September 29, 2006

LinkNews Digest [09/29/2006]

MPAA Employs Pirate DVD-Sniffing Dogs

The Motion Picture Association of America will stop at nothing to prevent the international trafficking of pirated movies, evidently. Now, the film industry lobby is enlisting the help of two Labradors, Lucky and Flo, that have been trained to smell polycarbonate and other chemicals found in optical discs such as DVDs.

Lucky and Flo made an appearance in Washington yesterday to show off their skills. Already, the MPAA says, they have discovered DVDs in boxes at Stansted Airport in England. Potential embarrassment: Pirated DVDs smell just like legally obtained ones. (LINK )

Chinese Diversity Games Underscored by Gender-Bending, Gangs

BEIJING (Reuters) - Touted as a celebration of sport, culture and national unity, the Ethnic Minority Games held in southwestern China descended into a farce of cross-dressing cheating and mob violence, state media reported.

Athletes representing China's 55 ethnic minorities assembled in southwestern Yunnan province last week to compete in blow-pipe darts, horse-riding events and other traditional sports. But blind pursuit of victory lead to some unorthodox tactics, Xinhua news agency reported.

Results of the women's dragon-boat racing event were reviewed after athletes complained of "big women with Adam's apples," Xinhua said. Referees subsequently found that several of the competitors were actually men wearing wigs.

A dispute between a team from the games' host city, Zhaotong, and another from Wenshan city in Yunnan province over the result of a wrestling final turned into a brawl, Xinhua said. The Wenshan team was eventually chased away by a local gang with blades and sticks called in by the Zhaotong team, Xinhua said. (LINK )

"How many SkyMiles for First-Class to Mars?"

A Middlesex businessman Alan Watts is to become the first person in the world to use air miles to be blasted into space

Alan Watts, 51, from Harrow, has flown upper class with Virgin Atlantic to the US around 40 times in the past six years. It earned him two million air miles - enough to pay for the £100,000 trip to space with Virgin Galactic.

Mr Watts, the managing-director of an electrical engineering firm, said it would be the most exciting thing he has ever done in his life. "The nearest I've come to space before was going on the Space Mountain ride in Florida," he said. The businessman will have three days of training before boarding the spacecraft, which travels at almost 5,000kph.

Richard Branson revealed that Mr Watts would be among the first passengers as he unveiled a model of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 in New York.

"When we first contacted Alan to let him know he had qualified for this unique offer, I think he thought it was a prank call," he said. "Personally I am delighted that we have made it possible for Alan to do something that previously he had never dreamed was possible for him." (LINK )

Invention of the Week: 6-Sided Harmonica

Blues harmonica players, or harpists as we like to be called, play the blues for a number of reasons, but one of them is that our diatonic instruments are so limited. When the band changes keys, we have to go rummaging around for another harmonica. Not any more with the Hohner Six-Sided Harmonica made by a company that's been supplying diatonic blues harmonicas to the stars for way over a century.

Good thing these harps can be detached from their central hub, because it would be hard to hold that harpists-favorite Shure Green Bullet mic up against this multi-headed contraption. The sextet of harmonicas are tuned to the keys of C, D, F, G, A and B flat, and might make you sing the blues when you see their price tag, $299.95. (LINK via Gizmodo)
Bad news for Blues Traveler and John Popper's famous "Harmonica Bandolier".

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