Heartening tales of overcoming adversity are typical fodder on “Got Talent” and other reality shows, but the shocking saga of “China’s Got Talent” contestant Liu Wei makes this season’s batch of “America’s Got Talent” sob stories look like the pampered brats on VH1’s “You’re Cut Off.” And this is a true sob story–seriously, if you watch the video below and don’t get at least a little bit misty-eyed, you clearly have no soul.
Liu, now 23 years old, lost both of his arms in a freak accident when he was 10, after he touched an electrified wire while playing hide-and-seek. However, these tragic circumstances did not stop Liu from pursuing his dream of becoming a pianist–teaching himself how to play with his feet at age 18, after one piano teacher told him he would never succeed. And it turns out, Liu has more talent in one of his pinky toes than most four-limbed piano players have in both of their hands.
“For people like me, there were only two options. One was to abandon all dreams, which would lead to a quick, hopeless death. The other was to struggle without arms to live an outstanding life,” Liu explained to the judges on “China’s Got Talent.” Thankfully, Liu chose the latter option.
Watch Liu’s perfect performance of “Mariage D’amour” on Youtube, and make sure to have some tissues nearby.
Former identity thieves confess the tactics they use to scam you.
1. Watch your back. In line at the grocery store, I’ll hold my phone like I’m looking at the screen and snap your card as you’re using it. Next thing you know, I’m ordering things online—on your dime.
2. That red flag tells the mail carrier—and me—that you have outgoing mail. And that can mean credit card numbers and checks I can reproduce.
3. Check your bank and credit card balances at least once a week. I can do a lot of damage in the 30 days between statements.
4. In Europe, credit cards have an embedded chip and require a PIN, which makes them a lot harder to hack. Here, I can duplicate the magnetic stripe technology with a $50 machine.
5. If a bill doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to, don’t breathe a sigh of relief. Start to wonder if your mail has been stolen.
6. That’s me driving through your neighborhood at 3 a.m. on trash day. I fill my trunk with bags of garbage from different houses, then sort later.
7. You throw away the darnedest things—preapproved credit card applications, old bills, expired credit cards, checking account deposit slips, and crumpled-up job or loan applications with all your personal information.
8. If you see something that looks like it doesn’t belong on the ATM or sticks out from the card slot, walk away. That’s the skimmer I attached to capture your card information and PIN.
9. Why don’t more of you call 888-5-OPTOUT to stop banks from sending you preapproved credit offers? You’re making it way too easy for me.
10. I use your credit cards all the time, and I never get asked for ID. A helpful hint: I’d never use a credit card with a picture on it.
11. I can call the electric company, pose as you, and say, “Hey, I thought I paid this bill. I can’t remember—did I use my Visa or MasterCard? Can you read me back that number?” I have to be in character, but it’s unbelievable what they’ll tell me.
12. Thanks for using your debit card instead of your credit card. Hackers are constantly breaking into retail databases, and debit cards give me direct access to your banking account.
13. Love that new credit card that showed up in your mailbox. If I can’t talk someone at your bank into activating it (and I usually can), I write down the number and put it back. After you’ve activated the card, I start using it.
Thousands flock to see asteroid pod in Japan
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Sun Aug 15, 2:35 pm ET
TOKYO (AFP) – Thousands of people flocked to an exhibition in Japan on Sunday to see a capsule from the Hayabusa space probe which was hoped to have brought asteroid dust to Earth.
Some 1,800 people were queuing in Tokyo to see the heat-proof pod, which had travelled in space with the unmanned craft for seven years, even before the exhibition opened in the morning, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spokesman said.
More than 7,000 had visited the first public showing of the capsule by early evening, he said, adding that the space agency expects as many as 50,000 people during the five-day exhibition.
The capsule, which journeyed billions of kilometres (miles), was fired back to Earth in June.
Technical problems had plagued the Hayabusa, which at one stage spun out of control and lost contact with JAXA for seven weeks, delaying the mission for three years until the asteroid and Earth re-aligned.
When it finally latched onto the potato-shaped Itokawa asteroid, a pellet-firing system designed to stir up dust malfunctioned, leaving it unclear how much material the probe was able to gather.
Scientists hope any dust samples from the ancient asteroid in the capsule could help reveal secrets about the origins of the solar system.
The space agency has said it found “minute particles” of what it hopes is asteroid dust in the capsule, but it is expected to take months to get the final results of the analysis.
The Hayabusa project has generated great excitement in Japan.
“I was so impressed that such a small thing came back to Japan after a seven-year space journey,” said one of the visitors. “It is just amazing.”
How to Hide from Friends You Don’t Like
On Friday August 13, 2010, 10:48 am EDT
With more than 500 million people now on Facebook, it’s inevitable that you’ll be friended by someone you know, but with whom you don’t want to share your online life. Once you’ve accepted them as a friend, how do you avoid them without the awkwardness of unfriending them?
Facebook has made it easy to hide other members’ status updates. Place your mouse over an update from, say, Charlie, and a light blue X appears to the upper right corner of the update. Click the X, and Facebook will present you with three buttons from which to choose: Hide Charlie, Mark as Spam and Cancel. If you click Hide Charlie, you’ll never see Charlie’s updates again. (Click Spam and the message disappears and a notice gets sent to Facebook’s servers and analyzed by spam filtering software.)
But how do you keep Charlie from reading your updates? Skirting your way around someone you’ve accepted as a Facebook friend is trickier. When you write a status update of your own, look for the lock-shaped icon below and to the right of the text input box. Click on the lock, and Facebook will pop up a menu. Click the bottom option, Customize. That will pop up a dialog box labeled Custom Privacy that lets you filter who will see your update.
There are two ways to exclude people. The quick and easy way is to type their names into the box labeled “Hide this from these people” at the bottom of the dialog box. To hide all future updates from these folks, click the checkbox at the very bottom that says “Make this my default setting.” Then click the big blue Save Setting button. From now on, evil Charlie won’t get your updates.The more sophisticated solution is to replace this blacklist with a list of people you do like. That way you can accept any number of new friends without having to accidentally share your updates with them.
To do this, click on Friends in the left margin of Facebook’s interface. You’ll see a button at the top of the Friends page labeled “+ Create a List”. Click that and use the dialog box that pops up to make a list of the friends you want to share with. Call it, say, True Friends.
Next time you post an update, follow the instructions above to bring up the Customize dialog box. But instead of typing into the “Hide this” field, click the menu at the top labeled “Make this visible to these people.” Select the option Specific People. A text input box will appear. Type the name of your new list, True Friends, into this field. Click “Make this my default setting” and then Save Setting. From now on, only your True Friends list will see your updates. Complicated and annoying, yes, but probably much less so than it was going to high school with Charlie.
Got a how-to question about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace or another social network? Hit me up on Facebook [http://paulboutin.socialtoo.com], Twitter [http://twitter.com/paulboutin], or email [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]. All correspondence will be kept confidential.