March 31, 2006

LinkNews Digest [03/31/2005]

Underground Fire Smolders in PA Town

In 1962, workers set a heap of trash ablaze in an abandoned mine pit which was used as the borough's landfill. The burning of excess trash was a common practice, yet at that particular time and place there existed a dangerous condition: an exposed vein of anthracite coal. The highly flammable mineral was unexpectedly ignited by the trash fire, prompting a quick effort to put it out. The flames on the surface were successfully extinguished, but unbeknownst to the fire fighters, the coal continued to burn underground. Over the following weeks it rapidly migrated into the surrounding coal mines and beneath the town, causing great concern.

Numerous attempts were made to extinguish or contain the underground fire over the next two decades. The mines were flushed with water and the burning coal was excavated, but despite the persistence of the workers, their efforts were unsuccessful. The work continued for years at a great expense, with no appreciable progress.

The fire still burns today beneath about four hundred acres of surface land, and it's still growing. There is enough coal in the eight-mile vein to feed the fire for up to two hundred and fifty years, but it may burn itself out in as few as one hundred years. A few residents remained in the borough after the buyout, but their numbers have dwindled since then to about a dozen. Most of the unoccupied homes and buildings have been razed, and large portions of the town are being reclaimed by nature, leaving meadows crisscrossed with overgrown asphalt roads and the occasional steaming or smoking hillside. (LINK via DIGG)

Should the Word "SuperHero" be Allowed as a Trademark?

...Marvel is claiming exclusive rights to use the term "super hero" as a marketing term for, well, superheroes. The company and its largest competitor, DC Comics, jointly obtained the trademark from the federal Patent and Trademark Office in 1981.

The government's action means that any company wishing to market a comic book, graphic novel or related item with any variation of "super hero" in the name or title must get permission from Marvel and DC.In trademark law, the more unusual a term, the more it qualifies for protection. We would have no quarrel with Marvel and DC had they called their superheroes "actosapiens," then trademarked that. But purely generic terms aren't entitled to protection, at least in theory. The reason is simple: Trademarks restrict speech, and to put widely used terms under private control is an assault on our language.

Once a trademark is granted, it remains in effect until someone proves to the feds that the term has lost its association with a specific brand, as happened with "cellophane" and "linoleum." That's why Johnson & Johnson sells "Band-Aid brand adhesive bandages," not simply Band-Aids(TM). (LINK via BoingBoing.net)

Incoming Crap Alert: Sims-like "Desperate Housewives Game"

In the game, players take on the role of a new Wisteria Lane housewife, who can uncover or create new scandals on the seemingly idyllic street where the show takes place.

"Sometimes you just want to be more in that world than you can be on TV," said Mary Schuyler, the game's lead producer, who added that players will be able to pick their own in-game persona. "You can be as nice or as mean as you'd like to be," she said.

Actress Brenda Strong, who is the voice of the show's deceased narrator, Mary Alice Young, has signed on to play a similar role in the game. Negotiations are in the works with other cast members, a spokeswoman for Buena Vista Games said.

Video game makers want to expand their $25 billion global market with titles that appeal to audiences other than just young males. Schuyler said she hopes the "Desperate Housewives" title will be a hit with the show's female fans and convert some of them into gamers. (LINK )

Creepy Product of the Week

Now you can make-believe you are a citizen of Lazy Town, or even one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' short-lived sidekicks The Neutrinos with these foam wigs.
All too often we have to resort to lobbing a sheet over our shoulders, popping a privet hedge on our heads and, hey presto (yawn), another unconvincing Roman. These awesome foam wigs solve the whole dressing up dilemma. Unlike any other wig in the world, these Wiggin' Out Wigs are light, comfortable (most wigs feel like your wearing a dead cat on your head*) and look absolutely brilliant - so good in fact that you don't really need to wear a costume at all (sighs of relief). Made from soft EVA foam, these wigs are the funkiest and coolest on the planet. Not a sentence we ever thought we'd write, but these wigs rock. (LINK to IWantOneOfThose.com )

March 27, 2006

Goonies Caricature

Talented cartoonist Stephen Silver (Kim Possible, etc.) just made A "Goonies" Cast caricature.

