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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fannie Freddie plunge again- nearly 30%

NEW YORK ( -- Battered mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took yet another hit on Wednesday as concerns grew about a possible government bailout.

Shares of Fannie (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie (FRE, Fortune 500) each tumbled about 27% in afternoon trading.

Prior to today's declines, shares were already down 20% this week. Each has plunged nearly 90% in 2008.

Wall Street has been concerned about Fannie and Freddie's need to raise capital, and the possibility of a government bailout that could make the stocks worthless for private investors.

Fannie and Freddie are crucial to the housing market. The two government sponsored enterprises collectively own or back more than $5 trillion in mortgages, or half the nation's mortgage debt.

Both companies have been losing money for the past few quarters due to the subprime mortgage meltdown and steep declines in housing prices.

Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd tried to alleviate concerns about a government bailout on Wednesday, when he told National Public Radio that no such plan was imminent.

"They haven't offered anything and we haven't asked for anything," said Mudd to NPR. "I don't anticipate that they will do that."

In the latest sign of trouble, Freddie had to pay a borrowing premium Tuesday, when it issued $3 billion worth of five-year debt. Freddie's interest rate was 1.13 percentage points higher that the standard federal government rate, and was a 10-year high for the lender.

On July 30, President Bush signed into law a housing bill to boost Fannie and Freddie. The bill gave the Treasury Department the authority to loan unlimited amounts of money to Fannie and Freddie and also allows for Treasury to buy up shares of the two firms if necessary.

The price tag on a government bailout is likely to be costly, with estimates ranging from $25 billion to $100 billion.

Fannie spokeswoman Amy Bonitatibus declined to comment on the company's stock activity or any plans to meet with the Treasury about a bailout. Spokesmen for Freddie Mac were not immediately available for comment.

A spokesperson for the Treasury Department had no comment about Fannie or Freddie

The 2008 Beijing Olympics In Pictures

The story of the 2008 Beijing Olympics told in some amazing photos.

Tons of Pictures.....

Check out PART 1, PART 2, PART 3.

Peugot's Missing Link hybrid concept

PARIS — Peugeot seems to be channeling its aggressive side, if the photos released on Wednesday of its new hybrid concept car are any indication. The new concept, dubbed "RC" for the time being, will be formally unveiled at the 2008 Paris Auto Show.

Peugeot said the full name of the car will be disclosed later. The French automaker says the GT coupe is "the missing link between the RC and concept cars revealed in 2002 and the 908 RC." The RC concept cars, introduced at the 2002 Geneva Auto Show, were low, lean 2+2 coupes with steeply raked windshields and a catlike look. They were shown in gasoline and diesel variants.

The Peugeot 908 RC, introduced in Paris in 2006, took a little criticism from such lofty quarters as Car Design News, which called the sensuous vehicle "another Ferrari-esque flight of fancy that will have no consequence for future Peugeots."

Details are sketchy on the new four-seat concept. Peugeot said it has "highly innovative hybrid architecture" with a potential maximum power output of 313 horsepower and low or zero emissions, depending on whether it's operating in the combined mode or in electric mode only.

What this means to you: Peugeot says the concept is a "working laboratory," but only time will tell if it ever sees the light of day. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent

LeRoi Moore of the Dave Matthews Band Has Died

LeRoi Moore, the saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band and one of the band’s founding members passed away today at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.

The news comes just six weeks after Moore was seriously injured in an ATV accident at his home outside of Charlottesville on June 30, 2008. In a statement from a Dave Matthews Band rep to, the cause of death resulted from sudden complications stemming from his June ATV accident. The statement goes on to say that Moore was in Los Angeles to begin an intensive physical rehabilitation program. LeRoi Moore was 46 years old. [Read more at cVillain]

Our thoughts and prayers go out to LeRoi Moore’s family, the Dave Matthews Band, and to all of LeRoi’s friends and fans.

LeRoi Moore
1961 - 2008

Google Investing Over $10 Million in Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy has finally hit the big time., the philanthropic arm of Google, announced today that it is investing $10.25 million in an energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). The funding will also go towards geothermal resource mapping, information tools, and a geothermal energy policy agenda.

And it looks like Google made a wise investment choice. According to an MIT report on EGS, only 2% of the heat beneath the continental US between 3 and 10 kilometers (depths we can reach with current technology) is more than 2,500 the annual energy use of the United States.

While traditional geothermal energy relies on finding natural pockets of hot water and steam, EGS fractures the hot rock, circulates water in its system, and uses the steam created from the process to create electricity in a turbine.

The investments will go towards three institutions: AltaRock Energy, Potter Drilling, and the Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab.

Google’s funding may just be the push we need to really get geothermal off the ground, once again proving that government funding and initiatives can’t do everything. Substantial change can only come when private investors and corporations decide to help out—whatever their motives may be.

More Posts on Geothermal Energy:

8 Easy Steps to Banish Bad Breath

Change Your Breath From Bad to Good

Bad breath is embarrassing, unpleasant, and all too common. These eight easy tips will sweeten your breath for good.

By Sarah Albert
WebMD Feature

We've all found ourselves chatting with someone whose breath could easily wilt a flower. With more than 90 million people suffering from chronic bad breath (also called halitosis), that's a lot of wilted flowers. If you (or someone you regularly smooch) has an attack of bad breath that even Altoids won't fix, try these eight simple tips to fix the problem.

Don't let your tongue become a dirty carpet.

Bad breath often strikes when people aren't properly taking care of their oral health. The odor is usually caused by decaying food particles and bacteria in your mouth. That's why brushing and flossing your teeth is so important, but don't forget to gently brush your tongue to get rid of even more bacteria.

