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Monday, June 16, 2008

Prototype Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid: 88 MPG on 85% Ethanol

As part of a push by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to make plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) cost competitive with other cars by 2014, Ford has delivered a plug-in hybrid electric flex-fuel Escape to the DOE to join its test fleet of other PHEVs currently undergoing research and testing.

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The iPhone 3G FAQ

Here's everything you wanted to know about the iPhone 3G.

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Genetic Coding Contained Meteor Fragment is Extraterrestrial

This file picture shows a meteorite crater in Peru. Genetic material from outer space found in a meteorite in Australia may well have played a key role in the origin of life on Earth, according to a study to be published Sunday.(AFP/FIle/Andina)
AFP/FIle Photo: This file picture shows a meteorite crater in Peru. Genetic material from outer space found...

by Marlowe HoodFri Jun 13, 2:04 PM ET

Genetic material from outer space found in a meteorite in Australia may well have played a key role in the origin of life on Earth, according to a study to be published Sunday.

European and US scientists have proved for the first time that two bits of genetic coding, called nucleobases, contained in the meteor fragment, are truly extraterrestrial.

Previous studies had suggested that the space rocks, which hit Earth some 40 years ago, might have been contaminated upon impact.

Both of the molecules identified, uracil and xanthine, "are present in our DNA and RNA," said lead author Zita Martins, a researcher at Imperial College London.

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is another key part of the genetic coding that makes up our bodies.

These molecules would also have been essential to the still-mysterious alchemy that somehow gave rise, some four billion years ago, to life itself.

"We know that meteorites very similar to the Murchison meteorite, which is the one we analysed, were delivering the building blocks of life to Earth 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago," Martins told AFP in an interview.

Competing theories suggest that nucleobases were synthesised closer to home, but Martins counters that the atmospheric conditions of early Earth would have rendered that process difficult or impossible.

A team of European and US scientists showed that the two types of molecules in the Australian meteorite contained a heavy form of carbon -- carbon 13 -- which could only have been formed in space.

"We believe early life may have adopted nucleobases from meteoric fragments for use in genetic coding, enabling them to pass on their successful features to subsequent generations," Martins said.

If so, this would have been the start of an evolutionary process leading over billions of years to all the flora and fauna -- including human beings -- in existence today.

The study, published in Earth Planetary Science Letters, also has implications for life on other planets.

"Because meteorities represent leftover materials from the formation of the solar system, the key components of life -- including nucleobases -- could be widespread in the cosmos," said co-author Mark Sephton, also at Imperial College London.

"As more and more of life's raw materials are discovered in objects from space, the possibility of life springing forth wherever the right chemistry is present becomes more likely," he said.

Uracil is an organic compound found in RNA, where it binds in a genetic base pair with another molecule, adenine.

Xanthine is not directly part of RNA or DNA, but participates in a series of chemical reactions inside the RNA of cells.

The two types of nucleobases and the ratio of light-to-heavy carbon molecules were identified through gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, technologies that were not available during earlier analyses of the now-famous meteorite.

Even so, said Martins, the process was extremely laborious and time-consuming, one reason it had not be carried out up to now by other scientists.

Maybe The Worst Sign Outage Ever

Customer service isn't what it used to be.

Added 6/16/2008:
This sign is from the Blockbuster Video store in Brookline, MA north of Coolidge Corner. Thanks for asking. The sign has been fixed. The customer service has not. :-)

I could have Photoshopped this, but I swear it's real. You can trust me.

The World's 17 Sexiest Beaches

You know the saying: Put two people together and let nature take its course. Well, put two people together in a locale with sunshine, sand, and turquoise waters…and watch the clothes come flying off….

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5 Marvel Super Hero Movies We Want to See (and 5 We Don't)

As a service to Marvel Studios and the hordes of Marvel Zombies everywhere, (and with the release of The Incredible Hulk hitting this weekend), we here at The Deadbolt have assembled a list of five Marvel super hero movies we definitely, no questions asked, want to see in active development and five that should be banished to the Negative Zone.

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Amazing plant life - ancient seed sprouts after 2,000 years

Forget cryopreservation – hot and dry conditions might be all you need to awake far into the future. A date palm seed some 2000 years old – preserved by nothing more than storage in hot and dry conditions – has germinated, making it the oldest seed in the world to do so.

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F-16 Dropping a 1000-Pound Bomb On Taliban Hide-Out

War kids!!! that is what is going on out below to see the action!

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Playboy's Jo Garcia Pwns Wii Fit Girl

When Wii Fit Girl did her 3 million hits thang, somehow I knew this was coming down the pike. Because Playboy is the home of Jo Garcia, the Cyber Girl of the Year for 2008 and an enthusiastic and knowledgeable gamer herself. And not only does she have noooo problem wearing much less than naughty librarian glasses and panties, Playboy also has muuuuuch better video equipment and editing.

The link is to a version that, while probably NSFW, is non-nude and won't get you arrested. I can vouch for the fact there is a topless version out there too, and let's just say she sticks the landing in the ski jump. I'm sure the intrepid amongst you can find that, I won't be providing it here, aside from the screen shot above.

The Perfect Fit [Playboy, non-nude but NSFW]

Honda makes first hydrogen cars

The Japanese car manufacturer Honda has begun the first ever commercial production of a hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle.

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'Knight Rider' Car On eBay

Vehicle Was Property Of Slain Greenwich Businessman


Courant Staff Writer

June 13, 2008

KITT, the sleek, talking car that helped make David Hasselhoff famous, is about to hit the road again.

The executor of slain Greenwich businessman Andrew Kissel is selling the Trans Am on eBay starting this afternoon. Bidding starts at $20,000, according to Greenwich lawyer Patrick R. Gil, who has handled the dismantling of Kissel's estate.

Gil had put the car up for auction months ago but then removed it after he started getting calls from all over the world questioning its authenticity. Gil did more research and said Thursday it is one of the handful of KITT cars used in the 1980s series "Knight Rider." KITT was the computer brain of the jet-black car that talked to Hasselhoff and got him out of many scrapes.

Kissel purchased the car from an auction house in May 2005 for $69,000 but never took possession of it. Part of the agreement was that Kissel would allow the car to be used in an Adam Sandler movie called "The Benchwarmer."

"I don't know why he never brought the car back here. My guess is because his troubles started to mount a few months after he purchased it," Gil said.

The car was Kissel's last major possession, Gil said.

Kissel was days from starting a 10-year federal prison sentence for forging documents to obtain more than $16 million in loans from banks and mortgage companies when furniture movers discovered his body in the basement of his Dairy Road home in Greenwich on April 3, 2006.

He had been stabbed four or five times in the back. His hands and feet were bound in Flex Cuffs and his T-shirt had been pulled over his head.

Police arrested Carlos Trujillo, Kissel's former driver, and his cousin, Leonard Trujillo of Worcester, in March.

This week prosecutors announced they were upgrading the charges against Leonard Trujillo to capital felony, meaning he could face the death penalty if convicted. They allege that Carlos Trujillo paid Leonard to kill Kissel.

Carlos Trujillo has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Both are scheduled to appear in Superior Court again on June 19.

Andrew Kissel was the second member of his family to die a high-profile, violent death. His brother, Robert Kissel, a wealthy banker, was killed by his wife, Nancy, in Hong Kong in 2003. She poisoned his milkshake.

History Channel's bogus 'Lost Pyramid' documentary

Debuting next week, the documentary follows a team of archaeologists as they 'unearth' Egypt's fourth Great Pyramid at Giza, which, as the title says, has been lost for years to the desert sands. The only problem is that statement—indeed, the entire documentary—is arguably as solid as the crumbling pyramid itself.

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Getting around taxes still very doable apparently

Death is inevitable, but federal income taxes aren't for an increased number of high-income earners.

Rich couple
(Getty Images)
More Photos

New IRS statistics show 7,389 federal tax returns with $200,000 or more in adjusted gross income reported no federal income taxes in 2005. That's a 161% jump from the 2,833 comparable returns filed in 2004.

Additionally, 4,224 of the over-$200,000 earners reported no worldwide income tax liability on their 2005 returns, the IRS data show. That represents a 75% increase from the 2,420 comparable returns filed in 2004.

The data are the most recent available from the IRS. It shows a rising number of high-income earners have avoided the alternative minimum tax, which was intended to ensure that tax shelters, deductions and loopholes wouldn't exempt wealthy Americans from paying at least some federal income tax.

"It's an interesting case study on how people find ways to avoid paying taxes," said Howard Gleckman, a senior research associate and tax blog editor at The Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

The increases stem in part from two tax law changes, according to the IRS Spring 2008 Statistics of Income Bulletin.

Responding to Hurricane Katrina, Washington exempted charitable contributions between Aug. 27, 2005, and Jan. 1, 2006, from the overall limit on itemized tax deductions and the 50% of adjusted gross income limit for such giving. The one-time change wasn't limited to hurricane-related contributions.

"There was no excuse for not restricting it to the affected area," said Joann Weiner, a former Treasury Department employee who analyzed the changes in her current job as a contributing editor at Tax Analysts, a non-profit publisher of tax information and data.

Under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, Washington also allowed taxpayers to eliminate up to 100% of their alternative minimum tax liability by using credits for any foreign taxes paid. Before tax year 2005, those credits could only eliminate 90% of federal income taxes.

High-income earners — guided by accountants and tax advisers — reacted swiftly to the change, which remains in effect. In 2004, IRS data show they reported $16.6 million in foreign tax credits. The following year, the total credits claimed soared to $447.3 million.

Broadcom Founder Was Rockin' The Coked-out 'Orgy' Cave

In an Oriental-themed, tricked-out parlor, Nicholas, his friends and a bevy of prostitutes would party and have sex for days - abusing cocaine, laughing gas and other drugs, as music from such chart-toppers as Led Zeppelin and Phil Collins played.

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The Funniest Father's Day Ad ...ever!!!!!!!!!!!

HMS Ontario, sank in 1780 FOUND

Deep in Lake Ontario, two-man team finds 228-year-old shipwreck almost perfectly intact
Jun 14, 2008 04:30 AM

Feature Writer

A British warship that sank in Lake Ontario 228 years ago during the War of Independence has been found almost intact by two shipwreck hunters.

"This is the Holy Grail of Great Lakes wrecks," says Jim Kennard who, with his partner Dan Scoville, discovered the 22-gun brig-sloop HMS Ontario in deep water "somewhere" between Niagara and Rochester. "There's nothing more significant than this one."

"It's the oldest confirmed shipwreck in the lakes," Scoville adds. "And very few warships went down. The Ontario is so complete, the two masts are in place and there's still glass in some of its windows."

The ship was a few hours into a voyage from Fort Niagara on Oct. 31, 1780, when it foundered in a sudden, violent storm. There were no survivors. Built at Carleton Island, where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence, it was launched the previous May and may never have fired its guns in anger. It spent the summer ferrying troops and supplies around the lake. Its captain, James Andrews, was also commodore of the lake squadron of ships.

Legend had it that the Ontario was carrying a small fortune in gold as a year's pay for the British garrison at Fort Haldimand on Carleton Island. Kennard scoffs at this.

"The only money would have been in the pockets of the people on board," he says in a phone interview from Rochester, where both men live. "That's not the way the garrison's pay travelled."

The ship was also widely believed to have been only about eight kilometres from its first port of call, Oswego, N.Y., when it sank.

"We're not saying exactly where it is," Kennard says. "It's a British war grave and we want to make sure it remains undisturbed. But it's nowhere near Oswego."

HMS Ontario, 24.5 metres long with masts about the same height, went down with some 120 men, women and children on board. Only six bodies were ever found.

Kennard, 64, and Scoville, 35, searched for the ship for three years, covering about 500 square kilometres, though Kennard first went looking for it 35 years ago.

"But without GPS and other technology ... even now, it was a long, boring task, back and forth with a scanner," he says. "Worse than mowing a lawn."

Scoville is a highly skilled "technical diver" and Kennard is an electronics engineer. He figures in the past 35 years he's found about 200 wrecks. He and Scoville have been working together for six years and have tens of thousands of dollars invested in their equipment.

"It's a hobby and hobbies can be expensive," says Kennard. "But when you find something like this, you forget the expense, you forget the boredom. It's ... whoa!"

HMS Ontario lies in an area where the water reaches depths of more than 150 metres and there's no visible light. The team found the ship with a sonar scanner and confirmed its identity last week using a remote-controlled submersible which shot what Kennard calls "really excellent video. We compared Admiralty drawings of the ship with the pictures and we have a book, Legend of the Lake, that details every deck and where things are. Everything is there. There's no doubt this is the Ontario."

The ship's wreck is sitting in mud at a 45-degree angle, he says. "It's a beautiful ship. There are two crow's nests on each of the masts. One even has some of the railing left around it. None of the spars are attached; they've fallen on the deck. There are a couple of anchors, one still on the ship.

"Eight of the 22 guns were on the deck. Some are still in place. You can't see the others because the gun ports are closed. It's hard even to see the ports because the hull has a lot of mussels on it. The most prominent parts of the ship are the quarter galleries, a sort of windowed balcony, one at each side of the stern. That was the captain's quarters."

Kennard isn't sure why HMS Ontario wasn't more severely damaged. "Who knows what happened? It was a pretty bad storm. Perhaps they were trying to get the ship turned around ... it goes on its side, takes in water, the hatches come off and it fills... It doesn't look as if it went down bow or stern first. It probably settled upright. There could have been trapped air between decks that would have helped the buoyancy. It probably went down quite gently."

He likens using a sonar scanner to "watching your computer screen wallpaper for 10 or 12 hours. You're ready to change your hobby at that point. You start doubting yourself.

"We realized at the end of May that this was probably the Ontario. We were 99 per cent sure. Then the weather turned against us and we were waiting, chomping at the bit."

When they were able to send down the submersible, "finally, last Saturday night, we just went crazy. The video images are so clear. "

Kennard hopes to interest a TV company in a documentary. "Then I don't think we'll ever go back. That's our philosophy. It's a grave and we're the guardians. We don't want to lead other people to it."

What's next for the team?

"There are a few other wrecks in the lake that we'd like to find," he says. "But we generally don't tell people what we're looking for or they start looking for us."

Scoville fears that whatever their next discovery, it'll be an anticlimax.

"I've only been doing this for a few years," he says. "It's kind of sad that this is probably the pinnacle of my search career already."

New Transformers 2 Set Pics (Bumblebee!) (+Video!)

By Kellvin Chavez on June 14, 2008

Transformers Live Action Blog and the Unofficial Transformers 2 Blog have a ton of pictures via FLICKR (Zacklur) from filming that’s going on at the Drexel University's Main Building film set for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen! There’s a lot to look at. There are shots of the crew setting up shots, Michael Bay himself talking with some of the talent like Isabel Lucas, playing Alice and of course Shia in living color!

You can also check out Bumblebee as well in full action doing a 180 degree turn. Check out the pretty neat video below.

Here is what the site's report reads:

I was in one of the party scenes. I had to get fitted with jeans and a button down dress shirt, we all were and Shia was wearing dark jeans and a black button down shirt. In the scene which they shot 3 times from different angles Shia was sitting on a old wooden chair when this girl [Isabel Lucas] in a green short dress (who I thought was an extra) was dancing in front of him and kept leaning into him. That’s it for the scene I was in but there is a lot more to it.

So it definitely looks like, from the pictures and location that Shia’s in college. Anyhow, enjoy the pictures over at FLICKR, and stay tuned for more updates here on, as we get them as well!


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PHOTOSHOPPED: Captain Jack Sparrow (A Must-See!)

Learn how to paint Jack Sparrow out of a skull. Digital speed painting of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) with: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Wacom Intuos3 A4 Recorded with: autoScreenRecorder 2.0 Free Produced with: Adobe After Effects about 3 hours painting.

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Fascinating Look at the "Green Mega City Of the Future"

Featured in Pop-Sci...........From power generating sidewalks and highways, pod cards and trains that get you around, pollution eating algae parks and Vertical Farm towers, this is a fascinating eco-savvy blueprint for tomorrows mega city that points the way to fresh air, clean water and traffic that never jams

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Titanic discoverer Ballard called to find lost sarcophagus

It has been a source of enduring fascination for archaeologists and amateur Egyptologists everywhere: what exactly happened to the sarcophagus of Menkaure, one of Egypt's greatest Pharaohs?

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Woman locked in filthy bedroom dungeon for 18 YEARS after having a baby out of wedlock

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:59 AM on 14th June 2008

A woman kept prisoner by her family for 18 years for having a baby out of wedlock was last night dramatically freed by Italian police.

Maria Monaco, 47, was found huddled in the corner of her bedroom living in a state of squalor surrounded by filth and excrement.

Maria was found by police at Santa Maria Capua Vetere, a small town just outside Naples, Italy, after an anonymous tip-off and last night her brother and sister were in custody accused of detaining her.

dungeon bed

Police point at the filthy bed in the room where Maria Monaco was kept prisoner

Footage on Italian TV showed a squalid stained single mattress in her bedroom with dirt and grime on the floor and walls and the bathroom she used was covered in filth.

Police said that Maria, whom they say was suffering from psychological problems, was kept a prisoner shortly after falling pregnant with her child - now a 17-year-old student.

dungeon loo

The adjoining bathroom was squalid and covered in excrement

Her mother Anna Rosa Golino, 80, brother Prisco, 44, a farmer and sister Michelina, 54, a primary school teacher took action after she had an affair with a mystery man and got pregnant.

Captain Carmine Rosciano, of Santa Maria Capua Vetere police, said: 'We received an anonymous tip-off that a woman was being held and we raided the family home in rural land on the outskirts of the town.

'Maria was found in her locked bedroom in a confused state and surrounded with filth and excrement - she was living in squalor.'

dungeon family

Ms Monaco's mother Annarosa Golino and her siblings Michelina and Prisco Monaco kept her prisoner to punish her for having a baby out of wedlock

dungeon home

Ms Monaco was kept inside the family's house in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, southern Italy

Last night Maria was in hospital in Naples being treated for her trauma while her mother was bailed but her brother and sister kept in custody.

Police were also questioning Maria's 17-year-old son whom they said was living with his grandmother and 'fully aware of the situation'. Attempts were also being made to track the father of the boy who police refused to name but they said it was proving difficult to question Maria.


Josef Fritzl kept his daughter Elisabeth prisoner in the basement of their family home in Amstetten, Austria for 24 years

The case was alarmingly similar to that of Austrian man Josef Fritzl who kept his family locked in an underground dungeon for 24 years before being discovered earlier this year.

The 73-year-old lured his daugher Elisabeth into the cellar under their house when she was 18. He raped her repeatedly and fathered her seven children,one of which died.

In public Mr Fritzl appeared to be a regular man and a pillar of thecommunity, living in Amstetten with his wife Rosemarie, with whom he had seven grown-up children.

Mr Fritzl remains in police custody. He has not yet been charged. Police say he has confessed to the crimes and that there is DNA evidence to support this.

Photobombers: Ruining Your Pictures, One Click at a Time

You may have heard tale of the fabled subset of bonehead known as the photobomber. This (often intoxicated) dude works his way stealthily into your photographs, completely marring what would have been another awesome picture of you and your friends holding up your beers and smiling.

Although often photographed, his kind remains a mystery. Who is this random man? Where did he come from, and what are his motivations? One golden moment of genius and then, in a flash, he's gone.

Wonder at his antics in this gallery of great photobomber moments.

Weird Sports Stuff

    Executive Batting Practice

    Nothing like taking office batting practice with this desktop-sized pitching machine to demonstrate to your underlings that: A) You can really turn on a 55 mph heater, and B) You have no qualms about damaging the workplace with a batted ball.

    Aqua Golf

    On hot summer days, kids are always complaining that there's no where to go to work on their short game. Fortunately, that waste of space you call a swimming pool can be put to good use.

    N Range Indoor Shooting System

    Like shooting, but hate leaving the comforts of home? Then get your own indoor shooting range. NOW who's the creepy one in the neighborhood?!

    The Urban Basketball Backpack

    For the man who needs more ball space OR why tuck your ball under your arm when you can store it on your backside?

    Bowling Pin Hat

    For those days you want to prove that you really are a tool.

Click on Photo below to Launch the gallery of Photobombers
Click here to Launch Photo Gallery

Jurassic Park Comes True

How scientists are bringing dinosaurs back to life with the help of the humble chicken.

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New York Poised To OK Marijuana For Medical Use

Supporters are optimistic that this is the year New York legalizes medical marijuana. Patients and caregivers would register with the state and receive identification cards that would allow them to legally purchase marijuana for medicinal use. They would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants and to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.

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New Coaster Doesn't Screw Around, Features 97 Degree Drop

As soon as you think they can't build a more intense roller coaster, someone comes along and makes one that's crazier than anything anyone's seen before. Today's example: the Farenheit at Hershey Park, a coaster that drops you down a 97-degree slope. Yes, that's beyond vertical. It hits you with 4 Gs of force, more than what NASA astronauts are subjected to. Holy crap. Hit the jump for a video of this thing in action, then feel free to falsely claim how big a man you are and how much you'd enjoy this voluntary abuse.