"The only blog we have to fear is blog itself."

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Holy yikes 

Chimp attack kills cabbie and injures tourists:
Police are hunting 27 chimpanzees that escaped from a Sierra Leone preserve and attacked the occupants of a taxi, killing the driver.

Four other people among the group of local and American sightseers were mauled by the animals and needed hospital treatment, including a Sierra Leonean man whose hand was later amputated.
Killer chimp still at large:
The first chimpanzee to join Sierra Leone's reserve for the animals is believed to have turned killer and is still at large, rangers said on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old animal, named Bruno, has been linked to the death of Sierra Leonean driver Issa Kanu, said zoo officials....

According to zoo officials, citing survivors' accounts of the attack, Bruno smashed the windscreen of the car that took the men to Tacugama with his fist....

"Bruno grabbed the driver by the neck, slammed him on the ground and chopped off all his fingers and toes," said one official who asked not to be identified.

"He then ate up the entire face of Issa, leaving him dead."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Purity Balls" 

Is it just me or does this seem a little creepy, like Bob Carlisle's '90s hit "Butterfly Kisses" (that painfully strained would-be counterpart to "Cats in the Cradle" that has become an embarrrasing part of wedding ritual)?

The Father Daughter Purity Ball

What could be positive and innocent seems here to be nudged over the line into a future CNN story backgrounder...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shot Himself in the Foot 

Agent who shot himself during gun safety talk sues DEA over video:
When a Drug Enforcement Administration agent accidentally shot himself in the foot while demonstrating gun safety before school children, he hoped news of the embarrassing incident wouldn't get out.

But a videotape of Lee Paige's self-inflicted gunshot was somehow leaked and soon became popular on the Internet and even aired on CNN and late-night talk shows. So Paige sued the DEA for "improperly, illegally, willfully and/or intentionally" disseminating the video, according to the lawsuit.

Paige "is the target of jokes, derision, ridicule and disparaging comments...."
Well, duh. He embodied a cliche. That's rarely fun for the embodier (I guess it depends on the cliche).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Headline Body in Topless Algorithm! 

Interesting story about how Google News (and other automated news sites) are affecting newspaper structures and traditions...

This Boring Headline Is Written for Google:
Some news sites offer two headlines. One headline, often on the first Web page, is clever, meant to attract human readers. Then, one click to a second Web page, a more quotidian, factual headline appears with the article itself. The popular BBC News Web site does this routinely on longer articles.

Nic Newman, head of product development and technology at BBC News Interactive, pointed to a few examples from last Wednesday. The first headline a human reader sees: "Unsafe sex: Has Jacob Zuma's rape trial hit South Africa's war on AIDS?" One click down: "Zuma testimony sparks HIV fear." Another headline meant to lure the human reader: "Tulsa star: The life and career of much-loved 1960's singer." One click down: "Obituary: Gene Pitney."

"The search engine has to get a straightforward, factual headline, so it can understand it," Mr. Newman said. With a little programming sleight-of-hand, the search engine can be steered first to the straightforward, somewhat duller headline, according to some search optimizers.

On the Web, space limitations can coincide with search-engine preferences. In the print version of The New York Times, an article last Tuesday on Florida beating U.C.L.A. for the men's college basketball championship carried a longish headline, with allusions to sports history: "It's Chemistry Over Pedigree as Gators Roll to First Title." On the Times Web site, whose staff has undergone some search-engine optimization training, the headline of the article was, "Gators Cap Run With First Title."
If the clever headline goes the way of the evening edition, what will become of the fabled New York tabloid headline writers, famed for such delicious copy as "Headless Body in Topless Bar"? Or some of the other great headlines, like these among those dubbed "Greatest" by New York Magazine:
(Daily News, 1975)

(Bernie Goetz turns himself in; Post, 1985)

(Koch re-elected; News, 1985)

(Post, 1990)

(Meteor misses earth; Post, 1998)

(Senate fails to convict Clinton; News, 1999)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bible Thumped! 

Or, The Scientists Strike Back!

Oh, the indignity! First, despite already shaky claims by creationism advocates that there's no evidence of transitional forms in the fossil record, here comes another one.

Fossil Called Missing Link From Sea to Land Animals:
In two reports today in the journal Nature, a team of scientists led by Neil H. Shubin of the University of Chicago say they have uncovered several well-preserved skeletons of the fossil fish in sediments of former streambeds in the Canadian Arctic, 600 miles from the North Pole.

The skeletons have the fins, scales and other attributes of a giant fish, four to nine feet long. But on closer examination, the scientists found telling anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but has changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals — and is thus a predecessor of amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs, mammals and eventually humans.
As if that's not enough, though, a wholly separate area takes a body blow. Jesus may not have actually walked on water after all:
Jesus may have appeared to be walking on water when he was actually floating on a thin layer of ice, formed by a rare combination of weather and water conditions on the Sea of Galilee, according to a team of US and Israeli scientists.

Their study, published by the Journal of Paleolimnology (the study of prehistoric lakes), argues that salty springs along the Galilee's western shore can stop surface water circulating at cold temperatures and there were unusually cold spells lasting up to 200 years in biblical times.
One thing that is also evident. The whole message of love by Jesus (up to and including turning the other cheek) seems to be blithely ignored by many of his perported followers:
Prof Nof said he had been receiving emails every two or three minutes. "Three out of four of them are negative and some of them are pretty nasty," he said.
Jesus wept.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Happy 4/1 

Google's new venture: Google Romance

Be sure to take the tour! Hilarious!

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