June 29, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/29/2007]

VICTORY! Common Sense Wins Over Lawyers Pants!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A judge ruled Monday that no pair of pants is worth $54 million, rejecting a lawsuit that took a dry cleaner's promise of "Satisfaction Guaranteed" to its most litigious extreme.

Roy L. Pearson became a worldwide symbol of legal abuse by seeking jackpot justice from a simple complaint - that a neighborhood dry cleaners lost the pants from a new suit and tried to give him a pair that were not his.

His claim, reduced from $67 million, was based on a strict interpretation of the city's consumer protection law - which imposes fines of $1,500 per violation, per day - as well as damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney's fees for representing himself.

But District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled that the owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the consumer protection law by failing to live up to Pearson's expectations of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store window. "A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands," the judge wrote.

Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay clerical court costs of about $1,000 to defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung. A motion to recover the Chungs' tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees will be considered later.

"Judge Bartnoff has spoken loudly in suggesting that, while consumers should be protected, abusive lawsuits like this will not be tolerated," the Chung's attorney, Chris Manning, said in a statement. "Judge Bartnoff has chosen common sense and reasonableness over irrationality and unbridled venom."

Speaking to reporters outside their dry cleaners, the Chungs said they held no hard feelings toward Pearson. "If he wants to continue using our services, then, yes, he is welcome," Soo Chung, a Korean immigrant, said through a translator.

Pearson, who came to court during the two-day trial earlier this month carrying the offending pair of pants in a suit bag, did not respond to a call and an e-mail seeking comment.(LINK )

Robber in Foot Chase Asks For Time-Out

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine police chased down an unfit thief on Tuesday after he ran out of breath and asked his pursuers for a "time out."

"He was panting and gasping for air when we caught up with him after a 500 meter sprint," Erwin Buenceso, one of the arresting officers, told local radio station dzBB.

Buenceso said the man and an accomplice broke into a house in the Philippine capital and stole two expensive mobile phones. Screams from the residence alerted a local police patrol, which gave chase.

The robber asked for a "time out" using hand signals. After he regained his composure, police seized the two stolen phones and brought him to a station for questioning.(LINK )

Rubber Duckie Armada To Storm UK Beaches

For the past 15 years Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been tracking nearly 30,000 plastic bath toys that were released into the Pacific Ocean when a container was washed off a cargo ship.

Some of the ducks, known as Friendly Floatees, are expected to reach Britain after a journey of nearly 17,000 miles, having crossed the Arctic Ocean frozen into pack ice, bobbed the length of Greenland and been carried down the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The ducks began life in a Chinese factory and were being shipped to the US from Hong Kong when three 40ft containers fell into the Pacific during a storm on January 29, 1992. Two thirds of them floated south through the tropics, landing months later on the shores of Indonesia, Australia and South America. But 10,000 headed north and by the end of the year were off Alaska and heading back westwards. It took three years for the ducks to circle east to Japan, past the original drop site and then back to Alaska on a current known as the North Pacific Gyre before continuing north towards the Arctic.

Many were stranded as the currents took them through the Bering Strait, which divides Alaska from Russia. Mr Ebbesmeyer predicted that they would spend years trapped in the Arctic ice, moving at the rate of one mile a day towards the Atlantic.

The landfalls have all been logged on a computer model called the Ocean Surface Currents Simulation, which is used to help fisheries and find people lost at sea. Two children’s books have been written about the saga and the ducks have become collector’s items, changing hands for £500. (LINK )

June 22, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/22/2007]

Tijuana Wants Its Salad Tossed

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - The Mexican border city of Tijuana, mired in drug violence, hopes to recall brighter days this summer by tossing three tonnes of Caesar salad, the dish invented in the town's U.S. prohibition-era glory days.

The salad was born in 1932 in the kitchen of chef Cesar Cardini, according to the current owners of Caesar's Hotel in Tijuana, a city that flourished as U.S. tipplers flooded its bars and casinos in search of legal alcohol.

While still drawing hordes of U.S. party-goers too young to drink across the border, Tijuana has been plagued by dozens of killings in recent years in a drug cartel war -- an image locals hope a record-breaking side dish will help shake off.

The salad of romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and anchovies will be tossed on August 26 outside Tijuana city hall in a 40 metre-long (130 feet) container. Rodriguez said the current record was held by a 2.5-tonne Caesar salad made in New York in 2001.(LINK )

This Art *ISN'T* Crap!

LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - Tins sold for thousands of dollars to collectors and museums as works of excremental art by famed Italian artist Piero Manzoni may not actually contain any of the artist's feces.

Comments by fellow artist Agostino Bonalumi, who told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera this week that the 90 tins of "Artist's Shit" had nothing in them but plaster, have provoked a response from a museum which paid more than 20,000 pounds for one of them.

A spokeswoman at the Tate museum in London insisted that the revelation did not invalidate the tin as a work of art. "Keeping the viewer in suspense is part of the work's subversive humour," she said.

Before his death in 1963, Manzoni said he hoped his work would "expose the gullibility of the art-buying public". The suggestion was that anything an artist made could be rendered as valuable, even if it was simply a series of re-labelled tin cans containing human excrement.

Manzoni produced the work in 1961, labelled each tin as "100 percent pure artist's shit" in Italian, French, German and English" and sold them for the price of their weight in gold.(LINK )

New Threat: French Winemaker Terrorists

A shadowy group in France has issued the French government with an unusual ultimatum: raise the price of wine or "blood will flow."

The group's name is the Crav, which stands for nothing more threatening than the Union for Viticultural Action in the Languedoc region in the south. The Crav's deadline to the government runs out this weekend, which marks exactly 100 years since wine-makers in the region led their last revolt. That ended with the French army shooting dead six demonstrators.

No wine-maker will publicly admit to being part of Crav but many sympathise with their demands, if not with their methods.

Grower Francois Thiebaud says "Some [growers] have even killed themselves because they couldn't feed their families on the money they earn." He says that he and many other wine-makers in this region are now fighting for survival. "We're working at a loss. We've lost between 40 and 50% of our income because of falling prices and the big cut taken by the middle-men. I can only afford to carry on working in the vineyards because my wife has another job."

Such frustration has now boiled over into the threats of violence by the Crav, made in a video message sent to France's new President, Nicolas Sarkozy. In the video - shot in a secret location late at night - seven wine-makers, their faces hidden by black balaclavas, read out the spine-chilling warning that "blood will flow" if Nicolas Sarkozy does not act fast to raise the price of wine.

The group has proved that it is prepared to use violence to achieve its aims. Already, several local supermarkets selling foreign wines have been attacked with small explosive devices, with others graffitied with the Crav's initials.

The group has also shot at and hijacked at least one lorry containing wine from abroad - and the fear is that the attacks could escalate unless the government responds to the group's demands, which it so far has not. (LINK )

June 20, 2007

Nike Ad: "Cosplay"

An average day in Tokyo's Akihabara district...

June 15, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/15/2007]

Racy Ad Viewed from London Flight Path

(AP) A giant silhouette of a naked pole dancer painted on a field beneath Gatwick Airport's flight path is disturbing the British countryside.

The 9,300 square metre advertisement is nearly invisible from the ground, but can be seen by airline passengers, Tandridge District Council spokeswoman Giuseppina Valenza said today. She said the ad was painted on the field without proper permission and that the council would take legal action if it was not removed.

Sports Media Gaming Ltd, the company behind the ad, said the council had no grounds for removing it. "I think they're unsure about their own regulations to be honest," director Stephen Pearson said. "We're not going to remove it at all."

The Campaign to Protect Rural England expressed disgust with the latest ad. "It sets such a nasty precedent, using our landscapes just for advertisement," said Paul Miner, a planning campaigner.(LINK )

Kid Proves Fountain Water Filthier Than Toilet

(AP) Middle School student Kyleray Katherman had a hunch something was amiss with the school's drinking fountain water. And right he was.

For an English assignment, he tested the bacteria content at four water fountains and one toilet to challenge a ban on students from bringing bottled water to class. It seems some were using it to sneak in alcohol.

Guess which was cleaner? It wasn't the water fountains.

Katherman, 13, used Q-tips and petri dishes, swabbing the spigots of four fountains and sampling one toilet, dunking the cotton in the bowl's center and then dragging it around the rim for a complete sample.

The petri dishes with fountain water were swarming with bacteria. The sample from the toilet was clean, probably because the toilets are doused with cleansing chemicals daily. He took his results to the North Bend School Board with an eye-opening PowerPoint presentation.

Administrators quickly replaced the spigots and casing at three of the water fountains and custodians gave them all a thorough cleaning. More teachers are providing water in classrooms now, but the ban on water bottles remains.(LINK)

Artists Turn Scrambler Ride into Spirograph

"Good-Time Mix Machine: Scrambler Drawings" I connected a gas generator and air compressor to buckets of paint and secured them into the seats of a Scrambler amusement park ride. Once the ride was in motion, paint sprayed out of the benches onto vinyl tarps placed underneath. The result is a series of enormous hypocycloid designs which recorded the hidden patterns created by the ride as it turned. Two videos were created in conjuction with the drawings. This work was funded by Grand Arts, Kansas City, MO, with assistance from Tony Wight/ Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery, Chicago, IL; ADA Gallery, Richmond, VA; and Todd Simon

"Adam" For Creation Museum is Pr0n Star

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The man picked by the Creation Museum to play Adam leads quite a different life outside the Garden of Eden.

Records show that Eric Linden owns a pornographic web site called "Bedroom Acrobat." He's been pictured there in a T-shirt brandishing the site's sexually suggestive logo.

The 27-year-old appears as Adam in 1 of 55 videos featured on visitor tours at the Petersburg, Kentucky museum. The museum -- which opened last month -- tells the Bible's version of how Earth was created.

Museum officials today stopped airing the 40-second video after learning from The Associated Press of Linden's online appearances.(LINK )

June 08, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/08/2007]

Baseball Team Plays 24 Hours Straight for Charity

NEW YORK -- The staff of the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team played for 24 hours nonstop over the weekend, battling little leaguers, circus clowns and waiters, among others, and raising $2,500 for local food pantries.

The team, which included its general manager and assistant general manager and personnel from ticket sales, media relations, graphics and other departments, played 13 other teams at KeySpan Park in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn.

The first pitch was thrown at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and the last out was made about 4:45 p.m. Sunday.

Assistant General Manager Kevin Mahoney, who served as starting pitcher, threw straight for five and a half games, or 11 hours, the team said. He came out in the third inning of the 2 a.m. game -- with a pitch count of 500.

The team won 10 games and lost three. Opponents included staff from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's office; circus clowns from King Henry Entertainment; waiters, cooks and bus boys from Gargiulo's Restaurant; and even Cyclones fans. (LINK )

Amsterdam Students Invent Powdered Alcohol

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch students have developed powdered alcohol which they say can be sold legally to minors.

The latest innovation in inebriation, called Booz2Go, is available in 20-gramme packets that cost 1-1.5 euros ($1.35-$2). Top it up with water and you have a bubbly, lime-colored and -flavored drink with just 3 percent alcohol content.

"We are aiming for the youth market. They are really more into it because you can compare it with Bacardi-mixed drinks," 20-year-old Harm van Elderen told Reuters. [He] and four classmates at Helicon Vocational Institute, about an hour's drive from Amsterdam, came up with the idea as part of their final-year project.

"Because the alcohol is not in liquid form, we can sell it to people below 16," said project member Martyn van Nierop. The legal age for drinking alcohol and smoking is 16 in the Netherlands.

In Germany, alcopops -- sweet drinks containing alcohol and in powder form -- caused quite a stir when launched on to the market. Alcohol powder, classified as a flavoring, was sold in the United States three years ago.(LINK )

This Bad Idea Goes to Eleven: Thundercats Movie

It's Thundercats, ho! at Warner Bros. Studio has optioned a script by tyro scribe Paul Sopocy to turn the popular 1980s animated series and toy line into a CGI-animated feature.

Property revolves around a group of humanoid cats (with feline names like Lion-O, Tygra, Panthro and Cheetara) who must flee their planet of Thundera after it's destroyed. Once crash-landing on another planet, Third Earth, they must thwart Mumm-Ra, an evil sorcerer, bent on killing them off.

Sopocy has written the script as an origin story expanding on the major heroes and villains from the animated series, with the plot focusing on Lion-O coming of age as the leader of the Thundercats.

Studio's recently been bitten by the nostalgia bug, pacting with Joel Silver to produce a live-action "He-Man" movie, based on the toy and cartoon franchise, as well as a feature based on the DC comicbook "Teen Titans," a junior Justice League.(LINK )
That's Right, Joel Silver, the man who took a film like THE MATRIX, rife with success and possibility, and dropped the ball on both sequels. This maestro is going to take movies of cartoons that most Gen-Xers are too embarrassed to admit that they watched at all. This is made of fail. *Whine Snarf Snarf*

Way To Disprove A Stereotype!

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's 1,200 troops assigned to
NATO forces in Afghanistan will not achieve full combat readiness for up to several weeks due to stolen vehicle keys, the defense ministry said Thursday.

