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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Big Fish: A-Rod reels in more than entire Florida Marlins roster

By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK (AP)—Alex Rodriguez makes more this year than his hometown Florida Marlins.

Boosted by his new deal with the New York Yankees, A-Rod tops the major league baseball salary list at $28 million, according to a study of contract terms by The Associated Press. The 33 players on the Marlins’ opening-day roster and disabled list total $21.8 million.

“The Marlins? It’s amazing,” Rodriguez said. “And they still seem to find a way to be very competitive. They have a great pool of talent; they made some unbelievable trades, so they have great personnel people. To win two championships in 11 years, that’s really admirable, and I’m very proud of that organization, being from Miami.”

For the first time in baseball history, the average salary topped the $3 million mark. The 855 players on opening-day rosters and the DL averaged $3.15 million, up 7.1 percent from last year’s starting average of $2.94 million.

Florida’s highest earner doesn’t even make the average. Pitcher Kevin Gregg tops the Marlins at $2.5 million.

“My best friend came into town, and he mentioned something about Johan Santana making $15 million more than our five starters combined,” Marlins catcher Matt Treanor said. “It’s something to laugh at, but at the same time, it is what it is. Those guys put on the uniform like us. When it comes time to start the game, it doesn’t matter how much money the Yankees or whoever make.”

Treanor’s friend was exaggerating a bit—Santana makes $12 million more than Florida’s rotation. Still, the Marlins’ payroll was less than half that of the No. 29 team, Tampa Bay ($43.8 million).

“They’ve won a championship more recently than we have as an organization. So there’s many different ways to skin a cat,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, whose team lost to Florida in the 2003 World Series. “Alex earned that contract in the negotiation. Right now, the Marlins are in a different place. But they’ve got a stadium coming on board and they’re going in the right direction, and I think they’ve already proven they know how to build something.”

The Yankees, not surprisingly, topped the payroll list at $209.1 million, and A-Rod was No. 1 in the majors for the eighth straight year. New York first baseman Jason Giambi was second at $23.4 million, followed by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter ($21.6 million) and Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez ($18.9 million).

Boosted by the acquisition of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, Detroit shot up to second in the major leagues at $138.7 million. The Tigers’ payroll at the end of last season was 12th at $98.5 million.

“This isn’t one of those teams, ‘I can’t believe we didn’t pick up this player, or this guy.’ We’ve got no excuses,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s all about us, because the main man has done everything and more that you could ask.”

The New York Mets were third at $138.3 million, up from $121 million at the end of 2007, and the World Series champion Boston Red Sox were fourth at $133.4 million.

Bunched together after that were the Chicago White Sox ($121.2 million), Los Angeles Angels ($119.2 million), Chicago Cubs ($118.6 million), Los Angeles Dodgers ($118.5 million) and Seattle Mariners ($118 million).

Although the average increased, the median salary—the point at which an equal amount of players fall above and below—remained at a record $1 million for the third straight opening day.

There were a record 434 making $1 million or more, breaking the record set in 2001 and matched last year. And there was a big boost at the top with 85 players reaching $10 million—up from 66 last year.

Payroll figures don’t include cash transactions between clubs. Figures included salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income, and for some players, deferred money was discounted to present-day value.

The average salary usually declines during the season as veterans get released and are replaced by young players. The final 2007 average, as calculated by the players’ association, was $2.82 million.

AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick in New York, and AP Sports Writers Larry Lage in Detroit and Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

Legend of Zelda Movie Trailer Debut (HD)

can watch it fullscreen here

Giant Squid Plastinated

Anybody that has seen, or even just heard about, the "Body Worlds" exhibit recently featured at the Museum of Science should be familiar with "plastination" - in a nutshell, it involves replacing all the bodily fluids of a living creature with a polymer, thus retaining the "living" look of the specimen.

Seeing this story now makes me realize that this is the future of animal display in our museums and I, for one, am all for it!

Bring on the creepy, life like, cadavers!

More on the giant squid above (measuring a mere 21 feet in length) here.

Latest Blu-Ray Encryption Cracked

Is anybody surprised? Really? If you are, well, you shouldn't be. When will the industry learn? The worst part is that the costs incurred by the major studios coming up with these "unbreakable" security measures are inevitably passed on to the consumer. Way to win customer loyalty boys! Looks like I can start downloading my newly released Blu-Ray titles off of my favorite Bittorrent sites soon.

Read the article, along with details outlining why cracking future DRM "updates" will be even easier here.

