October 27, 2006

Six-Word Fiction

I thought this deserved a separate post. From WIRED.com:
Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves.

Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket.
- William Shatner

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.
- Joss Whedon

Automobile warranty expires. So does engine.
- Stan Lee

Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
- Alan Moore

With bloody hands, I say good-bye.
- Frank Miller

Cryonics: Disney thawed. Mickey gnawed. Omigawd.
- Eileen Gunn

Kirby had never eaten toes before.
- Kevin Smith

The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.
- Orson Scott Card

Batman Sues Batsignal: Demands Trademark Royalties.
- Cory Doctorow
(Loads more @ Wired.com )

LinkNews Digest [10/27/2006]

US Bans Vegemite, Men At Work Held on Sandwich Suspicion

THE US has banned Vegemite, even to the point of searching Australians for jars of the spread when they enter the country.

The bizarre crackdown was prompted because Vegemite has been deemed illegal under US food laws.

The great Aussie icon - faithfully carried around the world by travellers from downunder - contains folate, which under a technicality, America allows to be added only to breads and cereals.

Australian expatriates in the US said enforcement of the ban had been gradually stepped up and was now ruining lifelong traditions of Vegemite on toast for breakfast.

Kraft spokeswoman Joanna Scott said: "The (US) Food and Drug Administration doesn't allow the import of Vegemite simply because the recipe does have the addition of folic acid.''

The US was "a minor market'' for Vegemite, she said. (LINK )

"You Park There, I Fork Your Car Up!!"

MAHOPAC, N.Y. - A shopkeeper got so angry about the way a man had parked his car that he climbed into a forklift, placed the fork under the car and lifted it off the ground, police said Wednesday.

Wasek Safrah, 51, of Ossining, also punched out both the offending car and the man who parked it, said Lt. Brian Karst of the Carmel police. He was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and assault.

Karst said the episode began at about 5 p.m. Oct. 16 at a strip mall on Route 6 in Mahopac. Safrah felt the car, though legally parked, was blocking his access to a storage container or trash bin and got into a heated argument with the driver, who was an employee of another store and was no longer in the car. Police did not release that man's name.

The police report, issued Tuesday night, says Safrah then punched the side of the vehicle, denting it. Then he took the controls of a forklift in the parking lot, maneuvered its lifting mechanism under the car and lifted it upward. The car was not moved out of the parking spot, however.

"We don't know what his intention was," Karst said.

Karst said he did not know who owned the forklift, but it probably belonged to another of the businesses. (LINK )

Barbie's Come A Long Way

Tesco has been forced to remove a pole-dancing kit from the toys and games section of its website after it was accused of "destroying children's innocence".

The Tesco Direct site advertises the kit with the words, "Unleash the sex kitten inside...simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go! Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars".

The £49.97 kit comprises a chrome pole extendible to 8ft 6ins, a 'sexy dance garter' and a DVD demonstrating suggestive dance moves.

Dr Adrian Rogers, of family campaigning group Family Focus said yesterday that the kit would "destroy children's lives". He said: "Tesco is Britain's number one chain, this is extremely dangerous. It is an open invitation to turn the youngest children on to sexual behaviour. "This will be sold to four, five and six-year olds. This is a most dangerous toy that will contribute towards destroying children's innocence."

Tesco today agreed to remove the product from the Toy section of the site, but said it will remain on sale as a Fitness Accessory, despite the fact that the product description invites users to "unleash the sex kitten inside". (LINK --Thanks Maddy )


October 20, 2006

LinkNews Digest [10/20/2006]

Squirt-Gun Robbery Foiled in Austria

A struggling Austrian toyshop owner was arrested after he tried to rob a bank with one of his toy guns.

The 44-year-old, from Vienna, stormed into a local bank with a stocking over his head and a gun in his hand, and demanded clerks empty their tills.

But a security guard noticed the 'weapon' was a plastic water pistol and asked him to hand over the toy to avoid "an even bigger embarrassment".

The would-be robber told police: "I was driven to this desperate deed after my toy shop went bankrupt." (LINK )

Tax Dollars At Work: MySpace Police

A girl of 14 was dragged out of class by Secret Service agents for calling President Bush an idiot on her MySpace page.

Julia Wilson's internet page, called "So Bush is an idiot but hey what else is new?", infuriated security experts, reports the Mirror. She also posted the words "Kill Bush" and ran a cartoon of a knife stabbing the hand of the president.