A clean tongue goes a long way to warding off bad breath, says Stephen Z. Wolner, a dentist in private practice in New York City. "Your tongue microscopically is like a shaggy carpet. There are millions of filaments on your tongue that trap tiny food particles and bacteria," he says. Get in the habit of regularly cleaning your tongue using a toothbrush, the edge of a spoon, or a tongue cleaner. If you have any mouth guards or oral devices, make sure to clean them thoroughly before putting them back in your mouth.

Mouthwash isn't a bad idea, but it's only a temporary fix. Granted, a little mouthwash comes in handy before a romantic dinner for two, but it masks the odor instead of tackling the source of your problem.

Chew gum like it's going out of style.

Believe it or not, saliva is your best weapon against bad breath. That's why dry mouth, often caused by certain medications or medical conditions, leads to odor problems. By washing away food particles and bacteria, saliva helps to eliminate odor, too.

If you're wondering why your breath stinks in the morning, it's largely because saliva production slows while you sleep, allowing particles and odor to linger longer. That's where sugarless gum comes in handy, as chewing it will stimulate saliva production. Mints, on the other hand, don't usually stimulate saliva production and only temporarily mask bad odor.

"When you chew gum it makes you salivate, and the more saliva you have in your mouth the fewer bacteria you have. It not only mechanically washes bacteria out, but we have antiseptic and enzymes in our saliva that kill bacteria," says Wolner.

While anything that makes you salivate will improve your breath, a gum that is sweetened with xylitol is your best option. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that not only increases salvation but also works to prevent bacteria from replicating in the mouth.

Choose cinnamon -- it's sweeter.

A recent study of the cinnamon-flavored gum Big Red found that cinnamon might have breath-odor fighting abilities. Unlike other flavors, cinnamon is not just a cover-up, Wolner tells WebMD. In fact, he says, an ingredient in the flavoring appears to actually decrease the bacteria in your mouth. The only problem is that sugar gums are bad for your teeth, so stick to sugarless cinnamon-flavored gum instead.

Drink more water.

Wolner says the older you get the more likely you are to get dehydrated. You might not even notice you're thirsty, he says, so make drinking water a habit, because water will help keep the bacteria in your mouth to a minimum. Drinking water has a lot of health benefits, and preventing bad breath is one of them.

Rule out rare causes for bad breath.

While most bad breath can be banished with simple hygienic steps, there are times when dental or medical conditions might be the culprit. Make an appointment with your dentist if an unsavory odor takes residence in your mouth.

"If there is a persistent odor in your mouth, and you know it's not from the pasta you ate last night, see a dentist," Wolner tells WebMD. Your dentist will be able to pinpoint any cavities or decay, or even periodontal (gum) disease, that might be causing your bad breath.

Because on rare occasions bad breath can signal a larger problem, including infection, and even kidney or liver failure, you should also visit a doctor if your dentist doesn't find a cause for your bad breath problem.

Have a slice of bread.

If you're on one of the many popular low-carb diets, remember that bad breath or "ketone breath" is a potential side effect when you always have that burger sans bun. You can try different methods of masking the odor, such as gum or tart candies, but adding a few carbs to your daily diet might also do the trick.

Get a water pick.

You can't really clean your entire mouth with a toothbrush. "Using an irrigator or water pick cleans everything out around and under your gums and between your teeth," says Wolner. "If food lingers between your teeth where a toothbrush doesn't reach, it's fermenting." Next time you floss, take a whiff of your floss after you're done, and you'll have a good idea about what fermented or rotten food particles smell like.

Don't let bad breath go to your head.

If you think you have bad breath, get a second opinion. "A large proportion of people who think they're social pariahs with terrible breath don't have bad breath at all," says Wolner.

Cloned Puppies: Sure, They're Cute, But at What Cost?

Bernann McKinney from the United States received five pit bull puppies
-- copies of her late pit bull, Booger -- from South Korean biotech firm
RNL Bio in what it calls the world's first commercial canine-cloning service.
Photo: Jin Han Hong/AP

When skin cells from a dead pit bull named Booger gave rise to five healthy-looking puppies with a $50,000 price tag, it marked the formal beginning of a commercial dog-cloning industry.But for all the attention given to these and other clones, little was paid to the behind-the-scenes science.

read more | digg story

Olympics: What Winning Looks Like

Some Amazing pictures of the Champions and Medal Winners!!!

Click here for Pics | digg story

Meet the Boy Too Big for His Mom's SUV

This 12-Year-Old Boy Is Truly Unique and Truly Tall


12-year-old Brenden Adams, who is more than seven feet tall and, incredibly, still growing.
Brenden Adams towers over classmates, his parents and his teacher.
(Mary Hannan/ABC News)

Ellensburg, Wash., is home to a truly unique young man: 12-year-old Brenden Adams, who is more than seven feet tall and, incredibly, still growing.

Brenden's unstoppable growth caused by mismatched chromosomes.

He towers over his classmates and even his teacher, Gretchen Holmstrom, who jokingly quipped, "I'm 5'9," so I never look up to sixth graders -- until this year…never say never!"

And though friends say Brenden is just a regular kid, he's obviously not like anybody else. He has to duck through most doorways and sit sideways at his school desk because his knees don't fit under it.

In his mom's sport utility vehicle, he has to fold down the second row of seats, sit in the third row and stretch his legs out over the middle row in order to sit comfortably. His shoe size? 18 and still growing.

Not Just a Tall Kid

Brenden is one-of-a-kind, and it's not just his height. Everything about him is different. His mom, Debbie Ezell, said he requires a team of doctors and multiple medical visits simply to stay on top of his ever-changing and expanding frame. He has enormous joints, fatty tumors, even extra teeth, 12 of which were recently removed.

