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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Reporter vs Sand Castle

It took 16 days to build, but only a few seconds to destroy. Say thank you to the Reporter.

Hollywood Love Nests


Stalkers, kidnappers and name droppers pay attention. Your wet dreams have all just come true. A huge list of addresses of the Hollywood rich and famous has become public. Including aerial photographs. This means you can see which way of entry is good for a bit of night time voyeurism while your favorite celebrity is taking a crap or you can comment on the aweful/great layout of the garden of your favorite celebrity while attending a local PTA meeting. Hours of fun really.

Dow up 400 on greater likelihood of bailout vs. no bailout

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks rallied Tuesday afternoon as investors scooped up shares battered in the bloodletting that followed Congress' failure to pass a $700 billion bank rescue plan.

But credit markets remained frozen. Several closely-watched measures of bank lending fear hit all-time highs, as firms continued to hoard funds.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 400 points before scaling back a bit, with 90 minutes left in the session, recovering some of the record 777 points lost the day before.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index rose 4.6% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) gained about 4.3%.

The advance was largely in response to the previous session's selloff, in particular the swell of sell orders that poured in near the close of the session, said Alan Lancz, director of Lancz Global.

"There was panic selling yesterday, so today you're seeing a reflex rally or a dead cat bounce," Lancz said.

He said the stock advance could also imply investors expect that some form of the government plan will pass, perhaps by the end of the week.

Bank rescue plan: Stocks plunged Monday after the House of Representatives shot down the proposed $700 billion bank rescue plan, surprising investors who had thought that a bipartisan compromise on the deal had been reached over the weekend.

The plan involves the Treasury Department buying up bad mortgage bets from banks, enabling them to start lending to each other again and ultimately defrosting the credit markets. Lawmakers had fought to modify the plan with more taxpayer protections.

However, taxpayers were not entirely swayed, and voter complaints about the plan ahead of the election contributed to House Republicans largely voting against the proposal. (Full story)

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other officials conceived the plan in the wake of a series of bank failures and mergers amid the housing market collapse and subsequent credit market freeze up. Frozen credit markets mean banks cling to cash, making it difficult for businesses and individuals to get needed loans.

Bill Heard Enterprises(Largest Chevy Dealer in Country) Declares Chapter 11

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - The company with the largest chain of Chevrolet dealerships in the country filed for bankruptcy protection against a "perfect storm" of woes including soaring gasoline prices, declining demand for big vehicles and the nationwide credit crunch.

Bill Heard Enterprises Inc., the Georgia-based firm which operated in seven states before it shut down last week, said its 14 dealerships were losing from $2 million to $5 million a month because of a drop in sales coupled with a lack of available credit.

A judge scheduled a hearing Monday on the bankruptcy petition, filed Sunday in federal court in northern Alabama.

Meanwhile, two employees of the company's dealership in Huntsville, Ala., filed a lawsuit claiming they were wrongly terminated when Bill Heard unexpectedly shut down its lots last Wednesday. Attorneys asked a judge to certify the suit as a class-action and include all Bill Heard workers.

A spokesman for the dealership declined comment on the employee lawsuit.

The company began in 1919 as a single dealership in Columbus, Ga. It grew and Heard adopted the slogan "Mr. Big Volume," focusing on big stores, high-volume sales and deals that included loans for people with shaky credit histories.

The business model fell apart as gas prices soared and demand waned for big vehicles like Chevy pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles. At the same time, credit dried up for many customers as finance companies tightened their lending rules.

The company posted revenue of about $2.5 billion a year at its peak, but it said it began to lose money starting in mid-2007.

In the bankruptcy filing, Bill Heard Enterprises said it owed $229 million total to GMAC, BMW Financial Services and JPMorgan Chase Bank, which financed its inventory.

The company cited another $7 million in unsecured debt, including $3.2 million in estimated sales taxes it owes in the states where it did business: Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Alabama and Tennessee.

GMAC Financial Services last month discontinued credit for new inventory for some of the company's dealerships.

Late last month in Georgia, the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs accused the company of deceptive and misleading business practices. The company denied those allegations.

In the labor lawsuit, Bill Heard employees Eric Lodge and Michelle Whitby accused the company of wrongly laying them off without any notice. The suit said the company employed more than 100 people in Huntsville and more than 2,000 nationwide. Top of page

Genworth Soars on possible Spinoff

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Mortgage insurer Genworth Financial Inc. said Tuesday that it is considering various strategic alternatives for its U.S. mortgage-insurance business including a possible spin off, sending shares sharply higher in premarket activity.

"We have demonstrated that, in the current stressed U.S. housing environment, our U.S. Mortgage Insurance business continues to operate from a more sound financial position and lower risk profile than any other U.S. mortgage insurer," said Michael D. Fraizer, chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

"At the same time, progress in our international, wealth management, retirement, life and long-term care insurance businesses has been overshadowed by concerns about the future of U.S. mortgage insurance," he added.

Commercial paper

Genworth (GNW, Fortune 500) said it has reduced its commercial paper borrowings to $79 million, and maintains more than $800 million in cash and cash equivalents at the holding company.

The company also carries nearly $4 billion of cash and cash equivalents in its operating companies, and maintains substantial credit facilities, Genworth said.

Over the past couple of weeks, Genworth's stock has been hit hard by concerns about its mortgage exposure in the wake of the collapse of American International Group Inc.

Earlier this month, the government stepped in and provided AIG with a two-year $85 billion loan to help keep it in business. As one of the world's largest insurers, AIG teetered on the brink of bankruptcy as it looked for fresh cash to help shore up its balance sheet, which was facing a liquidity crunch amid the continued downturn in the credit markets.

Reinsurance business

Last week, Genworth management provided an update regarding its U.S. mortgage insurance business. The company is considering reinsurance transactions, asset transfers from outside the U.S. and joint ventures to boost capital, management said on a call with analysts.

Shares of Genworth spiked $1.49, or 30%, to $6.49 in premarket activity. The stock, which finished Monday's trading at $5, has ranged from $3.51 to $32.33 over the past year. To top of page

No Bailout, Here's Plan B-

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A day after the House's surprise defeat of a $700 billion financial rescue bill, talk is growing louder about alternative government steps that could help battered credit markets and stave off broader problems in the economy.

In fact, some of the things Washington could do could even provide more immediate relief than would the complicated proposal nixed by the House. The plan would have given the Treasury Department authority to buy as much as $700 billion in distressed mortgage-backed securities.

"Every little bit helps," said Lyle Gramley, a former Federal Reserve governor who is now with policy research firm Stanford Group. "When you're in a situation we're in now, you use any tools that might work."

Among the steps that the government could undertake are:

  • Suspend so-called mark-to-market accounting rules, which during the past year have required financial firms to write down more than $500 billion in losses.
  • Change federal requirements that force banks to keep a certain level of cash on hand for every dollar they lend out.
  • Give banks the chance to exchange loan notes for notes from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. As a government agency, the FDIC's notes would be more valuable than the banks' notes, allowing the banks more flexibility to make loans.
  • Purchase on a massive scale mortgage-backed securities issued by finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Bush plan calls for the Treasury to buy a broader range of mortgage-backed securities.
  • Extend limits on short sales of financial sector stocks.
  • Cut the fed funds rate - the Federal Reserve's target for short-term lending - perhaps all the way to zero, or in coordination with rate cuts by other central banks around the globe.

In addition, there are other things Washington could do. On Tuesday, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both proposed raising the cap on bank deposits insured by the FDIC.