Complete List of Known Dark Knight Viral Websites

Below is a list of websites that have been linked to a viral web campaign for Batman: The Dark Knight. Quite an interesting mix. Check them out.

read more | digg story

Czechs support Israel joining NATO

The Czech Republic favors Israel joining NATO in the face of Iran's continued race towards nuclear power, Czech Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanová told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova arrives in Israel for talks with Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Photo: IDF

In Israel for a three-day visit to include talks with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Parkanová said in an exclusive interview that Iran was a "rogue state" whose nuclear program was taken "very seriously" by the government in Prague, which would be willing to support Israel, if necessary, with all its available "forces and capabilities."

On Monday, Parkanová met with Barak for an hour-and-a-half at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, where she was met by an IDF honor guard led by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. On Sunday night, she opened an exhibition at the Israel Air Force Center in Herzliya commemorating Czechoslovakian military assistance to Israel upon the establishment of the state 60 years ago .

During her meetings at the Defense Ministry, Parkanová - who has been to Israel three times in the past - spoke with Barak about regional issues such as Iran, as well as the enhancement of defense cooperation between the countries and the possible procurement of Israeli-made defense systems. The two also shared sensitive intelligence information on a number of regional topics.

Concerning Iran, Parkanová said that the current government in Prague was in favor of Israel joining NATO. The Czech Republic is a member of NATO.

"I am in a position to speak on behalf of the current government, and not all of NATO, and we are in favor," she said, while adding that there were countries from the Western military alliance that opposed Israeli membership.

"We would need to talk about conditions for this," she said. "On the one hand, there is the assessment that Israel has a successful military, but there are also other foreign policy and diplomatic considerations."

Parkanová said that the controversial US missile defense system - the radar of which would be stationed in the Czech Republic - joined Israel's Arrow missile defense system in having the potential to deter rogue states like Iran from pursuing nuclear capabilities.

While the planned US system would not be capable of intercepting missiles fired at Israel, its deployment would, she said, send a strong to Teheran. The proposed US missile defense system calls for putting a radar base in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. US officials say the system is necessary to protect against possible attacks from Iran.

Russia opposes the US plan to build parts of its global missile defense system so close to Russian borders, saying that would undermine the Russian deterrent and could trigger a new arms race.

Parkanová said that while there was wide opposition to the deployment of the US radar station on Czech soil, the government believed that as a member of NATO it needed to ensure the security of Europe. She also said that Czech policy would not be dictated by Russia.

"When the system is operational it may devalue missile technology in additional countries and deter them from investing in this offensive capability," she said.

How to Order a Beer in Fifty Languages

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza." --Dave Barry

If there's one universal constant in human society, it has to be alcohol. Rare indeed is the culture that hasn't worked out the tricksy process of fermenting and/or distilling some type of vegetable matter -- be it malted barley, potatoes, honey or grape juice -- into a brew containing a significant percentage, as the dictionary puts it, of an "organic compound in which a hydroxyl group is bound to a carbon atom of an alkyl or substituted alkyl group." In other words, booze.

Among the mildest and most variable of these alcoholic beverages is that fine elixir known as beer. A true beer connoisseur would never pass up an opportunity to try the local brew, no matter where on Earth where they found themselves, and so it behooves the serious beerologist to know how to order a beer in as many languages as possible. That's why we've taken it upon ourselves to provide you with a handy guide on how to order a beer in 50 different languages. Where the pronunciation isn't obvious, or in which the term is normally written in non-Roman characters, we've rendered it phonetically. Cheers!

One beer, please!

Afrikaans A beer, ah-suh-bleef!
American Brewski here, please!
Arabic Waheed beera, meen fadleek!
Basque Garagardo bat, mesedez!
Belarusian Ad-no pee-vah ka-lee lah-ska!

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer." -- Frank Zappa

Bengali Eka handoiya, doya koray!
Bulgarian Edna beerra, molya!
Catalan Una cervesa, si us plau!
Cheyenne Nok hee-sevo-tamah-peh, mas-eh-met-ah-no!
Chinese Ching gay woh ee bay pee joh!

"Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink, I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, 'It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.'" -- Jack Handy

Czech Pee-vo, pro-seem!
Danish Yay vil geh-neh heh en url!
Dutch Un beer, ahls-yer-bleeft!
Egyptian (Ancient) Wekha henqet!
Esperanto Unu bieron, mi petas!

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer." -- Abraham Lincoln

Estonian Ooks ur-loo, pah-lun!
Finnish O-loot moolek kee-tos!
French Une bière, s'il vous plait!
German Ein Bier, bitte!
Greek Mee-a beer-a paraka-loh!

