Anti-piracy dog sniffs out 35,000 illegal DVDs

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 11:40 am

We have dogs for drugs and bombs, should pirated DVDs be any surprise?

A DVD-sniffing anti-piracy dog named Paddy has uncovered a huge cache of 35,000 discs in Malaysian warehouses, many destined for export to Singapore, industry officials said on Wednesday.

The black Labrador helped enforcement officials who carried out raids last week in southern Johor state which neighbours Singapore, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) said in a statement.

Paddy was given to Malaysia by the MPA to help close down piracy syndicates who churn out vast quantities of illegal DVDs. The dog is specially trained to detect chemicals in the discs.

“Paddy led enforcement officers on a successful weekend operation to shut down the supply lines of pirated movie DVDs in the Malaysian state of Johor,” the MPA said in a statement.

“Post-raid investigations revealed that two of the targets were actively involved in exporting pirated DVDs to Singapore,” it added.

The raids carried out by officials from the MPA and Malaysia’s trade and consumer affairs ministry shut down six warehouses storing pirated products, it said.

The MPA said just-released titles such as “Terminator Salvation”, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”, “Angels and Demons” and “Star Trek” were among the movies seized.

China blocking websites before protest anniversary

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 11:20 pm

It should come as no surprise that China has been moving to block multiple websites from its citizens as the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protest on June 4th approaches:

China is blocking access to Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, and its Hotmail email service, the company said ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

“Microsoft’s Bing.com, Live.com and Hotmail.com are among several Internet services that have been blocked for customers in China,” Microsoft director of public affairs Kevin Kutz said in a statement received by AFP.

“We are reaching out to the government to understand this decision and find a way to move forward,” Kutz said.

“Microsoft is committed to helping advance the free flow of information, and is committed to encouraging transparency, due process and rule of law when it comes to Internet governance,” he added.

Microsoft did not say when China began blocking the sites, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it had been notified by Chinese Web users that access to the websites began being blocked inside China on Tuesday.

“Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the blockage of a dozen websites such as Twitter, YouTube, Bing, Flickr, Opera, Live, WordPress and Blogger in China,” the media rights group said in a statement.

“The Chinese government stops at nothing to silence what happened 20 years ago in Tiananmen Square,” it said. “By blocking access to a dozen websites used daily by millions of Chinese citizens, the authorities have opted for censorship at any price rather than accept a debate about this event.”

Lucky Star wants in your pants

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 11:12 am

Chara-Ani has started accepting pre-orders for their new Lucky Star boxer briefs and trunks. You can now fashionably wear Cheerleader or Konata’s Face trunks and Lucky Channel or Konata boxer briefs under your clothing. If ever there was a time to get revenge on your boyfriend for those Najica panties from ADV

China’s Next Generation

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 12:00 am

Several years ago a professor of mine was trying to explain to the class the concept of living inside China where the media is tightly controlled. To understand this, he used “Tank Man” of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest as an example search using Yahoo! Images. Outside of China, you will quickly get multiple sources offering the famous picture of a man challenging a column of four tanks. However, inside China this search would return zero results. Why? Because talk of revolution and protesting the Chinese government is forbidden.

So, what would the next generation of Chinese children be like when they came of age in a world with tight government control and policies such as the one child policy? Web-savvy & cynical just like Generation X & Y everywhere else, of course. (more…)

Glowing Monkeys can pass on genes

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 12:35 pm

Glowing monkeys are all the rage right now in Japan with this possible first step to curing diseases such as Parkinson’s and ALS. As the technology advances, we’ll probably start to see this crossover into the consumer world as money is what makes the world go round. We already create designer pets and clone animals, is it too much to ask for a catgirl?

Japanese researchers have genetically engineered monkeys whose hair roots, skin and blood glow green under a special light, and who have passed on their traits to their offspring, the first time this has been achieved in a primate.

They spliced a jellyfish gene into common marmosets, and said on Wednesday they hope to use their colony of glowing animals to study human Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.

Erika Sasaki and Hideyuki Okano of the Keio University School of Medicine in Japan used a virus to carry the gene for green fluorescent protein into monkey embryos, which were implanted into a female monkey, and four out of five were born with the gene throughout their bodies.

One fathered a healthy baby that also carried the new genes, they reported in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

“The birth of this transgenic marmoset baby is undoubtedly a milestone,” stem cell expert Dr. Gerald Schatten, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of Oregon Health and Sciences University, wrote in a commentary in Nature.

“Transgenic marmosets are potentially useful models for research into infectious diseases, immunology and neurological disorders, for example,” they wrote.

Domo-kun to conquer 7-Eleven

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 7:58 pm

Domo-kun — famous mascot of Japan’s NHK TV station, Target’s Halloween/Easter party animal, and known eater of kittens when you do something naughty — is ready for a new opponent: the slurpee! Yep, Domo-kun will be coming to a 7-Eleven near you this October in a campaign to rule your slurpees and get his very first U.S. DVD release.

A six-week program, hitting Oct. 1, includes a proprietary Domo Slurpee in Red Apple flavor, which will be sold in a still-in-development brown-flocked cup to match the creature’s coat. Special straws featuring detachable fuzzy Domos in hip hop and wrestling costumes are being discussed. A Domo Attack! energy drink and other licensed merch is also on the table.

Why Red Apple? “Because Domo doesn’t like apples,” said Rich Collins, CEO of Big Tent Entertainment, who described the deal as a 360 program that’s a perfect match for 7-Eleven’s teens and young adults and the Domo demo. “That way you don’t have to worry about Domo stealing your Slurpee.” Big Tent currently serves as Domo’s worldwide marketing and licensing agent outside of Asia.

Evan Brody, marketing manager for Slurpee and Big Gulp Brands, was a bit less fanciful: “Domo lends itself well to the store and our proprietary products and our consumers who… love crazy Japanese shit.”

Marketing will include Webisodes this fall that relate Domo’s quest for a Slurpee and how he gets a brain freeze in the process.

Part of the fuzzy rectangular critter’s lore is that he’s egg-hatched and has a habit of passing gas. Domo began life as the mascot for Japanese TV station NHK, and caught on as a viral sensation with cameos in Web videos. He’s best known here for his video shorts on Nickelodeon.

Licensee Dark Horse will produce a line of exclusive Domo designer toys and Tokyopop will debut an abbreviated version of its fall-release Domo Manga comic book for 7-Eleven. Phase 4 will launch the first Domo DVD in the U.S., which will be a roundup of shorts, Webisodes, fan-created animations, commercials, Japanese spots and other quirky stuff.

Japan introduces The Bro, finds stress reliever

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 12:43 am

Many years ago I happened to watch Seinfeld… religiously. Of course, everyone did and I probably still would if you could manage to pry South Park and Arrested Development out of the cold, almost dead tray of my DVD player. Seinfeld gave us many things, but for today we’ll just mention: The Bro. The Bro — “Manssiere” if you like Frank’s choice — was a bra for the male who had man boobies. Starting last year Rakuten’s Wishroom Shop decided to create and sell this crazy idea that people have joked about for years. To everyone’s surprise, it was a huge success overnight. Even the UK’s The Telegraph quickly added a video piece featuring the rather unusual clothing option for men as the story was passed around to media outlets worldwide.

Now Wishroom is starting to get a lot of feedback for their successful male undergarment.

Customer feedback makes it possible to gauge what kinds of men are buying bras. “Japanese salarymen have a lot of stress, and the bras seem to relieve that,” said Tsuchiya, identifying office workers in their 30s and 40s as the main clients.

“One customer said when he wears a bra he feels he can ‘reset’ his feelings. If something bad happens he puts on a bra and feels he can come back and fight another day,” he continued.

The second group of customers was more surprising. “We realized we were receiving many orders from people who don’t use the Internet and don’t have mobile phones,” Tsuchiya said. Men in their 50s and 60s, it turned out, were also partial to the calming effects of a bra.

“They were the generation we had been told were ‘manly’ — they led Japan in the postwar period,” explained Tsuchiya. Perhaps, he speculated, they are now reacting against the stereotype.

Still, Tsuchiya is quick to note that men’s bras are not likely to turn into a major trend. To date his bras have all sold out, yes, but his total output stands at just 5,000 bras.

One area with apparent growth potential is the overseas market — or at least certain parts of it. “We get a lot of inquiries from Americans who are interested in selling the bras,” Tsuchiya reported. “But the British are different — they tend to be shocked by what we’re doing.”

It’s days like this when I wish Seinfeld or Arrested Development was still on the air. South Park is, but this is pretty tame compared to their usual targets.

Bubblegum Crisis going Live Action

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 12:43 am

Singapore’s The Axxis has managed to not only secure to rights to producing a $30 million live action Bubblegum Crisis film, but is also spreading the co-production costs between multiple countries. KFCCinema.com has posted a teaser poster being shown at Cannes while an additional preview pic has popped up on The Axxis’ BGC production page.

bubblegum_crisis_teaser_posterProducers from six countries signed off Thursday in Cannes on an accord to make the $30 million English-language picture, which is set for delivery in early 2012. Wrangled by Benjamin Toh of Singapore’s Axxis International, who acts as exec producer, the deal brings together Tokyo-based Anime International Company Australia’s Arclight Films, Canada’s Wizzfilms, China’s Infotainment China Media Co. and the U.K.’s Latec International.

The contract will make use of the Singapore-Australia, Australia-Canada, Canada-Singapore, China-Australia and China-Canada co-production treaties, potentially enabling the film to tap into soft money from the national governments and also qualify for mainland China release. A spokesman for Axxis said that some 70% of the finance is now in place. Principal photography will be carried out in Australia, with postproduction in Canada by Mokko Studio.

Director and cast have yet to be decided. The spokesman said that “Crisis” will feature two male leads and a quartet of female action babes — two Caucasian and two Asian.

Infotainment has distribution rights in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, while Arclight will handle remaining international sales outside the co-production territories.

Old man pushes jumper off Haizhu Bridge

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 11:34 pm

I’ve heard of “shit or get off the can,” but this takes the thinking to a far more dangerous level. 66-year-old Lai Jiansheng grew tired of Chen Fuchao’s threat to jump off the Haizhu Bridge. Lai had offered to assist the police and talk Chen down from the edge, but was turned down. The next moments get a bit darker.

Chen Fuchao, a man heavily in debt, had been contemplating suicide on a bridge in southern China for hours when a passer-by came up, shook his hand — and pushed him off the ledge.

Chen fell 26 feet (8 meters) onto a partially inflated emergency air cushion laid out by authorities and survived, suffering spine and elbow injuries, the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday.

The passer-by, 66-year-old Lai Jiansheng, had been fed up with what he called Chen’s “selfish activity,” Xinhua said. Traffic around the Haizhu bridge in the city of Guangzhou had been backed up for five hours and police had cordoned off the area.

“I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest,” Lai was quoted as saying by Xinhua. “They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities’ attention to their appeals.”

Xinhua said Lai was “taken away by police” but did not elaborate.

According to Xinhua, Chen wanted to kill himself because he had accrued 2 million yuan ($290,000) in debt from a failed construction project.

On Thursday, he made his way to the Haizhu bridge, where 11 other people have tried to take their lives since April.

Lai volunteered to talk Chen down but was turned away by police, Xinhua said. Lai then broke through the cordon, climbed to where Chen sat, greeted him with a handshake, then pushed.

Astronaut takes ‘Magic Carpet Ride’

Filed under: Tacos — S. @ 10:29 am

From the minds of the people who gave us Gundam and Godzilla, the Japanese boldy attempt to go where no man — aside from Aladdin — has gone before. As if the idea of a man flying on a carpet wasn’t enough, there is also video straight from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

TOKYO (AFP) – A Japanese astronaut tested a “flying carpet” in outer space, folded laundry and used eye drops as part of a series of zero-gravity challenges submitted by the public.

Standing on a white sheet, Koichi Wakata was gliding smoothly through a cabin of the International Space Station, as if snowboarding, in a video clip posted online by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

“I flew on this magic carpet by using adhesive tape so that the soles of my feet stayed on it,” the 45-year-old revealed, speaking into a microphone during what appeared at times like a variety show.

The experiment was part of 16 offbeat tasks selected from ideas sent to the space agency by hundreds of Japanese citizens, from nursery school pupils to a 90-year-old man.