Archive for March, 2013

$880,000 study to figure out ‘why males exist’

Hey baby, how about we rush on over to the Majestic for an omelet next week? (Credit: Bart Zijlstra, University of Iowa)

Hey baby, how about we rush over to the Majestic right now for an omelet next week? (Credit: Bart Zijlstra, University of Iowa)

What the world needs now is love sweet snail love studies, according to Burt Bacharach and a $880,000 federal grant.

An article on CNSNews.com details the expenditure by The National Science Foundation, which will allegedly help a female scientist at the University of Iowa figure out “why males exist.”

The study looks at the New Zealand mud snail, which, like my former college roommate, can have sex with or without a partner.

Sex with other sentient creatures is “more costly” than asexual reproduction, “yet nearly all organisms reproduce sexually,” scientist Maurine Neiman declares. “Why is sexual reproduction so common despite its costs?”

I’m no scientist, but I’m guessing it helps divorce attorneys pay their bills.

Alas, answering the question is “more complicated that is appears,” the scientists write.

“Because only females can directly produce …

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Jim Carrey autograph auctioned for Glock

spank-youFreedom is not free, and have you seen the price of guns and ammo lately?

Maybe that explains why a guns rights advocate from Wisconsin feeling the financial pinch of buying a gun to “protect his family” is selling an autographed 8×10 glossy of comedian Jim Carrey on eBay.

Carrey, of course, recently alienated some folks by impersonating the late Charlton Heston in an anti-gun video spoof.

On eBay, the black and white photo emblazoned with Carrey’s trademark “spank you very much” is going for over $500, and there’s still 5 days to go.

I think he’ll be able to afford a Glock with that, but he’ll need a bit more to buy the Glock G30S .45 ACP he wants, which retails for about $650.

Almost 100 people have bid on the photo since it was posted Tuesday.

“Astrobuzz” (probably an alias) said he “lost all respect for Mr. Carrey after he released his ‘Cold Dead Hands’ video mocking responsible gun owners and Charlton Heston. I believe in the 2nd Amendment and my rights shall not be …

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Georgia’s charge of the water brigade

Looks like Georgia to me. (MELISSA ABBEY, MABBEY@AJC.COM)

Looks like Georgia to me. (MELISSA ABBEY, MABBEY@AJC.COM)

You wouldn’t know it by all the rain we’ve had lately, but Georgia needs water to satiate its thirst for growth.

And the best way to get water is to grab land.

Fortunately for us, Georgia politicians have an impeccable record (see Yazoo Land Fraud) when it comes to land deals and the good people of Tennessee probably won’t miss a sliver of land between us and the gushing Tennessee River.

Or maybe they will.

An article titled “Tennessee, Georgia at war over state line” in the Chattanooga Times Free Press seems to indicate they are onto us.

No matter, we have House Resolution 4 on our side, which states Georgia will take it all the way to the Supreme Court if Tennessee does not agree to swap 66.5 square miles of Tennessee land for a 1.5-mile strip of Tennessee land that Georgia would lay a monster pipe on to pump a billion gallons of water per day.

As someone who paid the Ga. 400 toll for years after the road was paid …

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Bill Gates offers $1 million for better condom

Condoms save lives. (AJC file photo, 1987)

Condoms save lives. (AJC file photo, 1987)

Did you hear the one about Bill Gates being so rich he paid $1 million for a condom?

Turns out it is not a joke.

The Microsoft founder and 2nd richest man in the world is offering up to $1 million in funding to the inventor of the “next generation condom,” according to Science World Report.

The grant is actually offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gives away millions annually to globally “enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty.”

The foundation’s Grand Challenges website — which is still using ASP for some reason —  spills some interesting condom facts:

  • 15 billion condoms are produced a year with an estimated 750 million users (math tells me each user employs 20 per year).
  • Condoms are cheaply available almost everywhere, don’t require a prescription and prevent unwanted pregnancies and diseases.
  • Men don’t like them.

The foundation elaborates on that last point:

“The primary drawback from the male …

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Groundhog death penalty sought

Off with his head! (AP Photo)

Off with his head! (AP Photo)

A weather-predicting rodent faces the death penalty after seriously botching what seems to be his only job.

Fox 19, a TV station in Cincinnati, has the story.

Prosecutor Michael Gmoser alleges in an indictment that “on or about Feb. 2, 2013 … Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that Spring would come early.”

“I woke up this morning and the wind was blowing, the snow was flying, the temperatures were falling, and I said ‘Punxsutawney, you let us down,’” said Gmoser in the Fox 19 article.

The indictment accuses the misguided rat of “misrepresentation of early spring,” an unclassified felony “against the peace and dignity of the State of Ohio.”

