Wednesday, July 2, 2008
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, England — Hollywood will hit the tarmac Thursday at Silverstone when the new Batmobile from the upcoming summer blockbuster The Dark Knight joins the Toyota TF108 for an exhibition lap around the circuit.
The lap will be thanks to a recent partnership between Panasonic Toyota Racing and Warner Bros. Toyota's vehicles — as well as the overalls of drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock — will also be covered with special The Dark Knight artwork.
The iconic Batmobile will be on show at Silverstone, and fans can have their photos taken with the Bat-Pod and the Toyota F1 racers during this weekend's British Grand Prix.
This promotion is not without precedent: David Coulthard promoted Superman Returns by sporting a red cape on the podium after the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix.
Christian Bale will play the Caped Crusader in theaters starting July 18 in the U.S. and July 25 in the U.K.
What this means to you: Too bad the Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 that will be seen in the movie isn't joining the Batmobile for a lap at Silverstone. — Mike Lysaght, Correspondent
Posted by Chismillionaire at 2:10 PM
Source:Investment Company Institute
The Mole's Answer: Though I typically write about advisers that fall short in servicing their clients, this time I'm going to have to squarely agree with your adviser. Any decision made while freaking out is rarely the right one.
Let's start with some data. When it comes to investing, human nature is not our friend, and will consistently lead us to do the wrong thing at the wrong time. The chart to the right shows how investor funds have flowed into stock mutual funds so far this decade.
Notice how we poured money into the stock market after the great years and panicked and sold after declines. A clear pattern of buying high and selling low, something I'm pretty sure investors didn't consciously set out to do.
Buying something on sale is the first thing we'd do if we were shopping for almost anything else, from electronics to a house. That logic is conspicuously absent when it comes to the stock market. For whatever reason, we'd rather return them at a lower price than we bought them for.
A recent study in the Journal of Banking and Finance, states that our ability to consistently time the market poorly costs us roughly 1.5% annually in returns. The study's authors, Geoffrey C. Friesen and Travis R.A. Sapp, note that investors in both actively managed funds and index funds exhibit poor investment timing.
If only retailers had it so good
Think of your favorite retail store. Whether it's Macy's (M, Fortune 500), Target (TGT, Fortune 500), or even Buy.com, we are usually more inclined to buy something we want when the retailer has a sale. In fact, on the biggest shopping day of the year, the Friday after Thanksgiving, there is the annual ritual of people standing in line for hours in the hopes of scoring that great deal when the store opens at 5:00 a.m. While I might be willing to confront the flaws in the practices of some of my fellow planners, I'm not nearly so willing to confront these crowds.
Imagine that one day your favorite store had a "we've doubled our price sale," followed by a "50% off sale." We'd all shake our heads at the absurdity of getting in line to buy at the first sale, only to then rush back and return the items at 50% of our original price.
It sounds silly, yet that's exactly what most of us do in our investing. And we do it with a lot more money than what we would spend at any store.
Why your adviser seems good
One of the roles of a good adviser is to provide some focus and discipline in your investing. In a forthcoming issue of The Review of Financial Studies, a paper points out that we advisers generally do a poor job of staying the course. Its authors, Daniel Bergstresser and Peter Tufano of the Harvard Business School and Johan Chalmers of the University of Oregon, found "no evidence that, in aggregate, brokers provide superior asset allocation advice that helps their investors time the market."
Your adviser is doing you a great service by advising you to stay the course. In doing so, he is trying to protect you from your own human instincts, which will almost certainly fail you.
My advice: While I know that I don't know what the market will do over the next six months, there are some things I do know.
- I know that we will consistently buy high and sell low if we react to our emotions.
- I know that money coming out of stock mutual funds is often a sign that the market will turn around.
- I know that the market has rarely lost money over periods of ten years or longer.
- I know that these are the times that try investors' souls and separate the speculators from the investors.
