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Submission + - Blizzard and Activision Announce $18.8bn Merger (bbc.co.uk) 1

Ebon Praetor writes: "The BBC reports that Blizzard and Activision have announced an $18.8bn merger. Activision's CEO, Bobby Kotick, will become the head of the joint company, while Vivendi, Blizzard's current parent company, will become the largest single investor in the new group. Even with the size of the merger, the combined company will still be smaller than the industry giant EA."

Submission + - New Stargate Series In the Works

Skythe writes: Gateworld reports that an exclusive, third Stargate series is in the works. From the article:
A production source informs GateWorld that the new series is in the concept phase, and is being actively worked on by the Vancouver creatives behind Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. No concept for the show has yet been revealed.
Gateworld also reports despite the cancellation of SG-1, the series is likely for a 2007 debut.
I wonder if the direct-to-dvd movies will any influence on the new series, and what the concept behind the show will be?

Submission + - The God Delusion

fiannaFailMan writes: Richard Dawkins has attracted a lot of attention with The God Delusion, and for good reason. He pulls no punches with a robust defence of atheism and reason as opposed to using faith as a means of making important life decisions. The tone of the book is shamelessly opinionated, and he leaves you in no doubt as to where he stands. His aim is to encourage more people to 'come out' as atheists, and to 'raise the consciousness' of those who tolerate the widely-held assumptions that blind faith in a higher existence is a virtue and that faith and science are both equally valid. Atheists remain one of the last social groups who are openly vilified and discriminated against on account of what they think, and Dawkins wants that to change.

The damage that has been done to the world by faith-based reasoning and organised religion is covered in a fair amount of detail with plenty of anecdotal stories thrown in to give the reader something to latch onto on an emotional level. The supression of scientific development, the teaching of ignorance at the expense of scientific fact, the subjugation of women, the abuse and brainwashing of children, the fallacy that only faith has a moral code, and of course the jihads and religious wars are all covered.

The philosophical arguments in favour of the God Hypothesis, as he calls it, are presented and knocked down one by one in incisive detail, and many are exposed as circular reasoning. The foundations of religion, the ancient scriptures, are examined closely, and the cruelty and violence of the old testament God is explained in shocking clarity. God is portrayed as an insecure, vengeful, jealous, genocidal maniac. Interestingly, there are examples of scripture that look suspiciously like they were duplicated during centuries of editing. For example, Lot's departure from Sodom (after he showed God how righteous he was by offering his daughters up to a mob to be raped in order to protect some angels who came to visit, Genesis 19:7-8) is suspiciously similar to another story in Judges 19:23-4. The mysoginist tone of the monotheistic holy books is made very clear throughout all of this, indicating how it was all written by men in a time when women were considered almost sub-human, and there are people in the world today who still want to adhere to such inhumane principles both in Christendom as well as the Islamic world.

There is an interesting exploration of the Catholic church's talent for making things up as it goes along using its own self interest as a motive and warped reasoning as the justification. Purgotory was invented as a means of justifying prayer (also exposed as ineffective elsewhere in the book) for the dead and as a means of generating revenue in the form of 'indulgences,' something the author describes as 'the medeival equivalent of the Nigerian internet scam.'

At all times, Dawkins keeps yanking the reader back to the reality of how the world works as explained by science. Natural selection is described not as an unlikely 'chance mutation' but as a gradual process in which the development of complex organisms is actually inevitable in many places in the universe wherever the conditions are suitable. Intelligent design advocates look for holes in scientific knowledge that can only be plugged by a god, only to retract whenever science plugs the gap with new discoveries.

Some people deride atheism as an 'empty existence' and having 'no meaning.' Dawkins extolls the virtues of atheism coupled with a deep understanding of the wonders of science. The universe as known to science is much bigger and much more impressive than the relatively small and young concoction of the ancient peoples who needed simple stories for simple people to explain that which they did not yet have the scientific knowledge to understand.

