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Sunday, January 11, 2009

NY eatery frees ancient lobster


"George" the giant lobster
Large lobsters are usually too big to get caught in traps

A lobster believed to be some 140 years old is to be freed from the confines of a tank at a New York restaurant.

George the giant lobster, weighing 9kg (20lb), will be returned to the ocean, from where he was caught two weeks ago.

The crustacean was bought for $100 (£66) by the City Crab and Seafood and quickly adopted as its mascot, posing for pictures with restaurant patrons.

But animal rights group Peta sought the lobster's release, and will now put it back into the waters off Maine.

It will enter the ocean in the waters around Kennebunkport, where lobster trapping is banned.

George was originally caught off Newfoundland, Canada, and has spent about 10 days in the tank at City Crab and Seafood.

These intriguing animals don't deserve to be confined to tiny tanks or boiled alive
Ingrid Newkirk
Peta

The approximate age of a lobster can be deduced from its weight.

Restaurant manager Keith Valenti said there was never any intent to harm the lobster, and the decision to keep it in the tank was made to offer customers a little something extra.

"We bought a big lobster, started taking pictures with kids and it worked out real well," Mr Valenti told Reuters news agency.

But it was a "no brainer", he added, to agree to the request to return George to the ocean.

"We never intended him to be sold, just draw attention to the restaurant, and he did."

Ingrid Newkirk, of Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) praised the decision.

"We applaud the folks at City Crab and Seafood for their compassionate decision to allow this noble old-timer to live out his days in freedom and peace.

"We hope that their kind gesture serves as an example that these intriguing animals don't deserve to be confined to tiny tanks or boiled alive."

Original here

Pelicans Are Falling Out of the Sky (and Other Mysterious Mass Animal Deaths)

This is a healthy pelican - quite beautiful. Unfortunately, very sick pelicans are falling out of the sky these days. It’s one of many recent alarming indicators from our fellow creatures that things are seriously wrong.

Hundreds of sick pelicans have fallen to the ground from Mexico to Oregon, smashing into cars, boats and beaches, and experts are baffled. Authorities have ruled out domoic acid poisoning, which has affected wildlife before. It’s nothing short of a mystery. Surviving pelicans have been found in yards and on roads, disoriented and weak. So far, experts think the cause could be anything from unknown poison contamination to exposure to the toxic run-off from the recent Southern California fires to malnutrition due to evaporating fish stocks.

Though the exact cause is a mystery, it’s almost certainly due to human impact. And, it’s only the most recent case in a slew of disturbing mass animal deaths around the world.

PhotobucketIn the last two years, California’s crops were affected by a mysterious disappearance of bee hives. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, the worker bees simply fly away and never return. Since October 2006, over 35% of the honey bee population in the United States has vanished. In some states, as many as 90% of bees have disappeared. Scientists don’t know what causes CCD, but theories range from stress due to travel (bees are trucked across thousands of miles, in some cases, to pollinate), or pesticide exposure. A case for local, organic food?

PhotobucketDolphins off the beaches of Cornwall, thought to be stressed by Royal Navy operations, apparently committed a mass suicide last summer. 26 dolphins consumed and inhaled debris and mud. Though dolphins have been found dead en masse before, this is the most baffling incident. The only other possibility, experts say, is that the dolphins may have been scared by a whale. Scared enough to willingly fill their lungs and bellies with mud?

PhotobucketCases of seals and sea birds washing ashore have been common in recent years. For example, over 1000 Shearwater sea birds were found dead in the Bahamas and parts of Florida in 2007. The cause wasn’t bird flu, as experts had suspected when shearwaters turned up dead in 2005. There is still no explanation, but every year sees an increase in sea bird deaths, with toxicity the most common culprit.

PhotobucketAlso last year, at least 40 endangered gharials in the Chambal river in India died of cirrhosis of the liver, due to apparent poisoning (a flood in 2007 is thought to have increased metal levels in the river). What was particularly odd about the incident was that only wild gharials, of breeding age, died - the captive bred animals were fine.

PhotobucketAnd here’s a case for organic textiles in addition to food: in 2006, a controversy erupted over the plight of sheep and goats who became ill and died after eating genetically modified cotton. People working with the animals said they simply became “dull and lifeless and died”. They were found dead with swollen stomachs, mouth lesions and black stools. Bacterial and viral infections were ruled out; and no sheep grazing on non-modified cotton died. In 2007 the same thing happened, also in India, to cattle.

PhotobucketHundreds, and possibly thousands, of sea turtles were found floating dead or washed ashore in El Salvador in 2006. At first thought to be caused by fishing activities, experts quickly ruled this out and the case remains a mystery.

