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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

20 Album Covers Recreated in LEGO

Here is some creative recreations of famous album covers using Legos.

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First Trailer for 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'!

I know at the end it says 'In Theatres in December' but I think that's only for Australia. According to wikipedia, the film releases November 21, 2008 in the UK and US, which I'm guessing would be the date for most major markets. By the way, am I the only one who still hasn't read any of the books but still anticipate every new film in the series?

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iPhone apps: 1,001 and counting...

The number of offerings on the App Store — the venue for independently produced programs that helps distinguish Apple’s smartphone from all others — hit 1,001 on Monday night.That’s roughly double the number that were available when the store opened just over two weeks ago (on July 11, the same day the iPhone 3G went on sale), and includes popula

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How to benchmark your portfolio- just the S&P 500 doesn't cut it anymore

NEW YORK (Money) -- Question: I agree that it is misleading for planners to show clients results of their global portfolio compared with the raw S&P 500, stripped of dividends. Does the Mole have a suggested alternative for the best way to show clients the results of their global portfolio?

The Mole's Answer: I love this question that came to me from a CFP via a letter to the editor in the June issue of the Journal of Financial Planning. Let me expand on why the S&P 500 index is great for us planners but very misleading and costly for consumers. Then I'll give that alternative benchmark.

Most planners, including me, put our clients in a global portfolio of U.S. stocks, international stocks, and bonds. I think this is the right thing to do, since we live in a global economy.

Now for some reason, possibly Wall Street's marketing muscle, we view the S&P 500 index as the stock market. There are two reasons why this index is the wrong benchmark to compare your portfolio to.

Apples to oranges

The S&P 500 companies are essentially the largest U.S.-based companies. They happen to represent roughly 80% of the market capitalization of the U.S. stock market. But, the U.S. stock market is now only about 40% of the total global stock market capitalization. Thus, the S&P 500 companies are only about 32% (80% of 40%) of the global stock market value.

These S&P 500 companies also happen to be the worst performing of the global stock market over the past ten years. So comparing the total global market to the worst performing 32% of the market is a really easy benchmark to beat.

It doesn't even include all of the oranges

Any index, including the S&P 500 index, includes only the gain from capital appreciation. An index excludes the part of the return from dividends. For example, in 2007, the S&P 500 index increased 3.5% while the total return from S&P 500 stocks was 5.5%. The difference being the 2% yield that came from the dividends that were distributed by these 500 companies.

I'm a believer in keeping things simple so I use only three benchmarks to compare a portfolio's return - a total U.S. stock index fund, a total international stock index fund and a total bond index fund. I use the retail funds themselves, rather than a theoretical index plus dividends, because all funds have some costs and I want a reality-based comparison.

I use the following three funds:

  • Vanguard Total U.S. Stock Index VTSMX
  • Vanguard Total International Stock Index VGTSX
  • Vanguard Total Bond Index VBMFX

I then weight each of these returns according to the actual weighting in the portfolio I'm benchmarking. For example, a portfolio that is 60% U.S. stock, 30% international stock, and 10% fixed income should have returned 8.6% in 2007 as shown in the illustration. The same allocation of index funds would have returned 17.7% in 2006.

If, for example, this client's portfolio earned only 6.6% in 2007, and 15.7% in 2006, I would show that they underperformed by 2.0% each year. The client's previous adviser, however, compared their performance to the S&P 500 index returning only 3.5% in 2007, and 13.6% in 2006. Thus the adviser created the illusion of beating the market when, in actuality, they significantly underperformed.

When I do this benchmark for clients, many get it immediately and are willing to move toward a portfolio using vehicles like the ones we used in this benchmark. On the other hand, there are those who actually become upset, as I suspect they place great value on maintaining the illusion of beating the market. In this instance, I'll hear some variation of the response "Well, the S&P 500 index is the accepted definition of the market."

My advice: Don't take your adviser's word for it that you are beating the market. Give the chart to your adviser and ask him to update it using your allocation of U.S. stocks, international stocks, and fixed income. Then compare your returns to this benchmark and get ready for some back peddling. If you don't have an adviser, fill it out yourself. Just one warning - you may not like the results.


Simple benchmarking calculation
Fund name Your allocation 2007 return Benchmark calculation
Vanguard Total US Stock Index (VTSMX) 60.0% 5.49% 3.29%
Vanguard Total International Stock Index (VGTSX) 30.0% 15.52% 4.66%
Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX) 10.0% 6.92% 0.69%
Total 100.0% 8.64

The Mole is a certified financial planner and certified public accountant who - in the interest of fairness - thinks you should know what goes on behind the scenes in financial planning. Want to make contact? E-mail To top of page

India to develop $10 Laptop

India is developing a laptop to be sold at US$10, that will target higher education applications, a minister of the federal government said Tuesday in Delhi.