Two federal agents went searching for Julia at her home before finding the teenager at school in Sacramento, California. After pulling her out of class, they subjected her to a 20-minute interview.

Julia said: "I told them I just really don't agree with Bush's politics. I do not have any plans of harming Bush in any way. I am very peaceful. I just don't like Bush." She said the agents warned her she could be locked up for making the threat. Dad Jim Moose added: "I don't condone what she did, but it seems a little over the top. You'd think they could determine that she's not a credible threat." (LINK )

Childhood Obesity Apparently Linked to Litigious Parents

ATTLEBORO, Mass. - Tag, you're out! Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.

Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe, who approved the ban.

While there is no districtwide ban on contact sports during recess, local rules have been cropping up. Elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Spokane, Wash., also recently banned tag during recess. A suburban Charleston, S.C., school outlawed all unsupervised contact sports.

"I think that it's unfortunate that kids' lives are micromanaged and there are social skills they'll never develop on their own," said Debbie Laferriere, who has two children at Willett, about 40 miles south of Boston. "Playing tag is just part of being a kid." (LINK )

Haloween Project: Lego Headless Horseman

It's remarkably easy to hack LEDs into Lego minifigures to make awesome, creepy, and tiny decorations for Halloween.

In what seems like a miraculous coincidence, a standard LED fits exactly into the head of a Lego minifigure. It's that easy: grab an LED and a head, slip it in, and it fits perfectly.

The pumpkin head took several hours to carve. The next day I had blisters on my thumb and index finger where I had been holding this little head (tight) while I carved.

While it is often difficult to get this level of detail in something so tiny, the hardest part in this particular case was making the three initial holes through the thick plastic. If I had to make this one over again, I would start by drilling three tiny holes in the head. (LINK )


October 19, 2006

Dad of the Century

I'm not usually a sucker for "inspiring" stories, but this one just got me.
From Sports Illustrated:
I try to be a good father. But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

[Later he was] Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want To do that.''

That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!'' And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you Think?

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''
Video
Team Hoyt Website

October 13, 2006

The Upgrade Ceremony

In the great magic that is COMPUTER UPGRADING, as in alchemy, there is a law of Equivalent Exchange. Any future enjoyment or productivity that you may receive must be offset by the immediate stress and despair of component incompatibility (It likes THIS piece of ram, but the other one makes it crash), Hard Drive/Windows reformatting and tech support calls. It also demands one drop of blood from you, usually from scraping your finger against a pin connector while trying to connect your Hard drive.

I have a slightly upgraded computer now, something that can handle Video Editing as well as my web stuff. And I'm hoping that new 3D card can handle some pretty heavy games too. In the meantime though, it's only 30% operational, and I still have to reinstall most of my applications. we all know how much fun THAT is.

Wish me luck with this and speedy recovery from whatever alien embryo has nested in my throat.

LinkNews Digest [10/13/2006]

At Least He Follows Directions At That Age

BERLIN (Reuters) - An 80-year-old German motorist obediently following his navigation system ignored a motorway "closed for construction" sign and crashed his Mercedes into a pile of sand further down the road, police said Monday.

"The driver was following the orders from his navigation system and even though there was a sufficient number of warnings and barricades, he continued his journey into the construction site," a police spokeswoman told Reuters.

"His trip finally ended when he wound up crashing into a pile of sand," she added.

The driver and his wife escaped uninjured from the collision, which occurred on a motorway near Hamburg. (LINK )

Science Invents "The Happy Helmet"

A helmet for people in jobs which demand an unusual amount of smiling, such as air-stewards, receptionists and politicians. A sensor in the front of the helmet detects anybody within a 2 metre range, at which point the mouth is pulled into a broad grin by a small servo motor and some concealed fishing wire. The helmet addresses the facades of social interaction and explores our responses to affected expressions. (LINK )

Canadian Troops Foiled by Marajuana Forests

OTTAWA, Canada (Reuters) -- Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of marijuana plants 10 feet tall.

"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices. ... And as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa, Canada.

"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those [forests] did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hiller said dryly.

One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana'." (LINK )


Halloween Must-Have: The Vomit Barrel

Vomit Barrel
A barrel of laughs and leftovers! This disgusting but funny device throws up on cue by switch.

Great quantities of green vomit spew as the familiar Friday night sounds of heaving ensue! Requires standard AC power only. Comes with a cassette player and sound effects. [Only $2,750 with $225 shipping!] (LINK or the more disturbing Video)




October 06, 2006

LinkNews Digest [10/06/2006]

Iraq Neighborhood Offended by "Buddy Jesus" Pamphlets

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi Shiite residents of Baghdad's Sadr City have expressed anger on over a picture of a grinning Jesus they mistook for a Shiite holy figure that appeared in the area after a joint US-Iraqi operation.

Residents found a picture of "Buddy Jesus" from the 1999 film "Dogma" posted in the streets, accompanied by a badly photocopied pamphlet bearing a crude approximation of a US military crest and outlining a US "plan" to subjugate the neighborhood.

"That picture abuses our Imam Mahdi and his holy character, and mocks our sacred figures," said resident Abu Riyam Sunday, apparently mistaking the satirical movie still of Jesus for one of Shiite Islam's historical imams, whose images adopt a Jesus-like iconography.

The grinning, winking model of Buddy Jesus giving a thumbs-up sign appeared in the comedy film as a fictional attempt by the Catholic Church to present a kinder and more accessible image of Christianity.

"If it wasn't so serious it would be funny," said a coalition spokesman, Major Will Willhoite.(LINK )

HELL YEAH: "Dark Crystal" Sequel for 2008!

Award-winning animation director Genndy Tartakovsky, who created the hit series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Samurai Jack and Dexter's Laboratory, will direct Power of the Dark Crystal, the much anticipated sequel to The Jim Henson Company's 1982 classic fantasy film. The announcement was made today by Lisa Henson, co-CEO of The Jim Henson Company and a producer on the film.

Additionally, Tartakovsky's newest venture, Orphanage Animation Studios, has been brought on board as a producing partner to head up the CG animation elements that will be incorporated with the film's live-action animatronic characters. Legendary fantasy artist Brian Froud, designer of the original film, will return to design the new characters. Odyssey Entertainment is representing worldwide sales and distribution on the film.

Set hundreds of years after the events of the first movie when the world has once again fallen into darkness, Power of the Dark Crystal follows the adventures of a mysterious girl made of fire who, together with a Gelfling outcast, steals a shard of the legendary Crystal in an attempt to reignite the dying sun that exists at the center of the planet.

Genndy Tartakovsky said, "The original 'Dark Crystal' was one of the most inspirational and imaginative pictures of its time, so it's a real honor for me to be able to bring the world of 'The Dark Crystal' to a whole new generation." (LINK )

Canterbury Cathedral Held Together with Duct Tape

Canterbury Cathedral is falling apart at the seams, with chunks of masonry dropping off its walls and a fifth of its internal marble pillars held together by duct tape.

The extent of the building's disrepair was revealed yesterday at the launch of a global campaign to raise £50 million over five years for urgent and long-term renovation and conservation.

The cathedral, the mother church of worldwide Anglicanism which was founded in 597 by St Augustine, was the scene of the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 and has survived extensive bombing of the city during the Second World War.

But Allan Willett, the chairman of the trustees, says it is now facing its biggest challenge: serious corrosion and pollution. The picture postcard image of the cathedral belied its true state, he added, and if nothing was done, parts of it might soon have to be closed to visitors for safety reasons.

John Burton, the surveyor of the fabric, said that the stonework was now deteriorating too fast for the cathedral's regular maintenance and conservation programme, which cost £1 million annually, to keep up.

"We don't like to admit that we have had to tie bits of the columns together because we are proud of the building, but we do," he said. (LINK )


October 03, 2006

Now The Terrorists Have Won

A fire in Washington consumed about 4% of the National stock of Hops used in brewing beer.
The fire started shortly before noon Monday in a 40,000-square-foot (3,600-square-meter) warehouse operated by S.S. Steiner Inc., one of the four largest hop buyers in the Yakima Valley of central Washington. By mid-afternoon flames engulfed most of the building, sending up plumes of smoke and a pungent aroma.

Based on an industry official's estimate of the quantity of hops in the warehouse, the loss could amount to $3.5 million to $4 million. The impact on brewers and beer prices was unclear early Tuesday.

The United States produces 24 percent of the world's hops, and about three-fourths of the U.S. crop comes from the Yakima Valley. Hops were a $77 million crop in Washington state in 2004. More than 40 families grow hops in the valley, which is dotted with orchards, vineyards and farms.

No one was in the warehouse when the fire started, Riel said.(LINK)

If you need me, I'll be hoarding my "Supplies"...