March 25, 2006

Stepping Stones


I leave my son in front of Saturday Morning Cartoons while I take a shower, and this is what I come back to. Matthew had taken off all the pillows from the couch and the loveseat and spread them on the floor to have a "Jumping Path" from the back of the room to the hall. I guess the old "The Carpet is HOT LAVA!" game is still alive and well.

March 24, 2006

LinkNews Digest [03/24/2006]

Brave Wardens Capture Wooden Lion

Armed safari park staff were told a lion was on the loose - only to discover it was a wooden cut-out.

Wardens were told the big cat has escaped from an electrified enclosure. They ordered terrified park staff indoors and desperately tracked down the beast reports The Sun.

Bosses at Longleat, Wilts, did not tell wardens it was a training exercise until the "lion" was caught. General manager Keith Harris said: "After a while the 'lion' was spotted about half a mile outside the enclosure.

"It was encircled by vehicles while the choice was made to sedate or kill it. We decided to sedate it. It was only then that the truth dawned on everyone. Most staff thought it was a real emergency. The whole exercise went very efficiently." (LINK )

Roman Online Game Crucifies Player Criminals

Players who misbehave in the Roman online role-playing game Roma Victor will be punished by having their characters crucified and displayed in public spaces for other players to mock and throw things at. The first crucifixion is being doled out to "Cynewulf," played by a 27 year-old electrical engineer from Flint, Michigan, whose crime is "ganking" (ripping off) new players as they first appear in game. Cynewulf will be hung on the cross for seven days.

Crucifixion is to be used as a form of player 'ban' within the virtual world of Roma Victor, with the length of the ban reflecting the severity of the punishment. For cheating by exploiting a bug and advancing his or her character's skills unfairly, for example, a player might typically receive a seven-day ban; multiple or more serious offenses will result in a longer (or even permanent) ban. (LINK via BoingBoing )

Chef's Unwanted Farewell Episode

On Wednesday's South Park 10th season premiere, Hayes' Chef character was struck by lightning, impaled, shot, mauled by a mountain lion, eaten by a grizzly bear, and, oh, yes, accused of being a child molester.

The episode was the capper to Hayes' Mar. 13 resignation. South Park chieftains Parker and Stone cranked out the inaptly named "The Return of Chef!" as an answer to the defection.

In the completely made-up story, Chef is "brainwashed" by an organization of child molesters called the "Super Adventure Club." In order to cure Chef, Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny take their friend to a psychiatrist, a frowned-upon profession among Scientologists.

In the end, Chef dies a million Kenny deaths, only to live on, sort of, as a Darth Vader version of himself. At his funeral, Kyle urges South Park residents to remember Chef as he was, before the brainwashing. If there is to be anger, he says, don't direct it at the beloved cafeteria worker. Rather, says Kyle, "we should be mad at the fruity little club for scrambling his brain." (LINK ) UPDATE:VIDEO OF CHEF'S DEATH
Related Links:
  • A Prank on Tom Cruise's visit to Yahoo Headquarters
  • The Banned South Park Scientology Episode, available on YouTube

    Also: The Best Scientology Pageant Ever!

