Ponca City writes "The Telegraph reports that an online dating profile created by Julian Assange in 2006 has been unearthed from OKCupid disclosing that the WikiLeaks editor sought 'spirited, erotic' women 'from countries that have sustained political turmoil.' Writing under the pseudonym of British science fiction author Harry Harrison, Assange described himself as a 'passionate, and often pig headed activist intellectual.' Assange said he was seeking a 'siren for [a] love affair, children and occasional criminal conspiracy' adding that he was 'directing a consuming, dangerous human rights project which is, as you might expect, male dominated' and added enigmatically: 'I am DANGER, ACHTUNG.' Among Assange's listed interests were the 'structure of reality' and 'chopping up human brains' – although he added the caveat '(neuroscience background)' lest the latter put off potential admirers. 'I like women from countries that have sustained political turmoil,' Assange wrote. 'Western culture seems to forge women that are valueless and inane. OK. Not only women!'"
Chinese archaeologists have discovered a sealed bronze pot containing what they believe is a batch of 2,400-year-old bone soup. The pot was dug up near the ancient capital of Xian. Liu Daiyun of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archeology says, "It's the first discovery of bone soup in Chinese archaeological history. The discovery will play an important role in studying the eating habits and culture of the Warring States Period (475-221BC)." No word on if the archaeologists also found the accompanying ancient crackers.
riverat1 writes "On December first, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced that a creationism theme park is expected to open in 2014. Park developers are seeking state tourism development incentives and could receive up to $37.5 million over a 10-year period. Gov. Steve Beshear said he does not believe the incentives would violate the principle of church-state separation because the 14-year-old tax incentives law wasn’t approved for the purpose of benefiting the Ark Encounter. The park will have a 500 foot replica of the Ark with live animals on it and a Tower of Babel explaining how races and languages developed. The park will be turned over to Answers in Genesis after it is built. They are a non-profit organization which may allow them to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion."
destinyland writes "An Australian Parliament member has resigned after admitting he'd used government computers to access porn and gambling sites. McLeay 'gave an uncomfortable press conference outside Parliament House,' notes one technology site, 'during which he admitted he had acted in a standard not expected of cabinet ministers.' Paul McLeay was also the Minister for Mineral and Forest Resources as well as the Minister for Ports and Waterways. In resigning, he apologized to his constituents and parliamentary colleagues, as well as to his wife and family."
CNETNate writes "You'll laugh, but mostly you'll cry. Some of the questions Google gets asked to deliver results for is beyond worrying. 'Can you put peroxide in your ear?', 'Why would a pregnancy test be negative?', and 'Why can't I own a Canadian?' being just a selection of the truly baffling — and disturbing — questions Google is regularly forced to answer."
Hugh Pickens writes "Yale University researchers believe that if evolutionary pressures of sexual selection and reproductive fitness continue for another 10 generations, the trends detected in their study may mean that the average woman in 2409 AD will be 2 cm shorter, 1 kg heavier, will bear her first child five months earlier, and enter menopause 10 months later. 'There is this idea that because medicine has been so good at reducing mortality rates, that means that natural selection is no longer operating in humans,' says Stephen Stearns of Yale University. 'That's just plain false.' Stearns and his team studied the medical histories of 14,000 residents of the Massachusetts town of Framingham, using medical data from a study going back to 1948 spanning three generations, and found that shorter, heavier women had more children than lighter, taller ones. Women with lower blood pressure and cholesterol were also more likely to have large families as were women who gave birth early or had a late menopause. More importantly, these traits are then passed on to their daughters, who also, on average, had more children. The study has not determined why these factors are linked to reproductive success, but it is likely that they indicate genetic, rather than environmental, effects. 'The evolution that's going on in the Framingham women is like average rates of evolution measured in other plants and animals,' says Stearns. 'These results place humans in the medium-to-slow end of the range of rates observed for other living things.'"
"Canadian Patent Appeal Board Rules Against Business Method Patents," says a new post from Michael Geist; Lorien_the_first_one writes "Looks like the US courts could face some peer pressure," and supplies this excerpt: "[T]he panel delivered very strong language rejecting the mere possibility of business method patents under Canadian law. The panel noted that 'since patenting business methods would involve a radical departure from the traditional patent regime, and since the patentability of such methods is a highly contentious matter, clear and unequivocal legislation is required for business methods to be patentable.' ... In applying that analysis to the Amazon.com one-click patent, the panel concluded that 'concepts or rules for the more efficient conduct of online ordering, are methods of doing business. Even if these concepts or rules are novel, ingenious and useful, they are still unpatentable because they are business methods.'"
