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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Romania allows 11 year old girl to have an abortion

Imagine the moral dilemma. An 11 year old girl, one who is so young and expected to lead a life where school, friends and games are the main ingredients of life, is struggling with the concept of bearing a life - being pregnant due to being raped by somebody known to her - her 19 year old uncle who is now on the run. Romania is a country that does not allow abortion after 14 weeks, but what do you in such a case where the girl is 21 weeks pregnant, but does not even know. Allowing the victim to give birth will essentially ruin her life, changing her life totally (and as can be seen, she was already being seen as different from her friends who were avoiding her), further, for an 11 year old, carrying a pregnancy to full term can be dangerous. Thankfully the Government relented:

BUCHAREST: The Romanian government has allowed an 11-year-old pregnant girl to undergo an abortion on exceptional grounds. The country had been divided in its opinion on the case of the 11-year-old who been raped by her uncle. On Thursday, 20 anti-abortion Orthodox groups had called for her to continue with her pregnancy offering to raise the child.
The girl is 21 weeks pregnant, more than the 14-week limit allowed by Romanian law. Abortions can be carried out later than 14 weeks in Romania, but only to save the life of the mother.

Thankfully, better sense prevailed, and the girl was allowed to terminate her pregnancy, no doubt offensive to pro-lifers, but something that should have been done.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Selling off a live army shell

Corruption takes many strange forms, and can cause very strange situations. However, this incident takes the cake. The Indian army has policies for disposal of its ammunition, and those do not allow letting its soldiers walk off with these shells and sell them for their personal benefit. So how do you account for the stupidity of this armyman and the scrap dealer to whom he sold it to?

Three people, including an Armyman, were killed and three others seriously injured when a shell exploded at a scrap dealer's shop in Punjab’s Muktsar district on Thursday.
Muktsar police chief Gurpreet Singh Gill said the Armyman had taken the shell to the scrap dealer in Mehna village to sell. “When the shopkeeper hit the shell with a hammer, it exploded, killing three people on the spot,” he said.

Shells have been known to be volatile. Bombs that were dropped during World War 2 in Europe are still seen as dangerous, and treated with as much care as live shells. How does one explain the concept of this army soldier trying to sell off a shell; one wonders about the caliber of our soldiers if she did not realize that a shell is volatile. And the policies of the army where a soldier could walk off with a shell during peacetime, and it is not missed.

Adultery and corruption in China

As China prospers, it is seeing a resurgence of the common problems of a rapidly prospering society. The incidence of corruption in the society has increased rapidly to the extent that it is impacting the growth; China has launched a major campaign against corruption and is cracking down severely on corruption (with death penalties being enforced for people caught in corruption cases). The other major issue that has surfaced is that many of these richer people have adopted the practise of having mistresses. The Chinese Government seems to have tried to break both of these tendencies by using one against the other:

Corruption and mistresses don't make good bedfellows. Authorities in southern China are using information obtained from mistresses of government officials to crack down on corruption, state media reported Thursday. At least 80 percent of government officials arrested for corruption in the city of Dongguan in Guangdong province were exposed thanks to their mistresses, the China Daily said.
Beijing has been trying to rein in corruption for several years. A law that went into effect last year mandates that government officials found to have mistresses be dismissed from their posts. In recent years, the country has seen several highly publicized corruption cases involving officials who steal -- in part to provide for their mistresses.

Seems like an interesting way to ferret out this information; it also seems to be apparently working.

