Nintendo wins grayheads over to gaming

Celebrating a strike!

Among video game manufacturers, Nintendo has arguably done the most to recruit older gamers. Its Wii system is a minor hit in retirement homes, and Brain Age, a program for the company’s DS system, is marketed in part to graying users worried about losing their mental sharpness.

A recent report from Packaged Facts, a market research firm, suggests that this strategy has paid off: almost twice as many older gamers use Nintendo systems as use PlayStation, the runner-up.

The report also found that women were more prevalent than men among older video gamers. They make up 46 percent of 18-to-24-year-old gamers, but 55 percent of those 65 and older.

You didn’t catch me, yet. But, if I was up for gaming, it probably would be Nintendo.

Smelly Footed Student Wins Right to Study

A philosophy student with smelly feet has won the right to attend lectures at a Dutch university after a 10-year legal battle.

Teunis Tenbrook was thrown out from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam after complaints from professors and other students that it was impossible to study with the smell from his feet.

But now, after a lengthy legal battle, a court has ruled that having smelly feet is no excuse to ban a student from a university.

The judge said: “Our considered opinion is that the professors and other students will just have to hold their noses and bear it.”

This sort of restores my faith in man. (I already had faith in Ananova.)

Rising sea salinates India’s Ganges River

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Rising sea levels are causing salt water to flow into India’s biggest river, threatening its ecosystem and turning vast farmlands barren in the country’s east, a climate change expert warned Monday.

A study by an east Indian university in the city of Kolkata revealed surprising growth of mangroves on the Ganges river, said Pranabes Sanyal, the eastern India representative of the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA).

“This phenomenon is called extension of salt wedge and it will salinate the groundwater of Kolkata and turn agricultural lands barren in adjoining rural belts,” said Sanyal, an expert in global warming.

Sea levels in some parts of the Bay of Bengal were rising at 3.14 mm annually against a global average of 2 mm, threatening the low-lying areas of eastern India…

Sanyal and the department of Oceanography at the Kolkata-based Jadavpur University spotted the mangrove plants, a rare phenomenon along the Ganges river belt, where east India’s biggest city of Kolkata with 12 million people lies.

Mangroves are more typically found 100 km (60 miles) away in the swampy Sundarban archipelago spread over a 26,000 sq km (10,000 sq mile) area on the world’s largest delta region.

6500 years ago, the sea extended all the way to the northern fringe of Kolkata. The delta of the Ganges has naturally reached out over all this time; but, now, the sea encroaches faster than the delta grows.

Odyssey salvage team finds wreck of the HMS Victory

Daylife/AFP/Getty Images

The wreck of one of the most famous ships in British naval history has been discovered by a controversial US marine salvage company – a find that will fuel a major row about the UK’s heritage.

HMS Victory, a warship known as “the finest ship in the world“, went down with all hands in 1744 off the Channel Islands and its exact location has remained a mystery for more than 250 years.

But now Odyssey Marine Exploration claims it has proof of the whereabouts of the wooden wreck, in which 1,100 seamen died during a fierce storm. The valuable remains, including 100 brass cannon, would be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds today. After weeks of secrecy, Odyssey, an American based commercial company which is regularly accused of exploiting historic shipwrecks, plans to unveil artefacts retrieved from the wreck…

Although the ship is thought to have been rediscovered in international waters, it is a military wreck and therefore protected by “sovereign immunity” and so officially belongs to the state. If the British government decides to allow Odyssey to salvage the wreck for commercial gain, it will be flouting the rules of the appendix to a Unesco convention on nautical archaeology which aims to protect international heritage. Britain has not yet signed up to the full international convention, but it has formally agreed to follow the guidelines laid down…

The doomed flagship, which was returning from the Mediterranean after a skirmish with the French fleet, went down on 4 October 1744 after becoming separated from accompanying vessels. It is thought to have sunk after hitting Black Rock on the Casquets, off the island of Alderney. Not a soul survived. The ship’s last moments were immortalised in an oil painting by Peter Monamy now at the National Maritime Museum.

The important part is that students of history and science have access to what will be recovered. Certainly, Odyssey and their investors are entitled to as much of a reward for their work as they can reasonably acquire. I’m really not too concerned over a government deciding which laws to obey and which to refuse – depending upon the moment’s requirements.

Judge demands woman remove veil in court

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

A judge has ordered a Toronto woman to testify without her niqab at a sexual assault trial – raising the thorny issue of whether Muslim women should be allowed to appear as witnesses wearing a veil that covers everything but the eyes.