"We had been told a 10 percent theft rate was likely in convoys brought in from Pakistan, but we had not expected the spare car keys to go missing," defense ministry spokesman Jaroslaw Rybak told news channel TVN24. "We shall have to send away for spares, so it may take from several days to several weeks for our contingent to become combat ready."

According to media reports, Polish troops taking part in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan have been assigned to patrol the mountainous border area with Pakistan to search for Taliban guerrilla activity.

The military vehicles used by Polish forces include Poland's Land Rover-like Honkers and U.S.-built Humvees.(LINK )

June 07, 2007

Nationwide Ad - Downtown Columbus

Some creative LARGE-SCALE advertising going on here.

June 04, 2007

"RISE" Up and Demand Better

I'm going to call Hollywood today and give them my verdict: A 10-year moratorium on the word "Rise" or "Rising" in Movie and Video Game titles. Frankly, it's a cop-out of a title word, especially in sequels. It's a lazy shorthand way of saying "Here's a crappy new character! Oooh, let's see how he/she stirs things up with our existing cast!" or "Here's a new villain to fight!" and more recently "Here's how a famous character started out." And we've had a metric crapload of movies abusing the word, and most to all of them have been box-office failures.

Let's examine the evidence:
  • Black Moon Rising (1986) - Tommy Lee Jones searches for a black Lamborghini and jumps it out of a building. Ooooooh.
  • Rise of the Dragon (1990) - Okay This one was a very cool game in its day. It can stay. But then...
  • Rising Sun (1993) Wesley Snipes killed this Japanese-flavored Michael Crichton flick. Even Tia Carerre as a computer genius couldn't save it.
  • Mercury Rising (1998) Bruce Willis protecting a computer whiz-kid, apparently from a train? (I just watched the trailer)
  • Deep Rising (1998) - Filled that niche "Aquatic Horror" time between "Deep Star Six" and... that shark movie with LL Cool J.
  • Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising (2001)
  • Rise of Nations (2003)
  • Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2003). See what I did there? Change one letter from the famous "Art of War" author Sun Tzu's name and now he's a villain! GENIUS!
  • Jet Li's "Rise to Honor" (2003).
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) Not horrible for the box office because of the pedigree... but come ON... a 20-minute segment of Arnold fighting with HIMSLEF, trying not to kill John Connor?
  • Stargate Atlantis: Rising (2004) Never saw it.
  • Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising (2004) Meteorologists can weigh in on this one, but I THINK that Typhoons move horizontally instead of vertically.
  • The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (2005) Okay, this one is acutal PHYSICAL rising, as well as a villain intro. Given the context, I only count this as half bad.
  • X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (2005) At least they didn't spell it "Apokolips" like in Superman.
  • Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (2005) "Here's a new batch of guys. Fight."
  • Advent Rising (2005) How bad a game could it be with Orson Scott Card writing it? Suprisingly bad.
  • RIZE (2005) Kooky jerky dancing. Woot.
  • Carlito's Way: Rise to Power (2005) Sequel not starring Al Pacino... BUT adding Sean "P-Diddy" Combs? Why did this fail?
    Hannibal Rising (2007) Silence of the lambs was great, but we've worn out the story with bad sequels. So let's try a Prequel! And let's try to rip off "American Psycho" as much as possible.
  • Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj (2006) Van wasn't so funny to begin with. So let's give some equal-opportunity work to his Indian sidekick.

    And the latest and least promising: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) For the love of God, he's not even rising in the FIGURATIVE sense. He's not out to conquer earth, he's trying to stop Galactus. But I guess "Silver Surfer Tries to Make The Fantastic Four Movies NOT Suck" is too long to put on a poster.

    We even have RISING in the future to look forward to:
    The Untouchables: Capone Rising (2008)

    So I ask you to join me in petitioning Hollywood and the Video Game Industry to actually PRESS their writers to come up with a less hokey title device than "Rising" and it's derivatives. Come on people, I could write better than that, and I named my blog "The Kernsville Post". Mainly because "The Rise of Kern" sounded like a pr0n flick.
  • June 01, 2007

    LinkNews Digest [06/01/2007]

    Dutch to Air Kidney-Prize Game Show

    A Dutch TV station says it will go ahead with a programme in which a terminally ill woman selects one of three patients to receive her kidneys.

    Political parties have called for The Big Donor Show to be scrapped, but broadcaster BNN says it will highlight the country's shortage of organ donors.