    It's a good time to blog about "A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant," a 2003 musical depicting the kooky teachings of the Church of Scientology. You can even buy the soundtrack album!
    A jubilant cast of children celebrate the controversial religion in uplifting pageantry and song. The actual teachings of The Church of Scientology are explained and dissected against the candy-colored backdrop of a traditional nativity play.
    Avant-garde performance art and children's theater meet in one of the funniest and most bewildering holiday shows you will ever see: the OBIE Award-winning ironic masterpiece A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant. (LINK via BoingBoing.net

    Soldiers Credit Video Games

    Strategy Page columnist James Dunnigan says that CROWS (Common Remotely Operated Weapons Systems) -- which are big guns manned remotely by someone inside an armored vehicle with a joystick and live cam -- have proved highly successful in Iraq because the soldiers operating them grew up playing (presumably first-person shooter) VIDEO GAMES. Experienced gamers have no difficulty gaining total situational awareness and whipping around the video camera on the guns, spotting hints of trouble and blasting anything that moves. CROWS is one of several "weapons for the Nintendo generation," according to the Dallas Morning News. The military is even using the Pentagon's game, "America's Army," to train CROWS gunners. The guns were first deployed in Iraq in January, 2005. Here comes the VIDEO(LINK )

    Bus Driver Fired for Playing GTA WHILE DRIVING

    Steve Allcock was reported by terrified passengers who heard the screams of characters being butchered as he drove between stops. Bosses fired him after on-board CCTV footage showed he had [a PSP] device on his knees.

    One passenger said: He was playing on a Sony PlayStation PSP not only at bus stops but at traffic lights and sometimes while driving. The music and sound effects could be heard throughout the bus.

    Steve used the console, like the one with Grand Theft Auto on, as he drove his single-decker from Accrington to Blackburn, Lancs. His boss at Blackburn Transport, Michael Morton, said: The driver was interviewed and we feel we’ve taken appropriate disciplinary action. (LINK )


    Links of note:
  • AOL's ToonTopia: Beetlejuice, Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid and others streaming Free
  • Hasbro puts Transformers TV Episodes Free Online
  • A History of Link from Legend of Zelda
  • "APOCALYSE POOH", an old-school (1987) VHS mash-up of Apocalypse Now and Winnie the Pooh. DisturBING!
  • "BirdsEye Tourist"- Movie & TV Section: Satellite Photos of famous locations. Like The Bluth Banana Stand from Arrested Development and the Hill Valley Town Square from Back to the Future.
  • An expose on Disney's mis-named "Fast Play" for DVDs: Over 7 minutes of Previews, ads and Piracy Warnings
  • A very cool WebCam, with live tracking and Avatar FX (Video)
  • Sell your used books to Barnes & Noble, they even give pre-paid envelopes.
  • Entire Mario Soundtrack Performed w/ Props (Video)
  • March 22, 2006

    Theater Reunion

    A few months ago, a friend forwarded me an email about my old Parkview High School Theater this past weekend. The school was moving the theater to a new building and converting the existing theater into classrooms. So people were planning a Parkview Theater Reunion luncheon for alumni. Kristina and Jim (both PHS Theater alumni) sent it to me, and I forwarded it to as many in the old class as I could remember, including the Pattersons and the Hagleys. Todd is probably not still at that address, but it was worth a shot.

    Mel and the kid were down sick, and it was just as well. Kris and Jim were the only ones there that I knew, and we were the oldest people there. Like any potluck lunch for under-50 people in the south, the spread was mainly stuff from Publix (my fried chicken included). They had pictures and videos of the theater classes from about 1993 onwards (the year after I left), since that was the tenure of the current Drama teacher. The only people I recognized were the then-freshmen from the Intro to Theater class I co-taught in my senior year.

    So it was Me, Kris, Jim, their son Ian, and Kris' little sister Keren just hanging out, watching the little whipper-snappers socialize. They had video montages from the Year-End Drama banquets. WTF? We never had Year-end Banquets! Or even cheesy photo montages set to horribly over-used songs ("My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic, "The Time of Your Life" by Green Day, "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan, etc.). Why were there no pictures of us? "Cameras weren't invented back then," offered Jim. "Yeah, it was all woodcut portraits, and we had to burn those for heat back in the blizzard of '92," I finished. All I found was some old pics of UGA Accidentals buddy Josh Head (now Josh Davis) from their production of "The 15-minute Hamlet".

