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July 2005 Archives

July 1, 2005

Ugly Tattoos

Why. Why, why why.

July 2, 2005

Japanese Robot Guards to Patrol Shops And Offices

from 101reviews.com:

Japanese Robot Guards to Patrol Shops And Offices

Burglars beware, robot guards are here. In an idea straight out of science fiction, robots could soon begin patrolling Japanese offices, shopping malls and banks to keep them safe from intruders.

Equipped with a camera and sensors, the Guardrobo D1, developed by Japanese security firm Sohgo Security Services Co, is designed to patrol along pre-programmed paths and keep an eye out for signs of trouble.

The 109cm tall robot will alert human guards via radio and by sending camera footage if it detects intruders, fires, or even water leaks.

Such robots are vital from a business standpoint when considering Japan’s ageing population, Sohgo Security said.

“In the near future, it is certain that securing young and capable manpower will become even more difficult…and the security industry will feel the full brunt of the impact,” the company said in a statement.

Around one in five Japanese are now 65 or over and the proportion is expected to rise to one in three in 2040, according to government data.

Sohgo Security is negotiating with several clients, and after an initial trial run hopes to begin offering a robot-assisted security system within a year, the company said.

July 4, 2005

Paul McCartney's New Album, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard"

Maybe this Godrich dude will get something better from Paul than that "Freedom" monstrosity.

Sir Paul McCartney has announced that his new album will be called ‘Chaos and Creation in the Backyard’.

The album is the follow-up to 2001’s ‘Driving Rain’ and is scheduled for release this autumn.

Fresh from wowing crowds at Live 8 with his Beatles medley over the weekend, Macca quashed rumours that it would be a double album, telling Radio 1: "I have two albums worth going at once."

As ananova reports, the legendary Beatles frontman has been working with Nigel Godrich on the album – famed for his work with Radiohead, Travis and the recent Live Aid single.

Macca is set to debut the album to audiences when he kicks off a lengthy North American tour in Florida on September 16.

New Sigur Ros Album in September

No word on whether their cover of "Come on, Get Happy" made the cut.

According to a front page article in today’s Fréttablaðið, recordings for the new Sigur Rós album due out in September, are now complete. The recordings have taken over a year and a half, mainly in the band’s studio in Mosfellsbær with finishing touches made New York.

Most of the songs are sung in Icelandic but some are sung in “vonlensku” or hopelandish, a language invented by singer Jónsi while working on their last album. Fréttablaðið reports that the new album is different from the last album and has more in common with the band’s album from 2000,Ágætis Byrjun,. Sigur Rós is about to start touring Europe, Japan and Australia.

July 5, 2005

New Untitled Franz Ferdinand Album

Franz Ferdinand Busy Whittling Down Tracks For New Album

Franz Ferdinand are a week away from selecting the 12 or 13 tracks to appear on their eagerly awaited second album.

The band have mixed 15 songs for the album and will knock two or three off for the final cut. Once the Scottish lads have made the decision, they will then decide on a running order.

Speaking to Billboard, Franz frontman Alex Kapranos said: "We've been through about 25 songs altogether and we're mixing 15 songs; of those 15, we'll probably choose 12 or 13."

He added: "We're very much a rhythm-driven band. We still want to make people dance, but we didn't want to repeat the same beats. We did experiment with a lot of different rhythms."

Kapranos revealed that tracks almost definite to make the final cut include ‘Do You Want To?’, ‘Walk Away’, ‘I’m Your Villain’, ‘Evil and a Heathen’, ‘Turn It On’, ‘This Boy’, ‘Well That Was Easy’, ‘Outsiders’ and ‘You Could Have It So Much Better’.

The album, which may well be untitled, is expected to be released in October through Domino.

Internet Addiction Clinic in china

I wish the reporter gave some indication of how this fits in with China's many repressive policies regarding the internet, instead of basically taking their spin at face value:

Beijing Clinic Treats Web Addicts

The 12 teenagers and young adults, some in ripped jeans and baggy T-shirts, sit in a circle, chewing gum and fidgeting as they shyly introduce themselves. "I'm 12 years old," one boy announces with a smile. "I love playing computer games. That's it." "It's been good to sleep" says another, a 17-year-old with spiky hair, now that he's no longer on the computer all day.

The youths are patients at China's first officially licensed clinic for internet addiction, a downside of the online frenzy that has accompanied the nation's breathtaking economic boom.

All the children here have left school because they are playing games or in chat rooms everyday," says the clinic's director, Dr. Tao Ran. "They are suffering from depression, nervousness, fear and unwillingness to interact with others, panic and agitation. They also have sleep disorders, the shakes and numbness in their hands."

According to government figures, China has the world's second-largest online population -- 94 million -- after the United States.

While China promotes internet use for business and education, government officials also say internet cafes are eroding public morality. Authorities regularly shut down the cafes -- many illegally operated -- in crackdowns that also include huge fines for their operators.

State media has also highlighted cases of obsessed internet gamers, some of whom have flunked out of school, committed suicide or murder. Nonetheless, internet cafes continue to thrive, with outlets found in even the smallest and poorest of villages. Most are usually packed late into the night.

Dr. Kimberly Young, a Bradford, Pennsylvania, clinical psychologist whose 1998 book on internet addiction has been translated into Chinese, says she's not surprised the Chinese would face problems with internet overuse.

"They are catching up with a lot of our technology, and certainly at that juncture, are now able to run into some of the same difficulties," Young said.

While treatment programs were almost nonexistent in the United States a decade ago, she said, dozens of clinics and countless individual therapists such as herself offer counseling and treatment in her country.

Programs are growing elsewhere, too.

Just a few years ago, Young says, she attended a conference in Switzerland where she was the only American out of some 200 academics and clinicians who gathered to address internet addiction.