"Remember: I before E, except in Budweiser." -- Anonymous

Hawaiian 'Ekahi pia, ho'olu!
Hindi Eka biyara, krupaya!
Hungarian Edj pohar shurt kayrek!
Icelandic Ay-dn byohr, tahk!
Interlingua On bira, per favor!

"He was a wise man who invented beer." -- Plato

Irish Byohr awoyn, lyeh doh hull!
Italian Una birra, per favore!
Japanese Bee-ru ip-pon, ku-da-sai!
Korean Mayk-joo hahn-jahn, joo-se-yoh!
Kurdish Dan min yek bire!

"Give me a woman who loves beer, and I will conquer the world." -- Kaiser Wilhelm

Lakota (Sioux) Wan-jee m'nee-pee-gah, ee-yo-kee-pee!
Latin Cervisiam, sodes!
Lithuanian Pra-shau vie-na, al-lows!
Norwegian Ehn url, tahk!
Old English An beor, nu!

"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?" -- Stephen Wright

Pig Latin One-ay eer-bay, ease-play!
Polish Yed-no peev, proshe!
Portuguese Uma cerveja, por favor!
Romanian Oh beh-reh ver rohg!

We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards. Strong beer is the milk of the old. -- Martin Luther

Scots Gaelic Lyawn, mahs eh doh hawl eh!
Serbo/ Croatian Yed-no pee-vo, mo-lim!
Slovene Eno pee-vo, pro-seem!
Spanish Una cerveza, por favor!
Swahili Moja pombe, tafadhali!

"I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety." -- Shakespeare, Henry V

Swedish Ehn irl, tahk!
Twi Mah-me bee-ye bah-ko, mee pow-che-oo!
Turkish Beer beer-ah, luht-fen!
Welsh Koo-roh ohs gwel-ookh-un-thah!
Yiddish A beer, zeit a-zoy goot!

"Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer." -- Dave Barry

Unlocking Stonehenge's secrets

By Emma Parkins
BBC Timewatch

Stonehenge (BBC)
Stonehenge is a breathtaking piece of engineering

Stonehenge is a British wonder of the ancient world - it's also as familiar a part of our landscape as the White Cliffs of Dover.

It's such an iconic sight, we tend to forget that two fundamental questions remain - when was it built and what was it for?

For hundreds of years, these questions have intrigued and frustrated antiquarians and visitors alike.

We believe that this dig has a chance of genuinely unlocking part of the mystery of Stonehenge
Dr Simon Thurley, English Heritage

Remarkably, in the next fortnight, we might just have the beginning of some answers.

On Monday, the first excavation to take place at Stonehenge in nearly half a century will start.

For Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, this is a truly unique moment: "Very occasionally, we have the opportunity to find out something new archeologically - we are at that moment now.

"We believe that this dig has a chance of genuinely unlocking part of the mystery of Stonehenge."

Irresistible questions

The men behind this historic event are Professor Geoff Wainwright and Professor Tim Darvill.

Between them they have undertaken hundreds of excavations, but nothing so far has compared to this.

Geoff Wainwright and Tim Darvill (BBC)
Wainwright and Darvill standing in front of one of the smaller bluestones

"I'd regard it as the summit of my professional career," said Professor Wainwright

"To do an excavation at Stonehenge is very special indeed."

It certainly is. So why are the professors being allowed to dig a hole in this most hallowed of spots?

Stonehenge is a breathtaking piece of engineering, created with only the most basic technology. Most visitors find themselves joining in the eternal speculation about what might have driven our ancestors to build it.

To many, it makes sense to see Stonehenge as a temple to the Sun, built by a farming population for whom light and heat were vital for survival.

Key dates

Recently, Professor Mike Parker Pearson offered a dramatically different view - his work at the nearby Neolithic settlement of Durrington Walls has led him to believe that Stonehenge was a place not of life but of death - an opportunity for people to commune with the spirits of their ancestors.

Certainly, Stonehenge must have been a site of great importance for over a thousand years.

But in many ways, it's premature to wonder why it was built before we can answer the question "when?".

Perhaps surprisingly, the stone circle didn't begin with the great sarsen stones, but with the smaller Welsh bluestones - and it's the remains of the original bluestone structure that Darvill and Wainwright hope to date.

This will do much more than help us understand Stonehenge; it will shed light on a mysterious period of British pre-history.

"This excavation will give us a crucial date in the complex chronology of the monument that will allow us to relate more precisely what's happening here to what's happening in the rest of pre-historic Britain," said Dr Thurley.

"It asks important questions about Stonehenge and meets the clear aims of our research framework."

Timewatch animation revealing the history of Stonehenge

Important though dating Stonehenge is, it's not the only thing on Darvill's and Wainwright's minds. Like most students of Stonehenge, they have developed their own theory as to why it was built.

