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Urban Death Project Aims To Rebuild Our Soil By Composting Corpses (inhabitat.com) 197

An anonymous reader writes: The Urban Death Project utilizes the process of composting to safely and gently turn our deceased into soil-building material, creating a meaningful, equitable and ecological urban alternative to existing options for the disposition of the dead," said Katrina Spade, a designer based in Seattle. "The project is a solution to the overcrowding of city cemeteries, a sustainable method of disposing of our dead, and a new ritual for laying our loved ones to rest."

New Jersey Rejects Request For Dolphin Necropsy Results, Cites "Medical Privacy" (muckrock.com) 228

v3rgEz writes: When a dolphin died in New Jersey's South River last year, Carly Sitrin wanted to know what killed it. So she filed a public record request to the NJ Department of Agriculture in order to get the necropsy results. The DOA finally responded last week with the weird decision to deny the release of the record on grounds of medical privacy. The response reads in part: "We are in receipt of your request for information (#W101407) under the auspices of the State’s Open Public Records Act (O.P.R.A.). Specifically, you requested any and all reports associated with the necropsy of the dolphin that strayed into the South River on August 5, 2015 in Middlesex County, New Jersey. This request is denied as it would release information deemed confidential under O.P.R.A., specifically information related to a medical diagnosis or evaluation. (E.O. 26, McGreevey)"

Astronaut Tim Peake Calls the Wrong Number From Space (independent.co.uk) 27

An anonymous reader writes: British astronaut Tim Peake was trying to call his parents to wish them a Merry Christmas from the International Space Station, but he dialed the wrong number, giving a retired teacher one of the best pub stories ever. According to the Independent: "The pensioner who Tim Peake accidently called from space said she thought the British astronaut 'had been out down the pub.' Betty Barker, a 79-year-old retired teacher, told the Daily Mirror: 'He said, "Hello, is that planet Earth?" So I said "no"'. 'I thought it was someone who had been out down the pub who was having me on. Then because it was quiet with no giggling or noise from a pub I thought it was someone looking to go to a nightclub called Planet Earth.' Mrs Barker said she put the phone down because she didn't want to 'take any more notice of it.'"

Meet the Scientist Who Injected Himself With 3.5 Million-Year-Old Bacteria (vice.com) 206

Press2ToContinue writes with this profile of Anatoli Brouchkov, a scientist who isn't afraid to take an extremely hands-on approach to science. Vice reports: "Anatoli Brouchkov is a soft-spoken guy with silver hair, and when he lets out a reserved chuckle, his eyes light up like he was belly laughing. If you met him on the street, you'd never guess that he once injected himself with a 3.5 million-year-old strain of bacteria, just to see what would happen. According to Brouchkov, Bacillus F has a mechanism that has enabled it to survive for so long beneath the ice, and that the same mechanism could be used to extend human life, too—perhaps, one day, forever. In tests, Brouchkov says the bacteria allowed female mice to reproduce at ages far older than typical mice. Fruit flies, he told the Siberian Times, also experienced a 'positive impact' from exposure to the bacteria."
Star Wars Prequels

Economists Discuss the Financial Repercussions of the Destruction of the Death Stars (hackaday.com) 171

szczys writes: What would the Galactic Economy look like following the destruction of two Death Stars? This is the informed Star Wars debate taking shape between to people who know their economics. Elliot Williams, a Ph.D. in Econometrics, has just debunked the work of Zachary Feinstein who claimed that the Rebel Alliance would have been off had they not destroyed the two Death Stars because what they're left with is a Galactic Economy in ruin. Feinstein, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, published a scholarly paper early this month saying it was financial suicide to destroy both of the giant construction projects. Williams' take on things is that the project was a sunk cost; destroyed or whole the Death Star expenditures already made are gone and not likely to further cost or benefit the new government. Perhaps most interesting in the discussion is how you estimate the cost of the Death Star projects and the GGP — the Galactic Gross Product of the fictional universe.

