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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Freebies for Those that Vote

Election Day freebies abound for voters: Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Ben & Jerry's and much, much more

Geoff Williams


In the old days, politicians would try to buy votes. Nowadays, corporations are trying to buy your affection if you vote.

Works for me.

You've probably seen on WalletPop or elsewhere in the media that some big national chains are giving away free stuff to anyone who votes (or says they voted).

So far, these are the major players in the game:

Starbucks: Giving away a free tall coffee to people with proof of voting (or a pledge of having voted)

Krispy Kreme: Giving away free star-shaped donuts with red, white and blue sprinkles (while supplies last) to people with an "I voted" sticker all day

Ben & Jerry's: Giving away a free scoop in any flavor from 5pm to 8pm to anyone who says they voted.

But there's much, much more... (and we're hoping you'll feel free to tell us what's free in your neighborhood for voters).


This is in no way a list of all of them, but here are some:

* Todd Conner's, a bar in Baltimore, will give voters a free beer. (I'm guessing 18-20 year-old voters are disqualifed.)

* Selected Chick-fil-A locations will be offering free chicken sandwiches on Election Day to anyone with an "I Voted" sticker, and also giving away items on Nov. 5 for those who bring in lawn signs, but check first, to see if your local store is in on the deal.

* Rock the Vote is offering free song downloads to anyone who pledges to vote

* To its first 300 customers at each location, Shane's Rib Shack will give away a free "Vote America meal," which are chicken tenders and a beverage.

* Anaheim White House, a restaurant in California, are giving voters a free bottle of champagne. The catch seems to be that you have to order the $44 meal that comes with it.

* At Zov's, a three-restaurant chain, also in California, they're giving away a free slice of apple pie to anyone who votes.

* The Atlanta Zoo are cutting admission prices to half price on November 4 for voters and their families.

* In Chicago, at the restuarant Park 52, guests showing a receipt for voting will receive a free red, white and blue dessert--as in, red velvet cake with white cream cheese frosting and fresh blueberries.

* In Troy, Michigian, the Hot Spot Coffee Company will be giving out free 12-ounce cups of coffee to customers on November 4.

* And Babeland, an adult sex toy store in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, is giving away, um, some free toys to anyone who says that they're voting.

* A Dallas tattoo-removal specialist is offering a free consultation to getting a tattoo removed.

* Even more deals are listed at slickdeals.net

Really, your best plan of attack tomorrow seems to be to go into any store or restaurant and say, "I voted today. Giving anything away for free?"

Geoff Williams is a freelance writer and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).

Obama Wins Dixville Notch, NH, The First Place To Vote

GLENN ADAMS | November 4, 2008

Dixville Notch residents wait for the stoke of midnight to be the first voters for the nation's presidential election in Dixville Notch, N.H. Tuesday Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. — Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, N.H., where tradition of having the first Election Day ballots tallied lives on.

Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday's first minutes. The town of Hart's Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns' ballots but got no votes.

"I'm not going to say I wasn't surprised," said Obama supporter Tanner Nelson Tillotson, whose name was drawn from a bowl to make him Dixville Notch's first voter.

With 115 residents between them, Dixville Notch and Hart's Location get every eligible voter to the polls beginning at midnight on Election Day. Between them, the towns have been enjoying their first-vote status since 1948.

Being first means something to residents of the Granite State, home of the nation's earliest presidential primary and the central focus _ however briefly _ of the vote-watching nation's attention every four years.

Town Clerk Rick Erwin said Dixville Notch is proud of its tradition, but added, "The most important thing is that we exemplify a 100 percent vote."

Dixville Notch resident Peter Johnson said the early bird electoral exercise "is fun." A former naval aviator, Johnson said he was voting for McCain, but added, "I think both candidates are excellent people."

Voting was carried out in a room in a local hotel festooned with political memorabilia from campaigns long past. Each voter gets an individual booth so there are no lines at the magic hour. The votes were quickly counted, announced and recorded on a posterboard that proclaims, "First in the Nation, Dixville Notch."

The tradition drew spectators, including Tim McKenna, who drove with his wife 16 miles from Cambridge, N.H., to witness the event.

"Living in New Hampshire, you hear so much about it in the news," said McKenna. "I think it's a very historic election this year."

Ed Butler, a Democratic state representative who runs the Notchland Inn in Hart's Location, said, "Being this small and being able to be first just makes it that much more special."

Although scores of states have voted early, the two villages are the first to officially announce the results on Election Day.

New Hampshire law requires polls to open at 11 a.m., but that doesn't stop towns from opening earlier. It also allows towns to close their polls once all registered and eligible voters have cast ballots.

Hart's Location started opening its polls early in 1948, the year Harry S. Truman beat Thomas Dewey, to accommodate railroad workers who had to get to work early. Hart's Location got out of the early voting business in 1964 after some residents grew weary of all the publicity, but brought it back in 1996.

Dixville Notch, nestled in a mountain pass 1,800 feet up and about halfway between the White Mountain National Forest and the Canadian border, followed suit in 1960, when John F. Kennedy beat Richard M. Nixon. Nixon, the Republican, swept all nine votes cast in Dixville that year, and before Tuesday, the town had gone for a Democrat only once since then. That was in 1968, when the tally was Democrat Hubert Humphrey eight, Nixon four.

Scientists Create Life From Mouse Frozen 16 Years Ago

By David Derbyshire

Scientists have created clones of a mouse that had been dead and frozen for 16 years.

It is the first time they have been able to clone a frozen animal.

The Japanese researchers say their work will benefit mankind - and could be used to bring back extinct animals such as the woolly mammoth or sabre tooth tiger.

Scientists have cloned a healthy brown mouse for the first time from an animal kept in the deep freeze for 16 years

Breakthrough: Scientists have cloned a healthy brown mouse for the first time from an animal kept in the deep freeze for 16 years

But ethical watchdogs branded the experiment disturbing.

Critics say it brings the world closer to the day when people try to clone long- dead relatives stored in cryopreservation clinics.

It could even lead to a macabre new industry - in which people leave behind 'relics' of their bodies in freezers in the hope that they could one day be cloned.

The gullible might be persuaded that they themselves could be brought back to life, complete with their memories, even though a clone would be a different person in almost everything except appearance.

