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Should Arizona dust storms be called haboobs?

A sign warns motorists of low visibility and high winds conditions Monday, July 18, 2011 along Interstate 10 in Phoenix.

AP Photo / The Arizona Republic / Michael Schennum/AP Photo / The Arizona Republic / Michael Schennum

Arizona gusts of wind

"The massive dust storms that swept through central Arizona this month have stirred up not just clouds of sand but a debate over what to call them," reports The New York Times. "The blinding waves of brown particles … are caused by thunderstorms that emit gusts of wind, roiling the desert landscape. Use of the term 'haboob,' which is what such storms have long been in the Middle East, has rubbed some Arizona residents the wrong way. 'I am insulted that local TV news crews are now calling this kind of storm a haboob,' Don Yonts, a resident of Gilbert, Ariz., wrote to The Arizona Republic … 'How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term?' Diane Robinson of Wickenburg, Ariz., agreed … 'Excuse me, Mr. Weatherman!' she said in a letter to the editor. 'Who gave you the right to use the word 'haboob' in describing our recent dust storm? … In these parts our dust is mixed with the whoop of the Indian's dance, the progression of the cattle herd and warning of the rattlesnake as it lifts its head to strike.'"

Don't give a hoot?

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"The sad truth for ridiculous Web memes is that they have remarkably poor shelf lives," says. "So, farewell planking. Hello, owling. Deciding that striking a 'light as a feather, stiff as a board' pose, photographing it and posting it on the Web is old news, some Internet denizens have moved on. Now, it's all about squatting, arms pressed toward the ground and eyes locked in a wise, faraway gaze. You know … like an owl. If it all seems ludicrous, well, that's kind of the point." According to Cheezburger Network's Know Your Meme blog, owling was first documented July 11 in a post on the Web-sharing site Reddit. It featured a 'demotivational'-style poster of a woman 'owling' with the text: 'Owling: Because Planking Is So Two Months Ago.'"

Airport payback

Yukari Mihamae, an American businesswoman, was arrested this month at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport after allegedly groping an airport security official, says The Telegraph. The Transportation Security Administration claimed the 61-year-old refused to go through passenger screening, became argumentative, then allegedly squeezed the breasts of a TSA officer. Ms. Mihamae said she was fed up with being manhandled by airport security staff - and thousands of Facebook users have given her their support.

Pilot son

"A private pilot killed himself [Tuesday]by crashing his aircraft into the home of his estranged mother," The Times of London reports. "Konrad Schmidt flew past the house in Oberhallau, northern Switzerland, before diving into it at top speed. Earlier, he had called his mother, Rosemary, 68, from the cockpit to say: 'Are you home? I am just going to drop by.' She survived because she was in the basement at the time of the apparent suicide attack. Neighbours helped to rescue her from the burning shell of the house and [that]night she was being treated for shock." Her son was said to have blamed her for his parents' split.

Mad scientists warned

"Action is needed now to prevent nightmarish Planet of the Apes science ever turning from fiction to fact, according to a group of eminent experts," reports The Independent. "Their report calls for new rules to supervise sensitive research that involves humanizing animals. One area of concern is 'Category Three' experiments which may raise 'very strong ethical concerns' and should be banned. An example given is the creation of primates with distinctively human characteristics, such as speech. Exactly the same scenario is portrayed in the new movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in which scientists searching for an Alzheimer's cure create a new breed of ape with human-like intelligence." The report was produced by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

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The trials of texting

"What with all the walking and texting, dining and texting, and talking and texting that goes on, it's no wonder that communication sometimes breaks down," says The Los Angeles Times technology blog. "Throw in auto-correct, and you're guaranteed some jaw-dropping mishaps. That's probably why the blog 'Damn You, Auto Correct,' which collects text exchanges gone wrong, has proved so popular. Since launching in October, it's garnered almost 300 million page views." A sample exchange:

"Be warned: I'm dumping you when I get home tonight."

"Fine with me. I was just thinking we could use some time apart."

"…Jenna??? I got autocorrected. I meant to write jumping you not dumping you. And now you're telling me you want to break up?"

"Well this is awkward."

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Thought du jour

"Don't go backwards: You have already been there."

Ray Charles (1930-2004)

American musician

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