Tao's government-owned clinic, which began taking patients in March, occupies the top floor of a two-story building on a quiet, tree-lined street on the sprawling campus of the Beijing Military Region Central Hospital in the heart of the Chinese capital.

A dozen nurses and 11 doctors care for the patients, mostly youths aged 14 to 24 who have lost sleep, weight and friends after countless hours in front of the computer, often playing video games with others online.

Some come voluntarily, while others are checked in by their parents. Many say their online obsessions helped them escape day-to-day stress, especially pressure from parents to excel in school.

Some can't stop playing games, while the older ones tend to be addicted to online chats with the opposite sex, Tao says. Others are fixated on designing violent games.

Tao, a psychiatrist for 20 years who specializes in treating addiction, estimates that up to 2.5 million Chinese suffer from Internet addiction, though others are skeptical.

"As the number of the netizens grows, the number of the addicted people will grow as well, but we should not worry about the issue too much," says Kuang Wenbo, a professor of mass media at Beijing's Renmin University. "The young men at the age of growing up have their own problems. Even if there was no internet they will get addicted to other things."

A reporter was allowed to talk to patients at the clinic on condition they not be identified by name.

"I wasn't normal," said a 20-year-old man from Beijing who used to spend at least 10 hours a day in front of the screen playing hack-and-slash games like Diablo.

"In school I didn't pay attention when teachers were talking," he said. "All I could do was think about playing the next game. Playing made me happy, I forgot my problems."

The 12-year-old, a new arrival, spent four days in an Internet cafe, barely eating or sleeping.

A soft-spoken 21-year-old man from northeastern Heilongjiang province who had been in the clinic for 10 days said his addiction had helped him escape from family pressures about his studies.

"I would stay up for 24 hours. I would eat only in front of the computer," he said.

Tao's team has put together a standard diagnostic test to determine whether someone is addicted, then uses a combination of therapy sessions, medication, acupuncture and sports like swimming and basketball to ease patients back into normal lives.

They usually stay 10 to 15 days, at $48 a day -- a high price in China, where the average city dweller's weekly income is just $20.

The routine begins around 6 a.m. and includes sessions on a machine that stimulates nerve impulses with 30-volt charges to pressure points.

Some patients receive a clear fluid through intravenous drips said to "adjust the unbalanced status of brain secretions," according to one nurse. Officials would not give any other details about the medication.

Patients also nap, write diary entries or play cards. Their rooms are sunny, each decorated with artificial flowers, Winnie the Pooh comforters and a 17-inch television.

Tao says the long-term effects of treatment are generally successful, but it's not easy to keep patients from again giving themselves over to Internet temptation.

"It would be hard to give it up completely," said the 20-year-old from Beijing. "I'll take it step-by-step."

July 7, 2005

Hamburgers Grown in Laboratory

The sad thing is, this is less scary than where "regular" hamburger meat comes from:

New hamburgers 'grown in laboratory' news.com.au

LABORATORIES using new tissue engineering technology might be able to produce meat that is healthier for consumers and cut down on pollution produced by factory farming, researchers said.
While NASA engineers have grown fish tissue in lab dishes, no one has seriously proposed a way to grow meat on commercial levels.

But a new study conducted by University of Maryland doctoral student Jason Matheny and his colleagues describe two possible ways to do it.

Writing in the journal Tissue Engineering, Matheny said scientists could grow cells from the muscle tissue of cattle, pigs, poultry or fish in large flat sheets on thin membranes. These sheets of cells would be grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked to increase thickness and resemble meat.

Using another method, scientists could grow muscle cells on small three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The resulting tissue could be used to make processed meat such as chicken nuggets or hamburgers.

"There would be a lot of benefits from cultured meat," Matheny said in a statement. "For one thing, you could control the nutrients."

Meat is high in omega-6 fatty acid, which is desirable, but not in large amounts. Healthful omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in walnuts and fish oils, could be substituted.

"Cultured meat could also reduce the pollution that results from raising livestock, and you wouldn't need the drugs that are used on animals raised for meat," Matheny said.

Raising livestock requires million of gallons of water and hundreds of acres of land. Meat grown from tissue would bypass those requirements.

The demand for meat is increasing worldwide, Matheny said. "China's meat demand is doubling every ten years," he said. "Poultry consumption in India has doubled in the last five years."

Writing in this month's Physics World, British physicist Alan Calvert calculated that the animals eaten by people produce 21 per cent of the carbon dioxide that can be attributed to human activity. He recommends people switch to a vegetarian diet as a way to battle global warming.

"Worldwide reduction of meat production in the pursuit of the targets set in the Kyoto treaty seems to carry fewer political unknowns than cutting our consumption of fossil fuels," he said in a statement.

The Kyoto treaty is a global agreement aimed at reducing production of so-called greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that help fuel global warming.

German Paris Hilton TV Commercial

Yeah I see hwat you're up to, sticking a random Asian guy in your ad that tells us to "go yellow"..

In tv commercial for German yellow pages GoYellow (seen here), heiress Paris Hilton writhes around in bed, chewing on an apple and playing with her lingerie... Paris goes on to open the door to a stunned delivery boy...

July 8, 2005

Pictures of Cats Jumping

Yes this is awfully inane even for a blog named Inane, but I have to do it. Look at these cats!!

Seems like these pics originated here.

July 10, 2005

Unfortunate Craigslist Ad

href="http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/cas/82835688.html">Oh dear.

July 12, 2005

Prison Clock

from clockplans.com:

The Clock Below Has A Very Interesting History

Just when you think you have seen everything, something comes along to totally surprise you! I have received pictures of The Thomas Grandfather Clock, made by a Chinese gentleman, using only a crude handsaw. I have received pictures of our wall clocks cut by woodworkers using only a peddle-driven scrollsaw from the early 1900's. But I have never seen a Thomas Clock quite like this one!