    I eventually met the Drama teacher, and she said she heard my name a lot, attached to various things. "But I'm SURE we met," she insisted. I didn't think we did. I quit theater Spring of 1992, partly because I had my a cappella group, B Natural. Also partly because I had to work nights at the Stone Mountain Festival Cinemas to pay for the bumper I smashed on the '86 Accord hatchback that we called "Lurch".

    But an hour later, I remembered what it was.
    "You directed "Antigone" in the fall of 1992, didn't you?" I asked.
    "Yes! That was my first full production," she replied.
    "Pete Mitchell was working the lights for that show."
    "Right! Yes, he was."
    "Well, I came back to visit him, and we were hanging out in the lighting booth during the show. You also had a girl named Jennifer 'Zoe' Loyless as your Stage Manager, right?"
    "Yes, that was her."
    "Well, halfway through the production, she decided to leave the stage and come flirt with Pete in the Lighting Booth. After a while, Pete said he needed someone on the stage headset, so I went and did it. I was your Acting Stage Manager for that show."

    Her smile widened as she suddenly remembered it. And how she came into the lighting booth, saw her Stage manager there and threw a fit. Pete told her not to worry, that Chris Kern was on the headset, giving people cues. "But who the heck is HE?" Interesting evening, that was.

    I couldn't make their final production in the theater, a matinee of "Bye Bye Birdy", but I wished them all to break legs. I'll remember my theater days fondly. There was a time that I wanted to be an actor. After discovering that I was a terrible actor, even by High School standards, I briefly thought of being a Drama Teacher. Briefly. Glad I got over that quickly.

    March 17, 2006

    Stronger than you Think

    A nice take on the old Kids in the Hall routine, with proper F/X

    Summer of '69

    Had a little epiphany today, while listening to my Friday MP3 80's mix. Perhaps you've already thought of this.

    Bryan Adams was only 9 years old in the "Summer of '69". But the character in the song had a job at the drive-in, drove a car and was in a band, so we assume that he's at least 16. So it can't be about Mr. Adams' sentimental recollections of the Summer of Love. And then the last lines of the song (not usually transcribed on lyric sheets) draw back the curtain:
    "Me and my baby in a 69"
    Personally, I don't think they're talking about driving in a 1969 car either, so... food for thought.

    LinkNews Digest [03/17/2006]

    New Bill Makes it Illegal to Report Illegal Wire Taps

    WASHINGTON -- Reporters who write about government surveillance could be prosecuted under proposed legislation that would solidify the administration's eavesdropping authority, according to some legal analysts who are concerned about dramatic changes in U.S. law.

    The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft of the legislation, which could be introduced as soon as next week. The draft would add to the criminal penalties for anyone who "intentionally discloses information identifying or describing" the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program or any other eavesdropping program conducted under a 1978 surveillance law.

    Under the boosted penalties, those found guilty could face fines of up to $1 million, 15 years in jail or both.

    Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the measure is broader than any existing laws. She said, for example, the language does not specify that the information has to be harmful to national security or classified.

    Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the language would allow anyone _ "if you read a story in the paper and pass it along to your brother-in-law" _ to be prosecuted.

    "As a practical matter, would they use this to try to punish any newspaper or any broadcast? It essentially makes coverage of any of these surveillance programs illegal," she said. "I'm sorry, that's just not constitutional. (LINK via WashingtonPost )

    A REAL Mexican Standoff

    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican couple were recovering separately after a marital spat got out of control and saw them firing guns, throwing knives and hurling homemade bombs, Mexican daily Milenio said on Monday.

    Juan Espinosa and Irma Contreras fought until their house blew up in a homemade gasoline bomb explosion, Milenio said. Police called to the home in the indigenous Mayan Indian town of Oxkutzcab in the southeastern state of Yucatan arrested Espinosa. Contreras was taken to hospital with third-degree burns.