    "It's a crazy idea," said Joop Atsma, of the ruling Christian Democrat Party. "It can't be possible that, in the Netherlands, people vote about who's getting a kidney," he told the BBC.

    The programme, from Big Brother creators Endemol, is due to be screened on Friday night.

    The 37-year-old donor, identified only as Lisa, will make her choice based on the contestants' history, profile and conversation with their family and friends. Viewers will also be able to send in their advice by text message during the 80-minute show.

    The Dutch donor authority has condemned the show, as have kidney specialists in the UK. "My first reaction, probably everyone's reaction, is that this is as dangerously near as we've got to a TV programme playing God," said Julia Raeside of the Guardian newspaper. "People may live or die on the result of a game show. It's a step too far. (LINK )

    Pakistani Singer Sued to Remove Girl's Name From Song

    LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan's Supreme Court has ordered a pop singer to change his lyrics after a college girl complained that male students teased her by singing the song when she passed by, a court official said on Tuesday.

    The court summoned the singer, Abrar-ul-Haq, last week after a girl called Parveen wrote to a newspaper saying she had stopped attending college in the eastern city of Lahore because of the harassment.

    "The court has asked Abrar-ul-Haq to omit the name of the girl and some other objectionable words in his lyrics," the court official said. Haq, a well-known singer of Punjabi bhangra tunes, said he would abide by the court decision.(LINK )
    Finally, the precedent has been set for people whose number in the mid-80's was 867-5309!

    "The Fray" Singer Discovers His Aristocratic Past

    Sir Benjamin Slade has spent the past 18 months scouring the world for a relation prepared to take on Maunsel House in Somerset. And Isaac Slade, 24, lead singer with Denver-based Christian rockers The Fray, has turned out to be one of his closest living relatives, reports The Times.

    Sir Benjamin said: "If Isaac moves in he and his band can have huge concerts in the grounds. It would be fantastic and pay all the rotten bills."

    The singer and his wife, Anna, 23, and the band's guitarist, David Welsh, and his wife, Janell, are staying in the Grade II-listed house for two days as guests of Sir Benjamin. Slade, a self-confessed Anglophile, said that he was overwhelmed by the sense of history during his visit to the 13th century family seat.(LINK )

    LiveJournal Wises Up After Mass Purging

    And now from a personal note:
    Popular online community LiveJournal is in hot water with its millions of users lately. Over 500 users and communities were suspended due to SUSPECTED indecent content. Right-wing pseudo-vigilante group "Warriors for Innocence" is a batch of crusaders against child pornography and pedophilia, and they took aim at LiveJournal (LJ) Communities that they deemed inappropriate. They wrote letters to the bulk of LiveJournal's advertisers, informing them that their products were being shilled within communites talking about rape and child porn. [Read the letter, posted on May 19th on WfI member's blog ] I'd post the website for the WfI group here, but many users have reported that the site is filled wth spyware and trojan viruses. [More analysis on the Warriors for Innocence group]

    Like 99.9 percent of people, I'm all for shutting down actual havens for pedophiles, but any action taken by businesses are so over-reaching and broad that innocent customers are always affected. Namely legitimate rape and pedophilia RECOVERY discussion groups and Fandom Communities where fictional stories of popular fictional characters like Harry Potter are published. In thie panic, LiveJournal did not differentiate between communities promoting rape and pedophilia and sites posting fictional stories that included these elements. Even communities whose stories included romances between the Harry Potter kids ("PornishPixies" being one of the more popular,) were deemed inappropriate and removed without warning.

    Users, like myself, voiced their support of the wrongly suspended FanFiction communities by joining the newly-created Fandom_Counts group, which garnered over 30,000 users in one day. Thousands (including me) also canceled their paid or advertiser-subsidized Plus accounts as to not give LiveJournal any more of their money or advertiser traffic, and flooded the company boards with derisive comments.

    Yesterday, LiveJournal's parent company, SixApart, wisely rescinded the mass purging and promised to review the suspended accounts, and return them to active status if they cleared an investigation. [Read: WIRED News Coverage of the event and LiveJournal's Apology to its users]

    As LJ user "MarchingOcelot" astutely observed: "You know, Fandom is kind of like Eric Cartman in a way. It looks doughy and silly, and many of its plans fail, but if you seriously f**k with it, it will chop up your parents and feed them to you in chili."
    (Thanks to Erin for bringing most of this information together)