This Thomas Wall Clock is made out of paper, popsicle sticks and pencils. The only tools used in building this clock were tweezers, fingernail clippers and a razor blade! It took inmate Roger Sutton four months to build it! He says it keeps great time!

I will include parts of his letter he sent to us:

Dear Steve,

I hope you haven't forgotten me. I'm Roger Sutton, the one that is in prison. I'm sending you pictures of the clock I built using your plans. This clock is built out of all paper and popsicle sticks and the gear shafts are wooden pencils. I built this clock with only a razor blade, a pair of tweezers and a fingernail clipper. It sound impossible, but these were the only tools I had to build it with. And I want you to know it took me four months to build it!

I would like to ask you, could I get these pictures on the Internet where people could see my clock? I think it would inspire people to do more woodworking. This is the first clock that has been built like this, especially in prison. It would be nice to get more people excited about woodworking.

I would like to put this clock in a museum. Could you recommend a good place? If so, please send me the address. I would like to have my clock where other people could see it, what old clockmakers can do with little to do it with. You know what patience I had to take with it to build it out of paper.

Best regards,
Roger W. Sutton #0396668
Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 708
Spruce Pine, N.C. 28777

Poker Players Protest NYPD

New York Poker Players To Protest NYPD Raids

July 12, 2005
Michael Friedman
Poker movie fans are very familiar with Teddy KGB's place. The fictional underground poker club from the movie Rounders was based on a real-life New York City venue, which wasn't that different from the two poker clubs that were raided by the NYPD on May 26.

The New York Players Club and the PlayStation were subject to fully-armored, early-morning NYPD visit that led to the confiscation of $100,000 in cash and the arrest of 39 employees of the clubs.

According to a recent New York Daily News article, the politically-motivated raids occurred after high-profile celebrities Macauly Culkin and Hank Azaria were reported to have spent an evening playing at the Players Club. The illegal club had previously drawn attention from police after being selected by the Village Voice as the "Best place to deal like a gangster."

The raids have done little to stop underground clubs in New York and will be the subject of a protest that will take place on Thursday July 14, at the entrance of One Police Plaza. Led by the Libertarian candidate for Public Advocate Jim Lesczynski, the No Poker, No Peace Penny Poker Tournament will begin at 6 p.m. and will be preceded by a press conference that will address the NYPD's illegal confiscation of the $100,000 from the two clubs.

"The Manhattan District attorney admits the players themselves did nothing illegal, yet the police walked off with $100,000. They claim the money was confiscated for 'evidence'—as if anyone needs evidence that poker is played for money. The police say the have no plans to return the money to the players and that it will eventually become city property. It is not hyperbole to say that is simply armed-robbery by the NYPD," said Lesczynski.

According to NYPD member's of the NYPD special investigation's vice-squad, there is an ongoing investigation about the possible link between the poker clubs and organized crime activities. Police see things quite differently than event protesters. "We don't know where the money (gambling profits) is going," said Lt. Pasquale Morena.

The NYPD's attitude toward the clubs is not dampening the spirits of New York protesters and a good turnout is expected. The No Poker, No Peace tournament on the steps of police headquarters is open to all types players and at penny-ante stakes the tournament is more about proving a point than providing a quick cash.

Lesczynski isn't the only politician to try to tackle the ambiguities of the antiquated poker laws. Earlier this year state Senator John Sabini, a Queen's-based Democrat, introduced a bill that would allow bars and restaurants to sponsor low-stakes games. The bill limits buy-ins to $50 and would cap first-place prizes at $100.

Member's of the NYPD special investigation's vice-squad don't see things the way event protesters do. "We don't know where the money (gambling profits) is going," said Lt. Pasquale Morena.

July 13, 2005

2005 World Series of Poker Coverage

This year's World Series of Poker main event started this week, and as of tonight it's down to crunch time, the last 100 players or so.

It won't air on ESPN until later this month, but for those like me who are geeky enough to care there are several sites basically live-blogging it: Cardplayer.com, Gutshot.com and Pokerwire.com are all updating every few minutes.. Also good commentary at Pauly's Tao of Poker blog and Paul Phillips' Livejournal. Paul (a top pro in his own right) is also doing a daily column on the tournament for Slate.


As of tonight my man Phil Ivey (the only top-ranked Black player) is whooping just about everybody's ass, holding 2 million chips with less than 100 heads left. Other big names near the top are last year's champ Greg Raymer(!!), Mike Matusow and John Juanda.

New Harry Potter Book Leaked

It it on Bit Torrent yet?? PDF that bad boy up, people!

(just kidding, Mr. Attorney sir. I do not support such activity.)

Leak #1:

Canadian bookstore breaks Harry Potter embargo

A bookstore in Canada has sold 14 copies of the new Harry Potter book, ahead of this weekend's embargo.

The leak has thrown the Harry Potter publicity machine into a new spin.

As if sales of more than 100-million books is not enough, the publishers of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince have tried to whip up even more excitement among fans by keeping the new story a secret until this Saturday.

The store in Vancouver says it erred in selling the 14 copies.

There is no indication the lucky readers have plans to ruin the secret, but the Potter public relations machine kicked into gear and got a judge to order the 14 not to reveal what they might know to the world.

While the publisher talked of irreparable harm if the story leaked out, it is considered unlikely the publishers would actually sue adolescent book buyers, but the court case is getting the desired effect - everyone is talking about it.

Leak #2:

Another Harry Potter book escapes before time

Another copy of the latest Harry Potter book has been accidentally sold ahead of the strict release date, this time in a New York pharmacy.

Customer Mandy Muldoon said she simply spotted a stack of the highly anticipated books on a shelf and bought one. She has since promised to return it.

Shop manager Christine Ekblom said she believed it was the only copy sold.

