Friday, July 24, 2009

Robot bride takes over catwalk.

Robot brides?! We're doooomed! From ABC News:
A humanoid robot designed by Japanese scientists made its debut as a catwalk model in Osaka Wednesday.

Her official name is "HRP-4C" but her creators are calling her "Miim." The very realistic looking female wore a wedding gown designed by Japanese bridal fashion designer Yumi Katsura. As she progressed down the catwalk Miim told the audience how happy she was to be wearing a wedding dress for the first time.

Miim was developed by Japan's Institute for Science and Technology. They admit she doesn't have the same moves as "real" fashion models, but they say she'll get better with a little more technology.

Miim's creator compared his feelings to those he might have on his daughter's wedding day, saying he was "really nervous."

Anpanman sets record for most characters.

I love Anpanman and have a few of the toys! From Japan Times:
The TV program "Anpanman" has been recognized by Guinness World Records as having the most characters in an animated series, Nippon TV said.

As of March, the weekly program had featured 1,768 different characters, according to an official Guinness registration in June, NTV spokeswoman Shigeko Chino said Thursday.

The television version of "Anpanman" began airing on Oct. 3, 1988. Long popular with children, the titular hero's head is a bun filled with sweet bean paste, hence the name, which means Red-Bean-Bread Man in English.

Most of the other characters are related to food, including Shokupanman (Loaf-of-Bread Man), Jamu-Ojisan (Jam-Middle-Aged Man) and Omusubiman (Rice-Ball Man.)

The "anime" teaches children to wash their hands and brush their teeth by showing Anpanman always defeating his archrival, Baikinman (Germ Man).

"We received this honor because we have kept airing the program for 21 years. Those who were children then have become adults and are watching it with their own children," NTV producer Toshio Nakatani said in a statement.

In addition to the TV series, there have been 20 "Anpanman" movies.

"The 'Anpanman' series has had more than 2,000 characters and the figure is increasing, but the Guinness registration is very strict and they recognized only 1,768," said Takashi Yanase, the series' creator.

Anti-gay, pro-abstinence state senator has affair with young intern.

Wait... Paul Stanley?? From Raw Story:
A Republican state senator from Tennessee–who is married and the father of two– has admitted to police that he had sex with a 22 year old intern after her boyfriend allegedly demanded money from the legislator to not make public a video of the legislator and intern having sex.

State Sen. Paul Stanley only recently sponsored legislation designed to prohibit gay couples in his home state from ever adopting children. He has also opposed family planning services, explaining that his “faith and church” require him to “promote abstinence.” And Stanley has run as a “pro-family” candidate in his campaigns for the Tennessee State Senate.

On Thursday, Stanley resigned his chairmanship of the Tennessee State Senate’s Commerce committee.

Stanley himself admitted to police that he had had a “sexual relationship” with the intern and had taken nude pictures of her in “provocative poses,” according to a sworn affidavit police made public yesterday. The couple also filmed a video of themselves having sex together.

Scientists build mice out of skin cells.

From the Wall Street Journal:
Two teams of Chinese researchers working separately have reprogrammed mature skin cells of mice to an embryonic-like state and used the resulting cells to create live mouse offspring.

The reprogramming may bring scientists one step closer to creating medically useful stem-cell lines for treating human disease without having to resort to controversial laboratory techniques. However, the advance poses fresh ethical challenges because the results could make it easier to create human clones and babies with specific genetic traits.

The latest findings are a bit of a surprise, given that Chinese scientists' contribution to lab-based stem-cell research has been modest over the years. However, Chinese scientists have been publishing more basic-research findings than in the past. The country is more known for its growing trade in unproven stem-cell therapies that have attracted patients from around the world. Reports suggest that China's health authorities have moved to regulate such activities.

Makers of corpse-eating robot try to calm public.

Hilarious press release from the company that makes the EATR robot, which frightened us so last week. Thanks to Kaiser for this update!
POMPANO BEACH, Fla.– In response to rumors circulating the internet on sites such as, and CNET News about a “flesh eating” robot project, Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets:CYPW) and Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) would like to set the record straight: This robot is strictly vegetarian.

On July 7, Cyclone announced that it had completed the first stage of development for a beta biomass engine system used to power RTI’s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR™), a Phase II SBIR project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Sciences Office. RTI’s EATR is an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling.

RTI’s patent pending robotic system will be able to find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment. Despite the far-reaching reports that this includes “human bodies,” the public can be assured that the engine Cyclone has developed to power the EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips – small, plant-based items for which RTI’s robotic technology is designed to forage. Desecration of the dead is a war crime under Article 15 of the Geneva Conventions, and is certainly not something sanctioned by DARPA, Cyclone or RTI.

“We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission,” stated Harry Schoell, Cyclone’s CEO. “We are focused on demonstrating that our engines can create usable, green power from plentiful, renewable plant matter. The commercial applications alone for this earth-friendly energy solution are enormous.” (emphasis in the original)

French chipmunks carrying fatal diseases are invading England.

Finally, chipmunks succeed where Napoleon did not.
Thousands of chipmunks carrying potentially fatal diseases have been spreading west across Europe and have reached Paris.

Many carry ticks infected with the Borrelia bacterium that causes Lyme disease, a nerve illness that can disable and even kills victims if not treated early enough.

French experts warn that the animals, which can also carry rabies, could soon reach Calais and sneak aboard vehicles and vessels heading to Britain.

Officials have also warned tourists not to smuggle them into the UK as pets.

Some unscrupulous French pet shops are offering chipmunks for less than £10 each, despite repeated warnings of the danger.
More here.

UK losing 52 pubs a week.

