Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Worshipping the Flying Spaghetti Monster Isn't a Real Religion, Court Rules ( 527

WheezyJoe writes: A court in Nebraska has officially ruled that Pastafarianism is not a real religion, and therefore a prison inmate with "several tattoos proclaiming his faith" will not get $5 million or privileges to order and wear religious clothing and pendants, nor meet for weekly worship services and classes and receive communion. The Federal judge ruled that The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not a "real" religion eligible for protection under the First Amendment...

In ruling against the inmate and the church of Pastafarianism, the judge wrote "there must be a line beyond which a practice is not 'religious' simply because a plaintiff labels it as such... A prisoner could just as easily read the works of Vonnegut or Heinlein and claim it as his holy book, and demand accommodation of Bokononism or the Church of All Worlds [citing Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle and Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land]. The Flying Spaghetti Monster Gospel is plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement," and thus not a "real" religion.


Free Lightsaber Event Now Battling Lucasfilm's Lawyers ( 198

For eight years the arts collective Newmindspace had been staging free lightsaber battles, and in December they set a world record with 9,951 "combatants" simultaneously participating in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. But then in January they received a letter from the copyright attorneys for the Star Wars franchise. "We immediately stopped using the words 'lightsaber,' 'Jedi,' 'Sith' and 'The Force,' " the group's co-founder told the technology blog of the San Jose Mercury News, saying they've still been "aggressively pursued" for the last three months. '''In March we received further communication stating 'The Light Battle Tour' and 'light sword' were still too close to their trademarks, and we moved to settle the dispute to avoid legal action." Their new solution involves referring to the weapons as "catblades", and they've re-branded their upcoming series of events (which begins on April 30 in San Jose) as the "Cats in Space Tour".
United Kingdom

Amateur Scientist Builds Thermite Grenade Cannon ( 97

YouTube personality Colin Furze has built a homemade cannon which he's filmed launching grenades filled with thermite, "an especially nasty chemical composition made of metal power and oxide that burns as hot as 2,500 degrees Celsius." Furze once co-hosted Sky1's program Gadget Geeks, and he's since made a new career demonstrating strange science projects on YouTube. Furze's other homemade devices have included a rocket-powered go-kart and a knife that can also toast bread while it's cutting.

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Favorite Easter Egg? ( 165

One year ago, Easter Sunday was greeted with the news that many companies were increasingly cracking down on "Easter Eggs," like the harmless snippets of vanity code playfully hidden by developers. "As programming becomes more corporate, more official, one cannot appear to have code that is not officially sanctioned," the author of The Elements of Computing Style told the BBC, though other programmers they spoke to disagreed.

The Easter Egg is a tradition which dates back at least to a hidden room in a 1979 Atari game, and I still have fond memories of the Batmobile Easter Egg (video) in King's Quest II (1985) and tales of that weird musical Easter Egg in Windows 95 which scrolled the names of their entire development team.

So share your favorites in the comments. What's your favorite Easter Egg?

33,000 Sign Online Petition Promoting Guns At Republican Convention ( 663

An anonymous reader writes: "An online petition on claims that constitutional rights are being denied to those who want to bring a gun to the fight for the Republican Party's future," reports CNET. "Though Ohio is an open carry state, which allows for the open carry of guns, the hosting venue — the Quicken Loans Arena — strictly forbids the carry of firearms on their premises." Citing a quote from the National Rifle Association that gun-free zones are "the worst and most dangerous of all lies," the petition has already attracted more than 33,000 signatures, though CNET reports that the whole petition is a satire they're attributing to the Hyperationalist blog. The petition appears to have attracted its last 8,000 signatures within the last 18 hours, shortly after its URL appeared on a web site for young conservatives.

Feds: Brink's Employee Makes Off With $196,000 In Quarters ( 142

dfsmith writes: CNN is reporting today on the prosecution of a man who stole $196,000 worth of quarters from his employer in Alabama. Apparently the Brinks facility kept large bags of the coins for the Federal Reserve (about 1 ton each), which the accused emptied and refilled with beads (leaving some coins visible in the bag's window). Dennis faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. That's a million-quarter fine, or 216,000 more quarters than Dennis stole.
Notwithstanding the enterprise of purchasing and transporting that many beads, you've got to wonder: how would you go about this heist, and what would you do with the proceeds?

Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli Threatens Ghostface Killah 108

Martin Shkreli, of pharmaceutical drug price-gouging fame, threatens Ghostface Killah, whom he calls by his real name, in a recent video. The video features Shkreli threatening to destroy his rare Wu-Tang album and "erase him from the history books of rap." Shkreli, flanked by his masked associates, also demands a written apology from Ghostface Killah.

Shkreli was notoriously arrested on suspicion of fraud in December of 2015.

Filmmaker Forces Censors To Watch 10-Hour Movie of Paint Drying ( 255

An anonymous reader writes: A British filmmaker has forced the people who decide how to censor films to watch a 10-hour movie of paint drying on a wall following a protest fundraising campaign. Charlie Lyne launched a Kickstarter to help raise the money needed to send his 'documentary' of a single shot of paint drying on a wall for consideration as a protest against the 'stronghold' the organisation has on the British film industry. The BBFC charge an initial fee of $144.88 to view a film and decide what certificate to give it, and then and additional $10.15 for each minute that the film lasts. The idea was the more money Lyne could raise via his fundraiser, the longer his paint-drying film could last. The campaign eventually nearly £8,500, meaning he was able to send in a 607 minute video which the examiners had to watch in its entirety.

The Most Popular Bad Passwords of 2015 ( 165

Nerval's Lobster writes: For years, security experts have told people they need better passwords protecting their online accounts: no more '123456' or 'qwerty' or 'password.' Based on SplashData's fifth annual list of the 25 most common passwords, however, it's clear that relatively few people are listening to that advice. The firm based its list on more than 2 million leaked passwords during the year. The most popular, as in 2014, was '123456,' followed by 'password' and the ingenious, uncrackable '12345678.' One new entry on this ignoble list: 'starwars' in 25th place, no doubt thanks in part to the popularity of 'The Force Awakens' and the accompanying marketing campaign. Seems like a lot of people have forgotten (or never learned) that, while it's a pain to create (much less remember) a complicated password with lots of numbers and special characters, it's nothing compared to the pain of having your online accounts compromised. Maybe, as some have proposed, we could someday kill passwords for most services.

New Jersey Rejects Request For Dolphin Necropsy Results, Cites "Medical Privacy" ( 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)"

Chrome Extension Offers Trump-Free Browsing ( 247

Earthquake Retrofit writes: A new Google Chrome extension lets you remove mentions of Donald Trump from your browsing experience. Trump Filter scans websites for references to the Republican presidential candidate, showing a blank void in the place of Trump-related content. "I am doing this out of a profound sense of annoyance and patriotic duty," the extension's creator, Rob Spectre, writes on the Trump Filter website. "[I was not] put up to this by the Republican or Democratic Parties, the Obama Administration, my mother or any other possible sphere of influence." Trump Filter's code is open source and can be found on GitHub.

Astronaut Tim Peake Calls the Wrong Number From Space ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 209

New submitter scrote-ma-hote writes: From, 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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.
The Almighty Buck

Cuban Talks Trash At Intel Extreme Masters, Drops $30K of F-Bombs For Charity ( 53

MojoKid writes: Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban isn't known for holding his tongue, even when their are fines involved. If you thought that might change in the eSports arena, you'd be mistaken. The billionaire trash talker dropped a couple of f-bombs at the Intel Extreme Masters tournament in San Jose this past weekend, and he'll have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for doing so. Not that he minds. In fact, after being informed on stage during a post-match interview that he was was being fined $15,000 for dropping an f-bomb, and that the funds would go to charity, he promptly asked if he'd be hit with another one if he did it again. His intentional outburst meant that he'd be on the hook for $30,000, all of which will go to the Cybersmile Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides expert help and advice for cyberbullying victims and their families. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich also squared off on opposing teams in a game of League of Legends.

Slashdot Top Deals