“They were pulled off an hour after they were put on the shelves. It was a mistake,” she said.

A gag order was issued by a Canadian court this week after 14 copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were inadvertently sold at a supermarket near Vancouver.

The book is due for release this Saturday and will be unveiled at the stroke of midnight at special parties held at bookshops worldwide.

Ms Muldoon’s husband, Mike, said the family would return the book to the publisher, although his stepson had admitted reading two pages.

“We’re going to do the right thing,” he said.

“We don’t want to ruin it for other kids and take away from the experience of everyone reading it together.”

Kyle Good, a Scholastic publishing spokeswoman, said: “This is the first early sale we have heard of in the US and the family is returning it.”

On Friday, Scholastic will hold a ceremony to unveil the first signed copy of the Half-Blood Prince – transported to the US on the QE2 in a gigantic locked trunk.

The book will be presented to a public library.

Tiffany Williamson - WSOP Cinderella Story

So far at this year's World Series of Poker, the big cinderella story is Tiffany Williamson, a tournament rookie who has come out of nowhere to vie for the final table.

Yesterday Tiffany became the first African-American woman to reach a million chips in the WSOP, and then doubled up to two million in one fell swoop, the biggest hand of the tournament so far.

Tiffany Williamson is a 26 year old Columbia grad who now practices law in London (see her firm's web page here), and reportedly earned her WSOP seat through an internet qualifier that cost 40 pounds to enter.

For more info check gutshot.com, whom she is representing at the tourney.

EDIT: more details from launchpoker.com
Tiffany Williamson doesn't fit the profile of the typical poker player; she's British, she's black and she's a woman. But her budding accomplishments at the poker table are being admired by both amateurs and professionals alike. Williamson is a corporate attorney working in London for the top-ranked international firm of Davis, Polk and Wardwell. Her work has included transactions for some of the most well known financial companies in the world, including Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley. American-born, Williamson went to school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia; graduating in 1992. She went on to earn her M.A. from the University of South Carolina and her J.D. from Columbia Law School in New York. She has lived in London since joining Davis Polk in 1999 but still holds a license to practice in New York. It is perhaps this background that makes her comfortable with money. Her 2005 15th place win at the 36 th Annual World Series of Poker's No Limit Hold 'Em Championship yielded her $400,000, the highest cash prize ever paid to a female in a main event. She came to the World Series of Poker by winning a trip to Vegas during a freeroll at the London club "Gutshot," which she frequents. She then won a $10 satellite tournament to enter the World Series of Poker No Limit Hold 'Em Championship and the chance to beat out some of the top players in the world. She came as close to winning the event as any woman ever has, beating out 202 other female participants. Not bad for a newcomer. In fact, Williamson is currently ranked 99 on the 2005 Money List and 10th on the Women's "All-Time" Money List. Her win has made her the 15th highest money finisher ever for a female in the United Kingdom.

July 15, 2005

I Can't Stop Throwing Paper

Addictive flash games are the bane of my existence.

Kimchi Causes Cancer?


Kimchi may cause stomach cancer

During the cold weather, cultivation was practically unavailable. Consequently, Korean developed a method to pickle the vegatable - kimchi 7th century.

Koreans possess a passionate fondness for kimchi, serving this spicy fermented pickled vegetable dish at most meals. Kimchi contains lots of vitamins, minerals and fibers. The major ingredient of kimchi is Chinese cabbage. Other common ingredients include cucumber dill pickles and reddish. Kimchi ferments in vegetable?s own juices. Kimchi is usually prepared in large qualities and packed into huge jars and stored at low temperature. Most kimchi preparations contain dried, ground or crushed hot pepper. By adjusting the amount of hot pepper or even adding sweet paprika and cayenne, you can achieve the kimchi spiciness that you like.

Most people believe that kimchi is healthy, as kimchi contains lots of vitamins and anti-oxidants. However, as early as 1985, Kim JP has noticed the correlation between red pepper/high salt diet and gastric carcinogenesis (i.e. stomach cancer) in their animal study

In late 1990s, Ahn Yo at Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea, observed that stomach cancer was the most prevalent malignant neoplasm in Korea. He noted an increased risk of stomach cancer was among those who frequently had broiled meats and fishes, pickled vegetables, salted side dishes and salty stewed foods, such as soybean paste thick stew as their meals.

Gomez SL et al, Northern California Cancer Center, CA, compared the rates of stomach cancers among Korean, Korean American and Caucasian American. They found that the Korean in Korea have the highest rate for stomach cancers and the Caucasian Americans have the lowest rate.

In 1990-1901, Lee JK et al at Hanyang University, Korea also investigated how the dietary factors in Korean food related to Stomach cancer. They recruited 213 patients with stomach cancer and 213 subjects as controls. They found that increased risk of stomach cancer was associated with consumption of stewed foods (such as soybean paste stew and hot pepper-soybean stew, broiled fish) and salty foods (including pickled vegetables). They concluded that heavy salt consumption and cooking methods like broiling and salting seem to play a major role in gastric carcinogenesis among Koreans...

(via angry asian man)

July 16, 2005

Joe Hachem at the WSOP

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Last night Australian Joe Hachem came from behind to win the 2005 Worls Series of Poker, in a marathon session at the final table that ended at 7AM. He walks away with $7.5 million dollars for his work, while 2nd place finisher Steve Dannenmann bags $4 million.

Joe Hachem is a 39 yera old father of four and works back in Australia as a chiropractor.

Melbourne poker king wins $10m

[NOTE: this article converted the prize amounts to Australian dollars]

MELBOURNE card king Joe Hachem became an instant multi-millionaire last night in the world's biggest poker contest.

The Preston chiropractor cruised into the showdown against the sole other remaining player American Steven Dannenmann and was eyeing the top prize of $10 million in the Las Vegas competition.

