Friday, April 29, 2005

Riddle of Mystery Exploding Toads Solved

The mystery of why toads in the Altona district of Hamburg, Germany, (SN reported) have been exploding has finally been solved. They have been subjected to precision attacks by crows who have been pecking out their livers with a single thrust.

The toads expand their bodies in an act of self-defence but with no liver and a punctured stomach, the toads inadvertently blow up their own blood vessels, their lungs then collapse and then they explode.

Veterinary surgeon Frank Mutschmann says that just three to five crows can kill up to one hundred toads and they learn the technique of extracting a toads liver very quickly.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Pope John Paul II Aide was 'Secret Agent'

Father Konrad Stanislaw Hejmo, aide to former Pope John Paul II, was a secret agent working for the communist authorities in Poland during the 80's according to the Polish Institute for National Remembrance investigating Nazi and communist crimes.

The institute says that secret documents reveal that Father Hejmo, who is still working within the Vatican, reported the movements of Polish pilgrims and maybe the Pontiff himself.

The files are said to be "convincing and shocking" according to Father Maciej Zieba, the priests Dominican superior, who has viewed the documents. It is alleged that Hejmo worked under the pseudonyms 'Hejnal' and 'Dominik'.


Paint The Whole World With A Rainbow!

For all you 30+ Brits out there, here's a special treat. Its the 'lost episode' of that popular childrens educational programme Rainbow. Click here to see it in its entire unedited form ;)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Calls for Kilogram to be Redefined (Physicists Have Had Enough of the Wait)

Calls for a redefinition of the kilo are coming from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since, unlike all other international standards, it is defined by a physical object - a platinum-iridium alloy kept in Paris.

The metre, for example, used to be calculated as ten-millionth of the distance from the north pole to the equator but has been updated to be the distance light travels in one 299,792,458th of a second.

A lump of alloy, on the other hand, is subject to slight deviations and does not remain constant. Also, it means that other nations have to rely on regular trips to the French capital to calibrate their standard masses.


The all-new Xbox 360 - pic here!

Ok, calm down. Move on, there is nothing to see here.....

Well, except the new Xbox 360.....

My, Xbox 360, how concave you are! We also admire your simple, round nexus. Mmmmmm.

Google Logos

Ever wondered why the logo on Google changes every so often? Or just plain curious to see a summary of the logos? Well lookee here then. I liked the recent Da Vinci one and the 2005 New Year one is quite clever.

For example, soon its Fathers Day (yum, yum) and so a design similar to this one should appear:

Just think, somebody gets PAID to sit and do those. I could do that. No, honest, I could. In fact, maybe for the fun of it I'll do some of my own. Keep checking back just in case this actually happens ;-)

US Companys Exposed as Green Frauds for Fooling Public

A Green life report due out this week is set to expose the US top ten worst offenders for appearing environmentally concerned but their performance contradicts their high-profile marketing campaigns - also known as 'greenwashing'.

At #1 is the Ford Motor Co., manufacturers of the Escape Hybrid, made at their eco-friendly River Rouge factory. The reality is that hybrids make up less than half a percent of Fords annual sales and the gas-guzzling F-150 is made at River Rouge.

Next is BP with their "beyond petroleum" marketing campaign. The company sells solar panels which may save 0.5m tonnes of CO2 emissions over their lifetime, while 1,298m tonnes of CO2 will be produced thanks to their fossil fuel products.


Schwarzenegger Creates Storm after Making Menstrual Cycle Gaff

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, has said that he would like to get rid of the moon to stop womens mood swings as they approach their period. His comments have been labeled as 'appealing to the lowest common denominator'.

Arnie is quoted as saying to DJ Howard Stern in a radio interview "If we get rid of the moon, women, whose menstrual cycles are governed by the moon, will not get PMS. They will stop bitching and whining."

Last year the former actor-turned-politician dropped another gaff by calling his Democratic rivals 'girlie men' which provoked similar outrage.


Smell Jesus Thanks to New Scented Candles

Fill your home with the smell of Jesus. Thats the message husband and wife Bob and Karen Tosterud from the US are sending out while selling their creation - "His Essence" Jesus-scented candles.

They say the odor is just how it is described in the Bible. Psalm 45 is "a Messianic Psalm referring to when Christ returns and his garments will have the scent of myrrh, aloe and cassia" according to Karen.

