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Computer-obsessed Japanese nerds' latest fancy is Love Plus, a Nintendo DS dating simulation that allows them a young, attractive, mouthy, teenage digital "girlfriend" who begs for attention. The touch-screen lover demands hand-holding, kissing and having sweet nothings whispered in her ear. How can men so easily become addicted to such vicarious experiences? Said one reluctant player, "Koh," to the BoingBoing blog,"(It) comes down to the fact that men are simple." (In December, Reuters reported that Japanese player SAL9000 had eloped to the Philippines with his Love Plus girlfriend, had himself photographed with her at romantic sites -- clutching the screen showing her image -- and then took her through a marriage ceremony.)

As vultures approach extinction in South Africa, they grow in value among local "traditional" communities for their magical abilities. Specks of a vulture's brain, sprinkled on mud and smoked, can supposedly ward off evil and bring winning lottery numbers. One Johannesburg vendor told Agence France-Presse in December that the specks even work when daubed on dogs' noses, enabling them to extend their already formidable scenting power.

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