So my advice is to stay the course. Your planner seems to be one of the good ones as he is offering this advice with full knowledge that this is not what you want to hear.
Pick an asset allocation that is right for you and then stick with it like glue. Remember the wisdom of Warren Buffett, "be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."
Posted by Chismillionaire at 2:03 PM
The news that Starbucks (SBUX) will close 600 stores and lay off as many as 12,000 employees is not only the news that Wall Street was waiting for. It is inevitable. One thing I’ve learned from my 24 years following retailers for Fortune is this: Every retailer that expands across the U.S. hits the wall on growth eventually. And every retail entrepreneur, no matter how talented, is eventually exposed as more romantic dreamer than disciplined operator.
All the greats have hit the wall. Bernie Marcus, who started Home Depot (HD) with Arthur Blank in 1978, used to have a wall—literally—outside his office that he called “The Wall of Shame.” Hanging there were framed press clippings about Home Depot—all stories that predicted that the home-improvement retailer’s go-go growth was approaching an end. One of my Fortune stories hung on that wall, and Marcus loved to say that I should be embarrassed to be there. Guess what? The skeptical journalists turned out to be right. In 2000, Bob Nardelli swooped into Home Depot from General Electric (GE), then paid for the sins of the company’s over-expansion. Home Depot is still struggling under current CEO Frank Blake, and the stock is down 41% in the past year.
Investors in Wal-Mart (WMT) saw growth stall as well. In 1996, four years after founder Sam Walton died, I wrote a story about Wal-Mart’s flat stock and the uncertain path to expansion. It took a major innovation, Wal-Mart’s supercenters, and a few missteps (like selling fashion-forward apparel) before Wal-Mart got its mojo back. Today, Wal-Mart, hitting the sweet spot of consumer demand by guaranteeing low prices, is the best performer on the Dow, up 19% in the past year. IBM (IBM) and Chevron (CVX), the only other gainers, are up 14% and 17% respectively.
Meanwhile, other retailers suffer. Blockbuster (BBI) yesterday announced that it was abandoning plans to acquire troubled Circuit City (CC). Another sinking stock: Sears Holdings (SHLD). As I told you last week, chairman Eddie Lampert admitted that he’s made mistakes managing this combination of Sears and Kmart. One of his errors was loading up on inventory ahead of the consumer-credit collapse. That’s a retail classic.
As for Starbucks, Howard Schultz, who built the company from a tiny Seattle-based chain, is now swimming in uncharted territory. After downplaying the threat of cannibalization for years, he now has to deal with the reality of it. It’s a complicated challenge. By removing breakfast items, among other products, to focus on Starbucks’ core proposition—the coffee experience—he’ll find it difficult to lift per-store sales. Meanwhile, McDonald’s (MCD), a standout performer throughout the downturn, is ramping up its beverage offerings. McDonald’s stock is up 13% during the past year. Starbucks is down 40% and at just below $16, it’s trading at its lowest level since 2003.
Management turnover compounds Starbucks’ problems. In January, Schultz fired his top operator, CEO Jim Donald. (See my recent interview with Donald and two other ex-CEOs in “Lessons of the Fall.”) And since he assumed the CEO role six months ago, Schultz has lost other key managers. One is former U.S. president Launi Skinner, who was considered a potential CEO successor and made Fortune’s Most Powerful Women to Watch list last year. Skinner just landed as president and COO at 1-800-Got-Junk, a hot little privately held outfit that calls itself the world’s largest junk removal service.
From $4 lattes to junk retrieval. Doesn’t that say something about the direction of the economy?
Posted by Chismillionaire at 1:55 PM
DETROIT — American car buyers became very discouraged in June. Beaten down by high gas prices and other contributors to growing household financial stress, they bought 18 percent fewer vehicles than a year earlier. As a result, General Motors' year-to-year sales plunged 19 percent; its biggest competitor, Toyota, posted a 20 percent loss and Ford Motor sales dropping a shocking 29 percent compared to a year earlier. Toyota's sales are down 7 percent for the year and Ford's are down 14 percent.