They believe that it wasn't just chance that brought the bluestones to Stonehenge first, but power - to them it's the bluestones that made Stonehenge the greatest henge of them all.

Over the last six years, the professors have concentrated their research on Carn Menyn - a lonely and atmospheric spot in Pembrokeshire's Preseli hills. It's from here that the bluestones began their 200-mile journey, 4,500 years ago.

The journey to Stonehenge was such an extraordinary feat, archaeologists still can't agree on how it was done. What seems certain is that something very powerful must have driven it.

In this part of Wales, the healing power of the bluestones is the stuff of myth and legend.

Darvill and Wainwright have discovered extraordinary similarities between the local Bedd Arthur bluestone circle, and the circle at Stonehenge.

This, combined with growing evidence of illness and injury from human remains unearthed around Stonehenge, has led the team to a fascinating new theory.

The BBC's Jon Kay talks to Geoff Wainwright about the dig

The researchers believe that the bluestones were healing stones, and that they were transported to Stonehenge because people believed they had a magical ability to cure.

Once they arrived, Stonehenge was transformed from a local henge to a centre of power and influence - a "Neolithic Lourdes" - drawing in the sick and injured from around Britain and beyond.

It remains to be seen if this theory can help unlock the secret of Stonehenge, but the professors hope this excavation will help them test it.

As a Welshman, Geoff Wainwright is glad to see his native bluestones come out from the shadow of their English sarsen neighbours.

As to the excavation, both he and Tim Darvill are keeping an open mind.

As Professor Darvill says: "I think that we really are stepping into the unknown - we don't know what we will find down there, because it's such a long time since anyone had a look."

BBC Timewatch will follow the progress of the Stonehenge dig over the course of the next two weeks. Catch daily text and video reports on the programme's website. A BBC Two documentary will be broadcast in the autumn and will detail the findings of the investigation

Red Card

Red Card for macdaddy: I know its April Fool's Day, I know everyone loves Rick Astley. But, Van Damme will never Die:

Van Damme give Macdaddy a Bitch Slap!!

Drip Drip

The Cure - 10.15 Saterday Night



For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave.
- Pink Floyd

The elements of sound are waves. Sound is caused by areas of high and low pressure propagating from the source. These differences in pressure ebb and flow through the air as a wave through water. This is one example of why air is considered a fluid. We measure these differences in pressure in wavelengths. The frequency of wavelengths indicates how high or low a sound will be.

Creating music, then, is simply interacting with waves. Listening to music is the act of allowing these waves take you wherever they may lead.

Musicians are surfers, and surfers musicians. They both love deeply the same damp nature of reality.

Amy Winehouse Performance Powered by Urine?


If you appreciate irony, as I’m sure you do, then you’ll understand there’s something quite beautiful about the fact that Amy Winehouse will shortly be securing a $700,000 deal to sing at the opening of a nightclub in Rotterdam, Holland.

Irony, yes, because the club will be powered by widdle and Amy’s career is going down the pan due to a vicious circle of relapses. (Rehab? No thanks.)

So, I hear you cry: A club for degenerates powered by urine? Of course. That’s why I’ll be there, wondering about the best female voice of a generation as she battles through the set. A voice that effortlessly combines honey, mess and heartbreak.

As a writer more used to the logistics concerning wind or tidal power, I have to confess that the concept behind a residence having its electricity fuelled by wee is alien to me, but with Google my trustworthy steed, I’ve soldiered on.

But even with my friend, I glean only limited joy. My best bet seems via here and from the page, I learn that:

Nanologix has a patented renewable hydrogen production method that instead of using the traditional energy wasting methods requiring natural gas or electrical power, creates the gas out of waste water and other biomass using bacteria in a “Hydrogen Bioreactor”.

The bacteria eat the hydrocarbons in the waste and exhale hydrogen gas. Not only does this truly create energy, it also cleans the water. To the best of our knowledge Nanologix is the only public company producing hydrogen from waste.

This process solves the storage/transportation problems as well, since the hydrogen can be converted to mechanical or electrical power on site. If more energy is produced than can be used, it can be transported over the existing electrical grid.”

I can only presume that’s a clue. Whether that is the concept behind the club’s waterworks is as yet undisclosed, though it seems a reasonable bet.

And there we have it. You won’t find a finer source of wee than a nightclub. A confident money spinner for the club’s owner as he hikes up the price of the lager, knowing the clientele are going to find the whole process enjoyably innovative when it helps the environment an hour later.

And the name of the club? Watt.

(Her: Where are you off to?

