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Friday, November 7, 2008

Beat THIS for a high word score as skydivers are pictured playing Scrabble at 13,000ft

By Daily Mail Reporter

Daredevil, extreme and bonkers are three words that come to mind.

But it's doubtful whether the duo playing Scrabble at 13,000ft will have time to try them out.

The skydivers, Nicole Angelides and Ramsey Kent, are helping to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the game using a reinforced wooden board and adhesive pieces.

Skydivers Nicole Angelides and Ramsey-Kent help celebrate the 60th anniversary of scrabble by playing the game at 13,000ft

Skydivers Nicole Angelides and Ramsey Kent help celebrate the 60th anniversary of scrabble by playing the game at 13,000ft

Miss Angelides, 41, a fan of both Scrabble and skydiving, said: 'It was a short game but a lot of fun.'

As well as the lofty game in Florida, there were celebratory Scrabble matches in a lion cage in Africa, an alligator park also in Florida and up on a chilly cliff overlooking the sea in North Wales.

More than 150million Scrabble sets have been produced since American architect Alfred Mosher Butts came up with the concept in 1938.

These days, at least 30,000 games of Scrabble are started every hour.

President-Elect Obama and the Future of Green Building

The phrase “Chicago Politics” has been thrown around as an insult over the presidential campaign season. Now that Chicago has become for the next two months the unofficial second US Capital, Chicago politics have dramatically increased in influence. Agree or disagree with the negative connotations of the phrase, the reality is that if certain aspects of Chicago politics do make their way into the Obama administration, we might be looking at a bright future for green building.

Of course President Obama will inherit enormous problems, both at home and abroad, and no one expects him to place green building anywhere near the top of his priorities. But a look at the green culture of Chicago and the philosophies of those on the short list to cabinet posts will reveal a potential national shift toward environmental building practices.

Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley has endeavored to make real his vision of Chicago as the greenest US city. His Green Building Agenda, which was unveiled in 2005, offered new green building standards, incentives, and education for builders and architects. Daley is pushing for more green rooftops in Chicago, using the city’s own City Hall as an example. Earlier this year, published their list of the 50 greenest US cities. Chicago came in at number 9, but earned top marks for green building, awarding four city projects with a LEED Platinum rating. Additionally, Daley has pushed for more bicycle accessibility and greater energy production with less carbon emission.

How will Chicago’s focus on Green carry over into an Obama administration? Obama has already vowed to create five million new jobs in clean technologies and, when asked about what programs might be put on the back-burner, refused to back down on his promise of energy independence in ten years. Daley’s brother, Bill Daley, was the US Secretary of Commerce under Clinton and ran Al Gore’s campaign. He joined Obama’s campaign as a senior advisor and was recently named to the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. While Bill Daley’s background has been mainly in finance, his associations with his brother and Al Gore certainly up his green cred.

Some names tossed around for possible cabinet positions also could tilt the country toward sustainable, more energy efficient practices. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has been mentioned as a possible head of the EPA or Secretary of the Interior. Kennedy is a fierce environmental advocate and could ignite a national green building movement. Robert Sussman, a member of the Environmental Law Institute, is another possible head of the EPA. Arizona Governor Janet Nepolitano, a possible Attorney General, signed an executive order in 2005 requiring all state buildings to achieve at least LEED Silver status. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel pushed for Chicago’s Calumet Environmental Center, a LEED Platinum building highlighting the environmental importance of the Calumet wetlands.

Of utmost importance to green builders is Obama’s actions to fix the current state of the economy. With new home construction ground to a halt and the credit markets making home loans tougher to get, no amount of environmental good intentions will do any good without a stronger economy. Perhaps Obama’s choice for Secretary of the Treasury will have the most impact on the future of green building.

To see the Obama-Biden green fact sheet, click here.

Top Cartoons About The Obama Victory

The Best Cartoons About The Obama Victory From All Over The World

Barack Obama, new President of the United States, dancing with Lady Liberty, shaking hands with Abraham Lincoln, repairing The Constitution, etc.

seen on flickr

seen on flickr

seen on

seen on

seen on Washington Post

seen on

seen on

seen on The Arizona Republic

seen on Mail & Guardian

seen on The Montreal Gazette

10 Online Photo Editors That You Definitely Need to Bookmark

by Anoop Engineer

Online image editors are in a rage these days. Everyday, you hear about the release of a new online photo editor that claims to be the next big thing.

From among the great number of online editors, we have hand picked some of the best ones that we found to be are noteworthy. With each site description, we have tried to tell you how or what feature of the editor forced us to include it in the list.