The issue is a collision of two rights, pitting religious freedom against the right of a defendant to face an accuser in open court…

In October, Ontario Court Justice Norris Weisman reached his “admittedly difficult decision” to force the complainant to testify with her face bared after finding her “religious belief is not that strong … and that it is, as she says, a matter of comfort,” he wrote in his ruling…

In his judgment, Weisman wrote “at the 11th hour we learned … she has a driver’s licence with her unveiled facial impression upon it.” She told court she took comfort the picture was taken by a female and there was a screen between her and potential male onlookers.

But Weisman wrote the “driver’s licence can be required to be produced by all sorts of males,” such as police officers and border guards…

Debate about Muslim women and head coverings has surfaced in recent years over girls wearing the hijab to play sports and whether voters must show their faces.

Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said, in court “the laws of the country should be acceptable,” and although it is important that “sensitivity be shown … showing the face is acceptable.”

Civil law takes precedence over religious custom. At least in a civilized secular democracy.

Ex-CEO takes Citigroup company jet to Mexico

Daylife/AP Photo by Seth Wenig

What to do in the face of economic ruin?

Fly to Cabo San Lucas, of course — on the company jet. Ex-Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill used one of his former company’s multimillion dollar jets to whisk his family to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to ring in the New Year.

The ex-CEO used the $45 million Bombardier Global Express jet to carry himself, his wife Joan, and his daughter Jessica and her family to the exclusive One and Only Palmilla Resort.

Rooms at the resort, where Eli Manning was married last April, can go for upwards of $10,000 a night for a four-bedroom suite.

The jet Weill took to Mexico features a full bar, crystal stemware, and and “pillows made from Hermes scarves,” a former crew member told the Post.

Citigroup declined to comment on Weill’s trip.

Let’s just say he’s no different from the Republican creeps who sit around Congress and reject a bi-partisan resolution to some of the economic problems facing our nation. He’d rather continue with the same level of economic royalism he’s accustomed to.

Davos short on headlines – big on networking

The World Economic Forum (WEF) prides itself in being “committed to improving the state of the world”. So what kind of an event was it amidst a global economic crisis?

The WEF organisers claimed a record number of participants this year, despite the high-profile cancellations of a string of bankers and politicians. But the event did not feel packed.

Davos still served its two main purposes: debating and networking.

Cramming lots of business people, social activists, young high-achievers and leading-edge innovators into a narrow space is bound to result in a lot of wheeling and dealing.

“When I took the shuttle bus today, I began to chat to this guy. Turned out he needed exactly the kind of product we make, so within three minutes I just about had a deal,” a young executive told me. “Maybe next year I should just stay in the shuttle bus for a day and drive around and around, talking to interesting people.”

Indeed, Davos gives access like no other place. Chief executives can compare notes with no corporate lawyers in sight. Social entrepreneurs can bend the ears (and prise open the wallets) of corporate titans. And politicians can meet discretely without anybody being the wiser.

This Davos is better,” said Wenchi Chen, chief executive of HTC-Via. “It’s back to what is most fundamental – for business, government and human beings.”

Last time I was in Davos was long before the WEF was a glimmer in some hotelier’s eye. Couldn’t afford to stay in town, then. either.

But, the concept of discussion and networking is solid, something that should be happening at the United Nations and beyond. The political side of the UN, of course, has become the worst of institutionalized bureaucracies. You could discard two-thirds of staff and agencies and have a chance at starting over at being productive.

And at Davos – you could do the same with the press and pimply webcasters.

Koreans will have 1Gbps broadband connections by 2012

The Korea Communications Commission is working on plans that will boost broadband speeds in that country tenfold by the end of 2012. That means Koreans will access 1 gbps service by 2012. That’s 200 times as fast as your typical 5 Mbps DSL connection sold in the U.S.

At present, Koreans can get speeds of up to 100 Mbps from their broadband providers. Availability of such high-speed connections has allowed Korea to emerge as a leader in the MMO and online gaming industries. Even higher broadband speeds are going to unveil many new usage scenarios, which can lead to new company creation.

In addition to its wired broadband efforts, KCC expects wireless broadband to get a 10x speed bump to 10 Mbps vs. current speeds. KCC is promoting the homegrown WiBro standard as a way to boost speeds. It will re-allocate spectrum in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands with preference given to new operators and latecomers to the market. KCC wants to allocate the spectrum next year and hopes that services start in June 2011. IPTV is another area of focus for KCC.

Meanwhile, our President, Congress and the FCC are stumbling around trying to delay something as simple as the transition to digital TV over the air. Discussions about broadband access and higher speeds will probably take place in time for the 2012 elections.