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Now Can Perform Marriages In New Zealand (stuff.co.nz) 209

New submitter scrote-ma-hote writes: From stuff.co.nz, news comes that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is now able to solemnize marriages. The registration was listed in the NZ gazette yesterday. The Registrar-General decided that the Church met the criteria in New Zealand for solemnizing marriages, as per the Marriage Act 1955, namely that the "principal object of the organization was to uphold or promote religious beliefs, philosophical or humanitarian convictions."
The Almighty Buck

Texas Plumber Sues Car Dealer After His Truck Ends Up In Videos of Syria's Front Lines (mashable.com) 347

New submitter hydrodog writes: A Texas plumber traded in his truck, which ended up in ISIS videos showing his logo and phone number. Now he is getting hundreds of harassing phone calls for 'supporting ISIS' and is suing the dealership for not taking off his information before selling it. He is seeking more than $1 million in damages. According to Mashable: "According to the complaint, filed last week, a salesman at the dealership, Edgar Vasquez, told Oberholtzer 'not to worry about the decal,' saying that peeling it off would 'blemish the vehicle paint.' 'At no time did Vasquez or any other agent, servant, or employee of the Defendant tell Plaintiff that Defendant would leave the decals on the truck, which would be transferred in some fashion to international jihadists conducting warfare upon innocents in Syria,' reads the complaint.

Study: Happiness Won't Extend Your Life After All (latimes.com) 108

schwit1 writes with good news for fans of living a long and ultimately unfulfilling life. Happy people live longer, a relationship that's been documented in a variety of research studies. But a new paper published in the medical journal Lancet comes to the sad conclusion that happiness isn't responsible for this observed longevity. Instead, the things that make people happy, particularly their good health, are the same things that shield them from premature death. "Happiness and related measures of well-being do not appear to have any direct effect on mortality," the study authors wrote.

Hit-and-Run Suspect Arrested After Her Own Car Calls Cops (yahoo.com) 423

Trachman writes: This is a fascinating article about hit and run suspect arrested after her own car reported the crash to authorities. The crash system activates when sensors on the car detect a sudden change of speed or movement. An emergency call is automatically placed to local first responders who can pinpoint the precise location of the incident using information supplied by the vehicle's GPS unit. An audio recording released by the authorities reveals how Bernstein tried to convince the dispatcher that there was no cause for concern. When the dispatcher asks what'd happened, Bernstein responds, "Ma'am, there's no problem. Everything was fine." Suspecting there was more to the situation than Bernstein was letting on, the dispatcher responds: "OK, but your car called in saying you'd been involved in an accident. It doesn't do that for no reason. Did you leave the scene of an accident?"

Museum of Political Corruption Planned For New York (npr.org) 97

McGruber writes: In Albany, NY, Bruce Roter has secured approval to build the Museum of Political Corruption, dedicated to the state's long history of scandal. In the last decade alone, more than 30 state officeholders have either been accused or convicted of wrongdoing. On Monday, the former Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, was found guilty of taking nearly 4 million dollars in bribes and kickbacks. He was convicted on charges of conspiracy, fraud and extortion. The former Senate majority leader continues to face separate corruption charges in court. "I tell people, quite frankly, I want to institutionalize corruption," Roter says. "I want to put it in this museum. I want it to be laughed at, and I want people to learn about it." New York leads the list of states Americans view as having the most political corruption, according to a poll by New Jersey's Monmouth University.

Controversy Over High-Tech Brooms Sweeps Through Sport of Curling 181

HughPickens.com writes: Billy Witz reports at the NYT that the friendly sport of curling suddenly has become roiled in controversy over — what else? — the brooms. The crux of the debate is fabric — specifically, something called directional fabric. The use of this material in broom pads is the latest escalation in an arms race among manufacturers, whereby the world's best curlers can guide the 44-pound stone around a sheet of ice as if it were controlled by a joystick. Many of the sport's top athletes, but not all of them, signed an agreement last month not to use the newest brooms. But with few regulations on the books and Olympic qualifying tournaments underway this month, the World Curling Federation has stepped in and issued new rules that set severe restrictions on the types of brooms that can be used. "There's definitely some anger over it," says Dean Gemmell. "In curling, we're generally known for being pretty friendly with most of your opponents. Even at the big events, you see the top players hanging out. But it's sort of taken that away this year, that's for sure."

It was prototype brooms made by BalancePlus that were the focus of complaints at the Toronto tournament, but Scott Taylor, president of BalancePlus, says they were never intended for sale, and were meant to demonstrate the problems that the reversed fabrics could cause. Players say the brooms allowed sweepers to "steer" the rock much more than they were comfortable with, and even slow them down. The brooms have been compared to high-tech drivers that allow amateur golfers to hit the ball as far as a pro, or the advanced full-body swimsuits that were banned from competition in 2010 for providing an unfair advantage. Of his company's high-tech broom, Taylor says: "This isn't good. It's like hitting a golf ball 500 yards."

