Now gluten-free!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Killjoys

Scientists have found a new threat to the planet: Christmas lights. They would like you to switch to more energy efficient bulbs to cut down on your greenhouse gas emissions.

Funny, but these same scientists don't seem to be concerned with the massive deforestation that occurs every year around this time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Star Wars: The Musical?

Not quite, but it is hitting the stage:
    George Lucas has signed off on Star Wars: A Musical Journey, a two-hour live musical event featuring John Williams' Oscar-winning score.

    Premiering next year in London's O2 arena, the production will be performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in synch with movie clips from the six live-action films. The show will play in chronological order, from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi.

    The production will blast off April 10 in the U.K. and then embark on a European tour, complete with an exhibition of rare Star Wars collectibles, including never-before-seen models, props, costumes and production artwork. No word when it will visit America.

Whatever they come up with, I don't think they could ever top Bill Murray's musical tribute.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Burger King Stole My Idea!

I've always wanted to create a cologne that smells like barbecue. Well, the folks at Burger King have beaten me to it:
    American fast-food chain Burger King has come up with a novel Christmas gift idea for the meat-loving man who has everything: barbecue-scented cologne.

    Just in time for the festive season, the company has released its very own men's body spray, Flame.

    Not recommended for vegetarians, Flame is being promoted as "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat".

    While the smell itself might not inspire confidence, the price will.

    Flame is on sale for the credit crunch-busting sum of just $3.99 (£2.65), suggesting the Burger King promotions department has realised their contribution to the fragrance market might work best as a novelty stocking-filler.

Guess I'll have to keep my day job.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Orleans Hit Hard by Global Warming

    In Dixie Land where I was born in
    Early on one frosty mornin'
    Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land
Born in New Orleans myself, I can't say I recall what the weather was like on that July morning so many years ago, but I doubt it was like what the Big Easy has been experiencing lately:
    A rare snowfall blanketed south Louisiana and parts of Mississippi Thursday, closing schools, government offices and bridges, triggering crashes on major highways and leaving thousands of people without power.

    Up to 8 inches of snow was reported in parts of Louisiana. Snow also covered a broad swath of Mississippi, including the Jackson area, and closed schools in more than a dozen districts.

    A heavy band of snow coated windshields and grassy areas in New Orleans, where about an inch accumulated. A peak of 8 inches was reported in Amite, about 75 miles northwest of New Orleans, said meteorologist Danielle Manning of the National Weather Service in Slidell.
This latest climactic catastrophe, along with the fact that 2008 is about to go down on record as the coolest year of the decade, should vindicate the Nobel Prize-winning Al Gore once and for all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hide Your Keys

Take a look at this report from
    Hide those keys. A quick camera phone picture could unlock your doors.

    Scientists in California have developed a software algorithm that automatically creates a physical key based solely on a picture of one, regardless of angle or distance. The project, called Sneakey, was meant to warn people about the dangers of haphazardly placing keys in the open or posting images of them online.

    "People will post pictures with their credit cards but with the name and number greyed out," said Stefan Savage, a professor at the University of California, San Diego who helped develop the software. "They should have the same sensitivity with their keys."

    When Savage and his students searched online photo sharing Web sites, like Flickr, they easily found thousands of photos of keys with enough definition to replicate. A more social person could simply use their cell phone camera to snap a quick picture of stray keys on a table top.

    For a more dramatic demonstration, the researchers set up a camera with a zoom lens 200 feet away. Using those photos, they created a working key 80 percent on their first try. Within three attempts they opened every lock.

    Three attempts could take less than five minutes. The replication process is very easy. Once the researchers have the image it takes the software roughly 30 seconds to decode the ridges and grooves on the key. If the angle is off or the lighting is tricky it takes the computer take a little longer.

    The longest part of the process, about one whole minute, is cutting the key.
As if we didn't have enough to be paranoid about already.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Empire State Building Has Been Stolen!

The New York Daily News has the story:
In one of the biggest heists in American history, the Daily News "stole" the $2 billion Empire State Building.

And it wasn't that hard.

The News swiped the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper by drawing up a batch of bogus documents, making a fake notary stamp and filing paperwork with the city to transfer the deed to the property.

Some of the information was laughable: Original "King Kong" star Fay Wray is listed as a witness and the notary shared a name with bank robber Willie Sutton.

The massive ripoff illustrates a gaping loophole in the city's system for recording deeds, mortgages and other transactions.

The loophole: The system - run by the office of the city register - doesn't require clerks to verify the information.

Less than 90 minutes after the bogus documents were submitted on Monday, the agency rubber-stamped the transfer from Empire State Land Associates to Nelots Properties LLC. Nelots is "stolen" spelled backward. (The News returned the property Tuesday.)

"Crooks go where the money is. That's why Willie Sutton robbed banks, and this is the new bank robbery," said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, who is prosecuting several deed fraud cases.

Of course, stealing the Empire State Building wouldn't go unnoticed for long, but it shows how easy it is for con artists to swipe more modest buildings right out from under their owners. Armed with a fraudulent deed, they can take out big mortgages and disappear, leaving a mess for property owners, banks and bureaucrats.
And I thought David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear was impressive!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sgt. Schultz in Afghanistan?

From the Mail Online:
    They drink too much and they're too fat to fight, that's the damning conclusion of German parliamentary reports into the country's 3,500 troops stationed in Afghanistan.

    While British and U.S. troops in the country face a strict ban on alcohol, their German comrades are allowed two pints a day.

    The stunning statistics reveal that in 2007 German forces in northern Afghanistan drank 1.7million pints of beer and 90,000 bottles of wine.

    The troops also downed 896,000 pints of beer in the first six months of this year, the Times reported.

    The statistics only add to the embarrassment of the country's federal army, Bundeswehr, after a report earlier this year found troops to be too fat, smoked too much and didn't exercise enough.
Strange, but when I was reading this story, I had a sudden craving for apple strudel.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Practical Joke (for Those with Time on Their Hands)

I like a good practical joke as much as the next guy, but I'm a little too lazy to try something like this:
I think I'll just stick with the old piece-of-electrical-tape-on-the-mouse trick.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Machines Are Rising

If science fiction movies about super computers, robots, and artificial intelligence have taught us anything, it's that even the best of intentions have a tendency to backfire. I must assume, therefore, that the folks at the Pentagon don't have time to watch movies because they're working on creating "ethical" robot soldiers:
    The US Army and Navy have both hired experts in the ethics of building machines to prevent the creation of an amoral Terminator-style killing machine that murders indiscriminately.

    By 2010 the US will have invested $4 billion in a research programme into "autonomous systems", the military jargon for robots, on the basis that they would not succumb to fear or the desire for vengeance that afflicts frontline soldiers.

    A British robotics expert has been recruited by the US Navy to advise them on building robots that do not violate the Geneva Conventions. ...

    ... Some are concerned that it will be impossible to devise robots that avoid mistakes, conjuring up visions of machines killing indiscriminately when they malfunction, like the robot in the film Robocop.

    Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist at Sheffield University, best known for his involvement with the cult television show Robot Wars, is the leading critic of the US plans.

    He says: "It sends a cold shiver down my spine. I have worked in artificial intelligence for decades, and the idea of a robot making decisions about human termination is terrifying."
__( Insert your own "I'll be back" joke here. )__

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