"We wanted people to be able to experience Christ in new ways and to be able to read a bible and have that scent and that candle as a reminder that he is with us all the time." For $18 you too can be reminded of the Lord through the sense of smell.


Nazi Monkeys to Lead World War II Celebrations

The Russian Yekaterinburg circus is to help in the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany in WWII by parading monkeys dressed up as Nazis. "You can not dress a horse like a Nazi" commented the circus director.

Originally, leopards were cast as the Nazis because they were seen as perfectly representative of the National Socialists, but they could not fit the felines into the uniforms.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Controversy as Bigfoot Sighting is Caught on Video

Some experts are tempering the excitement of jubilant residents in northern Manitoba, Winnipeg, with warnings of skepticism regarding an alleged Bigfoot siting which has been caught on nearly three minutes of videotape footage.

"I would say I'm very skeptical, because indeed most of these purported sightings prove to be hoaxes in the end" said James Hare of University of Manitoba.

But Bigfoot researcher Chris Murphy says "It could be a highly credible sighting. Manitoba has had 35 sightings that we have recorded." All evidence of Bigfoot, from footprints to hair samples, has turned out to be inconclusive thus far.


Inventor Wins $500,000 Prize for his 'Soundless' Sound System

Elwood "Woody" Norris has won the annual Lemelson-MIT Prize for a revolutionary system that transmits sound in a focused beam above the range of human hearing. If a listener gets hit directly by the beam the sound is heard within his or her head.

The theoretical applications for the device are wide-ranging, including as a wireless stereo that only one person can hear, or a device for yelling at someone far away, assured that the target will be the only person to hear it.


Russian Man Wakes Up with Knife Stuck in Face

A man living in central Russia, Artur Dzhavanyan, awoke with a headache after a drinking session and discovered that it wasn't the booze causing the pain but a 35cm knife sticking out of his face.

He says that the day before he had been drinking with a friend at his house and they got into an argument, after which Dzhavanyan went to bed. An hour later he got up and looked in the mirror, only to see the knife embedded just below his left eye.

With the weapon still stuck in his head, he went next door to ask for help. An ambulance was immediately called and he underwent a 40 minute operation. He says that he will not press charges, saying that he would prefer to punish his friend himself.

For the not-so-squeamish, see some photos here.


Exploding Toads Concern Experts

Up to a thousand toads have died as a result of a strange phenomenon gripping the Altona district of Hamburg, Germany - the amphibians swell up to over three times their normal size and then explode, propelling their entrails a metre into the air.

The 'pond of death' where the toads reside has been declared a no-go zone, with a biologist visiting the area and examining them between the hours of 2.00 and 3.00am - the peak time for the amphibians to go pop.

Experts can only guess at what might be causing the ghastly demise of the toads, with a virus or fungus being suspected. Another apparent explanation is that crows are attacking the colony and literally scaring them to death.


Friday, April 22, 2005

House Okays Drilling in Alaska

The House approved a highly debated energy bill today, allowing for drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge. The bill passed with a 249 to 183 vote, stifling attempts by Democrats to raise fuel efficiency standards and reduce energy consumption.

Provisions of the bill also provide protection to companies that produce methyl tertiary butyl ether, a gasoline additive that helps it meet clean air regulations.

(srce) (thanks to SN reporter 'diggity' for this story)

My comments: While drilling for oil in a nature reserve seems like a bit of an oxymoron, the providing protection to producers of
methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) seems equally contradictory. While it reduces air pollution, especially carbon monoxide, MTBE readily dissolves in water, can move rapidly through soils and aquifers, is resistant to microbial decomposition and is difficult to remove in water treatment. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has classified MTBE as a potential human carcinogen.

Anyone'd think the US government are going out of their way to kill ppl and wreck the environment (nah, god bless ya, guv!). It seems to be a case of 'our beloved oil and automotive industry is going to kill you one way or another - we've just tweaked it from
death by global warming to death by cancer. That's nice of them.

You can read more on this at the
USGS Water Resources of California website.

Virus That Deletes MP3s From PCs Found on P2P Networks

A worm known as Nopir-B is doing the rounds on some peer-to-peer networks disguised as a program for copying commercial DVDs. In reality, once on a host pc it will indiscriminately delete all MP3s found stored on the computer system.

The worm, which is believed to have originated in France, masquerades as a vigilante anti-piracy malware, displaying an anti-piracy graphic as it wipes .COM files and disables various system utilities.