Grow Your Daily Protein At Home With an Edible Insect Desktop Hive 381

HughPickens.com writes: Fast Coexist reports on the Edible Insect Desktop Hive, a kitchen gadget designed to raise mealworms (beetle larva), a food that has the protein content of beef without the environmental footprint. The hive can grow between 200 and 500 grams of mealworms a week, enough to replace traditional meat in four or five dishes. The hive comes with a starter kit of "microlivestock," and controls the climate inside so the bugs have the right amount of fresh air and the right temperature to thrive. If you push a button, the mealworms pop out in a harvest drawer that chills them. You're supposed to pop them in the freezer, then fry them up or mix them into soup, smoothies, or bug-filled burgers. "Insects give us the opportunity to grow on small spaces, with few resources," says designer Katharina Unger, founder of Livin Farms, the company making the new home farming gadget. "A pig cannot easily be raised on your balcony, insects can. With their benefits, insects are one part of the solution to make currently inefficient industrial-scale production of meat obsolete."

Of course, that assumes people will be willing to eat them. Unger thinks bugs just need a little rebranding to succeed, and points out that other foods have overcome bad reputations in the past. "Even the potato, that is now a staple food, was once considered ugly and was given to pigs," says Unger adding that sushi, raw fish, and tofu were once considered obscure products. "Food is about perception and cultural associations. Within only a short time and the right measures, it can be rebranded. . . . Growing insects in our hive at home is our first measure to make insects a healthy and sustainable food for everyone."
The Internet

Same Birthday, Same Social Security Number, Same Mess For Two Florida Women (cio.com) 214

itwbennett writes: After 25 years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has fessed up to giving two Florida women who shared a name and a birthday the same social security number. The women only recently discovered that they shared an SSN, but not before having trouble getting loans and having tax returns rejected. You might think that the SSA would catch something like this, but as it turns out, they are prohibited from trying to verify the legitimate owner of an SSN, except in rare cases, says Ken Meiser, VP of identity solutions at ID Analytics, provider of credit and fraud risk solutions. And the problem isn't as rare as you might think (except for the part about two women with the same name born on the same day in the same state). According to a 2010 study by ID Analytics, some 40 million SSNs are associated with multiple people.

Head of Indonesia's Anti-Drug Agency Proposes Using Crocodiles To Guard Prisons 83

HughPickens.com writes: BBC reports that Budi Waseso, the head of Indonesia's anti-drugs agency has proposed building a prison island guarded by crocodiles to house death-row drug convicts and says crocodiles make better guards than humans — because they cannot be bribed. "We will place as many crocodiles as we can there," says Waseso. "You can't bribe crocodiles. You can't convince them to let inmates escape." Waseso says only traffickers would be kept in the jail, to stop them from mixing with other prisoners and potentially recruiting them to drug gangs. The plan, reminiscent of James Bond's "Live and Let Die" movie escape, is still in the early stages, and neither the location or potential opening date of the jail have been decided. Anti-drugs agency spokesman Slamet Pribadi confirmed authorities were mulling the plan to build "a special prison for death row convicts" Indonesia already has some of the toughest anti-narcotics laws in the world, including death by firing squad for traffickers, and sparked international uproar in April when it put to death seven foreign drug convicts, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Despite the harsh laws, Indonesia's corrupt prison system is awash with drugs, and inmates and jail officials are regularly arrested for narcotics offences.
The Internet

The Internet Falls For Rumblr, a Fake "Tinder For Fighting" App 135

HughPickens.com writes: Caitlin Dewey writes at the Washington Post that Rumblr, a "Tinder for fighting," promises to bring fight club straight to your smartphone that lets users schedule consensual, recreational fights with local strangers for free. "Rumblr is an app for recreational fighters to find, meet and fight other brawl enthusiasts nearby," according the app's website. It encourages users to insult their matched opponents with this pro-tip: "tell your match what you don't like about their picture." Reported by the likes of Venture Beat, Business Insider, New York magazine, and the New York Daily News, there's only one problem: There's no way that the app is real. In fact, it looks far more likely that we are being trolled by a couple of precocious teenagers. Let's start with the app's most obvious problem: its questionable legality. If you're "throwing down" and seriously injure your opponent — or, God forbid, he dies — you cannot claim self-defense and you could be charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanor assault to homicide. If Rumblr's creators are found to have encouraged or aided an assault, they could be guilty of criminal facilitation in the fourth degree — a class A misdemeanor. They could certainly be sued in civil court by injured users or their families. "Our bet? Rumblr is a marketing stunt, a prank or (best case!) an unsubtle parody," concludes Dewy. "Part of me is scared it will turn out to be real, of course. Not for my sake, but for humanity's."

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