Friday, May 9, 2008
Posted by gjblass at 3:40 PM
Posted on 08 May 2008 by Brian Cuban
The city of Duncanville, Tx which is suburb of Dallas has been involved in its own little Jerry Falwell style bible belt battle with the owners of a private “swingers club” called “The Cherry Pit“. The Cherry PIt is a private residence tucked in away in an upscale Duncanville residential neighborhood. The Cherry Pit advertises on the internet and draws as many as 100 guests to a weekend gathering.
The Cherry Pit has been throwing adult-oriented parties where couples pay a fee for entry and can engage in pretty much any type of sexual activity they want on the premises. It is the position of the owners that this does not constitute a “business” as the entrance money is to cover the cost of food, soft drinks etc and not a fee for the privilege of engaging in sex from the tame to the “Pulp Fiction” apple in the mouth brand of entertainment…. It is rumored for an extra service charge they will even “bring out the gimp”….(just kidding)
The whole bru ha ha started back in November of 2007 when after several years of Cherry Pitt neighbors complaining about the crime, traffic and “unsavory element” “the pit” was bringing to the neighborhood, the City of Duncanville passed the following ordinance:
“the operation and maintenance of a sex club to be unlawful and a public nuisance. Violation of the new ordinance can result in a fine of up to $2,000.”
The city of Duncanville then decided that the gatherings at the Cherry Pit were more than just a gathering of “friends and family” looking for some fun and determined that it was in fact a sexually oriented business and subect to the ordinance. The response of Julie Norris, one of the owners of “The PIt” was as follows:
“I don’t know what their definition of a business is, but to my understanding a business is public - anyone can just walk into it and you must pay to get in and we are none of that,” Norris said. “I accept donations. Have you ever had your friends over for a barbecue and asked everyone to pitch in $5 or bring a dish? That is exactly what we do. The only requirement to get into my home is that you call and let me know that you are coming and you are on my reservation list.”
Ms Norris went on to state that she believed that the ordinance is a guise to attack their lifestyles and beliefs and that the ordinance regulating the club violated their First Amendment Rights to Privacy.
“It boils down to people want to put their morality into my private home and I am going to stand against that,” Norris said. “That is not what the Constitution allows.”
The owners of the Cherry PIt subsequently counter sued the city claiming the ordinance banning sex clubs violates their privacy and due process rights. They are basically using the same argument under which a right to privacy was found under Roe v. Wade. They have to use this method in making the right to privacy argument because there is in fact no right to personal privacy spelled out in the Constitution.
The Cherry Pit’s attorney, Ed Klein, said the city is trying to regulate private acts in a private home using the public nuisance law as a “pretext” to do so….
The Cherry Pitt has remained open while all the legal wrangling has taken place… Just today the City of Duncanville broadened the ordinance designed to shut the club down by making the definition of a sex club more general and add a local appeal process for sex clubs that the city orders to close.
So what you do think? Should private citizens be allowed to “swap pits” at the Pitt without the government getting its’ rocks off?
My initial gut reaction is to always have a problem when big brother enters my home and says you can’t do this or you can’t do that. My gut however has to take a back seat to the fact that this is done all the time.
You can’t do cocaine in the privacy of your home….. You can’t shoot up heroin in the privacy of your home, You cant run a gambling operation in the privacy of your home and guess what? You can not charge people for the privilege of having indiscriminate, anonymous sex in your home. Just like taking a cut of the house makes your little gambling gathering illegal, taking profits at the Cherry Pit makes you the equivalent of the D.C. Madam
Here is the problem as I see it. Whatever law passes constitutional muster can not be based on counting soft drink and pretzels receipts. If you break even its a gathering of friends. if you come out five bucks ahead your running a sex shop…. A law enforced by accountants….
What would you do?
Posted by gjblass at 3:03 PM
Disney has released a batch of new super high resolution images from Pixar’s WALL-E. By Super high resolution, I mean… SUPER high resolution. I had to compress the images down to 2500px wide due to file size reasons. Click on the images above and below to see them in all their glory. WALL-E hits theaters on June 27th 2008.
Posted by gjblass at 2:56 PM
NEW YORK—Hoping to address the issue of long hair obscuring players' names and numbers, NFL owners passed a new rule wherein players would be restricted to one of three league-approved hairstyles. "People don't come to games to watch tufts of hair make tackles and score touchdowns; they come to watch the colorful uniforms do it," said 49ers coach Mike Nolan of the new rule, which will limit players to No. 2 grade buzz cuts, No. 1 grade "high-and-tight" cuts, and Johnny Unitas-style flattops. "These three haircuts embody the class, dignity, and discipline that has always been associated with NFL football players. Frankly, I thought three was too many; buzz cuts hint at a sense of individuality that has absolutely no place in football." NFL owners will next vote on a rule proposal that would strike names from players' uniforms, contracts, and birth certificates.
Posted by gjblass at 2:35 PM
Posted by gjblass at 2:26 PM
Peel & stick solar fulfills the need ... for speed!
One of the major challenges facing the global energy sector is the amount of time it takes to develop new energy resources. Even if you didn't care about the negative externalities, environmental impacts or climate change contributions of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, it takes a long time (and billions of dollars) to drill deep holes, excavate or detonate massive mines, build pipelines and railways, construct power plants and high-voltage power lines ... as a famous recent American President and avowed fossil fuel aficionado likes to say, "It's hard work."
