Thursday, May 20, 2010 Ninjas to the Rescue

From CNN:
Would-be muggers in Australia thwarted by ninjas

May 20th, 2010
09:09 AM ET

A group of would-be muggers in a Sydney, Australia, met their match Tuesday night in the form of black-clad ninjas.

The three stalked and attacked a German exchange student, 27, in a dimly lit alley that fortunately for the victim ran behind the Ninja Senshi Ryu warrior school, according to an Australian Broadcasting Corp. report.

Ninja student Nathan Smith was standing in the shadows outside the dojo when the attackers set upon the victim and quickly called for help from his classmates inside, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sensei Kaylan Soto and three other students in full ninja gear quickly responded.

"We looked around to see what was happening and there were three blokes on this guy just kicking him and punching him in the head," he told the ABC.

"We started running towards them and they took off. They would have seen five of us in ninja gear ... all in black with our belts on, running toward them.”

The ninjas gave chase but could not catch the assailants.

Police told the ABC they arrested two male suspects, ages 16 and 20, and are looking for a third. Their intended victim suffered only minor injuries.

Ninja Steve Ashley told the Herald the assailants must be lamenting their luck.

"It was probably the worst place in Sydney where they could have taken him,” he said.

Bah! True ninjas would not have let any of the muggers escape. In fact, they wouldn't have left any of 'em breathing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 Highlander vs. the Airport

Via Reuters:
American held at Cairo airport with weapons

Wed May 12, 2010 11:39am EDT

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian-American was arrested at Cairo airport on Tuesday night after arriving on a direct flight from New York carrying two pistols, 250 bullets, two swords and 11 knives in his luggage, airport officials said.

It was not immediately clear how Mohamed Ibrahim, a university botany professor teaching in the United States, was able to get through security in New York and board the plane.

Ibrahim, who is of Egyptian origin, was detained on accusations of trying to smuggle the arms into the country. It is illegal to import weapons into Egypt without a permit.

No other details were available of the New York airport involved or the airline.

For you young immortals out there, this is why antiques dealers and historians make for the best cover stories. They can carry a lot of weapons around as long as they call them relics or something. Conversely, there's no good reason why a botany professor would need so much hardware. Unless he's expecting to run into a really dangerous plant.

Monday, May 10, 2010 R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

1928 - 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010 Kiwi Vampire Rampage

Okay, so not that much of a rampage, but I was feeling a bit tabloidy tonight. From Thursday's edition of the Telegraph:
New Zealand man 'attacked by vampires'

By Paul Chapman in Wellington
Published: 7:00AM BST 06 May 2010

A New Zealand man claimed he was bitten by three people who allegedly drank his blood during a vampire-style attack in the dark.

Details of the bizarre late night incident on Mount Victoria, an unlit beauty spot that overlooks the capital, Wellington, emerged after two people appeared in court jointly charged with wounding with intent to render a man unconscious.

James Phillip Brooks, 22, and Xenia Gregoriana Borichevsky, 19, were both remanded on bail without entering a plea.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of a third accused, James Eric Orr, 19, who failed to appear at Wellington District Court.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.

It is believed the victim, whose name has been suppressed by the court, passed out after being bitten on the night of February 20.

Outside the court, Mr Brooks said he understood there was blood drinking during the incident but added: "That wasn't me.

"Do I look like a vampire? I'm out during the daytime," he told the city's Dominion-Post newspaper.

Mr Brooks, who has a number of facial piercings and a mohawk haircut, said: "I may look like a punk but I'm not a punk. I'm just different.

"Yeah, I bit a guy. He hit on my missus. My girlfriend and my mate were biting him.

"If I'd hit him, I'd have really hurt him, so I thought I'll bite him seeing as they're already biting him."

He said drinking blood "wasn't my agenda".

Police refused to discuss the case because it is before the courts.

Ms Borichevsky's bail conditions were relaxed by the court after her lawyer asked the judge to lift a night-time curfew on her.

Dr Marc Wilson, a senior lecturer in psychology at Wellington's Victoria University, who specialises in studying paranormal beliefs, said drinking human blood was "incredibly unusual".

He said human teeth were not designed for breaking skin and sucking blood.

"You could do it but you would have to really want to."

Whenever someone responds to an accusation of being a [blank] with, "Do I look like a [blank]?", it's a sure sign that they're a [blank].

Sharpen the stakes, boys. We're going on a road trip.

Friday, May 7, 2010 The Bridge

Speaking of hard-working heroes, tonight This American Life ran a story about a man who spends every weekend patrolling a four mile long bridge in China. The bridge is famous for the number of suicides it attracts; the man, Chen Si, does his best to prevent as many of them as he can.

It's another one of those "driveway moment" stories that TAL does so well. The episode goes up for free download Sunday night. In the meantime, you can check out some English translations of Chen's blog posts in which he talks about his efforts.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 Yoda Was Wrong!

Turns out the Dark Side may just be stronger after all. From LiveScience:
Good and Evil Deeds Stimulate Surprising 'Superpowers'

By Rachael Rettner, LiveScience Staff Writer
04 May 2010 08:34 am ET

The mere act of kindness, or one of evil, can boost willpower and physical strength, a new study suggests.

The results, based on three experiments, show that those who performed good deeds, or envisioned themselves acting charitably, were able to hold a weight or squeeze a hand grip significantly longer than those who didn't perform or think about such deeds.

But evil acts appeared to confer similar and perhaps even greater superpowers.

"When you think of superheroes or super villains, [you think of people] that can possess huge amounts of willpower and are relatively unfazed by pain," said study researcher Kurt Gray, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. "And because of your stereotype of heroes and villains, you kind of embody that, or transform yourself into your perception of hero and villain," when you perform good or evil acts, he said.

In one experiment, 91 volunteers were asked to hold a five-pound (about 2.3-kilogram) weight for as long as they could, and then given $1 for their efforts. About half were asked if they would like to donate their dollar to the United Nations International Children's Fund, or UNICEF. Everyone in this group agreed to donate, while those not asked of course didn't donate.

All participants were then asked to hold the weight a second time. Those who had donated to charity were able to hold the weight for an average of 53 seconds, or 7 seconds longer than those who did not donate.

In a second experiment with 151 volunteers, participants held the weight while they wrote a fictional story featuring themselves either helping, harming or not causing impact on another person.

Those who wrote about helping someone were able to hold the weight 5 seconds longer than those who wrote about a neutral interaction. Envisioning evil acts seemed to confer even more strength — those who thought about harming someone else held the weight about 8 seconds longer.

The boost in strength from evil might be because participants who thought about hurting someone needed to first conquer their conscience telling them that evil is wrong.

"Evildoers have more [agency], because they need to overcome the voice of their conscience to harm others. It takes even more agency to harm those around you," Gray said. Agency refers to the ability to have self-control, tenacity or strength.

The findings might have implications for all areas of life in which strength or willpower is needed, Gray said.

"This suggests that the way to get more willpower is to just do good or evil, hopefully good," Gray told LiveScience. "So if you want to diet better, maybe do good before you try to avoid that dessert."

The study will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

I'm cool with Evil being stronger than Good. We all kind of suspected it anyway. It just means that Good has to work that much harder.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 Machete - Cinco de Mayo Trailer

Ain't It Cool News has an exclusive trailer of Robert Rodriguez's upcoming opus, Machete. It's definitely in the same campy vein as Grindhouse and it looks awesome (as does Michelle Rodriguez, yesiree). I won't spoil all the casting surprises as you really need to check out the trailer yourself. Get it while it lasts!

And oh, yeah - Fuck Arizona!

Beware the Tortillas!

From yesterday's Ultimate Clear Lake, a subsidiary of the Houston Chronicle:

Woman gets threatening message - via tortillas

May 4, 2010 8:30am

League City police are investigating a threat written in Spanish on two corn tortillas that a woman found underneath her car over the weekend.

The tortillas were discovered in the 1800 block of Wren Drive at about 5:45 a.m. Sunday after the 24-year-old woman moved her red Toyota Corolla, League City Police Sgt. David Hausam said.

Hausam said the message translated to, “Do you like my tortillas? Death.”

The message's writing was divided between the two tortillas.

The woman is unsure who left the tortillas, but suspects that it may have been her ex-husband, Hausam said.

“People do some crazy stuff,” Hausam said, “but no one before had left tortillas with messages on them that I can think of.”

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 Electron Boy Saves Seattle

From April 29th's Seattle Times:
Local boy with cancer turns into a superhero for a day

By Katherine Long
Seattle Times Eastside reporter

Thursday was shaping up to be just another school day for 13-year-old Erik Martin, but then something extraordinary happened: Spider-Man called.

Spider-Man happens to be one of the few people who knows that Erik, too, has a secret identity — he's Electron Boy, a superhero who fights the powers of evil with light.

And Spider-Man needed Erik's help.

Erik, who is living with liver cancer, has always wanted to be a superhero. On Thursday, the regional chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted him that wish with an elaborate event that involved hundreds of volunteers in Bellevue and Seattle.

The local chapter, which serves four states, grants more than 300 wishes every year to children with life-threatening medical conditions, but only a few of them involve so many participants.

Pulling off a wish like this one required a big story, and a lot of heart. And so, with a note of panic in his voice, Spider-Man explained the dilemma: "Dr. Dark" and "Blackout Boy" had imprisoned the Seattle Sounders in a locker room at Qwest Field. Only Electron Boy could free them.

Erik got into his red-and-blue superhero costume, and called on the powers of Moonshine Maid, who owns a DeLorean sports car. For good measure, more than 20 motorcycle officers from the Bellevue Police Department and King County and Snohomish sheriff's offices escorted Electron Boy to Seattle.

"They shut down 405 — they shut down I-90," marveled Moonshine Maid, aka Misty Peterson. "I thought it would just be me, in the car."

At Qwest Field, Electron Boy was directed by frantic fans to the Sounders locker room, where the entire team was shouting for help behind jammed doors. With a little help from Lightning Lad, the alter ego of local actor Rob Burgess, Erik opened the door with his lightning rod. The Sounders cheered.


Everyone was startled when, overhead, the Jumbotron crackled to life.

"Electron Boy, I am Dr. Dark and this is Blackout Boy," sneered an evil voice, as the villain — Edgar Hansen, and his sidekick Jake Anderson, both of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" — taunted the young superhero. "We are here to take over Seattle and make it dark!"

On the Jumbotron, a video showed a Puget Sound Electric employee Jim Hutchinson trapped in the top of his bucket truck in front of PSE's Bellevue headquarters. Only Electron Boy could save him.


More than 250 PSE employees gathered outside the company's headquarters and cheered as Electron Boy freed the trapped worker. "It was so loud, people in office buildings were looking out the window," said Make-A-Wish communications director Jeannette Tarcha.

But Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy were still at large. Electron Boy got a tip that the evil duo were at the Space Needle, where they had disabled the elevator and trapped people on the observation deck. Racing back to Seattle, Electron Boy stepped out of the DeLorean to a cheering crowd of dozens of admirers, and confronted his nemesis.

"How did you find us, Electron Boy?" Dr. Dark demanded.

Erik wordlessly leapt at Dr. Dark with his lightning rod, freezing the villain. Then he unlocked the elevator and freed the people trapped upstairs.

Bellevue police Officer Curtis McIvor snapped handcuffs on Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy, who couldn't resist some last words: "How can we thank you for saving our souls?"

A tiny smile played around Electron Boy's mouth. Just for good measure, he held his lightning sword to Blackout Boy's throat again. The crowd went wild. "Hip-hip, hooray!"


Watching her son run across the plaza in front of the Space Needle, mom Judy Martin said Erik goes to school when he's able, but is often too tired. "He hasn't had this much energy in a long time," she said. "They called it the power of the wish, and they're right."

Like any good superhero, Electron Boy kept his innermost thoughts to himself. But he did have one important thing to say:

"This is the best day of my life."

The full story, with lots of pictures, can be found via the link above.

Electron Boys joins some hallowed company, including Pittsburgh's Beetle Boy and Boise's Star (whose favorite hero was the Adam West Batman!).

Warning - don't surf the Make-A-Wish site while you sit in your cube at work after everyone else has gone home unless you want the cleaning woman to catch you sniveling like a big damn baby. Wuss.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

The story's popping up all over, but this report is from today's Register:

Spider-Man and Jedi Knights bust X-Men comic thief

'A real team effort'
By Lester Haines
Posted in Bootnotes, 4th May 2010 08:14 GMT

The combined forces of Spider-Man and the Jedi Knights took time off from battling Green Goblin and The Empire on Saturday to bust an Adelaide comic store thief.

The unnamed perp attempted to lift a copy of X-Men Omnibus, worth A$160 (£97), from the Adelaide Comics Centre during an event to mark International Free Comic day.

This turned out to be a bad move, since owner Michael Baulderstone had donned a Spider-Man costume for the occasion, which evidently enhanced his crimebusting instincts. Amid fans posing as Catwoman, Kick-Ass and Wolverine, he eyeballed a man "suspiciously dressed in regular clothing".

He told the Times: “My Spider-sense was tingling. I didn’t want to scare him off so I followed him around the store and eventually said, ‘Are you right there, mate?’”

He continued: “I’m 169cm tall and only 57kg, so I’m a tiny bloke but I just grabbed his bag and looked in it and there was the book."

The CCTV image above captures the moment of the bust, at which point Spider-Man called in back-up. He explained: “I had 50 people in the store so I just shouted for someone to guard the front door and it just happened that the Jedi Knights were there and they had their lightsabers out so they held the door until the police arrived.

“My colleague, who was dressed as The Flash, kept running the shop and stayed calm. It really was a team effort.”

Law enforcement operatives dressed as Adelaide police officers then attended the scene and took the man into custody. Cops later confirmed they were investigating the matter.

Stealing an X-Men omnibus, huh? I always knew those mutie-lovers couldn't be trusted.