The current $100,000 limit has been unchanged since 1980 despite inflation. It protected as much as 82% of deposits in 1991, today it only covers 63%.

Raising the cap could stem a potential run on deposits by bank customers, particularly businesses, who fear losing their money. Such fears led to the collapse of Washington Mutual (WM, Fortune 500) and Wachovia Bank (WB, Fortune 500) in the past week.

Of course, all the proposals have their downsides and their critics.

For example, William Isaac, a former chairman of the FDIC blames much of the current credit crunch on the fact that the Securities and Exchange Commission is now requiring banks and Wall Street firms to value their mortgage backed securities at current market prices, rather than based upon the income they can produce over the life of the loans that back them.

"The SEC has destroyed about $500 billion of capital by their continued insistance that mortgage backed securities be valued at market value when there is no market," he said. "It's way below their economic value. And because banks essentially lend $10 for every dollar of capital they have, they've essentially destroyed $5 trillion in lending capacity."

But others argue that without those strict accounting rules for dealing with the value of mortgage backed securities, investors would be even more reluctant to invest in banks and Wall Street firms, making it even tougher for the to attract new capital.

"Does that make you less attractive as a public company? Absolutely," said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co.

Gramley also questions getting rid of mark-to-market accounting for the same reason. He would rather see the FDIC and other bank regulators relax its rules for the required ratio between capital and loans on the books. He said that's choking off credit to good customers. He said he knows of a businessman with perfect credit and a $20 million net worth who just had his bank reject his request to renew his $1.8 million business loan.

"The bank told him 'Our regulators are requiring us to improve our capital ratios, but we can't raise capital because the market is shot,'" Gramley said. And Gramley said the bank won't cut off the loans to those who have trouble paying the loans immediately because that would cause an increase in the number of loan defaults, so instead it is squeezing some of its best customers.

But Isaac argues changing the capital ratio requirements or easing other regulations would amount to regulatory forbearance and would only lead to deeper problems down the road. "That simply doesn't play well," he said.

No rush to try alternatives

It's unlikely that the Fed, Treasury or other government agencies authorized to take such steps would do so until Congress takes up the bailout proposal once again.

Brian Gardner, the Washington analyst for KBW, an investment firm specializing in financial services, said he believes Treasury and Fed officials believe they can keep more pressure on Congress to pass the rescue plan by not taking extra steps ahead of a final vote.

"The alternatives are good - I don't think they do any harm," Gardner said. "But none of them are as powerful as the rescue package would be. If the Congress doesn't move on something, they'll become more likely because the regulators will be forced to look at different solutions."

With the House in recess until Thursday, negotiations were taking place behind the scenes rather than on the floor of the chamber. The Senate is in session but not tackling the bailout on the floor.

Right now, it's unlikely that a new vote would take place before Thursday. Stocks rallied on Tuesday as investors believed that Congress will still approve the bill.

But credit markets stayed very tight. The Libor rate, the rate at which banks lend to one another, rose to 4.05% up from 3.88% Monday. Translation: Banks are still reluctant to lend to one another.

And even advocates of the bailout plan concede that the alternate measures may yet be needed if passage of the bill does not unfreeze credit markets.

"It doesn't fix everything," said Hogan. "It doesn't force the institutions to lend to each other or lend to consumers and businesses. That's why they'll hold onto these alternatives. I think you need to keep dry powder if you have to use them in the future.

Wii Wanker



Spoof Nintendo Wii sketch from BBC TV The Wrong Door

Licking your wounds after yesterday's massive selloff? Here how to make sure your nest egg doesn't break.

NEW YORK (Money Magazine) -- Scared yet? The U.S. stock market suffered a massive selloff on Monday and though it regained some ground on Tuesday, prospects of a bear market and a recession loom large.

The selloff erased more than a trillion dollars in stock-market value and brought 401(k)s and other retirement accounts down with it.

Whether you were for or against the $700 billion bailout package that was defeated in Congress this week, you're probably more concerned about your own savings plan.

It's okay to feel the fear. But it's not okay to react to it. Panicking and making big changes in your accounts is likely to do a heck of a lot more damage than a recession ever could.

Sticking to some tried-and-true principles can help you get through the bad times with your sanity and your savings intact.

"Don't panic, stay the course," said Allan Roth, a financial planner in Colorado Springs. "If you can't be right at least be consistent. We're allowed to feel the emotions, but how we react to them is going to be far more important than any short-term swings."

An early start

If you're just starting to think about saving for retirement, don't delay. Despite the upheaval of the past few months - and the past week in particular - it would be a mistake for someone in their 20s or 30s to hold off on investing now.

The key here is the long-term prospects for stocks. Ultimately, stock values hinge on the productivity of U.S. workers and the earnings power of American companies. And it's not as if those engines of long-term growth are about to disappear.

The country may need some time to work through the detritus of the housing bubble and lending excesses. And stock returns could very well be anemic as that happens. But history shows that some of the best long-term gains go to investors willing to buy stocks when they're reviled, as in the years following major setbacks like the 1929 crash and the 1973-1974 bear market.

Of course, the long view may not seem particularly relevant to you at the moment. But remember: the money that you contribute to accounts such as a 401(k) is going to be invested for many years.

The real question isn't whether you should be contributing to a 401(k). It's how you should be investing the money you contribute, as well as the money that's already there.

If you're in your 20's or 30s, you still want most of your 401(k) money in stocks, say between 80% and 90%. That may be a tough sell emotionally in these uncertain times. But the important thing isn't what your 401(k) is worth over the next few years - it's what its value will be in 2040 and beyond.

Mid-career

Even if you're older, you should still think of the money you're contributing now as a long-term investment. But you also need to give some consideration to preserving the assets you've already accumulated.

That means dialing back your stock exposure somewhat, although you don't want to hunker down completely in bonds and cash. Lightening up on stocks will give you more short-term stability. But if you get too conservative, you run the risk of stunting the eventual size of your nest egg - and your lifestyle in retirement.

But before you go tinkering around with your portfolio, keep in mind that while bear markets can hurt a portfolio, how you react to downturns can make matters worse, said Roth. He points out that investing in stocks when they're hot and then running to bonds when they're not has a name: performance chasing.

"When you move in and out, you're actually increasing risk while decreasing your returns," Roth said. Over time, market timing can cost investors around 1.5% a year in returns, according to Roth.

'The danger years'

The decade before you quit the work force, along with the five years immediately after, is the most sensitive period in an entire lifetime of retirement planning. The saving, investment and career decisions you make during this time will dictate in a major way whether you'll spend the next 30 to 40 years enjoying the life you've always looked forward to or eating the early-bird special at Denny's.

"It's natural to have a queasy feeling at this time in your life, wondering if your retirement will happen as planned," says Joseph Chadwick of the Longevity Alliance, a financial services firm that specializes in retirement products. "But there's no need to panic."

Stocks held for the long term can be counted on to bounce back eventually. But if you need to sell shares just as they're dropping in value - exactly the scenario many newly minted retirees have faced recently - you run a sharply higher risk that your money will someday run out. That's because when the market does recover, you'll have less money invested to benefit from renewed growth.

Fortunately, there's a minor tweak that can dramatically cut your risk.

Typically, to ensure your nest egg lasts as long as you do, you should withdraw no more than 4% of your savings for living expenses in your first year of retirement. In year two, you might take a little more to account for inflation.

The bear-market adjustment? Give up on the inflation increase until stocks recover.

A study by T. Rowe Price concludes that this simple step cuts the odds of running out of money over a 30-year period in half, from 22% to 11%, on a sample portfolio invested 55% in stocks and 45% in bonds.

