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Darwin Awards 2006 199

ms1234 writes "The year is coming to and end so it is time to see how our genepool is doing. Darwin Awards 2006 includes everything from whacking RPGs with hammers to recreating experiments by Franklin."
Biotech

Parasites Makes Us Dumber or Sexier 240

odie_q writes "It has long been known that the Toxoplasma gondii parasite alters its host's behavior, but now it seems the way it alters it depends on the sex of the host. From the article: 'A common parasite can increase a women's attractiveness to the opposite sex but also make men more stupid, an Australian researcher says ... Infected men have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women. On the other hand, infected women tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls.'"
Politics

Chess Grandmaster Kasparov Versus President Putin 416

An anonymous reader writes "The Times of London has an article on how Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, is using his fame and intellect in an attempt to defeat President Putin at the presidential elections in March 2008. Kasparov believes that Putin is virtually a dictator who is dismantling democracy and returning Russia to an authoritarian regime. Some high-profile Putin critics, such as Alexander Litvinenko, have been the victims of unsolved murders, and Kasparov is aware of the dangers: 'I can calculate the possibilities as a chess player and I have to be honest and say that our chances are not high. But I take this as a moral duty, and when you do something out of moral duty, then who cares?'" From the article: "[Kasparov] will not be a contender for the presidency but [his political umbrella group] The Other Russia aims to create the conditions under which an anti-Putin candidate can win. It appears, however, to be an uneven contest against a man who enjoys 80 per cent approval ratings. Most Russians want Mr. Putin to overturn a constitutional bar on a third term in office. Many will back whomever Mr. Putin endorses to succeed him."
Science

Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution 503

The New York Times is running a Sunday article regarding new evidence about 'recent' human evolution. A research team at the University of Maryland has done some work looking at the rise of lactose tolerance in the human populations of Africa. From the article: "The principal mutation, found among Nilo-Saharan-speaking ethnic groups of Kenya and Tanzania, arose 2,700 to 6,800 years ago, according to genetic estimates, Dr. Tishkoff's group is to report in the journal Nature Genetics on Monday. This fits well with archaeological evidence suggesting that pastoral peoples from the north reached northern Kenya about 4,500 years ago and southern Kenya and Tanzania 3,300 years ago ... Genetic evidence shows that the mutations conferred an enormous selective advantage on their owners, enabling them to leave almost 10 times as many descendants as people without them. The mutations have created 'one of the strongest genetic signatures of natural selection yet reported in humans,' the researchers write. "
Windows

Vista an Uneasy Sleeper 395

Emmy King writes "
One thing we just can't wrap our mind about is the terrible, broken, and completely pitiful support for waking Vista up from a Deep Sleep or hibernation.
Anytime you attempt to wake Vista up from Hibernation or "Deep Sleep" (S3-induced sleep mode), it dies. It's either a BSOD, or a driver error, or a broken network, no DWM, lack of sound... the list goes on, and on. So much for an operating system to "power" the future! (No pun intended!) That's with properly-signed drivers and no buggy software on multiple PCs..."
Power

How to Protect a Home When Away in Winter? 433

kidMike writes "I have just accepted a new job in another state, requiring me to relocate. I'm going to keep my house in New England. As I watch the winter storm problems and electrical outages across the country, how do Slashdotters protect their houses (or cabins) when they are away in the winter? Is there a device that will call me if the temp in the house drops below a certain level? How about a broken pipe flooding the house? How can I keep advised of problems happening hundreds of miles away? (There will still be broadband at the house.)"
The Almighty Buck

Richest 2% Own Half the World's Wealth 1330

kop writes "The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of all household wealth, according to a new study by a United Nations research institute. Most previous studies of economic disparity have looked at income, whereas this one looks at wealth — assets minus debts. The survey is based on data for the year 2000. Many figures, especially for developing countries, have had to be estimated. Nonetheless, the authors say it is the most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken." The study itself is available from the World Institute for Development Economics Research.
Music

Does Portable Music Have to be Compressed? 540

FunkeyMonk writes "The Christian Science monitor has an article discussing the gap between music fans and audiophiles when it comes to portable music. Would you pay a few cents more to have lossless downloads from iTunes and other online music retailers? As a classical musician myself, I choose not to download most of my music, but rather rip it myself in lossless format."
Science

Ancient Astronomical Computer Decoded 233

slimjim8094 writes "A mechanical device from 150BC was found in a shipwreck. Upon examination with X-Rays, the device appeared to be a revolutionary computer used to calculate lunar cycles. This device "is technically more complex than any known for at least a millennium afterward." From the article "The hand-operated mechanism, presumably used in preparing calendars for planting and harvesting and fixing religious festivals, had at least 30, possibly 37, hand-cut bronze gear-wheels, the researchers said. A pin-and-slot device connecting two gear-wheels induced variations in the representation of lunar motions according to the Hipparchos model of the Moon's elliptical orbit around Earth."
Music

Universal Wants a Slice of Apple's iPod Pie 555

vought writes "According to a Reuters report, Universal is now taking the precendent set by Microsoft's Zune and moving to force Apple to include a royalty payment with each iPod. In the words of Universal Music's Doug Morris, 'These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it. So it's time to get paid for it.' Does Microsoft's precedent mean the start of a slippery slope that will add a 'pirate tax' to every piece of hardware that touches digital music?"
The Courts

UK Copyright Extension Not Happening 391

chiark writes "In a surprising move (surveys said that the public supports extending copyright), the UK will not extend copyright to 95 years following a recent study. Back when this was was covered on slashdot last year, I wrote to my MP and thought no more of it, but recently a UK thinktank has called for fair use to be enshrined in UK Law. Looks like the government is realizing that the public are the ones that vote 'em in or out." From the article: "Sir Cliff Richard and Jethro Tull had been among artists lobbying for copyright to last 95 years, rather than the present 50. The decision means that from 2008 Sir Cliff's earliest recordings will start to come out of copyright. "

Former Spy Poisoned By Radiation In UK 432

An anonymous reader writes "BBC new is reporting the death of the ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko with a major dose of radioactive polonium-210. But nobody knows how it got there. Suspicions have fallen upon the Russian security services (who deny involvement). The task of the pathologists now is to unpick what really killed him and how it was administered. Quite what techniques they will use to solve this puzzle is unclear." From the article: "A post-mortem examination on Mr Litvinenko has not been held yet. The delay is believed to be over concerns about the health implications for those present at the examination. But Roger Cox from the HPA said a large quantity of alpha radiation emitted from polonium-210 had been detected in Mr Litvinenko's urine."

Draconian Anti-Piracy Law Looms Over Australia 436

ccozan writes to tell us of a law being rushed through the Australian legislature that would criminalize great swaths of the citizenry. The Internet Industry Association of Australia is posting warning scenarios spelling out how far-reaching this law would be. From the release: "A family who holds a birthday picnic in a place of public entertainment (for example, the grounds of a zoo) and sings 'Happy Birthday' in a manner that can be heard by others, risks an infringement notice carrying a fine of up to $1,320. If they make a video recording of the event, they risk a further fine for the possession of a device for the purpose of making an infringing copy of a song... The US Free Trade Agreement does not require Australia to go down this path, and neither US nor European law contain such far-reaching measures. We are at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law — with little if any public debate."

Opening Zune Sales Flaccid 451

An anonymous reader writes "As 'Black Friday' approaches and consumers line up for the Playstation 3 it looks like Zune has become an afterthought. Despite months of hype, opening Zune sales are only so-so. While Zune did reach the top 10 on Amazon's Top 25 list for electronic product sales on its first day, it quickly fell below the top 15 and continues to drop. Six separate iPod models now outsell it as well as SanDisk's e250 player. In-store sales are not much better."

Final Fantasy XII Review 261

The Final Fantasy series is almost twenty years old. When Square developed the first title in the series, the game's name was meant to coincide with designer Hironobu Sakaguchi's retirement. Instead, the game's popularity set the stage for a series that has now reached twelve 'main' titles and more than half a dozen offshoots. Almost everything about the series has changed over the years, except for popularity and a generally high level of quality. Final Fantasy XII has changed almost everything from the series norm, except the quality. The result is a game that very well may be considered the best Japanese RPG in years. It's a smarter, more adult, and absolutely beautiful title; the perfect balm for anyone not taken with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion . Read on for my impressions of the newest and most ambitious chapter of the Fantasy that's never quite Final.

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