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  1. Weird

    Australian Stores Refuse to Sell You an iPad Unless You Buy Unnecessary Crap

    You mean other than the iPad? HEY-oooooooo! But seriously, folks. Consumers in Australia say that some JB Hi-Fi stores told them that they could not sell them an iPad unless they bought other stuff too. Like a docking station, screen protector, Telstra SIM cards, or charging adapters, even after having it pointed out to them that the iPad box said that the charger was included. When customers asked why they couldn't just buy an iPad, the stores answered: Apple policy.

    Read on...
  2. Tech

    Breaking: You Can Get Viruses From Porn Sites

    Results from an in depth study of the security of free porn websites were released at the Workshop on the Economics of Information Security,which was held at Harvard. The practices used by free porn websites to drive traffic (their only commodity) "have almost inadvertently created a whole ecosystem that's easy to abuse for cyber crime on a large scale," according the leader of the study, Dr. Gilbert Wondracek of the International Secure System Lab. I know, I know, but listen, we all can't be academics.

    Read on...
  3. Science

    North Korea: It’s Got What Plants Crave

    According to - we'd like to point out that this bit of news is not from, say, some weird!news aggregator, but, in fact - the BBC, North Korea has developed a liquid panacea. A "super drink." Made of "microelements." Which makes you smarter, whitens your skin, and keeps you from looking old. It also has no side effects.

    We wish we were making this up.

    Read on...
  4. Weird

    Correction: Doctors Do Not Have to Write “Please” to Get Crucial Bloodwork Done at Hospital

    This morning, we read a jaw-dropping story on Slashdot about a hospital in the UK at which doctors supposedly had to write the word 'please' on weekend orders for blood tests. If they didn't abide by this covert cost-cutting measure, the claim went, the tests simply wouldn't be done, even at the risk of patients' health.

    From the article:

    A doctor at the hospital said on condition of anonymity that he sees the policy as a money-saving measure that could prove dangerous for patients. 'I was shocked to come in on Sunday and find none of my bloods had been done from the night before because I'd not written "please,"' the doctor said. 'I had no results to guide treatment of patients. Myself and a senior nurse had to take the bloods ourselves, which added hours to our 12-hour shifts. This system puts patients' lives at risk. Doctors are wasting time doing the job of the technicians.'

    According to the Sun article from which the story originated (that, right there, is a warning sign), the pernicious 'please' requirement was a means of easing pressure on phlebotomists, those prissy technicians whose job it is to draw blood.

    Outrage! Medical profession fail! Here's the thing: It's all nonsense.

    Read on...
  5. Weird

    California Fights Back Against Texas Board over Controversial Textbook Changes

    Good legislation out of California?  I guess it had to happen sometime. In reaction to the noted conservative bias of the Texas Board of Curriculum, State Senator Leland Yee has introduced a bill that would require the California Board of Education to pay special attention during its textbook reviews for any of the changes approved by the Texas Board, and then report those findings to the state secretary of education and the state legislature, presumably so that those textbooks can be altered or rejected. Much has been said bout how, as the second largest purchaser of textbooks in the country, the Texas school board has the ability to dictate the content of America's school books.  Well, California is the largest purchaser of textbooks in the country, it just, uh, can't buy any new textbooks until 2013, due to legislation introduced in order to save school districts money.

    Read on...
  6. Weird

    Argentinian Politician’s Anti-Plagiarism Bill Plagarizes Wikipedia

    Yo, dawg, we heard you like plagiarism. Well, this anti-plagiarism bill plagiarizes three paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on plagiarism, so you can... Eh, you know the rest. Argentinian statesman Gerónimo Vargas Aignasse suggested a change to article 172 of the of the Criminal Code, (Google Translate here), which would make plagiarism an offense punishable by jail time of three to eight years, and in his five paragraph summary description of the bill, copy-pasted three paragraphs from the Spanish language Wikipedia. In fact, only the first and last sentences are original. He even seems to have left in some of Wikipedia's hyperlinking punctuation by mistake.

    Read on...
  7. Tech

    Actual Quantum Computing Performed: “Thousands of times” Faster Than Conventional Computer

    Japanese (who else?) scientists have used quantum calculation to compute a Fourier transform with an iodine molecule.

    From Popular Science:

    Using quantum interference – the vibrations of the atoms themselves – the team was able to run the complete discrete Fourier transform extremely quickly by encoding the inputs into an optically tailored vibrational wave packet which is then run through an excited iodine molecule whose atomic elements are oscillating at known intervals and picked up by a receiver on the other side. The entire process takes just a few tens of femtoseconds (that’s a quadrillionth of a second). So we’re not just talking faster data flow or processing here; these are speeds that are physically impossible on any kind of conventional electronic device.

    Uh...

    Can we still say its cool if we don't understand it at all?