Worried that forgoing your inflation raise will bust your budget? Pull a Brett Favre and go back to work part time to make up the "lost" income. You probably won't need to put in more than a few hours a week - a 3% increase on a $75,000 annual withdrawal equals only $200 a month.

2009 Mazda MX-5


PARIS — Mazda's midcycle change on the 2009 MX-5 roadster seems mild enough, judging from the single official photograph — and a few unofficial images leaked on the Web ahead of the car's official debut at the 2008 Paris Auto Show.

Mazda has revised the front and rear ends of the car, with updated bumpers and lamps and a reworked grille.

Word from the Tokyo underground is that the under-the-skin hardware tweaks are relatively minor. Powertrain choices are expected to remain the same, with some mild updates to suspension and gearboxes. European customers can choose from 16- or 17-inch wheels and tires, plus at least two new exterior colors.

What this means to you: Get out the magnifying glass. — Paul Lienert, Correspondent

IF you think your being watched by satellite this is for you

are you paranoid of Big Brother, Google Maps, NSA.....if you are this a must buy

read more | digg story

Top 10 Star Wars TV Moments


Was it Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the "Attack of the Clones" premier? Or, maybe it was the Family Guy "Blue Harvest" episode. Classic Star Wars TV spots and spoofs.

read more | digg story

Landfills to Fertilize Biofuel Crop With Trash-Juices

Two British landfills could soon use their trash’s syrupy excretions to irrigate and fertilize on-site biomass crops.

A developer, Waste Recycling Group, hopes to construct two 18-foot-deep lagoons near landfills to produce fertilizer from the leachate that oozes from the trash piles. The substance will be pumped from the dump into the lagoons where bacteria will eat away at the contaminants. The developer then hopes to use the fertilizer to grow willow coppices at the landfill for use as biofuel.

While neither of the concepts involved are entirely new, the plan for the two North Hykeham landfills is unique in that the fertilizer may be used for an onsite crop, reducing the need for shipping and making use of landfill space.

The lagoons are anything but certain. Waste Recycling Group had two similar projects rejected recently, while these remaining two will undergo thorough odor and health assessments before being approved by county planners.

Waste Recycling Group has successfully built one leachate lagoon at another landfill in Welbeck, but instead of processing the substance into fertilizer, it is pumped into the sewer system to be treated.

Photo Credit: ibjorn on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Rare Plant Thought Extinct Re-discovered in Upstate New York

by Christine Lepisto, Berlin

Seaside goldenrod rediscovered alongside roads photo
Image source: Tony Eallonardo in Syracuse

A salt-marsh plant thought to have vanished from upstate New York is back. But it has not come back to the inland salt marshes, of which only four remain (three in New York and one in Michigan). Rather, the rare goldenrod was found growing alongside local streets, probably competing well where run-off from winter road salt suppresses other plant life. The species was discovered serendipitously by Dr. Leonardo of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) as he was out walking.

"They're coming out of asphalt, with no soil anywhere," Leopold is quoted in an article in Syracuse. "And it's striking because they're all blooming right now. It's a visually spectacular plant." But the seaside goldenrod's beauty is not alone among it's benefits to humanity and the environment.

Beauty to Behold
Seaside goldenrod can grow to 8 feet tall and blooms rich yellow blossoms atop dark green stems and leaves. Seaside goldenrod is innocent of misplaced blame for causing allergies -- which are actually caused by the ragweed that blooms around the same time. It is a good nectar source for many insects, especially because it blooms later in the season than many other native goldenrod species.

Benefits to Boot
However, the most important contribution of seaside goldenrod may be applications in urban gardening. "The real value is we've been trying to find native species to use in a green approach to handling urban run-off. Not only is this plant beautiful, it is quite functional. Instead of building a multimillion treatment plant or allowing the run-off going into our creeks and streams, it looks like this could provide a natural solution," Dr. Leonard is quoted as saying in an article at the Weather Channel's Forecast Earth. Furthermore, the plants grow maintenance free, making them a better choice for urban community gardens than many imported species and superior to greenhouse plants often selected for public landscaping.

Post-doc student Tony Eallonardo is helping Dr. Leonardo locate populations of the seaside goldenrod. Two sites have been found in addition to the original plants discovered by Dr. Leonard, including a stand in the median on highway 81 (pictured). According to Eallonardo, the plant species represents "the natural and cultural heritage of Syracuse, the Salt City." The region once had thousands of inland saltwater marshes.

Magnetic Air Car Could Be Ready by 2010


magnetic air car

Last week, I took a trip down to San Jose for West Coast Green, an environmentally-focused conference with an emphasis on sustainable building. One booth stood out from the crowd—Magnetic Air Cars, Inc.. The San Jose-based company claims that it is working on the world’s first fuel-less car.

The Magnetic Air Car uses three on-board substations to harness compressed air. The resulting airflow is channeled, modulated, and converted to torque that propels the car.

According to company representative Paul Donovan, the car uses a silicon salt battery that has 30% more mass power than a lead acid storage battery and can charge completely within an hour. The 95 percent recyclable battery can also can be used in a temperature range from -40 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius.

Though the Magnetic Air Car has not yet been tested, Donovan hopes to have it ready for production by 2010. The company plans on building its first prototype at Club Auto Sport in San Jose in the near future.

The car draws comparisons to Tata Motors’ compressed-air powered vehicle, but Donovan says that the Tata Motors design uses pistons while the Magnetic Air Car design uses magnetic technology.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any more details available on the Magnetic Air Car at this time. But if the prototype is successful, I’m sure we’ll hear plenty more about this company.

Spaceship dies in blaze of glory

by Alan Boyle


ESA
The unmanned Jules Verne ATV cargo ship breaks up in a spectacular display
during re-entry, as seen on Monday over the Pacific from an observation plane.

The European Space Agency's first cargo mission to the international space station ended in a spectacular fireworks show today, with the fiery re-entry of the unmanned Jules Verne ATV spaceship over the South Pacific.

"Jules Verne has now successfully completed its mission," ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain declared at the International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow, Scotland.

The end came at around 9:30 a.m. ET, when controllers back at Europe's mission control in Toulouse, France, directed the 17-ton craft into its final plunge. Jules Verne, the first of Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicles, was launched from the ESA spaceport in French Guiana early March 9. It linked up with the space station almost a month later, delivering tons of food, water and equipment.

During its stay, Jules Verne periodically boosted the space station's orbit, and in fact helped the station dodge a passing piece of Russian space junk last month.



But all good things must come to an end: Unlike the Italian-built space cargo modules that are carried back and forth inside NASA's space shuttle, the Euroean-built ATVs are not designed for return or reuse. Instead, each spent craft has to be disposed of safely, by directing it remotely on a plunge through the atmosphere. The wide-open South Pacific is the favorite dumping ground for such space junk, as we saw back in 2001 when Russia's Mir space station fell to its doom.

Jules Verne's re-entry was witnessed by an international team of scientists flying aboard a NASA DC-8 observation plane. Studying the spacecraft's controlled fall could lead to fresh insights about the chemical and radiation effects of falling meteors - as well as better computer models for predicting how objects fragment as the blast through the atmosphere.


ESA
The Jules Verne ATV cargo craft glows during its atmospheric re-entry, in a view
captured Monday from a DC-8 observation plane flying over the Pacific. A lens
diffraction flare can be seen in rainbow colors at lower right.

Today's first pictures from the DC-8, posted to ESA's ATV blog, revealed a spray of fireworks similar to those seen during Mir's fall. More tragically, they also recalled what witnesses saw during the shuttle Columbia's breakup five years ago.