Him: Watt.

Her: I said: Where are you off to?

Him: Yeah, and I’ve told you!

And so it goes on.)


Photo courtesy of Flickr.

UN Drug Office Can't Explain Lower Marijuana Use in Holland

Antonio-Maria Costa, Executive Director of UN Office on Drugs and Crime is seen here avoiding answering a question about the cannabis policy in Holland. The question was quite simple - how does Mr Costa explain the relatively low levels of cannabis use in Holland, given his claims that easy availability would lead to higher levels of use?

read more | digg story

A Sad Day for Van Damme fans

It is a sad day for Van Damme fans all over the world today. It was reported that he was found dead early this morning in his LA home by his wife Gladys Portugues. The actor known for his many action films was found lying face down and is believed that he may have overdosed on sleeping pills. At this time the LA police have not been able to confirm any of the details.

We have been able to get exclusive video of Van Damme's body as it was removed from the home. Click here to watch.

Speed-Traps: Be careful, cops will hide anywhere

The shocking picture that shows police will do ANYTHING to hide speed cameras from unsuspecting motorists

The police force headed by the "Mad Mullah of the Traffic Taliban" which has been accused of waging a "vendetta" against drivers has a new weapon - a speed camera hidden in a horsebox.

The stealthy ruse is North Wales Police's newest crackdown on speeding drivers and sees officers hiding in the back of the horsebox while parked up on a grass verge.

The force is headed by Richard Brunstrom who was dubbed the "Mad Mullah" after a serious of tough new measures to catch speeding drivers.

Scroll down for more...

Covert: Police officers use a speed camera from inside a horsebox

Mr Brunstrom has previously raised the prospect of speed cameras being hidden in cats' eyes. But despite his force's crackdown on motorists, road deaths and serious injuries are up by a third.

Last year he faced calls to quit after he showed pictures of a headless biker to journalists at a road safety seminar without telling the motorcyclist's family.

His 'Arrive Alive' speed cameras caught 55,000 offenders in 2007 including 19 police vehicles not answering 999 calls.

Scroll down for more...

Tackling speed: The police force are coming up with new schemes to stop motorists speeding

Arthur Roberts, of the pressure group People for Proper Policing, claimed: "This horsebox will be another serious distraction for motorists and doesn't really address road safety.

"It's another cynical way of raising revenue."

A spokeswoman for the police force said last week, when rumours about the hidden camera were rife: "As days get longer we can anticipate many more motorcyclists riding in North Wales.

"Tragically some of these will die or some will be seriously injured and in some cases excess speed will be a significant factor in these incidents.

"With our partners we are seeking to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries to motorcyclists and other road users through education, rider awareness, engineering and enforcement.

"Our enforcement activity will increase as the days get longer, but we're not prepared to comment now on the precise tactics that will be used. We would ask that all road users obey the law and ride and drive responsibly."

Yesterday the horsebox was parked alongside the road at Maenan, near Llanrwst - a straight stretch with a 60mph limit but renowned for speeding.

April Fools' Day On The Web 2008 (the most complete list) - The most complete listing of April Fools' Day Jokes that Web Sites have run each year from 2004 all the way up to today. Bookmark this site so you don't get fooled online this year!

read more | digg story

Knight Rider approved as a series- HUZZAH!

February's television film revival of Knight Rider may have been dramatically turgid and tragically short on "Turbo Boost," but it soared high in the ratings. So the return of Knight Rider as a series doesn't really count as a surprise. Expectations are that most of the cast introduced in the television film, including Val Kilmer as the voice of KITT and Justin Bruening as KITT's human companion, will return. Also likely to return are a whole passel of Ford Mustangs done up in Shelby GT500KR drag to portray KITT itself. Hopefully David Hasselhoff will also return as Michael Knight to regularly Hassel and Hoff up the action.

According to reports in both Variety and The Wall Street Journal, Knight Rider will be one element in NBC President Ben Silverman's plans to produce more original programming during the 2008-'09 season. That may mean that more than one will appear in one time slot. So if this fall Knight Rider returns to its old Friday 9:00 PM slot, it may share that slot with other action-adventure series so viewers get more new episodes and fewer reruns.

Rumors are that NBC's schedule will also rely heavily on escapist fare when it is unveiled on Wednesday. And if there's one thing Knight Rider has always been, it's escapist.

Our advice to the Knight Rider producers and writers is simple: Turbo boost. Turbo boost. Turbo boost. And then put in some more turbo boost.

What this means to you: The intriguing questions about character and motivation raised by the TV movie will be allowed to gracefully play out over the course of the series. — John Pearley Huffman, Correspondent