    A local police official confirmed the report but declined to provide further information. Espinosa told reporters he was glad his wife had suffered burns, while Contreras said she was only sorry she had not "hacked off his manhood" during the fight. (LINK )

    Issac Hayes Leaves South Park Over Scientology Joke

    [From the Onion A.V. Club]
    Isaac Hayes quit South Park... citing an impatience with the show's "intolerance" (but not mentioning a Scientology-themed episode from last season. Here's what he said in a written statement:
    There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs ... begins."

    And here's what he said in an A.V. Club interview conducted in December shortly after the episode aired:
    AVC: They did just do an episode that made fun of your religion, Scientology. Did that bother you?
    IH: Well, I talked to Matt and Trey about that. They didn't let me know until it was done. I said, "Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that's your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that shit, you know?" But I understand what they're doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses, and understand what we do. [Laughs.]

    So what changed between now and then? (LINK )
    Most likely the Supreme Alien P.R. Masters willed it to be so. They do not take kindly to criticism of their Scam.

    RELIGION. I meant "religion." Sorry.

    Dallas, Houston Compete for Gay Tourism

    Houston hosts one of the biggest and best gay pride parades in the county, while Dallas' parade pales in comparison. Yet, Big D recently made headlines by creating a direct link to gay travel on the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site.

    "Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travelers spend $65 billion a year on travel and we want to make sure Dallas positions itself to take advantage of that," said Dallas CVB chief executive officer Phillip Jones.

    When viewers visit Dallas' Web site and click on the Diverse Dallas button, the site shows pictured icon groups that spotlight segmented communities of the city's population, including the African-American, Asian and Hispanic communities. The Web site now includes a link to the GLBT community.

    The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site doesn't have anything similar. "I don't think Dallas has anything to be proud of. They're definitely not doing as well as Houston is right now," GHCVB president Jordy Tollet said. "We're not bragging about putting one picture up with no real information."

    Houston's latest advertising campaign focuses on sports, the rodeo, arts and museums. (LINK via Fark.com)
    Wow, I can't think of ANY reason why they aren't just FLOCKING to Texas, often called "The Tolerance State".

    March 16, 2006

    Tiny Models

    There's a special (and very expensive) photography technique called "Tilt Shift" that people use to make aerial photos look like tiny models. It's amazing to look at and even more clever, someone has developed a simple Photoshop technique to achieve largely the same effect! Below is the AFTER shot of one of my London snapshots. Click it for the original. (Of course, this works a lot better if you START with a decent picture, but cool nontheless.)

    Tilt-Shift London: Click for Original

    The Many Lives of Wade Finch

    It's Wade (CaptnJackSparrow)'s birthday today. I don't have a gift, so I thought I'd do a "This is your Life" for him. But... not really knowing much about his past, I decided to look up his name on Google. Here's Wade's Life...

    "I've been a Puppet, A Poet, a Pirate..."

    First, a Pirate... Duh...
    A Guitarist in a Prog-Rock Band (Okay, still him)
    An Automotive Technology Instructor
    A Guitar Customizer
    An All-American Wrestling Champ ('81, 140 lb. class)
    A Log Home Dealer in New Mexico. Maybe he can get us a deal on a "Big Ass Cabin"!
    A Cross-Country runner for Greensboro College
    A Concerned Citizen from Koondoola, Australia

    March 10, 2006

    LinkNews Digest [03/10/2006]

    FLA Church Hosts "Free Pr0n Weekend"

    Clermont Fellowship Church in Clermont, Florida, will host a FREE Pr0n Weekend, March 11th & 12th, 2006 to help raise community awareness about the issues surrounding pr0nography. The church will host the events in the auditorium at East Ridge High School (13322 Excalibur Road, Clermont). From pr0nography addiction to how to guard your kids from the traps of pr0n, Clermont Fellowship will provide help and resources for the community.

    Clermont Fellowship Lead Pastor Tom Casolaro says, "It's time the church talks about pr0n." To assist in the events, Clermont Fellowship will bring in Craig Gross, pastor and founder of XXXchurch.com, and former pr0n star and prostitute Shelly Lubben. Gross and Lubben will tackle the issues surrounding America's pr0n problem.

    Pr0n Weekend kicks off this Saturday, March 11th at 6:00pm, with former pr0n star Shelly Lubben relating her mission to "smash the illusion of pr0n, expose pr0nographers and supporters of porn, and help people break the chains of sexual addiction." (LINK )



    The Rise of the Cubicle

    Good article in FORTUNE magazine:
    NEW YORK (FORTUNE Magazine) - Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."

    Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.

    Reviled by workers, demonized by designers, disowned by its very creator, it still claims the largest share of office furniture sales--$3 billion or so a year--and has outlived every "office of the future" meant to replace it. It is the Fidel Castro of office furniture. (READ MORE )

    "Survivor: The Ride" Opens This Spring


    Big time Hollywood-style reality thrills await adventurers this spring as Paramount’s Great America unleashes the world’s first reality rollercoaster, SURVIVOR The Ride.

    Surrounded by the sounds of tribal music and jungle drums, thrill seekers embark on a journey past fiery 40-foot tall torches, exotic tribal relics and tropical landscaping reflective of previous international SURVIVOR locales. Those brave enough can participate in an endurance immunity challenge as seen on the Emmy award-winning show or relive SURVIVOR moments through memoirs of previous seasons.

    And what is SURVIVOR The Ride without competition?

    Guests are divided into two tribes and challenged to demonstrate their enthusiasm through tribal chants and ritual dance movements that trigger a collection of native masks to spray water on the losing tribe. Watch as tribes try to outplay and outspray castaways aboard the ride.

    The adventure continues as tribes of riders board a giant circular vessel complete with a towering tribal mask looming at its center. Guests sit facing outward and experience a thrilling rocking and spinning motion as the platform swirls along a wave-like track -- all while traversing through rugged terrain and ascending hills as high as five stories tall! (LINK )

    "Body Snatchers" over India

    On 25 July, 2001, blood-red rain fell over the Kerala district of western India. And these rain bursts continued for the next two months. All along the coast it rained crimson, turning local people's clothes pink, burning leaves on trees and falling as scarlet sheets at some points.

    Investigations suggested the rain was red because winds had swept up dust from Arabia and dumped it on Kerala. But Godfrey Louis, a physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, after gathering samples left over from the rains, concluded this was nonsense. 'If you look at these particles under a microscope, you can see they are not dust, they have a clear biological appearance.' Instead Louis decided that the rain was made up of bacteria-like material that had been swept to Earth from a passing comet. In short, it rained aliens over India during the summer of 2001.

    Not everyone is convinced by the idea, of course. Indeed most researchers think it is highly dubious. One scientist who posted a message on Louis's website described it as 'bullshit'. (MORE "Chubby Rain" )


    Invention of the Week: Wheel Spoke LED's




    March 08, 2006

    Mickey = teh Shiznit, Literally

    A little sidetrack for fellow parental units out there. (Stop reading if potty-related stuff offends you) Matthew is now four, and we've been trying to get him potty trained since about 2 1/2. We bought books, we read message boards, we tried everything. The boy was just too stubborn. A few months back he even got a stern lecture from the Pediatrician about it. We had given up and put him back in diapers until a month ago.

    We were planning our annual vacation to DisneyWorld, and we REALLY wanted him to be using the toilet by that time. Not only would it mean NOT toting around a bulky diaper bag, but also... if they're potty trained, they can go to The Neverland Club, a special kids-only evening activity. It's some kids' favorite memory of the parks, and also gives Mel and I a night to ourselves to have a quiet dinner.

    You know the saying, "Go with what you know." So My wife decides to use Disney as the driving factor to get him out of diapers.

    Step 1: "Matthew, when you use the toilet like a big boy, then we can go to DisneyWorld!" This thought gained traction in his head like no other dangled carrot before. He started repeating it and sporadically using the toilet.

    Step 2: One 12-pack of "The Incredibles" underwear. She decides to put him straight in the "Big Boy Underwear" and see if it inspires a little confidence. It does. He starts using the toilet more often, even going without being asked.

    Step 3: Matthew likes my PS2, and thanks to Miho, he discovers Kingdom Hearts, a kids game where you fight alongside Donald and Goofy through some memorable Disney movies. In exchange for a day with no accidents, he gets to play the game in the evening for a little while. It works!

    Of course there are accidents, but four weeks later, he only has about two a week. I thought #2 would be a problem, but he's only had two accidents that way. It's freaking AMAZING. All kids are different, you just have to find out what they want, what their motivation is. Much to my wife's delight, and my dismay, what Matthew wants more than anything is Disney.

    So how's the little guy celebrating his new independence? Melissa caught him looking at himself in the bathroom mirror and saying "You're going to DisneyWorld! Oh Yeah!"

    March 06, 2006

    Oscar Wrap-up 2006

    3-6 Mafia at the OscarsIn a strange Oscar Night upset, the song from "Hustle and Flow" called "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" by Atlanta hip hop group 3-6 Mafia won Best Song. The Dolly Parton number was well, standard Dolly. I think it was more of a "lifetime achievement" nomination for her. People were just amazed that she is still singing with such energy. I was really pulling from the "In The Deep" song from "Crash."

    I think Ludacris did a good humorous intro of the song, saying there have been other Oscar nominated songs that were a bit risque... "Shaft", "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (and "Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang" added later by another). But when 3-6 Mafia won, they jumped all around and did the usual R&B Acceptance speech, including THANKING JESUS for helping them write a song called "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp". Yes, I'm sure the big man was really pulling for them. It's a little-known fact that A small footnote to the 10 commandments was lost in the transcription, saying "Thou shalt not commit adultery, save for that of Pimping. Thou Shalt Keep the Pimp Hand Strong."

    I understand that this was the group's first hit, and I think the first Best Song Oscar for an R&B/Rap group, so there was reason for celebration. However, I think Jon Stewart really put it into perspective: "Let's review here: Martin Scorcese? No Oscars. 3-6 Mafia? Oscar."

    Definitely a weird year for Oscars. Happy that Brokeback Mountain got best Director, Original Score and Adapted Screenplay because those were it's real strengths. Happy that my girl Rachel got Supporting Actress, but a little weirded out that Reese Witherspoon got Best Actress. She may ahve deserved it, I didn't see the movie. I just loath to see them repackaging "Sweet Home Alabama" with "Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon" on the cover.

    March 03, 2006

    LinkNews Digest [03/03/2006]

    You Think YOU'VE Had a Crappy Day?

    A German village in the state of Bavaria is recovering after being flooded by 240,000 litres of liquid pig manure.

    Sewage rose to 50cm in the streets of Elsa after the tank burst.A police spokesman said: "The village was swamped with green-brown liquid and it was pig manure - the mother of all muck."

    Police estimate the pig waste had caused at least £68,000 worth of damage. (LINK )


    Colmbia: Cocaine? No Problem. Drive-By Spanking? Prison.

    BOGOTA, Colombia, Feb 24 - A Colombian man has been sentenced to four years' house arrest for slapping a woman's bottom as he rode by her on his bicycle, sparking debate on whether the punishment fit the crime.

    Some said that to confine bicycle messenger Victor Garcia to his home for four years for smacking Diana Marcela Diaz's buttocks was excessive. Others said it would deter other men. The women said that while the punishment seemed extreme, they hoped the case would mean they would be safer while on foot. (LINK )

    And of course, it wouldn't be a properly offensive crime trial witout some gratuitous Television Exploitation:
    Showing re-enactments of the incident, television news shows were filled on Friday with legal experts offering opinions about the judgment handed down earlier in the week by Bogota's district court. One program showed three models having their denim clad bottoms smacked so hard by a phantom hand it could be clearly heard by television viewers.
    So, People of Colombia, the message here is: DOING it is punishable by prison terms. SHOWING IT ON TV is ratings gold.