Although experts still have to track all the bits of debris, it looks as if Jules Verne's plunge through the atmosphere provided a great light show, but no big impact. There were far more damaging plunges elsewhere on the planet today.

FujiFilm's Real 3D Camera is Just The Beginning


By Jose Fermoso EmailSeptember 29, 2008 | 7:08:54 PMCategories: Cameras

Fuji_3d_camera

Camera makers are jumping into the 3D photo market more than 20 years after the format was laughed out of town and ended up as Michael Jackson's sidekick in Captain Eo.

Last week, Fujifilm announced a two-lensed camera that takes images and movies in 3D and captures wide-angle photos of single scenes simultaneously. As a result, we've heard some rumbling in the wires about other camera manufacturers coming out with their own version in the next year or so.

Since the lenses are 6-7cm from each other (or about the same length between most people’s eyes), the Real 3D's camera processes the images in real time to produce the stereoscopic 'trick' effect that makes them look as if they're floating in air. This is where the processing update of Fujitsu's 'Real Photo Processor 3D' chip comes in.

The chip blends the dual images and all the important metrics (focus, zoom range, and exposure) at once and pushes them out to the LCD, which is also on a 3D-display. By the time this camera is released next year, the company is promising to be able to shoot HD video on it as well.

Fuji_real_3d_logo

Of course, there are several 3D custom rigs out there that are producing 3D images, but they're usually very expensive. Some have even made 3D rigs out of two mainstream digital cameras. In the case of the 3D Advantage Casio, a company has attached a tridelta beam splitter to a single point and shoot camera that creates a 3D image with a single shutter. But a pro-ready camera ready to shoot 3D images is better than a custom rig, for obvious user friendly reasons.

3dadvfSo while the majority of the renewed excitement about 3D imaging has come from the display side and recent focus from the movie industry, don't expect FujiFilm to be the only one coming out with a consumer 3D cam.

A few years ago, Olympus created a 3D camera system for the da Vinci Surgical robot system that works in real time and is dependable enough to used during open surgery. They only have figure out how to transfer the tech to a more affordable, consumer friendly chassis and they'll be in the 3D game. Don't be surprised if they've already figured out how to do that.

Fuji_3d_cam_back

02_jf_photokina4_006

50 Rules To Being A Gentleman

For dudes who split bills on fast-food dates, KING offers a template for sophistication. Relax and take notes.

The Gentlemen Panel: Fonzworth Bentley, Pacino Bing, John Delgado, Gerrell Gaddis, Damon Gales, Claveria “JoJo” Gumersindo, Rashaun Hall, Sheldon Hall, Grant Hill, Chris Mathis, Adam Matthews, Zach McCall, Mark Rooney, Jalen Rose, Anslem Samuel, Chiun-Kai Shih, Musiq Soulchild, Jamal Sullivan, Q-Tip, Greg Watkins, Pat Wilcox

50. A warm iron and a can of spray starch can do wonders. Invest in them even if you don’t wear slacks and button-ups regularly.

49. “If you buy one pair of shoes and one suit per year, you’ll have a nice collection soon enough. It’s an investment. Also, know your measurements and sizes, because you might find a woman who wants to hook you up and get a suit made.”—Chris Mathis, 36, barber

48. Wearing a fitted hat on your commute to work with your business suit or with just pants and a dress shirt isn’t a good look.

47. “Tone down the bagginess a bit without wandering into nut-hugger territory. Showing your ass and boxers is not appealing in any setting.”—Anslem Samuel, 31, magazine editor

46. Find a good tailor.

45. T-shirts should fall just below your waist, and the seam of the shoulder should be right on your shoulder.

44. Wear a belt. It’s called underwear for a reason.

43. Don’t try to outdress a woman. She should be the center of attention and should not feel that she’s underdressed.

42. “The world is bigger than your hood and the places your favorite rappers represent. Try to travel to a place where your cell phone won’t work. That’s when you know you’ve actually gone somewhere. If you can’t afford to put your passport on pivot, try reading a book or travel guide about the place you’d like to visit.”—A. Samuel

41. Barnes & Noble should be your best friend.

40. “[As far as books], start with the classics: Catcher in the Rye, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Odyssey, Crime and Punishment.”—Q-Tip, 38, rapper/producer/actor

39. If reading books the size of War & Peace seems daunting, peruse different types of magazines—ones covering art, architecture, design or photography.

38. Try not to go straight to the sports section of the newspaper.

37. Watch the news, preferably more than one channel. Suggestions: BBC, MSNBC, CNN and, yes, even FOX News.

36. Being open-minded and aware of the world around you shows class and sophistication, but avoid seeming pretentious by being modest instead of showing off what you know.

35. “There will come a time when you outgrow the dudes you grew up with. Have a beer with them once in a while, but it’s OK to move on and be friendly with new people.”—Adam Matthews, 36, journalist

34. Go easy on the slang, especially among those who are already judging you based on race and age.

33. Don’t just talk the talk.

32. Look people in the eyes when you greet them and shake their hand.

31. “Take criticism with an open mind. You can improve from listening to superiors and by changing your actions to serve them. Don’t mess with the pack order—it’s there for a reason.”—A. Matthews

30. Be on time to meetings—early if you can.

29. In meetings, don’t hold conversations at the same time someone else is speaking. Let the person finish his point before giving yours.

28. “Memphis Bleek had one good line: ‘The strong move quiet, the weak start riots.’ Don’t be the guy who always needs attention on him or starts problems over small stuff.”—Mark Rooney, 31, salesman

27. Don’t talk down to coworkers, including subordinates. You may be above them in rank, but as a human being, you’re on a level playing field.

26. “Look for the people who will make your job easier. You can’t do everything yourself, so you’re going to need help. These people will be pivotal to your success. And always thank them and show your appreciation when they come through for you.”—Claveria “JoJo” Gumersindo, 36, quality management

25. Don’t be afraid to share the spotlight in your workplace. Rather than being self-centered, work together with somebody of equal ambition. You don’t always have to be in the front seat—the backseat is cool.

24. Don’t think because someone has money, he’s a good businessman; there are people with no money who are better.

23. “You don’t want to do anything and everything just for a buck. I’ve walked away from deals a number of times that I think were good deals, but I didn’t think they were good people.”—Grant Hill, 35, Phoenix Suns small forward

22. Learn more about food and where to eat it cheaply. Most cities have great ethnic food; you just have to go to a specific neighborhood to get it.

21. If you initiate a dinner date or meeting, then you should expect to pay. That works both ways.

20. At a restaurant, let women order food first, and stand up when a woman leaves the table.

19. Avoid unnecessary use of expletives in public, especially in the presence of a woman you’re trying to impress.

18. Unless your Fight Club membership is in danger of being revoked, walk away from altercations.

17. Always put your napkin in your lap at dinner. Stuffing it in your shirt is grounds for getting slapped.

16. Caveman behavior at the dinner table isn’t good. Use utensils, avoid chewing with your mouth open and don’t leave a messy plate.

15. When eating out, always tip more than 20 percent. Waiters live off of customers’ kindness. And you don’t want to make other people at your table reach into their pocket to cover your cheapness.

14. “Treat older women as if they were your own mother.”—C. Mathis

13. Always have a woman walk on the inside of the sidewalk and on the side of parked cars in a parking lot, basically using your body as a barrier from harm.

12. Sometimes the best movies are in the independent market. Documentaries are great educational sources, too.

11. If you’re trying to have a relationship, let the woman know. If you’re not, and you’re just trying to hit, let them know that, too.

