Saturday, February 14, 2009

Robot Uprising Watch: Computers beat humans at Go.

I can see it now: "So computer, another game of Go?" "Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of Global Thermonuclear War instead?" Way to "go" scientists.
Go -- the Asian board game once thought too complex for computers to master -- is finally succumbing to silicon power. Today at AAAS, a computer program bested an American professional.
The loser, James Kerwin, played with a sizeable handicap, but computer programs are getting better by the week, says Robert Hearn, a mathematician at Dartmouth University in Hanover, New Hampshire. Based on predictable advances in computing power, he rockons that a program will beat the best professional Go players within 28 years.

"A lot of people have thought of Go as the last bastion of human superiority over computers, at least as far as board games go," Hearn said. "Previous to this no one would have imagined that a computer would be able to beat a professional."

Go is played widely in Asia and holds a far more important position there than chess does in the West, said Elwyn Berlekamp, another mathematician who studies the game, based at the University of California in Berkeley.

The game is played on by two players who place black and white stones on a 19-by-19 square board. Players alternate turns placing a stone on the board, and the goal is to encircle another player's stones to the point where she has no moves left.

Subliminal messages really do affect your decisions.

Cmon, can this send me money really be true? From New Scientist:

If you ever felt paranoid about subliminal messages, you might be right to worry. Images we see but don't consciously register have been shown to inform people's decision-making.

Joel Voss of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and colleagues showed volunteers 12 kaleidoscope images for 2 seconds each while they also performed an unrelated number task to distract them from consciously committing the images to memory.

A minute later, volunteers were asked to look at pairs of similar-looking images and choose the one they had seen before. They were also asked whether they were sure, had "a feeling" they were right, or were just guessing.

Those who took a shot in the dark were as successful as the rest. "They were 70 to 80 per cent accurate; it would be only 50 per cent if it was chance," says Voss.

Dutch city fears loss of its pornography archive.

Jeez, how else is Amsterdam going to draw visitors now? Item:

AMSTERDAM — Officials in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden say the municipal pornography archive is missing and they fear it may be lost for good or stolen.

Spokesman Erik Krikke of the city’s historical center says the archive — which contained photos, drawings and erotic texts with a connection to the city — may have been taken home by an employee or visitor.

“We’re hoping that someone will say ‘Hey, I have that in my attic’ and bring it back,” he said Thursday. “No questions asked.”

Trade gun for a rose in S. Carolina on Valentine's Day.

Or you can use the gun to rob a florist and get as many roses as you want.... From the Houston Chronicle:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Police in South Carolina want you to have a rose for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day. All you have to do is turn in a gun.

Authorities are running the “Guns for Roses” program Saturday at two locations in the central part of the state.

Anyone who turns in a gun gets a free rose and a Best Buy gift card. A handgun gets a $100 gift card, while a rifle or shotgun nets a $50 gift card.

Richland County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Chris Cowan says there has already been a great turnout at one Columbia location and deputies have seized about 75 guns in the first 90 minutes. Cowan says one man brought six handguns.

He says there is no amnesty for the gun owners. The weapons are checked to see if they are stolen and ballistics test will also be done.

Pick-up truck at Mexican port made out of cocaine!

Reminds me of the pot-covered car in Up In Smoke... From Yahoo! Canada:
Police at a Mexican seaport say they have found a pickup truck with body panels and a bumper made from a mixture of cocaine and fibreglass.

The Attorney General's Office says a trained dog picked up the scent of drugs during an inspection of a shipping container sent from Colombia.

Officials in the port of Manzanillo dismantled parts of a 1990 pickup truck inside the container and found that its rear bumper and some of its body panels appeared to be made from pressed cocaine base coated in fibreglass.

The office said in a statement Thursday that the cocaine-mix parts weighed 74 kilograms.

Apartments for sex becoming common in rental-strapped Sydney.

I wonder if this will catch on in NYC...
SLEAZY men are taking advantage of Sydney's rental crisis by placing online advertisements offering women free rooms in exchange for sex.

The zero-rent ads, targeting desperate women looking for somewhere to live, are becoming increasingly common on popular "share house'' rental websites.

Although there have been numerous complaints about the ads, which some website users have dubbed "offensive'', they do not breach policy guidelines for sites such as

A statement on says that if the site were to impose a ban, the ads would merely go underground, making the process unsafe for women.

Meerkat spotted in... Wales.

OMGMEERKAT!11!!! From Ananova:
A nurse looked out at her North Wales garden - and spotted a meerkat.

Jackie Morgan says the African animal looked "rather sorry for itself, standing upright and shivering in the morning frost".

She and husband Keith phoned animal rescue centres, a vet, the Welsh Mountain Zoo and Chester Zoo - but no one believed them.

Mrs Morgan, of Mynydd Isa near Mold, told the Daily Post: "I think they thought it was some kind of joke because of the TV advert. They said they thought it was more likely to be a ferret.

"We put some nuts out for it so it came in and we captured it in a box. I think it's only a baby.

"In the end I let it go in the conservatory and took some photos of it to send to them - they all phoned back saying it was definitely a meerkat!"


Hi Coozer-Philes,

I'm sorry for not posting much in the past week. I was in Florida visiting my Gramps and checking out some sites in Miami (pics to follow -- someday...).

Plus it's been pretty quiet out there in the world. Stimulus package, blah blah blah.

Anyway, now back to posting. Thanks for your patience!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Local: Interesting article on Hasidic Jewish street patrols.

Trends: Japanese virtual subway groping! (thanks JenK!)

PSA: Stock up on your Forever Stamps - stamp price to go up 2 cents in May.

Zombie Watch: Mummies found in newly discovered tomb.

Creepy: Mysterious Scientology project raises questions in Wyoming.

Sad: At least 22 lose vision after free eye surgery.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Yipes: In Mother Russia, 82-year-old sentenced to 10 years of hard labor while babies attacked by rats in children's hospital. What a country!

Yipes: Amazon Indians cannibalize farmer.

Politics: FBI raids lobby firm with Murtha (D-PA) ties.

D'oh: Suspect arrested after leaving keys and ID in trunk.

Zombie Watch: Long Island mother kills three children to save them from voodoo curse.

Economy: Japanese exports tanking.

Eats: Foie gras linked to Alzheimer's.

: 1/3 of Europeans blame Jews for financial meltdown.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Zombie Watch: Scientists create creepy "living" doll with cancer cells.

The accompanying picture is what it really looks like - no joke. Creepy, no? And is it a good idea to create a doll using cells that want to destroy human life? From The Telegraph:

The 5mm high figure – which bears a passing resemblance to a jelly baby – was created from liver cancer cells held in place with the help of 100,000 capsules of collagen.

Each capsule was also coated with special cells that secreted a protein which helped bind the 3D structure.

The entity's humorous shape was created with a specially-made mould, but scientists at the University of Tokyo say that the technique has serious medical applications.

Shoji Takeuchi, who led the team at the Institute of Industrial Science, says that it will enable researchers to create a range of structures containing multiple cell types, allowing them to test cancer drugs in environments more closely resembling the human body.

The structures will be more useful than cell collections grown in petri dishes that are not so closely bound, he said.

"The mould can be changed into all kinds of shapes and forms," Prof Shoji Takeuchi said.

Drunken pedestrians charged at sobriety checkpoint.

If you can't walk around central Pennsylvania drunk, what CAN you do? From PennLive:

Drinking and driving is not the only way to get in trouble at a sobriety checkpoint. Two pedestrians found that out when state police set up a checkpoint late night Saturday into early morning Sunday along state Route 34 in New Bloomfield.

In addition to two motorists who were cited for driving under the influence and related traffic offenses, police said, troopers also cited two pedestrians for public drunkenness after they were observed to be intoxicated as they walked through the checkpoint area.

Coozer Prophesy: Asteroid to hit Earth in 160 years?

Well, at least we don't have to worry about the environment now... From New Scientist:

AN ASTEROID that had initially been deemed harmless has turned out to have a slim chance of hitting Earth in 160 years. While that might seem a distant threat, there's far less time available to deflect it off course.

Asteroid 1999 RQ36 was discovered a decade ago, but it was not considered particularly worrisome since it has no chance of striking Earth in the next 100 years - the time frame astronomers routinely use to assess potential threats.

Now, new calculations show a 1 in 1400 chance that it will strike Earth between 2169 and 2199, according to Andrea Milani of the University of Pisa in Italy and colleagues (

With an estimated diameter of 560 metres, 1999 RQ36 is more than twice the size of the better-known asteroid Apophis, which has a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2036 (New Scientist, 12 July 2008, p 12). Both are large enough to unleash devastating tsunamis if they were to smash into the ocean.

Scientists discover why smoochin' feels good.

From The Telegraph:

The study showed that women need more than just a kiss to experience the same chemical high as men - with additional features such as a romantic atmosphere of dimmed lights and mood music also required.

Wendy Hill, professor of psychology at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania began the research to find out why the mundane physical activity of rubbing lips can elicit such a gratifying emotional response.

Her team tested the levels of two hormones, cortisol and oxytocin, in 15 couples before and after holding hands and kissing.

They found that kissing reduced the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in both sexes. But levels of oxytocin, a hormone linked to social bonding that they expected to be boosted by kissing, only rose among the men.

[...] Romantic love has also been shown to have a close link to neurological activity, with scans showing that it has similar effect to cocaine on our brains.

Identical twins fool judge to escape death penalty.

From Google News:
A pair of identical twins escaped being convicted and hanged on drugs charges in Malaysia, due to confusion over which one of them was the culprit, reports said on Saturday.

The 27-year-old twins, R. Sathis Raj and Sabarish Raj, had been charged with trafficking 166 kilos of cannabis and 1.7 kilos of raw opium in 2003. But police had trouble identifying which one was in possession of the drugs.

"This is a very unique case as they are identical twins. Even the DNA evidence could not prove anything as the DNA could be either Sathis' or Sabarish's," said High Court judge Zaharah Ibrahim.

"I can't be calling the wrong twin to enter his defence. I can't be sending the wrong person to the gallows," she said according to the New Straits Times as she acquitted the pair.

Girl with phobia of dentists refuses to open mouth, dies of starvation.

This is really sad.

A schoolgirl starved to death in her own bed after suffering a phobia of dentists so severe that she would not even open her mouth to eat, an inquest heard today.

Eight-year-old Sophie Waller's fear was so extreme that she was taken to hospital just to have a tooth removed.

Doctors then decided to remove all her milk teeth in one go to avoid a repeat of the procedure - a decision her parents claim they did not consent to, and which made the situation even worse.

After the procedure Sophie would not open her mouth and had to be fed through a tube.

She was later discharged however, and today her mother said she had begged the hospital to have her readmitted after Sophie began to waste away at home.

Britain to store and monitor info on citizens' travel.

From the Daily Mail:

A ‘Big Brother’ database is being built by the Government to store details of millions of our international journeys for up to ten years.

The computer system, housed at a secret location on the outskirts of Manchester, will record names and dates of every movement in and out of the UK by air, sea or rail.

Reservation and payment details, addresses and telephone numbers, names of travelling companions and even details of luggage carried will also be stored.

Ministers insist the database, part of the Government’s ‘EBorders’ project, is vital to the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and organised crime.

But as details emerged yesterday, opponents warned that the spy system – which will track the 250million journeys in and out of the country each year – amounted to another building block in Britain’s growing surveillance society.

One-night stand man wakes to find lover carved her name in his arm.

Dude was totally carved up! See the link for some gross pics of how he was slashed. Jeez! From the Daily Mail:

A drunken fling ended in disaster for a man who woke up to find his lover's name carved into his arm.

Dominique Fisher, 22, used a Stanley knife to write her name on Wayne Robinson's upper arm. She inflicted the injuries on the 24-year-old at her home in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Mr Robinson woke to find his body decorated with a star on his back, 'Dominique' written on his upper right arm, and numerous slash marks on his left arm and shoulder.

He told police he had drunk vodka and taken Valium and was not awake during the incident on the night of June 14 last year.

Man dissolved 300 people.

Disturbing and sad, but a fascinating article on drug cartel violence. From the Chicago Tribune:
Santiago Meza Lopez, a stocky 45-year-old taken into custody after a raid near Ensenada, was identified as the pozolero who liquefied the bodies of victims for lieutenants of the Arellano Felix drug cartel. Authorities say he laid claim to stuffing 300 bodies into barrels of lye, then dumping some of the liquefied remains in a pit in a hillside compound in eastern Tijuana.

His capture riveted Mexico with sickening details behind drug violence that has left more than 8,000 dead in two years. For the families of the disappeared, however, it was a chance to revive cases that seemed long forgotten.

A day after Meza's arrest, Ocegueda and 40 other people showed up at the federal attorney general's office in Tijuana, with family snapshots in hand, demanding that authorities query Meza about whether he recalled dissolving their missing loved ones.

[...] Victim rights groups estimate that there are more than 1,000 people missing in Baja California, including students, businessmen, merchants and cops. Their cases have been ignored, bungled or blocked by law enforcement officials, activists say.

Zombie Watch: Man found dead with bite marks to mouth.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A man is dead Monday morning after he was found with trauma to his mouth in an abandoned building in south suburban Harvey, authorities said.

The man, who remained unidentified Monday morning, was found in an abandoned building in the 14900 block of Talman Avenue in Harvey, according to a Cook County Medical Examiner’s office spokesman, who said the man was pronounced dead at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey at 2:26 a.m.

He is believed to have been a Hispanic man in his 40s, the spokesman said.

The man was found unresponsive with trauma to his mouth, which included bite marks, sources said.