From BBC:
UK pubs closed at a rate of 52 per week in the first half of the year - a third more than the same period in 2008 - the British Beer & Pub Association said.

Local pubs were the most vulnerable as communities were hit by the fallout of the economic downturn, it added.

The research suggested businesses that provided food were far more resilient to the recession.

And branded pubs and cafe-style bars were opening at a rate of two a week, according to the report.

"Pubs are already diversifying, but unfortunately if you are a community pub, you can't transform yourself into a trendy town-centre bar," said an association spokesman.

"The biggest impact is the recession. There are fewer people out and fewer people spending money in pubs and bars, regardless of where they are," he said.

Cannibal looking for love.

Ladies - he's single! From
An Indonesian cannibal is seeking love, promising his people-eating days are over.

Sumanto, currently residing in rural Central Java, was jailed after he dug up an old woman's body for a "cheap and tasty meal".

"She was delicious," he told AFP from his room at a Muslim mental rehabilitation centre in rural Central Java.

"I love meat... all types of meat as long as it's cooked. But I don't eat people anymore."

But after a lengthy stint in prison, the former farmer now longs for the taste of love.

"What is love? How can I describe it when I've never experienced it, never tasted it?"

Sumanto said his cannibal days are over and that spinach was all he ate nowadays in a bid to be accepted back into normal village life.

"I'm sad. People said so many bad things about me. I will strive to get the villagers to open their hearts and accept me again," he said.

King of Kong director to helm King Dork.

Cool news as I'm a huge fan of both King of Kong and anything Dr. Frank does! From SlashFilm:
Seth Gordon, director of The King of Kong, is in talks to direct a big screen adaptation of Frank Portman’s young King Dork. The high school dramedy is about a teenage misfit who seeks refuge in music, and tries to uncover the truth about his father’s death.

The novel was published in 2006 and was quickly optioned to be a feature film by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Originally set-up at Paramount Vantage, the project has now moved to Sony Pictures. This project seems a lot better a fit for Gordon than the Reese Witherspoon/Vince Vaughn comedy Four Christmases, which was released last year and earned $163 million worldwide.

Gordon has a bunch of projects setup: A Bottle Rocket like Hiest comedy Suicide Squad, Mr. Romance - a romantic comedy about a “a cynical guy who is forced to enter the Mr. Romance competition to win back the love of his life”, and a feature adaptation of King of Kong which I doubt will ever happen. It is unclear which project will go into production first, both Suicide Squad and King Dork sound like great options.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GOP putting NRA lunacy into defense bill.

This is nuts. From ABC News:
A vote is expected today on a proposal that would allow certain gunowners to bring their weapons across state lines.

The amendment would let people with concealed weapons permits carry their guns into other states as long as they follow that state's laws about where concealed weapons are permissible.

Just two states would not be part of the plan: Illinois and Wisconsin do not issue any conceal and carry permits so the amendment wouldn't affect them.

"Law-abiding South Dakotans should be able to exercise the right to bear arms in states with similar regulations on concealed firearms," the amendment's author, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said in a statement released Monday. "My legislation enables citizens to protect themselves while respecting individual state firearms laws."
And an editorial from Newsday:
An amendment that would allow the legislatures of other states to dictate who can carry concealed weapons here in New York is a deadly bit of mischief that the U.S. Senate should reject. If it becomes law, states would be required to honor concealed carry permits issued by any other state.

That would be one-size-fits-all at its worst, making the most lax state gun laws in the nation the de facto national standard. New York has tough carry laws and rigorously screens applicants. But in Alaska, for instance, even people guilty of misdemeanor sex offenses against children aren't disqualified, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. And under the amendment sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a permit from Alaska would be enough to legally carry loaded, concealed weapons in New York.

Illegal gun dealers must be salivating. With a permit from an indulgent state and a stash of handguns bought someplace where few questions are asked, an ambitious criminal could come to New York, walk the streets with dozens of loaded guns and run afoul of the law only if caught in the act of selling one.

The Thune amendment has been attached to the defense authorization bill, so anyone who votes against it can be accused of not supporting the troops. Senators shouldn't be intimidated. But if this lunacy survives in the Senate, it should be shot down in the House.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Man sniffing gasoline bursts into flames after cop Tasers him.

From Daily Mail:
A man whose relatives say had been sniffing gasoline burst into flames after a police officer Tasered him as he ran at officials carrying a container of fuel, police said today.

The man, identified by his family as 36-year-old Ronald Mitchell, was in critical condition at a Perth hospital Western Australia following the incident yesterday in Warburton, an Aboriginal community northeast of Perth.

When police arrived at his mother's house to respond to a complaint, Mr Mitchell is said to have charged at them while holding a can of petrol and a cigarette lighter.

An officer fired the Taser and the darts struck Mr Mitchell on the bridge of his nose - and he burst into flames.

Police doused the fire, which had engulfed his head, and he was later flown to Perth for treatment to third-degree burns on 20 per cent of his body.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pending solar eclipse harbinger of doom.

From Yahoo! News:
Indian astrologers are predicting violence and turmoil across the world as a result of this week's total solar eclipse, which the superstitious and religious view as a sign of potential doom.

But astronomers, scientists and secularists are trying to play down claims of evil portent in connection with Wednesday's natural spectacle, when the moon will come between the Earth and the sun, completely obscuring the sun.

In Hindu mythology, the two demons Rahu and Ketu are said to "swallow" the sun during eclipses, snuffing out its life-giving light and causing food to become inedible and water undrinkable.

Pregnant women are advised to stay indoors to prevent their babies developing birth defects, while prayers, fasting and ritual bathing, particularly in holy rivers, are encouraged.