10. Brush your teeth, gargle or have a breath mint before getting up close and personal.

9. If the opportunity presents itself on the first night, don’t pull a condom out of your wallet. She’ll get the impression that you’re premeditated and will be turned off.

8. Even if you’re having a one-night stand with a woman, be respectful. Jay-Z might brag about kicking women out five minutes after having sex with them, but he’s not having sex with your date—you are. Casual sex needn’t be disrespectful. In fact, it’s more fun when its not.

7. “Don’t fall asleep when you’re done. Just because you got yours doesn’t mean the night is over.”—JoJo

6. “If you’re not into oral, you better get into it. Not with every woman, of course, but someone you’re serious with.”—C. Mathis

5. “If you want her to be your devil, treat her like an angel.”—Gerrell Gaddis, 32, songwriter

4. Don’t ask about the last guy she was with; as in, “Was I better than he was?” Being competitive is a young man’s game.

3. Never forget to introduce your woman as your girlfriend, spouse or otherwise to people when you’re out at functions together.

2. Avoid public fights with your woman. Keep things private to let her know there’s an exclusive world that you and her share.

1. “Young guys should pump their brakes. Don’t have kids until you’re 30, and look at her family and background to know what you’re getting into.”—C. Mathis

CNN Finds Another Excuse to Report on Boobs

Hot Chicks and Wild Hair at Edgefest 2008


There were two things in abundance at Edgefest on Saturday, September 27: hot-looking women and wild-looking hairstyles. We’ve got pictures of both.

read more | digg story

Conservatives try to sabotage McCain's loss by asking Sarah to drop out


Sarah Palin, we are a better website because of you.




Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist for the National Review Online, is calling for Sarah Palin to drop out of the race.

"Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first."

Sarah, darling, don't listen to that nasty slut Kathleen Parker. She has an ulterior motive- she's trying to get McCain in the White House. I'm not.

Seriously, Sarah Heath Palin, I can't live without you. Like Paulson to Pelosi, I'm on my knees, begging you to be my partner in comedy until Nov 4th, when Barack Obama sends you and the entire GOP back to Wasilla with gift baskets of condoms and rape kits.

Every word that shoots from your sarcastic yet uninformed mouth is a gift from God. (Or a witch!) And Sarah, you head my favorite family since the Brady Bunch. The adorably miserable Bristol, soldier-boy Track and his coke habit, the Christchild Trig, Piper the licker and Willow, the mysterious one. Don't get me started on the Eskimo husband Todd who keeps puttin' it in ya after all these years. Do you know how many Palin stories we've done? 234. Whoops, this one-235. Never mind. The number rises quicker than the debt clock.

Just today, new video emerged of your swimsuit walk in the Miss Alaska competition. Yes, you were a runner up in Miss Alaska, and yes, you will lose Miss Vice-President, but 23/6 has a more impressive crown, Miss Internet Traffic.

Oh Dear God: Latest Palin/Couric interview clip released


Katie Couric interviews John McCain and Sarah Palin together on CBS news on 9/29/2008. September 29th 2008.

In a joint interview with John McCain, Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin responds to a report that she said the US should "absolutely launch cross border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan..." "to stop the terrorists from coming any further in." A view that McCain criticized Democratic nominee Barack Obama For during the first debate.

John McCain and Sarah Palin accuse Katie Couric of "gotcha journalism" even though the quote from Palin came while she was talking to a voter, not a reporter.

McCain Palin Couric joint interview 9/29/08.
Sarah Palin John McCain interview.

First Trailer to Will Smith New Movie Seven Pounds


Ben (Will Smith) is an IRS agent who is depressed and guilt-ridden about mistakes from his past. He sets out to make amends by helping seven strangers. When he meets Emily (Rosario Dawson), a beautiful woman with a heart condition, he falls in love with her, thereby complicating his plans. Woody Harrelson also appears as a blind pianist who befriends Ben.


Bill Murray Discusses Ghostbusters 3

The comedic giant Bill Murray is at Fantastic Fest this week, says Cinematical, and gave a tasty little dollop of gossip on all things movies -- including the movie of many rumors, Ghostbusters 3. Sounds like the old man is actually on board.

Does that mean I'm any happier about a couple of hacks from The Office penning the script? No. But it's interesting to hear Murray's insights on why Ghostbusters 2 wasn't as successful as it could have been. I've always been a big fan of the second film, though he points out the first focused on the characters and the comedy, whereas the second was all about cramming as many effects into the movie as possible.



The problem with the third won't be cramming in too many effects, it will be with having too many characters sharing screen time. At this point all the rumors have emphasized the original four Ghostbusters handing the business down to three or four new guys -- almost definitely to be hand-picked from Apatow's crew. What I still can't wrap my mind around is how Apatow and his henchmen have managed to get their hands all over this franchise. I mean, has anyone stopped to ask: What does Judd Apatow or Seth Rogen have to do with Ghostbusters? Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis's (the writers of the first two films) comedic sensibilities in no way shape or form resemble those of Apatow's.

Why aren't Aykroyd and Ramis penning the script? Are they too busy? Too many AARP meetings to chair? I mean, come on!

Rosh Hashanah: L'shanah tovah ("for a good year").


Rosh Hashanah

Level: Basic

Rosh Hashanah (in Hebrew)
...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game.

There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. More on this concept at Days of Awe.

The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.

Shofar: Click to hear it blow!The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. Click the shofar above to hear an approximation of the sound of Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance. The shofar is not blown if the holiday falls on Shabbat.

No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayerbook called the machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays.

Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. This was the second Jewish religious practice I was ever exposed to (the first one: lighting Chanukkah candles), and I highly recommend it. It's yummy. We also dip bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason.

Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh ("casting off"). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services. When the first day occurs on Shabbat, many synagogues observe Tashlikh on Sunday afternoon, to avoid carrying (the bread) on Shabbat.

Religious services for the holiday focus on the concept of G-d's sovereignty.

The common greeting at this time is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." More on that concept at Days of Awe.

You may notice that the Bible speaks of Rosh Hashanah as occurring on the first day of the seventh month. The first month of the Jewish calendar is Nissan, occurring in March and April. Why, then, does the Jewish "new year" occur in Tishri, the seventh month?

Judaism has several different "new years," a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American "new year" starts in January, but the new "school year" starts in September, and many businesses have "fiscal years" that start at various times of the year. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when we increase the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time).

See Extra Day of Jewish Holidays for an explanation of why this holiday is celebrated for two days instead of the one specified in the Bible.

List of Dates

Rosh Hashanah will occur on the following days of the Gregorian calendar:

  • Jewish Year 5768: sunset September 12, 2007 - nightfall September 14, 2007
  • Jewish Year 5769: sunset September 29, 2008 - nightfall October 1, 2008
  • Jewish Year 5770: sunset September 18, 2009 - nightfall September 20, 2009
  • Jewish Year 5771: sunset September 8, 2010 - nightfall September 10, 2010
  • Jewish Year 5772: sunset September 28, 2011 - nightfall September 30, 2011

For additional holiday dates, see Links to Jewish Calendars.