    Read on...
  8. Tech

    Wikipedia Book Making Now Available to English Speakers

    Wikipedia's make a book feature PediaPress (not pictured above) has been available to other language Wikipedia's for some time now, but was only available to logged in users of the English Wikipedia. Now, according to the PediaPress blog, any user can collect pages to be printed in gray scale (color is on its way), bound in soft cover (hardcover is coming soon), and shipped out to them within a surprisingly short time period. Costs starts at $8.90, and are based on page count. Judging by a quick perusal of the existing PediaPress catalog, the largest book (Complexity and Dynamics) is about 900 pages, and sells for $40.16, while three volume sets on The Beatles, US presidents, and the EU are going for around $90. But WHY, you ask?

    Read on...
  9. Weird

    The Catholic Church is Recruiting Through Facebook

    In the face of dwindling numbers of French priests and an international child abuse scandal that many feel has not been addressed strongly enough by the Vatican, the Catholic Church in France has created a Facebook page as a part of a two-week marketing campaign to "to attract young people to the priesthood." Maybe they should also spend some time preventing the opposite! Hey-oo - Er, sorry. We'll try to keep those sorts of things to a minimum.

    Read on...
  10. Gaming

    Health Experts Perturbed by Video Game Summer Camp

    The University of British Columbia offers a summer camp program that lets kids play video games for three hours a day, and health experts are now weighing in, even though the program had its inaugural semester last summer.

    The camp offers three hours of play with "Nintendo, Wii, Playstation and other computer games" as well as foosball, ping pong, and a field trip to a local game company to meet designers and learn about jobs in the games industry. And, yes, the kids do play outside every day.

    "Some kids aren't athletic, aren't artistic," camp manager Kyle Cupido says. "This gives them a chance to meet new friends."

    UBC Professor of medicine Heather McKay, who does research in children and exercise, sees it differently.

    Read on...
  11. Tech

    James Cameron Developing a 3D Camera for the Next Mars Rover

    NASA's next Mars rover, going by the name Curiosity, is nuclear powered and the size of a small car. If that weren't enough to make you want to ride it around some kind of Weird-West-Martian hellscape, it's also getting a set of 3D cameras courtesy of James Cameron.

    Malin Space Science Systems had already delivered a set of cameras capable of taking high-def color video of both near and far objects, but NASA has provided the funding for Malin to work with Cameron to develop two 3D cameras with zoom lenses.

    Read on...
  12. Science

    Beeblebrox Alert: Researchers Discover Limb Regeneration Gene

    British researchers say that they have located the gene that allows Planarians to regrow limbs, organs, and even heads. Planarians, if you never took care of one in middle school biology, are little water-living flatworms about half an inch long that can completely regenerate after being cut in half. No matter how you do it, you'll wind up with two whole planarians in the end. From The Register:
    Understanding the process completely in worms, according to [Dr. Aziz] Aboobaker, is a necessary prerequisite for making it happen in humans. Another cunning worm trick he wants to get to the bottom of is the method by which the Planarians cope with rogue stem-cells producing defective cells - regeneration gone wrong, after all, in basically cancer.

    Read on...
  13. Entertainment

    Leonard Nimoy Announces His Retirement

    In an interview with The Toronto Sun, Leonard Nimoy has announced his retirement from acting. Though the actor legendary among the sci-fi community for his role in Star Trek, the occasional voice acting credit, and odd affection for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien has taken several breaks from active duty before, he seems sincere that this is a lasting proposition.

    "I want to get off the stage. Also, I don’t think it would be fair to Zachary Quinto,” he says, referring to the actor who portrayed a youthful Spock in last summer’s smash Star Trek relaunch. “He’s a terrific actor, he looks the part, and it’s time to give him some space. And I’m very flattered the character will continue.”

    Read on...
  14. Weird

    Wisconsin Declares Its State Microbe: Lactococcus lactis

    In yet another example of real news almost being less believable than The Onion (no really), last week Wisconsin declared that Lactococcus lactis was the official state microbe.

    The New York Times reports:

    “The first time I heard the idea, I thought, I’ve got more important things to do than spending my time honoring a microbe,” said Gary Hebl, a Democratic state representative who proposed the bill which, he says, would make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to grant such a designation. “But this microbe is really a very hard worker.”

    Read on...
  15. Tech

    RIAA and MPAA Make Outrageous Proposal, Sit Back, Stroke White Cat

    The United States government is still wrestling with the tricky problem of intellectual property rights in the digital age, and so the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (also known as the Copyright Czar) has asked the big players in intellectual property to submit proposals full of steps the government could take to curb pirates and other copyright infringers.

    The joint proposal from the MPAA and RIAA is, as one might suspect, the sort of thing that wouldn't seem amiss coming out of the mouth of a black clad man with one cataract-filled eye, who sits in a swivel chair at one end of a glossy conference table and strokes a white Persian cat. Once he finishes speaking, his henchmen drag you away from your computer, screaming.

    Read on...
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