Analysts attributed at least some of the sales woes to supply constraints. Those who were in the market wanted more small cars than could be built by an industry still trying to catch up with consumers' desire to downsize. The Ford Focus was among the models that became supply-constrained in June.
June sales for the U.S. auto industry were 1.19 million units compared with 1.46 million vehicles during June 2007. The June results left the industry's first-half sales at just 7.41 million units, a dismal performance during what was one of the most disruptive periods in the history of American car manufacturing and sales.
The light-vehicle sales pace for the year now is running at an anemic seasonally adjusted 13.7 million units, auto executives estimated.
The June results left industry executives still searching for the bottom of a market that has fallen further and faster than anyone could have foreseen before gasoline prices skyrocketed to an average of $4 a gallon by the end of June from $3 a gallon at the beginning of 2008.
"The auto consumer is under a lot of pressure and stress, which is manifesting itself in uncertainty toward big purchases," said Jim Farley, Ford's executive vice president of marketing communications. "It's a difficult situation, and we think it's going to persist for many months to come and possibly longer."
Overall, U.S. consumers continued to flock to small cars. Sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid remain constrained as Toyota ramps up manufacturing. The company sold fewer than 12,000 Prius units in June, down about 25 percent on an adjusted basis from sales of nearly 18,000 units in June 2007.
Ford sold 33,000 units of its Focus subcompact in May but only 18,000 in June. Company executives said that inventory levels of only about a 20-day supply of Focuses, in Ford and dealer stocks, meant that many consumers either couldn't obtain a Focus or couldn't get the style or option levels they wanted.
American consumers are seeking out four-cylinder engines wherever they can find them. Sales of the smallest Toyota-brand cars, for example, the Corolla and Yaris, rose by an adjusted 4 percent and 30 percent in June, respectively.
What this means to you: If you're like most Americans and care more about fuel economy right now than anything else, you may have trouble buying what you want — at least at the price you want. — Dale Buss, Contributor
Posted by Chismillionaire at 1:39 PM
With global warming and El Niño tossing hurricanes, snowstorms and tornadoes around every other day, we need a calm, reassuring and sensuous hand to guide us through each day's forecast. To show our appreciation for the gorgeous women who tell us which way the wind blows, Asylum has spanned the globe and rounded up the sexiest weather girls.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 1:05 PM
The new Incline lighter from Xikar offers cigar smokers a simple, yet attractive butane lighter at a reasonable price. The Incline is for the smoker who wants a reliable butane flame but doesn't necessarily need another elegant lighter to take on the town.
The Incline offers smokers little in frills, but that is to be expected given the $29.99 price tag. The flame height is adjustable, either with a fingernail or coin, and a see-through window on the side of the lighter shows the fuel level.
Housed within the durable casing is a single jet flame that ignites easily and dependability thanks to Xikar's Rapid Fire technology.
The Incline is perfect as a secondary flame that can go anywhere — such as the golf bag, the boat or the car. Its fair price, too, means you won't have to worry if your golfing buddy forgets to return it to you by the 18th green.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 1:03 PM
Posted by gjblass at 12:52 PM
Posted by gjblass at 12:51 PM
Spanish supporters celebrate in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, after Spain won the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships final match against Germany that took place in Vienna, Monday, June 30, 2008.
click below for some good pics
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 12:19 PM
Getting a hot chick to go out with you is a difficult thing and countless books, websites and TV shows have covered the topic. So let's say you follow the advice to the letter and, shockingly, it works. Now you're a geek going out with a super hot chick and the two of you have absolutely zero in common. Let's change that, let's turn her into a Geek
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 12:17 PM
Wafting down a poplar-lined French motorway at 100 mph, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe's unique Power Reserve meter informs you that fully 90 percent of the 6.7-liter V12's 453 horsepower is still available, should you need it to whisk past a dawdler.
There's virtually no audible engine noise. The crisp, speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering is perfectly on-center. The seat is comfortably deep and plush, yet supportive. And an XXL-sized 26.4-gallon fuel tank means a cruising range of 400 miles.
The fact that it takes about $125 these days to fill that big tank Stateside is likely of little concern. (It costs 150 euros — over $300 — in France!) After all, you've already spent $400,000 to be seated behind this immense, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom is the most personal sporting coupe one can own. You choose your coupe's exterior color from among 44,000 possible selections. You specify an interior trim from one of six luscious veneers like Rosewood, Elm Cluster or Mahogany Flare (Piano Black is soooooo boring, darling). You select interior upholstery from eight sumptuous leather options. ("We only use bull hides," Andrew Monahan, the leather shop foreman declares. "Their leather is not stretched.") You even choose between a conventional painted hood or one in gleaming stainless steel.
And that's just the start.
Have It Your Way
Ordering a bespoke automobile as you would a custom-tailored Saville Row suit remains a way of life with Rolls-Royce, as it has for decades. You still can personally select many key, handmade elements of your 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe. If you want to specify a special color, type of leather or rare wood, Rolls-Royce is happy to comply. Rolls-Royce doesn't make many motorcars, so the ones it does make are created slowly and most often to an individual order. The assembly line moves just seven times each day.
Rolls-Royce set a sales record last year with 1,010 units sold (557 Phantoms, 200 extended-wheelbase limousines and 253 dropheads). That's about one-tenth of Bentley's current volume, so if you're looking for serious exclusivity, then you want a Phantom saloon (in either regular or extended wheelbase), a Phantom Drophead (Britspeak for convertible) or especially the new Phantom Coupe.
Rolls-Royce has a long history of desirable grand touring automobiles that harks back to the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental in the early 1930s. Usually built on a shorter wheelbase, these sporty coupes, cabriolets and close-coupled sedans were fitted with a tall axle ratio for high speeds and generally carried lighter coachwork (in aluminum or fabric) to encourage fast touring. Today, the born-again Rolls-Royce works ensconced in spacious, environmentally friendly (400,000 trees have been planted nearby) digs in Goodwood, England, and is meticulously assembling its huge cars by hand, while an assembly line is being readied for a new, smaller Rolls in 2010.
Meanwhile, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe — derived from the 101EX concept car unveiled at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show — is just entering production, and it's quite different from the bigger Phantoms that have been built since BMW bought Rolls-Royce in 1998.
Better Buy Stock in Reynolds
Based on the Phantom sedan, the Coupe shares the same all-aluminum space frame that's built in boxed sections and painstakingly hand-welded to 0.0004-inch tolerances. The Coupe's wheelbase is 9.8 inches shorter than the sedan, and the suspension has anti-dive and anti-lift geometry. The springs and rear dampers are stiffer, and a thicker rear antiroll bar tunes out some of the understeer.
Meanwhile there's more boost for the speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion, and the sensation is heightened by a thick-rim sport steering wheel. The brakes are massive (with 14.7-inch rotors and twin-piston calipers in front, plus 14.6-inch rotors in the rear with single-piston calipers), and they haul this big baby down smartly and repeatedly without fading. Goodyear run-flat tires on 21-inch cast-aluminum wheels (there are two forged wheel options) eliminate the weight of a spare, yet this short-wheelbase coupe still weighs 5,798 pounds, the same as a Phantom sedan and even 22 pounds more than the convertible.
The 48-valve, 6.7-liter V12 — set well back in the chassis for a desirable 49 percent front/51 percent rear weight distribution — delivers 453 hp at 5,350 rpm and 531 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm and gets this heavyweight car to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. This engine also develops some 75 percent of its power at just 1,000 rpm, accounting for the turbinelike smoothness that's long been associated with Rolls-Royce cars. Depress a discreet sport button on the steering wheel and the transmission holds gears longer and quickens kickdown, while throttle response is more aggressive, too.
A Matter of Style
Chief designer Ian Cameron has done a fine job of differentiating and updating this handsome hardtop. Up front, the contemporary Rolls-Royce grille seems even more massive, perhaps because the Coupe's rectangular LED parking lights have been reduced in size and the circular headlamps have been enlarged to recall the proportions of old. The heavy A-pillars, high waistline and bluff corners would appear even more gigantic were it not for a sculpted reveal that arcs gently from front to rear, accented by the extended front door handle and kissed with an elegant swirl behind the front wheel opening that's reminiscent of a 1930s fender line.
The Coupe's enormous rear-hinged "suicide" doors produce a graceful, uninterrupted line at the A-pillar, aiding torsional rigidity and also adding immeasurably to this car's mystique. It does take a bit of practice to slither smoothly inside and maneuver around that big steering wheel. You discover the drill is to first sit gracefully, then swivel your legs around together through about 45 degrees in a fluid, regal arc.
More importantly, the wide, forward-facing coach doors facilitate an elegant egress, especially for a lady in a long dress. The doors can be closed via a pushbutton that's discreetly hidden in the front quarter light. The rear seat is fine for a short trip to the opera, but you wouldn't want to be there for hours.
The Phantom Coupe is surprisingly sporty for its size. Passing maneuvers on the old, tree-lined two-lane thoroughfares of Bonaparte's France are a snap. The Coupe scuttles around the vehicle in front of you and is back in line before you can mutter, "God save the Queen." The brakes are like the proverbial giant hand.
Asked for more speed, the V12 revs quickly, and a hint of a powerful trill breaks its usual impassive silence. Hammer this car into a tight turn, and yes, you'll get some tire squeal and body roll, but the Coupe will grip the tarmac and carry on.
That said, it's not designed for tight twisties. A typical Coupe buyer owns a Ferrari or another exotic in his fleet for that purpose. Long sweepers, arrow-straight byways or the Alps? Bring 'em on. This car puts the "Grand" in Grand Touring. It's all about the journey, and when that's completed, it announces regally: "You have arrived."
If You Have To Ask...
Although the price of the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe has not yet been announced, it's thought to be in the vicinity of $400,000. That's a staggering sum for most people, but wealthy Rolls-Royce owners possess multiples of everything: stately homes, private clubs and cars of all types, so they are accustomed to what they perceive as being the best.
And when you buy this car, the whole process is all about selecting the best. You're getting hand-matched wood veneers, matched leather hides and cashmere blends selected by acknowledged experts. "Our leather actually breathes," coos Andrew Monahan in his leather shop. "It has particular warmth to it."
If you want to personalize your car with embroidery or marquetry, Rolls-Royce will do it cheerfully. No color choice is beyond consideration. "We make each car the way the customer wants," says Tom Purves, now CEO after years as BMW's chief executive in North America. Each car is polished for five hours and driven on the road for an hour before being cocooned for delivery.
Judging from stares and waves of passersby, there's nothing subtle about the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe. That's what you're paying for.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 11:08 AM
shredordie.com — This kid is only 2 years old but he can already ride a skateboard pretty well. Imagine where he'll be when he's 6!
Posted by gjblass at 11:06 AM
By Kellvin Chavez on July 1, 2008Reader's 'Santi, Peter and Alfredo' sent us a new poster for Christopher Nolan's epic upcoming film The Dark Knight. According to the readers the poster is from the films viral marketing campaign for the film.
Check out the poster below.
The Dark Knight opens July 18th.
The Dark Knight reunites director Christopher Nolan with star Christian Bale, who returns to continue Batman’s war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as the Joker (Heath Ledger), who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces the Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.
Posted by gjblass at 11:01 AM
China's Fuses Facing Fizzle: Shipping Dangers Limit Ports For Fireworks Exports
A WORKER assembles fireworks in June at Southern Fireworks ManufactureÂs factory in Liuyang in Hunan province, China. As Americans celebrate their Independence Day, the Chinese industry that provides more than 80 percent of AmericaÂs fireworks is in crisis. Chinese ports and most ships are increasingly unwilling to handle their dangerous cargo. The result: a fall of at least 30 percent in overseas shipments this year. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP / June 19, 2008)
By WILLIAM FOREMAN
July 1, 2008
Chen Tiezhong will likely spend the Fourth of July worrying about the future of his sprawling fireworks factory. China, where fireworks were invented, is running short of ports from which to ship the dangerous cargoes abroad.
China's fireworks industry provides 98 percent of America's overall needs, and 80 percent of the pyrotechnics needed for professional displays. But the U.S. fireworks business stands to lose $25 million to $30 million this year because of lost orders, says Julie Heckman, executive director for the American Pyrotechnics Association.
A Missouri firm says it backed out of some shows because of the shortage. Meanwhile, some Chinese factories are being pushed close to bankruptcy.
"Our factory will be forced to close, whether we want it or not," said Chen Tiezhong at his sprawling 500-employee operation in Liuyang in central Hunan province.
His factory is one of 900 around this small city that is known as China's fireworks capital. Most of the factories are far from town, tucked safely away among the farms in surrounding hills and valleys.
Chen rattles off a litany of woes: micro-thin profit margins, rising labor costs and soaring prices for raw materials.
Now, the closure of some Chinese ports to fireworks may be the final straw.
In February, a blast at a fireworks warehouse led to a ban on fireworks shipments at the southern port of Sanshui, Guangdong province, which previously handled 20 percent of China's pyrotechnic exports.
Then, in late March, officials stopped fireworks shipments at Nanshan, another Guangdong port, after inspectors found explosives that had been declared as something else.
Guangdong may not allow fireworks shipments to resume, because the province is trying to shift its economy to more sophisticated goods.
Adding to the industry's woes, China has ordered major ports such as Shanghai and Hong Kong to suspend shipments of explosives as part of tightened security ahead of August's Beijing Olympics.
"It's been extremely difficult," Chen said. "There is simply no way out even if we're willing to pay 10,000 yuan RMB [more than $1,400] extra for each container."
In China, 30 to 40 percent of fireworks for overseas customers have not shipped, forcing many of the country's 7,000 factories to curtail or even stop taking overseas orders, said Liu Donghui, the secretary-general of the China-based International Fireworks Association.
On the U.S. end, 10 percent to 15 percent of orders didn't show up, said Heckman.
China ordinarily sends 9,000 shipping containers of fireworks a year to the U.S., she said, and the shortfall "is by far the most difficult challenge the U.S. firework industry has had to face."
Matt Sutcliffe of Premier Pyrotechnics, Inc. in Richland, Mo., realized six weeks ago that he would run short and have to cancel some shows. He said he contacted every company he knew to pick up the slack, but "No company that I talked to said they could take additional shows."
Heckman said this year's shortage would probably go largely unnoticed by Independence Day spectators because retailers and pyrotechnicians will be sharing their stockpiles.
"As competitive as this industry is, we bleed red, white and blue, and we'll do anything to try to make certain each community gets their Fourth of July Independence Day show," she said.
Liuyang's factories alone produced $1 billion worth of fireworks last year, some $430 million of it to meet overseas orders, the association's Liu said.
Chen's Southern Fireworks Manufacture Co. includes a cluster of long single-story concrete buildings. Inside, women sitting at concrete tables paste together rocket tubes with labels in Russian. Some stick fuses into loaded fireworks and bind them together.
Most of the work is done by hand because machines can overheat or throw sparks, Chen said.
"It's getting harder and harder to find people who will do this work," Chen said. "They think it's too dangerous."
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Posted by gjblass at 10:56 AM
Fernando Torres, broke through off a brilliant feed from Xavi Hernandez in the 33rd minute. Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, at 38 the oldest player in the competition, charged from his net when he saw that defender Philipp Lahm was beaten on the right side.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 10:54 AM
By Jane Fryer
Last updated at 7:50 AM on 01st July 2008
Fancy a gentle paddle down the Thames? Or a splash about in the Norfolk Broads? Or maybe something a bit more bracing?
Like a 120ft vertical drop, straight down the front of a churning, thundering, pounding waterfall into a jagged mess of rocks, froth and vegetation, with just a fibreglass kayak and a jaunty coloured helmet for protection?
Perhaps not. Extreme kayaking may not be everyone's cup of tea but, extraordinarily, it is becoming more and more popular as adrenalin junkies further their quest for a high-octane thrill.
Jaw-dropping: Professional kayaker Pat Keller is a tiny dot on the La Paz waterfall in Costa Rica as he goes over the top and plunges 120ft
And as these amazing photographs - taken by professional photographer Lucas Gilman - show, there's now a whole extreme kayaking world out there.
In one photo, professional kayaker Pat Keller is a tiny green dot on the La Paz Waterfall in Costa Rica as he plunges 120ft straight down the cliff face at a speed of 300ft per minute.
Death-defying: Keller risked his life to perform the stunt on the Brazilian waterfall but emerged with only one injury - a broken hand
Fellow thrill-seeker Ben Stookesberry launches his bright orange kayak into the thundering waters of the 70ft Lower Mesa Falls, Idaho, in the U.S.
In another, fearless Jesse Coombs battles the same waterfalls - man pitted against the almighty force of nature.
'Every time a kayaker goes over a waterfall of more than 40ft, there is a good chance of injury and even death,' says Gilman, who has snapped kayakers in remote spots from Brazil to India.
Conquering nature: Fellow kayaker Jesse Coombs, runs the 70ft-tall Lower Mesa Falls on Henry's Fork River in Idaho
Just taking the photos can be risky - more often than not, the perfect spots for taking pictures are damp, dangerous and alive with snakes, leeches, insects and, occasionally, bandits.
'It's not a pleasure cruise,' he says. 'It's hot, humid and usually in a country that doesn't have hospitals readily available.
'To get the best shot, you have to get to the best location to shoot, which my be in the base of a gorge.
'You have to rappel in [abseil] and battle slick rocks, snakes, bugs - these are places people don't usually want to go.
'I have been known to rappel 100ft into an unknown gorge to get a decent view and I have also been held up in Chiapas Mexico by knifepoint while trying to trek out of the jungle and find a road. They robbed us and let us go.'
Taking the plunge: Photographer Lucas Gilman captures Ben Stookesberry as he too sets off down the Lower Mesa Falls
Every shot he takes involved meticulous planning because the window of opportunity allows no room for failure.
'I try to pre-visualise the shot and usually shoot with two cameras - one acting as a remote - so I have a horizontal and vertical view of almost every situation,' he says.
'There's no second chance with these - you can't ask a guy to go run that 100 footer again.'
Paddler: Jesse Coombs runs the 70 foot tall Lower Mesa Falls near Ashton, Idaho
And just in case you're still tempted to try extreme kayaking, spare a thought for the fearless Keller who swooped down the La Paz Waterfall in his lime-green kayak.
He was delighted to escape with only a broken hand - which snapped on impact after his amazing dive.
Daredevil: Ben Stookesberry rappels 210ft through thin air in Veracruz, Mexico, after deciding the waterfall looked too risky to kayak down
Posted by gjblass at 10:51 AM
If you're traveling all the way to Europe or Hong Kong, you don't want to waste your time sipping a watery local beer while missing all the booty shaking babes. Our international crib sheet will tell you where to go, what to wear, what to order at the bar, and what sexy people you're likely to meet...
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 10:26 AM
A prototype of what will be the UK's largest space rocket has been unveiled, ahead of a planned September 2009 launch.Creator and Salford University academic Steve Bennett hopes 'Nova 2' will take paying passengers into space by 2013.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 10:18 AM