Avinu Malkeinu - Our Father Our King

sung by Barbara Streisand


An array of images representing Jewish, Muslim and Christian Prayer, Pointing to the idea that G-d is One and The Same for all of us...
---
Our Father Our King
Hear our prayer
We have sinned before Thee
Have compassion upon us and upon our children
Help us bring an end to pestilence, war, and famine
Cause all hate and oppression to vanish from the earth
Inscribe us for blessing in the Book Of Life
Let the new year be a good year for us

Avinu malkeinu sh'ma kolenu
Avinu malkeinu chatanu l'faneycha
Avinu malkeinu alkenu chamol aleynu
V'al olaleynu v'tapenu

Avinu malkeinu
Kaleh dever v'cherev v'raav mealeynu
Avinu malkeinu kalehchol tsar
Umastin mealeynu

Avinu malkeinu
Avinu malkeinu
Kotvenu b'sefer chayim tovim
Avinu malkeinu chadesh aleynu
Chadesh a leynu shanah tovah

Sh'ma kolenu
Sh'ma kolenu
Sh'ma kolenu

Avinu malkeinu

Avinu malkeinu
Chadesh a leynu

Shanah tovah

Avinu malkeinu
Sh'ma kolenu
Sh'ma kolenu
Sh'ma kolenu
Sh'ma kolenu

"Sung during Rosh Ha' Shanah (the Jewish New Year), "Avinu Malkeinu" ("Our Father, Our King") is a supplication to God to treat us with kindness and generosity, even when we haven't always lived up to His ideals for us. The melody I sing here is so beautiful, surely the hand of God touchedthe composer." Barbara Streisand

Music: Traditional

Another Sneak Image of Lamborghini's rumored 4 Door


Following a series of images consisting of exhaust pipes, taillights, and a front fender, the folks in Sant'Agata Bolognese want you to see this: a headlight. Although the tight shot offers little to the untrained eye, it does provide a few clues.

First, any doubts that this isn't a front-engined car can be erased, thanks in part to that large air vent just behind the headlamp. Second, the headlamp's shape is drastically different than those used on both the Gallardo and the Murciélago. It's squat shape recalls lamps used on the original Lamborghini 350 GT, which was also a front-engine car. Coincidence? We think not.

There's still plenty of mystery surrounding the car. Some suggest it will be a full-fledged four-door sedan, while other sources imply it'll borrow the Espada's layout, that of a four-passenger, two-door touring car.

We still aren't even sure what to call it. Urus? Estoque? Espada? The rumor mill continues to turn, but we'll know for certain in just a few days. Stay tuned to Automobile Magazine for breaking news on the latest Lamborghini.

Stogie Guys Review: Bolivar Royal Corona (Cuban)

Call it quality or call it hype, but I’m never surprised when I see Cubans rated highly in mainstream cigar publications. I think the greater stogie community, however, was caught off guard when a Bolivar—not considered one of Habanos SA’s flagship brands—was named Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado in 2006.

The four and 7/8 inch by 50 ring gauge Royal Corona earned that title, along with a rating of 94, for its “sophisticated flavor bomb of smoke with an array of rich character, including touches of chocolate, coffee, and leather.” You can watch Gordon Mott and James Suckling of CA profess their admiration in this video.

Produced at the H. Upmann factory in relatively limited quantities (only 300,000 were made in 2006), this cigar has been hailed as symbolic of Cuba’s return to glory and reminiscent of Habanos from the golden ’80s and ’90s. Textured, clean, and firm, a slight box press and a beautifully adhered flat cap add to its character and mystique.

I’ve had the good fortune to smoke six Royal Coronas over the past few months, and I’m happy to report all the accolades and rave reviews are well deserved. This is simply one of the most satisfying cigars around, and the price—about $10 for a single or $215 for a box of 25—is very fair for the tremendous, full-bodied experience.

If the radiant prelight aromas of nuts and milk chocolate don’t make you salivate, toasting the foot certainly will. From there, you’ll find a dry, woody spice with hints of cocoa sweetness. Other tastes also pop in and out, including leather, coffee, and plenty of floral notes.

Aside from being extremely well-balanced and complex, this exquisite smoke doesn’t fall into the same construction traps with which many of its Cuban cousins grapple. The ash holds well, the draw is clear and deliberate, and the burn, albeit imperfect, self-corrects its own missteps. Expect the slow smoke time to be closer to a toro than a robusto.

Awards and ratings aside, this is the sort of creation that makes me proud to be a cigar enthusiast. I’m simply infatuated with the Bolivar Royal Corona, and I have no qualms about adding a rating of five out of five stogies to its growing trophy case.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

-Patrick A

Beware of Easy to Make Nukes

By Mark Anderson Email 09.22.08
Portrait: Mario Hugo

In the past, malefactors seeking to enrich uranium to bomb-grade quality needed either a highly conspicuous industrial plant or specialized equipment that was hard to obtain and relatively easy to monitor. But there's a new method on the horizon, and it's potentially far easier to hide.

For the past four years, Charles Ferguson has been tracking the progress of a technology known as laser isotope separation. Still experimental, it requires only a warehouse-sized space and the kind of lasers within reach of a high school science geek. "The A. Q. Khan network is old-school," Ferguson says, referring to the Pakistani scientist who sold bomb secrets to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. "The next Khan network could use this new technique."

WMD experts often overlook laser enrichment because it's not yet productive enough for industrial use. That's a serious mistake. In 2002, dissidents exposed laser experiments in Iran; at least a dozen other countries are known to have dabbled in the technique.

Bottom line: The US needs to develop its own small-scale laser-enrichment operations, which it could study to learn more about the telltale signs of illicit setups. For example, key equipment used for the faux projects could then be flagged for additional monitoring. If authorities can learn to track these small-scale operations, they have a decent chance of bringing the clandestine potential of laser uranium enrichment in from the cold.

Bomb Factories

Uranium enrichment facilities are getting smaller—and easier to hide.

Gaseous Diffusion
This Cold War-era method of enriching uranium is expensive and difficult to conceal. It consumes large amounts of energy (which can be monitored easily) and requires industrial facilities of several acres, almost always conspicuous in satellite imagery. Gas Centrifuge Separation
This process takes less space and energy than diffusion but poses other inconveniences to would-be proliferators. Few manufacturers are capable of producing the necessary precision-tooled centrifuges, a fact that makes equipment easier to track. Laser Isotope Separation
Off-the-shelf technology can be used to run this emerging enrichment method. It takes relatively little space and consumes virtually untraceable amounts of energy, so a secret laser separation facility can operate in an unassuming warehouse.

Charles Ferguson is Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tech Stocks to Keep Tanking

Chismillionaire disagrees with this article and feels Tech and Healthcare will be the best performing sectors in the next 3 year period. While the returns may not be great, they will outperform the market as a whole.


Google, Apple, Microsoft and other tech stocks will likely continue to slide until a bailout package gets passed, which won't likely happen until the House reconvenes on Thursday. Meanwhile, some Wall Street analysts think this is a buying opportunity for anyone who can wait for stocks to bottom out. But it could be tricky.

"Nobody will buy any [stocks] right now because there's a huge uncertainty. People are liquidating their positions. It's just brutal, and it will continue to be brutal until some kind of bailout package gets agreed upon," says Jeffrey Lindsay, an internet investment analyst with Bernstein Research. "But we aren't going to have a shantytown in Central Park again. It won't be like the 30s."

AppleTech analysts and venture capitalists were optimistic that Silicon Valley would escape the financial crisis unscathed, but Monday's bloody trading session paints a different picture. Shares of some of the biggest tech companies -- including IBM and Oracle -- got knocked in the cross-fire, after the House rejected a bailout package and the stock market tanked.

Still, Lindsay thinks there could be some buying opportunities for brave investors who aren't risk averse.

"There's going to be a bull market when this is over," he says. "We said Google would be a good buy if it broke $400. We don't think it will stay below $400 for very long."

