Friday, March 23, 2007

This is (Not) Sparta!

Posted Mar 22nd 2007 11:35AM by Meredith O., Chief Videologist
Filed under: Mashups

Given the success of '300,' the producers are already working on the sequel ... '300 Reasons to Cuddle.' We would totally go to see this movie. Twice.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hillside Rabbit

Somewhere, on a hillside in Artesina, Italy, lies an enormous pink knitted bunny, on its side, and with some of its insides coming out. The rabbit has been on the hill since September and now lies under snow, bits of pink peeking out. The rabbit is the brainchild of Austrian artist collective Gelitin (formerly known as Gelatin), as well as many helpers and crew, and is stuffed with straw. The rabbit is expected to occupy its Piemonte site for the next twenty years. Viewers are encouraged to climb all over it.

Artist: Gelitin

The rabbit, which looks as though it had been dropped from a giant aircraft, mouth wide open in pain and shock, is 200 feet in length and 20 feet in height. Gelitin is keen on watching it decay over time. Before the winter bits of grass had already started to push their way up through the rabbit’s stitches.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Can monster pill stop an ill wind?

March 21 2007 at 03:20AM

Berlin - German scientists have developed a pill that stops cattle breaking wind.

Methane emissions from cattle are responsible for four percent of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and any reduction would be a major contribution to reducing global warming.

Scientists at the University of Hohenheim in Germany say they have now tested a pill which in combination with a special diet and strict feeding times should make cattle less harmful to the climate.

The pill, which is still being tested, breaks down the methane in the cows' stomachs, and also has health benefits for the cattle.

Winfried Drocher, head of the faculty for animal nutrition at the university, said: "It will make this energy available for the cows' metabolism. The cattle can use the methane to produce glucose instead of just passing it out and it will enable them to produce more milk."

The only problem at the moment is that the pill is about the size of a fist, which is hard to persuade the cows to swallow.

"It needs to be this big as it dissolves slowly, releasing active ingredients over several months. Our aim is to increase the well-being of the cows and to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses," said Drocher. -

Dirty Laundry

Mar 21, 2007 7:32 am US/Mountain
Spiteful Laundry Patron Dumps Litter Box Into Wash

SALT LAKE CITY A man accused in the dumping of a well-used cat litter box into a washing machine with another man's clothes in it has been charged.

The 49-year-old now faces two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Police say the man told them he dumped the litter box "in spite" of another man after he found his wet laundry removed from a washer at a South Salt Lake coin-operated laundry. However, court documents say the other man claims he removed the clothing so he could wash his own clothes. He also told police the wash cycle was finished.

Court documents say the used cat litter caused nearly $600 in damage to both the washer and the man's clothes.

(© 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

C-3P.O. Box

C-3P0 Where Are You?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thirty years ago, in theaters near and far, far away, a movie opened the imaginations of millions, combining the magic of mythology and special effects to launch the "Star Wars" phenomenon.

A star of those films — the brave little robot R2-D2 — is about to take a turn collecting mail as the Postal Service and Lucasfilm Ltd. commemorate that movie launch.

The post office is wrapping mail collection boxes in some 200 cities nationwide in a special covering to look like R2-D2.

It's part of a promotion for a new stamp to be announced March 28, Anita T. Bizzotto, the post office's chief marketing officer, said.

"It's a little teaser for the upcoming announcement and we decided to have a little fun with it," she said.

About 400 mailboxes will be covered to look like the stout droid. "When you look at a mailbox, the resemblance to R2-D2 is too good to pass up," Bizzotto said.

While postal officials would like people to look for these mailboxes and maybe even drop in a letter, Bizzotto urged people not to tamper with them, noting that's a crime.

$38 Billion "woops!"

Computer Tech Accidentally Erases Info on Alaska's $38 Billion Oil Fund

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

JUNEAU, Alaska — Perhaps you know that sinking feeling when a single keystroke accidentally destroy hours of work. Now imagine wiping out a disc drive containing an account worth $38 billion.

A computer technician at the Alaska Department of Revenue deleted applicant information for an oil-funded sales account — one of state residents' biggest perks.

While reformatting the disk drive during a routine maintenance check, the technician mistakenly reformatted the backup drive as well and, suddenly, all the data disappeared.

A third line of defense — backup tapes that are updated nightly — were unreadable.

"Nobody panicked, but we instantly went into planning for the worst-case scenario," said Permanent Fund Dividend Division Director Amy Skow, about the computer foul-up in July that ended up costing the department more than $200,000.

Nine months worth of information concerning the yearly payout from the Alaska Permanent Fund was gone: some 800,000 electronic images that had been painstakingly scanned into the system months earlier, the 2006 paper applications that people had either mailed in or filed over the counter, and supporting documentation such as birth certificates and proof of residence.

The only backup was the paperwork itself — stored in more than 300 cardboard boxes.

"We had to bring that paper back to the scanning room, and send it through again, and quality control it, and then you have to have a way to link that paper to that person's file," said Skow.

Staff working overtime and weekends re-entered the lost data into the system by the end of August.

Last October and November, they met their obligation to the public and a majority of the estimated 600,000 payments for last year's $1,106.96 individual dividends went out on schedule.

Former Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus said no one was blamed in the incident.

"Everybody felt very bad about it and we all learned a lesson. There was no witch hunt," said Corbus.

According to department staff, they now have a proven and regularly tested backup and restore procedure.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pound Found

Want a designer dog? Check the pound
Puggles, maltipoos are pricey — and essentially mixed-breed mutts

By Kim Campbell Thornton
MSNBC contributor
Updated: 10:18 a.m. CT March 19, 2007

Ever hear of a floppy-faced Jujitsu? How about a King Daley shepherd? A Germox retriever? Those are just a few of the creative monikers that clever dog owners have come up with to label their all-American dogs — mutts, to people with less imagination.

When Steve Dale, the syndicated talk-show host of "Pet Central" on WGN Radio, and his wife decided to get another dog recently after the death of their 15-year-old Brittany, Chaser, all the Brittanys they saw brought tears, so they took their search to PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) Chicago, the city’s largest nonprofit humane organization. There they found Ethel, a patchwork puppy who resembles the wild “painted dogs” of Africa.

“People stopped us on the street and asked what kind of dog Ethel was,” Dale says. “They seemed disappointed when I’d say she was an Australian shepherd mix.”

Since people seemed to want Ethel to “be” something, Dale began calling her a King Daley shepherd, referencing Chicago’s longtime mayors.

Janice A. Biniok of Waukesha, Wis., has been creating “breed” names for her mixes for years. Currently she has what is probably a Labrador/boxer/German shepherd.

“He’s absolutely gorgeous. He looks like a brindle Labrador, so everybody wants to know what he is. I’ve been thinking of calling him a Germox retriever,” she says.

Why can’t a mutt be just a mutt?

Everybody wants something unique, says Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of "Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?"

People who seek out the dog du jour — which these days is a crossbreed such as a maltipoo (Maltese/poodle) or goldendoodle (golden retriever/poodle) — like the idea of having a dog that not very many people have. And don't mind paying $1,000 to $2,500 or more for one.

Best of each breed?
Pet lovers are also attracted by claims that hybrids are hypoallergenic or have fewer health problems or will carry the best traits of each breed.

“The argument people make is that by crossing a purebred Labrador and a purebred poodle, it’s going to be nonshedding and intelligent because poodles are nonshedding and intelligent, and it’s going to have the work ethic and playfulness of the Lab, making it the perfect family dog,” Coren says. “It’s a nice story, but when you tell it, geneticists laugh.”

Genetic characteristics sort out randomly. So no matter what its breed or mix, an individual dog may be more or less allergenic, intelligent or healthy than another.

“When you cross two things it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to optimize what you’re trying to achieve,” says veterinarian Patricia Olson, president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, a group in Englewood, Colo., that funds research on pet-health issues.

“You can’t just say if I take this and this I’m sure I’m going to have a healthier dog; it doesn’t work that way. That’s why a lot of these crosses become fads and then go by the wayside, because people have experimented with them in the past and it hasn’t always been what they had hoped for.”

Biniok says the mutts she has adopted from the shelter have never had the hereditary health problems that affected her two purebreds, a Great Dane and a Boston terrier.

While mixed breeds as a class have more variety of inherited diseases than any single pure breed because of their broader gene pool, the frequency of any given disease among mixed breeds is likely to be lower because the population is more diverse.

But because designer dogs are purposely bred from dogs of specific types or breeds, they may have a higher incidence of certain diseases, such as breathing difficulties, cancer or hip dysplasia, depending on the breeds used to create them. The Xolo (or Mexican Hairless) mixes have as many if not more health problems as the purebreds, says Amy Fernandez of Forest Hills, N.Y., who is president of the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America, for people with this scrawny, hairless breed.

Not always a glamorous picture
Plenty of hybrids are well-loved pets, but the ones that outgrow the “cute” stage can face an uncertain future.

“Right now we are dealing with Xolo/Jack Russell mixes, Xolo/pit bull mixes, Xolo/Chihuahua mixes that we cannot find homes for,” Fernandez says.

“People are happy to fork over big bucks to buy these dogs as puppies, but once buyers realize that what they have is a complicated, demanding dog, many of these hairless wonders end up in shelters or worse," she says. "At least once every winter we hear of hairless dogs intentionally abandoned outdoors to freeze.”

When you want a dog that’s one of a kind, there’s no need to spend big bucks to get it. Visit your local shelter instead and come home with your very own roughcoated Malibu griffon, Golden Gate Chiwienie dog or North American mottled shepherd.

Whatever you choose, and whatever you call it, the dog will be just as unique and special as a pricier pup.

Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning author who has written many articles and more than a dozen books about dogs and cats. She belongs to the Dog Writers Association of America and is past president of the Cat Writers Association. She shares her home in California with two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and one African ringneck parakeet.
© 2007 MSNBC Interactive

Unhappy Hermione


Harry Potter starlet Emma Watson, who plays know it all Hermione Granger, has reportedly refused to commit herself to the final two films in the series.

The 16-year-old actress has become tired of being known as "that girl from Harry Potter", the News of the World quotes teenage co-star Rupert Grint as saying.

Apparently Rupert, who has starred as the best friend of Daniel Radcliffe's eponymous Harry in the first five movies, and Daniel himself have moved apart from Emma after she rejected the chance to earn £2 million to film Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

"Daniel and I are distant from her now. We don't text or talk to her when we are not filming," he told the Sunday tabloid.

But other reports state that although Emma has not signed up for the final two films, producers Warner Bros still fully expect her to.

The fifth film version of JK Rowling's best-selling children's series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will reach cinema screens this summer.

And the book upon which the seventh and final movie will be based on, subtitled the Deathly Hallows, will be released on July 21st this year.

18/03/2007 13:09:53