Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Scientists Predict End of the Ginger Mutation

Good news for humankind... Genetic scientists are predicting Redheads could be extinct in less than 100 years!

Latest figures reveal natural redheads are becoming rarer, and they now account for less than two percent of the world's population.

The National Geographic magazine says red hair was caused by a genetic mutation in northern Europe 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.

However, "global intermingling" has reduced the numbers of redheaded couples, although little carrot tops can still be produced when only one parent has red hair.

The mutant gene is still strongest in Scotland, where 13% of the population have red hair, and up to a massive 40% carry the rare gene.

Some genetic scientists believe gingers could be extinct on Earth within the next 50-100 years, although the gene could potentially lie dormant for generations before returning.

Scientifically, red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene which causes a change in the MC1R protein. Redheads are more prone to skin cancer with a higher sensitivity to ultraviolet light, as well as a higher sensitivity to heat and cold.

* Gingers extinct in 100 years, say scientists

The International GingerKids Foundation is working to find a cure for Gingervitis, which is a serious disease affecting millions of people. The group is working to achieve equality and understanding for ginger children, until a cure is found.

The Redhead motto is "We Are People Too (even if we don't have souls)". Find out more about their work here...

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Who says Beauty Queens are dumb??

Sadly for many Americans, English is a second language. Even for those who are white and blonde.

Be bamboozled as Miss South Carolina attempts to answer a serious question in the recent Miss Teen USA 2007 contest...

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Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Clint's YouTube roundup...

The recently-hitched (poor girl... run away now!) Clint Heine is always great at tracking down the best video clips and unusual stories online... so with a big tip of the hat to Mr Heine, here's two of his recent discoveries which are both hilarious in their own way...

* James Blunt shows us he has a sense of humour, performing a "triangular" parody of his hit song You're Beautiful on the new season of that classic TV show, Sesame Street.

* And watch the fun and games in Alabama as the team from UK TV show Top Gear find themselves on the run, after provoking the anger of some redneck hicks in a small town.

(They didn't seem to appreciate the boys' humour in decorating their cars with slogans like "Country & Western Sucks", "NASCAR Sucks", "Man-love Rules", and "Hillary for President"... ;-)

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Labour backs Islamic recruitment drive

The loopy liberal sections of the MSM are embracing the fact that this week has apparently been declared "Islam Awareness Week" in New Zealand.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Human Rights Commission are backing the initiative, which local muslims claim is "an attempt to dispel suspicion and mistrust of their faith".

The Labour-led Government has also lent its support to promoting awareness of Islam, despite many MPs claiming the Government shouldn't be involved in religion recently, when moves were made to ditch the daily prayer in Parliament.

The false religion of Islam claims to be the religion of peace, but as The Briefing Room website notes, there is growing concern over the intentions of Islamic groups, and "growing controversy about the spread of Islamic schools and the fundamentalism associated with them... How far should Western tolerance extend towards an intolerant religion". also features a link to a story from the United States, where a new publicly funded Arabic-themed school in Brooklyn, New York has many local parents and teachers worried it will "draw students from a radical mosque tied to terrorism, and become an incubator for young jihadists."

* And on that note... Thanks to the internet explorations of Blair Mulholland for this little gem from Jihad! The Musical...

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Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Disney holds the remotes for HSM 2

Friday night will be a quiet night on the town in the United States, as the Disney TV Channel broadcasts the premiere of its most anticipated movie ever, High School Musical 2.

The sequel stars all the popular actors from the original hit film, including Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, and Monique Coleman.

Fans have already had a sneak preview of the new High School Musical 2 movie, with video clips of some of the songs screening on music channels like MTV over the last few months.

* Click here to order the High School Musical 2 CD Soundtrack now through

(* Or for UK and European shoppers... Click here to order the High School Musical 2 CD through Amazon UK...)

Watch the video for the song "What Time Is It?" from the new High School Musical 2 Disney TV movie...

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Monday, 13 August 2007

Freeview NZ claims initial success

New Zealand’s Freeview service seems to be off to a solid if unspectacular start, with figures out today showing more than 21,000 digital set-top boxes have been sold since the launch in May. (Freeview is claiming an estimated audience for about 100,000 people, after adding in the “existing pool of digital receivers”).