That goes for other internet stocks, too.

"If this continues for a couple more days, and Yahoo falls below $15 per share, shares could be very cheap. We think eBay's extremely cheap, too," says Lindsay.

Investors might want to wait before buying Apple, though, which is grappling with its own problems. Apple opened low on Monday after a pair of analysts said the company could get hit by sluggish PC sales and slowing consumer spending. It was particularly disconcerting news ahead of the fourth quarter, which is usually Apple's strongest, thanks to holiday sales.

"People are putting the breaks on spending on everything," says Trip Chowdry, a Global Equities Research analyst. "Until oil prices are fixed, there is no way I could say Apple is a good buy. When oil returns to 2003 levels -- or $25 per barrel -- then I think Apple will be a good investment. Until that happens, I think the stock could hit $50 or $60 per share."

UPDATE: The post now includes Trip Chowdry's title information.

Private Rockets could Boost Military too

Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies just put the first privately developed rocket into orbit. That's not only a breakthrough for the space community. It has huge military consequences, too -- if the company can turn the one-time launch into a regular event.

The U.S. military relies on satellites to spy on enemies, relay orders and guide unmanned planes. But putting a satellite into orbit is an enormously expensive undertaking. "Humanity has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on space exploration in the past half century, and the numbers have not changed: about $10,000 a pound to put something in low Earth orbit," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity, when speaking with Wired's Carl Hoffman. Only a few, government-backed companies offer these Maybach-priced services. Which means every aspect of the satellite business happens at a slow crawl. Satellites are built, oh-so-deliberately, to have zero defects -- and then take forever to replace, once the inevitable errors happen.

For decades, the military has tried to break this bind of inflated costs and limited suppliers. The Pentagon would rather send up satellites in a hurry, and cheaply -- kind of like how airplanes are flown today.

"For as long as I've been in this game -- 20 years -- the military [has] said they're going to cut launch costs in half," says Theresa Hitchens, who looks at space issues for the Center for Defense Information. "It's never happened."

Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, is promising to cut that $10,000-per-pound price in half. No wonder the Air Force has committed more than $100 million to the company, founded by PayPal's Elon Musk. Darpa has made major investments, as well. "The military now has a stick to poke and prod the traditional big launch providers (Boeing and Lockheed Martin) into actually being competitive and saving the taxpayer money instead of just sucking off the government teat," former Air Force space officer Brian Weeden tells Danger Room.

But that stick only gets sharp if SpaceX can pull off the launch trick more than once. The company's first three efforts were disasters. And there's no guarantee the next three won't be disasters, too. "Musk will need 20 or so launches before he knows how reliable his technology is -- and how much it really costs," Hoffman wrote. And even if Musk can get these relatively-simple, relatively-small Falcon 1 rocket launches together, the real test will be whether the heavier, farther-reaching Falcon 9s will work out as planned.

It's not just American launch costs that could go down. The next SpaceX rocket is supposed to carry a Malaysian reconaissance satellite into orbit. "This could be the beginning of a general diffusion of on-orbit capability of all sorts and a loss of U.S. ability to call the shots in space," says long time satellite-watcher (and former CIA officer) Allen Thomson.

The kind of satellites could change, as well. Some in the Defense Department -- especially within Darpa -- have been pushing for a shift, "relying on large, expensive, orbiting ducks to larger distributed constellations of microsatellites," Weeden notes. Think of it as the IBM mainframe to Google server cluster evolution of computing."

This gives you is multiple advantages. First, you no longer care about China's (or anyone else's) kinetic kill ASAT [anti-satellite] capability. If you have a couple hundred nodes in your satellite system and they take out a handful, who cares? Properly designed, the system is protected against outages and just routes around them. Second, such a system means you need to launch lots of small satellites into orbit meaning you can take advantage of new, cheaper vehicles like Falcon. Third, you can launch your constellations incrementally in phases and upgrade to new generations of satellites with each increment, as long as the mesh in with the older satellites, instead of waiting 20 years.

Pike isn't sure the space game is really about to change all that much, however. Anti-satellite weapons will still be much cheaper send up than satellites. "It continues to be the case that the ASAT does not have to achieve much more than half orbital velocity, and the ASAT kill vehicle can be a small fraction the size of the satellite," he tells Danger Room. "So the cost of the satellite is on the order of 100 times the cost of killing the satellite -- a factor of two change in launch costs does not alter this. And if the satellite operator can achieve such reductions, then in principle so can the ASAT shooter."

WSJ's Top 10 Executive MBA Programs

Executive M.B.A. programs make a big promise: They'll turn up-and-coming managers into full-fledged leaders, showing them how to think strategically, inspire their staff and expand the business.

So, which schools do the best job of delivering on that bold talk? That's what we set out to measure in The Wall Street Journal's first survey of executive M.B.A. programs.

  • PODCAST: Hear more about unorthodox teaching tactics used by executive M.B.A. programs, as improvisation guru Bob Kulhan talks with The Journal's Emily Glazer.

The Journal Report

[The Journal Report: Executive M.B.A. Rankings]

Working with Management Research Group and Critical Insights, we asked thousands of students and hundreds of companies to rank executive M.B.A. programs in a host of categories, with a focus on how well they develop management and leadership skills. The result is a ranking of 25 schools world-wide that takes into account the rigor needed to build tomorrow's corporate leaders and C-suite executives.

Topping the list: Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, which ranked No. 1, and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, which came in No. 2. The two schools have among the largest E.M.B.A. programs, with 406 students currently enrolled in Wharton's two programs and 843 candidates in the seven Kellogg programs, including three international partnerships and a satellite campus in Miami.

What set Kellogg and Wharton apart? The schools got high marks from companies -- nearly double those of their nearest competitors -- which gave them a clear lead overall. And those stellar grades far outpaced their lower marks from students.

Kellogg and Wharton were ranked at the top more often by companies by a wide margin over their competitors. What's more, corporate scores varied the most in our surveys, with the leaders outpacing the middle of the pack, and the middle schools leaving the laggards far behind. That variation and wide lead shifted the overall rank in favor of Kellogg and Wharton.

[Executive M.B.A. Rankings] Sally Ryan for The Wall Street Journal

In contrast, student survey scores showed less variation. Kellogg, for example, which ranked No. 15 in the student survey, had a score much closer to that of the leading schools. In a few cases, like that of the No. 1 school in the student ranking, the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, a school's student score was strong enough that the school made the top five.

In all, we surveyed 4,060 students and recent grads from 72 executive M.B.A. programs at 53 business schools in nine countries on how well their program enhanced leadership and management skills; 62% responded.

We also surveyed 455 human-resources and executive-development managers at companies across 23 industries, on the value of the education provided by E.M.B.A. programs. More than 200 officials completed the survey, for a response rate of 44%.

Last, we looked at how well the programs met employers' and graduates' expectations when it came to enhancing their management acumen. We measured what employers wanted out of the programs -- largely, improved management and leadership skills such as managing change and strategic thinking. Then we asked students how well their programs delivered those skills, and weighted their responses to arrive at a final score.

In all cases, survey questions were developed and survey results analyzed in collaboration with Management Research Group, Portland, Maine. To calculate the final ranking, the corporate and student ratings were each given 40% weight, and the skills rating 20%. (For more information on the methodology, please see "How the Rankings Were Compiled.")

Wharton was No. 1 with companies and received top marks from students for its curriculum. The program "allows a platform so you can step up to the next level, start implementing [the tools used in the program] and be a well-rounded manager beyond your specific area of expertise," says Wharton grad Will Tilton, director of global product supply for Shire Pharmaceuticals in Chesterbrook, Pa.