Research on the new low-cost laptop is being carried out at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, said D. Purandeswari, Minister of State for Higher Education, at a conference in Delhi. This measure will help raise the quality of higher education in India, she added.

The Minister did not however give the specifications of the $10 laptop, nor is it clear if the rock-bottom price will be achieved with the help of a government subsidy.

The Indian government is planning to use information and communications technology (ICT) to strengthen its current programs for distance learning by making them accessible online, Purandeswari said.

As part of this new "National Mission in Education through ICT", the government is also working on developing a very low-cost and low-power-consuming access device, according to Purandeswari. The government also plans to make available free bandwidth for education purposes to every Indian. It plans to use this bandwidth to build a "knowledge network" between and within institutions of higher learning in the country.

India's Internet penetration is currently very low. The country had 4.38 million broadband subscribers at the end of June for a population of over 1.13 billion.

A number of local and multinational companies like Microsoft and Intel, and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) have been working on technology for education.

India did not sign up for the One Laptop Per Child program after officials in the education ministry decided that giving a computer to every child is "pedagogically suspect", and may actually be detrimental to the growth of the creative and analytical abilities of the child. An Indian telecommunications service provider, Reliance Communications, has however been doing pilots of the OLPC in India since last year.

100 Olympic Athletes To Watch

From Australia to Zimbabwe, China to the U.S., TIME takes you on a world tour to introduce you to the most compelling athletes you'll be seeing in the Beijing Games.

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The Amazing Effects of Nitrous Oxide (On Your Car)

I’ve had a long abiding interest in the effects of Nitrous Oxide. In college, I convinced a seller of nitrous tanks that I was an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania and that I teach a class where we build high altitude miniature rockets using the stuff.

I had seen a feature of nitrous propelled rockets the night previous on the Discovery channel.

“Now, I know this may sound bizarre dear, but my students and I build these miniature rockets, and we use the nitrous oxide as a oxidizer, we have all sorts of expensive equipment. It’s a hell of a set up, you should really check it out. These little bastards get up to the freaking stratosphere, it’s really amazing!”

So I walked out of there with a brand new large-sized nitrous oxide tank and information on where to get it filled. The fillers strangely didn’t care if I was a professor or a creepy weirdo ready to expose this strange dissociative drug gas to schoolchildren, they just filled me up and took my money.

Those were good times.

My Interest Shifts

After being interested in N2O for a year or so, a friend of mine who owns a detail shop decided to start installing nitrous oxide systems in cars for the purposes of crazy speed, and started on his very own 1996 Ford Taurus. So at the Atco Raceway in beautiful Atco New Jersey, he unloaded the nitrous Taurus, and in all the days of my life I swear I had never seen a production vehicle go so fast. This poor Ford Taurus, The King of the American Roads, after apparently breaking the speed of light and bending physics around it, was utterly destroyed by the effects of the nitrous oxide. The engine had exploded, the pistons cracked, one of the axles was broken.

From that day forward, I was more interested in the automotive benefits of nitrous than any fleeting pleasures of the flesh it may offer.

Now, I have to add that despite what many people would have you believe, the nitrous in cars is the same stuff that people at concert parking lots inhale, which is the same stuff they give you at the dentist, and the same stuff they use in whip cream canisters. It has many uses.

There is one thing to consider though, often times auto racing nitrous has a bad bad chemical called sulfur dioxide in it, put in there for the sole purpose of trying to stop people from inhaling it. If you inhale sulfur dioxide, you’ll probably just gag and immediately get sick and never try that again; but there is the off chance that you may die, so you know, don’t do that.

How it works

The thing about nitrous is that it’s not flammable, it’s not like shoving butane or propane in your engine (although racers do that sometimes too). Nitrous is an oxidizer; that means the only thing that nitrous does is provide your engine with more oxygen. It actually also lowers the temperature in the intake manifold, which lets more air/fuel into the engine, but thats just a secondary benefit. The main thing is more oxygen, that’s it. That’s the whole purpose of NOS systems.

Don’t let it fool you though, nitrous oxide is more than just a chemical turbocharger, it’s powerful medicine. At the most basic level, combustion is just fuel plus oxygen. Increase either one drastically, and you’re upping the power drastically. With nitrous, you can increase your engine power literally up to thousands of horsepower, that’s enough to do very permanent damage.

You can destroy your engine with it, blow out your seals, crack your pistons, break apart the inner workings, even make it explode in a fireball of hilarious gas. The last of which I have seen firsthand. Also, it can make you go very very fast.

This stuff is no joke. Be careful with it.

Keep your eyes peeled because in a future article I’ll go over some of the different types of nitrous systems (dry or wet or single port or direct port, 2 or 3 or 4 stage, etc).

Monster beetle!

Monster Beetle 1
Monster Beetle 52
Gigantic (literally) gallery of a modded monster Beetle!

