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Last Update: Sep 16, 2007 15:47:45

Sep 16, 2007

British dwarf's penis gets stuck to hoover

from the What not to do dept.

EDINBURGH (AFP) - A dwarf performer at the Edinburgh fringe festival had to be rushed to hospital after his penis got stuck to a vacuum cleaner during an act that went horribly awry.

Daniel Blackner, or "Captain Dan the Demon Dwarf", was due to perform at the Circus of Horrors at the festival known for its oddball, offbeat performances.

The main part of his act saw him appear on stage with a vacuum cleaner attached to his member through a special attachment.

The attachment broke before the performance and Blackner tried to fix it using extra-strong glue, but unfortunately only let it dry for 20 seconds instead of the 20 minutes required.

He then joined it directly to his organ. The end result? A solid attachment, laughter, mortification and ... hospitalisation.

"It was the most embarrassing moment of my life when I got wheeled into a packed AE with a vacuum attached to me," Blackner said.

"I just wished the ground could swallow me up. Luckily, they saw me quickly so the embarrassment was short-lived."

posted by al at 03:47:45 PM | More Print News »

I broke my arm, but boy am I happy!

from the Fun and Games dept.

Lose a game of chess to a computer, and you could bruise your ego. Lose an arm-wrestling match to a Japanese arcade machine, and you could break your arm.

Distributor Atlus Co. said Tuesday it will remove all 150 "Arm Spirit" arm wrestling machines from Japanese arcades after three players broke their arms grappling with the machine's mechanized appendage.

"The machine isn't that strong, much less so than a muscular man. Even women should be able to beat it," said Atlus spokeswoman Ayano Sakiyama, calling the recall "a precaution."

"We think that maybe some players get overexcited and twist their arms in an unnatural way," she said. The company was investigating the incidents and checking the machines for any signs of malfunction.

Players of "Arm Spirit" advance through 10 levels, battling a French maid, drunken martial arts master and a Chihuahua before reaching the final showdown with a professional wrestler.

The arcade machine is not distributed overseas.

posted by al at 03:46:03 PM | More Print News »

An unusual employment opportunity

from the Tibet dept.

BEIJING (AFP) - Tibetan living Buddhas are no longer allowed to be reincarnated without permission from the atheist Chinese government, state media reported Friday.

The new rules are "an important move to institutionalise the management of reincarnation of living Buddhas," the Xinhua news agency said.

According to the regulations, which take effect on September 1, all reincarnation applications must be submitted to religious affairs officials for approval, Xinhua said.

China is ruled by the Communist Party, which, despite being officially atheist, maintains strict controls over Tibetan Buddhism and all other religions.

Living Buddhas are an important element in Tibetan Buddhism, forming a clergy of influential religious figures who are believed to be continuously reincarnated to take up their positions anew.

Often there is more than one candidate competing to be recognised as the actual reincarnation, and the authority to decide who is the true claimant carries significant power.

This is especially true in the case of the Panchen Lama, the second-most influential figure in Tibetan Buddhism behind the Dalai Lama.

Chinese authorities detained the Dalai Lama's choice as the Panchen Lama in 1995 when the boy was six years old, and he has not been seen in public since.

The Chinese government's choice as the Panchen Lama has meanwhile been paraded around the country in recent years to promote China's rule over his homeland.

China sent troops in to "liberate" Tibet in 1951. The Dalai Lama later fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising and established a government-in-exile in Dharamsala.

posted by al at 03:44:58 PM | More Print News »

Aug 12, 2007

An unusual employment opportunity

from the Tibet dept.

BEIJING (AFP) - Tibetan living Buddhas are no longer allowed to be reincarnated without permission from the atheist Chinese government, state media reported Friday.

The new rules are "an important move to institutionalise the management of reincarnation of living Buddhas," the Xinhua news agency said.

According to the regulations, which take effect on September 1, all reincarnation applications must be submitted to religious affairs officials for approval, Xinhua said.

