RobertB-DC writes: ""Nothing has changed in 40,000 years" was what one researcher said about the discovery of a female figurine in a cave in southwestern Germany. There's no doubt about its gender; it has a Dolly Parton (or Pamela Anderson, if you prefer) figure, as well as other "exaggerated sexual characteristics" that might not be appropriate to discuss in polite company. And the prehistoric pinup is intentionally headless, proving that even before the mammoths went extinct, he wasn't looking at her eyes."
RobertB-DC writes: "The Phoenix mission to Mars' frigid polar regions was going to be tricky from the start, with only a few weeks to perform as much science as possible. Success depended on everything working right. But one of the mission's most frustrating glitches, the stuck doors on the TEGA ovens, could have been prevented with basic quality control on Earth. Nature is reporting that bad brackets were replaced by the manufacturer... with identically bad brackets. The Planetary Society blog sums it up succinctly: 'Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch.'"
RobertB-DC writes: "Who could forget the:CueCat, the amazing device that would bring "convergence" between the real world and the online marketing Utopia of the late '90s? Belo, the Dallas-based newspaper and TV conglomerate, spent millions of dollars on the project, only to be ridiculed from the start and eventually becoming a sort of poster kitty for the Dot-Com Bust. Well, the device's inventor and chief cheerleader, J. Jovan Philyaw, didn't forget. His patent application, in progress since 1998, has finally been granted. The story comes from a Dallas alternative weekly, since the local Belo paper is still smarting from its $40-million-dollar black eye."
RobertB-DC writes: "Texas took the lead in outsourcing state agencies' IT operations, awarding a $863 million, seven-year contract to IBM. The results: widespread outages, constant backup failures, and a server crash that destroyed eight months' worth of data in a fraud probe by the Attorney General's office. While IBM says "We take all of this very seriously," Texas officials say "I don't feel like we're getting the emphasis that we need in customer satisfaction. I'm almost to the point of believing that IBM doesn't understand the term." And just today, Gov. Rick Perry suspended IBM's contract pending an assessment of the situation."
RobertB-DC writes: "Five Dallas suburbs are duking it out over who gets to use a chunk of the radio spectrum, and the FCC has been called in to mediate the dispute. Two affluent suburbs had been using the frequencies for water tower monitoring and landscaping control. But when the grass started turning brown in city parks, they learned that three suburbs on the other side of town had just installed new police communications equipment that was blocking their sprinkler systems."
RobertB-DC writes: "Citing concerns about "transnational gangs", a state legislator from Dallas plans to introduce legislation that would ban purchase of a cell phone without identification. State Sen. John Carona (R) said in a news conference at Dallas police headquarters that these gangs are using prepaid cellphones to organize their criminal activities, and therefore police need the ability to "trace conversations and determine ownership" in ways that are not currently possible."
RobertB-DC writes: "With no fanfare, and apparently no outcry from the privacy community, Anonymizer Inc. discontinued its web-based Private Surfing service effective June 20, 2007. No reason was given, either on the Anonymizer web site or on founder Lance Cottrell's privacy blog. Private Surfing customers are now required to download a anonymizing client that handles all TCP traffic, but the program is Windows-only (with Vista support still a work-in-progress). And of course it's closed-source, which means it has few advantages over several otheralternatives."
RobertB-DC writes: "A popular WWE wrestler's Wikipedia entry was edited to include his wife's death. 14 hours later, the bodies of Chris Benoit, his wife, and their son were found, apparent victims of a murder-suicide. Authorities want to know who updated the Wikipedia entry, since the IP address associated with the change is registered in Stamford, Connecticut, where WWE is headquartered. Of course, the incident is also a clear violation of Wikipedia's "no original research" rule."
RobertB-DC writes: "A British researcher has drawn on sources from the CIA to the WHO to assemble the World Map of Happiness, a "global projection of subjective well-being". The researchers found strong correlations between "happiness" and wealth, health, and education. Congratulations, Denmark — you're the happiest country on Earth! On the other side of the pond, Canada made the Top Ten, while the USA just missed the Top 20."
RobertB-DC writes: "While the rest of the world was watching Space Shuttle Atlantis dock with the International Space Station, the Chinese space agency was sending 474 pounds of seeds and fungi into orbit. The craft is due to return to earth in two weeks. Mission planners may be setting themselves up for an Ig Nobel prize, though, for the mission's stated goal: 'Chinese officials contend that seeds exposed to space radiation and microgravity contain more vitamins and other crucial minerals.'"
RobertB-DC writes: "Astronauts on Space Shuttle Atlantis are "camping out", assumably sans campfire, prior to tomorrow's spacewalk to install the massive P3/P4 truss onto the International Space Station. Instead of spending valuable waking hours decompressing to 4.3 PSI, or spending equally valuable energy exercising the nitrogen out of their blood, Joe Tanner and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper will spend the "night" camped out in an airlock. The astronauts have no time to lose — they've already foregone the usual day off after docking, beginning the unloading process before even officially saying hello."
RobertB-DC writes: "While some librarians are fighting for individual rights, others appear to be welcoming Big Brother with open arms. In suburban Dallas, a library patron requesting Internet access was given a choice, of sorts: Censored, or Extra Censored. One filters out "obscenity only", while the other filters out both "obscenity" and "material considered to be unlawful". As a helpful aside, the library's Internet policy acknowledgement form notes that both terms "are defined by the Texas Penal Code". The librarian's reaction to his request for "No Censorship" would be funny, if it weren't so telling."