Hachem had already won $5.6 million after defeating 5617 other contestants in the World Series of Poker no-limit Texas Hold 'em championship.

The 39-year-old father of four outwitted and outlasted an international field of competitors to face off against the world highest rollers.

"I can tell you I've made more money this week than in many years of fixing people's backs," Hachem said.

The ace won through eight gruelling days of competition, playing 12 to 13 hours a day, to reach the final table. Last night, wearing his darkest sunglasses, he risked millions of dollars on the turn of each card.

The Aussie and his loyal relatives – who chanted "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi" – captured the imagination of the crowd at Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel.

Hachem's richest prize in Melbourne has been $3545. The world series' total prize pool was more than $69 million.

More Aussie coverage here, from the day before.

Andrew Black at the 2005 WSOP

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Although Australian Joe Hachem walked away with first place, many including myself will remember Irishman Andrew Black as the class of the field, in every sense of the word.

Andrew is best known as the star of the 1998 poker documentary, "Million Dollar Deal," in which he is seen losing that year's WSOP against the legendary Stu Ungar. After that beat Black disappeared from the poker world and joined a buddhist monastery for 5 years, then finally returning to the cards two years ago an working his way back up the ranks.

Throughout this year's tournament he not only played masterfully but showed lots of personality while maintaining the class and graciousness you'd expect in a man fromthe monastery. At one point when he felt anothrr player was being unfairly penalized, he protested by stalling on all his turns the table until that player was allowed to return, even as all the other players were berating him to continue.. reportedly Black was actually moved to tears during this incident, he cared so much about standing up for this guy he felt was getting treated unjustly.

When he got to the final 8 it was clear (as heralded by Phil Hellmuth in cardplayer.com's live audio coverage) that Andrew Black was the best player left by far, with Mike Matusow gone. But a series of excuciating bad beats (he got his money in with the better cards each time and kept getting sucked out) eventually knocked him out in 5th.

I really hope ESPN gives Andrew Black lots of screen time, including the incident above, and he'll get to join the ranks of big name poker celebrities. I'd love to see a lot more of him.

July 18, 2005

Police: Coach paid kid to hurt disabled teammate

from sportsillustrated.cnn.com:

Police: Coach paid kid to hurt disabled teammate

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn't have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday.

Mark R. Downs Jr., 27, of Dunbar, is accused of offering one of his players the money to hit the boy in the head with a baseball, police said. Witnesses told police Downs didn't want the boy to play in the game because of his disability.

Police said the boy was hit in the head and in the groin with a baseball just before a game, and didn't play, police said.

"The coach was very competitive," state police Trooper Thomas B. Broadwater said. "He wanted to win."

Downs has an unpublished telephone number and couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.

He was arrested and arraigned Friday on charges including criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault and corruption of minors. He was released from jail on an unsecured bond.

The alleged assault happened June 27 in North Union Township, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, authorities said.

The boy's mother asked state police to investigate her son's injuries because she suspected Downs wanted to keep the boy off the field, despite a league rule that required each player to participate in three innings a game, Broadwater said.

Eric Forsythe, the president of the R.W. Clark Youth Baseball League, said Downs had two daughters on the T-ball team.

League organizers investigated accusations against Downs before the T-ball season ended earlier this month but could not prove that he did anything wrong. If Downs is convicted of any crime, he won't be allowed to be a coach next year, Forsythe said. The league is not affiliated with Little League International.

News Corp Buying Myspace?

In other words Fox/Rupert Murdoch owns Myspace now?

News Corp to buy Intermix for $580 million

By Derek Caney

NEW YORK, July 18 (Reuters) - News Corp. (NWS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Monday said it would buy Intermix Media Inc. (MIX.A: Quote, Profile, Research), owner of the popular MySpace.com social networking site, for $580 million in a move to expand the media conglomerate's Internet offerings.

The deal comes after News Corp., home to the Fox television network, Fox News and 20th Century Fox film studios, announced on Friday the creation of an Internet division to hold the company's sports, news and entertainment sites.

News Corp. will pay $12 a share, a 12 percent premium over Intermix's closing price on the American Stock Exchange on Friday. Intermix shares rose 9.5 percent to $11.74 in Monday trading.

"For a company with a market capitalization of over $50 billion and $6 billion in cash on their balance sheet, to pay $580 million for the fifth most widely viewed domain, that strikes me as reasonable," said Natexis Bleichroeder analyst Alan Gould.

"With a significant amount of advertising dollars moving from traditional outlets to online, News Corp., like most media companies, is looking to boost its Internet assets," Gould added.

Online advertising is expected to be the fastest growing category for national advertisers, up 15 percent to $7.9 billion this year, according to media buying firm Universal McCann.

MySpace.com is the most popular of the once-trendy social networking sites, which allow people with common interests to seek dates, friendship and professional relationships.

Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research), for its part, has a social networking site called Orkut. Yahoo Inc. (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) has made social networking a part of its Yahoo 360 networking tool.

"The thing about MySpace is that it's a growing audience," said Jupiter Research analyst David Card. "Its users are pretty loyal. They get a lot of time spent on their pages. And the personal information they get from users is pretty reliable because they want to meet people. One would think this information would be pretty useful to advertisers."

Intermix, which had $24.1 million in revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter, will become part of News Corp.'s newly created Fox Interactive Media.

News Corp. had said on Friday it plans to make "strategic investments" in this area. The creation of the Internet unit comes three months after News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch's exhortation to the newspaper industry that it was too slow to respond to the Internet.

Intermix was the target of a lawsuit by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who accused the company of false advertising and deceptive business practices in bundling hidden spyware that delivered pop-up advertising and redirected Web traffic to an Intermix search engine.

The company agreed to pay $7.9 million to settle suit without admitting wrongdoing. It had previously stopped distributing such programs.