 Images Ab12 15 05Copy
Street-legal jet powered VW Beetle.

Mystery Beetle identified.

Legislators aim to snuff out penalties for pot use

(CNN) -- The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.

Rep. Barney Frank's bill would radically curb federal penalties for personal marijuana use.

Rep. Barney Frank's bill would radically curb federal penalties for personal marijuana use.

Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.

"The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business," Frank said during a Capitol Hill news conference. "I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time."

The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters emphasized that only the use -- and not the abuse -- of marijuana would be decriminalized if the resolution resulted in legislation. Video Watch Frank lay out the proposal »

The Drug Enforcement Administration says people charged with simple possession are rarely incarcerated. The agency and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have long opposed marijuana legalization, for medical purposes or otherwise.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, according to the ONDCP.

"Smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science -- it is not medicine and it is not safe," the DEA states on its Web site. "Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers."

Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), likened Frank's proposal -- co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas -- to current laws dealing with alcohol consumption. Alcohol use is permitted, and the government focuses its law enforcement efforts on those who abuse alcohol or drive under its influence, he said.

"We do not arrest and jail responsible alcohol drinkers," he said.

St. Pierre said there are tens of millions of marijuana smokers in the United States, including himself, and hundreds of thousands are arrested each year for medical or personal use. Is it time to legalize pot?

There have been 20 million marijuana-related arrests since 1965, he said, and 11 million since 1990, and "every 38 seconds, a marijuana smoker is arrested."

Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for "all violent crimes combined," meaning that police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.

"Ending arrests is the key to marijuana policy reform," he said.

Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, and Barbara Lee, D-California, said that in addition to targeting nonviolent offenders, U.S. marijuana laws also unfairly target African-Americans.

Clay said he did not condone drug use, but he opposes using tax dollars to pursue what he feels is an arcane holdover from "a phony war on drugs that is filling up our prisons, especially with people of color."

Too many drug enforcement resources are being dedicated to incarcerating nonviolent drugs users, and not enough is being done to stop the trafficking of narcotics into the United States, he said.

Being arrested is not the American marijuana smoker's only concern, said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance Network. Those found guilty of marijuana use can lose their jobs, financial aid for college, their food stamp and welfare benefits, or their low-cost housing.

The U.S. stance on marijuana, Piper said, "is one of the most destructive criminal justice policies in America today."

Calling the U.S. policy "inhumane" and "immoral," Lee said she has many constituents who are harassed or arrested for using or cultivating marijuana for medical purposes. California allows medical marijuana use, but the federal government does not, she explained.

House Resolution 5843, titled the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008, would express support for "a very small number of individuals" suffering from chronic pain or illness to smoke marijuana with impunity.

According to NORML, marijuana can be used to treat a range of illnesses, including glaucoma, asthma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and seizures.

Frank, who is chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said about a dozen states already have approved some degree of medical marijuana use, and the federal government should stop devoting resources to arresting people who are complying with their states' laws.

In a shot at Republicans, Frank said it was strange that those who support limited government want to criminalize marijuana.

Asked if the resolution's passage would change his personal behavior, Frank quipped, "I do obey every law I vote for," but quickly said he did not use marijuana, nor does he encourage it.

"I smoke cigars. I don't think other people should do that. If young people ask me, I would advise them not to do it," he said.

Frank says law enforcement resources are squandered on marijuana use.

Frank says law enforcement resources are squandered on marijuana use.

If HR 5843 were passed, the House would support marijuana smokers possessing up to 100 grams -- about 3½ ounces -- of cannabis without being arrested. It would also give its blessing to the "nonprofit transfer" of up to an ounce of marijuana.
The resolution would not address laws forbidding growing, importing or exporting marijuana, or selling it for profit. The resolution also would not speak to state laws regarding marijuana use.

Top 13 Vampire Babes (clips)

What is it about a girl with pasty skin, long fangs and an unhealthy desire to drain all the life out of you?

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Crooked NBA Ref Gets 15 Months In Prison

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy arrives at Brooklyn federal court for his sentencing, Tuesday, July 29, 2008, in New York. Donaghy pleaded guilty in August 2007 to federal charges that he took payoffs from a professional gambler for inside tips on games. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

Disgraced ex-NBA official Tim Donaghy admitted that he'd brought shame on his profession Tuesday as a federal judge sentenced him to 15 months behind bars for a gambling scandal that still has the league on the defensive.

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11 Things We Just Learned About Prince

Pretty much everyone alive in the ‘90s knows about Prince’s infamous name change. Here’s 11 things you might not have known about the artist currently known as Prince.

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Converting Ford F-150s Into Plug-in Hybrid Electric Trucks


The Illinois Institute of Technology’s masters program has spun-off a start-up with big plans for our aging fleet of big trucks. The company, called Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technology (HEVT), has built a bolt-on module that will convert a standard F-150 into a 41 MPG plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

HEVT demo’d their first prototype at the Plug-In 2008 conference in San Jose earlier in the month. The suddenly attractive F-150 PHEV (which is not the 1994 model depicted above) gets 15 miles of emissions-free driving on electricity before it switches over to gas/electric hybrid mode, where it will continue to get an impressive 41 MPG for a typical day’s worth of driving.

Why Plug-in Hybrid Conversions Matter

Dr. Andrew S. Grove, former chairman of Intel Corporation, said in his keynote address: “Trucks, SUVs and vans are the least-efficient vehicles on the road, so retrofitting them should be a high priority if we want to make a meaningful, near-term difference in oil consumption. Rapid commercialization of prototypes like HEVT’s is the way to go.”

Adding a hybrid drivetrain to large vehicles was one of GM’s premier concepts at this year’s Detroit autoshow, until sales of new SUV models failed miserably. Retrofitting older vehicles into plug-in hybrids makes perfect sense since they’re already on the road:

“HEVT’s solutions apply to not just smaller passenger cars and hybrids, but almost any vehicle including larger gas guzzlers,” said HEVT founder Ali Emadi. “Our laboratory simulations show that the larger the vehicle, the greater the benefits – in gas costs, particulate and greenhouse emissions, and sound pollution. For this reason we are currently focused on PSVs and will later expand to school buses as well as transit buses.”

Ok, let me beat you to the punchline. “Typical days driving” means 30 miles in a day, which is the amount most of us drive, on average.

Unfortunately, if you drive more than 30 miles between charges, the straight hybrid mode drops to a paltry 21 MPG. That’s still a 31% fuel efficiency increase over the standard F-150, but HEVT is going to have to bring the price way, way down for this to be an even remote consideration for the vast majority of F-150’s out there. Prototype conversions currently cost $60,000.

HEVT’s Business Plan

Luckily, HEVT has plans to bring the cost down. I know $60K is a lot of money, but keep in mind that it’s impossible to estimate the conversion cost if/when these modules are massed produced or installed by automakers. It also wouldn’t hurt to throw out here that a brand new F-250 costs as much as $100K in the first 5 years of ownership.

HEVT will be starting a pilot demo project that should complete 20-50 conversions by end of year. Once they prove viability, there are two potential business models: a) develop modules that would be sold to partner who would do the retrofitting, or b), sell the modules directly to car manufacturers. It makes sense that they would do both.

HEVT is currently in discussion with unnamed OEM’s and hopes to have the first commercial prototypes out next year. They’re also working on modules for a range of other vehicles including SUVs and transit buses, and in the video (below) they specifically mention Hummer H1’s and Humvees (maybe they should talk to Jonathan Goodwin).

How the Hybrid Conversions Work (+Video)

For their conversions, HEVT is creating a “series parallel hybrid drivetrain” by integrating an electric motor/generator with the F-150’s existing drive train, along with an advance battery that can store regenerative power, and an “adaptive control unit” that optimizes fuel economy and performance. The system has an in-dash monitor to display realtime information.

The video goes into a little more detail:

Get Adobe Flash player

NFL gives Internet a butt-pat, offers live streaming games

By Jacqui Cheng | Published: July 29, 2008 - 11:01PM CT

Webcasting has officially made its way to the beer-and-football mainstream thanks to the National Football League, which has announced plans to stream live broadcasts of Sunday night football games this fall. These streams will be the first time the NFL's content is made widely available online, and the news means that the patented Madden "Boom!" will soon be coming to a laptop near you.

Both the NFL and its broadcast partner, NBC, will provide sites dedicated to the webcasts. In addition to the live TV feed that features commentary from Al Michaels and John Madden, both sites will feature a variety of extra content. These include highlight clips, views from multiple cameras, live statistics, and blog content. True fanatics may find the site worth visiting even if they have access to the TV broadcast.

The move is surprisingly forward-looking, given the NFL's historic anti-online stance when it comes to its games. As many Internet-using NFL fans know by now, the league keeps an extremely tight leash on even the tiniest of clips from its games. The organization even made headlines last March when it sent a series of DMCA takedown notices to Brooklyn Law School professor Wendy Seltzer because she posted a clip on YouTube that showed the NFL's own copyright notice. In August, however, the NFL took its first baby steps into the big, bad online world by signing a deal with DIRECTV that would allow some satellite subscribers to watch games streamed live to their PCs.

Still, the DIRECTV deal was pretty restrictive, making this new offering even more noteworthy. "We are taking a big leap here," NFL Network's Steve Bornstein told the LA Times. "We are looking at this as a learning opportunity to see what applications work online. We are trying to be innovative and creative to make the viewing experience better for our fans."

NBC plans to sell advertising for the webcasts (presumably they will be free to the public) and the revenues from the ads will be shared with the NFL. Given the massive mainstream appeal of NFL games, the potential for this venture to rake in the advertising dollars is huge. This ain't no live broadcast of an artsy-fartsy documentary or the Jackass 2.5 movie; this is Reggie Bush trying to become the second coming of Barry Sanders.

The NFL and NBC plan to begin offering streams on September 4, a Thursday night game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. After that, they will do regular broadcasts of Sunday night games.

If the league is successful, the move could open up the door to other mainstream TV content being broadcast live online, rather than delayed, as most network fare currently is. Live online House, here I come!

Amazing Blob Jump Launch

I dont think this little girl had any idea what she was in for with this blob jump launch.

Amazing Blob Jump Launch - Watch more free videos

Genetically Engineered Tobacco Bio-Sensor to Detect Landmines

a cambodian boy victim of a land mineScientists in South Africa are testing a genetically engineered tobacco plant which detects the presence of nitrogen-dioxide, a marker for landmines, to turn red, in the hope that it may eventually be used to clear mine fields in post-conflict zones around the globe.

The team is part of a joint initiative of University of Stellenbosch and the Danish biotechnology firm, Aresa, which has developed the “RedDetect” bio-sensor technology in a weed called Thales Cress.

The weed changes color from green to autumnal red when it detects nitrogen dioxide leaching from mines buried in the soil.

Because the weed is too small to be seen from a safe distance, the scientists went looking for a more viable alternative, and landed on the tobacco plant, which grows easily in most parts of the world, with a little help from genetic engineering.

Stellenbosch researcher, Estelle Kempen, who is involved with the project says if the genetically engineered tobacco plants prove successful, they would provide an easy way to assess an entire field allowing the safe clearance of land mines and other unexploded ordnance devices on agricultural land.

Many countries around the world, including Angola, Burundi and Somalia in Africa; Afghanistan, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia (where organizations as Clear Path International are working), Iraq, Nepal and Sri Lanka in Asia; Chechnya and Bosnia- Herzegovina in Europe and Colombia in Latin America, are worst affected by the problem of land mines.

A land mine is an explosive device designed to be placed on or in the ground to explode when triggered by an operator or the proximity of a vehicle, person, or animal.

Currently, land mines are cleared by explosives experts who put a stick in the ground to locate them, or they use remote devices or sniffer dogs, which are all costly and dangerous processes that typically involve a random check of just a fraction of the area .

Field trials for the genetically engineered tobacco varieties are already under way in Serbia, and now the scientists want to assess how the genetically engineered tobacco responds to drought and extreme temperatures, according to the researchers.

But at this research stage, to safeguard against any possible environmental effects of the genetically modified plants, they would be analyzed and destroyed before they began flowering to minimize the risk of environmental contamination.

Tobacco plants usually only produce red plant pigments in their flowers, which arises from a natural compound called anthocyanin, found in fruit such as apples and tomatoes. The technology developed by Aresa activates anthocyanin in the tobacco plant’s leaves if there is soil contamination from explosives such as land mines.

Image credit: CPI at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Optical storage goes deep: 1TB stored in three dimensions

Researchers in California report on the creation of a standard sized optical disc (120mm x 1.2mm) that is capable of holding up to 1 Terabyte of data. The added storage comes from using all three dimensions instead of encoding data on the surface of the disc.

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The Uncertain Future of the International Space Station

The International Space Station as captured by the crew of STS-124 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on June 11, 2008. (Photograph by NASA)

Still unfinished, engineers around the world ponder what to do with the space station—park it somewhere else, turn it into a lab or just let it burn. With calls to upconvert the ISS into a spaceship already hitting fever pitch, a leading aerospace expert checks in with some players from the space industry.

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Man, 66, records 2 holes-in-one in same round

Grayling-s Bob Hickey is all smiles after he pulls the ball out of the cup after his second hole-in-one during the same round at Marsh Ridge Golf Course on Thursday.

Tue Jul 29, 7:21 PM ET

For somebody who'd been playing golf 50 years and never had a hole-in-one, Bob Hickey got the hang of it quickly. The 66-year-old Grayling man used a 7-iron to card his first-ever ace Thursday on the 167-yard 10th hole at Marsh Ridge in Gaylord. Then Hickey used an 8-iron to ace the 147-yard 17th hole.

According to a 2000 Golf Digest article cited by the Traverse City Record-Eagle, the odds of one player making two holes-in-one during the same round are 67 million to 1.

Hickey, who finished at 2-over-par 74, says he'd made two eagles but never came close to a hole-in-one before Thursday. The long-haul trucker says he thinks he benefited from "just pure luck."

Full Article Here

8 Amazing Websites by Rafaël Rozendaal's

Rozendaal is a forefather of the current single serving sites explosion, and it shows in his work's standout beauty and interactivity. His homepage documents years of acclaimed work, but in case you're unfamiliar (or just looking for a simplistic internet retreat), here are a few of our favorites to get you started.

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Up, up and takes off in "practical" jetpack

"When I was 5 years old, I was watching 'The Jetsons,' 'Lost in Space' and all those TV programs, and I wanted a jetpack," said Glenn Martin, who spent the last 27 years researching and developing the jetpack prototype. It's no Rocketeer, but it's a start. WITH VIDEO!

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Why Japanese Video Game Box Art is Better [PICS]

Japan, in addition to many other feats of geek-related awesomeness, can claim the coolest and most creative videogame box art in the world. You've seen cover comparisons before, of course, but have you ever wondered exactly what makes the Japanese versions so preferable?

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Mr. Belding Partying in Vegas

These pictures are disturbing for a large variety of reasons. One, Mr. Belding has aged like a bad ham sandwich. Two, it looks like most of those girls are barely old enough to remember Saved by the Bell.These Pics are Hilarious...

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8 People Who Will Ruin Your Party

Throwing a party is a lot of work, so it’s a real disappointment when somebody you invited ruins it. Here’s 8 types of people to watch out for before you make your next invite list.

8. Person Who Insists On Cleaning Up Your Party While It’s Still Going On

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM: Right in front of you, asking if your drink is finished. Or, methodically moving through the party with a white trash bag and a look on their face as if they’ve been hunting Osama Bin laden for the last 6 years and have narrowed down his whereabouts to somewhere in this party.

WHY THEY WILL RUIN YOUR PARTY: Drinking a beer, much like sex, is far less enjoyable when someone is asking you if you’re finished every five minutes. It’s great that they want to help you clean up, but if you’ve decided to have a party, you’ve already resigned yourself to the fact that when it’s over, your house is going to probably look like the bathroom that Cary Elwes and Danny Glover woke up in, in the first Saw movie. I wonder if these people also decide to wipe their ass in the middle of taking a shit, just to “cut down on the work that has to be done when it’s all over!”


WHERE YOU WILL FIND HIM: Right by the fridge, bro, cause that’s where all the beer is!

HOW HE WILL RUIN YOUR PARTY: From the moment this guy shows up, everything he says has an exclamation point at the end of it. “This party rules, dude!” “I am ready to party TO-night!” “Let’s shotgun these, bro!” “Tits!” Then, one hour and 13 beers later this guy is incoherent, weaving on his feet and saying stuff like “Paartyyyygjlskdvm…” So, instead of kicking back and hanging out with your friends, you have to spend the rest of the night making sure he doesn’t puke on your couch, piss in your plants or crap on your coffee table.

6. Person Who Only Knows You

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM: About two feet to the right of you, standing silently, staring at either you or the person you’re talking to.

WHY THEY WILL RUIN YOUR PARTY: You invited them because during the four and a half minutes a day you talk to them at work, they seem pretty cool and/or really enjoy the impression you do of a fellow coworker. Except as soon as they get to your party, they tense up like Alex Rodriguez’s asshole during a game in October. You have two options at this point, 1) entertain them and include them in every conversation you have the entire night, like they’re your wife or husband even though you probably don’t know their last name, or 2) leave them on their own which leads to them standing in a corner by themselves, staring at you, causing your friends to ask you “I think that dude in the corner is planning on raping you.”


WHERE YOU WILL FIND HER: She’s usually holed up in the bathroom (taking up valuable toilet space) with three of her bestest girlfriends—all three of whom are overweight.

HOW SHE WILL RUIN YOUR PARTY: The worst part is that this girl isn’t crying because her parents just died or she lost a limb. She’s sobbing into a fistful of tissues because she always needs to be the center of attention. If everyone’s not focused on her and all her problems, she just starts crying louder about her job or some lame guy who won’t date her or how fat her friends are. This means you either sit there and let her bring down the vibe of your party or you take her outside and listen to her whine about absolutely nothing. If possible, pair her up with the super wasted guy. She’ll think he’s listening and he’ll think he’s going to score.

4. Person Who Just Got Dumped By Their Girlfriend/Boyfriend

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM: In any corner where they were able to trap and force someone to listen to them talk about how they “don’t know what happened,” and how it “seemed like things were fine and then all of a sudden she just said that she thought that we were different people now. What does that even mean? Do you know, because I sure as fuck don’t! I just miss her so much. My name’s Brian by the way.”

WHY THEY WILL RUIN YOUR PARTY: If I wanted people to get depressed as fuck at my party, I’d screen a copy of Schlindler’s list. The problem with these people is, they don’t care who they talk to, and no excuse you give will stop them from talking to you. “Hey, I gotta run to the bathroom,” “No worries, I’ll just wait for you until your done, unlike my EX girlfriend, who wouldn’t wait no matter HOW important it was to go to the bathroom and would just leave you with NOTHING while you were in there.”

3. Creepy Dude Who Tries To Bang Chicks At The Very End Of The Party

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM: Towards the end of the party, he’ll be wherever he hears the words “I can’t believe my friends left without me, they were my ride!” or “I’m so (hiccup) fucked up (hiccup) I gotta lay down or something.”

WHY THEY WILL RUIN YOUR PARTY: There’s a reason why this dude waits till the end of the party to try and score; he’s way too fucking creepy to do so when someone isn’t in some sort of desperate situation. Thus, although he’s there because he’s either family, a neighbor, or someone else invited him, you now have to hope to God he doesn’t take advantage of someone at your party, otherwise your party will not be remembered as “That Fourth of July Party at Bill’s house,” and instead be remembered as “that party at Bill’s house where that creepy guy tried to fingerbang Michele while she was puking.”

2. Couple Who Brings Their Baby

COUPLE WHO BRING THEIR BABY: Off to the side, on their knees, pleading with a 6 month old child to stop screaming or right next to you, asking you where he can dispose of a shit filled diaper.

WHY THEY WILL RUIN THEIR PARTY: Nothing says party like the sound of a screaming child and the stench of talcum powder and baby diarrhea! If there was a dude puking, shitting and crying at your party, would you be cool with that? No, you’d either be like “Who the fuck brought this guy?” But if you say that about a baby suddenly that makes you an asshole. Meanwhile, the party sucks becase everyone is being super cautious and attentive to the baby, as if the other 99% of the time that they’re not there the baby is barely eluding death due to unsupervision.


WHERE YOU WILL FIND HIM: At the beginning of the night he usually stands right next to the front door where he overtly shows off his political button or T-shirt that says something like “Once You Go Barack, You Won’t Go Back” or “McCain = McStupid.” Then, after everyone shows up, he stealthily mingles from group to group while nonchalantly dropping lines like “Did you see what those fatcats tried to pull?” anytime there’s a lull in the conversation.

HOW HE WILL RUIN YOUR PARTY: No one in the history of parties has ever changed their political beliefs based on some asshole screaming about health care reform in the kitchen of a two bedroom apartment. His endlessly tiresome factoids and statistics about how much oil we consume and how the death penalty doesn’t work will make your guests either leave or kill themselves where they stand.

Top 10 Sexiest Stormtroopers

A certain number of women have discovered something that could be the downfall of men. Dressing up in iconic costumes and parading themselves around a convention center full of possible virgins. Now I know, Star Wars fans are not all loser, virgin, uber-nerds and I agree because I’m a Star Wars fan and I get laid almost yearly.

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Ten Even More Weird and Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks

What is it with Japan and weird drinks? Part of the answer lies in the love Japanese have for soft drinks – surveys show that about 40% of the nation's citizens drink at least one soft drink every day. That's about 50 million people!

In addition, trends come and go very quickly in Japan. What's cool today is as flat as warm Pepsi Ice Cucumber tomorrow... so soft drink companies are constantly coming out with something new and (hopefully) attention-grabbing 'cause one success more than makes up for dozens of failures.

Our list comprises the bad, the even more bad and the downright ugly, and we'll lead off the same way last year's list did – with Pepsi Japan's latest weird summer soft drink!

10) Pepsi Blue Hawaii

Wasn't there already a blue Pepsi, called umm, er, oh yeah - Pepsi Blue? It faded from the scene fairly quickly; a fate certain to be shared by Pepsi Blue Hawaii. Flavored with Pineapple and Lemon, you just know PBH is going to be sweeter than Hello Kitty in insulin shock – actually, it would probably be her IV drip.

9) Fanta Furufuru Shaker

Ever made Jello using 7-Up or Grape Crush instead of cold water? The gelatin retains a little carbonation after it cools. Fanta's Furufuru Shaker seems to be designed on the same principle; a semi-gelled drink that gets fizzy when you shake it. I don't know how you drink it... you'd need a fairly wide straw, if not a spoon. (via Japan Marketing News)

Anyway, all weirdness aside, the most interesting thing about Fanta Furufuru Shaker is the so-called Shaker Dance performed by official Fanta spokesmodel Rika Ishikawa. That girl can really shake her cans... can... erm, just watch the video...

8) Melon Milk

I've actually had Pokka's Melon Milk; both it and a Strawberry Milk version are sold in smallish cans at some Asian markets here in Toronto. It's rather popular in Japan, as are the many varieties of canned coffee Pokka makes.

Melon Milk doesn't taste bad... it does taste kinda strange though. Sort of like milk, with a melony overtone. You sip some, think “that can't be right”, then sip a little more. Before you know it you've drained the whole can – all part of Pokka's dastardly plan, no doubt. Melon is actually a major fruit flavor in Japan. If it's green & fruity, there's probably a melon involved. Consider yourself warned.

7) Bilk

Bilk... according to my dictionary, it means “to cheat out of something valuable”. It also makes a terrible name for a new drink – unless that drink is an unholy marriage of milk and beer, in which case it's entirely appropriate. Besides, Japanese dairy farmers are pretty much swimming in surplus milk and if Bilk doesn't work out they could resort to something truly awful, like a cheese drink (shudder).

Bilk... 70% beer, 30% milk, 100% disgusting. Supposedly, Bilk possesses a subtle sweetness that women should find most appealing. Beer bellies, belches and lactose intolerance, not so much. Bilk can be bought at 6 outlets in Japan's northern province of Hokkaido where bears outnumber humans 2:1. Guess they like the stuff, for their pic-a-nic baskets and all. (via Japan Probe)

6) NEEDS Cheese Drink

Well, you balked at Bilk so now it's come to this: NEEDS Cheese Drink. Nuh-uh, that's where I draw the line. I prefer to enjoy my cheese in the solid state, thank you, where I can shave off a paper-thin slice with that fiendish cheese-shaving knife. NEEDS Cheese Drink, I don't needs.

In fact, it seems the only ones who DO needs NEEDS are those pesky dairy farmers in Hokkaido, who “needs” to do something about growing stocks of surplus milk. If only there was something, sort of like a baby but still a cow, who could drink the surplus milk... ah well, never mind. (via F*cked Gaijin)

5) Hawaiian Deep-Sea Water

Remember those old movies, when a few shipwreck survivors are stuck in a lifeboat, dying of thirst? And one guy can't stand it anymore and starts drinking seawater, which drives him INSANE??

Koyo USA Corp wants you to forget all that. The maker of MaHaLo brand “Hawaiian Deep-Sea Water” is making a killing on desalinated deep ocean water thirst-crazed Japanese are falling all over themselves to buy... at between $4 and $6 per 1.5 liter bottle, no less.

Koyo USA Corp produces 200,000 bottles of processed seawater a day and can barely keep up with demand in Japan. According to company spokesman John Frosted, “At this point, we can't make enough. We have no surplus.”

Thank goodness for that, because the thought of seawater beer or seawater cheese drink would drive ME insane!

4) Kid's Wine

Kid's Wine – not just a road trip complaint anymore! Kid's Beer topped our list last time around, but did you know the same company, Sangaria, makes “wine” specially made for children? They also make their website play the cheesiest, most annoying music ever heard online. Maybe you have to be drunk on Kid's Wine to truly appreciate it.

3) Placenta Drink

From Kid's Wine to Kid Swine... Ahh, the things women will do to stay young and beautiful for us!

Thank you ladies, really... but there comes a point where bizarre beauty potions intended to make you luscious, just make us nauseous – and Nihon Shokuten's eerie series of placenta products are a prime example.

Made with swine placenta, the drink carries the automotive-sounding name of "Placenta 400000" - perhaps it's made from the ground & pressed extract of 400,000 placentas? Nihon Shokuten's not telling, but their revolting beverage should come pre-packaged with mints because there's nothing worse than placenta-breath in the morning.

2) Eel Soda

Unagi-Nobori soda is no ordinary energy drink, oh no... this terrific tonic is infused with a generous helping of eel extract. If you think there's something fishy about that, you're unfortunately right.

According to Japanese folk tradition, eating eel is reputed to give one extra energy on summer's hottest, most humid days.

These days though, one doesn't always have time for a leisurely lunch of delicious barbecued eel.

No problem – Unagi Nobori bottles essence of eel along with 5 essential vitamins in a carbonated medium. Make my medium small, if you don't mind... and by the way, Unagi Nobori is brought to you by the nice folks at Japan Tobacco, known for "healthy" products with smoky flavors. (via Japan Marketing News)

1) Okkikunare Drinks

Okkikunare is Japanese for “make them bigger”, and do I really have to tell you what “them” refers to? Well, maybe I do - lest guys with macho issues rush to place orders, the apple, peach and mango flavored drinks are quite popular among teenage girls in Japan.

Made by a comapny called Welcia, the special bust-boosting ingredient in Okkikunare drinks is powdered Arrowroot containing the same sort of isoflavones found in soybeans, which are said to “stimulate the female hormone system.”

Seems a little sketchy to me... then again, the drinks are also sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to obesity. Therefore, EVERYTHING gets bigger the more you drink, not just the, umm, apples, peaches and mangos. (via DumpSoda)

And there you have it, Ten Even More Weird and Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks. And, in case you were wondering, no Pocari Sweat again this time. Not even the doggie version, “Pet Sweat”. Odd as it sounds, Japan can do much better... or worse, as the case may be.

So, consider yourself warned, Japan can pack a few surprises for the unwary, thirsty traveler. Be sure to pack some Canned Bottled Water on your next trip there – it's lighter than the Bottled Canned Water and likely has even fewer calories!

Check out last year's list here.