An anonymous reader writes Nine-year-old Aiden Steward has been suspended by officials at a Texas school after he allegedly threatened to use his magic ring to make another boy disappear. His father says the family had watched The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last weekend. His son brought a ring to class and told another boy his magic ring could make the boy disappear. "I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend's existence," Aiden's father wrote in an email. "If he did, I'm sure he'd bring him right back." Principal Roxanne Greer declined to comment on the school's zero tolerance policy on magic rings. It may seem easy to make fun of Principal Greer in this case, but it does make one wonder how many elves could have been saved if someone took a hard line with a young Sauron.
An anonymous reader writes A Florida couple learned that they are much bigger fans of Doctor Who than their homeowner association, after receiving a notice to remove the TARDIS from their driveway. Leann Moder and her husband David were given 15 days to get rid of the big blue box. From the article: "It was built by Moder's father as a wedding set piece, and she and her husband, David, were married in front of it. 'My husband mentioned, "Do you want to do a Doctor Who themed wedding?"' Moder said. 'That could be fun.' Since then, their TARDIS has been used at sci-fi conventions and parties, and was even the focus of a Halloween haunt the Moders set up on their driveway in October." The HOA had no comment on their stance on sonic screwdrivers, or the Eye of Harmony.
An anonymous reader writes A paper presented at the 102nd Indian Science Congress on Sunday claims that Indians had mastered aviation thousands of years before the Wright brothers. India's science and technology minister Mr. Harsh Vardhan who was present at the conference claimed that ancient Indian mathematicians discovered the Pythagorean theorem but that the Greeks got the credit. These startling claims come just a few days after prime minister Narendra Modi had called Lord Ganesha who is part elephant and part human, a product of ancient India's knowledge of plastic surgery.
Siddharth Srinivas writes Park Sang Hak, a North Korean democracy activist, said he will start dropping 100,000 DVDs and USBs with Sony's The Interview by balloon in North Korea as early as late January. He's partnering with the U.S.-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation, which is financing the making of the DVDs and USB memory sticks of the movie with Korean subtitles.
theodp writes In addition to The Ghost of Steve Jobs, The Codecracker, a remix of 'The Nutcracker' performed by Silicon Valley's all-girl Castilleja School during Computer Science Education Week earlier this month featured a Bubble Sort Dance. Bubble Sort dancing, it turns out, is more popular than one might imagine. Search YouTube, for example, and you'll find students from the University of Rochester to Osmania University dancing to sort algorithms. Are you a fan of Hungarian folk-dancing? Well there's a very professionally-done Bubble Sort Dance for you! Indeed, well-meaning CS teachers are pushing kids to Bubble Sort Dance to hits like Beauty and a Beat, Roar, Gentleman, Heartbeat, Under the Sea, as well as other music.
An anonymous reader writes Author Graeme Reynolds found his novel withdrawn from Amazon because of excessive use of hyphens. He received an email from Amazon about his werewolf novel, High Moor 2: Moonstruck, because a reader had complained that there were too many hyphens. "When they ran an automated spell check against the manuscript they found that over 100 words in the 90,000-word novel contained that dreaded little line," he says. "This, apparently 'significantly impacts the readability of your book' and, as a result, 'We have suppressed the book because of the combined impact to customers.'"
An anonymous reader writes For about an hour on Friday a few lucky Amazon UK shoppers were able to take advantage of a price glitch which discounted thousands of marketplace products to the price of 1p. An Amazon spokesman said: "We are aware that a number of Marketplace sellers listed incorrect prices for a short period of time as a result of the third party software they use to price their items on Amazon.co.uk. We responded quickly and were able to cancel the vast majority of orders placed on these affected items immediately and no costs or fees will be incurred by sellers for these cancelled orders. We are now reviewing the small number of orders that were processed and will be reaching out to any affected sellers directly."
Rei writes Julian Assange, from his refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, has recently taken to Twitter to try to raise nearly $200,000 for a life-size bronze statue of himself. The statue would have him standing front and center between Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning (with Manning pictured as male); the art piece would be then shipped around the world on tour.
An anonymous reader writes "A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals. Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations." Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology."
An anonymous reader writes Have you ever wondered what it is like to have your online identity hijacked and replaced with a Russian-speaking Bruce Willis impostor? Here's a lesson in online impersonation from Passcode, The Christian Science Monitor's soon-to-launch section on security and privacy in the digital age. From the article: "Weeks prior, I changed my handle from @SaraSorcherNJ to the simpler @SaraSorcher when I left my job at National Journal covering national security to join The Christian Science Monitor to help lead our new section on, somewhat ironically considering the situation, security and privacy. Apparently within days of that change, someone - or a bot - had taken over my former work identity. My real account, @SaraSorcher, still existed. In my picture, I was still smiling and wearing a gray suit. The @SaraSorcherNJ account — Fake Me — sported a smirking, balding Willis in a track suit and v-neck white tee. I tweet about news and wonky security policy issues. Fake Russian-speaking Me enjoys 'watching Hannibal, eating apples and pondering the nature of existence.'"
First time accepted submitter neoritter writes "The Korean pop star PSY's viral music video "Gangnam Style" has reached the limit of YouTube's view counter. According to YouTube's Google+ account, "We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. 'Gangnam Style' has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade to a 64-bit integer (9,223,372,036,854,775,808)!"