Official figures reveal only 55% of digital receivers sold were “official” Freeview boxes, although it’s unclear where the figure for the “unofficial” boxes comes from, and whether that includes the thousands of boxes sold through auction sites like TradeMe. (I bought Mom a “non-certified” receiver for her birthday, and it seems to work fine, plugging straight into the abandoned Sky Digital dish ;-)

The “free to air” digital satellite service launched with just a basic package offering little new for viewers. Freeview’s main selling point so far has been “crystal clear digital quality reception” for those in remote or patchy areas, and that is where the marketing has been targeted so far.

A wider takeup is expected next year, when Freeview’s UHF Digital Terrestrial Television service launches in the main centres. This service will require a different kind of set-top box, or TVs with a built-in DVB-T tuner. (A Freeview Personal Video Recorder – PVR – is also expected sometime next year).

State TV has been allocated $79 million over five years by the Government for two new (initially) advertising-free channels… TVNZ 6 is set to launch in September (featuring pre-school, family, and arts programming), with TVNZ 7 (news, sport, and information) to follow in March 2008.

Access broadcaster Triangle has also announced plans for a nationwide digital channel, Triangle Stratos. MediaWorks (TV3, C4) intends to use at least two of its allocated six channels, but has not yet revealed any firm plans. Auckland-based Alt TV and Christchurch-based CTV are also investigating joining Freeview next year when the DTT service launches.

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Wednesday, 8 August 2007

What’s in a Dot-com name?

In the real world, the majority of companies tend to use recognisable names to describe their business (Foot Locker, Supercuts), or names derived from the company’s founders (Hasbro, Maggi).

But it seems in the online world, it’s often a case of the stranger the better. Almost everyone (even those that don’t regularly surf the net) has heard of search giant “Google”, which nows has the distinction of being a verb (as in, “I googled that information”).

The trend of weird and wacky names has gathered speed with the boom in “Web 2.0” companies, as sites look to stand out online. But just a few years ago, most marketing gurus would have frowned upon the idea of launching brands like Eurekster, Joombla, Flickr, or Revver.

And now, a recently launched personalised news website is aimed to make the phrase “You’ve been Thoofed” part of everyday conversation.

It’s anyone’s guess as to where the site’s founders came up with the unusual name. “OOF” is often used as the abbreviation for “Out of Office”… maybe Thoof stands for “The Out of Office” website (as in the one you browse when you’re taking a quick break! ;-) … Or maybe it’s simply the sound of being hit in the stomach after sitting still for too long?

I’ve been using the digg-style site quite a bit over the last few weeks, and have found it a great way of discovering interesting stories and new content (although sometimes a bad way of wasting too much time!)

One of Thoof’s best features is that it “learns” the kind of stories you’re interested in through blog-style tags, and continually updates your “infinitely scrolling” page to offer you content you’re more likely to be interested in. It also uses a “ThoofRank Badge” to help measure how popular stories are amongst readers of similar topics.

Thoof also lets users edit or “improve” articles collaboratively (in a similar way to Wikipedia), which can improve quality and minimise spam.

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Monday, 6 August 2007

Bourne Ultimatum breaks US box office record

My most anticipated movie of the year, The Bourne Ultimatum, has set a new box-office record for August in the USA, taking in over US$70 million in its opening weekend... around $15 million up on predictions.

The third instalment of the action-thriller series starring Matt Damon knocked "The Simpsons Movie" off the top spot, and beat the previous record of $67.4 million set by Rush Hour 2 in August 2001.

The film was the top opening of Damon's career, including his previous two Bourne movies.

The Bourne Ultimatum is the third in the Bourne trilogy films, very (very!) loosely based on the spy novels by Robert Ludlam (The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy).

Ludlam wrote just three books about amnesiac CIA spy Jason Bourne, although author Eric Van Lustbader has since added two more chapters to the Bourne saga (The Bourne Legacy in 2004, and the recently released novel The Bourne Betrayal).