Cloned Mouse Graphic.jpg

The latest experiment comes more than 11 years after British scientists stunned the world with Dolly the cloned sheep. Although scientists have since cloned a host of different animals, using genetic material from single cells, they have always used living cells.

It had been thought that ice crystals destroyed the DNA in frozen cells, making them unusable. But the Japanese team used brain cells and believe the high fat content of brains and the protection of the skull reduced the damage.

Josephine Quintavalle, an expert on the ethics of fertility and reproduction, said the experiment pushed the boundaries of acceptable science even further.

She said: 'This kind of research raises disturbing questions about what happens to our bodies - and any tissue we leave for medical science - after we die.

'It means that tissue donated for medical research or stored in laboratories could be used many years later for cloning research.

Frozen mouse cloned

Return of the dead: The dead mouse from which the new mouse was cloned.

'It has never been more important that when people leave tissue for research, the consent should be very specific given the potential for all kinds of scientific developments in the future.'

But British scientists welcomed the breakthrough.

Professor Malcolm Alison, biologist at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: "It is absolutely fascinating.

'The researchers obtained cell nuclei from mice that had been deep-frozen for 16 years and then generated new mice by the same technology that created Dolly.

'While 16 years is not a long time for cells to be frozen - IVF clinics often have viable sperm frozen for longer periods - there are no scientific reasons why extinct animals like mammoths could not be similarly generated.'

The research was carried out by Dr Teruhiko Wakayama and colleagues at the Centre for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan.

They took brain cells from ordinary dead male mice stored in a freezer for up to 16 years and removed their nuclei - the blobs in the centre of cells that contain DNA.

Each cell's nucleus was injected into a hollowed-out egg cell from a female mouse.

When the egg was 'triggered' with electricity, it began to divide and grow just like a newly-conceived embryo.

After a few days, the embryo clone was implanted into the womb of a surrogate mouse and three weeks later, the clone was born.

'These cloned mice did not show any abnormalities and grew to adulthood,' the researchers report today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today

Cells to be frozen are normally treated with chemicals called cryoprotectants-beforehand, to prevent-damage. But this had not been done on the Japanese mice.

The researchers tried to clone mice from other parts of the body, but found that brain cells were the most successful.

Even using brain cells, however, the success rate was low.

More than 1,100 attempts produced just seven healthy clones. More than 500 embryos died after being implanted into the wombs of the surrogate mothers.

Helen Wallace of Genewatch UK said: 'Cloning produces high failure rates because many eggs and foetuses do not develop normally.

'It would be extremely dangerous for both mothers and their babies to attempt this kind of experiment in humans.'

Sabre toothed tiger and mammoths

Critics warn that the advance could lead to the cloning of historical species such as mammoths and sabre toothed tigers

Dr Robin Lovell-Badge of the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research in London said the breakthrough could help scientists researching diseases by producing more material to work on.

He said: 'It could be a valuable practical tool - not just for work on animals but on humans as well.

Scientists could potentially create living clones of the ice man 'Oetzi', who was frozen 5,300 years ago

Extreme: Scientists could potentially create living clones of the ice man 'Oetzi', who was frozen 5,300 years ago

'There might be human material stored by laboratories that you could work on.

'If it came from people with genetic diseases, it could help explore the causes of those disease.'

However Dr Robin Lovell-Badge said he suspected the technique would have most use in the research on extinct animals, such as mammoths, whose bodies are preserved for thousands of year in ice or frozen tundra.

The revelation conjures images of a world where people could be cloned and brought back from the dead. In the 2003 film Multiplicity, Michael Keaton plays several cloned variations of himself

Frankenstein science: The revelation conjures images of a world where people could be cloned and brought back from the dead. In the 2003 film Multiplicity, Michael Keaton plays several cloned variations of himself



The Japanese scientists said the bodies of large animals like mammoths frozen under natural conditions would freeze more slowly, possibly reducing cell damage.

They also suggested that other sources of frozen nuclei, such as white blood cells, might be as useful for cloning as brain tissue.

They added: 'This would increase the chances of finding tissues in good condition'.

Oldest Hebrew Text Is Evidence for Bible Stories?

Mati Milstein in Elah Valley, Israel
for National Geographic News


A 3,000-year-old pottery shard with five lines of text (above) is the oldest Hebrew writing ever found, archaeologists said in October 2008.

The text, found on a hilltop above the valley where David is said to have battled Goliath, could give historical support for stories in the Bible.

Copyright 2008 by David Willner for
Foundation Stone
What may be the oldest known Hebrew text, found on a hilltop above the valley where David is said to have battled Goliath, could lend historical support to some Bible stories, archaeologists say.

The 3,000-year-old pottery shard with five lines of text was found during excavations of the Elah Fortress, the oldest known biblical-period fortress, which dates to the tenth century B.C.

It is the most important archaeological discovery in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls, according to lead researcher Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology.

His team believes the text may provide evidence for a real-life King David and his vast kingdom, the existence of which has been long doubted by scholars.

Carbon-14 dating of olive pits found at the archaeological site, as well as analysis of pottery remains, also place the text to between 1000 and 975 B.C., the time King David, head of the Kingdom of Israel, would have lived.

"This means that historical knowledge of King David could pass from generation to generation in writing—and not just as oral tradition."

The exact nature of the text— believed to be Hebrew written in Proto-Canaanite script, a type of early alphabet—has yet to be determined, but a number of root words have already been translated, including "judge," "slave," and "king."

But the archaeologist's claims are disputed by an Israeli colleague, who says there is not enough scientific information to reach definitive conclusions.

Strategic Valley

The fortress is located southwest of Jerusalem on what was the border between the Israelite-run Kingdom of Judea and the coastal Philistine territories. Philistines, who possibly came from Crete, settled the southern coast of Palestine around the same time as the Israelites in the 12th century B.C.

(See a time line of early Christianity.)

During the biblical period, the Elah Valley was the main point of passage between the two territories.

It's not known whether the Judeans or the Philistines controlled the strategic fortress overlooking the Elah Valley, which was surrounded by nearly 3,000-foot-long (700-meter-long) fortifications built of massive stones.

But Garfinkel believes the site was most likely the westernmost outpost maintained by the Kingdom of Judea, which controlled land in southwest Asia and Palestine and was a predecessor to the Kingdom of Israel.

