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Beijing unveils Olympic ticket prices November 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Sports.
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Beijing promised an affordable Olympics in 2008 with the announcement yesterday of ticket prices as low as a 10th of those charged in Athens. Most spectators will pay no more than 100 yuan (£6.50), under a ticketing policy that reflects China’s low average income.

The first of 7m tickets will go on sale next year. Executive seats for the opening ceremony will cost 5,000 yuan – about half the top rate in Greece two years ago. Elsewhere, tickets will be as little as 30 yuan, 10% of the lowest rate in Athens, with 14% of seats reserved for students.

For the millions of farmers living on less than 50 pence a day an Olympic day out will still be expensive. But for most city dwellers the prices are well within their incomes. The average monthly wage for a Beijing resident last year was 2,500 yuan.

For China the 2008 Olympics are about a lot more than making money. They are a coming of age party. In bidding for the games Beijing forecast a modest operating profit of $19m on revenues of $1.6bn, mostly from sponsorship and the sale of broadcast rights. In addition, the government is spending tens of billions of dollars on a huge facelift for the city, including new stadiums, roads and railways.

The prices compare well with concerts for big rock stars, but they are still well above those for football matches. The cheapest tickets for Beijing Guo’an – the capital’s top team – are just 10 yuan.

Sports fans are willing to pay a little extra. “The prices are reasonable,” said Chen Xin, 25, a Beijing resident. “I will definitely go to see at least one Olympic event. After all, I will probably never get another chance in my life.”


China home to 20 million gay people November 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life.
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A report released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on November 29, 2006 says that as many as 190 AIDS cases were confirmed across China.

Half of the 190 were infected through sexual intercourse and homosexual men formed the largest group that acquired the HIV virus through sexual intercourse, according to a report on the health of gay men, the first of its kind in China released on the same day.

The report used 526 homosexual men in Beijing as a representative sample. One third of the respondents said they were bisexual and 46 percent were highly educated and held jobs.

Zhang Beichuan, professor at the Qingdao University medical school and renowned AIDS treatment and prevention expert said among the 30 million homosexuals in China, two thirds of them are men, who are considered to be the most vulnerable group to transmission of the HIV virus. Among the 300,000 homosexual men in Beijing, three of every 100 male homosexual encounters transmit the virus, according to Zhang. But polls found that only 20 percent of homosexual men use condoms every time they have sex.

“It is like people addicted to smoking who know their habit causes cancer but still continue to smoke,” said Wu Zunyou, director of the center. “Homosexual men are aware of the high risk but give in to temporary pleasure as a result they are reluctant to use condoms.”

HIV virus transmission has gone through four stages in China. During the 1980s, the virus came from overseas and was confirmed within the nation. In 1989 there were outbreaks in some parts of China. During the mid-1990s, the virus was transmitted through blood transfusions. Now the most common ways people become infected are through sexual intercourse or intravenous drug use.

“There are three routes of infection through sex, through heterosexual couples where one infects the other, or their next generation, bisexual sex and homosexual sex,” Wu said.

To cub the high infection through homosexual men, the central government would allocate special funds for AIDS control and prevention next year, including financial preference to anti-AIDS campaigns aimed at homosexual men. The Ministry of Health is planning to send AIDS prevention volunteers to homosexual men groups and forming a ‘Five Year Plan’ to fight AIDS in the gay community.

Video games addicts: just say ‘yes’ November 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Gadgets.
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Too many video games can lead to addiction… but don’t worry, it is not necessarily a bad thing, scientists have discovered.

Getting hooked on playing online games can improve hand-to-eye coordination, reaction time and brain speed as well as helping hospital patients forget about their pain.

‘Many gamers play excessively and display few negative consequences,’ said Professor Mark Griffiths, who oversaw the research at Nottingham Trent University.

‘Video games are also used to teach and improve skills, such as driving and flying. It is clear that, in the right context, games can be used innovatively and imaginatively to help people learn.’ He added: ‘A healthy obsession adds to life, an addiction takes away.’

In the survey of 7,069 gamers, most were men aged around 21, one in nine who played for long periods showed signs of addiction.

The remaining gamers, who played less frequently and for shorter periods, displayed fewer signs of withdrawal symptoms and cravings, said Prof Griffiths last night in a lecture that was part of the British Science Museum’s Game On exhibition.

But Prof Griffiths did warn the number of 24-hour, never-ending online games becoming available to players could prove irresistible.

Virtual world produces its first real-life millionaire November 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet, Internet Software.
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Millionaires usually make their money in banking, playing the stock market or in big business.

Ailin Graef has changed all that. The former Chinese language teacher has just joined the millionaire’s club, but is the first person to do so thanks to profits from a virtual world. Ms Graef has built up a massive property empire in Second Life, an online 3D world where users live and socialise as they would in reality.

Her online equivalent (known as an avatar), Anshe Chung, buys large blocks of lands, improves them by adding housing and then sells them to other users for a handsome profit. Since joining the game in 2004 she has amassed a fortune of almost 300million Linden dollars (the game’s currency). Uniquely, these dollars can be exchanged into real US dollars at online currency exchanges. With the rate at around L$275 to US$1, she has become a millionaire.

Although she lives near Frankfurt in Germany, Ms Graef has set up an office in Wuhan, China, employing ten programmers to help ‘develop’ the online land she later sells to other users.

Last year, there were 70,000 Second Life members but now 1.6million people have downloaded the software and created an avatar.

And Ms Graef is not alone in seeing the business potential in Second Life, one member who created and sold a popular game within the world called Tringo recently agreed a deal for it with Nintendo.

Ben Camm-Jones, news editor at Web User magazine, said: ‘Up until now, when people have made a bit of extra cash on Second Life they’ve seen it as a bonus. But to earn a living from it is quite extraordinary.’

McDonald’s puts patent on sandwiches November 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Drinks News.
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McDonald’s wants to own the rights to how a sandwich is made.

The fast-food chain has applied for a patent relating to the ‘method and apparatus’ used to prepare the snack. The burger company says owning the ‘intellectual property rights’ would help its hot deli sandwiches look and taste the same at all of its restaurants.

It also wants to cut down on the time needed to put together a sandwich, thought to have been dreamt up by the Earl of Sandwich in 1762. The 55-page patent, which has been filed in the US and Europe, covers the ‘simultaneous toasting of a bread component’.

Garnishes of lettuce, onions and tomatoes, as well as salt, pepper and ketchup, are inserted into a cavity in a ‘sandwich delivery tool’. The ‘bread component’ is placed over the cavity and the assembly tool is inverted to tip out the contents. Finally, the filling is placed in the ‘bread component’. It explains: ‘Often the sandwich filling is the source of the name of the sandwich; for example, ham sandwich.’

Lawrence Smith-Higgins, of the UK Patent Office, said: ‘McDonald’s or anyone else cannot get retrospective exclusive rights to making a sandwich. ‘They might have a novel device, but it could be quite easy for someone to make a sandwich in a similar way without infringing their claims.’

McDonald’s said: ‘These applications are not intended to prevent anyone from using previous methods for making sandwiches.’