Crocodile inside a bar in Australia

Imaging sitting in a bar, enjoying your drink with your plans, and having the fun that you are sitting there for. And then suddenly, you find that you have another companion, a baby salt water crocodile. This could only happen in Australia. In this case, patrons at a bar found a baby crocodile outside the door of the bar, and pulled him inside the bar for photos (and this bar located some distance away from the remote city of Darwin in Australia's North has hosted many strange animals in the past). Read more:

It sounds like the setup to a joke: A crocodile walks into a bar...
Drinkers at a watering hole in the Australian outback found themselves toasting a baby saltwater crocodile that wandered up to the pub's door Sunday. No one knows how the two-foot long (60 cm) crocodile ended up outside the Noonamah Tavern, located off a dusty highway about 25 miles (40 km) from the Northern Territory capital of Darwin.
But unusual creatures are all in a day's drinking for the tavern, said bartender Leila Naray. "We've had a lot of horses pop up. We've had cane toads, which are yukky," she said. "We have had a big buffalo come in, wander around. There's a photo of him with a beer." Two women who work at a gas station outside the bar first spotted the creature. Incredulous bar patrons then rushed out. A couple of men brought the crocodile inside the pub, taped its mouth and Naray snapped photos.

Seems interesting; the concept of picking up a crocodile without fear and then pulling it inside to take photos of it is either very brave or very foolish.

Abortion of a 11 year girl

Catholic countries have a strict injunction against abortion due to religious principles. As a result, abortion is either illegal or under some constraints; these constraints could be related to the terms and conditions under which abortion is legal; or it could be that abortion is illegal after a certain time period. And this is what happened in Romania recently where an 11 year girl was pregnant (after she was raped by her own uncle). Read this story:

Romanian authorities plan to decide Friday whether to allow an 11-year-old girl to have an abortion after she was raped by her teenage uncle, the Romanian Ministry of Health said Thursday. The girl is now 20 weeks pregnant -- too far along to have an abortion in Romania -- and her parents have said they'll take her to Britain for an abortion if the Romanian authorities deny her one at home, a spokeswoman at the health ministry said.
If the girl were to have an abortion, however, she would have to pay for a private doctor rather than using the state-run National Health Service, said the spokesman, who declined to be named in line with policy.

I think that in this case, the girl was allowed to have an abortion on humanitarian grounds. Good, but this was a one time case, one wonders as to what happens in many other cases.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Prisoners strike for more sex

The need for sex is a basic need for people, and there is no better example for this than what happened in a Paraguay prison. The prison allows visits for conjugal purposes, and the regulation was they had to happen during the daytime. But after a riot by the prisoners, this rule was relaxed and such conjugal visits were allowed after daytime work hours (thus letting partners from outside come more frequently without missing work):

Paraguayan officials have put down a prison riot by agreeing to inmates' demands for more sex. Justice Minister Derlis Osorio said Friday the riot at the Esperanza industrial prison ended after four hours without deaths or injuries.

This also means that prisoners can continue to do the work they are doing at the prison during these hours, and not worry about disturbance to their regular schedule.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Teacher brands students hand with a cross

The difference between state policy and religion is a matter of deep controversy in the United States, and also a policy that is enshrined in the US constitution, reinforced by many court rulings in the past. Hence, for a teacher to try and enforce his Christian beliefs (however fundamental these beliefs would be) on impressionable students is something that a number of people would disagree with. The teacher used to keep a copy of the Bible in class, carried the Ten Commandments, and also preached that evolution was flawed (against the education board policy):

The school board of a small central Ohio community voted Friday to fire a teacher accused of preaching his Christian beliefs despite staff complaints and burning the image of a cross on students' arms, according to the Associated Press.
Freshwater also displayed the Ten Commandments in his classroom and taught creationism, according to an independent investigation launched after the parents of the student who was allegedly branded filed a lawsuit. The suit alleges that he regularly discussed Christianity in his science class, even "teaching the meaning of Easter and Good Friday," and kept at least one and sometimes several Bibles in the room.