The News Corp. deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of calendar


Intermix's largest shareholder, VantagePoint Venture Partners, which holds 22.4 percent of the company, has agreed to vote its shares in favor of the deal, News Corp. said.

News Corp. shares closed down 2 cents to $17.45 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Naked Mr. Burns

posted at Flickr, found at the San Diego Comic Con. Happy Birthday, Mr. Smithers.

Google Buys Zazzle?

Posting this for my friend mr. solis:

Google buys Zazzle

Google, the online search giant, have invested $16 million in Menlo Park, California based, online marketplace company called Zazzle. Just two years old, the web based, Amazon/Dell-type store is where people buy and sell customized T-shirts, stamps, posters prints and other gifts and artwork.

“Zazzle represents a significant breakthrough in e-commerce and is the ideal advocate for every individual who wants to create products that are as unique as they are,” Said John Doerr, Google investor and venture capitalists.

Zazzle’s creators Robert Beaver and sons, Bobby and Jeff, created the online store when the two sons were still in college at the Stanford University majoring in economics. The name Zazzle comes from the word “zazz” which means “to decorate something”. The company has established a community of members and visitors as well as partners like Walt Disney with more than 10,000 contributing artists. When people pick out an image and customize it on a T-shirt, framed picture or poster, Zazzle pays royalties to the contributing partner.
The company is also expected to partner with Pitney Bowes which will allow people to buy customized stamps.

July 20, 2005

Microsoft Sues Google For Hiring MS Exec

A few months ago, Microsoft threatened to go after Google in much the same way they went after Netscape in past. Well, here we go...

from apnews.myway.com:

Ex-Microsoft Exec Sued Over Google Job

SEATTLE (AP) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) sued Google Inc. (GOOG) on Tuesday, accusing it of poaching a top executive the search engine company had wooed away to head a new research lab in China.

The Redmond-based software power also sued the executive, Kai-Fu Lee, whose appointment Google trumpeted in a news release announcing the lab's establishment.

In a complaint filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, Microsoft accused Lee of breaking his 2000 employment contract, in part by taking a job with a direct competitor within a year of leaving the company.

Microsoft also accused Google of "intentionally assisting Lee."

"Accepting such a position with a direct Microsoft competitor like Google violates the narrow noncompetition promise Lee made when he was hired as an executive," Microsoft said in its lawsuit. "Google is fully aware of Lee's promises to Microsoft, but has chosen to ignore them, and has encouraged Lee to violate them."

Microsoft and Google, along with Yahoo Inc. (YHOO), are locked in a fierce battle to dominate search, both online and through programs that index computer hard drives so files can be instantly located. Google also has begun offering new services, including e-mail, that compete with Microsoft offerings.

Tom Burt, a lawyer for Microsoft, said Lee announced Monday that he was leaving for the Google job and had given no indication that he planned to honor an agreement not to work for a direct competitor for one year.

"To the contrary, they're saying, 'In your face,'" Burt told The Associated Press.

Google shot back with a statement saying: "We have reviewed Microsoft's claims and they are completely without merit. Google is focused on building the best place in the world for great innovators to work. We're thrilled to have Dr. Lee on board at Google. We will defend vigorously against these meritless claims."

Efforts to reach Lee were not successful. He did not have a listed phone number.

Google publicized Lee's hiring in a news release that called him a "respected computer scientist and industry pioneer" who will "lead the operation and serve as president of the company's growing Chinese operations." The news release, though mentioning that Lee had previously worked for Microsoft, did not mention the lawsuit or any noncompete clause.

Google said the research and development center Lee was hired to run, the company's first in China, would open in the third quarter of 2005.

At Microsoft, Lee oversaw development of the company's MSN Internet search technology, including a desktop search service released earlier this year. More recently, he has served as corporate vice president of the company's Interactive Services Division.

In its lawsuit, Microsoft said it was seeking a court order forcing Lee and Google to abide by terms of confidentiality and noncompetition agreements that Lee signed at Microsoft.

The company said it wants Lee barred from disclosing any Microsoft trade secrets or other confidential information.

It also wants a judge to order Lee to return any documents, files or reports he obtained from Microsoft and to forbid him from destroying any documents related to Microsoft and Google's move to hire him.

Companies in every industry hire people away from their competitors, but Burt said it usually doesn't happen unless the company the employee is leaving negotiates an agreement with the worker that typically requires that the new job not overlap with the old one.

That didn't happen in this case, Burt said.

"What makes this a particularly egregious violation," Burt said, "is that he's been hired to work in a position that's absolutely in direct competition with the work he was doing at Microsoft."

July 21, 2005

Using Google Maps to Get Out of a Traffic Ticket

from gearlive.com:

How Google Maps Got Me Out Of A Traffic Ticket

In January of this year, I was pulled over by a traffic officer for “disobeying a steady red”, a.k.a. running a red light. I pleaded “Not Guilty” to the charge, and today - nearly six months later – I went to court to find out the fate of my ticket violation. Check out how Google Maps saved me some serious cash - and points on my license!

Click here to read his whole story.

July 22, 2005

King of Quarters

I wonder how many takes they needed to get some of these in? (via the group home, without lil dap)

IM someone: the online popularity test

Take the AIM popularity test. jsmooth is the only one on my buddy list who beats me. Damn him!


from msnbc:

IM someone: the online popularity test

WASHINGTON - If all of life is like high school, at last we have the answer to the question that goes to the core of our id-driven, zit-popping, green-eyed insecurity:

Are you more popular, at this very second, than the person who's instant-messaging you?