The Narrative Fallacy writes "Every year pilots in the US report more than 5,000 bird strikes, which cause at least $400 million in damage to commercial and military aircraft. Now safety hearings are beginning on the crash of US Airways Flight 1549, where a flock of eight-pound geese apparently brought down a plane, plunging it and 155 people into the frigid waters of the Hudson River. Despite having experimented with everything from electromagnetics to ultrasonic devices to scarecrows, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to endorse a single solution that will keep birds out of the path of an oncoming aircraft." (More below.)
Barence writes "'Security firms Symantec and McAfee have both agreed to pay $375,000 to US authorities after they automatically renewed consumers' subscriptions without their consent.' The two companies were reported to the New York Attorney General after people complained that their credit cards were being charged without their consent. The investigators found that information about the auto-renewals was hidden at the bottom of long web pages or buried in the EULA."
ruphus13 writes "Dell has been offering Linux-based machines for a while, especially its Server-class machines. Now, Dell has decided that there are several open source applications that are ready for mainstream consumers. From the post, 'While we've all been speculating about whether Dell is working on Android netbooks, the computer hardware and software vendor was busy bundling open source applications to offer to small- and medium-sized business customers looking for low-cost alternatives to commercial software. The pre-configured "SMB-in-a-box" software is only available in the US for now, but Dell expects to launch a similar offering in Asia by the end of 2009... Although no specifics have been given about which apps are included in Dell's first bundle, it is aimed at the retail sector.' It is going to be interesting to see what Dell picks as the 'must-have' applications for the SMB market."
stoolpigeon writes "The US Army's Future Combat Systems program calls for one third of their fighting strength to be robots by 2015. The American pilots seeing the most combat in Iraq and Afghanistan right now do so from flight consoles in the United States, and they are controlling Predator unmanned vehicles. Every branch of the US military has aggressive robotics programs in place. This is not anything unusual. Other nations are also developing and purchasing robotic systems designed to be used in combat. Advances in communications, software and hardware make it inevitable that robotics will have a profound effect on conflict in the future. The development of these systems has been rapid, and while technology hurtles forward, culture and understanding seem to lag behind. Similar to the way our legal codes are playing catch-up with new technologies, combat-enabled robots raise questions and issues that did not even exist a short time ago. Wired for War by Dr. P. W. Singer is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested to dive into just what is going on all over the world with regards to robotics and their use by the military." Read below for the rest of JR's review.
Soychemist writes "When cancer patients get a heavy dose of chemotherapy and radiation, it can destroy their bone marrow. Umbilical cords contain stem cells that can regenerate the immune systems of young patients, but usually there are not enough of them to heal an adult. Len Zon, a doctor at Children's Hospital in Boston surmised that there must be a chemical that can make the cord blood stem cells divide, so that there will be enough of them to treat adult patients. He tested 2,500 chemicals on zebrafish embryos, and found one that does the trick. It was once on its way to becoming an ulcer medication, and now doctors are testing it on cord blood units that will be given to leukemia patients."
An anonymous reader was one of several to write with this news: "The French 'Conseil Constitutionnel' just ruled that the recently voted 'Hadopi' law, which enforces a 'three strikes and you're out' system, is actually unconstitutional [article in French; here's an English-language article at Ars]. They mainly make two points: 1) They argue that removing Internet access is equivalent to hindering a person's freedom of speech, and as such can only be decided by appointed judges. This removes all punitive power from the administrative body supposed to enforce the three-strikes rule; all it can do now is warn you that 'they're watching you.' 2) When illegal filesharing is detected, users have to prove their innocence. This is obviously contrary to the constitutional principle of presumption of innocence."
Nancy Atkinson writes "Using a technique called pixel-lensing, a group of astronomers in Italy may have detected a planet orbiting another star. But this planet is unique among the 300-plus exoplanets discovered so far, as it and its parent star are in another galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy, to be exact. Technically, the star in M31 was found to have a companion about 6 times the mass of Jupiter, so it could be either a brown dwarf or a planet. But either way, this is a remarkable feat, to find an object of that size in another galaxy."