If teachers started teaching as per their own personal beliefs, then the entire education system would get flawed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pact to have underage pregnancies

Teenage pregnancies are something that are frowned upon by parents groups, by health officials, and by politicians of all stripes. In addition, the concept of a teenager getting pregnant stems from an unlawful act whereby having sex with a teenager is actually illegal. So, it was all the more worrisome for officials in the state of Massachusetts in the US when 17 teenage girls (all of them younger than 16 years) became pregnant. Now teenage pregnancies have happened before, but this figure was 4 times the previous year's figure for the school, and let officials to worry that this was all part of a pact:

There are reports that some of the girls - none of whom is older than 16 - entered into a pact to have their babies together. The girls and their families have so far made no comment. Officials are also investigating the ages of the fathers. Some are believed to be in their twenties and could face the possibility of being charged with having sex with minors.
"Some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," Gloucester High School principal Joseph Sullivan told Time magazine. Local officials say that nearly half of the girls had entered into a bizarre pact to have their babies together. Dr Elizabeth Guthrie, a paediatric psychiatrist at New York's Columbia University, told the BBC that some girls might be viewing pregnancy as a fast-track to adulthood and independence. "It may give you an opportunity for unconditional love and attention from the baby," she said.

Such a happening will really cause a lot of worries for health officials. How do you deal with such a situation; the girls are obviously not ready to have babies when they are so young.

Famous media person / doctor suspended for copying

Over a period of time, people do get caught using other people's work. This is seen as serious when it deals with places where original research or thought is required, such as medical research, writings in journals, pieces of fiction, and so on. In all such cases, people are credited with having done something unique and new, and they are credited with the fame and money for this originality. So, it is shocking in such cases when it is discovered that this was not actually new and they are copying from somebody else (unless it is credited). And yet people keep on doing it, and many of them get caught:

LONDON (Reuters) - Psychiatrist and broadcaster Dr Raj Persaud was suspended for three months after being found unfit to practice for plagiarising other people's work, the medical watchdog said on Friday. The celebrity psychiatrist was suspended after his conduct was found to be "inappropriate, misleading, dishonest and liable to bring the profession into disrepute", the General Medical Council said.
During the disciplinary hearing in Manchester this week he had admitted copying pieces from four research papers for his 2003 book "From the Edge of the Couch". He had also admitted copying passages from two other academic pieces of work in a series of newspaper articles and journals.

It is the world of blogs (especially reporting on some occurrences where there is some relaxation on the rules of copying), so for example, this blog is using a referenced story from another publication.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

'How to kill with a knife' seach on the internet used in court

Over a period of time, researches who deal with privacy issues have proven that it is possible to identify a person just from being able to look at their search records. If this required proof, then one need no look further than this case. In a case in the United States where a father was accused of killing his wife and daughter with a knife, it was revealed that he searched for the words 'How to kill with a knife' on six days before he actually carried out the murder:

A Briton accused of murdering his wife and baby daughter made an Internet search on 'how to kill with a knife' just six days before their bodies were found, a US court heard. "A search was made on Search was made with six words. 'How to kill with a knife,'" Lawrence James, a forensic computer expert and 20-year police officer, testified in Neil Entwistle's double-murder trial.
James told the court that the Google search was made January 16, 2006, six days before Rachel and Lillian Entwistle were found shot dead at their home in an upscale Boston suburb on January 22, 2006. On the eighth day of Entwistle's trial, Assistant District Attorney Daniel Bennett told the court that records showed the suspect had searched the Internet for female escorts only hours before the murders.

It is now wrong to think that searches on the internet are anonymous. ISP records, home computer records, all such evidence can be found and inspected based on court orders and used to build a stronger case.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

2 day priests marry in England, touching off stir

The Anglican community has been in the throes of a major heated discussion the world over due to a dispute over the status of homosexuality, especially among priests and whether it was permitted. This discussion has often pitted priests from the developing world (who are faster growing) against priests from England the United States, and has been very heated at times. At such a time, the happening of a marriage between 2 gay priests at one of England's oldest church is akin to adding a lot of heated oil to the fire:

LONDON: The Church of England said Saturday that two gay priests may have broken its rules, after a newspaper report that they exchanged vows and rings in Britain's first ever church "wedding" ceremony. The Sunday Telegraph said clerics Peter Cowell and David Lord "married" at one of England's oldest churches -- Saint Bartholomew the Great in London -- last month, using one of the church's most traditional wedding rites.
A Church of England spokesman told reporters they had "no reason" to believe that the ceremony did not take place but added: "What we seem to have here is a fairly serious breach of the rules by an individual or groups of individuals." News of the ceremony could not come at a worse time for the worldwide Anglican communion, which risks a damaging split because of member churches' diverging attitudes towards homosexuality, particularly amongst clergy. Conservative churches, mainly in Africa, have been odds with their more liberal, Western counterparts since the ordination of an openly gay US priest, Gene Robinson, as a bishop in 2003.

Seems a bit strange that the ceremony, to be carried out at one of England's oldest church was not known in advance.

Kerala book shows frog in place of Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi is revered as the father of the Indian nation. He has a special place in the Indian polity, with many politicians and social workers using his name and legacy in their actions, and making a name for themselves by called themselves 'Gandhians'. His birthday is celebrated as a National Holiday in India on October the 2nd. So it was a shock and a very surprising thing that school book in one of the states of India showed a frog in a place where Mahatma Gandhi's photo was to be depicted:

Causing extreme embarrassment to Kerala government, a school workbook features the picture of a frog in a chapter on Mahatma Gandhi. The "goof-up" appears in a workbook distributed to students of classes V to IX in Kasargode district of the state. The workbook mentions Gandhi Jayanti and has the picture of a green frog under the heading. Below the picture is a quote by Gandhi on the importance of work.
Education officials were quick to dismiss it as a technical error. They claimed that it happened due to a mistake in handling the printing plates at the press. Officials have also started efforts to collect back the 'erroneous' books so that it can be set right.

Now mistakes happen, but it also seems to be that there was nobody who actually verified the book after it was printed to see whether there was any mistake or not. There would have been somebody whose job it was to verify this, and they must have been goofing off.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Princess caught without clothes on school grounds

What is it with the Royalty in Europe. Europe has one of the last remaining royalty of any stature in this world, and yet, from time to time, the Royals indulge in some behavior of the other that is liable to get them a notorious image in the public eye. So, here, you have Princess Stephanie, sixth in line to the British throne, caught on school grounds without any clothes on. And Britain still has a live and existing royalty, so this is all the more shocking:

Britain's Princess Eugenie has been reprimanded by her school after being caught frolicking naked on college grounds, it was reported Saturday. The 18-year-old daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson, was apprehended for her involvement in end of term "high jinks" at the exclusive Marlborough College, west of London, the UK Press Association said.
The tabloid Sun newspaper reported that a college staff member woke to playful shrieks and found several young women dancing around without clothes. It said there was no suggestion boys were present or that drugs were involved but claimed a pupil said the students had been drinking. Princess Eugenie, the sixth in line to the British throne, is studying art, history of art and English at the $46,000-a-year college, PA said.

These are people with a lot of privileges, something that offsets the concept that even royals are normal people. Such kind of behavior in a normal family would have earned the daughter some reprimands.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Singer hoaxes threat

What happens when a singer has to resort to strange tactics in order to generate publicity ? You get all kind of strange things happening, as evident in this case where the singer tries to spin a story about a death threat:

It's not everyday that I get death threats, so naturally I freaked, clicked on the link and up popped a news report about a series of copycat murders that had been inspired by the R&B singer Ashanti's video "The Way That I Love You," a song about a woman who discovers her boyfriend has been unfaithful. Clutching a butcher knife and dressed in beaded gown, she cries and croons about betrayal. The cheater ends up dead in bathtub.
Turns out the entire thing was a hoax, a publicity stunt created to help Ashanti sell her latest album, "The Declaration." Visitors to her Web site were invited to fill out a "gotcha-gram" questionnaire, which would allow one to personalize the news report. The target would receive an ominous e-mail from a "detective" and the name scrawled in blood at the fictional crime scene would be theirs. It's a great stunt if you're pushing a slasher flick, but isn't R&B music supposed to be about love and romance and not serial killings?

