vineri, 23 aprilie 2010

Top 10 Greenest Countries

10. Colombia – 76.8

colombia 256x400
European countries dominate the EPI list and Colombia is one of the few countries from the Americas green enough to rank. While you may not hear too many news stories about Colombia, you may have heard all about the deforestation that was going on in the country due to oil palm plantations as well as those who were illegally selling coca through the country. Because of this, the country was starting to become known for its violence and political strife, but somehow, Colombia has taken the negative as a learning lesson and begun to turn things around for the better of the country as well as the earth.

It is said that Colombia is home to 10% of various species found throughout the world. Scientist have also discovered that it may be home to as many as 10 new amphibious species, including the orange-legged rain frog  as well as transparent-skinned glass frogs.  With this in mind, the Colombian government has made efforts to turn the country into one that is eco-friendly. To do so, numerous national parks, some including native medicinal plants, have been opened, one of the most notable being the Orito Igni-Ande Medicinal Flora Sanctuary. Also, architects in Colombia have put down the steel and started to use bamboo, which they say is just as durable and reliable as a means to building structures. Even fashion has gone green in Colombia: designer Maria Nubia Ayala has created a line of clothing using leaves and flowers.

9. Cuba – 78.1

Though many don’t agree with the communist government leading Cuba, those who are urging people to become environmentally friendly just may have a warm spot in their heart for the Cuban government. Despite being known as a government that demands full control, it seems as though that stronghold has been weakened and that the government has decided to focus a lot of attention on the many ways of transforming the country into one that is greener. Cuba has never been a country that has been extremely harsh to the environment. Most who live in the country either travel by bicycle or foot, and many make their money by selling crops and raising livestock. However, there have been times when illegal pesticides were used as well as land that was abandoned.
To fix this, the country has put forth effort to reuse farm land, decrease the use of harmful pesticides, and to lower the sea level to ensure that salt from the water does not ruin the rich soil. Cuba has also decided to only use organic products on all farms. On the other hand, while other countries may focus on wind or nuclear energy, Cuba has decided to put a lot of effort and money into using hydroelectric energy. In 2008, the country began connecting many homes and businesses located in Guamá to a hydroelectric power station. Once it is all said and done and the 30 rivers located near or in Guamá are used, almost 7,000 people will have clean electricity.

8. Austria – 78.1

austria 560x372
Though Austria doesn’t have many problems when it comes to being green and environmentally friendly, they have found very unique ways to ensure that their country is going green. The 2010 Winter Olympics were just one place where Austria planted its green footprint. To house the Austrian Olympic Committee as well as several broadcasters, the country built a “passive house” in Whistler, B.C. The passive house doesn’t use cooling or heating systems. In fact, it is self-regulatory and is able to heat and cool when necessary. This happens through a system that was designed keeping air-circulation, thermal heat, and high efficiency windows in mind. It is said that these passive houses use only 10% of the energy used in a common Canadian home. As of now, there are 17,000 of these homes built throughout Europe.
Most recently, Austria has teamed up with the Czech Republic in order to plant various eco-friendly gardens across the border between the two countries. There are already 330,000 gardens in Austria and 6,800 of them are natural and eco-friendly. Most of these gardens contain fruit trees, flowers, and even herbs. There are no pesticides used to treat the gardens; in fact, Austria doesn’t have to put in a lot of effort to keep the gardens looking beautiful. They use natural compost and rely on the rain for a source of water. Photo: Passive House, Whistler BC,

7. France – 78.2

France is earning a reputation as an eco-friendly country.  France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy has been pushing for legislation that will conserve energy, as well as the environment. Some plans that Sarkozy has laid out include renovating all existing buildings to conserve energy, reducing greenhouse emissions by 20% in 2020, increasing the renewable energy rate from 9% to 20-25%, increasing organic farming, and creating an organization that will solely focus on reviewing and testing genetically modified crops. Along with all of this, sometime in the future, France plans to be home to a lot of nature reserves.
Though it seems like France is depending on a lot of hopeful proposals, it has actually made progress.  France now gets 80% of its electricity from the use of nuclear power.  Alès, a commune in France, is said to be one of the greenest locations in the country. The commune is home to one of only three buildings that utilizes solar panels as a means for energy. To encourage the use of solar panels, the country offers a reduction in taxes if a homeowner decides to use solar energy in their home. Outside of homeowners, France as a whole has decided to utilize more wood and straw bales; that’s right, straw bales to construct. It is said that straw bales are very sturdy, eco-friendly, renewable, and even provide for great thermal insulation. And no you can’t huff and puff and blow those structures down. Photo: Flickr, Jon’s Pics.