Which brings us to a major and under-appreciated advantage that most clean energy technologies have over traditional, "let's burn more rocks" resources like coal and oil: speed to market. Because there are no pollution concerns and related air quality permitting requirements, renewable energy projects can be developed with lightning speed - especially medium-sized commercial projects where the power will be used on-site.
Just how fast? Real fast. As in very, very fast. OK, maybe that's not clear enough for you - I'll admit, it's hard to describe exceptionally velocitous rapidity with mere adjectives. For a sample of speed, watch as two solar roofing engineers with California-based roofing contractor DRI Energy install 2.25 kilowatts' worth of their proprietary Lumeta PowerPly modules on a roof in San Leandro in just under 35 minutes:
The key innovation in the Lumeta PowerPly is the use of standard roofing adhesives to affix the modules to the roof, rather than traditional racking systems. There are two advantages here - one, roofers everywhere work with these adhesives, and so are familiar with their performance and how to use and install them; and two, by eliminating the drilling and bolts associated with a racking system, the contractor not only saves a ton of time (did I mention this installation went up fast?), but also saves the integrity of the roof system: the last thing you should want to pay for is to have someone go up on your roof and put a bunch of holes in it.
And this is just the beginning. The emergence of time-saving innovations in the clean energy industry is likely to step up in the coming years as demand for the services escalates along with concerns about global warming and energy costs. And the fossil industry moves about as fast as ... well, about as fast as a fossil. If the Lumeta PowerPly is any indication of what's to come, I'll bet that over the next few years, the clean energy sector will reach scale and start operating with a full head of steam. The fossil fuels fossils won't know what hit 'em.
Posted by gjblass at 2:24 PM
This movie will show you how good casting can make up for bad writing. Been a fan of Kuchar since Dude Where's My Car? and he started banging a woman twice his age while Punkin' a bunch of Stoopits.
Pass on Speed Racer since that can only be ruined by the obtuse Wachowski Brothers.
In fact the recommendation this week was almost to go see Iron Man again for a second time rather than see any of the movies opening this week. What stays in Vegas redeems itself since it offers an opportunity for both you and your significant other to enjoy. Go get an ice cream afterwards and have fun!
See you on Monday for the deal of the week.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 2:16 PM
Young adults in Europe deliberately binge on drink and drugs to improve their sex lives, research suggests.
The UK has one of the worst reputations for binge drinking and underage sex but there are striking similarities between countries, a study found.
A third of 16 to 35-year-old men and 23% of women questioned said they drank to increase their chance of sex.
The study - of 1,341 young people in nine countries including the UK - is published in BMC Public Health.
Young people were also more at risk of unsafe sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the study found.
| || Despite the negative consequences, we found many are deliberately taking these substances to achieve quite specific sexual effects |
Professor Mark Bellis
The researchers said although it was well known that use of alcohol and drugs was linked to risky sexual behaviour, this study showed many young people were "strategically" binge drinking or abusing drugs to improve their sex lives.
They questioned young people in nine cities, one each in the UK, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia - who all routinely went to pubs, bars and nightclubs.
Early use of alcohol and other drugs was closely linked to having sex under the age of 16 years, in all countries, especially in girls.
Almost half of participants in Vienna, Austria had drunk alcohol and had sex by the time they were 16 compared with 36% in Venice, Italy, 37% in Palma, Spain and 30% in Liverpool.
The same was true for those who took drugs under the age of 16 but there were variations in popularity of different drugs among different countries.
More than a quarter of youngsters taking cocaine said they used it to prolong sex and drug use in general was linked to having multiple partners.
Drunkenness and drug use were found to be strongly associated with an increase in risk taking behaviour and feeling regretful about having sex .
Those who had been drunk in the past four weeks were more likely to have had five or more partners, sex without a condom and to have regretted sex after drink or drugs in the past 12 months.
Cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy use was linked to similar consequences.
Study leader Professor Mark Bellis, director of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moore's University said: "Millions of young Europeans now take drugs and drink in ways which alter their sexual decisions and increase their chances of unsafe sex or sex that is later regretted.
"Yet despite the negative consequences, we found many are deliberately taking these substances to achieve quite specific sexual effects."
He added that strategies to reduce substance abuse and encourage safe sexual behaviour needed to take into account the fact that the two were inextricably linked.
Simon Blake, chief executive of Brook, said: "When it comes to drugs and alcohol young people learn from us, the adults who help determine the culture in which young people are learning about sex, and learning about drugs and alcohol. "Sex and relationships education also needs to include more discussion about the association between alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex."
Frank Sodeen from Alcohol Concern said: "The report is a good reminder of the multiple dimensions of drink-related harm."
He added local authorities need to think as broadly as possible about projects to reduce alcohol use and incorporate issues such as sexual health.
Published: 2008/05/09 04:04:38 GMT
© BBC MMVIII
Posted by gjblass at 2:16 PM
Amazing Young Guitar Player - Watch more free videos
Posted by gjblass at 2:13 PM
The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master
A Man Should Be Able To:
1. Give advice that matters in one sentence. I got run out of a job I liked once, and while it was happening, a guy stopped me in the hall. Smart guy, but prone to saying too much. I braced myself. I didn't want to hear it. I needed a white knight, and I knew it wasn't him. He just sighed and said: When nobody has your back, you gotta move your back. Then he walked away. Best advice I ever got. One sentence.
2. Tell if someone is lying. Everyone has his theory. Pick one, test it. Choose the tells that work for you. I like these: Liars change the subject quickly. Liars look up and to their right when they speak. Liars use fewer contractions. Liars will sometimes stare straight at you and employ a dead face. Liars never touch their chest or heart except self-consciously. Liars place objects between themselves and you during a conversation.
3. Take a photo. Fill the frame.
4. Score a baseball game. Scoring a game is an exercise in ciphering, creating a shorthand of your very own. In this way, it's a private language as much as a record of the game. The only given is the numbering of the positions and the use of the diamond to express each batter's progress around the bases. I black out the diamond when a run scores. I mark an RBI with a tally mark in the upper-right-hand corner. Each time you score a game, you pick up on new elements to track: pitch count, balls and strikes, foul balls. It doesn't matter that this information is available on the Internet in real time. Scoring a game is about bearing witness, expanding your own ability to observe.
5. Name a book that matters. The Catcher in the Rye does not matter. Not really. You gotta read.
6. Know at least one musical group as well as is possible. One guy at your table knows where Cobain was born and who his high school English teacher was. Another guy can argue the elegant extended trope of Liquid Swords with GZA himself. This is how it should be. Music does not demand agreement. Rilo Kiley. Nina Simone. Whitesnake. Fugazi. Otis Redding. Whatever. Choose. Nobody likes a know-it-all, because 1) you can't know it all and 2) music offers distinct and private lessons. So pick one. Except Rilo Kiley. I heard they broke up.
7. Cook meat somewhere other than the grill.
Buy The Way to Cook, by Julia Child. Try roasting. Braising. Broiling. Slow-cooking. Pan searing. Think ragouts, fricassees, stews. All of this will force you to understand the functionality of different cuts. In the end, grilling will be a choice rather than a chore, and your Weber will become a tool rather than a piece of weekend entertainment.
8. Not monopolize the conversation.
9. Write a letter.
So easy. So easily forgotten. A five-paragraph structure works pretty well: Tell why you're writing. Offer details. Ask questions. Give news. Add a specific memory or two. If your handwriting is terrible, type. Always close formally.
10. Buy a suit.
Avoid bargains. Know your likes, your dislikes, and what you need it for (work, funerals, court). Squeeze the fabric -- if it bounces back with little or no sign of wrinkling, that means it's good, sturdy material. And tug the buttons gently. If they feel loose or wobbly, that means they're probably coming off sooner rather than later. The jacket's shoulder pads are supposed to square with your shoulders; if they droop off or leave dents in the cloth, the jacket's too big. The jacket sleeves should never meet the wrist any lower than the base of the thumb -- if they do, ask to go down a size. Always get fitted.
11. Swim three different strokes. Doggie paddle doesn't count.
12. Show respect without being a suck-up. Respect the following, in this order: age, experience, record, reputation. Don't mention any of it.
13. Throw a punch. Close enough, but not too close. Swing with your shoulders, not your arm. Long punches rarely land squarely. So forget the roundhouse. You don't have a haymaker. Follow through; don't pop and pull back. The length you give the punch should come in the form of extension after the point of contact. Just remember, the bones in your hand are small and easy to break. You're better off striking hard with the heel of your palm. Or you could buy the guy a beer and talk it out.
14. Chop down a tree. Know your escape path. When the tree starts to fall, use it.
15. Calculate square footage. Width times length.
16. Tie a bow tie.
Step 1: Make a simple knot, allowing slightly more length (one to two inches) on the end of A.
Step 2: Lay A out of the way, fold B into the normal bow shape, and position it on the first knot you made.
Step 3: Drop A vertically over folded end B.
Step 4: Double back A on itself and position it over the knot so that the two folded ends make a cross.
Step 5: The hard part: Pass folded end A under and behind the left side (yours) of the knot and through the loop behind folded end B.
Step 6: Tighten the knot you have created, straightening, particularly in the center.
17. Make one drink, in large batches, very well.
When I interviewed for my first job, one of the senior guys had me to his house for a reception. He offered me a cigarette and pointed me to a bowl of whiskey sours, like I was Darrin Stephens and he was Larry Tate. I can still remember that first tight little swallow and my gratitude that I could go back for a refill without looking like a drunk. I came to admire the host over the next decade, but he never gave me the recipe. So I use this:
• For every 750-ml bottle of whiskey (use a decent bourbon or rye), add:
• 6 oz fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice
• 6 oz simple syrup (mix superfine sugar and water in equal quantities)
To serve: Shake 3 oz per person with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice or, if you're really slick, a float of red wine. (Pour about 1/2 oz slowly into each glass over the back of a spoon; this is called a New York sour, and it's great.)
18. Speak a foreign language. Pas beaucoup. Mais faites un effort.
19. Approach a woman out of his league. Ever have a shoeshine from a guy you really admire? He works hard enough that he doesn't have to tell stupid jokes; he doesn't stare at your legs; he knows things you don't, but he doesn't talk about them every minute; he doesn't scrape or apologize for his status or his job or the way he is dressed; he does his job confidently and with a quiet relish. That stuff is wildly inviting. Act like that guy.
20. Sew a button.
21. Argue with a European without getting xenophobic or insulting soccer.
Once, in our lifetime, much of Europe was approaching cultural and political irrelevance. Then they made like us and banded together into a union of confederated states. So you can always assume that they were simply copying the United States as they now push us to the verge of cultural and political irrelevance.
22. Give a woman an orgasm so that he doesn't have to ask after it.
Otherwise, ask after it.
23. Be loyal. You will fail at it. You have already. A man who does not know loyalty, from both ends, does not know men. Loyalty is not a matter of give-and-take: He did me a favor, therefore I owe him one. No. No. No. It is the recognition of a bond, the honoring of a shared history, the reemergence of the vows we make in the tight times. It doesn't mean complete agreement or invisible blood ties. It is a currency of selflessness, given without expectation and capable of the most stellar return.
24. Know his poison, without standing there, pondering like a dope. Brand, amount, style, fast, like so: Booker's, double, neat.
25. Drive an eightpenny nail into a treated two-by-four without thinking about it.
Use a contractor's hammer. Swing hard and loose, like a tennis serve.
26. Cast a fishing rod without shrieking or sighing or otherwise admitting defeat.
27. Play gin with an old guy. Old men will try to crush you. They'll drown you in meaningless chatter, tell stories about when they were kids this or in Korea that. Or they'll retreat into a taciturn posture designed to get you to do the talking. They'll note your strategies without mentioning them, keep the stakes at a level they can control, and change up their pace of play just to get you stumbling. You have to do this -- play their game, be it dominoes or cribbage or chess. They may have been playing for decades. You take a beating as a means of absorbing the lessons they've learned without taking a lesson. But don't be afraid to take them down. They can handle it.
28. Play go fish with a kid.
You don't crush kids. You talk their ear off, make an event out of it, tell them stories about when you were a kid this or in Vegas that. You have to play their game, too, even though they may have been playing only for weeks. Observe. Teach them without once offering a lesson. And don't be afraid to win. They can handle it.
29. Understand quantum physics well enough that he can accept that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped.
Sometimes the laws of physics aren't laws at all. Read The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone, by Kenneth W. Ford.
30. Feign interest. Good place to start: quantum physics.
31. Make a bed.
32. Describe a glass of wine in one sentence without using the terms nutty, fruity, oaky, finish, or kick. I once stood in a wine store in West Hollywood where the owner described a pinot noir he favored as "a night walk through a wet garden." I bought it. I went to my hotel and drank it by myself, looking at the flickering city with my feet on the windowsill. I don't know which was more right, the wine or the vision that he placed in my head. Point is, it was right.
33. Hit a jump shot in pool. It's not something you use a lot, but when you hit a jump shot, it marks you as a player and briefly impresses women. Make the angle of your cue steeper, aim for the bottommost fraction of the ball, and drive the cue smoothly six inches past the contact point, making steady, downward contact with the felt.
34. Dress a wound. First, stop the bleeding. Apply pressure using a gauze pad. Stay with the pressure. If you can't stop the bleeding, forget the next step, just get to a hospital. Once the bleeding stops, clean the wound. Use water or saline solution; a little soap is good, too. If you can't get the wound clean, then forget the next step, just get to a hospital. Finally, dress the wound. For a laceration, push the edges together and apply a butterfly bandage. For avulsions, where the skin is punctured and pulled back like a trapdoor, push the skin back and use a butterfly. Slather the area in antibacterial ointment. Cover the wound with a gauze pad taped into place. Change that dressing every 12 hours, checking carefully for signs of infection. Better yet, get to a hospital.
35. Jump-start a car (without any drama). Change a flat tire (safely). Change the oil (once).
36. Make three different bets at a craps table. Play the smallest and most poorly labeled areas, the bets where it's visually evident the casino doesn't want you to go. Simply play the pass line; once the point is set, play full odds (this is the only really good bet on the table); and when you want a little more action, tell the crew you want to lay the 4 and the 10 for the minimum bet.
37. Shuffle a deck of cards.
I play cards with guys who can't shuffle, and they lose. Always.
38. Tell a joke. Here's one:
Two guys are walking down a dark alley when a mugger approaches them and demands their money. They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin taking out their cash. Just then, one guy turns to the other, hands him a bill, and says, "Hey, here's that $20 I owe you."
39. Know when to split his cards in blackjack.
Aces. Eights. Always.
40. Speak to an eight-year-old so he will hear. Use his first name. Don't use baby talk. Don't crank up your energy to match his. Ask questions and wait for answers. Follow up. Don't pretend to be interested in Webkinz or Power Rangers or whatever. He's as bored with that shit as you are. Concentrate instead on seeing the child as a person of his own.
41. Speak to a waiter so he will hear.
You don't own the restaurant, so don't act like it. You own the transaction. So don't speak into the menu. Lift your chin. Make eye contact. All restaurants have secrets -- let it be known that you expect to see some of them.
42. Talk to a dog so it will hear.
Go ahead, use baby talk.
43. Install: a disposal, an electronic thermostat, or a lighting fixture without asking for help. Just turn off the damned main.
44. Ask for help.
Guys who refuse to ask for help are the most cursed men of all. The stubborn, the self-possessed, and the distant. The hell with them.
45. Break another man's grip on his wrist. Rotate your arm rapidly in the grip, toward the other guy's thumb.
46. Tell a woman's dress size.
47. Recite one poem from memory. Here you go:
WHEN YOU ARE OLD
When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
--William Butler Yeats
48. Remove a stain. Blot. Always blot.
49. Say no.
50. Fry an egg sunny-side up. Cook until the white appears solid...and no longer.
51. Build a campfire.
There are three components:
1. The tinder -- bone-dry, snappable twigs, about as long as your hand. You need two complete handfuls. Try birch bark; it burns long and hot.
2. The kindling -- thick as your thumb, long as your forearm, breakable with two hands. You need two armfuls.
3. Fuel wood -- anything thick and long enough that it can't be broken by hand. It's okay if it's slightly damp. You need a knee-high stack.
Step 1: Light the tinder, turning the pile gently to get air underneath it.
Step 2: Feed the kindling into the emergent fire with some pace.
Step 3: Lay on the fuel wood. Pyramid, the log cabin, whatever -- the idea is to create some kind of structure so that plenty of air gets to the fire.
52. Step into a job no one wants to do. When I was 13, my dad called me into his office at the large urban mall he ran. He was on the phone. What followed was a fairly banal 15-minute conversation, which involved the collection of rent from a store. On and on, droning about store hours and lighting problems. I kept raising my eyebrows, pretending to stand up, and my dad kept waving me down. I could hear only his end, garrulous and unrelenting. He rolled his eyes as the excuses kept coming. His assertions were simple and to the point, like a drumbeat. He wanted the rent. He wanted the store to stay open when the mall was open. Then suddenly, having given the job the time it deserved, he put it to an end. "So if I see your gate down next Sunday afternoon, I'm going to get a drill and stick a goddamn bolt in it and lock you down for the next week, right?" When he hung up, rent collected, he took a deep breath. "I've been dreading that call," he said. "Once a week you gotta try something you never would do if you had the choice. Otherwise, why are you here?" So he gave me that. And this...
53. Sometimes, kick some ass.
54. Break up a fight. Work in pairs if possible. Don't get between people initially. Use the back of the collar, pull and urge the person downward. If you can't get him down, work for distance.
55. Point to the north at any time.
If you have a watch, you can point the hour hand at the sun. Then find the point directly between the hour hand and the 12. That's south. The opposite direction is, of course, north.
56. Create a play-list in which ten seemingly random songs provide a secret message to one person.
57. Explain what a light-year is. It's the measure of the distance that light travels over 365.25 days.
58. Avoid boredom. You have enough to eat. You can move. This must be acknowledged as a kind of freedom. You don't always have to buy things, put things in your mouth, or be delighted.
59. Write a thank-you note.
Make a habit of it. Follow a simple formula like this one: First line is a thesis statement. The second line is evidentiary. The third is a kind of assertion. Close on an uptick.
Thanks for having me over to watch game six. Even though they won, it's clear the Red Sox are a soulless, overmarketed contrivance of Fox TV. Still, I'm awfully happy you have that huge high-def television. Next time, I really will bring beer. Yours,
60. Be brand loyal to at least one product. It tells a lot about who you are and where you came from. Me? I like Hellman's mayonnaise and Genesee beer, which makes me the fleshy, stubbornly upstate ne'er-do-well that I will always be.
61. Cook bacon.
Lay out the bacon on a rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
62. Hold a baby.
Newborns should be wrapped tightly and held against the chest. They like tight spaces (consider their previous circumstances) and rhythmic movements, so hold them snug, tuck them in the crook of your elbow or against the skin of your neck. Rock your hips like you're bored, barely listening to the music at the edge of a wedding reception. No one has to notice except the baby. Don't breathe all over them.
63. Deliver a eulogy. Take the job seriously. It matters. Speak first to the family, then to the outside world. Write it down. Avoid similes. Don't read poetry. Be funny.
64. Know that Christopher Columbus was a son of a bitch. When I was a kid, because I'm Italian and because the Irish guys in my neighborhood were relentless with the beatings on St. Patrick's Day, I loved the very idea of Christopher Columbus. I loved the fact that Irish kids worshipped some gnome who drove all the rats out of Ireland or whatever, whereas my hero was an explorer. Man, I drank the Kool-Aid on that guy. Of course, I later learned that he was a hand-chopping, land-stealing egotist who sold out an entire hemisphere to European avarice. So I left Columbus behind. Your understanding of your heroes must evolve. See Roger Clemens. See Bill Belichick.
65-67. Throw a baseball over-hand with some snap. Throw a football with a tight spiral. Shoot a 12-foot jump shot reliably.
If you can't, play more ball.
68. Find his way out of the woods if lost. Note your landmarks -- mountains, power lines, the sound of a highway. Look for the sun: It sits in the south; it moves west. Gauge your direction every few minutes. If you're completely stuck, look for a small creek and follow it downstream. Water flows toward larger bodies of water, where people live.
69. Tie a knot.
Square knot: left rope over right rope, turn under. Then right rope over left rope. Tuck under. Pull. Or as my pack leader, Dave Kenyon, told me in a Boy Scouts meeting: "Left over right, right over left. What's so fucking hard about that?"
70. Shake hands. Steady, firm, pump, let go. Use the time to make eye contact, since that's where the social contract begins.
71. Iron a shirt. My uncle Tony the tailor once told me of ironing: Start rough, end gently.
72. Stock an emergency bag for the car.
Blanket. Heavy flashlight. Hand warmers. Six bottles of water. Six packs of beef jerky. Atlas. Reflectors. Gloves. Socks. Bandages. Neosporin. Inhaler. Benadryl. Motrin. Hard candy. Telescoping magnet. Screwdriver. Channel-locks. Crescent wrench. Ski hat. Bandanna.
73. Caress a woman's neck. Back of your fingers, in a slow fan.
74. Know some birds. If you can't pay attention to a bird, then you can't learn from detail, you aren't likely to appreciate the beauty of evolution, and you don't have a clue how birdlike your own habits may be. You've been looking at them blindly for years now. Get a guide.
75. Negotiate a better price. Be informed. Know the price of competitors. In a big store, look for a manager. Don't be an asshole. Use one phrase as your mantra, like "I need a little help with this one." Repeat it, as an invitation to him. Don't beg. Ever. Offer something: your loyalty, your next purchase, even your friendship, and, with the deal done, your gratitude.
Posted by gjblass at 11:31 AM
'Here's our list of some of the world's most scenic and fascinating countries—that also happen to be among the most repressive. We weigh the pros and cons, but only you can decide whether to buy the ticket.'
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Posted by gjblass at 11:29 AM
1941: British destroyers capture a German submarine, U-110, south of Iceland. The British remove a naval version of the highly secret cipher machine known to the Allies as Enigma, and then they let the boat sink -- to keep the fact of their boarding secret.
The Enigma machine, used by the Kriegsmarine to encode and decode messages passing between shore command and ships at sea, was taken to Bletchley Park in England, where cryptographers including computer pioneer Alan Turing succeeded in breaking the naval code. The Germans, assuming U-110 had foundered with her secrets intact, failed to realize that their code was broken. The subsequent information passing before British eyes helped the Allies enormously in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Several versions of the Enigma machine existed, but the working principle -- a rotor system activated using a keyboard -- was the same. The machine itself had been around since the early 1920s and was used by other nations, too, although it is most closely associated with Nazi Germany.
The Enigma used by the German army was decrypted as early as 1932 by Polish cryptographers, who later passed their methodology along to the British and French. In light of subsequent events (the Germans drove a Franco-British expeditionary force out of Norway and then crushed the French in a six-week campaign in 1940), the military value of this early intelligence is debatable.
But breaking the German naval code, made possible in large part by the recovery of U-110's machine, provided the British with a leg up at a time when the war at sea was very much in doubt.
The capture of a U-boat on the high seas was a rare and considerable achievement, since submarine crews scuttled their boats rather than let them fall into enemy hands. In this case, the U-boat’s commander, Kapitänleutnant Fritz Julius Lemp, thinking he was going to be rammed by an oncoming destroyer, ordered his crew to abandon ship. (His precise order, according to one survivor, was "Last stop. Everybody off.") Seeing the Germans leaving the boat, the British commander managed to veer away and avoid a collision.
Lemp, already in the water when he realized his boat wasn't going to be rammed, was swimming back to U-110 to scuttle her when he was either shot by the British (according to the Germans) or simply disappeared (according to the British).
Three other U-boats were captured at sea during the war, most notably the U-505, surprised by an American task force off the African coast in June 1944. That boat is on permanent display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
Pop culture footnote: The thoroughly mediocre movie, U-571, was loosely based -- very loosely based -- on the capture of U-110. It was also shot through with historical inaccuracies, but that's a subject for another time and place.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:36 AM
People were making ethanol at home long before there were cars. They called it moonshine. With gas prices going through the roof and everyone worried about global warming, a California company is betting people will jump at the chance to use the same technology to turn sugar into fuel for less than a buck a gallon.
"You just open it like a washing machine and dump in your sugar, close the door and push one button," company founder Tom Quinn told us. "A few days later, you've got ethanol."
Is it really that easy?
According to Quinn, it is. The MicroFueler weighs about 200 pounds and hooks up to a water and 110 or 220 volt power supply and wastewater drain just like a washing machine. It uses raw sugar (not the refined white stuff) and a proprietary time-release yeast mixture as feedstock. You can also use left-over booze if you've got any lying around. Toss it all into the fermenting tank, turn on the machine and in seven days you've got 35 gallons of ethanol. The MicroFueler has its own pump and hose - just like the pump at your corner gas station - so you can easily fill up your car.
"It's so simple, anyone can make their own fuel," Quinn says. Depending upon the cost of electricity and water, he says, the MicroFueler can produce ethanol for less than $1 a gallon. Quinn likens the MicroFueler to the personal computer and says it will cause the same sort of "paradigm shift."
"Just as the PC brought desktop computing to the home, E-Fuel will bring the filling station to the home," he says.
Maybe. Maybe not. Making ethanol at home is not as easy as Quinn might have you believe, says Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC-Berkeley. Making a lot of ethanol has generally required a lot of equipment, he told the New York Times, and quality control can be uneven.
“There’s a lot of hurdles you have to overcome. It’s entirely possible that they’ve done it, but skepticism is a virtue,” Kammen says.