China is ruled by the Communist Party, which, despite being officially atheist, maintains strict controls over Tibetan Buddhism and all other religions.

Living Buddhas are an important element in Tibetan Buddhism, forming a clergy of influential religious figures who are believed to be continuously reincarnated to take up their positions anew.

Often there is more than one candidate competing to be recognised as the actual reincarnation, and the authority to decide who is the true claimant carries significant power.

This is especially true in the case of the Panchen Lama, the second-most influential figure in Tibetan Buddhism behind the Dalai Lama.

Chinese authorities detained the Dalai Lama's choice as the Panchen Lama in 1995 when the boy was six years old, and he has not been seen in public since.

The Chinese government's choice as the Panchen Lama has meanwhile been paraded around the country in recent years to promote China's rule over his homeland.

China sent troops in to "liberate" Tibet in 1951. The Dalai Lama later fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising and established a government-in-exile in Dharamsala.

posted by al at 04:50:22 PM | More Print News »

Weekly World News Folds, 500 Aliens layed off!

from the End of an era dept.

Publisher American Media Inc. said on Tuesday it will stop printing the Weekly World News, which for 28 years gleefully chronicled the exploits of alien babies, animal-human hybrids and dead celebrities.

The company said in a brief statement it would end the print version of the tabloid newspaper next month but would maintain the online version (www.weeklyworldnews.com).

"Due to the challenges in the retail and wholesale magazine marketplace that have impacted the newsstand, American Media, Inc. today announced it will close the print version of the Weekly World News, effective with the August 27 issue. Weekly World News was AMI's smallest weekly publication," the company said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

Spokesman Richard Valvo declined further comment.

American Media is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, and is best known as the publisher of the National Enquirer. The company announced last month it was exploring the sale of five of its 16 magazines as part of a strategy to focus on celebrity weeklies and lifestyle magazines.

The Weekly World News, which boasted it was "The World's Only Reliable Newspaper," reveled in shocking and almost always exclusive reports about extra-terrestrials, ghosts, scoundrels and scientific discoveries, such as the cure for lovesickness found on the walls of an ancient Mexican monument.

Bat Boy, the half-bat, half-human child found in a cave, was a regular feature. After the September 11 attacks, the tabloid reported he had been enlisted in the hunt for Osama bin Laden because of his special cave-dwelling skills.

The current online version reports that Mother Nature has endorsed Al Gore for president and other recent headlines include: "Man bothered by alien telemarketers" and "Dentist uses UFO metal in patient's tooth"

AMI reported a $160 million net loss for 2006 and is struggling with $1 billion of debt and plummeting circulation. It said in an SEC filing in March that sales of the Weekly World News dropped to 83,000 in 2006 from 153,000 in 2004, while circulation of the National Enquirer fell to 802,000 in 2006 from 1.2 million in 2004.

The company has no publicly traded stock but its bonds are publicly traded.

posted by al at 04:47:14 PM | More Print News »

Jul 24, 2007

Checkers is now even less interesting than when Grandpa let you

from the draughts = checkers dept.

After 18 years of practice, computers have finally conquered the game of draughts.

The result, described as a "truly significant advance in artificial intelligence", is a draughts programme which cannot be beaten.

Draughts, known as checkers in America, is a popular board game with a history that dates back 5,000 years. Disc-shaped counters move diagonally on a chequered board one square at a time and jump over an opponent's pieces to capture them. Counters that reach an opponent's end of the board are crowned "kings" and can then move backwards as well as forwards.

The game is essentially simple, but working out responses to every possible move meant sifting through 500 billion-billion (five followed by 20 zeroes) different play positions.

An average of 50 computers were run together every day for years at a time to complete the programme, known as Chinook. At peak periods, more than 200 computers were in use.

Scientists led by Dr Jonathan Schaeffer, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, sought the help of top-level draughts players to programme the computers.

