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Obama and his cigarettes

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Our own Greg Veiss: You Tube Hunter, pointed me to this great piece on Obama and his smoking on Slate. It's a little old, but it's an intriguing question: If the Democrat's superstar drops the habit, will he lose his golden voice? From the piece:

Smoking over time transforms a person's voice by thickening and drying out the vocal chords"¦ David Witsell, who directs Duke University's Voice Care Center, notes that the nodules on Johnny Cash's vocal cords that stemmed in part from his smoking habit helped create his unique sound. "Many famous voices in history have pathologies that are part of their vocal signatures," Witsell says. But Obama's semisecret weapon amounts to a double-edged sword. After all, what sort of successful Democratic politician smokes nowadays?

Fascinating! The piece goes on to talk about how Obama's smoothly side-stepped questions about the habit, and how quitting could affect his mellow tone. I'm guessing, though, if he makes a pledge to quit, and gets Americans to join him (Kirstie Allie-style), he could muster even more popularity. In any case, election season is my third favorite sporting event, after March Madness and the World Cup. and I'm ready to see some action. Click here for the Slate piece. Thanks Greg!

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Animals
Watch a Rogue Pet Dog Interrupt a Russian News Anchor on Air
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Last week, a Russian news broadcast briefly went to the dogs after its host was startled by a surprise co-anchor: a friendly black canine that wandered on set, announced its presence with a loud bark, and climbed onto her desk.

 

As TODAY reports, Mir24 TV anchor Ilona Linarte went off script for a few minutes, telling viewers "I've got a dog here. What is this dog doing in the studio?" After the initial shock wore off, she gave her furry guest a tepid welcome, patting its head as she gently pushed it off the desk. ("I actually prefer cats,'' Linarte remarked. "I'm a cat lady.")

Linarte’s query was answered when the TV station announced that the dog had accompanied another show’s guest on set, and somehow got loose. That said, rogue animals have a proud tradition of crashing live news broadcasts around the world, so we’re assuming this won’t be the last time a news anchor is upstaged by an adorable guest star (some of which have better hair than them).

[h/t TODAY]

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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
SpaceX Is Sending Two Private Citizens Around the Moon
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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0

Two members of the public are set to take an historic trip around the Moon, according to an announcement from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. As The Verge reports, the anonymous private citizens have already placed substantial deposits on the commercial space flight.

The private spacecraft company SpaceX revealed on Monday that the Falcon Heavy rocket will be launching with its Crew Dragon spacecraft in late 2018. The mission will consist of a circumnavigation of the Moon, passing over the body’s surface before traveling farther into space and returning to Earth. In total, the trip will cover 300,000 to 400,000 miles and take a week to complete.

A noteworthy part of the plan is the human cargo that will be on board. Instead of professional astronauts, the craft will carry two paying customers into space. The passengers, who’ve yet to be named, will both need to pass several fitness tests before they're permitted to make the journey. According to The Verge, Musk said the customers are “very serious” and that the cost of the trip is “comparable” to that of a crewed mission to the International Space Station. The goal for SpaceX is to eventually send one or two commercial flights into space each year, which could account for 10 to 20 percent of the company’s earnings.

[h/t The Verge]

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