Instant messaging, you will know, is the way tens of millions of Americans connect with their buddies faster than e-mail. Beginning this week, the 50 million users of AIM, America Online's version of instant messaging -- including nearly half of all Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 -- could perform a self-esteem check by visiting http://www.aimfight.com . There you enter your AOL or AIM screen name and your friend's AOL or AIM screen name. Then you click "fight" to figure out who's got a bigger score -- as in who's better connected and more popular. You can almost hear the tap-tap-tapping on the keyboards right now.

Your popularity is based on who has you on their buddy list. There's a complicated algorithm at work here. Your score is measured to the third degree, in the sense of the "six degrees of separation" game that seeks to link anybody on Earth to any other person through no more than five friends.

Say a couple of your friends, A and B, have you on their buddy lists. A, who has three people on her buddy list, doesn't add much to your score. That's because she doesn't have as many people on her buddy list as does B, who has 16. Your friend A is clearly not as well-connected as your friend B.

Not unlike life.

New measure of vanity
Online popularity is the state-of-the-art measure of vanity. There are several thriving communities that trade on how linked-up you are. They include the Facebook ( http://www.thefacebook.com ), an interactive yearbook that aims at the college crowd; Friendster ( http://www.friendster.com ), a more general place, like a downtown bar, to meet friends, co-workers and strangers; and MySpace ( http://www.myspace.com ), a do-it-yourself, all-around-service where you can blog, post pictures, etc.

Never mind that Yogi Berra once said that "anyone who is popular is bound to be disliked"; Mark Twain, after all, summed it up fine: "He liked to like people, therefore people liked him." In spite of that quiet but quaint voice in your head that says you shouldn't care how you stack up, of course you do.

"May it be online or offline, wherever, it's always about someone you know who knows someone else," says Chamath Palihapitiya, AOL's 29-year-old vice president and general manager for instant messaging, who speaks in a calm, unhurried voice that carries an air of someone who knows quite a bit about socializing. Because of the popularity of buddy lists, he adds, AOL last month decided to increase the number of people allowed to be on a user's buddy list from an impressive 200 to an astonishing 450. (Yahoo and MSN also offer instant messaging, although their versions are not as popular as AOL's in the United States, nor have they yet matched the new popularity fight feature. Their buddy lists are not taken into consideration by AimFight.)

"You can't affect your own score," says Palihapitiya. "The only way you can increase your score is to convince people to buddy-list you."

Around 2:30 in the morning Tuesday, a 50-year-old divorced computer trainer from Centreville is chatting on "Virginians over 40" at AOL.com. She wonders if she's more popular than her recent ex-boyfriend. "This is a nice little diversion," she says of AimFight. She's got "only 11 people" on her buddy list, she says, and she's "not sure" how many people her ex has on his.

Nonetheless, she types in her screen name and the screen name of her ex. "I won the fight, so it looks like he is not a lady's man, maybe?" crows Lydia, who repeatedly declines to give her last name out of embarrassment -- "What's a 50-year-old doing chatting in the middle of the night?"

July 26, 2005

Rap Marketing Comes to Nerdcore

from wired.com

Rap Marketing Comes to Nerdcore

Also dubbed "nerdcore," this branch of hip-hop is for geeks, by geeks. Geeksta rappers adopt the same combative verbal-assault stylings of their forerunners, but bust rhymes about elite script compiling and dope machine code.

The term was first coined in 2000 by nerdy New York rapper MC Frontalot in a track of the same name. Nerdcore now refers to artists waxing lyrical about topics as disparate as engineering and Lord of the Rings.

In recent months, the field has seen a growing number of releases from computer science labs, where egocentric grad students show off their Ph.D. credentials in tracks like "Have to Code" and "End of File."

"The stigma that was once attached to computer geeks and role-playing nerds is diminishing incredibly fast," said "digital gangster" Bryce Case Jr., aka ytcracker. "It has almost become trendy to have skills on a computer. Rather than guns and 'hos, I speak about DDOS attacks and camgirls."

The self-proclaimed "#1 greatest computer science gangsta rapper ever" is MC Plus+, a geeksta leading light whose moniker comes from the C++ programming language.

The Purdue University, Indiana, Ph.D. candidate and "CS pimp," whose album Algorhythms was recorded with pirated software, calls himself "the Tupac of the computer science world."

MC Plus+ rattles off lines like: "I'm encrypting shit like every single day; sending it across a network in a safe way; protecting messages to make my pay; if you hack me you're guilty under DMCA."

But Plus+'s flow is dissed on the opposite coast by geeksta peers like Dan Maynes-Aminzade, aka Monzy, a 25-year-old Minnesota-born Stanford grad student who recorded a dis track specifically to insult his rap rival.

"Our raps are filled with braggadocio, but instead of boasting about our bitches, blunts, Benzes or Benjamins, maybe we talk about our math skills or the efficiency of our code," Monzy said.

Monzy said competition between universities and academic departments is nothing new, and rivalries are a big part of the hip-hop tradition.

"Feuds between Nas and Jay-Z, Biggie and Tupac and 50 Cent and Ja Rule have received a lot of coverage and generally result in more exposure for both artists, so I decided to bring this to the world of CS gangsta rap by starting a feud with MC Plus+," Monzy explained.

Such talk could put fans on alert for a spiral of tit-for-tat nerdcore violence -- like that which marred the infamous intercoastal rivalry between the Death Row and Bad Boy labels and culminated in the killings of their two top artists.

Plus+, who writes most of his rhymes in class, said he is about to release an insult track written in response to the Monzy's opening salvo.

"I saw two of my favorite rappers, Tupac and Biggie, get killed for no reason," he said. "But it's like this, man -- when you're at the top, there is jealousy and, needless to say, haters are coming at you. I'm gonna tell Monzy: 'You ain't even on my level' -- you got to know me and only me."

The aggression also mirrors 1998's war of words between LL Cool J and Canibus, a computer science major and tech-centric rhymester who fabricated a feud to generate publicity, according to Journal of Hip-Hop editor Andrew Ryan, who teaches both computers and hip-hop culture at George Mason University, Virginia.