Gmoser seeks to extradite the mutant squirrel from his home in Gobbler’s Knob, located near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Court watchers polled by this reporter believe Pennsylvania officials will deny extradition requests to preserve Phil’s life …

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Senate hears steady anti-drone drone

The long arm of the law now has eyes. (AP)

The long arm of the law now has eyes. (AP)

“Don’t drone me bro,” a phrase employed ’round the world by scampering, hillside terrorists, is increasingly popping up in the American lexicon.

Politicians are getting an earful from privacy groups alleging the use of unmanned aircraft over U.S. soil violates civil liberties, writes the Los Angeles Times.

Some appear to be listening, according to the Times:

“The thought of government drones buzzing overhead and constantly monitoring the activities of law-abiding citizens runs contrary to the notion of what it means to live in a free society,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that explored whether legislation was needed to curtail drone use to protect civil liberties.

Drones are so ubiquitous even those living is Pakistani caves have heard about them. The military-style drones have proven effective at killing U.S. enemies, and sometimes civilians.

No official records are publicly …

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Police want every text message to be saved

text-message-privacy

Prosecutors in Massachusetts used text messages sent by Nathaniel Fujita (right) to convict him earlier this month in the murder of his former girlfriend, Lauren Astley. (AP)

Most people think online privacy is important, but police didn’t get that message.

Law enforcement groups ranging from the U.S. Justice Department to local police departments are asking Congress to pass legislation that forces wireless phone carriers to save every text message customers send, reports CNET’s Declan McCullagh.

Police say criminal investigations are “being frustrated” because companies don’t retain information, or don’t retain it long enough.

“Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity,” Richard Littlehale from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told Congress.

If new legislation is passed to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, hard drive stock should skyrocket.

Phone carriers retain text message info for varying …

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Verizon wants to charge people for TV they watch

Nature, and the Screen Actors Guild, do not approve. (SyFy)

Nature, and the Screen Actors Guild, do not approve. (SyFy)

Television viewers would only pay for channels they watch under a plan proposed by Verizon Communications.

The Wall Street Journal reports Verizon, the sixth largest pay-TV provider in the U.S. wants to tie fees it pays to carry TV channels to how many people actually watch them.

Those who watch popular programming like sports would presumably pay more than couch spuds who enjoy Syfy reruns of Sharktopus or maybe even Dinocroc vs. Supergator.

Verizon is discussing its plan with “several ‘midtier and smaller’ media companies, reports the WSJ. The change would not lower Verizon bills, but may stabilize them, said Verizon’s chief programming negotiator.

Even though Verizon’s fiber optic internet and TV service is not available locally, the a la carte idea could change the industry.

Cable companies typically charge users for a cable package that likely includes dozens of channels no one in the home will ever watch.

ESPN, …

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Senator wants ‘Cruise Ship Bill of Rights’

The Carnival Legend, seen here operating under its own power in 2002, had to return to Tampa, Fla., after propulsion problems forced it to skip a stop in the Cayman Islands.

The Carnival Legend, seen in a 2002 file photo, had to return to Tampa, Fla., Sunday, after propulsion problems forced it to skip a stop in the Cayman Islands. (AP)

Since America’s major problems are largely whipped, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York wants to command the high seas with a “Cruise Ship Bill of Rights.”

Schumer, who likes coming up with various “Bill of Rights” ideas, wants the cruise ship industry to adopt a plan that would “guarantee sanitary conditions, backup power and medical staff in case of emergencies,” according to WENY-TV in New York.

Schumer’s plan was revealed after at least three incidents involving Carnival Cruise Lines in the last few weeks.

Other cruise ship lines, meanwhile, are probably wondering why they are getting dragged into Carnival’s bad PR maelstrom.

I follow the news pretty closely, and the last two major cruise ship stories have only involved Carnival-owned ships: Triumph’s stinky, extended stay in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine …

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Is Samsung’s S4 an iPhone killer?

The S5 will be even larger, Samsung officials did not announce. (AP)

The S4 is big, but not quite this big. (AP)

Lovers of giant phones rejoiced Thursday night as Samsung, the world’s largest maker of smartphones, released a new flagship device.

The Galaxy S4 has a huge 5-inch, 1080p screen but is packed into a frame smaller than the S3. Experts say the S4 isn’t perfect, but may make Apple tremble.

Samsung, a South Korean company, announced the S4 with an orchestra in the Big Apple.

That was a bold move considering Samsung still owes the other big Apple $600 million for patent infringement. You can hire a lot of Chinese workers for that kind of coin.

Industry experts say the S4 may make history.

“I believe the Samsung Galaxy S4 could be an important milestone for the Korean company, as it could be the first smartphone to outsell an iPhone,” said Francisco Jeronimo in The Daily Mail.

That will be true globally, but I think the iPhone will continue to outsell the top Android in the U.S. for the near future.

Interesting S4 features …

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