Original here

Bride discovers fiance is paedophile and reports him to police just five days before wedding

By Daily Mail Reporter

bride

Fiance: Richard Manley has been jailed for six years for sexual offences against a schoolgirl

A bride-to-be reported her paedophile fiance to police five days before they were due to marry.

Richard Manley, 38, later admitted a total of 19 charges, including indecent assault, taking an indecent picture of a child, and distributing child pornography.

His former fiancee, a 35-year-old mother-of-two who had been in a relationship with him for four years, said: 'Thank God I never married him. I was just days away.

'I had a lucky escape.'

Manley, of System Street, Adamsdown, Cardiff, was given a six-year prison sentence at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday.

The court heard the offences came to light last September when Manley's partner confronted him after receiving a text message alleging he was a paedophile.

The woman, who did not want to be named, called police after Manley admitted taking an indecent photograph of a child in her underwear, and indecently touching her.

When police arrested him on September 12, he told them: 'I did take the picture, and sent it, years ago.'

Manley later wrote a letter to his former partner, confessing to further offences he had committed.

Huw Evans, prosecuting, told the court Manley, an aircraft technician, became interested in child pornography in 2000 and shared photographs with others on the internet.

Robin Shellard, defending, said Manley resigned from his job in a letter to his employers after the offences came to light.

He said his client feels 'real remorse', and added: 'It is to his great credit that he has come forward before the world, and that has been a very difficult thing for him to do.

'The hardest thing was confessing all to his partner, the woman he loved and still loves deeply, and who perhaps will never forgive him.

'But he thought it was for the best that everything he did should come into the open, so he could try to get the help he needs.'

In one of the letters, Manley wrote: 'It was a time of life I regret, and I don't intend to repeat it.'

Judge Stephen Hopkins QC told Manley he suffered from 'perverted lust'.

He banned Manley from working with children for life, and ordered him to be placed on the sex offenders register.

Original here

Chinese schoolboy has 52 stitches after attack from teacher

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai

Zheng Chaoqun, 10, is still being treated at a hospital in Henan province after his teacher tore away a strip of flesh. Zheng told a local newspaper, the Dayang News, that his assailant, 37-year-old Guo Yabin, had picked him up by his cheeks after he failed to hand in his work.

"She was very angry at the time," he said. "She ripped and tiwsted my cheeks with both her hands and then she lifted me off the ground."

The boy said he felt his face ripping off and fell back to his seat. "She still had my skin in her hands, and my face was bleeding. She looked anxious and sent me home," he said.

Doctors in the hospital sewed up a five inch wound. Zheng's father has reported the case to the police and is expected to press for damages.

But no action has yet been taken against Mrs Guo, a mother of two. The authorities said they, and the police, were still investigating the incident. However, graphic pictures of Zheng's injuries have circulated on the Chinese internet.

Mrs Guo's relatives have reportedly produced a hospital certificate to show the teacher is mentally unstable. "When she tore off his face, we were horrified," another student told the Dayang News.

Original here

Inching Its Way Back Onto the Lip

Phil Bray/Focus Features

THE ‘MILK’ MUSTACHE James Franco’s ’70s ’stache, sexy but soulful, may persuade men it is worthy of revival.

By DAVID COLMAN

IN case you have been in a hole the last few years, stylish men have cast aside razors for electric clippers and taken to styling their face and body hair — a k a “manscaping” — with a zeal not seen since Edward Scissorhands. The beard, that onetime symbol of rural cluelessness, has become a badge of urban hipsterdom. This has grown to include a spectrum of variations, from a week’s slackerly growth to a handsome Czar Nicholas II beard to a full-blown Rutherford B. Hayes thicket.

But its upstairs neighbor, the mustache, has had a bumpier ride. It, like the beard, enjoyed its most widespread popularity between 1850 and 1900; John Wilkes Booth, it must be conceded, had a beaut. But today, the mustache cannot shake its ties to the sexy-yet-buffoonish machismo of the mid-1970s, epitomized by Burt Reynolds, Sam Elliott and the Village People, ’stache sporters all.

Lately, though, there are signs that the mustache is at long last shaking off the most unsavory of those associations. Exhibit A is, of course, Brad Pitt, who grew one just before the filming of Quentin Tarantino’s new World War II film, “Inglourious Basterds,” and flaunted it for the paparazzi over the holidays. Emanuel Millar, the head of the film’s hair department, said he was surprised when Mr. Pitt showed up to shoot avec mustache and insisted on keeping it despite the fact that it was not true to the period. Exhibit B is, of course, the “Milk” Mustache — that is, the one worn by the scene-stealing James Franco, playing Sean Penn’s long-suffering and dreamy boyfriend in “Milk.” While Mr. Penn’s performance is the most talked-about aspect of the film, Mr. Franco’s mustache has elicited plenty of admiration on its own.

Exhibit C is Jason Giambi, the Yankees first baseman whose summer comeback coincided with his sprouting a particularly fine-looking mustache, prompting many to recall the 1972 World Series, when a handlebar-wearing Rollie Fingers and the Oakland A’s took on the clean-shaven Cincinnati Reds in “the Hairs vs. the Squares.”

Despite these fetching examples, the fate of the mustache is uncertain. Unlike the beard, it still carries plenty of baggage, skewing either too old-school gay (see “Milk”) or too old-school straight (see John R. Bolton).

No one knows that fact better than the men who have grown one. Douglas Friedman, 36, a photographer, has endured many a jab since he grew a “porn-star ’stache,” as the basic mustache is now widely known, on a whim 10 years ago. “I get a lot of good-natured ribbing, but it’s usually derogatory,” he said. Once he was asked for a photo of himself for the contributor’s page of a major fashion magazine, only to have it dropped without explanation. Later, he found out why: the magazine’s editor hates mustaches.

Other editors are only too happy to use the image and all it implies.

Dov Charney, 39, the often controversial chief executive of American Apparel, known for its provocative ads, grew a ’70s-style mustache in 2004.

“I had it for seven months — eight months max,” Mr. Charney said. But over the next three years, whenever newspapers, magazines or bloggers ran stories about him, even after a photographer had come to take a current picture, most ended up using an old, mustached picture.

“People were really attached to that image,” he said. “In both positive articles, where they wanted to portray me as this sex-positive playboy, as well as the ones where they wanted to demonize me.”

The problem is, the men who look good in a mustache are vastly outnumbered by those using it for comedic effect (See “Anchorman” and “Borat”). Jason Lee does an admirable job straddling the fence as the star of the television series “My Name Is Earl.” Though his mustache looks good on him, in a ’76 Camaro kind of way, it also reads as an albatross of sorts — a token of his character’s lowlife nature for which he is forever making amends. You have to wonder if his mustache will magically fall off on the last episode.

Even the pro-mustache Movember movement is a double-edged razor. Originating in Australia in 2004, Movember challenges men to grow mustaches for the month of November to raise money for men’s health charities; an estimated 200,000 men worldwide participated in 2008. It brings the mustache back every fall, only to kill it off a few weeks later.

James Austin, 37, a currency salesman with a United States bank in London, participated with 12 colleagues and, by the end of the month, was torn about shaving. “It actually suits a lot of people,” Mr. Austin said. “There’s one guy in particular who doesn’t have much of a top lip, so he looks better.”

There was little hope that his own would last, though. “My wife put the kibosh on that,” he said.

Brandon Roberts, 28, a hotel executive assistant in New York, grew a mustache after seeing the re-release of “Cruising” two years ago, only to realize that, happily, he was now the spitting image of his father in the 1970s. “I think it’s easier to pull off a beard,” he said. “Having a mustache takes a certain something. You have to have it and own it and pull it off.”

Others take that notion a step further, likening the mustache to women’s re-embrace of overtly sexual tokens like stilettos and push-up bras. In 2006, irked that the new popularity of the beard had left the mustache eating dust, Jay Della Valle, 28, persuaded nine 20-something men to grow mustaches and document the experience in a film, “The Glorius Mustache Challenge.” (It was released on DVD last year.) He now hosts mustache parties and events like Movember and the ’Stache Bash in St. Louis. Like some cross between Robert Bly and Elmer Gantry, he kicks these off with an evangelical ceremony, invoking the transfiguring masculine power of the mustache.

“You got to wear it with this attitude,” Mr. Della Valle said. “Your mustache is always there, saying, ‘Yeah, I have a mustache, so bring it on.’ If you have a sense of humility connected to your mustache, it doesn’t look as good as it should.”

But for all its reclaimed machismo, he added, “The bottom line is this: The best response to the question, ‘Why the mustache?’ is, because it’s fun.”

In other words, why should you grow a mustache? Because it’s not there.

Original here

Shopaholic spinster found dead under 3ft of unopened goods

By James Tozer

Jean Cunnane

The queen of collecting: Joan Cunnane in her home, where she was buried under 3ft of goods

A spinster who obsessively hoarded clothes died in her home after a mountain of suitcases fell on her, burying her alive.

Joan Cunnane, 77, owned 300 scarves as well as thousands of trinkets and valuables.

They took up so much space in her bungalow that she had only a 2ft-wide path to get around them, and her car and garage were packed with other goods.

After she was reported missing earlier this week, it took police searching her home two days to sift through her possessions.

Miss Cunnane was eventually found buried under a 3ft pile of cases in a back bedroom where she had apparently gone in search of a favourite item.

The eccentric pensioner, who had no known family, is thought to have died of dehydration several days earlier on Boxing Day.

Yesterday, neighbours spoke of their shock at the macabre death of Miss Cunnane, a retired BT operator and devout Roman Catholic who attended church services every weekend.

Her closest friend, Roy Moran, 77, said: 'I think it just gave her pleasure to buy things - none of it was really essential. I once asked her how many scarves she had.

She said she thought about 300. I asked her why she needed that many. She said they were all different colours.

'She bought everything. It had been going on over 16 years from when she bought the property.'

Miss Cunnane had enjoyed Christmas dinner with Mr Moran, a retired hospital supplies worker, before returning to her ?170,000 bungalow in Heaton Mersey, near Stockport.

joan cunnane

Crammed: Miss Cunnane's garage was filled to the rafters

Neighbours became concerned when they did not see her for a few days while her car, which was usually piled high with bags and boxes, remained parked outside the bungalow.

She was reported missing on Tuesday after failing to attend a hospital appointment and police officers with sniffer dogs were sent to her home but failed to find her.

An expert search team and environmental health officers were also called in to help and on Wednesday evening her body was finally found buried under the suitcases.

The house was stacked with brand-new umbrellas, candles, ornaments, trinkets, clothes and electrical items, many of them unopened, as well as piles of videotapes.

Mr Moran said his friend would spend hours at branches of Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Ikea rather than spend evenings at home, which was crammed full but amazingly tidy.

'I went in three times and couldn't find her,' he said.

'There was stuff in every room - it was so bad there were concerns about the police dogs going in.

'There were thousands of videos. When I walked they all fell down. It was a deathtrap, really.

Joan cunnane

Heavy goods vehicle: Miss Cunnane even used her Metro for storage

'It took two days with two teams of six policemen putting the stuff from her house into the van. Now, they say they are going to put it all back.'

A neighbour said Miss Cunnane once asked for help in emptying her Rover Metro so it could go in for its MoT - a process which took four hours.

'I don't know how she saw out of the back of it because it was so full of stuff,' she said.

'There were six umbrellas, ornaments, pots, IKEA candle holders and an oil heater which was very heavy.'

She said Miss Cunnane was a deeply private lady who would not even open the door to the postman.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances and the missing person file had been closed.

Original here

At age 140, lobster to regain freedom

140-year-old lobster
Off the menu ... the 140-year-old lobster which has been released by a New York restaurant / Reuters

A LOBSTER thought to be about 140 years old will be returned to the ocean after briefly becoming the mascot for a New York City restaurant, an animal rights group said overnight.

The 20 pound (9kg) lobster was caught off the coast of Canada about two weeks ago and bought for $US100 by City Crab and Seafood to become its mascot, said manager Keith Valenti.

"We bought a big lobster, started taking pictures with kids and it worked out real well," said Mr Valenti, adding it was a "no brainer" to return the old crustacean to the ocean.

He said a lobster's age can be worked out from how much it weighs, with each pound counting for 7 to 10 years.

Mr Valenti said it was not uncommon for lobsters to live for more than 100 years but it was rare for them to be caught because they were generally too big for the baskets.

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it found out the old lobster was in the restaurant's tank when a diner called them.

"We applaud the folks at City Crab and Seafood for their compassionate decision to allow this noble old-timer to live out his days in freedom and peace," said PETA's Ingrid Newkirk.

Original here

WTF? Origins of Five Popular Web 2.0 Terms

Written by Marshall Kirkpatrick

web20upside.jpgWeb 2.0 is pretty cool - so cool in fact that it's got its own buzzwords and lingo that not everybody knows. Everybody has a lot to gain from participation in this new cultural phenomenon, though, so there's no reason why everyone shouldn't know the background on the lingo. We did a little research just to cover our own bases! We thought we'd share it with you.

Think you know where catchwords like FTW and Fail! came from? Think you know who came up with the phrase Web 2.0? Do you know what the first Rickrolled link claimed to be? We did some hunting around to find out - below are our best ideas for the history of these and other popular terms around the web these days.

FTW

FTW is most commonly understood as standing for "For the Win!" The Urban Dictionary says it entered popular culture via the TV show Hollywood Squares. The show featured two contestants playing a trivia based tic-tac-toe game where the squares had celebrities siting in them who "helped" answer the questions.

The final question to complete the tic-tac-toe was asked "for the win..." The show ran from 1966 through 1981 but there were several attempts to revive it.

Fail!

failblogphoto.jpgNow a one word sentence primarily used to mock, sometimes with a touch of sympathy, the prominent use of the word "Fail" is said to derive from 1998 arcade game Blazing Star. According to an article from this Fall in Slate, "its staying power comes from its wonderfully terrible Japanese-to-English translations. If you beat a level, the screen flashes with the words: 'You beat it! Your skill is great!' If you lose, you are mocked: 'You fail it! Your skill is not enough! See you next time! Bye bye!'"

See also the relatively new FailBlog.org, a daily collection of unintentionally funny images and videos with very simple captions.

Right: The cycles of history have a cruel sense of humor.

Rickroll

duckrolled.jpgFrom the consistently obscene fringe message board 4chan to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! Who would have ever thought a joke like this would go so far?

According to the Wikipedia entry on the phenomenon, the practice of telling someone you're linking to one thing and then linking instead to the Rick Astley video Never Going to Give You Up was originally based on a practice known as Duckrolling. The link would claim to be to a news item or some other thing but would instead take visitors to a web page containing a photoshopped picture of a duck on wheels. Hey look, it's a duck...with wheels.

The first Rickroll ever, Wikipedia dutifully reports, was a May 2007 link on 4chan that claimed to be to a mirror copy of the original trailer for the game Grand Theft Auto IV, which was otherwise unavailable.

4chan is also believed to be the origin of Lolcats.

Eating Our Own Dogfood

You often hear about technology companies "eating their own dogfood," which means using their own software to get work done. According to the book Inside Out: Microsoft in Our Own Words, the phrase came from Microsoft's Paul Maritz. Maritz had seen an Alpo dog food commercial where actor Lorne Greene told viewers that Alpo was so good he...fed it to his own dogs! Neither Greene nor Maritz apparently ate dogfood themselves, but Maritz did use the phrase in an email calling for Microsoft workers to use their own products more.

Dorky executives have felt like a little "edgy" using the phrase ever since.

Web 2.0

Many people think that Tim O'Reilly, book publisher and founder of the Web 2.0 Conference, coined the term Web 2.0. Last month O'Reilly mentioned in a PBS Science radio interview, though, that some one who worked for him actually came up with the phrase to articulate some concepts the O'Reilly himself had been discussing.

DaleDougherty.jpgWe did a little hunting around and got to what's apparently the truth. More than 3 years ago Tim wrote an article titled What is Web 2.0:
Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software
where he says that it was O'Reilly VP Dale Dougherty who came up with the moniker in early 2004. (Photo of Dougherty, left, by David A. Mellis) How many of you got that trivia question right? At the time Dougherty was the Editor and Publisher of O'Reilly's Make magazine, so he was no stranger to invention.


So there you go. Now you don't have to be a wall flower at parties any more, for fear of not knowing the history of these five terms. Or are the conclusions we've drawn here incorrect? If you've got reason to believe so...speak up now!

Original here

No Charge: In Civil-Contempt Cases, Jail Time Can Stretch On for Years

One can spend a long time in jail in the U.S. without ever being charged with a crime.

It happened to H. Beatty Chadwick, a former Philadelphia-area lawyer, who has been behind bars for nearly 14 years without being charged.

Businessman Manuel Osete spent nearly three years in an Arizona jail without ever receiving a criminal charge. And investment manager Martin Armstrong faced a similar situation when he was held for more than six years in a Manhattan jail.

All three men were jailed for civil contempt, a murky legal concept. Some scholars say it is too often abused by judges, to the detriment of those charged and their due-process rights. "These results of too many civil-contempt confinements are flatly outrageous and often unconstitutional," says Jayne Ressler, a professor at Brooklyn Law School.

Bloomberg News/Landov

Martin Armstrong was jailed for six years for civil contempt.

In some contexts, the federal system limits civil-contempt confinement to 18 months. Some states have similar limits. But in other states, judges face few restrictions on how long someone can be held in civil contempt.

A judge generally can issue either a civil or criminal contempt charge whenever he or she feels that a party has disobeyed an order or has disrupted a proceeding.

In a criminal contempt charge, which is aimed at punishing bad behavior, a defendant is afforded the due-process safeguards of the criminal system, including a possible jury trial.

Civil contempt charges, on the other hand, are meant to be coercive, issued to force behavior such as making a witness testify, compelling a journalist to reveal sources or strong-arming a parent into paying child support. Because civil "contemnors" hold the key to their own freedom -- after all, complying will spring them -- they aren't given the same due-process rights as criminal defendants.

If someone held for civil contempt can't meet the judge's order, theoretically, the confinement should end. And while long-term civil confinements are unusual, problems arise when a court doesn't believe the person. With the party and judge at loggerheads over, say, the availability of funds, it is often the contemnor who loses, forced to remain behind bars at the mercy of a skeptical judge. That has sparked cries for reform.

Consider Mr. Chadwick's case. In 1994, during divorce proceedings, a Delaware County judge held Mr. Chadwick in civil contempt for failing to put $2.5 million in a court-controlled account. He says he lost the money in bad investments; his wife's attorney claimed he had hidden it offshore. In April 1995, Mr. Chadwick was arrested and detained. Nearly 14 years later, Mr. Chadwick, who suffers from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is still in jail -- even after a retired judge was hired to help locate the money, and failed.

"The money is gone," says Mr. Chadwick's lawyer, Michael Malloy. "The coercive effect of this order is gone; it has turned into a life sentence."

The judge who held Mr. Chadwick in contempt in 1994 couldn't be reached for comment, but he has said publicly that he doesn't believe Mr. Chadwick lacks the funds.

Few argue that civil-contempt confinement should be abandoned altogether. "The threat of jail is sometimes the only thing that will make a person comply with a court order," says Adam Winkler, a professor at UCLA law school.

For some, including Albert Momjian, the lawyer for Mr. Chadwick's ex-wife, the theory still holds. "There's no doubt in my mind that he has the money and could walk out of jail next week if he wanted to," says Mr. Momjian.

Critics question why the burden rests with contemnors such as Mr. Chadwick to prove they don't have the money, rather than with a prosecutor to prove they do. "It runs counter to our entire system to say 'It's your burden to prove a negative,'" says Brooklyn Law School's Ms. Ressler.

Another concern: While those sent to jail for civil contempt may appeal their confinements, appellate judges often will overturn lower-court rulings only if they find an "abuse of discretion," a standard that offers trial judges wide latitude.

Reformers hope that more states enact laws limiting the terms of civil confinement, as Congress did in 1970, when it passed a statute limiting the length of civil-contempt confinement to 18 months for those who refuse to testify in federal court or to a federal grand jury. After that, if civil confinement hasn't coerced a certain behavior, the burden would fall to the government to bring criminal charges.

"As a matter of due process, I think 18 months is enough in most cases," says Thomas Sjoblom, the lawyer for Martin Armstrong. Mr. Sjoblom argued unsuccessfully that the 1970 law should have extended to the situation involving his client, who failed to produce $15 million in gold and antiquities in a civil suit alleging securities fraud. "After that, let the government prove a criminal case." Mr. Armstrong is currently serving a five-year sentence for criminal conspiracy.

Of course, such a limit might give contemnors an incentive to wait, knowing that eventually they will be reunited with their riches.

Nonetheless, some states are modifying their laws. In the midst of the situation involving Mr. Osete, who was detained in Arizona from late 2002 to late 2005 for refusing to hand over more than $800,000 in alimony and interest payments, which he said he didn't have, the Arizona Supreme Court changed its rules. Now, Arizona courts must hold hearings every 35 days for those held in civil contempt on family-law issues, and judges must find that a contemnor has the ability to comply with the order.

Original here

6 Baffling Old-School Video Game Commercials

By Ben Dennison


In the 80s, video games were still new to the public and the game companies were still trying to figure out how to ease us into the technology. From their early ads, it appears they decided the best way was via batshit insanity.

#6.
Nintendo Australia/New Zealand Ad

When Nintendo brought the NES to the US they rolled out about the most run of the mill ad ever: just a kid, the games and an announcer announcing how awesome it all was.

But when it came time to bring the NES to Austrailia and New Zealand, they unleashed an ad that crawls inside your head and kicks your brain in the balls.

Holy shit.

After a great deal of market research, apparently all Nintendo came up with was "Well, those Australians seem to drink a lot and are boastful by nature, so let's threaten their well-being and take shots at their self-esteem." Their plot to make you feel horribly inadequate is carried out by some of Nintendo's classic villains, like Poor-Man's Max Headroom in a Dress Shirt and of course, That Dog from Duck Hunt.


Welcome to the end.

Wait, what? The fucking dog from Duck Hunt? Was he really even a villain? He's got a creepy voice, sure, but he's a mild nuisance at worst and a jackass at best.


"Ha ha! You'll never satisfy a woman!"

Our blocky league of evil goes on to tell us that they are Knee-Ten-Do, which we can only assume is an elite terrorist organization of some sort. The only kids they show playing games are doing so in an empty dark room, as though they've been abducted and forced to play games, constantly being reminded that their opponents are invincible (even if they have zapper and robot companion). However, given that the zapper doesn't actually cast bolts of lightning and the only thing the robot does well is spin tops, we'll go ahead and agree that we cannot beat you.

As the commercial draws to a close, we do manage to encounter an actual villain in Bowser, King of the Koopas, who makes the ad's worst transition from blocky thing on screen to three dimensional blocky thing on screen.

The whole thing ends with the Legion of Doom challenging all players and, again, letting you know they are unbeatable, and that they'll be turning up in your nightmares later. Yeah, we'll head right to the store and give you fuckers $250.

#5.
Dr. Mario (Gameboy and NES)

After his initial success as a plumber/adventurer, Mario started to pick up various other occupations, presumably because super mushrooms show up on drug tests and get you fired pretty quickly.

During his ongoing adventures of unemployment he became a doctor, which is actually pretty disgusting when you remember his day job is unclogging your toilet. To advertise the release of the Dr. Mario puzzle game on the Game Boy, Nintedo ran this ad in the states:

The young antagonist, Johny Greenshirt, has a problem. He's made it readily apparent that he has a problem because he informs us he told the witch doctor something and, in exchange, got some advice. He never really elaborates on the what his problem is, so we'll take the high road and assume it's herpes.

Rather than going to a clinic like a rational human being, this teenager makes his way across the very heart of Africa to get the sage medical opinion of this guy:


Nintendo Presents "Super Stereotypes."

The witch doctor tells Johny Greenshirt the cure to his herpes is to play Dr. Mario. When you take into consideration that over the course of this trip Greenshirt's probably contracted malaria, this is a really shitty prescription. But our hero isn't a medical genius and gleefully accepts. Fortunately for him the witch doctor has two copies of Dr. Mario, two Game Boys, eight AA batteries and a link cable so he won't have to head back home with his shameful disease.

The two have it out and the witch doctor loses, so we assume Greenshirt is cured. The witch doctor loses his cool and casts some sort of Voodoo spell in a scene that contains what is quite possibly the creepiest Mario animation of all time.

The whole thing ends with Greenshirt's head being shrunk. Whatever his problem was, he would have been better off with it and a normal sized head.

You know... we're thinking for once we wound up with an ad more fucked up than the Japanese version. Though it's close.

#4.
Berzerk (Atari 2600)

The commercial begins with a young gamer challenging his grandmother to a game of Berzerk, presumably because he wants her to her to have a heart attack, as two players did back in the day. Maybe he found out he was in her will.

Either she hadn't heard the news stories or she had balls of steel because she accepts the challenge and is soon power-walking to the video arcade. When her grandson informs her that Atari has made it possible to play the game at home, her senile mind is blown.


"Atari? Holy fuck!"

What follows is quite possibly the most upbeat jingle about forced entrapment in an electric maze and robot-slaying ever penned. From the obligatory screen shots we see that granny is actually quite good at fighting off her oppressive metal overlords. Too good, in fact.


"Back in my day, robots were a threat to our nation's sovereignty!"

As she blasts a robot she throws out the line: "Take that, turkey!" which would imply either that the quality of your zingers go down as you age, or she grew up on the world's most terrifying turkey farm.

But all good things must come to an end. As she hands it off to the youngster, we're treated to what is either a serious stink eye, or the world's most inexplicable decision to go in for a kiss:

We'll go ahead and assume this is her version of a death-stare. We never would have guessed she was so defensive in the beginning, but the look on that kid's face is some kind of mixture of pants-wetting fear and brain damage, mostly likely the result of the pummeling he received for topping her Ms. Pac-Man record.

#3.
Pole Position (Atari)

Right from the get-go, this Pole Position advertisement sets us up to despise everyone involved.

Meet the Douchebag Family: mother, father, sister and brother.

Immediately the narrator calls them out on their bullshit with "Heeeeeey! You look like a real jerk." Normally such an accusation would in and of itself be considered pretty rude, but low-and-behold Papa Douchebag pretty much confirms that yes, he is a jerk.

"Well I am a corporate executive," he chimes. "He stops exciting things from happening!" explains his wife, helpfully. They further explain to the kind-of-an-asshole narrator that they're on their Sunday drive. For some reason this is the last straw, as he reaches down from the heavens, revealing himself to be God, and replies with a kindly worded "Fuck you, you're playing Pole Position today."


Keep holy the Sabbath.

The Heavenly Father violently shakes the vehicle, cuing an awesome 80s power rock song. The family plummets to what we are led to believe is their doom. Disappointing everyone, instead of meeting the pavement in free fall and ending the scene with 60 seconds of a silent black screen, they land in formula racing cars.

We don't know too much about the family's back-story, but it's safe to assume that they don't have the training for this sort of thing and, yeah, that's actually pretty dangerous. The mother in particular seems to know that she'll soon be exchanging driving safety tips with Dale Earnhardt.


Either she's driving through time or you're tripping balls.

The remaining time is spent systematically injuring every single member of the family with reckless driving and Michael Bay-esque explosions. A questionable way to make a sales pitch but, to be fair, God was most likely never concerned about them buying the game so much as he was just being wrathful. Our scene closes with the family coming back together, fused with the wreckage of their cars.

The message to all this: If you're going to have a successful career you and your family should probably learn to drive a race car. You know, just in case.

#2.
Centipede (Atari)

The ad for Centipede manages to look like a normal video game commercial for about two seconds, during which we actually see a guy playing the game. Then, all hell breaks loose:

A gamer is pulled into his television by what appears to be a centipede's arm, mostly due to his questionable evasive maneuver of screaming in terror while giving it a high five.

This leads to the greatest spinning newspaper shot in the history of film:


Freak the hell out, people.

Naturally, centipedes pulling people through their television is front page news, but notice the second headline: "Budget Cuts." We won't argue with the Editors at the Daily Globe but what kind of budget cut is so important that it can bump the remaining story about killer centipedes to page B3? Unless the subtitle to "Budget Cuts" is "People in Half" then it could probably be saved for business section.

The ad is mostly black and white stock footage and, for some reason, the scientific name and classification of centipedes. We do, however, get some original material and it's as golden as it is terrifying.

First, we have a scene where the monster enters a back alley and encounters a homeless man.


If the camera angle is any indication, this centipede has the height of two hobos.

We're treated to more unrelated stock footage before the beast finally reveals himself, and to be honest, we're a bit underwhelmed.


Centipede!

Somehow he's gone from stalking alleyways to dominating rooftops over the course of nine seconds. Soon enough we're treated to yet another newspaper spin:


We're assuming the centipede killed the budget cuts.

From here the story takes a dramatic turn: The goddamn military is fighting this thing. Everything from air raids to battleships are involved and no one can actually manage to hit the bastard. We're not going to question the prowess of our men in uniform, but you should be able to at least graze the thousand-hobo-tall centipede with your various explosives.

Over the course of the conflict, the centipede also manages to sneak into someone's home (we guess he shrank again) and leave a copy of the game on their Atari, much to the embarrassment of the marines.

Our ad comes to a close with the fellow from the beginning returning to his living room, now trans-mutated into some kind of manipede (or centiman, if that's how you'd like to put it).


Centipede!

A narrator gives us the tag line "Centipede from Atari. It could change your life." The words ring true as our hero, finding he's no longer the man he was, cries out for an exterminator. That's right, Centipede could lead you to seek assisted suicide.

#1.
The Legend of Zelda

So, you're selling a revolutionary fantasy game with a timeless story. Clearly it's time to break out the 80s rap song:

Not only does this commercial succeed in blazing the trail for nerdcore rapping many years later, but over the course of twenty-nine very awkward seconds we get an almost sufficient plot synopsis ("Those creatures from Gannon are pretty bad?" Clearly this Gannon fellow is the antagonist!) set to a rhythm that can only be described as "rad ass."


Original gangster.

Not only is the game so awesome that it can inspire an off-the-cuff and perfectly rhyming rap song, but is also manages to distract Johnny Rebel from pummeling the irritating geek next to him who, for reasons unknown, dresses in a button-down collared shirt to play Nintendo.


He's got street cred.

The folks at Nintendo had a meeting after this and discussed the fact that the original ad wasn't nearly fucked up enough. They had their ad team go off their meds for a couple of months, and they cranked out this:

Has there ever been a more stark portrayal of the ruin that awaits the frail human psyche? This poor soul wanders aimlessly in the dark, cowering in fear of imaginary monsters, searching the obviously empty room for his fabled princess.


A rational reaction to finding an Octorock.

This guy's mind has been blown so fiercely that even gravity no longer applies in his nightmarish, Tektite-plagued reality.


Where's your princess now?!

And once more, as we imagine this poor, broken man weeping and writing on the walls of his room in his own feces, we feel the distinct impulse to buy a video game console. That's the power of marketing , people!


This man is satisfied customer! You buy now!

Original here