6. Mauritius – 80.6

mauritius 560x325
The country of Mauritius is an island off the coast of Africa and east of Madagascar. Though not everyone has heard of this small country, Mauritius may make a bold impact when it comes to going green. Finance Minister Rama Sithanen has decided that now is the time to ensure that the island is eco-friendly and promotes green practices. For one, the country wants to focus on recycling and finding ways to reuse items. This includes burning solid waste instead of storing or dumping it somewhere. Sithanen also wants to rely on renewable and cleaner types of energy. Because of its location, Mauritius could probably make good use of the water it is surrounded by, especially for air conditioning in homes and buildings.
As of now, the country is focusing on wind power and using sugar cane plants to create fuel, especially for boilers. However, the process of going green is definitely much harder for the country, as there are limited resources that can be used. Though Mauritius does have resources, a lot of the items that are used are imports from other countries.

5. Norway – 81.1

norway 375x400
By 2030, Norway hopes to be a country that is carbon neutral. This means that the country plans to find ways so that there are no greenhouse gases emitted. This seems like a very steep goal as Norway is heavily reliant upon its oil rigs for export as well as for a source of energy. To achieve their goal, the government will be making big purchases of carbon offsets.  But, before 2030 comes, the country also plans to cut its total emissions to 40%. Besides just focusing on reducing the amount of carbon put into the air, Norway has also planned to set aside large amounts of money to put towards other green-friendly ideas. For example, the country wants to focus heavily on utilizing railroads more, as well as finding an alternative source for fuel. Those who use diesel fuel will have to pay a higher fee for it. Outside of transportation, Norway hopes to have all businesses in the country run with flexible energy systems and from 2009 on, the use of oil-powered heating systems will be banned. The country will also focus on its great landscape, hoping to cut down on the amount of deforestation that takes place throughout Norway. The country is working closely with Sweden.

4. Sweden – 86.0

sweden landscape
While the rest of the world deals with continuously fluctuating oil prices, Sweden has decided to make things a little easier for the country and its people by making a plan to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2020; however, these efforts didn’t just begin. The change really started in the 1980s during the oil crisis. Efforts towards this new 2020 goal have already started and 28% of the energy and resources used in Sweden are renewable and eco-friendly. The country has really focused on the use of hydropower, nuclear power, and wind power to provide electricity and other necessities throughout Sweden.
One major way Sweden is going green is by using every piece of their forests. Though the trees are often used for various lumber projects, there is usually sawdust left behind. The government has decided that the sawdust can be manufactured into wood pellets, which are then sold to homeowners. The wood pellets are then used to generate heat. Sweden has also decided to cut back on the amount of fuel needed for transportation. Instead, many citizens in Sweden now power their cars using methane, which is taken from the entrails of cows. Seems a little disgusting but it’s green and low cost. Along with this, companies have even taken going green into their own hands. Companies that require their employees to drive train them to drive eco-friendly, which includes moderate speeds and no fast stops or starts, which means less fuel burned. Photo:

3. Costa Rica – 86.4

Coming in at third on the list, Costa Rica is a country that has set very high goals in order to go green, and stay that way. By 2021, Costa Rica hopes to be one of the few, if not the only country in the world that is carbon neutral. At this point in time, the country already utilizes plenty of renewable resources, which is very eco-friendly as there are less greenhouse gases that are polluting the air and even the water.  The country’s location definitely acts as an advantage to them, as they don’t have to worry much about heating homes and buildings, seeing as how the country usually has temperatures ranging between 71-80 °F.
For decades, Costa Rica has been plagued with deforestation, but has made plenty of effort to reduce the amount of forest that is cut down and often abandoned. Because the country is very agricultural and known for its export of food, including corn and bananas, there is a great need for land to farm and produce these crops. However, the country has made use of the forest land and actually began to utilize the shade that is created by the canopy in order to successfully grow the necessary crops. This not only saves space, but greatly reduces the amount of pesticides used to protect the produce. Now Costa Rica is focusing on reforestation and building up the land that was ruined. In fact, the country planted over 5 million trees in 2008. This is not only in hopes to build up the forest, but to hopefully reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Photo:

2. Switzerland – 89.1

switzerland 560x371
Though the leader in 2008, Switzerland has fallen to second place on the Environmental Performance Index. Switzerland has a long, proven record of being eco-friendly and protecting the environment. For instance, in 1914, the country created the first Alpine park located in the Alps, and the tradition has carried on, as the country plans to build at least 20 more of these parks. Not only has Switzerland added eco-friendly parts to their country, they’ve also taken a few things away. In some cities, cars are not allowed. You will only find people walking or riding bicycles to get to where they need to go. While it may seem a little strict, the country has even imposed a fee for disposing of trash in the country, though it is only 1 euro.  There are also fees for using waste management services.
Not only is the government pushing for eco-friendly living, but even hotels are joining in with hopes to show that going green does have its benefits. For example, a very popular hotel in Switzerland, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, offers discounts to those who arrive at the hotel in a hybrid car. To show their own efforts towards going green, the hotel had an entirely new heating system installed which is said to reduce its carbon output by 80% each year. The new heating system gets all of its energy from a nearby lake, as do many other hotels and even schools. Photo:

1. Iceland – 93.5

iceland 533x400
Said to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world, featuring glaciers, volcanoes, and even waterfalls, Iceland tops the list of being the greenest country. Though a pretty small island, said to be the size of Kentucky, Iceland has found a way to ensure that despite its size, it would be making a huge impact on becoming eco-friendly. Because of its location, Iceland has focused on using its geothermal landscape to utilize clean electricity and heat. The most commonly used source for heat and electricity is hydrogen, and the country hopes to become the first to be entirely reliant upon this energy source.  Not only will the hydrogen energy be used by homeowners and those who occupy buildings, it is also used for transportation. The government of Iceland has provided hydrogen-powered buses to ensure people can get to their destinations in an eco-friendly way.
To go along with the buses, Iceland has put a lot of focus on the Mercedes Benz A-Class F-Cell. This car is also fueled by hydrogen and can go up to 100 miles on a full tank. Though the country wasn’t always so green, having depended on imported coal for 70% of its energy, nowadays, Iceland can proudly say that only 18% of its energy sources come from coal, the other 82% is pure hydrogen and geothermal power. While it may seem like a tough goal, by 2050, Iceland’s minister of industry and energy, Össur Skarphédinsson, hopes to have the country be carbon and oil free.



Top 10 Greatest Modern Magic Tricks

Richard Ross
Linking Rings
Richard Ross was a Dutch magician well known for his brilliant sleight of hand ability, as well as appearing to be almost as surprised as the audience by the tricks he was performing. This airing of the trick was in 1983. Keep a close eye on the rings as they intersect and come away from each other; while being a simple routine, it is, by any standards, flawless. If you like this one you will also like his Multiplying Clocks.

David Blaine

David Blaine is a well known illusionist and endurance artist, famous for his high – profile feats of endurance and numerous street magic series and television appearances. He has been hailed as the modern day Houdini. In this trick, he pulls a girl’s teeth out before making them reappear in her mouth when he blows on her. This will shock you.

Paul Daniels
Chop Cup

Paul Daniels is an English magician who has had success through various TV performances, programs, and live shows. Chop Cup, is fast, interactive and incredibly entertaining. As Paul Daniels says in the clip, it took him near to 300 performances to get it right, and the effort shows. The sleight of hand is perfect and the work of a master.

Harry Blackstone Jr
Floating Lightbulb

Harry Blackstone Jr, son of Harry Blackstone Sr (also known as “The Great Blackstone”), sadly died in 1997. His father was born way back in 1885 and between them, the pair had been presenting magical performances for a long time. The clip is from his act ‘The Floating Lightbulb’, which shows a lightbulb, lit, with no means of electricity, floating around the stage and the audience for examination.

Lance Burton

A master of magic, William Lance Burton now performs nightly in Las Vegas but his career has featured numerous television performances featuring brilliant feats of magic. He is an award winning magician from Louisville, Kentucky, and started performing magic at age 5. His dove act has been chosen for the sheer professionalism and skill with which he performs the illusions.

Criss Angel
Walking on water

Criss Angel is the darkest magician on this list, famous for his television shows Mindfreak, Believe and Phenomenon. He is well known for his spin on the darker side of magic performing tricks such as pulling a woman in half, and getting himself run over by a steam roller live on air. In this illusion, he attempts to show a pool of people he can walk on water and does so whilst they watch and swim around and under him.

David Copperfield
Vanishing Statue of Liberty

By magician’s standards, making an object disappear is either a simple case of deception, illusion, sleight of hand or misdirection. That’s fine for say, a card, or a piece of jewelry, but what about something bigger? Siegfried and Roy were made famous in Vegas for their vanishing elephant illusion but Copperfield thought he would take it a step further and make the Statue of Liberty in New York City, disappear. It has to be seen to be believed.

The Pendragons

The Pendragons are a husband and wife team of magicians from America. They are well known for their fast and dangerous illusions. In 2006, Jonathan Pendragon fell on an arrow while rehearsing a dangerous bow and arrow trick. The arrow pierced his liver, stomach and heart, but since, he has made a full recovery. Their metamorphosis illusion is regarded as the fastest trick in history.

Penn and Teller
Bullet Catch

Featured before on Listverse, Penn and Teller’s bullet catch is not only incredibly dangerous but also incredibly brilliant. They mix Penn’s enthusiasm with Teller’s muteness perfectly and mix in subtle humor which makes the act highly enjoyable.

David Copperfield
Death Saw

David Copperfield is officially the most successful magician in history, selling over 40 million tickets to shows and grossing over $1 billion to date. He has 10 Guinness World Records, has 20 Emmy awards, a Living Legend award and numerous others, as well as being the first living magician to have a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. His success however, isn’t the reason he has bagged the number one stop on this list. His tricks are larger, more impressive and more dramatic than any other magician, and he has the on stage presence, charisma, and movements which has made him the archetype for great magicians all around the world.


Top 10 Greatest Historical Warriors

The Aztecs were famous soldiers and ruthless in battle. They were usually dressed like animals like the eagle or the jaguar. They used pretty primitive weapons like clubs and bows but used them with great effectiveness. The “Shorn Ones” (Cuachicqueh) were the greatest warriors and as soon as the enemy came they swore they would not take another step back. They were eventually defeated by the Spaniards with much more modern weapons but they were a great empire in large part due to their great warriors.

Mongol Warriors
Historical Mongol Warriors 1
The Mongols were considered barbarians and savages. They dominated Europe and Asia and were most famous for riding on horseback lead by one of the greatest military commanders in history, Genghis Kahn. They were highly disciplined and masters with using the bow and arrow on horse back. They used a composite bow that could rip through armor and were also pretty good with lances and scimitars. They were masters of psychological warfare and intimidation, and built one of the largest empires the world has ever seen.
A mamluk was a slave soldier who converted to Islam and served the Muslim caliphs and the Ayyubid sultans during the Middle Ages. Over time, they became a powerful military caste often defeating the Crusaders. On more than one occasion, they seized power for themselves; for example, ruling Egypt in the Mamluk Sultanate from 1250–1517. After mamluks had converted to Islam, many were trained as cavalry soldiers. Mamluks had to follow the dictates of furusiyya, a code that included values such as courage and generosity, and also cavalry tactics, horsemanship, archery and treatment of wounds, etc.
Roman Legion
The backbone of the Roman army that led to an empire that was unrivaled in terms of size and power. They were usually heavy infantry with armor and a shield modeled after the ancient Greeks. They were masters of the sword and spear combination going along with a shield. They were made up of the wealthiest soldiers that could afford to make the best weapons and armor. They were disciplined, well-armed, and had great strategy which lasted beyond their empire.
The apaches were like the ninjas of America. They would sneak up behind you and slit your throat without you even knowing. They used primitive weapons made mostly of wood and bone. They were also the greatest knife fighters the world has ever seen and were pretty good with the tomahawk and throwing ax. They terrorized the southwest United States and even the military had trouble beating them. They were great hit and run fighters and their descendants teach modern day special fighters how to fight in hand to hand combat.
The samurai were the knights of Japan and the masters of the katana. They were heavily armed soldiers covered in armor and willing to die for their masters. They wielded the sharpest sword the world has ever seen and it could easily slice a man in two. They were also masters of the yumi (bow) and were some of the best shots of the ancient world. They were like professional soldiers and were harshly trained and fought knowing their honor was on the line. Due to their violent habits, peasants soon rose up against them and the ninja was born.
The ninja were the masters of stealth and sabotage. They were originally peasants trained to defeat marauding samurai, but the eventually became the legendary assassins that most people think of today. They are known for using a Kanata like sword, blowgun, ninja stars, and kusarigama which would be my weapon of choice. They are known for being stealthy shadow warriors of the night. They greatly feared for their ability to kill and just disappear. They were also great martial artists and underwent rigorous training.
51C85 E54867982220Aa345C33Bcce29A6A02B
Vikings – the terror of Europe. The most feared warrior of the ancient world. They terrorized Europe with their raids and pillaging. They were ferocious in battle and used weapons that suited their stature. They were big and mean and used their axes, swords, and spears expertly in the conquering of cities. Even their religion was about war and they believed when you died in battle you fought once again in a never ending battle. They were all you would want in a soldier and proved it on the battlefield by destroying all in their paths. On the flip-side, they were also incredibly good traders so they also brought much good to Europe.
Screen Shot 2010-04-20 At 5.17.05 Am
You thought they would be number one didn’t you? The Spartan culture was all about war and training men for war their entire lives. They had a saying: “come back with the shield or on top of it” which means don’t come back unless you are victorious. They were some of the toughest soldiers the world had ever seen and have become infamous for their last stand at the battle of Thermopylae. They were masters of the shield and spear combination that was later copied by many other armies.
Knights were great warriors clad in full body armor on horseback. The warrior of feudal Europe, the protector of kings. They were the richest, most trained warriors, and had the armor, weapons, and horses to get the job done. They were among the toughest soldiers in history to kill because of their armor. They were highly effective soldiers that had trained almost their entire lives (due to boys of the day wanting to grow up to be one) and became the tank of the ancient world. The reason they are listed as item 1 – instead of Spartans (which most people would have expected) is that knights were also expected to behave in a moral manner and from the fact that most did, we have the term chivalrous which comes from old French chevalier meaning “knight”. The knight was the perfect example of a warrior and a gentleman.