Amazingly, his dad, Willie Adams, said there was no hint of any of this when Brenden was born at 7 pounds, 3 ounces and 19 1/2 inches in length. His mom says they first started to notice something was different at his 2 month check-up. "They said, these measurements just aren't right. He's too long," Ezell said. "And at four months, he had all of his teeth."

Then mom and dad got the news that any parent would dread. Doctors and medical experts told them they had no idea what was causing the problem with their child. "I still haven't seen anyone like Brenden," says Dr. Melissa Parisi, his geneticist at Children's Hospital in Seattle. Parisi has been treating Brenden since he was four years old, when, she said, "he was the size of a typical 8-year-old boy."

What's Up?

"I was terrified," his father said, "and no one could ever give us an answer what the outcome would be or what the expectancy would be."

Brenden's mom agreed, "That's the worst part¬ knowing."

For years, doctors continued to search for the source and an answer to Brenden's unstoppable growth. He went through multiple tests and X-rays as medical experts tried to determine what was going on inside Brenden's body.

Then, finally, a breakthrough -- when Brenden was eight years old and already the size of an adult.

"I have to say that the hematologists and oncologists here actually helped us figure it out," admits Parisi. "He has a very unusual rearrangement of his genetic material. It's what's called an inversion of chromosome-12 and it affects every single cell in his body."

Chromosomes, you may remember, come in pairs. But in Brenden's case, his 12th chromosomes don't match. Somehow -- experts still don't know why -- the middle of one of them broke off, flipped around and re-attached, disrupting a critical gene that controls growth. And that's what experts believe is causing Brenden's excessive growth and other symptoms and what makes his case the only one of its kind.

"This gene is functioning despite the regulation that it shouldn't be," said Dr. Gad Kletter, Brenden's endocrinologist at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. "It's over-functioning. He was predicted to be over eight foot tall."

Ending the Neverending Growth Spurt

Now that doctors finally figured out what was causing Brenden's skyrocketing height, they still had another mystery to solve: how to stop it? And since Brenden is believed to be the only person in the world with the condition, there was no clear-cut answer.

Then, Kletter had an idea that seemed a little crazy -- shots of testosterone to jump start puberty and speed up Brenden's growth. It's puberty, he explained, that signals the body to stop growing.

"We induced puberty," explained Kletter, "to fuse the bones and stop the growth."

And so far, the shots seem to be successful. Brenden's growth has slowed down.

Living With a Giant

To make life a little easier at home, Brenden's mom had a home built specifically to fit someone of Brenden's enormous proportions.

12-year-old Brenden Adams, who is more than seven feet tall and, incredibly, still growing.
Brenden Adams is 12 years old, but is already more than seven feet tall.
(Mary Hanan/ABC News)

"It's a lot easier going through the doors and stuff than the last house we had," Brenden said. "The doors are a lot taller and so are the ceilings."

Coincidentally, on the day ABC News visited Brenden's school, his class was working on a soul-searching exercise. Perhaps not surprisingly, Brenden wrote that he wishes people would see "how he's just like everyone else."

Happily, some already do.

"He's really nice and caring," a friend, Tucker, said.

His stepsister, Sierra, added: "He's an extremely good person."

What does the future hold for him?

"It's unknown," said Kletter. "No other case is reported, nothing to look at -- it's an uncharted sea."

Luxury Living at Burning Man

The Indian Desert Tent (pictured above) is popular with burners. Made of heavy-duty cotton canvas and lined with printed sheeting, the yurt-shaped tent repels water and wind and has plenty of room inside for guest seating.
Courtesy of John "Jocko" Magadini

If you plan to not only survive but thrive in the harsh environment of Burning Man, you'd be well-advised to rise above your REI tent.

Luxury living on the playa requires relaxing in the heat of the day and staying warm on cold nights. You've got to be able to transport the structure in and out of Black Rock City, Nevada -- the temporary city that rises out of the desert each year during the mammoth art festival -- and assemble it in unpredictable conditions. It must be able to survive brutal dust storms that can arrive without warning and last for hours.

Last year, I discovered some clever options for living large on the playa without leaving a big footprint. Though all three solutions were rather low-tech, none would be accessible to Burners without the internet or open source.


Originally designed as refugee housing, a Hexayurt can be built for $200 from fire-safe insulation boards and industrial tape. The Hexayurt Project follows a free and open source model; plans can be downloaded at the project's website.

I visited two of these innovative shelters last year at Burning Man. One belonged to Lindsey Darby, a 21-year-old college student and co-designer on the Hexayurt Project. The other belonged to Kevin Price, a 47-year-old computer technician from Mesa, Arizona, who said he discovered Hexayurts two weeks before Burning Man. "I was thinking of all the ways the tent would be awful. I went right to it: no prototype." He bought all the parts, cut them in his driveway and assembled them on the playa.

Inside, both Darby's and Price's Hexayurts were spacious, quiet and cooler than expected in the hot afternoon sun. According to Darby, her fold-up Hexayurt took only 30 minutes to assemble on the playa, and its impressive R-value allowed her to sleep later than her neighbors.

"I've always stayed in a Hexayurt on the playa, never in a tent, so I've always been able to stay in bed until 10 or 11 [a.m.]," she said. "But I did notice that I was always the last one up!"

Vinay Gupta, the Hexayurt's inventor, said: "It's like having an entire extra day at Burning Man. You can go to bed at 3 or 4 in the morning, get up at noon, and you're still human at the end of the week."

Indian Desert Tent

After a decade of camping in tents and borrowed camper trailers, San Francisco burner John "Jocko" Magadini decided to treat himself to a little bit of luxury in Black Rock City. Though the camper -- with its stove, running water and cushy seating -- was comfortable, Magadini said it left him feeling "not as one with the playa."