In many cases, such stunts do nothing great for the person, but showcase that the performer is reduced to doing stunts to drum up publicity.

Hunting for witches

The most famous hunting for witches were the Salem witch hunts in the early United States where a number of women were accused of being witches, and burnt at the stake. However, there are still many cultures where there is a belief in witches and ghosts; this turns out to be ghastly in many situations where somebody is accused of being a witch, and in a mob situation, the hapless person is killed in one way or the other; this can actually be used for person retribution against the accused - what better way to get someone out of the way and yet not be accused of anything:

In late May, news outlets in Kenya told the story of 15 people, mostly elderly women, who were murdered in a witch hunt near the town of Kisii. The killings shocked the nation. Villagers said more than 100 people gathered machetes and knives and stormed the village of Kegogi after midnight.
Belief in witchcraft is strong in this part of Kenya. A few days before the incident, a group of schoolchildren reportedly found a book in their school that listed all the people in the community who would soon die and the witches who would be responsible. The area is one of the most populated rural areas in Kenya. Over the years, farming plots have been divided and subdivided. Omache and others say they believe witch hunts are about greed and vendettas in a place where almost everyone struggles to survive.

In all cases, the reason has either to with a fear that turns into a mob action, or with the attempt to get somebody out of the way.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Over-weight means you are grounded

This must be extremely humiliating. Having to be told that you are over-weight and hence can no longer be an air-hostess. It is always controversial, the conditions that are imposed for certain jobs. So if a person is working as a model, or as an actress, or as a hostess (whether that be in a hotel, or in a cafe, or in an airlines), there are certain conditions that are imposed in terms of looks and youthfulness. It gets further complicated when the organization is a Government run enterprise and rules against discrimination come into play:

Flight attendant Sheela Joshi is 5 feet, 4 inches and 148 pounds. Her employer, Air India, says she is too fat to fly. Joshi, 50, has been an air hostess -- as they are still called in India -- for the national airline for 26 years. But she's been grounded because the airline has done away with its wiggle room on weight.
"Weight is always on my mind," she added. "They can tell you, 'You look overweight. Please go.'" Joshi and 12 other grounded attendants sued the airline for weight discrimination. Air India fought back, saying the employees knew the job requirements when they signed up and didn't express concern. Furthermore, it said, appearance and physical fitness are vital parts of an attendant's job. The Delhi High Court recently sided with Air India in the case.

Always controversial because they play to the thought that you need to be slim to look attractive to passengers, something that US carriers have had to drop because of too many discrimination suits in the past.

The Pink Hotel in Hawaii

I wonder how many people know about this hotel ? In Honolulu, there is a hotel known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific (too many P's !). It was a wonder in pink, with pink towels, pink tablecloths, pink umbrellas; and was a ultra luxury hotel that cared to the high and mighty and the famous, catering to celebrities such as Rockefellers, Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Dean Martin, etc, and was THE place. However, it fell on bad times, and is now going for a major face-lift, in which it will keep the pink interface, just de-emphasize it a bit:

The last time this iconic pink hotel was closed for renovations, World War II had just ended and the barbed wire that stretched along the shore of Waikiki had been removed. Owners want to return the so-called "Pink Palace of the Pacific" to its heyday several decades ago when it was considered the ultimate in Hawaiian luxury, hospitality and class. The hotel's distinctive rosy exterior and eye-catching Spanish-Moorish architecture won't change. But the interior is slated for a major facelift and -- gasp -- will become less pink.
Gone will be the pink tablecloths, pink napkins, pink towels, pink bed sheets and even the trademark pink-and-white umbrellas at the Mai Tai Bar will become history. It's a bold move by the hotel, which opened in 1927. But hotel managers say they're not entirely getting rid of the pink, just accentuating the pink they have.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Having to attack the Komodo Dragon to live

Imagine having to fight off a Komodo (wikipedia) dragon in order to save your life. A Komodo Dragon is a massive lizard, as much as 3 meters long; so imagine getting caught in an island that is part of the Komodo National Park and having to face this dangerous animal. This is what happened to a group of 5 divers on a trip who went missing, and were eventually rescued after spending 2 nights on the island that does not have people living on them:

Five Europeans rescued Saturday after an Indonesia diving trip went wrong had to fight off a Komodo dragon while they were waiting to be found, according to reports. The divers -- three Britons, a Frenchman and a Swede -- spent two nights on the deserted island, which is home to the large Komodo dragon, before rangers found them Saturday. "On the beach a Komodo dragon came amongst us [Friday] afternoon," Pinel said, describing how the group had to pelt the dangerous reptile with rocks to scare it away.
They were one of two groups of divers who entered the water off Komodo National Park on Thursday and were supposed to be gone for an hour, said an employee of the dive company, Reef Seekers. The second group came back after the hour passed, but the first group failed to resurface, she said.

They were diving in seas that are dangerous because of fast tides, and that could have been a reason for their initial disappearance. The dragon is the top hunter on the island, and can attack humans and has been known to eat human corpses.

Van does 120 miles to escort a prisoner for 200 yards

Taxpayer groups that monitor Government expenditure to ensure avoidance of wastage and tracking expenditure were horrified at this recent case in the United Kingdom. A prisoner was to be moved between courts for a hearing; the distance between the courts was 200 yards. The police washed their hands off the matter since the prisoner was in the custody of the courts system, and it was deemed inappropriate to the rights of the prisoner (since he was an accused and not convicted) to make him wear handcuffs for the 200 yard journey across the road. So what was the solution ? A van was called to take him, and the van was called from a place more than 60 miles away:

Local Tory MP Brian Binley said: “I’ve never heard such nonsense. Quite frankly I don’t care about his human rights in this situation and I’m sure he wouldn’t have either. To get a matter like this mixed up with human rights is nonsense.” Labour MP Sally Keeble said: “This seems to me like a complete waste of public money and a breakdown of common sense.”
The “dilemma” arose when Mark Bailey, 35, appeared at Northampton Crown Court to answer theft charges. After a short hearing, he was told to report to the magistrates across the road. Rather than walking, a vehicle was dispatched from Cambridge almost 60 miles away.

It is quite normal for tax payers to respond in outrage to such a case. In times of such high oil prices, and when people are struggling with bad economic situation, such wasteful expenditure should have been avoided. A compromise should have been found.

Police find drunk mother has child at the wheel

Seems like a scary scenario; imagine the horror of police when they stop a car and find that the car is being driven by a drunk lady. Finding a drunk driver already is a bad offense because of the danger to other drivers on the road, as well as to the person driving the road. And when this happens in the case of lady who already has a suspended license because of a prior drunk driving offense, it gets even more worrisome. And to compound matters, there is a 1 year kid sitting on the mother's lap and steering with the other children in the back of the car:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A patrol officer stopped a car for suspicious driving and found to his surprise that a drunk mother had let her one-year-old son take the wheel, the Ohio state police department said Thursday. Marya Green, 29, of Goshen Township, near Cincinnati, was arrested late Tuesday and found to have a 0.11 percent blood alcohol level -- well above the 0.08 percent legal limit.
Green had put her infant son behind the steering wheel, while two other children aged eight and five were also traveling in the car, she added.

This was very dangerous, given that in the case of any impact, the infant would have taken the impact of the steering wheel, with the lives of the other children in the car also at risk.