Chinook now contains all the information needed to predict the best move to play in every situation of a game. Even making no mistakes, the best an opponent taking on the programme could achieve would be a draw.

Dr Schaeffer, whose team describe the programme in the journal Science, said: "I think we've raised the bar - and raised it quite a bit - in terms of what can be achieved in computer technology and artificial intelligence. With Chinook, we've pushed the envelope about one million times more than anything that's been done before."

Dr Schaeffer, who chairs the University of Alberta's Department of Computing Science, started the Chinook project in 1989, with a view to winning the human world checkers championship.

Chinook lost the championship match in 1992, but won two years later, becoming the first computer programme to win a human world championship in any game - a feat recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records.

posted by al at 09:22:38 PM | More Print News »

Jul 19, 2007

Two, Two vices in ONE product!

from the Sex and chaw dept.

A condom flavoured with the popular mixture of betel nut and tobacco known as paan is to go on sale in India, newspapers said Tuesday. State-owned company Hindustan Latex has already tested the pungent and bitter mixture on their main market, sex workers, who preferred it to other flavours such as banana and chocolate, the Hindustan Times reported "The community loved it as most of the sex workers chew paan," Sanjeev Gaikwad, a director at advocacy group Family Health International who helped launch the new condom. The condoms will be sold to the public later this year, but sex workers will be given supplies immediately.

posted by al at 05:36:53 PM | More Print News »

Jul 10, 2007

Bono AND Bob Geldorf CAN'T Be Wrong

from the Why pop stars will never save the earth. dept.

LONDON (Reuters) - More famous for Learjets and limousines than green living, pop stars performing at Saturday's Live Earth environmental concerts face widespread cynicism from fans, commentators and campaigners alike. Built on the model of the Live Aid famine relief gigs of 1985 and Live 8 anti-poverty concerts in 2005, Live Earth aims to raise awareness about climate change and encourage people to live greener lives. There is little doubt that the shows, starting in Sydney and ending in Rio de Janeiro, will be the focus of the world's media, and millions of people, on the day.

posted by al at 10:44:27 PM | More Print News »

Jun 24, 2007

Eskimo Viagra

from the tourist season dept.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - An Alaska man has pleaded guilty to selling more than 100 fur seal "oosiks" -- or penises -- to a local gift shop that intended to sell the items as an aphrodisiac.

Michael Richard Zacharof, an Aleut and former tribal president from the Bering Sea village of St. Paul, pleaded guilty this week to one count of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Federal law forbids the sale of any raw marine mammal parts unless they have been crafted into pieces of Alaska Native artwork.

In Zacharof's case, the former tribal leader sold the raw seal penises to a gift shop catering to customers from Asia. The shop then sold the items for about $100 each, according to the Justice Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Steward said seal penis bones, also known as seal sticks, are believed to have properties similar to erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra.

Zacharof faces a possible one-year prison term and a $20,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

posted by al at 06:17:29 PM | More Print News »

China’s Drug Regulator / FDA Administrator Gets Death Sentence.

China’s former top drug regulator was sentenced to death Tuesday for taking bribes to approve untested medicines, as the country’s main quality control agency announced its first recall system targeting unsafe food products.

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court convicted Zheng Xiaoyu for taking bribes in cash and gifts worth more than $832,000 when he was director of the State Food and Drug Administration, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The court then issued the death penalty, the report said.

posted by hillbillynation at 06:15:57 PM | More Print News »

Jun 18, 2007

2007 DIY Book Festival

from the Read A Book, Better Yet, Write One dept.

The 2007 DIY Book Festival has placed a special focus on the poetry, fan fiction, unpublished stories and comics/'zines categories in its annual event honoring the top independent authors and small publishers.

The DIY Book Festival will consider self-published or independent publisher non-fiction, fiction, biography/autobiography, children's books, teenage, how-to, cookbooks, science fiction, audio/spoken word, photography, art, comics, 'zines, fan fiction, poetry and e-books published on or after Jan. 1, 2005. All entries must be in English and have been self-published or issued by an independent publishing house..

posted by kittydeathstar at 09:02:03 PM | More Print News »

Jun 12, 2007

Bob Barker retires

from the A TV land Icon fades to that little dot in the middle of the screen dept.

For the fans who traveled across the country and slept on the sidewalk outside CBS Television City, this was their day — the day of Bob Barker's last "Price is Right." The silver-haired icon, who has hosted the game show for 35 years, plans to officially begin his retirement Thursday. Philip Barrett, 24, of Tampa, Fla. had camped outside the studios since Saturday to see Barker tape his last show on Wednesday afternoon. "This is the chance of a lifetime," he said. Die-hard fans from across the country huddled in sleeping bags for days to say goodbye to Barker and be a part of his last show. CBS sends out more tickets than its 325-seat studio can accommodate, so fans who want a seat need to get in line early. Melanie Zepeda Velez, 32, traveled from Alberta, Canada. "I'm here because I need to kiss Bob," she said. Fans hoped for a chance to bid on prizes, but mostly they came to bid farewell. Barker's long run on the show has inspired fan traditions. Most female contestants kiss him on the cheek. Members of the military wear their uniforms. There is also the 83-year-old Barker's trademark signoff — "Have your pets spayed and neutered" — a tribute to his favorite cause and now a fan mantra.

posted by al at 10:47:23 AM | More Print News »

Apr 25, 2007

Homer Simpson Moves to Orlando

from the Theme Park News dept.

Don't have a cow, man: The world's most popular dysfunctional cartoon family is coming to Universal Studios. A new ride based on The Simpsons is planned for Universal Studios both in Orlando and Hollywood. Universal Studios officials and The Simpsons producers Matt Groening and James L. Brooks are expected to announce a new partnership and theme-park ride today during a tourism convention in Anaheim, Calif. The ride would go into Universal's recently closed Back to the Future: The Ride buildings in both parks, making it an instant signature attraction in each. It would open in the spring of 2008.

posted by al at 09:55:53 AM | More Print News »

Apr 23, 2007

The more your drink, the better you feel

from the Vice is GOOD dept.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fruity cocktail may not only be fun to drink but may count as health food, U.S. and Thai researchers said on Thursday. Adding ethanol -- the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits -- boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the researchers found. Any colored fruit might be made even more healthful with the addition of a splash of alcohol, they report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

posted by al at 05:39:57 PM | More Print News »

Apr 18, 2007

Breaking up is easy to do

from the video game breakups dept.

Enter the video game accessory as date killer. Consider Chris Blessitt. He had so much fun with is buddies playing "Guitar Hero II" he decided to buy his own copy of the popular music game -- and the nearly life-sized plastic guitar that goes with it -- much to his girlfriend Kate's dismay. As the 27-year-old stage actor went looking through the shelves at a Best Buy Co. Inc. store in New York this week, he recalled his girlfriend of nine-months' reaction when he approached her with the idea. "She rolled her eyes," he said.

posted by al at 04:49:58 PM | More Print News »

Apr 14, 2007

It was the best of parks, it was the worst of parks

from the Grimly themeish dept.

Literary purists may quake at the prospect of a Charles Dickens theme park complete with a Great Expectations boat ride and Ye Olde Curiosity Gift Shop. But Dickens World, a 62 million pound ($115 mln) complex built in the naval dockyard where his father once worked as a clerk, is confidently predicting 300,000 visitors a year to this new attraction dedicated to the Victorian author. "We are not Disneyfying Dickens," insists manager Ross Hutchins as he dons hard hat and fluorescent jacket to tour the site, a hive of activity as the Fagin's den playground and Newgate Prison's grimy walls are given their finishing touches. "If Dickens was alive today, he would probably have built the place himself, " Hutchins said of the theme park in Chatham, once a big unemployment blackspot in southeast England after the dockyards closed in the 1980s but now a major regeneration target.

posted by al at 04:09:10 PM | More Print News »

Apr 8, 2007

REAL Engineering

from the Beer me! dept.

When John Cornwell graduated from Duke University last year, he landed a job as software engineer in Atlanta but soon found himself longing for his college lifestyle. So the engineering graduate built himself a reminder of life on campus: a refrigerator that can toss a can of beer to his couch with the click of a remote control.

"I conceived it right after I got out," said Cornwell, a May 2006 graduate from Huntington, N.Y. "I missed the college scene. It embodies the college spirit that I didn't want to let go of."

It took the 22-year-old Cornwell about 150 hours and $400 in parts to modify a mini-fridge common to many college dorm rooms into the beer-tossing contraption, which can launch 10 cans of beer from its magazine before needing a reload.

With a click of the remote, fashioned from a car's keyless entry device, a small elevator inside the refrigerator lifts a beer can through a hole and loads it into the fridge's catapult arm. A second click fires the device, tossing the beer up to 20 feet — "far enough to get to the couch," he said.

Is there a foam explosion when the can is opened? Not if the recipient uses "soft hands" to cradle the can when caught, Cornwell said.

In developing his beer catapult, Cornwell said he dented a few walls and came close to accidentally throwing a can through his television. He's since fine-tuned the machine to land a beer where he usually sits at home, on what he called "a right-angle couch system."

For now, the machine throws only cans, although Cornwell has thought about making a version that can throw a bottle. The most beer he has run through the machine was at a party, when he launched a couple of 24-can cases.

"I did launch a lot watching the Super Bowl," he said. "My friends are the reason I built it. I told them about the idea and hyped it so much and I had to go through with it."

A video featuring the device is a hit on the Internet, where more than 600,000 people have watched it at metacafe.com, earning Cornwell more than $3,000 from the Web site.

Cornwell said he has talked to a brewing company about the machine, but right now only one exists. Asked if he might start building some for sale, he said: "I'm keeping that option open, depending on interest."

When Cornwell was a student at Duke — an elite, private university in Durham — he participated in the engineering school's robotic basketball contests, said mechanical engineering Professor Bob Kielb. He said students tried to build a robot that could retrieve a pingpong ball and toss it into a small hoop.

"He always did well in it," Kielb said. "He came up with completely unique ideas."

posted by al at 12:23:50 AM | More Print News »

Mar 26, 2007

Geeks rock out

from the no problem dept.

Teenagers who lock themselves in their bedrooms to blast out heavy metal music may simply be trying to cope with the pressures of being gifted, according to British research reported Wednesday. The study said that teenagers often work off the stresses and strains of being a bright outsider by listening to bands such as System Of A Down, Slipknot and Tool. "There is a perception of gifted and talented students as being into classical music and spending a lot of time reading. think that is an inaccurate stereotype," Stuart Cadwallader, a University of Warwick psychologist who is presenting the findings to the British Psychological Society Wednesday, told the Daily Telegraph.

posted by al at 09:35:03 AM | More Print News »

Mar 23, 2007

Snow Donuts

from the Just plain weird dept.

No, it's not a promotion for Winchell's or Krispy Kreme. "This is no joke. We did not build it," said Mike Stanford, an avalanche-control expert with the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT). "They are a natural occurrence in nature." Stanford found frozen doughnuts of snow on the top of Washington Pass in the North Cascades this week when he was doing avalanche-control work. He said it's only the second time in his 30 years of working in the snow that he's seen anything like it. The larger of the snow rollers, as they are commonly called, was about 24 inches tall, he said, large enough for him to put his head through the hole. Stanford said snow rollers form when there is a hard layer on the snow, covered by several more inches of dense snow. "Then you add a steep slope and a trigger such as a clump of snow falling out of a tree or off of a rock face."

posted by al at 10:03:49 PM | More Print News »