"I felt a bit removed and also maybe a little bit common because so many people do that," he said.

Following an extensive online search for tents of all sorts, he stumbled across an Indian Desert Tent. It cost just under $1,000 for the tent, and another $500 for shipping, which took six weeks.

"They told me it would take a little over an hour [to set up], and one person could do it," said Magadini. "It took two people and three hours. But once I got it up, I couldn't believe it. It was so absolutely bomber."

Made of heavy-duty cotton canvas and lined with printed sheeting, the yurt-shaped tent repels water and wind and has plenty of room inside for guest seating, Magadini's queen-size inflatable bed and a full rack of costumes. Plus, it stood up to Burning Man's rugged environment. "After a week and a half and many dust storms, there was close to no dust inside," he said.

Playatech Furniture

Arthur "Sunshine Dreamer" Zwern, a 48-year-old entrepreneur and inventor from San Jose, California, got tired of seeing so many sofas going into the landfill after Burning Man, yet his wife, "Glimmer," said she wanted extra seating on the playa. So he designed a line of DIY "period furniture" made from 4-foot-by-8-foot sheets of plywood. Plans for cutting the plywood to build a Precarichair, a Ploset, a Plantry, Plykea Shelves and many more Black Rock essentials are available at Playatech for a small donation, which benefits Black Rock Arts Foundation.

Once cut, Playatech furniture requires no tools or hardware for assembly and can be stacked flat for transport before and after use. "If you have to rebuild everything again each year, it gets a little tedious," said Zwern.

"We burn a little bit of our furniture each year, as it wears out," he admitted.

Describing both the Hexayurt and Playatech, he said: "We wanted to develop the technology to build a city in a week, with no infrastructure, and with two to three natural disasters a week." He insists his furniture is sturdy enough to dance on and to have sex on -- perhaps the next most important qualities in Black Rock City.

Bonus: Five Items a Burner Can't Live Without

  • 1) Glow: Being seen at night is the best way to avoid getting crushed by an art car or T-boned by another biker. Bring enough glow sticks for you and your bike to wear several pieces each evening. Better yet, get battery-powered EL wire and reuse it every night.

  • 2) Bicycle: You can't drive on the playa, and there's never an art car when you need one. So gussy up your bike and bring it along. The more elaborately it's decorated, the less likely it is to get lost.

  • 3) Dust mask and goggles: Fierce dust storms are the norm at Burning Man. These Steampunk goggles from the Neverwas Haul crew look cool, but standard-issue eye protection from Home Depot will do the job. Carry goggles and a scarf or dust mask, and be ready to put them on at a moment's notice.

  • 4) Earplugs: The party never stops at Burning Man, but sometimes you'll wish it would. Earplugs actually make it possible to sleep, for a few hours at least.

  • 5) Water: No water is provided at Burning Man. Bring all you'll need to drink, bathe, cook and wash dishes: an estimated 1.5 gallons of water per person per day.

  • Federal Judge tosses MIT students' Gag order

    A federal judge in Boston this morning let expire a temporary gag order against three MIT students who were prevented from presenting a talk on security vulnerabilities in the Boston subway's fare tickets and cards.

    U.S. District Judge George A. O'Toole, Jr., vacated the temporary 10-day restraining order that another judge had instituted more than a week ago against the students and which was scheduled to expire today. District Judge O'Toole also threw out a request by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to obtain a preliminary injunction against the students to expand the restraining order beyond the original 10 days.

    "It's great news for the free speech rights for these students," said Rebecca Jesche, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented the students. "Although it's extremely unfortunate that the students were not allowed to give their talk at DefCon."

    The students had planned to give their talk last Sunday at the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas. The talk was based on a research project and paper that they had submitted for a class taught by their MIT professor, noted cryptographer Ron Rivest. The paper had earned them an "A."

    A week before the scheduled DefCon talk, the students had met with the MBTA to discuss the transit authority's concerns that the students would teach others how to defraud the system. The students reassured the transit authority that they would withhold key information from their talk and would not be teaching someone how to defraud the system. They were under the impression after that meeting that the MBTA was fine with their talk. They were then surprised to learn, two days before their presentation, that the MBTA had filed a suit and a motion for a restraining order. When a different federal judge, District Judge Douglas Woodlock, granted the restraining order, the decision was criticized as an unconstitutional prior restraint of speech.

    In granting the restraining order, District Judge Woodlock had invoked the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, implying that the students' speech about how the MBTA system was vulnerable to hacking was equivalent to someone actually hacking the MBTA system -- or at least aided that illegal hacking activity.

    District Judge O'Toole, however, said that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act does not apply to speech and that the MBTA had failed to supply sufficient proof to merit other claims with regard to the statute, to merit a restraining order or preliminary injunction.

    "It was definitely unfair to use that statute to silence the students," Jesche said. "We certainly hope the next time that people are allowed to present their important research instead of being silenced by bogus lawsuits."

    Zack Anderson, one of the students sued in the case (and the second person from the right in the picture above), was elated by the judge's decision today.

    "We're glad the court actually saw things as they should be," the 21-year-old told Threat Level. "We're glad the court read the law correctly."

    Although the restraining order has gone away, it doesn't mean the students are completely in the clear. Still standing is a lawsuit the MBTA has filed against them, accusing them of hacking its system and causing damages.

    Anderson said the students regret that they weren't allowed to give their presentation last Sunday but have no intention of giving the talk anymore.

    "All the material we were going to talk about has been made public ... and more," he said, referring to the fact that their presentation slides as well as a confidential report describing vulnerabilities with the Boston system were posted online after the judge granted the restraining order.

    Anderson maintains that the students never planned to present key information that would have allowed someone to defraud the MBTA system and says they still stand by that.