"Computer scientists, by training, use divide and conquer in almost any task," said Ryan. "Rap music, with all its complexities, provides (them with) the perfect conundrum.

"I don't think this new subculture will really stick, though," Ryan added. "If the genre is to succeed, you're going to need some females."

Nerdcore fans, meanwhile, are happy to identify with a music that speaks their own language.

Henry Lin, a geeksta fan and graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley, said: "The lyrics are full of inside jokes that only those knowledgeable in computer science would understand. Besides, some songs do a good job of capturing the everyday struggles of computer science majors."

Frontalot, a New York designer who declined to give his real name, conceded he has "mediocre" mic skills, but said nerds can out-hip hip-hop's true superstars.

"I think CS graduates have a better chance than most rappers at calculating and devising hitherto unheard rhyme pairings," he said. "50 Cent has dance clubs and oral sex, we have awesome video cards."

July 28, 2005

Adebisi Joins Lost

I've never seen Lost (or any other show that debuted in the last 3 years) but now that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is joining up I might have to hop on BitTorrent.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Joins Lost

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Oz) is set to join the cast of Lost for the series' second season. Lost will have its season premiere Wednesday, September 21 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network, and will air Wednesdays at this time in the 2005-06 season.

Adewale will play Emeka, a mysterious man whose presence on the island - and intentions - will be revealed in one of the early episodes in the upcoming second season.

Born in London, England, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje split his time as a youth between the U.K. and Nigeria. After earning a Masters in Law from the University of London, a career in acting came his way when acclaimed director Frank Marshall cast him in Congo. This led to appearances in the films Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and Legionnaire, the HBO movie Deadly Voyage, and television series Cracker and New York Undercover, as well as the miniseries 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Adewale's dramatic portrayal of the murderous drug addicted prisoner Adebisi in the series Oz earned him two NAACP Award nominations. He went on to star opposite Brendan Frasier in The Mummy Returns and with Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity. He recently wrapped production on the film Get Rich or Die Tryin', opposite Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, and completed work on the movie Mistress of Spices, a romantic comedy in which he stars opposite Aishwarya Rai.

Lost stars Naveen Andrews as Sayid, Emilie de Ravin as Claire, Matthew Fox as Jack, Jorge Garcia as Hurley, Maggie Grace as Shannon, Josh Holloway as Sawyer, Malcolm David Kelley as Walt, Daniel Dae Kim as Jin, Yunjin Kim as Sun, Evangeline Lilly as Kate, Dominic Monaghan as Charlie, Terry O'Quinn as Locke, Harold Perrineau as Michael and Michelle Rodriguez as Ana-Lucia.

J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof co-created Lost and also serve as executive producers, along with Carlton Cuse, Bryan Burk and Jack Bender. Lost, which is filmed entirely on location in Hawaii, is from Touchstone Television.

July 29, 2005

Blind Teen Amazes With Video-Game Skills

from yahoo.com:

Blind Teen Amazes With Video-Game Skills

LINCOLN, Neb. - Brice Mellen is a whiz at video games such as "Mortal Kombat." In that regard, the 17-year-old isn't much different from so many others his age. Except for one thing: He's blind.

And as he easily dispatched foes who took him on recently at a Lincoln gaming center, the affable and smiling Mellen remained humble.

"I can't say that I'm a superpro," he said, working the controller like an extension of his body. "I can be beat."

Those bold enough to challenge him weren't so lucky. One by one, while playing "Soul Caliber 2," their video characters were decapitated, eviscerated and gutted without mercy by Mellen's on-screen alter ego.

"I'm getting bored," Mellen said in jest as he won game after game.

Blind since birth when his optic nerve didn't connect because of Leber's disease, Mellen honed his video game skills over the years through patient and not-so-patient playing, memorizing key joystick operations and moves in certain games, asking lots of questions and paying particular attention to audio cues. He worked his way up from games such as "Space Invaders" and "Asteroid," onto the modern combat games.

"I guess I don't know how I do it, really," Mellen said, as he continued playing while facing away from the screen. "It's beyond me."

Mellen knows this much: He started playing at home when he was about 7.

"He enjoyed trying to play, but he wasn't very good at first," said his father, Larry Mellen. "But he just kept on trying. ... He's broken a lot of controllers."

When the question of broken controllers comes up, Mellen flashes a smile and just shrugs.

"I used to have quite a temper," he said. "Me and controllers didn't get along very well."

Now they get along just fine.

While playing "Soul Caliber 2," Mellen worked his way through the introductory screens with ease, knowing exactly what to click to start the game he wanted.

He rarely asked for help. Once the game started he didn't need any help.

"How do I move?" an exasperated opponent, Ryan O'Banion, asked during a battle in which his character is frozen in place.

"You can't," Mellen answered before finishing him off.

"That's what happens. It's why I don't play him," O'Banion said after his blood-spattered character's corpse vanishes from the screen.

How Mellen became so good is a mystery to his father.

"He just sat there and he tried and tried until he got it right," Larry Mellen said. "He didn't ever complain to me or anyone about how hard it was."

Mellen hangs out any chance he gets at the DogTags Gaming Center in Lincoln, which opened last month. Every now and then someone will come in and think he can easily beat the blind kid.

That attitude doesn't faze Mellen.

"I'll challenge them, maybe. If I feel like a challenge," he said, displaying an infectious confidence. "I freak people out by playing facing backwards."

There's nothing he likes better than playing video games, Mellen said.

He will be a senior in high school next year. After graduation, he plans to take a year off because he wants a break from school.

When he does go to college, Mellen wants to study — what else? — video-game design.

About July 2005

This page contains all entries posted to The Inane Asylum in July 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2005 is the previous archive.

August 2005 is the next archive.

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