Kellogg came in a close second with companies and received high marks from students for its curriculum and program features. Kristen Dickey, human-resources director of Chicago-based Orbitz Worldwide Inc., says the program's focus on interactive marketing makes it especially attractive to e-commerce companies like Orbitz: "It's a unique feature that we benefit from." The company sponsors several Kellogg E.M.B.A. students.

Rounding out the top 5: the Thunderbird School of Global Management, at No. 3, lauded by students for its global-business focus; the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, at No. 4; and the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, at No. 5.

UNC, Thunderbird and USC also led the student rankings, getting high marks for program quality, leadership education, faculty quality and program support. USC, UNC and Emory University's Goizueta Business School were top rated in the management and leadership skills ranking.

[Executive M.B.A. Rankings]

Four international schools made the overall list: ESADE and IESE, both of Spain; IPADE, which runs executive M.B.A. programs in Mexico; and the University of Western Ontario in Canada. London Business School's joint program with Columbia University's Business School also earned a spot in the top 25.

Eyes on the Prize

The survey also provided a window into students' thinking about the programs: what drives them to pursue executive M.B.A.s, what they get out of them -- and how they choose a program in the first place.

Students said E.M.B.A.s are a way to develop leadership skills without losing more than a few days a month in the office. (Unlike traditional M.B.A.s, these programs are usually held every other weekend and often involve distance learning.) And students can take the methods they learn in class and use them immediately to tackle real-world business problems.

One survey respondent summed it up neatly: "Learn on Friday and Saturday, apply on Monday."

When it comes to choosing a program, the top factor was the school's reputation (noted by 51% of students in the survey). Take the case of one survey respondent who earned an executive M.B.A. from Kellogg. The school "has a significant reputation in marketing and branding," wrote the student, who said he needed that credibility to move into a different job at work.

Since graduating, he added, "I've been short-listed for a couple of very good international opportunities."

Some schools have excelled by creating a reputation around other specialties. Frank Wilson, director of finance for the Chicago Police Department, chose Thunderbird because of its focus on international markets. Before applying, the 46-year-old emailed a Thunderbird professor about how much the program would teach him about doing business in Brazil. Mr. Wilson has traveled there and hopes to work in Latin America one day.

The professor replied within a day, pointing out a course that covers the region. Mr. Wilson says he would have had to attend a European school to get the same international-management exposure he found at Thunderbird.

Faculty, of course, make up a huge part of a school's reputation -- and weigh heavily on students' decision-making. In the survey, 78% of students said they considered their school because of its distinguished faculty. Indeed, as schools compete for students, they often bend over backward to secure their best faculty for executive M.B.A. programs.

[Executive M.B.A. Rankings] Jessica Kourkounis for The Wall Street Journal

Students inside of Jon M. Huntsman Hall at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia on September 15, 2008.

At Columbia Business School, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz co-teaches a weeklong elective course on globalization. At New York University's Stern School of Business, Edward Altman, known for developing the Z-score formula for predicting bankruptcy, has taught executive M.B.A. students for many years.

Students rated Thunderbird, UNC, Emory, the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and Cornell University's Johnson School as the top five for faculty. For John Burdett, an Emory graduate, the little things made the biggest difference. "Professors had the ability to get information down to our level and explain things in a simple manner," says Mr. Burdett, chief operating officer at TicketBiscuit LLC, an event-management and ticket-sales company in Birmingham, Ala. "That, for me, is an extreme talent."

Surprisingly, respondents said cost and location were relatively unimportant when it came to picking a program. And that was true whether or not their company helped pay the bill. Nearly 34% of students said they paid their own way, which can range from $65,000 to $160,000 for tuition alone. (The median out-of-pocket cost survey respondents reported was $45,000.) About 30% of respondents said their employers paid the entire bill, while 13% said their companies paid between 51% and 99% of the cost.

Meanwhile, many students traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to attend class. While about 64% of students traveled less than 50 miles one way to attend these programs, 7% commuted up to 200 miles and nearly 9% trekked more than 1,000 miles one way.

So, what did the programs deliver? Many midcareer professionals said the degree is a genuine career booster that led to a larger role in their organizations and helped them move into management. Overall, 24% of those surveyed say they have been given both a raise and promotion since they started classes, while 30% expect both in the next year.

[Executive M.B.A. Rankings]
A Rapid Payoff

Companies, meanwhile, liked programs that delivered a quick return on investment -- employees who were able to apply what they had learned immediately.

Behind Wharton and Kellogg, companies surveyed ranked the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business as the top program in overall quality, followed by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and the University of Michigan's Ross School. The companies said schools are doing a better job all around at helping to hone general management and leadership skills among employees who attend. Nearly half said the programs have improved in the past five years. Some 26% said they expect to see those skills put to use immediately, and another 26% expect so within a year of graduation.

Said one employer, who echoes the sentiment of many who answered the survey: "The experience immediately improves critical decision-making skills, general business acumen and increases confidence."

The survey also showed that companies are seizing on E.M.B.A. education to motivate employees, build bench strength and hold on to talent. Overall, 64% of human-resource-development managers who responded to the survey regard E.M.B.A. programs as a talent-retention tool. And 55% called the degree a critical business investment.

Take the executive M.B.A. fellowship program at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The company funds the degree for about eight employees a year, which helps those on the executive track feel rewarded, says Carol Pledger, a managing director at Goldman Sachs. "It broadens the leadership and business skills of our people," she says.

What's more, employers say the newly minted grads who have been sponsored have a sense of gratitude to the company and are more likely to stay. Allstate Insurance Co. found that workers with new degrees performed "about 20% better and are 80% less likely to leave the company," says Marsha Love Morrow, Allstate's director of leadership and performance capacity. The Northbrook, Ill., insurer covers as much as 100% of employees' executive M.B.A. costs.

Of course, since the programs carry hefty price tags and require time away from the job, companies typically sponsor only their best performers -- and many companies simply don't sponsor any.

[Executive M.B.A. Rankings] J. Emilio Flores For The Wall Street Journal

Students enter Popovich Hall where classes are held at Marshall School of Business.

Room for Improvement

The student and corporate surveys also showed that schools have a ways to go in several areas. A few companies complained that some programs taught students to solve business problems like academic exercises. One respondent said executive M.B.A. students are "more likely to try to run a project along the lines of some classroom exercise...without regards to practicality in our company."

Some students, meanwhile, had issues with technology. Many schools conduct classroom sessions, team meetings and project work via distance technology such as videoconferencing, but some students say the technology doesn't always work well or enhance the education. Similarly, few schools scored well with students when it came to teaching executives how to manage remotely or virtually -- increasingly a requirement in a global business environment.

Then there's flexibility -- a big issue that many schools have tried in vain to address. Most programs schedule classes every other weekend, and a few offer weeklong sessions spread over about two years, with distance learning in between.

And, regardless of schedule, graduates say they spent a big chunk of their time studying and preparing for class; indeed, 38% spent more than 15 hours a week on class assignments. Course work was definitely an issue for Steven Zell, senior vice president, director of operations and marketing at Valueworks LLC, a Manhattan-based investment-management company.

"It's safe to say that I haven't seen some of my friends in two years," says Mr. Zell, who earned his executive M.B.A. at NYU's Stern School.

—Mr. Srivastava is a former Wall Street Journal staff reporter. He can be reached at reports@wsj.com. Alina Dizik, Emily Glazer and Jennifer Merritt contributed to this article.

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