    "Despite what's happened, and the animosity the MBTA has brought toward us," he said, "we don't want people to defraud them."

    When asked if he and the other students ever created bogus MBTA cards and used them to get free rides on Boston's T subway, Anderson declined to respond.

    "I can't really comment on the actual means that we used," he said. "It's probably not a good idea to comment on that. We certainly did not get free fare. We had to spend several hundred dollars on buying tickets to look at the data structure. Far more than we ever would have used."

    The MBTA, in a hearing on the case last week, had asked the court to require the students to hand over the class paper they had submitted to their MIT professor, Ron Rivest, about their research of the MBTA transit system. The students declined to hand over that paper but they did provide the MBTA with a 30-page sealed report, which Anderson says "went over the entire universe of our knowledge of the system, even more than the class paper has."

    Golden Girls! A Big Day For U.S. Women

    U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson was ecstatic after winning the gold medal on the balance beam during the last night of gymnastics.
    Rob Carr/Associated Press
    U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson was ecstatic after winning the gold medal on the balance beam during the last night of gymnastics.

    Shawn Johnson won the balance-beam gold Tuesday night in the final event of women's gymnastics at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Nastia Liukin took silver.This was a coronation.For American gymnastics royalty has a new power pair.Two good friends, one from Parker, Texas, near Dallas, the other from West Des Moines.

    read more | digg story

    A cure for Pandemic Flu- replicating 90 year old antibodies

    Scientists have succeed in replicating flu pandemic antibodies from 90 year old survivors

    The H5N1 Virus: Photo by Quiplash! (CC Licensed)

    Ninety years ago the Spanish flu swept across the globe, killing between 50 and 100 million people in only a few months. Since then, the specter of another flu pandemic dealing death and woe around the world has periodically terrified the medical and popular communities. But scientists searching for ways to prevent a similar outbreak in the form of the H5N1 bird flu have found a cure for the deadliest flu in the most unlikely place: nonagenarian immune systems.

    A new paper in the journal Nature confirms that a team of doctors has succeeded in isolating pandemic-flu killing antibodies from 90+ year old survivors of the Spanish flu outbreak. To test whether or not the antibodies still worked, the doctors injected the immune cells into mice, and then dosed the mice with preserved copies of the 1918 flu recovered from frozen victims of the Spanish flu that had been buried in Alaskan permafrost. Within those mice, the antibodies and the virus renewed a microscopic battle that had lain dormant for almost a century. The mice that received a high dose of the antibodies lived, while mice that received a low dose of antibody, or none at all, died as expected. While the authors of the paper indicated that understanding the immune system’s ability to “remember” infections for so long could be useful in studying all manner of viral infection, it is unlikely that antibodies synthesized from survivors would be able to immediately help in a future bird flu pandemic. The 1918 Spanish flu and the modern Asian bird flu are different species, and the antibodies are probably not compatible. Rather, by understanding how the body produces and preserves flu antibodies over a lifetime doctors hope to be able to develop more effective vaccines specific to viruses like the bird flu. Currently, the common flu kills 30,000 Americans a year, so developing effective vaccines is important even without an outbreak of the more deadly pandemic strain of the disease

    Proof that being Rich is Fun

    A Waterproof World

    A universal liquid-repeller makes anything dunk-proof

    Wet Sneaker: Photo by Satoshi

    Today you can buy a rubber boot or a cellphone with rubber seals to keep water out. But a new treatment called Ion Mask promises to make any gadget or clothing item waterproof and stainproof without changing its appearance.


    The process uses a gas, called a fluorocarbon monomer, that’s similar to ingredients in Scotchgard and Gore-Tex. Zapping the gas with radio waves excites electrons in its molecules, making them more reactive and able to bond to almost anything. The resulting waterproof layer is too thin to affect a material’s breathability or disrupt the flow of electricity to, say, a USB port.


    Hi-Tec’s Altitude Ultra boot is the first product with the coating. But waterproofing a leather boot is easy. So we asked P2i, the company behind Ion Mask, to send us treated samples of a mesh-fabric sneaker that we doused with water [above] and cotton fabric that we splattered with wine [below]. No treated electronic products were available at the time; but P2i expects small gadgets such as earbuds to appear later this year.


    Ion Mask worked as promised. A generous splash of water didn’t penetrate the sneaker, and red wine left no stain on the fabric.

    Ion and Wine: In our tests, spilled wine beaded up on cotton cloth treated with Ion Mask and didn't leave a mark: Photo by Satoshi

    Hussman Funds Weekly Market Comment

    Dr. Hussman's easy to read weekly market comments are a great insight into economics and finance. His mutual fund company uses derivatives to hedge long positions creating absolute returns(aims to maximize returns on a risk adjusted basis- Sharpe ratio) for their two mutual funds. Further, he is fully invested in his own funds(eats his own cooking). I do not nor have I ever owned any shares in the two funds. However, I can recommend the company without reservation.

    This week's comment:
    Something is About to Give

    Link to the main site- Hussman Funds

    5 Movie Characters that could probably outdrink you

    Posted in Regretful's Blog on August 19th, 2008 by Jason

    Every once in awhile a movie comes along where you bond with one of the characters in a completely heterosexual manner. Let me clarify by saying; this list correlates with the character played and not the actor. Telling your buddies that you’d like to hang out with Matthew McConaughey is a good way to lose man points. However, explaining that you would enjoy doing keg stands with Wooderson is a completely different story. This would be embraced by your peers and you will quickly see many head knods in agreement.

    In this list we pay tribute to our five favorite on screen alcoholics.

    5) Frank Ricard in Old School (Will Ferrell)

    We’re going streaking!

    Having a name like “Frank the Tank” automatically means you can guzzle beer all night long and still partake in activities like streaking without missing a beat. Frank starts out slow due to him being married. Luckily he gets a divorce, and toward the end of the movie it is clear that he is the BMOC.

    4) Charlie Tweeder in Varsity Blues (Scott Caan)

    Well we’re all naked in there and we’ve got handcuffs and cool shit to play with so take off your clothes and get in the car.

    Tweeder has two weaknesses; Alcohol and Vagina, and in this movie he shows us how often he likes to indulge in both. Tweeder claims a spot on our list for partying at a strip club all night long before a football game. Instead of blaming his poor performance on a hang over, he states that he simply can’t get his teachers ass out of his head.

    3) Landfill in Beerfest (Kevin Heffernan)

    Let’s get bombed!

    Landfill drinks more beer in this movie then most of us have in an entire NFL season. He traveled to Germany and won the fast chug contest with ease. He also managed to be a fat ass and still have a hot wife. Sadly, Landfill #1 dies at the hands of a gigantic beer trough. It is completely acceptable to shed a tear for this fallen warrior when they show him laying there like a bloated turd.

    2) David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused (Matthew McConaughey)

    That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I keep getting older, they stay the same age.

    Wooderson is one of those guys who still parties with the high school crowd. The only difference is that those guys are usually complete losers, while Wooderson kicks ass on multiple levels. In this movie, Wooderson starts to drink beer and smoke joints shortly after dusk. Instead of calling it a night, he continues to guzzle beer and ends up driving from Austin to Houston the following morning (without an ounce of sleep).

    1) Doc Holiday in Tombstone (Val Kilmer)

    I’m your huckleberry.

    Doc Holiday claims the number one spot on our list for many reasons. Doc played poker for almost 24 hours straight, continued to drink whiskey, was deathly ill, and still managed to dominate his opponents (on and off the poker table). Holiday also continued to laugh in the face of death as he prodded at gunslingers and made an ass out of bar bullies throughout the movie.

    Woodighini - The story of a Born again Fiero

    What to do when you want the style of a Lamborghini without the obscene payment? Seek refuge in GM's stunted program of 1980s awesomeness, the Fiero, that's what. Armed with time and skill, a steel fabricator from Canada named Woody has done an incredible job transforming a $60 mid-engined Pontiac wedge into an amazing homage to the Reventon. Obviously talented, the finished Woodighini is going to be incredible, Woody's done a fine job of transferring the Reventon's proportions to the Fiero's chassis.

    When you're rocking Sant'Agata styling, you can't make do with an Iron Puke or even the L44 V6. Woody's tucking a hotted-up GM small-block under the engine hatch, fed pressurized atmosphere by a pair of turbos. The blow-through carburetor is a bit too stone age for our tastes, but we're sure it's not going to stand in the way of this car being a wheeled rocket. Flat out amazing work, and it's likely to have the same amount of attention lavished on it by passerby as a real Lamborghini gets; it's sure had as much extreme care in its crafting as anything wearing the Bull.

    Gallery: Woodighini

    [Source: Hub Garage(reg. req.) via Motorfoot]


    >> - For more pics you can visit Woody's garage at the Hub.

    >> - The HubG Homepage.

    >> - The Lamborghini_Reventon.

    >> MOTORFOOT Gallery - More photos in the MOTORFOOT Gallery!

    >> YouTube Video Gallery - Photos put to music by Photoshocks on YouTube.

    Adidas 2008 Beijing Olympics Ads

    Adidas 2008 Beijing Olympics Ads

    Creative Adidas “Impossible Is Nothing” campaign for 2008 Beijing Olympics by TBWA advertising agency.

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    Adidas “Together” Olympics Ad

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    BMX makes its Olympic debut


    Four U.S. riders — three men, one woman — will compete in the BMX motocross cycling events Aug. 20-21 at the Laoshan venue in Beijing. Riders will reach speeds of 40 mph and heights of 12 to 15 feet above the big ramps. Runs last about 35 seconds.

    more BMX stories: Lighten up it's just the Olympics!
    Mike Day locks up BMX Olympic berth

    Top 26 horror babes

    Some of the sexiest girls ever seen on screen have appeared in horror films. Here are the cream of the crop.

    click here for pics and vids | digg story

    Shanghai market surges on stimulus talk

    Shanghai stocks soared Wednesday on speculation that the Chinese government was considering a fiscal stimulus package, triggering a recovery across the region.

    The Shanghai Composite jumped 5.9% to 2,482.64, adding on to its 1.1% advance Tuesday, while the Shenzhen All Share index soared 6% to 705.

    The gains came after Chinese vice-premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday that there was a need to increase household incomes and rural consumption, to cope with a weakening global economy, according to reports.

    Separately, J.P. Morgan analyst Frank Gong wrote in a report Tuesday that the country's top leadership was "carefully considering an economic stimulus package" of at least 200 billion to 400 billion yuan ($29 billion to $58 billion), which could be in the form of tax cuts and aimed at stabilizing the stock markets and supporting the development of the housing markets.

    But some analysts were skeptical that the market gains could be sustained.

    In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng China Enterprises climbed 3.7% to 11,106.55, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 1.9% to 20,864.38.

    "I think it's just a technical bounce and the trend is still downward," said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. "I think a stimulus package won't be able to give an instant boost to the Chinese economy, which is passing through a difficult time," he added.

    The surge in Shanghai helped stocks elsewhere stage a rebound from early lows.

    In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Average rose 0.4% to 12,910.31 in the afternoon, while the broader Topix index added 0.1% to 1,237.24. Both benchmarks ended the morning session lower.

    The resource stocks-laden Sydney market advanced after crude-oil prices gained, with the S&P/ASX 200 index recently rising 1.3% to 4,929.60.

    Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi gained 0.3% to 1,546.58, New Zealand's NZX 50 index inched up 0.1% to 3,321.74, Singapore's Straits Times index advanced 0.7% to 2,747.18 and Taiwan's Taiex climbed 0.4% to 7,005.28.

    Leading the gains in Shanghai, shares of Poly Real Estate Group Co. and Citic Securities surged by their daily limit of 10%, while Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China (601318.SH) soared 8.3%. In Shenzhen trading, shares of China's largest listed real estate company, China Vanke Co., jumped 7.3%, while Angang Steel Co. (ANGGY) rose 6.3%.

    In Hong Kong, recently thrashed shares gained the most, with Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. (2777.HK) rallying 9.3% and China National Building Material Co. (3323.HK) rose 11.9%, while Tsingtao Brewery (TSGTF) jumped 8.3%.

    But shares of Chinese power utilities dropped, reversing gains from the previous session, when they advanced on reports the government had allowed them to raise tariffs on electricity sold to power grids. Shares of Huaneng Power International fell 5.4% and Datang International Power Generation Co. slipped 0.2% recently.

    In a note to clients, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote Wednesday that the hike was "due to the sharp deteriorating operating environment" of power producers due to high costs and said the increase "wasn't sufficient to offset the increase in coal costs" between July and August.

    Driving the $100,000 ZR1 Corvette

    Possibly the only thing more surprising than the existence of a $100,000-plus, 638-horsepower factory-built Corvette is that the car is a total pussycat.

    Don't get us wrong, this 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 can kill you quite completely dead. We mean like augured-in, test-pilot kind of beyond-recognition dead. It is capable of such stunning velocity in such a short distance that if things go wrong at even a fraction of its ultimate speed, it'll tear a ragged hole in just about whatever it encounters.

    This ZR1 produces 638 hp — the equivalent of the power produced by the 405-hp 1995 Corvette ZR-1 (the "King of the Hill Corvette") plus a 1984 Corvette plus a 1968 Citroën 2CV.

    Or think of it this way. If you bolted three 1980s-era Corvette L83 small blocks end to end to end to produce a single V24 engine, it would still produce 23 hp fewer than the ZR1's supercharged LS9 V8. For perspective, the total power received by the earth from the sun is considerably higher at 174.0 petawatts (1015 watts) or 233,334,000,000,000 hp*.

    But for all its badass credentials, its power output of a hydroelectric dam and its stunning production-car lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the ZR1 doesn't really seem to want to kill you all that bad.

    What do you think this is, a freakin' Dodge Viper or something? That widowmaker is right now sitting in a nearby parking lot plotting ways to turn you into freshly chopped liver — liver that it will then fry to a savory firmness right there on its exhaust-heated rocker panels.

    A Friend to Widows and Orphans Everywhere
    Unlike the small-scale, population-reduction experiment that is the 600-hp 2008 Dodge Viper, the ZR1 has stuff like traction control and stability control. The Viper only got antilock brakes in 2001, almost a decade after the model's introduction, for goodness' sakes.

    But this is about more than traction and stability control systems. The 505-hp Corvette Z06 also has these same well-tuned systems, yet we have it on good authority that the Z06 still wants us dead. Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter euphemistically refers to this particular Z06 trait as "itching for a fight all the time." We note that "fight" is at a different location, yet on the same continuum of violence as "homicide."

    Around the 'Ring Is Cozy
    Most of our experience driving the Master of all Corvettes came at GM's proving grounds in Milford, Michigan. Specifically, we spent nearly the entire day perspiring as we drove around the Milford Road Course (MRC), a wicked little road course designed to trip up car and driver. It's also called the Lutzring, because "ring" sounds cool and German and because it's shaped exactly like Bob Lutz's pancreas.

    Now we do not claim to have set a new lap record around the MRC, nor do we claim to have extracted in our 20 or so laps all that the ZR1 has to give, but we can say this: We did stuff both intentionally and accidentally in the supposedly fearsome ZR1 that a twitchy Z06 would have made us badly regret. The ZR1 is more forgiving than Eliot Spitzer's wife, or Kwame Kilpatrick's wife, or Bill...possibly you get the point.

    Badly misjudge your entry speed to a corner — which you will do often despite the ZR1's gigantic Brembo-supplied carbon ceramic brakes — and the ZR1 can be coaxed through a corner without a requisite trip through the grass/sand trap/7-Eleven store. The ZR1's rear end slips wide (another thing you will do frequently in the ZR1) under the oppressive force of 604 pound-feet of torque, but you'd have to be driving in Herman Munster's boots to really screw up too badly. Or at least, the ZR1 will give you the opportunity to reconsider your dunderheaded ways before punishing you for them. Everything happens fast in the ZR1 but progressively and predictably so. That includes the rate at which the driver's confidence builds.

    What?! I'm Going How Fast?!
    "You should take a peek at the speedometer once and see just how fast you're going," we say to ourselves, possibly out loud, knowing full well that we would ignore any sign of conscience as usual. But we never could bring ourselves to tear our dilated peepers away from the straight-ahead.

    The answer to the question would be some essentially meaningless variation of "fast" anyway. We never even swung our gaze low enough or focused closely enough to get a look at the ZR1's signature peephole in the hood, much less the gauges. If ever there was a car where a head-up display makes sense, the ZR1 might be it. Good thing it's standard.

    We are aware of ourselves conducting the act of breathing. Goodness, just feel that. Innnn...outttt. Innnn...outt. We're aware of a certain, er, clarity in the general region of our head. Speed will do that.

    After track exercises we take the ZR1 on some public roads around the proving ground sans racing helmet and notice that the big ol' Eaton supercharger makes a noticeable whine. It might not be cranked quite to the toddler-level whine of the Shelby GT500's blower, but it is unmistakably there. We didn't notice this on the track, perhaps because the helmet blocked it out. But it might also be that our eyes were open so wide that they partially blocked our ear canals.

    Under any set of circumstances we sure as hell could hear the ZR1's exhaust note, which is deeper, thicker and more authoritative than the Z06's high-rpm rip. Once the butterfly valves open thanks to the two servos mounted on the business end of the exhaust, the thing just bellows. If water were sound, a Ferrari F430's exhaust would be the high-pressure stream shot from a water cannon. The ZR1 would be the bowel-rumbling gathering gloom of a tidal wave. It's a sound forceful enough that it might be able to motivate a small car all on its own.

    Brakes, Tires, Suspension and Other Good Stuff
    We've polled the entire car-liking population of the U.S. (our office) and exactly no one is surprised that the supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V8 feels strong in an epic kind of way. Neither should anyone be surprised that the presence of so much aluminum and carbon fiber makes the ZR1 shockingly light at 3,324 pounds. So it stands to reason that the ZR1 should be able to blast to 60 mph from a standstill in 3.4 seconds and crank out quarter-mile times of 11.3 seconds at 131 mph, plus that it will power up to a top speed of 205 mph.

    It is something of a surprise that (unlike basically all recent Corvettes) the tires don't let the car down. Typically, Corvettes run Goodyear tires. Last we tested a Z06 against a Viper, we noted that the Vette's Goodyear Eagle F1 tires perform like all-season rubber compared to the Viper's larger Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 rubber. And as it turns out, the ZR1 rolls on monstrous Michelins. "We had a shoot-out with prospective tire suppliers and Michelin just blew us away," says Juechter.

    The ZR1's ridiculously wide 335/25ZR20 rear tires and tall 20-inch wheels look exactly like one of those crazy drawings that car designers make where a car appears to be riding on water mill-sized wheels with one black line drawn around the edge to suggest a tire. The front tires measure 285/30ZR19. And these Michelins are, so far as we could figure in our short time with the car, spectacular. They provide for better than 1.0g of grip on the skid pad according to Chevy's tests, and break traction so smoothly and progressively that they alone take 60 percent of the fear out of driving fast in this car.

    Still, the ridiculously narrow sidewalls of 25- and 30-series tires should make the ZR1 a tailbone-shattering torture device on public roads. Credit for the ride comfort goes to the Magnetic Ride Control dampers. This second-generation, magnetically controlled electrically adjustable suspension will withstand significant track time without wilting with the heat, while they react so swiftly that they also ride well. True, they add weight. But with 638 horses, the system's additional 20 pounds are negligible.

    Yes, the steering system for the 2008 Corvette has already been upgraded to improve feedback and the ZR1 incorporates the appropriate hardware, but if you're expecting Porsche GT3 steering you will be disappointed. The ZR1's steering works fine, though. Did we mention 638 hp? The clutch (an agreeable new dual-plate design) and shift lever (connected to a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual) work fine, too. That 638 hp, it's a lot, don't you think?

    Not a Peep
    It is surprisingly easy to overlook the Brembo-supplied brakes with their carbon-ceramic rotors and monstrous blue calipers. Chevrolet says that 15.5-inch front and 15-inch rear rotors are the biggest fitted to any production car. Technically, the 4,300-pound, $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 has front rotors two-tenths of an inch larger — so you know the ZR1's brakes obviously are garbage in comparison.

    Unlike many carbon-ceramic systems, the ZR1's brakes don't embarrass you with incessant squealing when they're cold. They're not in the least bit touchy. And according to Tom Wallace, vehicle line executive for Corvette, the rotors will last almost an entire 24-hour track test at full race speed before needing to be replaced.

    Certainly we noticed only that the brakes, with six-piston front calipers and four-piston rears, lop off big hunks of speed without really making us even notice. Incidentally, the ZR1 will do 0-100-0 mph in less than 11 seconds.

    Of Carbon and Plastic
    Will any of the ZR1's buyers care that the interior is not exactly up to snuff for a car costing more than $100,000? They should. Chevrolet tries to class up the joint with a standard fitment of the Corvette's recently introduced leather-upholstered interior. And, should one want it, basically every option available on any Corvette is available on the ZR1 in one big luxury package for about $10,000.

    But it's still a Corvette. And it uses the same switchgear and plastic that we have complained about in Corvettes only half as expensive. Only the seats are functionally bad, of course. They're simply not up to the task of keeping passengers in place under the extraordinary acceleration, braking and cornering forces. Bruises on the outsides of both of our knees attest to the need for better side bolstering. If you're going to track your ZR1, go ahead and get a proper racing seat and five-point harness.

    While you're at it, get yourself some stock in a company called Plasan. That's the outfit that produces the carbon-fiber pieces for the ZR1, including the front aero splitter that juts out 4 inches from the face of the ZR1. It's especially prone to whacks, and the one on the car we drove was cracked in a couple of places.

    What Price Greatness?
    The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 lists for $105,000, including destination and a $1,700 gas-guzzler charge. The luxury package adds another $10,000 and the showy chrome wheels are $2,000. Other than some additional costs for various paint colors, that's as much as a ZR1 is going to cost you. But that doesn't really matter, because it will cost you oh-so-much-more with requisite dealer markup.

    Also the purchase of any ZR1 entitles the owner to a "free" driver training course at a well-known but as-yet-to-be-determined school. Perhaps this momentarily quells the heart palpitations GM's lawyers must surely be experiencing over this car.

    Maybe they should drive the ZR1. It's not really diabolical. Also its limits are so high that when things do go terribly wrong, then...oh wait, forget it.

    * Not an SAE-certified figure