A few months ago in pre-publicity press conferences, Matt Damon said this was the end of the road as far as he and Bourne franchise was concerned. However, in his latest interviews Damon has hinted that he may consider a fourth movie further down the track if "everything was right".

The Bourne Ultimatum is the latest in a long line of summer sequels at the box office. Bourne is the 11th sequel of the current season, with more to come including Ocean's 13 (also starring Matt Damon).

"Bourne 3" is released in the UK in mid-August... Fans in New Zealand have to wait until August 23rd until it opens in cinemas here, while the film will open in Australia a week later on August 30th.

* Official website: The Bourne Ultimatum

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Enjoy the Teak Outdoors

It’s currently the middle of winter where I live (New Zealand), but for those of you in the northern hemisphere, it’s the middle of summer which means more time spent outdoors.

For homes with secluded backyards, outdoor patios are a great way of making the most of the sun, while still being able to work, relax, or entertain. Especially popular for complementing any outdoor setting are Teak Patio Furniture like tables, benches, and chairs.

Teak (a tropical hardwood) is often used in outdoor furniture because it is very weather resistant and long lasting. The wood contains natural oils, making it an ideal choice for exposed locations (even when the wood is untreated).

The Teakalook website offers a range of outdoor furniture, with sets finished in a light natural golden look, or a deeper brown varnished finish. There’s also a range of other outdoor needs on offer like Patio Umbrellas, heating, and decor (bird baths, garden arbors, candle holders, etc).

And if it all gets a bit hot and bright, Patio awnings and Shade Sails provide protection from the sun’s harmful rays, while still letting you enjoy outdoor living. The Teakalook site has a huge range of furniture and accessories, so there’s something for most tastes, and as a bonus there are no extra shipping charges for those living in the United States.

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Otago newspaper telling big white lies?

Dunedin's leading daily newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, seems to be taking an economical approach to the truth, with a mini-debate heating up over who took the first steps on the icebergs which appeared off the coast of Otago last November.

The ODT's Illustrations editor, Stephen Jaquiery, claimed in a recent article that he was the first local media person to set foot on one of the bergs. Jaquiery has repeated this assertion in subsequent media interviews, both in print and on radio.

One of the later Icebergs to visit the south
However, Damon Forde, a Dunedin-based cameraman with 3News, insists Jaquiery is telling "frozen pork pies", and says he was in fact the first one on that media helicopter flight to set foot on the ice.

TV footage taken by Forde clearly show him stepping out onto an empty ice-scape, with Jaquiery's red jumpsuit not making an appearance for another 20 seconds. Footage shot from a second camera (by 3News reporter Mark Price) confirms this story, showing Jaquiery still sitting beside him in the helicopter with the door closed after Forde's exit.

In a (largely unpublished) ODT 'Letter to the Editor', Forde writes...
"Unlike the question mark over who actually first set foot on the summit of Everest... and the current speculation over whether Neil Armstrong actually went to the moon that day, I can confirm a 3News foot was actually the first to set down on the first iceberg.

I have the very foot here with me now and, one day, I expect it will have its own glass case at the museum.

I also have one video shot of a Jaquiery-free iceberg - shot from the ice - followed by another as the helicopter door opens and Mr Jaquiery takes his one small step."
Jaquiery - no doubt keen to keep his good party story intact for the grandkids (and his boss) - has vehemently denied TV3's version of events... despite (or perhaps in spite of) the video evidence ;-)

One of the most picturesque Icebergs
But this raises the interesting question... if the newspaper (formerly known as New Zealand's Best Daily Newspaper of the Year) is skating on thin ice with the truth in this story, how much faith can we have in the accuracy of their everyday reporting on other local issues?

The ODT has been heavily promoting a new book on the Icebergs by Dave Cull, which happens to feature photographs by Stephen Jaquiery, and has apparently already sold more than 3,500 copies.

The ODT reportedly paid for only one of their flights to the visiting icebergs... but has scored big, taking in over $16,000 in local photo sales, as well as collecting a sizeable sum in royalties for photos sold to other publications around the world.

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