    184-Proof Whisky to be Bottled in Scottland

    LONDON (AFP) - Following a 17th century recipe, one of the eight artisanal whisky producers on the tiny Scottish isle of Islay will produce a dozen barrels of 184-proof whisky, the company announced. (That's 92 percent alcohol, which is about as strong as whisky can get without being sold in a pharmacy.)

    "The first taste affects all the members of the body," a 1695 description of the elixir reads. "Two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose -- if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life."

    The Bruichladdich distillery said it would install webcams so that customers thirsty with anticipation could watch the potentially lethal concoction come into being. "If the distillery doesn't explode during the process," Bruichladdich added. (LINK )

    The Lost Penn & Teller Game

    Years ago, I'd heard about a mythical unreleased videogame developed by Penn & Teller for the Sega CD and 3DO. The game was supposed to be an oddball adventure game, with some cruel magic tricks and minigames thrown in for good measure. This Absolute Entertainment press release from March 1995 sums it up nicely.
    (LINK via Waxy.org)
    Archived Press Release:
    Here's some of what you get:

    Mofo the Psychic Gorilla(TM). Watch while this cunning simian guesses which card your friend has selected!

    What's Your Sign?(TM). Your friend will marvel as he interacts with Penn & Teller and their patented Personometer(TM) device, which the guys will use to deduce -- with mind-blowing accuracy -- your friend's sign of the zodiac.

    Sun Scorcher(TM). The thrill-a-minute outer space shoot-'em-up that features Thermo-Graphics(TM), Penn & Teller's revolutionary imaging technology that makes the TV screen dangerous to touch!

    Desert Bus(TM). Get behind the wheel of Desert Bus for a first-person, hands-on view of the endless, interminable desert highway. No zillion dollar sports car with leggy blonde in tow. Not at all. It's a bus. And it's an eight-hour drive. In real time. No pausing. Another stunningly realistic simulator in the great Absolute tradition. (There's even a TORRENT of this one.)


    Credit Card Payment Triggers Homeland Security Investigation

    Walter Soehnge and his wife, Deana paid down some debt. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.

    After sending in the check, they checked online to see if their account had been duly credited. They learned that the check had arrived, but the amount available for credit on their account hadn't changed.

    They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted. (LINK )


    Another Reason Your Phones Might Be Confiscated

    At first sight it looks like a regular cell phone — same size, same shape, same overall appearance. But beneath the digital face lies a .22-caliber pistol, a phone gun capable of firing four rounds in quick succession with a touch of the otherwise standard keypad.

    The US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are aware of the device and have instructed baggage screeners to be on the lookout for suspicious mobile phones. This is especially after 9/11.

    European law enforcement officials, stunned by the discovery of these deadly decoys, say phone guns are changing the rules of engagement in Europe. Airport authorities across Europe are implementing systems to X-ray all cell phones

    "We find it very, very alarming," says Wolfgang Dicke of the German Police union. "It means police will have to draw their weapons whenever a person being checked reaches for their mobile phone." (Video of test-firing) (LINK )
    I don't know about this. Every James Bond Gadget created after 2001 hasn't changed the face of legitimate security (Airports, Police, etc.) HOWEVER it might just be another annoyance for law-abiding citizens trying to get access to concerts and other events, when abused by paranoid private security firms. Like the Georgia Aquarium confiscating my mini-scissors. (Still sore about that.)

    An amazing looking Steampunk re-imagining of The TransFormers due in a Limited Comic series called "Hearts of Steel." Check out Megatron! (More sketches on link)


    Links of Note: