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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Get rid of your Credit Cards- talk about getting swindled

NEW YORK ( -- When 53-year-old Don Cressman was struggling financially, he charged a bit more than usual on his card, but carefully watched his balance to make sure he didn't go over his limit. When he opened his credit card statement, he was shocked to find a $29 over-the-limit fee added to his bill.

"I was charged an over-limit fee when the interest charge kicked my account over my limit," said Cressman. When he called his credit card issuer to complain, they refunded the charge. "I was told that in the future I would 'just have to watch my balance,'" he recalled.

Over-the-limit fees aren't the only tactic in the credit card companies' bag of tricks. There are a slew of penalties, fees and other billing practices that can cause consumers to find themselves drowning in debt.

Americans hold $850 billion in credit card debt, and the average balance per card-holding household is $8,568, according to the Consumer Federation of America.

But even borrowers who pay their bills on time can fall victim to deceptive practices used by the card issuers and get slammed with rising interest and hidden fees, which have become the industry norm in recent years.

"The issuers have gotten a lot more trigger happy over the last few years," according to Curtis Arnold, founder of, a consumer advocacy group.

Consumers aren't the only ones who are fed up. Regulators are starting to take notice too. The credit card industry has been under fire lately by various government agencies. Members of Congress have proposed new legislation and the Federal Reserve is moving ahead on new regulations that might force lenders to rein in some of their deceptive billing tactics and make their fees more transparent to customers.

Credit card sleight of hand

Most credit card holders are well aware that missing a payment can result in a hefty late fee, which ranges from $15 to $39. But meeting a payment deadline isn't always easy. Credit card companies reserve the right to change the date of your deadline with little notice or specify an exact time of day that payment is due. Trying to stay on top of an early morning deadline or due dates that change unexpectedly often leave even the most responsible customers saddled with charges.

Those that have never exceeded their spending limit may also be unaware that going above your credit limit will result in an over-the-limit fee (up to $39) without warning. Like Don Cressman, many consumers who stopped charging when they neared their limit find that the interest rate and additional charges are what pushed their account over the line.

As if the late fees, over-the-limit fees and the interest charges themselves weren't steep enough, there are also a slew of sneaky tactics that credit card companies can use to make sure you keep paying additional charges, even when you pay off your bill.

For example, many banks calculate finance charges using what's called double-cycle billing, a confusing practice that averages out the balance from your previous two bills. So if you carry a balance and pay a finance charge one month, you'll get hit with a finance charge on your next bill as well, even if you've paid off the balance.

Then, there's a practice known as "trailing interest" - another "gotcha" to watch out for, Arnold said. If you send in a payment according to the full amount on your statement, you may find that you still owe a small balance next month. That's because you accrued interest between the time you sent the payment and when it was posted to your account.

And all it takes is one delinquent payment to cause the credit card company to up your interest rate, often substantially. But thanks to a widely-used practice called universal default, you could end up with a higher interest rate, even if you pay on time. Credit card issuers can increase your interest rate - even if you have a perfect payment history - just because you missed a payment on another card or bill.

Pushing back

Because of the scrutiny, some card issuers are beginning to lighten up on their fee structures and billing practices. For example, in spring of 2007 Citigroup announced it would stop using universal default and JPMorgan Chase followed suit in November. But until sweeping legislation is passed, there are a few things consumers can do to avoid getting hit the next time.

For starters, Chris Viale, president and CEO of Cambridge Credit Corp., a nonprofit credit counseling agency based in Agawam, Mass., suggests calling each credit card company to nail down your credit limit, due date and interest rate.

Card-issuing companies, such as American Express (AXP, Fortune 500), Capital One (COF, Fortune 500), Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) also disclose all of this information either online, under the terms and conditions for each card, or in the account disclosure statement you receive when you first open an account.

The important point is to "get familiar of the terms of each of your cards and get them down on paper," Viale said.

If you are having problems call customer service. "There is so much spotlight on this industry right now [credit card companies] are being a lot more careful about negative publicity," Arnold said, referring to the practices lawmakers like Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., dub unfair and deceptive. "Use the publicity as leverage."

Many card companies are willing to lower your interest rate, raise your limit or waive a fee as a one-time courtesy if you ask nicely.

"We strongly encourage our customers to engage with us directly" said a representative from CitiCards. "Particularly if they have questions about their card, payments or credit limit."

Once the terms are established, make them work for you. Though the credit card company decides the due date, you can request to change the payment deadline to a time that's more convenient - at the beginning of the month, for example, if you have more cash on hand then.

Then set up online bill pay so your payment gets posted to your account immediately.

14 Creative Advertisements [PICS]

These are at its best!!

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Ford Flex Fridge: Have Sushi, Will Travel


Ford did it. It's done. The in-car refrigerator has arrived in the 2009 Flex, and with it a new world in which you will not get sick from the sushi you bought the day before and forgot about.

As a $760 option, Ford isn’t simply giving you a plastic compartment cooled by the air conditioner, which can drop the temperature of a beverage perhaps 20 degrees. No, this is an honest-to-goodness refrigerator that uses a compressor to create chilled liquid that can lower the temperature of a beverage 41 degrees in two and a half hours. It also has a freezer option that can chill to 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

The compartment is small — capable of holding seven 12-ounce cans, four half-liter bottles or two orders of vegetable maki — but the utility is also evident. For drivers who live in hot climates, it might save a gallon of ice cream on the way back from the store or allow drivers to run other errands while keeping raw meat at a safe temperature.

What do we want next? The in-car microwave.

Volkswagen 1L Prototype - UPDATE!

by Jorge Chapa

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With oil prices at $135 dollars per barrel, the pressure is on for car makers to innovate and create more fuel efficient vehicles. Volkswagen seems to be taking this task seriously with the 1L, a prototype that is capable of traveling for 235mpg using 1 gallon of gasoline, or 100km on 1L of gas. Adding to the excitement of this breakthrough is recent news that VW plans to get this concept out to market in 2010!

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The 1L is a lightweight two person vehicle made out of a magnesium frame covered by an unpainted carbon fiber skin. Every component of the vehicle is intended to reduce the vehicles weight. Aluminum brakes, carbon fiber wheels, titanium hubs, and ceramic bearings all contribute to the vehicle’s light weight of a mere 290 kg. To reduce the weight even further, and to increase the aerodynamics of the vehicle, there are no rear view mirrors. Instead, the car is equipped with cameras that display visual information to the driver via the internal LCD screen.

The car is extremely fuel efficient, each gallon of fuel will take you over 235 miles. The fuel tank holds just 1.7 gallons, making the entire travel distance capability about 400 miles per tank. It’s top speed is 120 km/h (75mph), which although isn’t too fast is a welcome trade off for the huge savings in gas consumption.

The VW 1L will be available in 2010, in limited numbers.

+ VW boss confirms 1-Liter car for 2010

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10 Cargo-Container Homes Better Than Your House [PICS]

There are countless numbers of empty, unused shipping containers around the world just sitting on the shipping docks and taking up space. Some creative designers have begun using these strange surplus structures to build amazing home and office buildings.

read more | digg story

Double and Supernumerary Rainbows [PICS]

Rare pictures of double rainbows...I know this is a little Fruity....but Mother Nature is Cool!!!!!

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What's the best car for any road?

Date posted: 05-26-2008

We're in a 2009 Nissan GT-R, helmet on, seatbelt fastened, left foot poised to release the brake and unleash Godzilla's wrath. But we're not on a racetrack. In front of us there are 22 miles and 402 turns of the best driving road in the world, Southern California's Glendora Mountain Road. We've covered this ground thousands of times, but today it's different. Today there are two California Highway Patrol cruisers stationed at either end of this twisting strip of sun-drenched blacktop. It is our personal playground for the afternoon.

The radio crackles the "All clear" and with the GT-R's engine revved to a launch-controlled 4,500 rpm, we release the brake and let the big Nissan do what it does best: twist physics into knots.

This process is repeated all afternoon in a collection of today's quickest and most capable road cars. The list includes a 2008 Audi R8, 2008 Lotus Elise SC, 2008 Porsche 911, 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR and 2008 Subaru WRX STI. We didn't discriminate: Rally cars, focused rear-drive performance cars and everything in between was invited to the party. In fact, there's only one genre missing from this otherwise comprehensive list — the big-power, rear-drive supercar. But it wasn't for a lack of trying.

Fact is, we asked Chevy for a 2008 Corvette Z06 and we asked Dodge for a 2008 Viper SRT10, but both refused to loan us their cars — presumably because we'd be testing their best metal against the almighty GT-R.

Sniff, sniff. Does somebody smell chicken?

The Test
The idea is simple: Find out if the quickest car on a racetrack is the quickest car on a mountain road. So we hit the track one day and the mountain the next. Then we ran every car through our standard acceleration, braking and handling tests.

We used the Streets of Willow Springs, a 1.8-mile natural-terrain road course, as our racing circuit. Then we ran that 1.8-mile section of GMR through the Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles.

Our section of road included dozens of corners, including three 180-degree switchbacks, multiple blind bends and 721 feet of vertical rise. In the spirit of real street driving, we respected the yellow center line and used only one lane — just like we would if the road had been open. We recorded every lap of the track and every pass on the mountain road with our Racelogic VBOX (a GPS-based data recorder).

The Point
The groomed, glass-smooth surface of most racetracks is a far cry from the reality of uneven real-world roads where bumps, road paint, debris, blind corners and self preservation act as great equalizers. Racetracks are also designed to protect you from yourself. Run-off room, gravel traps and FIA curbing are there to keep you and your machine in one piece. On the road, mistakes come at a much higher cost.

Experience tells us big-power cars, which thrive on road courses, are often out of their element on tight mountain roads where rally cars like the Evo X and WRX STI do their best work. So these two genres were to represent either end of the spectrum. In the middle we knew we couldn't ignore the back-road brilliance of the 2008 Lotus Elise SC or the all-around poise of Porsche's 911. Audi's R8 and Nissan's GT-R, theoretically, represent the best of both worlds — big power combined with the confidence of all-wheel drive.

Some of you might also be wondering why we chose the base 911 over the much more powerful and all-wheel-drive-equipped 911 Turbo. The answer is simple: price. This base Porsche 911 costs about the same as the Nissan GT-R. We thought that was relevant. Just how much Porsche do you get for the cost of the big bad Nissan?

Other questions? Oh yeah. How about: On the street, does traditional go-fast hardware succumb to the long-travel confidence of an Evo or the nimbleness of a lightweight Lotus? How does Porsche's classic go-fast formula stack up against the current breed of machines? Is Audi's R8 as comfortable when driving hard as it is around town? Is the GT-R the quickest car on a track and a seriously tight mountain road? Can 3,900 pounds of rolling technology outrun 2,000 pounds of pure, focused driver's car?

The answers are below.

2009 Nissan GT-R
As-tested price: $75,925
Mountain road time: 2:04.35; Rank: 1st
Streets of Willow lap time: 1:25.68; Rank: 1st
0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds (3.2 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip)
Quarter-mile: 11.7 seconds at 116.8 mph
60-0 braking: 98 feet
Slalom: 74.0 mph
Skid pad: 0.96g

By now you've read every word printed about the 2009 Nissan GT-R. You know it's quicker than a 911 Turbo on a track. You've seen it beat the best the Americans can offer. You've read that it's as antiseptic as it is quick. And now you're reading that it can stomp damned near any car on any piece of tarmac, anywhere. Yes, Nissan's 480-horsepower, six-speed all-wheel-drive monster wins this test, too. It was quicker up the mountain road and around the Streets of Willow than any other car in this test.

Here's the thing about the GT-R. Despite its mass, it simply doesn't do anything poorly. It is the embodiment of technology conquering physics. And yes, it is less involving than other cars this quick. That said, it's always on your side. It's safe.

Only the R8 was able to top its cornering speeds through the tightest corners on the mountain road. On the track, which is faster still, it was untouched in virtually every corner. And it closes the gap between corners in less time than anything else sold today. Most striking is the fact that the GT-R is among the easiest cars to drive in this test. Even with its stability control disabled, it rarely does anything to make us question its poise. It's as stuck and predictable as it is massive. And, by every measure, it lives up to the hype.

2008 Audi R8
As-tested price: $134,545
Mountain road time: 2:04.68; Rank: 2nd
Streets of Willow lap time: 1:26.92; Rank: 2nd
0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds (4.2 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip)
Quarter-mile: 12.7 seconds at 109.0 mph
60-0 braking: 103 feet
Slalom: 71.0 mph
Skid pad: 0.98g

Audi's midmounted 420-hp, 4.2-liter direct-injection V8 is not only one of the best-sounding engines in the world, it's also one of the most potent. Combined with Audi's R tronic paddle-shifted six-speed transmission and distinctly rear-biased all-wheel drive, this German's price tag is high, but so are its abilities.

Take the R8's 2nd-place finish on the mountain road as proof positive that it's for real. Then notice that it trails the big-hype GT-R by only a third of a second over two minutes of twisting road and you can be certain of its real-world abilities. It was the only car to record quicker segment times and higher peak speeds than the GT-R over two of the four segments on the mountain road. It also had more agreeable balance than the GT-R in slow corners. The big Nissan pushed through switchbacks where the R8 found neutral balance and exited with its tail out.

The same was true on the track. The Audi's mass-centralized designed allowed it to rotate through slow corners more effectively than any other car in the test. Still, superb tuning kept it stable enough to be confident through high-speed transitions. Shifts were slower than in the GT-R, but paddles that turn with the wheel made them easier to nail at precisely the right second. Overall, the R8 offers more character than most of the other hardware here, and on the right road it will hang with the GT-R.

But we can't ignore the fact that it's the most expensive car in the test by a wide margin. In the end we love the R8 the same way we'd love carbon-fiber slacks: They're a wonderful luxury if you have the means, but when polyester will do the same job for half the cash, they're probably hard for most to justify.

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR
As-tested price: $38,940
Mountain road time: 2:06.91; Rank: 3rd
Streets of Willow lap time: 1:29.02; Rank: 3rd
0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds (5.3 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip)
Quarter-mile: 14.0 seconds at 97.4 mph
60-0 braking: 111 feet
Slalom: 68.9 mph
Skid pad: 0.92g

The Evo X's twin-clutch six-speed transmission, when used in Super Sport mode, is a revelation. Until now we haven't driven an automanual transmission which so thoroughly eliminated the need for a clutch pedal and gearshift, but when driving hard, the MR does just that. In fact, with another 75 horses (the Evo X is rated at 291 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque), it likely would have upset the mountain road finishing order in a big way. As it sits, it flat spanked the $85,000 Porsche and walked all over the little Lotus.

With its stability control switched off and its Super Active Yaw Control precisely directing drive to the appropriate contact patch, the Evo found itself 2nd only to the GT-R in the fastest segment on the mountain road. Its peak speed through this section of road was 1.5 mph faster than the R8. There's more confidence here through fast transitions than in any other car.

The Evo's secret weapon, however, is its transmission. It's always in the right gear. Unlike the paddle-shifted transmissions in the GT-R and the R8, the Evo's six-speed thinks for itself and maximizes the car's performance. Sure you can mess with its paddles if you want, but only if you want to go slower. Plus, there's less to consume the driver's brain power, so driving is less frantic.

The Evo MR, however, is too soft to take full advantage of its otherwise stellar chassis when the going gets truly uneven. We bottomed the suspension on several occasions. A big part of an Evo's advantage on a road like this is being able to put its tires in places that would upset cars with less suspension travel. But the MR's softer Bilstein dampers simply aren't up to this kind of pounding. The GSR's suspension is likely better suited to this terrain, but it's not available with the twin-clutch gearbox. So we're left wanting an Evo that doesn't exist — and knowing that it would be quicker still.

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera
As-tested price: $85,765
Mountain road time: 2:09.51; Rank: 4th
Streets of Willow lap time: 1:29.25; Rank: 4th
0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds (4.5 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip)
Quarter-mile: 13.0 seconds at 108.1 mph
60-0 braking: 104 feet
Slalom: 72.2 mph
Skid pad: 0.92g

Few sports cars are as fundamentally sound as Porsche's 911. Even this base model reminds us how steering should feel and how brakes should perform. Problem is, even a Plain Jane 911, which comes with a six-speed manual transmission and 3.6-liter engine good for 325 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque tops $85 grand with only a few options. That's almost $10 grand more than the GT-R, which will mop the road with all six of the 911's horizontally opposed pistons.

Still, we find it hard to not appreciate 50 years of sports car refinement. There's a poise and elegance about Porsche's timeless rear-engine design that's evident in its driving experience. And its edgy side is virtually gone. This side of the 911 is welcome in the mountains where there's no runoff and little room for error.

But these same traits — the slower reactions and tamer control feel — keep the rear-wheel-drive 911 from edging the Evo on the track where it missed the mark by only about a quarter of a second (0.23). That gap extended to 2.6 seconds in the mountains, where the Porsche was less eager to rotate and couldn't match the Evo's launch out of slow corners.

The 911 is probably the most versatile car here from a driving perspective — capable of both comfortable daily transport and high-level performance driving. But it's not the best value if measured on lap times alone.

2008 Lotus Elise SC
As-tested price: $63,920
Mountain road time: 2:10.19; Rank: 5th
Streets of Willow lap time: 1:29.49; Rank: 5th
0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds (4.6 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip)
Quarter-mile: 13.3 seconds at 103.2 mph
60-0 braking: 110 feet
Slalom: 72.4 mph
Skid pad: 0.96g

With a new supercharged engine for 2008, Lotus' Elise finally has the power (218 hp and 153 lb-ft of torque) to match its chassis' abilities. A six-speed manual transmission backs up the power to drive the 2,028-pound plastic-and-aluminum machine to new levels of performance. Our test car also had the Sport Pack, which supplies forged wheels and Bilstein dampers.

Given its status as the most pure driver's car sold in the U.S., we had high hopes for the Lotus. But in this case, purity of experience doesn't add up to outright speed. More problematic is the lack of confidence created by its nervous character up to and beyond the limit. Most cars in this test extend a measure of control beyond the limit of grip that masks their edge considerably. Not so in the Elise. Its back-to-basics character doesn't allow this luxury. Get it sideways under braking and you better have fast hands and good car control or you'll soon taste regret. And regret on this mountain road involves stone walls.

Manual steering, which is spectacularly full of feel up to the limit, becomes a heavy liability when trying to recover a slide. Add all this up and the Lotus, despite having the right power-to-weight ratio and chassis to be competitive, winds up 5th — less than a second behind the Porsche on the track and in the mountains.

If success in this test were measured in adrenaline production or outright fear of death, the Elise wins hands-down. But in this environment, measured against the best cars modern technology car produce, Colin Chapman's simpler-is-better ethos is beginning to show itself for what it is: old.

2008 Subaru WRX STI
As-tested price: $39,678
Mountain road time: 2:10.72; Rank: 6th
Streets of Willow lap time: 1:30.05; Rank: 6th
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds (5.0 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip)
Quarter-mile: 13.5 seconds at 101.8 mph
60-0 braking: 109 feet
Slalom: 69.7 mph
Skid pad: 0.90g

An STI at the back of the pack? What gives? Well, it isn't power, because the Subaru packs 305 ponies and 290 lb-ft of torque from its 2.5-liter four-cylinder. And it isn't weight, because the Subie weighs 250 pounds less than the Evo — its primary competitor. And, like the Evo, it has six closely spaced gears and all-wheel drive to put the power down.

Part of the problem is the STI's awkward manual transmission that requires deliberate shifts, every one of which is several tenths of a second slower than the Evo's twin-clutch gearbox. The STI was the only car we missed a gear in during three days of testing.

The rest of the time is down to response and precision — the ability to go exactly where it's pointed when it's asked. Compared to most other cars in this test, the Subaru lacks both. And without the Evo's ability to rotate quickly in a corner, it can't put power down until later in every turn — a deficit its acceleration advantage simply can't overcome.

And then there's the understeer, which limits acceleration out of every corner. We ran the STI up the hill and on the track with its center differential set to Auto and its throttle calibration in Sport Sharp. But the settings don't seem to make a difference. This car works its front tires. Period.

Ultimately, the STI isn't as universally capable as expected. It also produces the least grip of any car in this test, lowering its cornering speed and slowing its times on the track and on the road. A rougher mountain road would likely have better illustrated the STI's abilities and moved it slightly up the ranks on that part of the test.

The Take-Away
Even in a test without a winner, it's hard to ignore some simple facts. All-wheel drive matters. Both on the track and on the mountain road, cars putting power to all four wheels were consistently quicker and easier to drive than their two-wheel-drive counterparts.

We also learned that speed doesn't always cost money. The Evo, the cheapest car in this test, proved that. Just as the Audi R8 demonstrates that it's possible to have a comfortable street car that makes the numbers and goes really friggin' fast.

But in the end, the quickest car on the track was also the quickest car on the street. Nissan's GT-R again proves itself to be today's most impressive performance car. Capable of crushing all comers in any environment, its abilities are tough to match at any price. Nobody will ever accuse it of being subtle. And it's not comfortable. But if outright speed is the measure that matters, we can't find a better machine.

And that, we figure, won't surprise anybody at Chevy or Dodge.


Willow Street Lynn, is now officially on the Map. When I was walking home on Friday evening. I noticed a bunch of men, unloading woods, and supplies into the Abandoned Bank on the ground floor of my building.

I asked of the guys, what store is going in the site, who bought it, etc... he says no-one they are designing a Movie Set! I was astonished. Of course the next question.....was.....What Movie!! He said, a Sci-Fi film, with Bruce Willis!

Well being a fan of Bruce, I was like Yippie Kay-yah Mother Fuc****!!!!!!!!!!!

Surrogates at IMDB

Bruce Willis starrer 'Surrogates' adds cast

By Carly Mayberry and Carolyn Giardina

April 3, 2008,

Ving Rhames, Radha Mitchell and Rosamund Pike have joined Bruce Willis in the sci-fi thriller "The Surrogates" for Disney.

Jonathan Mostow is directing the film based on the graphic novel by Robert Venditti and artist Brett Weldele of Top Shelf Comix. Michael Ferris and John Brancato -- the writing duo that last teamed with Mostow on "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" -- penned the script. Mandeville Film's David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman are producing along with Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks.

Ned Vaughn ("Frost/Nixon") was also previously cast in the film, which is set in the future where humans live risk-free lives through robot surrogates that are eternally young, perfect-looking versions of themselves.

Rhames plays a charismatic cult figure who disdains the use of surrogates and tries to lead an uprising against the "new world order."

Mitchell plays the professional partner of Willis' character, a cop that through his surrogate investigates the murders of others' surrogates.

Pike plays his wife.

Production is set to begin in late April on the film, which will be released through Touchstone.

Rhames, who recently wrapped production on Paramount Vantage's "The Goods: The Don Ready Story" and will appear in the upcoming "The Gift," is repped by Innovative Artists.

Mitchell, repped by CAA, manager Rick Ax and attorney Doug Stone, will appear in the upcoming "Henry Poole Is Here" and "The Children of Huang Shi."

Pike just wrapped production on "An Education" and will appear in the upcoming "Fugitive Pieces." She is repped by Endeavor and Magnolia Entertainment.

What is a Sleeper?

This 190mph Volvo wagon qualifies

Flash Gordon, Highlander Remakes Announced. PLUS MORE!

Weekly Ketchup: Flash Gordon, Highlander Remakes Announced


With Iron Man showing that a movie can prominently feature a man being propelled into the heavens on a rocket, and make a bajillion dollars, it's apparently okay again to show a man inside a rocket being propelled into the heavens as well. As the winners of a studio bidding war, Sony Pictures announced this week their plans to revive Flash Gordon as a feature film franchise, bringing back the football star who travels to the planet Mongo, and helps a variety of exotic races fight against the evil Ming the Merciless. Flash Gordon started off in the 1930s as the star of comic strips and a series of extremely popular serials (basically a movie broken up into parts, shown before other movies back then), and was then being remade as a flamboyantly campy Queen-soundtrack-driven adventure (and box office flop) in 1980.

This time around, Breck Eisner (director of Sahara; and son of Disney's famous former boss), who is also remaking The Creature from the Black Lagoon and George A. Romero's The Crazies, has been given the enviable challenge of bringing Flash's fantastic adventures to life. I'm not terribly excited by just how rampant the current remake trend is becoming, but Flash Gordon is definitely a pretty awesome candidate, I think. More interesting than Flash himself, I think, is the prospect of seeing Ming the Merciless return as a movie icon. Absence from popular culture for 25+ years has hurt his legacy a bit, but Ming easily deserves a place on any top 10 list of the most classic movie villains ever. "Pathetic Earthlings!"


Hollywood's junkie-like addiction to raiding its back catalogue for remake material continues this week with a really great fantasy sword-and-sorcery adventure which inspired several sequels, and more than one TV show: Highlander. In the original, Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert starred as immortals locked in a centuries-long struggle against others of their kind who seek to kill them off. This time around, the project's new producers are promising a more "romantic" Highlander that will stress Connor MacLeod's love for a non-immortal woman, with a script to be written by the writers of Iron Man (Art Marcum and Matt Holloway). This project, then, proposes the question I bet you didn't think you'd have to ask yourself today: who is the 21st century equivalent of Christopher Lambert?


Discussing candidates for remakes, the studio chiefs at MGM revealed this week that they have their eyes on Robocop (which we already knew about a few weeks back) and from a somewhat similar 1980s-centric political vein, Red Dawn. Yes, the Patrick Swayze-starring movie about high school kids who take to the hills during a Russian/Cuban invasion of the United States, becoming rather successful guerrila rebel fighters. Directed by John Milius (the Conan movies, and writer of Apocalypse Now), Red Dawn is a movie that people either passionately LOVE, or find rather hilariously bad, I think. I'm actually in the first camp, but I'm also a big fan of "alternative history", so my mind goes all kind of theorizing at any movie that depicts a different path like Red Dawn does (so, yes, I'm that one person who actually saw White Man's Burden). The big question for this remake has got to be who they would paint as the big bad invaders this time? Theoretically, I guess it *could* be Russia and Cuba again, but you've got to think that "they" would probably either go for an Asian threat (China or Korea?), or probably the most predictable choice, post 9/11, and some sort of Middle Eastern and/or Islamic threat. The logic-challenging problem there though is... can "terrorists" credibly be portrayed as an invading force?


DreamWorks has hired screenwriter David Franzoni (Amistad, King Arthur) to bring his history-friendly talents to bear on Blackbeard, about the real-life early 18th century English pirate, Edward Teach. This isn't the first time a historical pirate's life story has been considered in recent post-PotC years; projects about Captain Kidd and the pirates of Tripoli are now gathering plenty of dust somewhere in development desks. Blackbeard probably has an edge, however, as he was particularly flamboyant (adorning his beard with rope and lit matches!), and probably contributed a great deal to the things we stereotypically think of as being part of pirate lore. I say "probably" because I'm (honestly) not really that into the pirate genre, and I'm sort of just basing this on what I know of (gasp) actual maritime history and stuff I found on Wikipedia. Apparently, though, for people who are really into the whole pirate thing, Blackbeard's a big deal, so... here they go. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, and all... that.


Columbia Pictures has hired Danish documentary filmmaker Asger Leth to make his dramatic debut with Olympia, a romance-heavy ancient war movie set during the original Olympics, as war wages between Greek rival city-states Athens and Sparta, from a script by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot). Given the average speed that film development and production usually goes, I've got to think that Sony's target here is probably sometime in 2011 or 2012, so that the movie can properly tie into the 2012 games in London? They're probably also inspired by the success of 300, of course. Before that movie, who knew moviegoers would love Spartans so?


With 15 years now passed since the tragic events there, the government siege of David Koresh's Branch Dividian compound outside Waco, Texas is now becoming the subject of a feature film, to be directed by Rupert Wainwright (Stigmata, the remake of The Fog). I'm sure this project has probably been in the works for years (considering that one of the co-producers is the director of the 1997 documentary, Waco: The Rules of Engagement), but it's always interesting to me when projects like this are announced just as something similar is going on in the world (in this case, the Texas raid of that polygamist compound). Who knows what bizarre movie project would be revealed as having been in the works for a while, if any given random thing made the news?


Little-known British actor Ben Barnes, currently starring as Prince Caspian in the latest Narnia movie, has been cast as the lead in a new feature film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, as a man who keeps a magical painting upon which all of his aging goes, keeping his real body perpetually awesome looking. Oliver Parker, who also directed the most recent movie versions of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, is aiming to start filming in July, on this project which will delve into "dark horror", as it analyzes the subject of fame, and what one will do to keep up appearances.


Frequently inspiring movies loosely based on it, William Shakespeare's King Lear is apparently due for another proper film adaptation, with Sir Anthony Hopkins (Lear), Gwyneth Paltrow (Regan) and Kiera Knightley (Cordelia) being announced this week as having been cast as 3/4 of the play's lead characters. King Lear, which tells the bloody tale of what happens when the elderly King of England's three daughters fight amongst themselves over who will benefit when their father dies. Although the director hasn't been announced yet, this British production reportedly has a budget of $35 million, which will be used to include "epic" battle scenes to support the Bard's notoriously grim and cruel dialogue. I'm maybe a bit surprised this isn't being announced as Kenneth Branagh's next Shakespeare production, but perhaps he is just waiting until he can properly age into the role.


In addition to their various projects that star members of The Avengers, Marvel Studios announced this week plans to produce a feature film adapation of Runaways, a 2004 series created by Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, and part of the Lost writing team), about a group of fugitive teenagers whose parents are super-villains, and who must come to terms with their own super-powers, and place in the world. The great thing about Runaways was that it managed to be a creative idea at a time in an industry where most of the original stuff seemed to have already been done, and most writers have a tendency to "pay homage" to other titles far, far too often. Brian K. Vaughan will adapt his own screenplay, and there is no word yet about a director, etc., so this project will probably not be added to Marvel's actual production calendar until after the Avengers projects (possibly aiming for 2012 or so?).


In other prison movie news, the Warner Bros project called Super Max, which will star DC Comics' Green Arrow, received a script review at Latino Review this week, which revealed something we had not previously known, which is what DC super-villains will be joining archer Oliver Queen in the big house. I've been a fairly consistent reader of various DC Comics titles over the years, and even I have to say, that I am only familiar with about half of the villains, so writer Justin Marks definitely felt comfortable not being forced to only use villains with "marquee" value (although a few of those, which I won't spoil here, are definitely included as cameo appearances).

Among those that comics fans might know (versus having to look up on Wikipedia) are The Calculator (prominent in the excellent Identity Crisis storyline), Blockbuster (one of Nightwing's main baddies), Tattooed Man (a Green Lantern foe) and Pied Piper, a member of the Flash's Rogues' Gallery. I think I'm seeing a trend, actually, as it appears that each of these villains correllates to a different prominent DC superhero. There's obviously some overlap, but I definitely think that might be intended, which is sort of cool. Meanwhile, in the years it takes this movie to get made, you can join me in trying to learn exactly who such obscure DC villains as Cascade, Multiplex and Shock Trauma are. As a footnote, let me say I'm totally behind the idea of superhero movies being more about an actual story than having to be "about" whatever hero or heroes star in the story, which Super Max seems to be a perfect example of. Green Arrow is a character in the story, rather than the subject of the story.

In other prison movie news, director Frank Darabont (The Mist), whose most popular movies include The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, announced this week plans to return to jail with Law Abiding Citizen, although this time, he won't have the benefit of source material written by Stephen King. From a script by Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium), the film tells the story of a criminal mastermind who is able to control an entire city from the comfort of his prison cell, with Gerard Butler having already signed on to play the district attorney attempting to bring him down.

This Bud's For You--And I Don't Mean Beer

Posted By:Jane Wells


It's generally believed that the number one product from California's number one industry isn't legal. Agriculture remains the Golden State's biggest business, and some believe marijuana is worth $14 billion. No one really knows for sure.

The LEGAL medical marijuana business is estimated by advocates to be worth up to $2 billion. Legal, that is, in the state's eyes. It's still illegal under federal law.

Today I'm reporting on the business of selling pot legally, the costs and challenges that go with it. Twelve years after California was the first state to make medical marijuana legal, many clinics are still raided as criminal enterprises (and some are--even under state law), and many others remain paranoid, having come from an underground culture that has pervaded the industry for so long.

Then there are those pushing for openness, transparency, ethics, and standardized practices. In the face of almost no regulatory standards, they're developing their own, and making money doing so.

One company, Oaksterdam University (a combination of its hometown of Oakland and Amsterdam) is charging people $200 to take classes and be tested to achieve "certification" as a grower or clinic owner. There's a company that will even certify your marijuana as "green," grown to organic standards. The USDA, of course, can't do this.

But not everyone in California is on board. Some counties are reportedly suing the state so they don't have to issue identification cards to medical users.

Still, the state has seen a fivefold increase in clinics in the last few years. Some offer only a few choices, but Oaksterdam's Danielle Schumacher says other clinics offer up to a hundred different varieties watched over by a dozen "bud tenders." Teaching these bud tenders is part of Oaksterdam's goal. As Schumacher says, "somebody's gotta do something about this."

And why not make a perfectly legal living doing so?

Funny Business Poll
Do you support medical marijuana if it's legal? * 1983 responses
Not a scientific survey.

Lamest Fetish Items Ever: From Expensive to Foolish, '99-'06

15 years of Wired Fetish. That's 442 pages of obsessive gear lust. We were bound to make a few bad selections...

read more | digg story

One-Way Mission to Mars: US Soldiers Will Go

Sargent First Class William H. Ruth III contemplates his current duty in a barren landscape in Afghanistan, and says he's willing to lead a human mission to Mars.

An article published on Universe Today back in March of this year detailing former NASA engineer Jim McLane's idea for on a one-way, one-person mission to Mars generated a lot of interest. The many comments on the subject posted here on UT and numerous other websites such as ABC News ranged from full support to complete disbelief of the idea. McLane's concept has literally gone around the world, and a journalist from Spain, Javier Yanes who writes for the newspaper Publico shared with me his correspondence with a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan, who says that battle-hardened soldiers would be the perfect choice to send on a mission of no return to a new world. SFC William H. Ruth III says he and the men in the 101st Airborne Division are ready and willing to go.

SFC Ruth wrote, "While reading Jim McLane and Nancy Atkinson’s thoughts on Space Colonization, I started to realize that we ‘ALL’ have lost our way. We have become so consumed by petty differences and dislikes of others that we all have forgotten our pre destiny of something better."

And what is the 'something better' that Ruth envisions? Military personnel from different countries joining together to make "the ultimate sacrifice" of forging the way to establish an outpost on another world, like Mars.

"Here is an ‘out of the box idea’," Ruth writes. "Let the heroes of ‘All’ our countries, for once, risk the ultimate sacrifice for something greater than one man’s idea. Maybe once let these men and woman that rise every morning and say ‘today I will stand for something’ and say ‘evil will not prevail, not on my watch’. For once let them volunteer for us all, you never know, mankind, the human race. It might just catch on if we let it."

Ruth continues, "Will we falter at a hint of death or danger? Or will we do now what so many in ‘ALL’ of the world’s history has done before us. NASA of all thinking societies should understand this. Would there even be an America or NASA if a man named Columbus had not pursued a dangerous and possibly deadly voyage to a new world? He certainly had to consider whether or not he would ever return home to see all those he loved so dearly. But what of those aboard his ships, those that left Spain knowing that they would never return. Those few that willingly risked all for the chance at a new world and a new future, could they have possibly known what effects they would have had on the future due to their sacrifices? Now can we have enough vision to see our destiny, can we, for a moment, see past our petty differences of race and religion to see…peace, prosperity and possibly a new world."

3rd Platoon at Fire Base Ter-Wa, April 2008. SFC Ruth is first on the left.

Ruth says 15 years in the military has prepared him for such a mission. "So I am no fool and I am no stranger to what some might call high risks," he says. "Hundreds of thousands of fighting men and woman from around this world have walked, rode, swam and even jumped into what some would call a high risk situation. Some even considered suicide missions, ones with low probability of success. And why, what did they risk all for? Each and every one of us, even those throughout this earth that has made that choice, risk all for what we believed would make our world better."

Ruth first began pondering such a mission after reading a quote by Stephen Hawking on "The discovery of the New World made a profound difference on the old," Hawking said. "Spreading out into space will have an even greater effect. It will completely change the future of the human race, and maybe determine whether we have any future at all."

Ruth sent an email to's Anthony Duignan-Cabrera, which was posted on the LiveScience blog: "Here is an idea: Send battle-hardened, strong-minded soldiers and marines on the long trips into space. We are conditioned to live with the bare minimal (of) life’s necessities and are trained to be prepared for … the worst conditions that any environment could throw at us. Hell, me and my men will go, set up a colony somewhere and await colonists to arrive."

Javier Yanes read Ruth's proposition and contacted him, sending him the link to the Universe Today article with McLane's idea.

Ruth responded by sending Yanes a written statement called "A Soldier's Perspective;," Yanes wrote an article about Ruth in Publico, and shared Ruth's proposal and pictures with me.

Ruth doesn't agree with McLane's idea of a one-person mission to Mars, but supports the one-way idea.

"I fully agree with NASA and others that it is completely dangerous and potentially deadly for anyone who sets out on this voyage," he wrote. "But since when has that ever stopped anyone? A one way trip is the way to go about this, it is a proven fact of human history that when the human species is thrown into a no alternative situation, that they will prevail and survive.

The military would never send someone out alone, and Ruth thinks a multiple ship mission is the way to proceed, with three to four smaller vessels, with four to six crew members each.

Ruth admits that other might see sending soldiers into space as more like an invasion or occupation than exploration. "To those who share this concern, consider this for a moment and ask yourself, who else?" Ruth asked. "Who else has the mentality to volunteer to face certain danger and possibly death, thousands of miles away from their homes? I could think of a few hundred thousand that do it everyday across this planet."

Ruth says that getting the worlds militaries involved with something other than making war with each other could change humanity's future for the better.

"I wonder who will be the first to extend the hand of complete partnership, representing the whole human species?" Ruth asks. "Could this be the answer that so many have searched for? Could this one thing unite humanity in a new era of global cooperation and a new planetary respect for human life, unlike we know it today? My answers… ask me again when I’ve reached the new world!"

Robot climbs 1640-foot cliff at Grand Canyon

Evolta robot climbs Grand Canyon cliff

Evolta climbs Grand Canyon -- On May 24, a 17-centimeter tall, 130-gram Panasonic Evolta battery mascot robot scaled a 500-meter cliff at the Grand Canyon in a publicity stunt to showcase the endurance of the Evolta AA alkaline battery, which the Guinness Book of World Records recently recognized as the longest-lasting of its kind. Powered by a pair of Evoltas, the robot hoisted itself up a 530-meter length of rope suspended next to the cliff, reaching the top after a grueling 6 hours and 45 minutes.

[Source: Kobe Shimbun

WCI student isolates microbe that lunches on plastic bags




Getting ordinary plastic bags to rot away like banana peels would be an environmental dream come true.

After all, we produce 500 billion a year worldwide and they take up to 1,000 years to decompose. They take up space in landfills, litter our streets and parks, pollute the oceans and kill the animals that eat them.

Now a Waterloo teenager has found a way to make plastic bags degrade faster -- in three months, he figures.

Daniel Burd's project won the top prize at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa. He came back with a long list of awards, including a $10,000 prize, a $20,000 scholarship, and recognition that he has found a practical way to help the environment.

Daniel, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, got the idea for his project from everyday life.

"Almost every week I have to do chores and when I open the closet door, I have this avalanche of plastic bags falling on top of me," he said. "One day, I got tired of it and I wanted to know what other people are doing with these plastic bags."

The answer: not much. So he decided to do something himself.

He knew plastic does eventually degrade, and figured microorganisms must be behind it. His goal was to isolate the microorganisms that can break down plastic -- not an easy task because they don't exist in high numbers in nature.

First, he ground plastic bags into a powder. Next, he used ordinary household chemicals, yeast and tap water to create a solution that would encourage microbe growth. To that, he added the plastic powder and dirt. Then the solution sat in a shaker at 30 degrees.

After three months of upping the concentration of plastic-eating microbes, Burd filtered out the remaining plastic powder and put his bacterial culture into three flasks with strips of plastic cut from grocery bags. As a control, he also added plastic to flasks containing boiled and therefore dead bacterial culture.

Six weeks later, he weighed the strips of plastic. The control strips were the same. But the ones that had been in the live bacterial culture weighed an average of 17 per cent less.

That wasn't good enough for Burd. To identify the bacteria in his culture, he let them grow on agar plates and found he had four types of microbes. He tested those on more plastic strips and found only the second was capable of significant plastic degradation.

Next, Burd tried mixing his most effective strain with the others. He found strains one and two together produced a 32 per cent weight loss in his plastic strips. His theory is strain one helps strain two reproduce.

Tests to identify the strains found strain two was Sphingomonas bacteria and the helper was Pseudomonas.

A researcher in Ireland has found Pseudomonas is capable of degrading polystyrene, but as far as Burd and his teacher Mark Menhennet know -- and they've looked -- Burd's research on polyethelene plastic bags is a first.

Next, Burd tested his strains' effectiveness at different temperatures, concentrations and with the addition of sodium acetate as a ready source of carbon to help bacteria grow.

At 37 degrees and optimal bacterial concentration, with a bit of sodium acetate thrown in, Burd achieved 43 per cent degradation within six weeks.

The plastic he fished out then was visibly clearer and more brittle, and Burd guesses after six more weeks, it would be gone. He hasn't tried that yet.

To see if his process would work on a larger scale, he tried it with five or six whole bags in a bucket with the bacterial culture. That worked too.

Industrial application should be easy, said Burd. "All you need is a fermenter . . . your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags."

The inputs are cheap, maintaining the required temperature takes little energy because microbes produce heat as they work, and the only outputs are water and tiny levels of carbon dioxide -- each microbe produces only 0.01 per cent of its own infinitesimal weight in carbon dioxide, said Burd.

"This is a huge, huge step forward . . . We're using nature to solve a man-made problem."

Burd would like to take his project further and see it be used. He plans to study science at university, but in the meantime he's busy with things such as student council, sports and music.

"Dan is definitely a talented student all around and is poised to be a leading scientist in our community," said Menhennet, who led the school's science fair team but says he only helped Burd with paperwork.

Other local students also did well at the national science fair.

Devin Howard of St. John's Kilmarnock School won a gold medal in life science and several scholarships.

Mackenzie Carter of St. John's Kilmarnock won bronze medals in the automotive and engineering categories.

Engineers Without Borders awarded Jeff Graansma of Forest Heights Collegiate a free trip to their national conference in January.

Zach Elgood of Courtland Avenue Public School got honourable mention in earth and environmental science.

MRO captures pic of Phoenix Lander DURING LANDING!

Emily has what is simply The Coolest Picture Ever. It is that simple.

Explanation: The Phoenix lander's footpads are about the size of a dinner plate. One of three is shown at the right, covered with Martian soil after a successful soft landing on the Red Planet on May 25. Amazingly, the left panel image is of the spacecraft during its descent phase, captured by the HiRISE camera onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter -- the first image ever of a spacecraft descending to the surface of another planet. Taken from 750 kilometers above Mars, the picture shows Phoenix suspended beneath its unfurling, 10 meter-wide parachute, against the much darker Martian surface. The lander is still attached to its protective backshell. Phoenix released its parachute at an altitude of 12.6 kilometers. Using rockets to further reduce its speed for landing, Phoenix now rests in the northern polar region of Mars at about 68 degrees latitude.

Chateau Miraval: Brangelina's New House

The unthinkable hell you’re looking at above is the new “house” Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt bought over the weekend. Near Provence in the south of France, the main building has 35 bedrooms and sits on 1000 acres, an estate complete with a vineyard, lake, forest and a moat. You read that right by the way. A fucking moat. Cost: 60 million dollars. E! says...

The pre-Roman estate also boasts a swimming pool, billiards room, indoor pool, his-and-hers gyms, sauna and jacuzzi and a huge banquet hall. Magnificent cascading stone-walled terraces have been replanted with 13 different varieties of olives, and water is everywhere on the sprawling estate—20 fountains, aqueducts and a stream that runs through hidden tunnels, passes through the moat and fills the lake. Except for the ponies and goats grazing in the nearby fields, "the house is surrounded by a forest so they'll have total privacy, which is exactly what they're after," the source tells E! "No one will ever be able to get pictures of them relaxing at home, it's just impossible." The Jolie-Pitts hope to be completely moved in within the next three months, if not sooner. For the past year, Brad and Angelina had been house-hunting in the area, where residents include Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis and U2 frontman Bono.

Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo

Whole Foods 365 brand soda


As hard as I try, I cannot eliminate sodas from my "menu." We all have favorite foods on our personal menus, and I've tried to kick the soda thing because of all the unnecessary high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners in diet sodas, but alas I cannot do it. So, as a happy medium I went to find some alternatives, and thus I discovered the Whole Foods 365 line of sodas.

In the 365 sodas, they use pure cane sugar as the sweetener instead of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Now too much of any sugars is not good for you, but if you have to choose between the two, it's better to go with the natural sugar than the corn syrup which has gone through processing in order to increase its fructose content. It has been said that high fructose corn syrup is a main contributor to obesity and raising levels of diabetes.

For me, when I started eliminating HFCS from my diet, I found that it was easier for me to drop pounds. My other incentive for dropping the foods/drinks with HFCS was the fact that diabetes runs on both sides of my family. My philosophy is that it's better to start taking care of your health now, then when it becomes a problem.

Here is some interesting information about HFCS vs. Cane Sugar:


Are soda's made with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup any better for you?

I know either way they are carbohydrates your body doesnt need, but is there anything less detrimental about cane sugar that HFCS?

Yes I do know they are both bad for you. Im not looking for alternatives or anything. I simply want to know if pure cane sugar is less detrimental to your body than HFCS'. Im not a big soda drinker Im just an inquiring mind.


I know your not looking for alternatives but for the sake of the audience I will answer your question and go through some alts. at the same time. Please read the whole thing cause I think you will find it very interesting and take them into consideration.

You said that you are not a big soda drinker, but what is a big soda drinker and how much is to much? Just about everything we eat and drink that is processed has corn syrup added just look at the ingredients. So even if you don't drink alot of soda you still have to look at the rest of your diet.

Corn syrup is worse than sugar. Everybody including healthy people should stay away from corn syrup. Corn syrup is more concentrated, it depletes your chromium levels(which helps with sugar motabolism), requires more insulin to motabolize, has more calories, kills your immune system faster than refined sugar, turns in to fat faster, higher blood sugar, faster wieght gain and many more. Just to give you an idea of the concentation of corn syrup in a can of coke, coke has an equivalent of 10 teaspons of sugar while pepsi has a little bit more. It requires more corn syrup to equal the same amount of sweetness of sugar while having more negative side effects per gram.

They use corn syrup because it is cheaper for them to produce; plus their is the Govenment Subsidy issue involved in this as well. The truth is the Government and Corporate America is brain washing Americans and the World into the least Nutrient based diet.

While corn syrup is worse, sugar is better; unprocessed and Natural Is The best way to go. I have seen sodas with CANE JUICE/FRUIT SUGARS/HONEY/NATURAL ACCURING SUGARS/ECT. Cane Juice is not processed and is more complex just like fruit sugar. Sugars from low glycemic fuits are more complex, high glycemic fruits not as complex as low glycemic fruits but still allot more better than sugar and corn syrup. You may pay more but you will notice the diffence in Natural unprocessed suguar cause you won't have the same sugar crash and negative side effects. The other route you can go is to look for products with splenda.

Splenda is a derivative of sugar so it tastes almost like sugar. I would say it tastes comparatively in bettween processed sugar and natural surgars with a little taste of sugar substitutes. Sugar Alcohols are good in moderation, but don't get to excited about this Zero Net Impact Carbs garbage because it doesnt work out in the long run the way they say it does. If sugar is all your worried about then the less processing the sugar goes the better. Sugar and corn syrup is processed and bleached. Even Brown cane sugar is processed(brown sugar). Cane surgar is a little better. But, They are all not very complex and you get a rush of energy then a crash. Corn syrup is worse but they BOTH still have a negative effect on the body. So unprocessed and Natural based is better, while sugar is in the middle, but corn surup is the worst.

However i would stay away from soda all together. It is the worst thing you can put in your mouth to drink besides milk, but soda by far is worse. Soda is very acidic and causes alot of inflamation, oxidation, acidic body ph balance, robs you of oxygen, water, nutrients, and is the cause of many diseases and so on.

Natural Gatorade type products and naturally flavored vitamin waters without the carbonation or sparkling water is best to detour your soda drinking habits. Life water by Sobe and Vitamin Water by Glacue are good but, there are more naturally sweetened waters that have come out recently and taste very good. Tea with naturally accurring sweeteners like honey are better also. If you really worred about sugar do a google on Stevia (sweet leaf) which is the best, safest sweetener in the world bar none, but not necessarily the best tasting: so just add a little honey for taste. Stevia has a Glycemic Index of Absolute Zero while being 300 times sweeter than sugar with just 1/4 of a teaspon with no side affects. Better is Stevia Plus with FOS which actually has positive side effects.

Freshly squezed or unprocessed juices are good as well. Best of all is plain old water which has a alkaline balance of 7.5-9 vs soda wich is a acidic level of 2.5. Corn syrup and cane sugars have a more acidic level than natural unprocessed sugars. Natural is more alkaline. Doctors say we should be alkaline at least 7 or above to help our bodies fight aging and disease. Give it a try, its easier than you think and you can even cut back. I go somtimes months without soda and when i do drink it it is only a few gulps to a few ounces. One trick would be to drink your favorite healthy beverage just until you think your full and then drink soda or just buy the smallest sized drink with plenty of ice.

If you drink alot of soda wash it down with alot of water. The water will cut down the sugar and acid while in your stomach. Then once in your cells it will help motabilize the sugar and burn it off. If you are really worried about sugar, well i have some bad news that you may know already; but just about everything we eat and drink gets converted to sugars and fats. So another alternative would be to supplement your diet with spices and herbs like Cinnanmon Capsules with Chromium Picolinate, Napal Capsules and many more. Take as directed or take evertime you indulge in a sugary substance or high caloric/fat value. These herbs also help with cholesterol and fat motabolism. If you are on sugar diabetes/Cholesterol lowering medication consult your doctor first because YOU may need to adjust your medication to a lower dosage or come off the medication completely and this requires close supervision by a doctor. Doctors are not well informed in nutrition so go to a doctors visit well prepared and explain it to them in detail with your research and give them a printout/copy so they can read it for them selves.

I would advise You to keep educating your self on this subject. The internet is is a good way; but the best way is to go To Whole Foods near you and keep going back and ask questions and read thier magazines, read the labels, ingredients, and Research, Research, Research is the key. Do a Google search on each product, company, and ingredient. Visit other health natural food stores as well and get as much information as possible.

The best advice would be; do not get hung up about all this organic stuff. If you don't believe in it, don't worry just think unprocessed or natural, and abuse free is best; certified organic or not. I hope this helps you and good luck with your health. God Bless

Sydney Pollack, film director, dies at 73

Sydney Pollack, the American film director, at the 59th Cannes Film Festival in 2006. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

LOS ANGELES: Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood mainstay as director, producer and sometime actor whose star-laden movies like "The Way We Were," "Tootsie" and "Out of Africa" were among the most successful of the 1970s and '80s, died on Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 73.

The cause was cancer, said a representative of the family.

Pollack's career defined an era in which big stars (Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty) and the filmmakers who knew how to wrangle them (Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols) retooled the Hollywood system. Savvy operators, they played studio against studio, staking their fortunes on pictures that served commerce without wholly abandoning art.

Hollywood honored Pollack in return. His movies received multiple Academy Award nominations, and as a director he won an Oscar for his work on the 1985 film "Out of Africa" as well as nominations for directing "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1969) and "Tootsie" (1982).

Last fall, Warner Brothers released "Michael Clayton," of which Pollack was a producer and a member of the cast. He delivered a trademark performance as an old-bull lawyer who demands dark deeds from a subordinate, played by George Clooney. ("This is news? This case has reeked from Day One," snaps Pollack's Marty Bach.) The picture received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and a Best Actor nomination for Clooney.

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