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 )

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