Saturday, June 13, 2009

Six Flags files for bankruptcy.

From the NY Daily News:
The amusement park company Six Flags says it has filed for bankruptcy.

The New York-based operator of 20 theme parks in the U.S., Mexico and Canada said Saturday that the filing in a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware is part of its plan to reorganize and shed $1.8 billion worth of debt.

Company CEO Mark Shapiro said the move won't effect the day-to-day operations of the parks.

Six Flags said it actually had a great year in 2008. It saw 25 million visitors and posted record revenues.

However, it said it needed to do something about its crushing debt load.

An earlier plan to work out an out-of-court deal with creditors wasn't successful.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Honking horn not constitutionally protected speech.

The whole item is great. The story just gets better and better. From Seattle Times:
As free-speech cases go, Monday's ruling against Helen Immelt may not qualify as a landmark, but it does clear up one question: The prolonged honking of your car's horn in front of your neighbor's house in the wee hours of the morning isn't a constitutionally protected First Amendment right.

But if it's not a free-speech landmark, it may be one in neighbor feuds: The honking was in retaliation for the neighbor's complaint about Immelt's chickens.

And it may also qualify for sheer quixotic determination. For the noise violation in 2006, Immelt went through and lost a three-day jury trial, then appealed the case to the Washington Court of Appeals, representing herself. In his opinion, Justice C. Kenneth Grosse interpreted the words of the Founding Fathers thusly: "Horn honking per se is not free speech."

Here are the details, according to court documents:

Immelt, 52, got a letter from her neighborhood homeowners association in Monroe in 2006, telling her that covenants prohibited the chickens she'd been keeping in her yard. And it literally made her honking mad.

She confronted one neighbor, who called the cops because of Immelt's "accusations, threats and demeanor." Then, Immelt confronted the association's president and the ensuing shouting match drew some other neighbors.

One of them, John Vorderbrueggen, fessed up that he'd had the beef with her chickens.

So, at 5:50 the next morning, Immelt parked in front of Vorderbrueggen's house and leaned on her car's horn for about 10 minutes.

Burglar can bite through steel bars.

This is pretty amazing.
Police who solved a spate of mystery burglaries were shocked to find the culprit was biting his way through steel window bars.

Detectives in Nanjimen region, Chongqing, were puzzled by continuous reports of break-ins through caged windows.

"Through our investigations, we found the grids had been cut but with deep tooth prints," a local police spokesman told the Chongqing Business Daily.

Eventually, their inquiries led them to interview a man who revealed he was sharing a hotel room with a man who could crack walnuts with his teeth.

Police brought in the man, Xiong, 23, for questioning and he confessed that he was behind the burglaries.

He revealed that he had turned to crime after failing to find a job and could not even remember how many houses he had broken into over the last two years.

Xiong told police he had grown up in a mountain town and had developed strong, sharp teeth by using them to open the walnuts which grew there in abundance.

He had found that he could chew open any steel bars up to 1cm in thickness, by prising open welding spots with his teeth.

The millionth word in English is... Web 2.0.

And yet they continue to ignore "Goldblumin' " (1. adj. Unbearably awesome. 2. verb Fornicating with an attractive person.)
The English-language's millionth word, spewed out of a computer in Texas yesterday, and it's downright geeky: Web 2.0.

Runners-up include "jai ho," a Hindi phrase indicating the joy of victory, popularized in the Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire, and n00b, a put-down in gamers' lingo for a newcomer. Yes, those are zeros in the word.

With a worldwide network of computers scanning billions of web pages, the Global Language Monitor media analytics firm has been counting and tracking English words for six years, measuring a word's use and geographic distribution. To be deemed a word, trackers have to find it at least 25,000 times.

Among the other runners-up:

Cloud computing – technical jargon for the Internet.
Carbon neutral – relating to an effort to stem climate change.
Sexting – sending email or text messages with sexual content.
From here.

A dogs' "guilty look" is just your imagination.

Aw, poor innocent puppy pups. From BBC:
That "guilty look" on a dog's face is all in the imagination of the human owner, suggests research.

Dog owners have often claimed they can read the expressions of their pets - particularly that tell-tale look when they have done something wrong.

But researchers at a New York college tricked owners into thinking innocent pets had misbehaved - with the owners still claiming to see this guilty look.

The study found that the expression had no relation to the dogs' behaviour.

And researchers found that pet owners' belief that they could read their dogs' "body language" was often entirely unfounded.