"The Nopir-B worm targets people it believes may be involved in piracy but fails to discriminate between the true criminals and those who may have legally obtained MP3 files" said a Sophos Anti-Virus representative.


Study Finds Email Worse For The Mind Than Marijuana

Email addicts drop 10% in IQ scores, twice that of marijuana users according to a study carried out by psychiatric experts at King's College, London. A clinical trial involving over a thousand participants produced other startling results.

Dopeheads are renowned for their doziness, lethargy and an inability to focus, but these symptoms are apparently amplified in email users, with a deterioration in mental capacity being linked to an addiction to technology.

In the trial, 20% of participants would rush off to check their inbox during a conversation, putting their immediate relationships at risk. Similar studies have found non-computer using children performed better in literacy and numeracy.


Pope Issues His Email Address to the World

Recently elected Pope Benedict XVI, the ex-Cardinal formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, has put himself within easy reach of his flock by having his own direct email address. The big man can be contacted via

Optionally, visitors to the Papal website at can click on the 'Greetings to the Holy Father' link to email him. Recently, the domain name was scooped up by cyber speculator Rogers Cadenhead.

He has offered to hand over the domain name in return for an audience with his holiness. No news on the offer has thus far emerged from Vatican sources.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Italian PM Berlusconi 'To Resign Today'

Sources within Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party have been reported as saying that the premiere is to resign today so that a new coalition government can be formed.

An announcement was made yesterday that he would face a confidence vote on Thursday after his party was badly defeated in regional elections. Senior members of the Northern Alliance, coalition partners to Forza Italia, have threatened to resign.

The controversial billionaire leader has been dogged by scandal for some time, including accusations of Mafia involvement, corruption and a conflict of interest with his media empire.


Domain Buyer Not Sure What to do With

A Florida technical writer bought a series of Pope-related domain names three weeks ago including,,, and and hit the jackpot with

However, the buyer, named Rogers Cadenhead, has yet to decide what to do with it. He has wisely stated that "The decision would be guided by the idea not to piss off 1.1 billion [Roman Catholics]."

The papal domain is already getting 100 hits a minute, according to the news website Wired and bought in the princely sum of $12 from Google ads on his blog. As expected, some complaints have been received from people unhappy about his cyber sinning.


New Pope Selected: German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

The selection of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany as the next pope was signaled by white smoke and pealing bells in the Vatican at about 11:50 a.m. ET. He needed a 2/3 majority of the 115 cardinals, and will be Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pope.

The election of this pope can be seen as a move towards traditionalism in the Catholic church. Ratzinger, the head of the voting College of Cardinals, had wanted a traditionalist pope elected, and is himself very popular amongst conservatives.

Ratzinger's positions include strictly traditionalist views on sexuality and women in the Church, which have rallied some and alienated others within the faith. These matters, as well as some on science, are hot-button issues for this new pope.

Thanks to ShortNews reporter
'MomentOfClarity' for this story.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

London Marathon Winner Defecates in Public During Race

The female winner of the London Marathon, Olympic runner Paula Radcliffe, has described the embarrassing moment where she was forced to stop running due to stomach cramps and defecated on the road.

Onlookers were initially concerned that Radcliffe may have been dropping out of the race, as happened at the Athens Olympics, but were astounded to see her pre-race meal drop out instead.

"I was losing time because I was having stomach cramps and I thought 'I just need to go and I'll be fine'" she said. "I want to apologise to the nation. I didn't really want to resort to that in front of hundreds of thousands of people."


Breakthrough in Reading Ancient Documents May Herald a 'Second Renaissance'

Oxford University scientists have found a way of using infra-red technology to enable them to read the ancient remnants of Greek and Roman documents including the Oxyrhynchus Papyri and possibly lost Christian gospels.

A new technique developed from satellite imaging means that it is suddenly possible to read a huge collection of writings previously believed to be illegible. Some are saying that there will be a 20% rise in significant Greek and Roman works.

The literary revolution should lead to the reading of "central texts which scholars have been speculating about for centuries". 400,000 fragments of papyrus from one site alone has sat waiting to be read since its discovery in the late 19th century.


Spoof Gibberish Academic Paper Accepted by International IT Science Conference

Three MIT students decided to test the standards of their peers by submitting a series of academic papers for use as presentations at the forthcoming World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI) in Florida.

One paper, entitled "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy", complete with meaningless text, charts and diagrams, has been accepted.

An example of the gibberish included reads "the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning".