines jet because it was the closest plane to the fence he scaled. He also told police he got confused by the writing on the plane."

The boy reportedly lived in California with his father and stepmother. His age was originally being reported as 16, but news accounts and authorities have now settled on 15.

According to NBC Bay Area:

"The teen's former English teacher at [San Jose's] Oak Grove High, Keith Chung, [said] he did not know much about the teen, other than that he had moved to the U.S. from Africa three years ago and that his father was a cab driver.

"Chung said the boy had some recent run-ins in his English-learning class. Those issues, on which Chung did not elaborate, had culminated in a transfer to Santa Clara High. ...

"Student Emanuael Golla, 18, told NBC Bay Area that the teen had just transferred to Santa Clara High about five weeks ago. Golla described him as very quiet, someone who kept to himself."

Meanwhile, The San Jose Mercury News reports that the director of the Mineta San Jose International Airport has "called the unusual security breach involving a teen stowaway who sneaked onto the airfield a 'very serious' incident that could spark changes in how the airport protects its passengers."

There is video evidence, The Associated Press says, indicating the teen scaled a fence and got on to the airport's tarmac about seven hours before the Hawaiian Airlines flight took off. The wire service adds that:

"While it's not clear how the teen spent all that time, FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu said the teen was sleeping in the plane before the 8 a.m. PDT takeoff. He 'literally just slept on the plane overnight,' Simon said."

The young man was still in Hawaii on Wednesday, according to news reports. Authorities have said they do not plan to charge him with any crime. The AP notes that "Hawaii's Department of Human Services has said child welfare officials were arranging his safe return to Northern California."

Thee wire service also writes that:

"The FAA says about one-quarter of the 105 stowaways who have sneaked aboard flights worldwide since 1947 have survived. Some wheel-well stowaways survived deadly cold and a lack of oxygen because their breathing, heart rate and brain activity slow down."

We explored that part of the story on Monday in this post: You Can Survive A Flight In A Jet's Wheel Well, But Probably Won't.

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Even some euro bank notes may need a good scrubbing. Like dollar bills, these notes are made from cotton and they harbor an array of bacteria. (The Preiser Project/Flickr)

Dirty Money: A Microbial Jungle Thrives In Your Wallet

by Michaeleen Doucleff
Apr 23, 2014

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Dirty Benjamins? The current study looked only at $1 bills. But any bill made from cotton will likely harbor an array of bacteria. Made from plastic, Canadian $100 bills are resistant to liquids and tearing. But are they better than cotton-based bills at keeping dangerous bacteria at bay?

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You may have heard that dollar bills harbor trace amounts of drugs.

But those greenbacks in your wallet are hiding far more than cocaine and the flu. They're teeming with life.

Each dollar bill carries about 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface, scientists have found. Most are harmless. But cash also has DNA from drug-resistant microbes. And your wad of dough may even have a smudge of anthrax and diphtheria.

In other words, your wallet is a portable petri dish.

And currency may be one way antibiotic-resistant genes move around cities, says biologist Jane Carlton, who's leading the Dirty Money Project at the New York University.

The project offers an in-depth look at the living organisms shacking up on our cash. One goal of the work is to provide information that could help health workers catch disease outbreaks in New York City before they spread very far.

"We're not trying to be fear mongers, or suggest that everyone goes out and microwave their money," Carlton tells Shots. "But I must admit that some of the $1 bills in New York City are really nasty."

So far, Carlton and her colleagues have sequenced all the DNA found on about 40 dollar bills from a Manhattan bank. Their findings aren't published yet. But she gave Shots a sneak peak of what they've found so far.

The most common microbes on the bills, by far, are ones that cause acne. The runners-up were a bunch of skin bacteria that aren't pathogenic: They simply like to hang out on people's bodies. Some of these critters may even protect the skin from harmful microbes, Carlton says.

Other money dwellers included mouth microbes — because people lick their fingers when they count bills, Carlton says — and bacteria that thrive in the vagina. "People probably aren't washing their hands after the bathroom," she says.

What about the traces of anthrax DNA? Not a cause for alarm, Carlton says.

"Anthrax is a very common bacteria in soil," she says. "People who work with soil, like farmers, are often exposed to it. It's only when anthrax is weaponized and sent through the mail that it causes those issues."

The DNA survey also detected genes that make bacteria impervious to penicillin and methicillin. The latter make MRSA bacteria such dangerous pathogens.

"Now we know that viable bacteria are on money and could serve as a mode of transmission for antibiotic-resistant genes," Carlton says. "Money is a frequent route of contact between people in New York City."

At this point, though, scientists don't how important money is for transmitting pathogens and fueling disease outbreaks.

Would changing the material for dollar bills are made from help to keep them cleaner? The jury is still out.

Some countries, such as Canada, have started printing money on flexible sheets of polymer film, a fancy plastic. One study found less bacteria, in general, grew on these plastic bills than cotton-based ones, like the dollar and euro notes. But another study reported that microbes survive longer on polymer-based bills, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Until the ideal material gets figured out, the best protection against money's invisible inhabitants is also the simplest one: Wash your hands after handling cash.

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