If you are an atheist and have been shy about voicing your beliefs (or lack thereof) in the presence of religious people, reading this book will give you new confidence and pride in your preference for reason over faith.
The Media

Submission + - Male circumcision reduces HIV risk

gustgr writes: "The US National Institutes of Health announced the results of recent clinical trials in Africa that confirms the effectiveness of male circumcision in reducing by 50% the rate of HIV infection. The findings supports a previous South African study which reported similar results. This fact was already noted when Aids first began to appear in Africa: men who were circumcised (due cultural and religious reasons) seemed to be at less risk of infection. The circumcision protects the individuals from the virus because some specific cells in the foreskin may be potential targets for HIV infection and also the skin under the foreskin becomes less sensitive and is less likely to bleed reducing risk of infection following circumcision."
PC Games (Games)

Submission + - Wal-Mart asked to drop 'Left Behind' PC Game

Canordis writes: The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that an "extremely violent" game based on the popular Left Behind series of Christian fiction is being protested against by liberal and Progressive Christian groups. From TFA:
"It's an incredibly violent video game," said Stevens. "Sure, there is no blood. (The dead just fade off the screen.) But you are mowing down your enemy with a gun. It pushes a message of religious intolerance. You can either play for the 'good side' by trying to convert nonbelievers to your side or join the Antichrist."
XBox (Games)

Submission + - Microsoft Says PS3 Linux Not 'Competitive' To XNA

nz17 writes: Gamasutra has a preview of its upcoming interview with Dave Mitchell, Director of Marketing for Microsoft's Game Developer Group, currently available. In the interview Mitchell dismisses Linux on the PS3 at a game creators' solution and has said, "What we [at XBox] are focused on doing is providing great tools at a free or low price point that are going to enable consumers to be absolutely successful at creating games for both the Windows and the Xbox 360 platforms."
America Online

Submission + - Evel Knievel sues AOL

Gideon McPhee writes: Evel Knievel, who older readers might remember as a 70's motorcycle jumper, has just sued AOL and Kanye West over West's music video for "Touch the Sky." Why AOL? Their search engine helped him find the video. From the article: "In a copy of the suit seen by Ars Technica, Knievel also names AOL as a defendant because the 'use of AOL's own search engine for a video of 'Evel Knievel' returned the infringing music video as the second "hit" generated by the search.' This certainly sounds like one of those cases where a more complete understanding of how the Internet works would help everyone involved. We can only hope this claim, at least, gets tossed from the suit as quickly as possible."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Wii Have a Problem

GuyMannDude writes: Reuters is reporting that there is an increasing number of stories of injuries and accidents resulting from use of the new remote controller for the Wii video game console. Stories include remote controllers flying out of sweaty hands and into $3500 plasma TVs, foreheads, and the family dog.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Cities in the Clouds

As long as we are dreaming big dreams about colonies on the moon and Saturn's moon Titan, how about making a cloud city into reality? Not on Earth, of course, but floating high among the cloud tops of the outer gas giants such as Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, where there is no solid ground to st


Submission + - Al Shugart dies

Stavr0 writes: Reuters — The founder of Seagate Technology, now the world's largest maker of computer disk drives, died on Tuesday following complications from heart surgery, said Julie Still, a family friend and Seagate spokeswoman.

Submission + - PSone and PS2 games look awful on the PS3

Sad at Sony writes: Sony's slipped up once again. The PS3 games console seems to be having a really hard time dealing with PSone and PS2 games.
It seems that there is a serious issue with the way the new PS3 handles PSone and PS2 games. The 480i games are outputted at a lower resolution. To make matters worse, the output is jagged and contains a number of distracting screen artifacts.
This issue apparently has nothing to do with the TV used, cables or resolution settings ... it's just down to the console. Hopefully this can be fixed by a firmware update, but you would have thought an issue of this kind would have been picked up on by Sony some time ago.

Did Sony actually do any serious testing of the PS3 or did they just push it out of the door in a rush to satisfy shareholders?

Submission + - Sony 'Fesses Up to Viral Marketing

An anonymous reader writes: After a wave of articles revealing Sony's YouTube-based viral marketing scheme, Sony has removed all videos and posted a confession on the "blog".

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