Eye-Fi card tracks down camera thief

This is a story seemingly out of science fiction, but in reality happened. People unfortunately have a recurring tendency to forget their belongings; remember the times when somebody claimed that they lost their laptop or phone in the cab or train, or left the purse or wallet in the restaurant / hotel. By the time you remember, it is too late, it is only rarely that you get your belonging back. And of course, if it has been stolen, then the chances of getting it back is almost nil.
Well, here is a case where the camera that was stolen (and from which previous personal photos had not yet been retrieved) phoned back through the medium of the Eye-Fi card and even sent back photos of the thieves (the precious personal photos were also sent back). This happened through some coincidences, but is still remarkable:

Here's a new use for the Eye-Fi wireless SD card that we hadn't considered: A virtual private eye. Eye-Fi user Alison DeLauzon lost $1,000 worth of photo gear while on holiday in Florida. The Eye-Fi SD card, once plugged into your camera, hooks up to the internet and sends your photos to either an online sharing site or directly back to your home machine. In this case it was the latter, and the hapless thief not only sent the precious vacation shots back to Alison's computer, but -- according to the email we received from Gadget Lab reader Joe Volat -- "pictures [of] the thieves proudly displaying Alison's lifted camera equipment."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Having sex in space

As the industry of commercial space travel starts to take off, with tickets being sold for sub-orbital space travel, there would be a number of people who would want to expand on the concept of the mile-high club (having sex when in an plane). The sheer thought of being able to have sex in space must be sending many couples on a high, after all, James Bond has done it in the movies. And there would be the thrill of having your name in the Guinness Book of Records as being the first couple to actually do it when in space. But Doctors are not so sure about how much it would be possible:

LONDON: An increasing number of couples expressing their desire to have sex in space have become a cause of concern for scientists, says a report. The experts do not think that it would be possible to have intercourse in space. "We've had a variety of people inquire about it," Daily Star quoted Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, whose boss Richard Branson hopes to put tourists into space next year, as saying.
Experts guess that realising sex in space would require spacecraft like the Shuttle to be installed with special "love handles" that would control astronauts floating around.

Of course, it is going to happen sooner or later, so it makes sense for people to start thinking about it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


It is widely suggested that computers improve efficiency.

Lovers of vintage chaos might remember the computer installed in 1975 by Avon County Council to pay staff wages.

The computer's spree started off in a small way, paying a school caretaker 75 pounds an hour instead of 75 pence.

Then it got ambitious and did not pay a canteen worker at all for seven weeks. Before long it got positively confident and paid a janitor 2,600 for a weeks work.

He sent it back and received another for the same amount by return post.

There was now no stopping it.

A deputy headmistress received her year's annual salary once a month; heads of department earned less than their assistants, and some people had more tax deducted in a week than they earned in a year.

In February 1975 two hundred and eighty employees on the council payroll attended a protest meeting. Of these only eight had been paid the correct salary. They all went on strike.

Robot climbs up a peak in the Grand Canyon

Climbing up mountains has always been seen as a challenge for adventure minded humans; the more tough, the more challenging and attractive it seems to want to conquer the peak. However, it seems that in a matter of some time, there could be competition in the arena of climbing mountains, with the demonstration by a robot climbing up a half a kilometer peak in 6 hours. This was just a beginning, given that this was the 6th attempt and the climbing was done by ascending on a rope, but this was just a start:

Neither rain, sleet or hail could stop a Japanese robot from climbing the Grand Canyon, with the hand-sized "Evolta" scaling a 530 meter cliff in just under seven hours.
Powered by two AA batteries on its back, the blue robot inched up a thin rope with its hands and feet over four days late last month, hampered by rain and heavy wind, but making it to the top on its sixth try. The final feat took six hours and 46 minutes.

What could happen in the future ? Indestructible robots carrying humans as they climb the toughest and largest peaks ?

Turning rubbish into a tourist spot

Imagine turning a part of the sea into a landfill by dumping ash (generated from burning garbage) into it, and eventually this turns into an island. Sounds gross, does it not ? Imagine the smell such a place would have, you would want to be as far away from such a place as possible. So then does it seem possible that such a landfill actually becomes a place where birds come to make their resting ground, many varieties of sea creatures flock here, and people throng the place for getting some good roaming places ? Don't believe me, then read this ?

SINGAPORE: Once there was a dirty bit of sea next to the world's busiest port here. Today it is an island where birds nest and people play, though the entire island is made of rubbish. You wouldn't know unless you were told. There's no sight or smell at Semakau landfill to indicate it is the last depository of Singapore's garbage. The corals and all the animals of the beach have been fooled too - they think it's a natural island, and they have grown in droves around it.
The place is so clean it has turned into a new holiday spot. Students come in droves for inter-tidal walks where they gawk at mangrove roots, seagrass, coral reefs, crabs, starfishes, sponges, shrimps and many other forms of life that thrive in the belt between high and low tide marks. Birdwatchers come to glimpse at some of the 66 species recorded at Semakau, sport-fishermen love its artificial lagoon and even amateur astronomers prefer it because they can get away from the glare of the city lights.

The good point is that the authorities believe that the quantity of ash being generated is getting reduces due to the citizens becoming more concerned about the environment.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New York lawyer sues Delta for mistreatment

You know the concept, never mis-treat a lawyer unless you want to be dragged through a whole trial that could be very damaging to the public relations for Delta Airlines. A New York lawyer has filed a case against Delta for causing his vacation to turn into a nightmare, with having to spend a long time in the airport, and being treated very rudely by the staff of the airline. The man had planned a trip to Buenos Aires to celebrate his mom's 80th birthday; instead he ended up spending many days in the airport, being without luggage and being treated very rudely by the airline staff:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York lawyer is suing Delta Air Lines for $1 million, saying his family vacation turned into a nightmare after they were stranded in an airport for days and treated disdainfully by airline employees. Roth, his two teenage children, his wife and mother spent three days in airports, went days without their luggage, were treated rudely by airline employees and were forced to spend $21,000 on unused hotel rooms in Argentina, replacement clothes, and other costs.
After the initial flight from New York was delayed by more than two hours, the family was not allowed to board their connecting flight in Atlanta, Roth said. A Delta employee "literally walked away chuckling that he had left them stranded," he said.
After waiting in the airport for hours, Roth was told the next available flight would depart more than two weeks later. He then booked a flight through a different airline and arrived in Argentina three days later than planned. The family was not reunited with their luggage for more than five days.

This would be yet another horror story about airlines and their staff; unfortunately, there are many such stories that are common place nowadays.

California man on trial for torture of family

In the recent past, due to the 2 incidents where fathers have kept their daughters under duress and even had forcible incest with them (leading to the birth of children), it is not surprising any more to read stories where fathers have mistreated their families; but it still causes some distress to read about such painful incidents. Take this case in California (yep, you read it right, California) where a father mistreated his 19 children, including stories of torture and starvation over a period of years. He even managed to manipulate his children to mislead social workers when they came to investigate (although it would seem that the social workers accepted everything at face value):

MURRIETA, Calif. - For weeks, the three wives of Mansa Musa Muhummed and most of their 19 children have been telling a jury countless stories of torture and starvation that they kept to themselves for years. Muhummed sat in a desert courthouse with a hand over his face, shaking his head in denial as family members described being beaten, strung up by their feet and forced to eat vomit and feces.
The trial delays may have hurt his case because his children — once reluctant to talk to authorities — are now telling strangers of extreme deprivation, physical abuse and starvation. Standing just 4-foot-6 and weighing about 98 pounds, Sharon Boddie, 27, told jurors last week that she had grown and gained weight since her father was arrested nine years ago and the children were sent to foster or group homes.
But she still has scars from beatings and burns. She said she was taken out of school in second grade because she kept running away and teachers no longer wanted her there because she stole other children's lunches. "I'd go like a week without eating, not even water," she said in a flat, unemotional voice. She said she would be beaten when she tried to steal food from the refrigerator.

Such incidents are a blot on the concept of a civilized world, and it is shocking that such things can happen in a country as advanced as the United States.

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