HughPickens.com writes Allison Griswold reports at Slate that Pizza Hut wants to help you order your food subconsciously with a new product that is being tested at 300 locations across the UK that uses eye-tracking technology to allow diners to order within seconds using only their eyes. The digital menu shows diners a canvas of 20 toppings and builds their pizza based on which toppings they look at longest. To try again, a diner can glance at a "restart" button. "Finally the indecisive orderer and the prolonged menu peruser can cut time and always get it right," a Pizza Hut spokesperson said in a statement, "so that the focus of dining can be on the most important part — the enjoyment of eating!" According to news release from Tobii Technology, the Subconscious Menu can determine which ingredients your mind and eyes have been looking at longest in exactly 2.5 seconds. The menu then uses a powerful mathematical algorithm to identify, from 4896 possible ingredient combinations, the customer's perfect pizza. "Tests on the Subconscious Menu have been incredibly positive with 98% of people, recommended a pizza with ingredients they love."
PolygamousRanchKid writes Acting Secret Service director Joseph Clancy on Wednesday faced a number of tough questions from the House Judiciary Committee about the fence jumper who made it deep into the White House. But along with the tough questions, Clancy fielded a couple eyebrow raising suggestions on how to better protect the president's home. "Would a moat, water six feet around, be kind of attractive and effective?" Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., asked with trepidation. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, asked: “Would you be in favor of removing the fence around the White House and having, maybe, a virtual or electronic fence around it?” Clancy liked the moat idea better than the electric fence. “My knee-jerk reaction to that would be no, sir,” he told Gohmert. “Partly because of the number of tourists that come up Pennsylvania Avenue and come up to that area.”
wiredmikey writes A Dutch entrepreneur has had two microchips containing Bitcoin injected into his hands to help him make contactless payments. The chips, enclosed in a 2mm by 12mm capsule of "biocompatible" glass, were injected using a special syringe and can communicate with devices such as Android smartphones or tablets via NFC. "What's stored on the microchips should be seen as a savings account rather than a current account," Martijn Wismeijer, co-founder of MrBitcoin said. "The payment device remains the smartphone, but you transfer funds from the chips." The chips are available on the Internet, sold with a syringe for $99, but Wismeijer suggested individuals should find a specialist to handle the injection to avoid infections.
Joe Gilmore was showing some of his work at Maker Faire Atlanta when Timothy Lord pointed his camera at him. Joe may never create a Mars colony or build the tallest skyscraper in North America, but what he does is fun to the point of whimsy, and seems to bring smiles to a lot of faces. (Alternate Video Link)
rossgneumann writes If everyone always wants to look different than everybody else, everybody starts looking the same. At least, if you use a recently published mathematical model describing the phenomenon. "The hipster effect is this non-concerted emergent collective phenomenon of looking alike trying to look different," in the words of Jonathan Touboul, mathematical neuroscientist at the College de France in Paris.
An anonymous reader writes Have you ever wished that you could watch a man be eaten alive by an anaconda from the comfort of your own home? The Discovery Channel is betting that the answer is yes with their upcoming special, Eaten Alive. The channel says wildlife filmmaker Paul Rosolie will don a custom-built snake-proof suit, and go inside a live anaconda. They've even released a teaser. It's unclear what scientific conundrum will be solved in the process of feeding Paul to the snake, or how he plans to get out.
An anonymous reader writes The Supremes have decided to hear a case regarding whether groupers are 'tangible articles' under the Sarbanes-Oxley law. The issue is that the crew of the Miss Katie was caught with undersized fish. A marine fisheries officer wrote them a ticket and put the fish in a box that the captain was ordered to turn in when he got ashore. Rather than do this, they threw out the undersized fish and replaced them with bigger ones. Prosecutors, rather than charging them with offenses of catching undersized fish (which would have resulted in a fine and a small jail sentence), went after them under the Sarbanes-Oxley law which forbids the destruction of "any record, document, or tangible object" and which could result in a 20 year prison sentence, though the prosecutor only asked for two years on this one. Lawyers are arguing over whether "tangible object" here is something that could contain records, or whether it's any object whatsoever that might be evidence. So far in comments, many of the conservative justices, including Roberts, Alito and Scalia, have expressed skepticism as to whether this would lead to overcriminalization for petty crimes and would give prosecutors undue leverage given all the things Sarbanes-Oxley can apply to. They also question whether this was intended in the law, given that "tangible object" was listed in a context including documents and records and appears to have been only contemplated in terms of servers, DVDs, or other tangible objects that might contain documents or records. Meanwhile, Kagan and Kennedy appear amenable to a more literal reading of the statute, given that groupers are in fact touchable and that makes them "tangible objects" under the ordinary meaning of those words.
An anonymous reader writes Citing the need to abide by a law combating "gay propaganda," a memorial dedicated to the late Apple founder Steve Jobs has been torn down. This comes on the heels of new CEO Tim Cook coming out as gay. "In Russia, gay propaganda and other sexual perversions among minors are prohibited by law," ZEFS (a Russian group of companies that originally erected the statue) said, noting that the memorial had been "in an area of direct access for young students and scholars". "After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for sodomy, the monument was taken down to abide to the Russian federal law protecting children from information promoting denial of traditional family values."
sciencehabit writes When she isn't out in the forest gathering data for her Ph.D. in plant biology at the University of Georgia, Athens, Uma Nagendra spends a good deal of her time hanging upside down from a trapeze doing circus aerials. "It turns out that there are a lot of scientists doing it," she says. To combine the two halves of her life, she teamed up with her fellow aerialists to create the midair dance based on her scientific research. Nagendra's circus extravaganza is the overall winner of this year's "Dance Your Ph.D." contest.