It's almost Memorial Day weekend--don't even pretend you're actually working. Here are six truly quizzical stories coursing across the social news sites today to get you through the final working hours. Who knows: you might even garner a little inspiration, and run out the door with an antler helmet on. Don't ask--just read.
If You Go Missing, Don't Count on Verizon
A 62-year-old man went missing in Ohio this week after a domestic disturbance sent him running from police. Police didn't know where he was headed, but they did know he was carrying a GPS-enabled cell phone. After deploying a 100-person search team with two fire departments and two K-9 units assisting, the local sheriff called Verizon, the man's cell phone carrier, to try to get a lead on his whereabouts.
The sheriff was told that if he wanted the man's phone reactivated and trackable, he'd have to pay the balance left on the account, which was behind by a payment of $20. Incredulous, the sheriff pressed--Verizon wouldn't budge. As he prepared to pay the fee, searchers discovered the man, alive but unconscious.
The Million Dollar Netflix Prize
For the last two years, groups of competing programmers have been wiling away at a mass of data about what kind of movies you like to watch. Yes, you--if you're a Netflix customer. Nextflix has been staging a long-term competition to try and generate a movie-recommendation engine that will beat its own by an accuracy margin of at least 10%. For that elusive piece of programming, they offered a million-dollar prize.
The winners, four programmers from AT&T Labs, have been announced, and the website of the IEEE has a story written by the winners on how they turned a sample database of 100 million movie ratings from 480,000 anonymous customers into Netflix's new secret weapon.
[Via IEEE Spectrum]
Don't Be This Guy
The Giro D'Italia bicycle race is in its late stages, and like most pro cycling events, the Giro has attracted oddball fans from far and wide. Here, a runner tries to keep pace with several puzzled riders. Presumably an American, he wears a Montana jersey and pink helmet with, well, see for yourself.
The Year of What?
If you had to guess what the most-blogged-about congressional bill of 2009 would be, which bill would you hazard? Something about the stimulus? Something gay-marriage related? You'd be wrong; it's actually a bill put forth by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) meant to declare 2010 the "year of the Bible."
According to GovTrak.us, this bill--which has been ignored my many politicians and outwardly mocked by others--has received tons of talk in the blogosphere, most of it critical. Broun says he doesn't mean the bill to be an endorsement of Christianity, but an acknowledgment of the role the Bible has played in the history of the United States.
[Via Yahoo! News]
An amateur historian was investigating the World War II battlefield around Bavent, France when he came upon an unusual cache: the skeletal remains of five German soldiers, presumably gunned down by British paratroopers during the D-Day invasion almost 65 years ago.
Bits of clothing still adorned their remains, as did their original dogtags--indicating that the bodies had never been found. They weren't buried, suggesting they were hidden in a rush by invading forces. Their weapons were missing.
The bodies will be exhumed and buried in a military cemetery in France.
The Down Syndrome's Saving Grace
A Harvard medical study reports that a human gene has been isolated that could guard against the cancer in human beings. It's found in people with Down syndrome, and it's called RCAN1, one of the extra versions of genes they are endowed with due to their third copy of chromosome 21.
Researchers hope that by studying RCAN1 in stem cells from Down syndrome patients, they can transfer the properties of tumor-suppression into a useful cancer therapy.