Fox with foot fetish steals 120 shoes.

From Ananova:
More than 120 shoes have gone missing from homes and gardens in Germany after a fox developed a bizarre fetish.

The mystery was only solved when a forestry worker found a stash of the missing footwear in the fox's lair near Fohren.

Tiny tooth marks on the leather show the vixen - dubbed Imelda Marcos after the shoe-mad president's wife - may have used them as toys for her cubs to play with.

Local landowner Count Rudolf Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt said: "She's clearly got a thing about shoes.

"We found 86 shoes in the den and a further 32 in a nearby quarry where they like to play. That includes 12 or 13 matching pairs of shoes."

Coozer-Bits: Solid Snake Edition.

Snakes are all over the news today!

Creepy: Scientists figure out how snakes slither.

RUW: Israel develops a robot snake that can spy on enemies and plant bombs.

Yipes: Hundreds of poisonous snakes overtake police station.

Health: 11 amazing animals that improve your health.

Health: Anti-depressants can make sperm sad.

Sad: 1,500 Chicago city employees laid off.

Aww: Rare yellow lobster, only 1 in 30 million, is spared the pot.

TV: New popular Japanese cartoon is about a lucky piece of poop.

Duh: Men prefer averagely shaped women.

Lame: Lawyer has sex with client and then bills her for his time!

Yipes: Peru police kill dozens of protesters, toss bodies in river.

Sad: Australian police kill Aborigine by letting him roast alive in hot prison van.

Politics: Mayor barred from talking to employees.

Rumor: The Goldblum finds tongue is LOST in young actress' throat.

They would make the perfect couple since The Goldblum, like the Lost island, can travel through time. From Best Week Ever:
A tipster is reporting that 56-year-old actor Jeff Goldblum has once again robbed the sex cradle, as he was spotted making out in front of The Whitney with Tania Raymonde, 21, who played Alex, Ben/Rousseau’s daughter, on Lost (before she was killed off — thanks Dan for the info.) Says our tipster, “they were all huggy giggly.” Congrats to Tania, who can now say she got with that dude from Powder and ID4.

But you know what that means, don’t you? It means… GOLDBLUM HAS STILL GOT IT MOTHAF*CKUHS! No, really, he’s got it. He’s 56 years old and is in AMAZING shape and is Jeff Goldblum.

Competition between two MMORPGs shuts down internet for 300 million people.

From New Scientist:
In online games like World of Warcraft, the violence is normally restricted to fantasy realms populated by orcs and wizards. But when a dispute broke out between rival gaming services recently, it brought down large chunks of China's internet.

Problems started when hackers linked to an unnamed gaming company launched an attack on a server that provides access to a competitor site. The Xinhua News Agency says the attackers disabled the server by flooding it with incoming signals. Other, connected servers were slowed too, in a chain reaction that caused internet problems for 300 million people.

Two suspects were arrested on 29 May. Chinese authorities rate the disruption to the country's internet as the worst since an earthquake ruptured undersea cables near Taiwan in 2006.

Reindeer population plunges.

Really sad....
Reindeer and caribou numbers worldwide have plunged nearly 60 percent in the last three decades due to climate change and habitat disturbance caused by humans, a new study finds.

Global warming and industrial development are driving the dramatic decline, said Liv Vors, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta who did the study with university biologist Mark Boyce.

"Their future is dubious if climate change and habitat disturbance continue at their current pace," Vors told LiveScience. "We do not know how quickly they can adapt to this changing world."

Reindeer and caribou are two names for the same species. "Generally speaking, caribou are the North American version and reindeer are European," Vors explained. Exact numbers for the creatures are not known, because not enough study has been done. But for those populations that have been studies, the average decline in numbers is 57 percent.

More here.

Bill would make it harder for Israeli women to avoid draft.

From JPost:
The hundreds of young women who avoid the draft every year by falsely claiming that they are religious and thus exempt from IDF service may soon find it a bit harder to take the easy way out, if a bill sponsored by MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) becomes law.

Hasson, the head of the Knesset Lobby against Draft Evasion, will bring his bill to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation Sunday in the hopes of garnering coalition support for the measure.

Under the current guidelines, all a young woman must do is report to a judge or a rabbinic court official and sign a statement that she is religious and therefore cannot morally serve in the IDF, as well as that she keeps kosher both in and out of the house and does not travel on Shabbat.

The women are exempt from all national service, including the civilian National Service Corps.

Hasson's bill would require that applicants state that in addition to being religious, they studied for at least two of the last three years in a religious educational establishment, and that they provide documentation to back up the statements.

Even in those cases in which the exemption-requester did not study in a religious institution, Hasson proposes that she be granted an interview with a draft board official in which she can try to convince him that there are special conditions that justify her being exempted.

Trip to laundry room averts British nuclear disaster.

More here.
A chance decision to wash some clothes narrowly averted a nuclear disaster, a safety report has found.

While using the laundry room at Sizewell A power station, a contract worker spotted a leak from a cooling tank.

By the time he raised the alarm more than 40,000 gallons of radioactive fluid had spilled out from a 15ft long crack in a pipe. Some of it reached the North Sea.

Although the water level in the tank had dropped by more than a foot none of the sophisticated alarm systems at the power station on the Suffolk coast had picked up on it.

The next scheduled safety patrol was not due for ten hours, by which time the level would have dropped enough to expose the nuclear fuel rods, possibly causing them to overheat.

Had they caught fire, a plume of radioactive material would have engulfed the coastline putting hundreds of lives at risk.

Man gets 33 years for killing sparked by hot sauce.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for killing a man during a melee that erupted when someone threw a bottle of hot sauce.

The Kansas City Star reports that 29-year-old Jarvis T. Williams was sentenced Thursday for his convictions on second-degree murder, three counts of assault and four counts of armed criminal action.

Prosecutors claim he fired more than 20 rounds from an assault rifle into a car in October 2005, killing 22-year-old Gary Scott and wounding three others.

Prosecutors said the victim had thrown a bottle of hot sauce at a woman's car, angering Williams.

Obama writes note to get Wisconsin girl out of class.

From Breitbart:
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin - Ten-year-old Kennedy Corpus has a rock-solid excuse for missing the last day of school: a personal note to her teacher from President Barack Obama.

Her father, John Corpus of Green Bay, stood to ask Obama about health care during the president's town hall-style meeting at Southwest High School on Thursday. He told Obama that his daughter was missing school to attend the event and that he hoped she didn't get in trouble.

"Do you need me to write a note?" Obama asked. The crowd laughed, but the president was serious.

On a piece of paper, he wrote: "To Kennedy's teacher: Please excuse Kennedy's absence. She's with me. Barack Obama." He stepped off the stage to hand-deliver the note - to Kennedy's surprise.

"I thought he was joking until he started walking down," Kennedy said after the event, showing off the note in front of a bank of television cameras. "It was like the best thing ever."

Boy survives being hit by a METEOR.

From Ananova:
A German schoolboy is thanking his lucky stars - after surviving being hit by a meteorite.

Gerrit Blank, 14, was rushing to school when he saw a massive fireball heading straight towards him from the sky.

"At first I just saw a large ball of light, and then I suddenly felt a pain in my hand," he explained. "Then a split second after that there was an enormous bang like a crash of thunder."

The white-hot meteorite hit the ground so hard it left a foot wide crater in the tarmac and a three-inch long scar on Gerrit's hand where it bounced off him.

"The noise that came after the flash of light was so loud that my ears were ringing for hours afterwards.

"When it hit me it knocked me flying and then was still going fast enough to bury itself into the road," he explained.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Clarcon skin products have high levels of disease-causing bacteria.

Risk of bacterial contamination has led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to warn consumers to not use any products made by Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory Inc.

The Roy, Utah, firm voluntarily recalled some skin sanitizers and skin protectants sold under a variety of brand names after a recent FDA inspection found that the products contained high levels of disease-causing bacteria.
List of products can be found here.

Tourists return to find koala napping in bed.

Most hotels turn down your rooms while you're out and about during the day, tidying up your bathoom, changing your towels and organizing your belongings. Nicer hotels come back a few times, filling your ice cube bucket and sometimes leaving fresh fruit, cookies or candies.

A trio of Australian women weren't expecting a live koala sleeping on their bed when they returned though. Discovering the marsupial when they checked into their vacation rental, they watched the animal wander around the balcony for a bit then climb up onto the bed and fall asleep.

Cute as they may seem, koala bears can be viscious animals, and one can't just walk over and wake one out of slumber. The women did the smart thing and called the local wildlife preserve who sent a ranger out to pick up the sleeping marsupial. He was safely returned to the wild.
From here. Thanks Jen!

Tadpoles mysteriously appearing in parking lots.

From Asahi:
KANAZAWA, JAPAN--Residents in Nanao and Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, remain mystified after finding dozens of dead tadpoles in locations the creatures should not be.

A city employee in Nanao was shocked to discover about 100 tadpoles--about 2 to 3 centimeters long--in the parking lot of Nakajima Shimin Center last Thursday afternoon.

There are no tall buildings nearby from which a tadpole-tossing villain could operate.

In Hakusan, about 80 kilometers away, a woman found about 30 tadpoles splattered on and around her daughter's car Saturday morning.

The Kanazawa Local Meteorological Observatory said atmospheric conditions over the two cities had been stable, and it was unlikely a tornado had been generated.

Gunman leaves name, address at scene.

From Breitbart:
KENTWOOD, Mich. (AP) - Police in Michigan say a man who held up a gas station left behind a major clue—a piece of paper bearing a name and address. Police said they went to the address and arrested a 42-year-old suspect. The holdup took place Tuesday at a Speedway station in the Grand Rapids suburb of Kentwood.

Police told The Grand Rapids Press the robber told the station clerk he had a gun. He appeared to be holding a weapon beneath a piece of paper.

After getting cash, the man dropped the paper and ran when the clerk made a move toward him.

Officers said the address on the paper was for a Grand Rapids apartment. They arrested the suspect when he arrived about an hour after the robbery.

The gun turned out to be a homemade fake.

Woman who missed doomed Air France flight killed in car crash.

This is very Final Destination-ish. From Times Online:
An Italian woman who arrived late for the Air France plane flight that crashed in the Atlantic last week has been killed in a car accident.

Johanna Ganthaler, a pensioner from Bolzano-Bozen province, had been on holiday in Brazil with her husband Kurt and missed Air France Flight 447 after turning up late at Rio de Janeiro airport on May 31.

All 228 people aboard lost their lives after the plane crashed into the Atlantic four hours into its flight to Paris.

The ANSA news agency reported that the couple had managed to pick up a flight from Rio the following day.

It said that Ms Ganthaler died when their car veered across a road in Kufstein, Austria, and swerved into an oncoming truck. Her husband was seriously injured.

Solar system wobble could smash Earth into Mars.

From Daily Mail:
A wobble in the precise clockwork of the solar system could see the Earth collide with Mercury, Mars or Venus, scientists predict.

But they say reassuringly that such a mishap is unlikely to occur for billions of years.

The orbits of the planets are not completely stable because of the gravitational interplay between them.

Over time, the system can become increasingly disordered - like a poorly balanced tyre that eventually tears itself off the axle of a moving car.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Confirmed: Futurama revived for new episodes.

Good news, everyone! From io9:
Confirming yesterday's rumor, Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files confirms that Comedy Central is reviving Futurama — and not just for 13 episodes, but for 26. In a jar somewhere, the disembodied head of Al Gore is smiling.

Citing the precedent of Family Guy, reanimated after cancellation due to its popularity in reruns and DVD sales, 20th Century Fox television told EW it was responding to a similar hunger for Matt Groening and David X. Cohen's futuristic spoof. "Futurama was another series that fans simply demanded we bring back," said 20th Century Fox TV Chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden in a press release, "and we couldn't have been happier when Matt and David agreed that there were many more stories yet to tell." Groening chimed in with a statement, saying, ""We're thrilled Futurama is coming back. We now have only 25,766 episodes to make before we catch up with Bender and Fry in the year 3000." The new Futurama episodes will air in 2010, so that gives Groening and Cohen 990 years to go.

Teacher arrested for growing pot on school's roof.

ICHINOMIYA, Aichi -- Police arrested a cram school teacher here on Monday for allegedly growing cannabis on the roof of his school building.

Kazuomi Fujiwara, a 37-year-old teacher and manager of the Nishiharu branch of major prep school Nodajuku, was caught growing cannabis on the rooftop of the cram school building in Kita-Nagoya in violation of the Cannabis Control Law.

He has reportedly admitted to the charges, saying he had been using cannabis since high school. Fujiwara planted the cannabis last summer for his personal consumption, according to Aichi Prefectural Police.
More here.

Japanese company rents out friends for weddings.

How much to drunkenly hit on a bridesmaid? From the Telegraph:
Along with choosing a dress and booking a honeymoon, there is one other item to add to the wedding checklist in Japan: hiring fake friends.