Quinn is not some moonshiner trying to make a quick buck on the alt-fuel craze. He's a longtime entrepreneur who patented the motion-control technology Nintendo uses in the Wii. His partner in the E-Fuel venture is Floyd Butterfield, who has been distilling ethanol for more than 25 years and in 1982 won a California Department of Food and Agriculture contest for best design of an ethanol still.
They say they've overcome many of the hurdles to making ethanol at home cheaply, easily and efficiently. Quinn says the biggest breakthrough is the MicroFueler's membrane distiller, which uses an extremely fine filter to separate water from alcohol at lower temperatures and in fewer steps than conventional methods. Using sugar as a feedstock makes the process virtually odorless, he says, and leaves the wastewater so clean you can drink it. It also avoids the food-for-fuel debate that plagues corn-based ethanol because we're in the midst of a worldwide sugar glut.
A permit from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms will allow you to make ethanol legally, but running 100 percent ethanol in your car is against the law. No problem, Quinn says. Mix it with gasoline to create E-85. Just put a few gallons of gas in your car, then drive home and top it off with ethanol. Quinn says running sugar-based ethanol will produce about 85 percent fewer carbon emissions than using gasoline. You're all set if you've got a flex-fuel vehicle.
It's an open question whether switching to home-brewed ethanol will save you much money. The MicroFueler costs $9,995, although federal tax credits can cut the price to $6,998. Another $16 buys you enough yeast to make about 560 gallons of ethanol, and you'll have to pay for the sugar and water. You'll need as many as 4 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of ethanol.
The sugar is where the math could break down - it currently sells for about 20 cents a pound in the United States, and you need 10 to 14 pounds of it to make a gallon of ethanol. Factor in the cost of electricty and water and you may not be coming out ahead. But Quinn says changes in the North American Free Trade Agreement allows the importation of inedible or "ethanol-grade" sugar from Mexico for as little as 2.5 cents a pound and E-Fuel is creating a distribution network to sell it to consumers.
That same distribution network will deliver and install MicroFuelers when E-Fuel begins delivering them at the end of the year, he says.
Photos by Flickr user Streetwalker and E-Fuel Corp.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:25 AM
| Electronic chauffer: Driverless transports will provide door-to-door service for occupants of a new city being built in Abu Dhabi (top). A typical street will be sheltered from most direct sunlight. Solar panels overhead and built into the walls of buildings will provide power. |
Credit: Foster + Partners and the Masdar Initiative
Last week, in the harsh desert climate of Abu Dhabi, construction started on a city that will house 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses but use extremely little energy, and what it does use will come from renewable sources. The initial building is a new research institute that the founders hope will be the seed for the equivalent of a Silicon Valley of the Middle East, only one centered not on information technology but on renewable energy.
The city, which is expected to cost $22 billion, will implement an array of technologies, including thin-film solar panels that serve as the facades and roofing materials for buildings, ubiquitous sensors for monitoring energy use, and driverless vehicles powered by batteries that make cars unnecessary. Indeed, the city's founders hope that it will serve as a test bed for a myriad of new technologies being proposed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
The new zero-emissions city, which is being built near the city of Abu Dhabi in the center of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is part of the Masdar Initiative, a $15 billion government-funded investment program designed in part to ensure that the UAE's prosperity won't be linked exclusively to its oil. Its leaders say that the project will give the country a leadership position in renewable energy. If it's successful, says Sultan al Jaber, Masdar's CEO, "we'll be sitting on top of the world."
Designing the city from the ground up will bring a number of advantages. About half of the cost of solar energy comes from installation materials and labor. In Masdar, thin-film solar cells can be incorporated directly into the facades of buildings in place of conventional construction materials, reducing the costs of the solar power. Energy needed for cooling will be reduced by controlling the orientation and design of the city's buildings, streets, and green spaces to find a balance between shade and sun, and to promote natural-air circulation. Air conditioners will use absorption chillers that run on heat from the sun in place of conventional compressors.
Energy for transportation will also be reduced. Efficient electric transports will provide door-to-door service: just type in your destination, and the transport will come to your door and take you automatically to your destination. The power will be generated by renewable energy and stored onboard in batteries. On Monday, Masdar received the first bids on the system, which will likely use battery-powered vehicles running on tracks or powered by magnetic levitation.
Water use will be kept to a minimum--which will reduce energy needed for desalination. And sensors throughout the city will also keep residents informed of their energy use--and when they're going to have to pay extra for using too much. All told, the city's designers predict that efficiency improvements will result in a 75 percent reduction in energy consumption compared with a conventional city of the same size. The energy that is used will come almost entirely from solar--with wind and power from technology that converts garbage into fuel contributing smaller amounts.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:23 AM
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- These days, more and more people are saying "Charge it."
Finding themselves strapped for cash and unable to use their home as an ATM, Americans are increasingly turning to credit cards to cover gas, groceries and other living expenses.
But many find themselves struggling to pay the burgeoning bills at a time when even the basic needs are growing costlier.
"Other sources of money for a lot of Americans are drying up," said Dick Reed, regional counseling manager of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta, who sees more clients with mounting credit card debts these days. "Consumers just don't have a place to go to get money. They are digging themselves into a deeper hole not only to pay for normal living expenses, but to make minimum payments on outstanding debt."
Government and agency statistics illustrate this troubling trend. The Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that Americans' credit card debt jumped 6.7% in the first quarter of this year to $957.2 billion, This spike comes despite the fact that nearly one in three banks is tightening guidelines for credit cards.
In Atlanta, debtors calling the agency in the first quarter of this year had an average of $29,300 in unsecured debt, primarily on credit cards, up from $25,700 in 2007. They spent $335 on groceries and $242 on gas, on average, in April. A year earlier, those outlays averaged only $291 and $181, respectively.
For many people, racking up credit card debt is not a choice they want to make, experts say. Not too long ago, they could have tapped into the equity in their homes through loans or lines of credit or refinancing. But this debt, which usually carries lower interest rates, is no longer as widely available with the collapse of the housing market.
So, faced with soaring costs for food and fuel, people find they must charge more to make ends meet.
"They are not able to increase their income, but their expenses are going up, so the credit card becomes a way to cope," said Sara Gilbert, executive director of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Fort Collins, Colo.
Take Lois Eldridge. The Arizona retiree has watched in dismay as her credit card balance doubled to $2,000 over the last few months. Higher gas and grocery prices forced her to charge these essentials for the first time late last year.
She has since drastically reduced her spending on clothing, entertainment and dining out. It's helped, but she says she's still adding about a $100 a month to her balance.
The retired criminology professor also has tried to get a job at a local college in order to supplement her Social Security and savings. But she found would-be employers either paid too little or told her she was overqualified. Her only other options were minimum-wage jobs at local retailers.
"My income has stayed the same, but my expenses are much more than they were last year, even with my attempts to cut back," said Eldridge, 71, who plans to put her federal tax rebate toward her debt. "I'm somewhat overwhelmed that I've had to use credit cards, which I've never had to do before. All I've done in the last four to six months is worry, worry, worry."
Eldridge isn't the only one worrying. Industry analysts say that both credit card balances and delinquencies are on the rise, a sign that a growing number of Americans can't afford their spending habits.
Not surprisingly, those facing the greatest stress tend to be in weak housing markets who are already struggling with their mortgage payments, experts said. Also, as unemployment ticks up and companies cut back on overtime, some people find they don't have enough income to pay the bills.
To be sure, many use their credit cards for convenience and pay their bills on time, sometimes to take advantage of reward programs. But cracks are appearing.
Credit card delinquency rates hit a 4-year high of 4.53% in February, according to Moody's, a debt rating agency.
"Once they've fallen behind, it's increasingly difficult for them to become current on their credit card payments again," said William Black, senior vice president at Moody's. "It's a more challenging economic environment. There's less money to go around."
Meanwhile, card balances have been creeping up steadily since the start of 2006, and jumped nearly 9% during 2007, according to Equifax, a credit data and analysis firm. That's due to a combination of people spending more and paying off less each month, said Myra Hart, senior vice president of analytical services at the firm.
The number of credit cards issued has also risen. At the end of 2007, there were 420 million cards on the market, up 7.6% from a year earlier.
Americans are carrying high levels of debt, compared to historical levels, while their savings rate is quite low, Hart said.
"In the long term, that's not a good thing," she said. "We're really at a tipping point for consumer credit. It depends on what happens to the economy and employment."
Growing balances and delinquencies aren't good for the economy, which is dependent on consumer spending, said Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association."A lot of people will quit going out to dinner if they see their balances rise," Hampel said. "This will hurt the economy."
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:12 AM
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Citigroup Inc. said Friday it planned to unload $400 billion in assets over the few years as the beleaguered banking icon aims to reinvigorate itself.
The announcement, which was made during a widely anticipated company investor and analyst conference, comes after months of review of Citi's different businesses by CEO Vikram Pandit.
Divisions that had not been producing acceptable returns or fit Citigroup's core business model would be sold or allowed to run their course, said Pandit.
"It's all about getting fit," he said.
Citigroup identified roughly $500 billion in non-core assets - 22% of the company. The company said it would wind down those assets to less than $100 billion over the next two to three years.
While the move would affect close to 20% of the firm's assets, Pandit affirmed that he remained committed to the company's universal bank model, despite calls by critics to break up the firm.
"We believe the right model is a global universal bank," said Pandit. "This is the model that delivers the most shareholder value."
Since Pandit's ascension to the CEO post in December, management has attempted to whip into shape what some critics have called the company's bloated corporate structure.
Just this week, Citi and State Street Corp. announced plans to sell CitiStreet, a joint venture by the two firms, for $900 million. Last month, Citi announced the sale of its commercial lending and leasing business to General Electric and plans to get rid of Diners Club International.
The company added that it was aiming for 9% revenue growth going forward, after suffering through what have arguably been one of the toughest periods in the firm's 196-year-history.
Citi capped a particularly tough 2007 by posting a $10 billion fourth-quarter loss - the worst ever in its storied history. Citi followed that up last month by recording another staggering loss, this time worth $5.1 billion.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:10 AM
The Get Out Clause are an upcoming UK band who are currently unsigned. They took a brilliant and I’m sure soon to be much copied method to producing their own video. Unable to hire a production crew for a standard 1980’s era MTV music video, they performed their music in front of 80 of the 13 million CCTV “security” cameras available in England, including one on a bus.
They then used Britain’s Data Protection Act to request the footage that was shot of them. Grab some decent and inexpensive video editing tools (say. . . an iMac) and presto! They got themselves a unique and in my opinion quite interesting music video.
Posted by gjblass at 9:42 AM