Cell phones to offer cloying girlfriends
HONG KONG, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- For Asian men who can't or won't find a girlfriend, a Hong Kong artificial intelligence company will soon offer a virtual one who lives in a cell phone.
Named Vivienne, the 3D electro-nymph offers many of the responsibilities, but none of the pleasures a breathing woman can provide.
The concept is from Artificial Life Inc., which is two months late in getting the product to market, the New York Times said.
The character likes to be taken to movies and bars, loves virtual flowers and chocolates, and can translate six languages. However, there is nothing sexual, as she never undresses. She can converse on 35,000 topics, from philosophy to movies to sculpture. She also has a mother who can be programmed to call at all hours, the report said.
Vivienne is the product of computerized voice synthesis, streaming video and text messages and will bring $6 per month per client in business to Artificial Life.
Among the marketing delays was the realization Vivienne needed reprogramming not to bare her navel or display body piercings in conservative Muslim countries like Malaysia.
Ghost buster fair drives out the demons
MALAJPUR, India, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Thousands of "haunted" people are attending India's ancient fair of ghost busters, hoping to have troubling spirits exorcised.
Around 200 witch doctors are on hand at the fair in Malajpur in central Madhya Pradesh to handle the "possessed" ones who come for healing. Sometimes it takes whacking with a broom to drive the demons out, the BBC said.
Among the first up on Thursday was Rukmani, a coy, demure 21-year-old Indian village woman whose parents are convinced is haunted by ghosts. Her farm worker father says: "She speaks in a strange language. She speaks of people we don't know. She screams and faints."
One of the witch doctors put her through a routine that includes sprinkling water, chanting and, on her part, a period of wild head swinging and swaying. Calmed, she talks with the witch doctor who hits her with a broom several times and in a few minutes, pronounces her cured.
Australia poo-poos Emperor of Atlantium
SYDNEY, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- While they have no armies to defend or assert themselves, at least 20 states have declared independence from Australia, Britain's Telegraph reports.
The first secession was in 1970, when Leonard Casley and his wife, Shirley, became fed up with grain quotas in the state of West Australia, and declared their property to be the principality of Hutt River. The couple are now known as Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley, and issue passports to thousands of tourists each year.
Sydney sales manager George Cruikshank, 38, has set himself up as the Emperor of Atlantium, which consists of his one-bedroom apartment. His Imperial Majesty George II claims nearly 1,000 subjects from Azerbaijan to Peru. Anyone willing to fill out a form and pay $5 for a certificate can become one of his subjects as well.
However, Professor George Williams of the University of New South Wales said the sovereignty issue is pie in the sky.
"These states have no recognition or status under Australian law whatsoever," Williams said. "It's a nice way of thumbing your nose at authority but ultimately it's just a fantasy."
Chicago church auctioning bowling alley
CHICAGO, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A Roman Catholic Church built for Polish immigrants on Chicago's North Side 85 years ago is auctioning a six-lane bowling alley in its basement on eBay.
Opening bids for the lanes at St. Mary of the Angels Church started at $9,000. The six-lane alley comes complete with its original ball holders, ball polishers, two seats and a ball washer.
The vintage Brunswick B-1 lanes were last regularly used in the 1920s and 1930s, when pin boys made 3 cents a rack to set up pins. The basement lanes have been used for storage for 60 years.
The alley was last used by some teenagers around 20 years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times said. Church leaders reportedly were considering refurbishing the bowling alley when they determined an auction was the way to go.
Bids will be accepted on eBay, the popular online auction site, through March 6.