Office Agents, a Tokyo-based company, rents out friends, work colleagues and even relatives to pad out the guest list.

For £127, one of the company's agents will attend the wedding as a guest, while a heart-tugging speech will cost an extra £64 and a song or dance will set clients back a mere £32.

Brides or grooms who want to impress their prospective partners with their sheer volume of friends are among those secretly padding the guest list with fakes.

The recession has also boosted the popularity of the service. With unemployment rising and a growing number of Japanese in part time jobs, people rent fake bosses or colleagues.

Others turning to the company for fake work-related guests are those who have recently lost their jobs but want to maintain an air of respectability, according to Hiroshi Mizutani, who heads Office Agents.

Slim Jim manufacturing plant explodes.

From CNN:
Two people were found dead and a third person is still believed missing in a North Carolina food plant heavily damaged in a morning explosion, police said Tuesday night.

Four people were in critical condition after the explosion at the ConAgra Foods plant in the town of Garner, CNN affiliate WRAL-TV reported.

The explosion, reported about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, caused sections of the roof to collapse. Search efforts for those missing were slowed by ammonia leaks and a fire that was not extinguished until afternoon.

[...] Police said recovery workers still were trying to get the two bodies out of the plant, which makes Slim Jim food products. The victims' names weren't immediately available.

More than 300 people were in the plant when the explosion happened, authorities said. The cause of the blast was unknown, according to Garner police spokesman Joe Binns.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Recycling has created radioactive consumer goods.

Jeez, even recycling causes cancer! From Live Science:
An investigation by Scripps Howard News Service reveals that millions of pounds of metal have been contaminated with radioactive material during the recycling process, which can lead to low levels of radiation in consumer products including handbags and tableware.

The contamination occurs because as metal is recycled, multiple products are melted in a furnace to produce new metal sheets. If one piece of this metal contains radioactive material, it can be spread during the melting process.

Among the incidents reported in the investigation, two separate facilities in Florida and Texas melted metal containing Cesium-137 with other scrap metal, resulting in approximately 1.4 million and 500,000 pounds of recycled radioactive steel.

The radioactive recycling also occurs internationally. In 1998, a Brazil recycler shipped 430,000 pounds of Cobalt-60 tainted steel to the U.S. The steel was used in brackets for Reclina-Rocker chairs, but contamination was discovered before the chairs were shipped to stores.

US has two million 40-year-old virgins.

From New Scientist:
Contrary to Hollywood notions, the 40-year-old virgin is not an awkward yet funny and endearing electronics salesman played by Steve Carell.

He is a church-going teetotaller who has neither been to jail nor served in the military, according to a new survey of more than 7000 people. He also represents an estimated 1.1 million American men and 800,000 women aged 25 to 45 who have never had sex.

The study, led by urologist Michael Eisenberg of the University of California, San Francisco, will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

His team's survey found that 13.9 per cent of men and 8.9 per cent of women said they have never had sex.

Men and women who attended church at least once a week were respectively 5 and 3.9 times more likely to be virgins than those who attended church less often. Virgins of both sexes were slightly less likely to have swigged a beer in the last year, compared to non-virgins. And women with college degrees were 5.4 times more likely to be virgins than women who never got their Bachelor's.


Duh: Carradine killed by secret society of martial arts assassins.

WWIII Watch: Canadians angered over "Buy American" rules.

Creepy: Britney Spears goes topless in new video (NSFW).

Sad: Parking tickets pile up on car while dead driver rots inside.

Cthulhu Watch: Kite-surfer lands in two-mile patch of poisonous jellyfish.

Pret A Manger stops selling tuna.

Kudos to Pret A Manger! From Daily Mail:
High Street food shop Pret A Manger is to stop selling tuna sandwiches after its boss was horrified by a hard-hitting new film about how intensive fishing methods are destroying the seas.

Pret founder Julian Metcalfe says tuna and cucumber sandwiches will be taken off the menu at his 155 British shops.

He has also banned endangered bluefin tuna from sushi boxes sold at Pret and its sister outlet Itsu.

Mr Metcalfe’s tuna sandwich ban comes on the eve of the premiere at 50 cinemas across Britain tomorrow of The End Of The Line, a hard-hitting documentary about overfishing inspired by a book by environmental journalist Charles Clover.

The documentary – being premiered to coincide with World Oceans Day – focuses on the destruction of the seas and investigates the effects of overfishing.