For instance, pottery at the fortress is similar to that found at other Israelite sites, and there are no pig remains—an indicator that often distinguishes Israelite from Philistine sites.

The newfound Hebrew text has also added new evidence of Judean rule, since key words indicate the text is most likely Hebrew.

(Related: "4,000-Year-Old Tombs Found Near Jerusalem Mall" [November 21, 2006].)

Proving the Bible?

Garfinkel believes the Elah site and newfound writing could provide historic evidence of the United Monarchy in the tenth century B.C.

That's when King David is said to have united Judea and Israel, establishing a large kingdom that stretched between the Nile River in present-day Egypt and the Euphrates in Iraq, according to the Bible.

Though most researchers don't believe this kingdom existed, evidence from the site and pottery shard seems to support the idea of a strong central administration based in nearby Jerusalem, as detailed in the Bible, Garfinkel said.

(Related: "Jerusalem Tunnel Linked to Bible" [September 11, 2003].)

"There is a big debate if the biblical tradition is accurate history or mythology written hundreds of years later … But this is the first time in the archaeology of Israel we have evidence that in the time of King David such heavily fortified cities were built."

ABC Evolution

The ancient text may also shed light on the evolution of the world's alphabetic languages.

"This is the first time that we have a Proto-Canaanite inscription dated in [the context of] an archaeological site from the tenth century B.C.," Garfinkel said.

"This is a major contribution to the understanding of writing in the world."

The evolution of alphabetic scripts, which had their origins in Proto-Canaanite some 3,700 years ago, was one of humankind's greatest intellectual achievements, experts say.

"This allowed everyone to read and write. Before this, Sumerian scripts and Egyptian hieroglyphs were very complicated writing techniques … only trained scribes could read and write in the ancient Near East," Garfinkel said.

Archaeological Doubts

Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, who is not involved in the Elah excavations, agreed the site is very important, but has significant concerns with Garfinkel's interpretations of the findings.

Immediately drawing ties between the site and the Kingdom of Judea is a mistake, he said—and it might well have been Philistine in origin.

Also, due to the small number of samples, the carbon-14 dating of the site is also not as precise as it should be, he added.

"We need to wait for more samples. It's not enough to date the site based on two [olive pits]," he said.

He also expressed doubts about the centerpiece of Garfinkel's findings—the text.

"I am prepared to predict that it will be very difficult to determine whether the text is, in fact, Hebrew. There will be evidence indicating various possibilities," he said.

"In the nature of its discovery, this [piece of pottery] is also not unusual. There is a group of late Proto-Canaanite [pottery shards] from the same chronological phase that have been found in various sites on the coastal plain—none of them were discovered in Judea proper."

© 1996-2008 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.

A Closer Look At Bodysurfing The Wedge In Newport Beach

The Wedge - body surfer
Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
A body surfer takes off on one of the huge waves at the Wedge in Newport Beach, off the rocky jetty at the tip of Balboa Peninsula.

The art of bodysurfing -- less glamorous than surfing and tough to master -- lives on at the legendary, and dangerous, break. A new generation of daredevils is joining old-timers in the water.

By Susannah Rosenblatt



With the lifeguard tower boarded up, the sand mostly empty and the waves fizzling into foam, another bodysurfing season at the Wedge has drawn to a close. The daredevils who brave the wild waves at the legendary Newport Beach break are shelving their fins until next spring.

The die-hards -- guys whose concussions, fractured vertebrae and broken bones are testament to their devotion to the Wedge -- have mellowed with age. The waves -- which ricochet off the rocky jetty at the tip of Balboa Peninsula, smashing together in white-frosted peaks that can tower 20 feet -- have not. The Wedge chews up novices, flinging them onto the hard berm of sand or sucking them back into the churning surf.



Wedge Crew

Photos: Wedge Crew

Map

Map

The bodysurfing fraternity that held tanning tournaments and packed party houses during the Wedge's rowdy 1980s heyday has morphed into middle-aged dads. Fights used to break out among dudes angling for waves. Now, mentoring is more likely as newcomers learn to navigate that wall of water from the old hands who still can't get enough.

With a younger generation surfacing once again at the Wedge, the art of bodysurfing -- less glamorous than surfing and tough to master -- lives on.

"It is a dwindling thing -- there aren't the number of active bodysurfers that there were," said Tom "Cashbox" Kennedy, 44, who's been riding the Wedge for more than two decades. "With this new influx of fresh air, with these younger kids coming, it's like 'Wow, good, we're not going to die on the vine.' "

The Wedge crew, who call themselves the Wedge Preservation Society, successfully petitioned the city of Newport Beach to ban boards -- particularly the growing legions of bodyboarders -- at their prized spot from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May through October. Thus a landmark, and bodysurfing preserve, was born.

"Most people grow up, mature and leave the place," said Fred Simpson, 70, one of the Wedge patriarchs, who has spent nearly 40 years in the surf here. He also helped create Viper fins, standard equipment on the feet of many Wedge regulars. Of the Wedge crew, Simpson says, "Like me, they never matured."

Juggling kids and mortgages, the most devoted have bought houses close to the Wedge or created work schedules flexible enough that they can slip into a pair of fins on a long lunch break.

And there's no denying that it's the older guys -- the ones with the battle scars and the war stories -- who are still the best.

"The old guys rip," said Sean Starky, a bearded, long-haired 22-year-old. "They still kill it."

"The best guys are like dolphins on the waves," said Ron Romanosky, a longtime bodysurfer, kneeboarder, photographer and board maker.

Bodysurfing, which requires fins, nerve and perfect timing, never hit the commercial mainstream like surfing. The sport, which some bodysurfers consider an art form, has remained pure while skirting the pop-culture radar. That, and the practice required to become skilled, have thinned out the ranks frequenting the Wedge.

But some have noticed a resurgence.

"It seems like there's a whole new group there getting stoked on it," said Kevin "Mel" Thoman, 51, a Wedge veteran and the scene's de facto social coordinator (he has the tattoos to prove it).

"It's infectious; you don't really want to stop," said Ben Frazier, 18, who's been bodysurfing since the beginning of high school.

As long as the young guys know their place in the pecking order and show skill, the crew at the kinder, gentler Wedge is happy to show them the ropes.

"I love to see these guys charging these big waves," Kennedy said. "It's almost like the way I used to feel when I was their age. There's some sort of fire in the belly you need."

Simpson has seen generation after generation come and go at the Wedge. But though the old crew is happy to see newcomers keeping their passion alive, there are no plans to hang up their fins.

"We'll have a new crop," Thoman said, "and I'll be down there in a wheelchair."

Rosenblatt is a Times staff writer.

susannah.rosenblatt

@latimes.com

Conjoined Twins Find a Life Apart

Conjoined twins Kendra and Maliyah Herrin made medical history when they were separated. Here, for the first time, the family shares its story of love and survival.

At a clinic in Salt Lake City, the ultrasound technician moved the transducer in slow circles over Erin Herrin's abdomen. Erin, 20 and already the mother of a two-year-old girl, was 18 weeks into her second pregnancy.

"Wow! Do you see that?" said the sonographer, zeroing in on a pair of small, fluttering images. "Two hearts! Congratulations-you're having twins." Erin wasn't entirely surprised; she'd felt extra kicks this time, though her obstetrician had heard only one heartbeat during earlier tests. She grinned at her husband, Jake, 21, who stood holding her hand.

Video Clip of Miracle Conjoined Herrin Twins
Watch a video of Kendra and Maliyah enjoying life after separation.

Then the sonographer stopped the exam. "Just a minute," she said. "I want the radiologist to take a look at this."

The Herrins waited anxiously as the specialist arrived and studied the ultrasound scans. "It looks like you're having conjoined twin girls," he said at last, his tone apologetic. "I really can't tell you much more than that." He scheduled an appointment for them to meet with a perinatologist the following Monday—four long days away.

On the drive home, Erin, a homemaker, ran down a preliminary list of questions: Where are the babies connected? Can they be separated? Will they ever have a normal life? Are they even going to live? Jake, a computer network manager, tried to reassure her. "Let's not panic," he said. "Maybe they're just attached by a bit of skin and there's a way to fix it."

As it turned out, the twins shared a great deal more than that. If they made it to term, their only hope of independence—from each other as well as from their caregivers—would be a surgical procedure of almost unimaginable complexity. In fact, it would be the first operation of its kind.

When they got home from the clinic that fall day in 2001, Jake and Erin looked up conjoined twins online. They learned that in 1 out of 100,000 pregnancies, a fertilized egg fails to divide fully into identical twins, leaving two fetuses joined at some point along their bodies. For unknown reasons, about 70 percent are girls, and in most cases, their shared internal organs are severely deformed. Up to 60 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn; of those who survive birth, 35 percent live only one day. The overall survival rate is 25 percent.

The first successful separation took place in Switzerland in 1689—a simple case involving superficially joined twins. But such operations remained almost unheard-of until surgical techniques improved in the 1950s. Since then, a few dozen sets of twins worldwide have been separated. Survival rates vary depending on where the twins are connected, from 82 percent for those joined only at the abdomen to zero for those who share a heart.


At the perinatologist's office, the Herrins learned that their twins were joined frontally at the abdomen and pelvis. They had two legs (each twin controlled one) and shared a liver and a large intestine. To deliver the girls, Erin would need a large vertical cesarean section, which could result in huge blood loss. The doctor told the couple that, because of the enormous complications, Erin would be risking her life to go ahead with the birth.

The Herrins' Mormon religion permits abortion in certain cases-when the fetus has defects that would prevent it from surviving beyond birth, for instance, or when the mother's health is in danger. But Erin said that was not what she wanted. So the perinatologist referred the couple to Rebecka Meyers, MD, chief of pediatric surgery at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City. At their first meeting, Dr. Meyers told the Herrins their twins had strong vital signs and good odds of making it to term.

"Jake and I looked at each other and knew we had to go forward," Erin recalls. "There wasn't any doubt."

In her 26th week of pregnancy, Erin began hemorrhaging, and shortly afterward her water broke. Her doctors were able to prevent a miscarriage but kept her in the hospital on strict bed rest. Lying on her back day after day, she hardly dared to think beyond the babies' birth.

On February 26, 2002, Kendra and Maliyah were born by C-section, eight weeks premature. Together, they weighed six pounds four ounces. "They were beautiful," says Jake. "They just happened to be stuck together."

Too small to survive on their own, the twins were whisked off to the hospital's intensive care unit. Prematurity was far from their only problem. When they were three days old, tests showed that only one of the girls' three kidneys—the one on Kendra's side—was functional.


In most respects, Kendra and Maliyah were good candidates for the operation. For conjoined twins of their type, the success rate is about 63 percent.

But when Erin and Jake shared their hopes with Dr. Meyers, she gently discouraged them. No one had ever tried separating twins who depended on a single kidney, she explained. Such a procedure would pose unprecedented challenges for Maliyah, who lacked her own organ. If the girls were separated, she would need dialysis until she recovered from the operation-and then a kidney transplant.

"I'd give both my kidneys if it would help her," Erin said.

Dr. Meyers assured her that one would be enough. "You might be the perfect donor," she said. "Unfortunately, that's not an option right now." Infants did not do well on dialysis, and Maliyah's body was too small to accommodate an adult organ.

"When will she be big enough?" Jake asked.

The doctor's answer made the couple's hearts sink: "Let's see how she's doing in four or five years."

If caring for newborn twins is challenging, handling two babies who share a lower body is even harder. "Holding them, trying to balance their little heads, I was overwhelmed," says Erin.

Everyday tasks were daunting. The girls required feeding tubes for several months. They had trouble sleeping because one would roll onto the other or hit her with a flailing hand. Strangers made cruel remarks. When either girl came down with a cold, so did the other. They spent their first birthday in the ICU with respiratory infections. During each crisis, Erin worried that she was neglecting her older daughter, Courtney.

But the family adjusted. Erin found a way to prop the twins in their crib so they slept better. She made clothes by sewing pairs of dresses together. When the girls could no longer fit in a regular car seat, the couple had a special one built. Friends and relatives helped with chores and babysitting.


Before long, the twins discovered they could get around by scooting on their rear end. They learned to climb stairs, dress themselves, and jump on a trampoline. One day, at age three, Kendra called to Erin, "Look at us, Mom!" The girls had pulled themselves to a standing position—an achievement doctors had said would be impossible without surgery.

By then, the Herrins knew that having the twins had been the right decision. The couple had experienced a rocky patch after Courtney was born and had even lived apart for a few weeks. Now they were closer than they'd ever been. Says Jake: "We realized that Kendra and Maliyah had made us stronger."

As the girls' fourth birthday approached, their parents looked forward to the day when each could function on her own. But then came an event even more unlikely than having conjoined twins: Like one mother in seven million, Erin became pregnant with twins a second time. She couldn't give a kidney to Maliyah until she'd recovered from delivering Austin and Justin. (Others had offered to donate, but Erin was the best match.)

She and Jake began to have doubts about the surgery. Kendra and Maliyah were learning to use a walker. They got along so well that their condition sometimes seemed less a curse than a blessing. "I knew I'd miss bathing them together, tucking them in together," Erin says. "And they were happy. I thought they were perfect the way they were."

There was also the trauma of the separation to consider. Dr. Meyers assured the couple that their daughters were strong enough to survive the initial surgery. Afterward, however, Maliyah would have to be on dialysis for months before she recovered enough to receive her mother's kidney. More operations would be needed to reconstruct the twins' bodies. Artificial legs could help restore their mobility, but because the girls would not have an upper leg bone, to which a standard prosthesis is typically attached, the only devices available were crude and cumbersome. Was it really fair—or necessary—to put them through all of this?


Dr. Meyers couldn't say for sure. Still, she told Erin and Jake, inaction carried its own risk. "So far, the girls have done fine on one kidney," she said. "But if they hit a major growth spurt, it could overtax the organ."

Torn, the couple prayed together. They consulted child psychologists and medical ethicists. They sought advice from an Internet support group for parents of conjoined twins, with a dozen members in the United States and Australia. Still, says Jake, "we felt alone—like we were the only people in the world going through this."

Although the Herrins had never intended to burden the girls with the decision, the twins wound up tipping the scales. "You mean I can be playing on the computer while Maliyah plays with Barbies in the other room?" Kendra asked one day when Erin raised the subject.

"And we can sleep in our own beds?" added Maliyah.

Erin nodded, and the twins giggled happily.

Cut-apart day, as the girls called it, was scheduled for August 7, 2006. Two months before the surgery, Kendra and Maliyah were admitted to Primary Children's, where doctors inserted balloon expanders into their torso, filling them with a little more saline solution every week. The devices, often used in reconstructive surgery, gradually stretched the girls' skin so there would be enough to cover the tissue left exposed by the separation. To ease the discomfort, the twins slept on a mattress filled with soft sand.

Preparing them psychologically was equally important. Erin made the girls a long paper chain so they could count down to the big day. The hospital's counselors gave them each a pair of dolls, sewn together, which they could separate when they felt ready. Kendra cut hers apart right away; Maliyah waited until shortly before the surgery.

At 7 a.m. on August 7, the twins lay on a gurney as a nurse wheeled them toward the operating room. They seemed calm, even cheerful. Hospital staffers had decorated the corridor with lift-the-flap posters celebrating the girls' individuality—Who likes caterpillars? Maliyah. Who likes butterflies? Kendra—and they stopped the cart under each one, making the trip into a kind of scavenger hunt. At the last moment, though, both twins broke down: "I don't want to go! Let us stay with you!"

Their parents stroked and soothed them while hiding their own anxiety. "Letting them go," says Erin, "was the hardest thing I've ever done."


"Separating conjoined twins is never standard," says Michael Matlak, MD, one of the surgeons who operated on the Herrin girls. No two sets of twins are joined in quite the same way, and there's always a chance that something will go fatally wrong.

Kendra and Maliyah's team included six surgeons, five other specialists, and more than 25 nurses and technicians. With Dr. Meyers acting as director, they spent 16 hours dividing the girls' torsos, rerouting their circulatory systems, and allotting each twin a share of liver and intestines. Then, just after midnight, they split into two teams-Maliyah's led by W. Bradford Rockwell, MD, and Kendra's by Dr. Matlak-to put each girl back together.

"My God, what have we done?" Dr. Matlak exclaimed when he saw the gaping fissures where the twins had been connected. The pediatric surgeon had performed half a dozen separations in the past, but he'd never encountered wounds as massive as these. He wasn't sure Kendra would have enough extra skin to cover the chasm running half the length of her body.

His colleagues fell silent, and Dr. Matlak walked out to compose himself. In a nearby room, he found the twins' parents and other family members gathered. The surgeon told them of his concerns for Kendra, and the group began to pray. Dr. Matlak returned to the OR, his doubts allayed. "All right," he said as he prepared to move Kendra into an adjoining room. "Let's close her up."

For the next ten hours, the two teams worked simultaneously to rebuild each girl's pelvis and abdominal wall. There was enough extra skin to cover both girls' incisions—in Kendra's case, just barely. At 9:30 the following morning, the twins slept in the ICU, in separate beds for the first time. The nurses pushed their cots together so that when they woke up, they could look at each other and hold hands.

When the Herrins saw their daughters, they held each other and wept. "Everything we'd gone through for the past five years came rushing back," says Jake. "It was such a powerful thing-like they were born again."

The surgeons were moved as well. Dr. Matlak retreated to an empty room, where he broke down in tears. "Joy and gratitude just washed over me," he recalls. Dr. Meyers checked the girls' vital signs; she was astonished to see that their blood pressure and heart rates were still identical. "Twins have a special bond," she said. "There's no doubt about that."

Courtney, then six, was less impressed with the outcome. When she saw her sisters in the hospital, she cried, "Mommy and Daddy, why did you take them apart? I liked them the way they were!"

The twins' ordeal wasn't over. They stayed in the hospital another 12 weeks. Maliyah underwent dialysis three days a week, which often made her so ill that she had hallucinations. Kendra needed surgery for an intestinal blockage. The skin around both twins' incisions began to retract, requiring treatment with "wound vacs" to suction away dead tissue and stimulate new growth.

By April 2007, when Maliyah was ready to receive her mother's kidney, the couple were emotionally drained. "The girls had been to the brink of death and back, and the whole family had gone with them. We had to make one last push, but it was pretty hard for all of us," Erin says.

The transplant was successful, but only time could answer the question that haunted the Herrins: Had all the twins' suffering been worthwhile?

"Kendra, hurry!" Maliyah calls out, tapping at a keyboard in her parents' study. "I'm sending you an e-mail!"

Climbing into a chair nearby, her twin logs on to another computer. "Dear Kendra," says the message in her inbox, "you're my best friend. Love, Maliyah."

As she types a reply, Kendra glances toward her sister. "You can't look yet," she warns Maliyah. "It's a secret."

The six-year-old twins need more surgeries to straighten their spines (which formed a V when they were conjoined), but in most respects they're thriving. They're busy with playdates and swimming lessons and will start first grade in September. By early next year, their parents hope to have them fitted with prosthetic legs. Meanwhile, the girls are learning to use crutches, though Maliyah still prefers scooting around on the floor.

The twins have not forgotten their conjoined days. "Sometimes we still pretend we're stuck together," Kendra says. "But now we can do more things."

They can keep secrets from each other. They can play hide-and-seek with their brothers and Courtney, who has realized that her sisters' separation actually adds to the fun. They can decorate their own bedrooms and choose their own Halloween costumes. "Little things like that have made a huge difference," says Erin. "I want them to grow up thinking that anything is possible."

In one important way, though, the girls haven't changed. Some nights, when Erin and Jake look in on them, they find that one twin has sneaked into the other's room. Kendra and Maliyah are cuddled together in the same bed-side by side, as they've been from the start.

Attention Christopher Nolan: Here’s A List of Good Third Movies

Posted by Mister Hand (misterhand@filmschoolrejects.com) on November 3, 2008

Speaking to The Los Angeles Times about the possibility of directing a follow up to his smash hit The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan makes it clear he is not sold on the idea.

I have to ask the question,” he says, “How many good third movies in a franchise can people name?

The article doesn’t say that Nolan then leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms with a smug smile, but I can picture it. The guy makes a billion dollar-grossing movie and all of the sudden he’s the sequel expert. Just because he crafted possibly the greatest superhero movie of all time, he thinks he’s all that.

I’ve got news for Christopher Nolan. There have been plenty of great third movies. I mean, there’s…

Well. Come on. Rambo III. I mean, that wasn’t… so bad.

Okay, it was. But hey! Who gave us Mr. T? That was Rocky III, my friend! And that was…

I don’t care what anybody thinks, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift was one helluva… I mean, it was… a…

Hey! How ’bout that Home Alone 3?! Come on… Ebert liked it.

Maybe I’m not making the strongest case here. The fact is, we really, really want Nolan to make a third Batman movie, right? So putting aside the nonsense, here’s six good “third movies” to inspire Nolan and give us the Dark Knight follow-up we so desperately crave:

6. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Yes, it had Ewoks. But it did wrap up the original trilogy story nicely, and even the most staunch Jedi haters can’t deny that the film has some slam bang moments. Furthermore, unlike the new trilogy, Return of the Jedi has Han Solo going for it. And let’s face it: the best thing about any Star Wars movie is Harrison Ford playing Han Solo. Think back to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Recall the best scenes from those movies. Tell me that Ford isn’t in all of them.

5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

As if Indiana wasn’t bad ass enough, they decided to throw Sean “Drop Your Panties” Connery into the mix, and every scene the two are in together is somehow both hilarious and action-packed. It’s intelligent, deals with the real threat of Nazis attaining the Cup of Life, and almost every line is quotable. Plus, the movie had the classic sensibility to show four heroes riding off into the sunset to tie up the entire franchise. Did you hear that Spielberg? It TIED UP the franchise.

4. The Bourne Ultimatum

If someone were to ask me what’s the best of the Bourne movies, I’d be hard pressed to find a favorite. I consider Ultimatum to be every bit as good as its predecessors. So far, these films have been the most even in quality of any series I’ve ever seen. There’s talk that this might become a James Bond-type franchise, and if past success is an indicator, I hope it’s true.

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

As far as I’m concerned, the first two Harry Potter films don’t deserve to be called movies. They’re just glorified PowerPoint presentations: soulless, artless, fan service crap. So I was very surprised when I was dragged to see Prisoner and enjoyed every minute of it. I believe most of the credit goes to director Alfonso Cuarón, a masterful storyteller, who later gave us the excellent Children of Men. Regarded by many Harry Potter fans as the best of the series.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The worst you can say about the conclusion to Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy is that it’s too long. Otherwise, it kicked ass critically, commercially, and was the darling of Oscar night. People were engaged in this whole “third movie curse” talk prior to its release as well

1. Goldfinger

By far the greatest “third movie” ever made. Not only is it a great Bond film, but it’s a treasure trove of cultural touchstones. “I don’t expect you talk. I expect you to die!” From Russia With Love was the film that ensured the Bond franchise was viable, but Goldfinger was the movie that made Bond an icon.

Please, Mr. Nolan, Make a Third Batman Film

So Chris, take notes, suck it up, and make that third Batman movie. Batman fans like us will never forgive you if you don’t do it. And if you fail? Well, because we are rabid fans, we’re bound to register our disgust all across the internets.

But we believe in you, Chris. As much as we loved Tim Burton’s Batman, we saw the chinks in his armor–his narrative discontinuity, his penchant for raising style above substance. If you have any weaknesses as a filmmaker, it’s in defining spatial relationships during action scenes. There’s not a single fight scene in either Batman Begins or Dark Knight where we can tell what the hell is going on through all the fast cutting and micro-editing. It’s a small point, and the films are so good, they overcome that weakness.

That’s all beside the point anyway. Make the movie. It’ll be fine. Oh, and we guess the answer to your question, or at least our answer, is six. But we’re sure there might be more. Most directors couldn’t handle it, but you’re not most directors, and we have full faith in you to create an incredible third film.

Editor’s Note: It should be known that Mister Hand actually hates The Last Crusade, and I had to write that small portion. Feel free to send him death threats or, even better, long emails explaining in excruciating detail why The Last Crusade is one of the best films ever.

31 Absolutely Amazing Video Game Costumes

slobsofgaming.com — Have a great holiday, and for gosh sakes, play some video games before you submit to your yearly sugar-induced comas!


31: Megaman

It's definitely homemade, but this blue bomberette is definitely packing!



30: Phoenix Wright

A simple costume, but it's all about the attitude.


Click here for all 31 [PICS]

I see your Steven Segal and raise you a Tony Jaa

The fight scene picks up at about 50 seconds in and is almost painful to watch. Owwww...

Iraq to sell Saddam yacht moored in French Riviera

Sun Nov 2, 2008 5:35pm GMT

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government plans to sell a luxury yacht, moored off the French resort of Nice, that was one of many opulent treasures belonging to former dictator Saddam Hussein, a senior official said on Sunday.

The palatial Ocean Breeze is expected to be sold within weeks, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

The 270-foot pleasure boat, expected to fetch $30 million, features gold-tap bathrooms, a mini-operating theater, a helicopter landing pad and a secret escape passageway, according to a report from the British Sunday Times.

Iraq's cabinet had decided to delegate the sale of the yacht to the Finance and Foreign Ministries, the government said.

Dabbagh said an ownership dispute over the yacht had concluded in a French court.

"The ruling was in favor of Iraq," he said.

Saddam, whose decades-long regime came to an abrupt end after a U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and who was hanged in 2006 for crimes against humanity, was known for a lavish lifestyle.

His many palaces were replete with marble, gold-trimmed furniture and sumptuous gardens even as ordinary Iraqis suffered under severe economic sanctions.

Shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2003, U.S. official estimated that Saddam and his family may have amassed up to $40 billion in ill-gotten funds.

U.S. missiles and bombs destroyed another luxurious Saddam yacht, the Al Mansur, in southern Iraq in 2003.

While grand when it was built in 1981, the Ocean Breeze is puny compared with megayachts commissioned by a new wave of super-rich, including a 115-meter $300 million yacht owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich which boasts two helicopter pads.

(Reporting by Missy Ryan and Mariam Karouny; Editing by Louise Ireland)


Can purchase it here: http://www.burgessyachts.com/SaleAndPurchase/default.asp

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saddam-4.jpg

All aboard!!

Pakistani Sunni Muslim devotees returned home on a packed train after attending an annual three-day religious congregation in Multan, Pakistan.
Khalid Tanveer/AP


Radiohead Cover - Jack Conte



The National Anthem, by Radiohead
covered by Jack Conte

free mp3:
http://www.myspace.com/jackconte
youtube jackconte

A VideoSong is a new Medium with two rules:

1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice).
2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).

Seagal (was) a bad ass

His current pudgy appearance and crap rap-star co-staring output aside, at one point, the man was an all out bad ass.




Let us not forget his one shortfall, however. The man runs like a sissy. A competition between Seagal and Hugh Grant for the biggest pu**y runner would be a toss-up.

Cape Girardeau woman kills man who returned to rape her second time

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Ronnie Preyer
Ronnie Preyer.
,
Photo from Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department. (=)


An intended rape victim shot and killed her attacker this morning in Cape
Girardeau when he broke into her home to rape her a second time, police said.

The 57-year-old woman shot Ronnie W. Preyer, 47, a registered sex offender, in
the chest with a shotgun when he broke through her locked basement door.
The woman told police he was the same man who raped her several days earlier.
Officials do not intend to seek charges against her.

In the first incident, the woman heard glass breaking in her basement about
midnight on Saturday. She went to leave the house, and the man attacked when
she opened the front door. He punched her in the face and then forced her into
a bedroom, where he raped her, said H. Morley Swingle, prosecuting attorney in
Cape Girardeau County.

The victim reported the crime to police, and her landlord repaired the broken
window.

She was home alone again Friday about 2:15 a.m. when Preyer broke the same
basement window. The victim was awake watching television, when Preyer switched
off the electricity to her house.

She tried to call 911, but couldn't because the power was off. She got a
shotgun and waited as the man began banging on the basement door. She fired
when Preyer came crashing through the door. When Preyer collapsed, the woman
escaped and went to a neighbor's home, where she called police. Officers, who
arrived within a minute, found a bleeding Preyer stumbling away from the house.
He was taken to St. Francis Medical Center, where he died several hours later.

Swingle said the victim identified Preyer as the attacker in both incidents.
Preyer, of Jackson, Mo., had wet caulking from the recently repaired basement
window on his clothing when he was shot.

"I will not be filing any sort of charge against this 57-year-old woman, who
was clearly justified under the law in shooting this intruder in her home,"
Swingle said.

2nd egg emerges from giant chicken egg found at Shiga high school

OTSU —

A second, normal-sized egg popped out of a giant egg laid by a chicken raised at a high school in Shiga Prefecture, a school official said Saturday after breaking open the shell. The huge egg, which was 8.1 centimeters high and weighed 158 grams, was laid at the Yokaichi Minami High School in the city of Higashiomi in late October. The egg was scheduled to be displayed after grabbing headlines in local and national newspapers.

But school teachers decided on Friday to remove the shell by using a scalpel and tweezers after finding a crack. They later discovered another medium-sized egg inside the giant egg as the yolk and the white portion spurted out. Word of the second egg spread quickly after assistant principal Toshitaka Minami made a school announcement on making the surprising discovery. The hot topic at the high school now is whether another egg is hidden inside the second, medium-sized egg. To find out, Minami said the school plans to break open the second egg next week.

Everyone loves Human Food!!




Guy Builds F-35 Fighter Jet On His Own

Arthur van Poppel took our Guide to Build Your Own F-35 Lightning II Fighter Jet too seriously and actually built the damn thing. Sure, it is a scaled version and it doesn't come with a demonic helmet, but you can actually drive the thing like a car and the level of detail is absolutely amazing.

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He even added a second seat on top—to drive his kid around—and other modifications that Lockheed Martin can't possibly match, like spitting confetti off its engine exhaust or the horrible built-in soft rock soundtrack. [ muziekkunstenaar via Dark Roasted Blend]

The Top 10 Greatest Gaming Achievements

There are certain games that are so difficult, or expansive, or demand such a level of time, effort, and skill, that they are known forever for their demands of a player. This list shows the Top Ten Greatest Achievements in Gaming. These achievements heralded the coming of a truly great gamer, for only someone with a wealth of time, skill, and patience could manage to accomplish these incredible feats.

#10: Find Every Warp Pipe - Super Mario Bros. (NES)

The beauty of Super Mario Bros. was always in its simplicity of look and design. It was quite a shock, of course, when the first warper accidentally walked through the top of World 1-2 to find the hidden Warp Pipes to Worlds 2, 3, and 4. From then on, every player of classic Mario has scrambled to find the elusive Warp Pipes and to beat the game in even lower record times. One of the first truly great gaming achievements.

#9: Collect the 7 Chaos Emeralds - Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN)

Though the method evolved over time, the task has always been the same: Sonic must collect all 7 Chaos Emeralds to finally defeat Dr. Robotnik. While many intuitive gamers have found tricks and shortcuts to help lessen the burden of collecting these rare gems, it has always been quite the task to track down each link in unlocking Super Sonic and the Final Zone. Even with tricks in hand, the fact remains that collecting all 7 Chaos Emeralds will be one of the most memorable and most enjoyable achievements in gaming.

#8: Collect Every Heart Piece - The Legend of Zelda (NES)

Thanks to the wonders of enhanced graphics, storylines, and strategy guides, younger gamers probably don't appreciate the effort it takes to find long lists of items, such as the Heart Pieces in LoZ. However, back in the 80's, to find and collect every Heart Piece was a daunting task to say the least, and only one with a wealth of time, creativity, and Rupees could ever hope to search every stone of Hyrule to find all of them. If not for battery backup, some say this task might have been impossible.

#7: Earn all 120 Stars - Super Mario 64 (N64)

As the flagship title for the N64, Super Mario 64 had a lot of things going for it: creative and intuitive controls, innovative level design, beautiful graphics... the list goes on, I'm sure. However, SM64 also holds the N64's first great goal, and one of gamings most demanding achievements: to gain all 120 Stars. While every Mario game was lengthy to some degree, the sheer number of Stars Mario had to collect just to beat Bowser, 70 in all, was quite the chore to collect. The remaining 50 Stars were not mandatory, but only one who collected all 120 could call himself a Mario Master.

#6: Escape Zebes with 100% Completed - Metroid (NES)

Metroid has the record for one of the longest list of powerups and expansions to date, so many gamers instantly respect the man who can finish the game and gain all of them. Of course, the respect and prestige gained by completing Metroid with 100% was never the motivation for doing so: we only ever wanted to see Samus show a bit of leg.

#5: Reach Level 60 - World of Warcraft (PC)

The MMORPG known as WoW has propelled itself to legendary status faster than almost any PC game to date. Dismissing, of course, the practices of "gold-farming" and "power-leveling," the single most glorious achievement in all of Azeroth is undeniably to reach Level 60, maximum level. While the first few levels may be simple enough, the sheer amount of experience needed to gain levels late in the game makes this feat one of the most tiresome and tedious on this list. The sight of a Level 60 character is enough to instill true fear in the heart of any noob.

#4: Find Every Fatality - Mortal Kombat (ARC)

The Mortal Kombat series has always been known for its level of violence and gore, but what truly pushed it over the top was its Fatality system, in which finishing combos literally tore enemies apart in an orgy of death and destruction. The problem was that there was no single maneuver that would result in a Fatality; each character had a different combination for his/her personal Fatalities, and, in later games, for environmental Fatalities. Only a true arcade fighting master could locate and perform every single Fatality with no outside help. A true achievement.

#3: Save EVERY SINGLE Victim - Zombies Ate My Neighbors (GEN)

One of the greatest, most known, and most valued cult classics of the Genesis era, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was an incredibly long shoot-em-up, in which two teenage heroes quested to save all of their neighbors from a monster invasion. What made this achievement so difficult is not that saving the victims was difficult (you just had to locate and touch them), but that there were 10 in each level, that there were 55 levels (with 3 bonus stages), and that, in most circles, for the feat to truly be respected, it must be done in one sitting. Only one who has seen the game can truly appreciate how much effort goes into this immensly frustrating task.

#2: Beat a MAX song on Heavy - Dance Dance Revolution (ARC)

A truly noteworthy and heavily respected achievement, to say that you can master (or, in some cases, even pass) one of the series famous MAX songs is quite the brag. To say that you can do so on the hardest difficulty, however, is a privilage handed down to only the most talented of DDR dancers. To call yourself a MAX master is to say that countless quarters, cramps, and failures have amounted to a truly great dancer.

#1: Complete the Pokedex - Pokemon Emerald (GBA)

This is it: the pinnacle, the Holy Grail, of gaming achievements. Only someone with a nearly limitless amount of time, skill, and drive could ever hope to complete the Pokedex, all 386 entries. What made this task so horribly difficult (aside from the sheer number of obtainable Pokemon) is that Nintendo decided to nix backward compatibility with the GSC era of games, meaning that the Legendaries from that game (meaning Lugia and Ho-oh) could only be obtained through Nintendo special events. Add to this that certain RSE Pokemon had the same problem, and you have one serious gamer traversing the entire US/Japan, trying desperately to catch 'em all.

These tasks represent the most challenging gaming has to offer. While there are certainly many other difficult tasks, none are quite as famous, prestigious, or enjoyable as these. To complete each of these tasks marks you as a truly gifted player, one deserving of much respect, and certainly much bragging rights.

List by JackKieser

Joe the Plumber's new Business

(CNNMoney.com) -- Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, shot to national attention last month on his desire to run a small business. Now, it looks like he has one: Managing his image.

Joe has signed on with The Press Office, a Nashville PR agency, to sort through "hundreds of requests" for media appearances. The aspiring entrepreneur "is getting more requests than an artist with a number-one record," said Jim Della Croce, owner of The Press Office.

The Press Office typically deals with publicity for musicians. It landed Joe after he appeared on Fox with one of the agency's other clients, country singer Aaron Tippin, the artist behind Republican rally staple "Drill Here, Drill Now." So is a musical future in store for Toledo, Ohio's most famous plumber?

That's still to be decided. Jim Della Croce is coy about Joe's plans, and no endorsement deals have yet been signed. One possible project: A book about Joe's sudden rise to fame. Della Croce says he'll be meeting with Joe at the end of the week to sort through project proposals and media requests.

By then, the presidential candidate that made Joe a household name, John McCain, will either be headed to the White House or headed back to Arizona to nurse his political wounds. Can Joe's celebrity outlast the election?

Della Croce is bullish on his prospects. "Joe will go down in history," he said. "He's charismatic and direct and represents hope and hard work." If Joe can cash in on his newfound fame in time, he may finally get to experience those upper tax brackets he famously criticized. To top of page

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