1. Picnik


Picnik seems to be the most popular online image editor in this list. The interface of the site is beautiful, responsive and can put many desktop applications to shame. You don’t need to know anything about photo editing to use Picnik. Most noteworthy feature is its integration with other Web2.0 services. You can pull photos directly from most photo sharing sites such as Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, Facebook, Photobucket and pretty much provide any image URL to start editing it. | Bookmark on delicious

2. Splashup


Splashup, earlier known as Fauxto, is a web based photo editor that looks just like a desktop application. Users coming from Photoshop should feel right at home with this editor.

You can open files from your computer or from all popular photo sharing sites. You can open multiple images in a tabbed environment. It supports the concept of layers, like Gimp and Photoshop. Splashup also has the ability to import images from your webcam. | Bookmark on delicious

3. Pixlr


Relatively new into the arena, but have made quite a big fan fare in a short time. Pixlr described as Photoshop in a browser, continues to amaze many.

It lacks features like importing from other sites like flickr, but you can still open an image by specifying its URL. | Bookmark on delicious

4. Snipshot


Unlike the three editors mentioned above, Snipshot is not a flash based editor. It’s a highly responsive, Ajax powered image editor. So, this should be your choice if stranded in a computer having no flash plugins. You can import photos stored in your computer or from the web by mentioning its address. You can also import photos from flickr using a bookmarklet. Snipshot allows you to export and save your photos in a number of different formats - JPG, PNG, TIF, BMP and even PDF and Photoshop PSD. | Bookmark on delicious

5. Pixenate


Pixenate, formerly called PXN8 is a simple but intuitive application. With a straight forward interface, it lets you play with all its features relatively easy compared to others. You can edit photos stored in your computer or import from a web site and save also save the edited photo back to your flickr account. | Bookmark on delicious

6. Picture2Life


Picture2life is just another online image editor. But what makes it stand apart is the radical UI design for an image editor. Unlike all classical picture editors with toolboxes and a number of buttons, Picture2life has a descriptive side panel stacked into four vertical tabs – Quick Fixes, One Clicks, All and Featured. Selecting any tab replaces the sidebar with a new sidebar that contains a number of options like Brightness, Color, Contrast etc. But, instead of showing them as buttons, it takes your picture and shows you how the picture will look if the effect is applied and uses this as thumbnails for the buttons. Pretty useful for beginners who don’t know the difference between stuff like hue and saturation (and that includes us). | Bookmark on delicious

7. LunaPic


LunaPic isn’t as jazzy as the other image editors in this list. However, this one provides ability to convert your images to animated GIF files, which differentiates it from others. There are a couple of ready made fancy animation effects, that you can apply to your photo. This is an apt tool for creating your social network profile image – for Facebook, MySpace etc. | Bookmark on delicious

8. FotoFlexer


Want to have a Picasa running in your browser? Try FotoFlexer. It describes itself as the most powerful online digital photo editor in existence. If you are searching for a feature in online picture editors, then FotoFlexer has it. | Bookmark on delicious

9. Adobe Photoshop Express


If it’s from Adobe, it’s gonna be big. Photoshop express, apart from being an image editor, also acts as a photo organizer and online photo storage. It provides up to 2 GB of online space and ability to create and share albums which distinguishes it from other online image editors. | Bookmark on delicious

10. Aviary


Aviary is a suite of 4 tools among which Phoenix – an online image editor is the one which we are interested right now. Phoenix is a very powerful image editor that can be said as a true competitor for Photoshop, just that this one runs from a browser. The Phoenix page contains many videos on using it to produce some stunning photo effects. | Bookmark on delicious

Huge Colony of Penguins Surrounding a Lone Elephant Seal — Almost surreal scene, especially when pic is enlarged. Really nice image.

Awesome View of the Famous Grand Prismatic Spring [PIC] — The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world. The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented bacteria. The spring discharges an estimated 560 gallons (2000 litres) of 160°F (71°C) water per minute

California gives green light to high-speed train

A high-speed Acela train leaves Washington's Union Station

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Voters in California this week agreed to bankroll a multi-billion dollar high-speed railway system, with technology to come from either Japan or Europe.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority said on its website Tuesday that voters in a referendum held across the state Tuesday gave their backing to financing the startup of the project.

The train would connect San Francisco to Los Angeles and would cost some 45 billion dollars, according to news reports, which said the measure was approved by a vote of some 52 percent to about 48 percent.

"The California High-Speed Train Project will procure extensively-proven high-speed train technology from Europe or Asia," the rail authority said.

The high-speed train project would link various cities across California, the most populous US state.

In a statement, Quentin Kopp, chairman of the rail authority, said: "History will remember this night, when Californians demanded a new transportation system for California's 21st century travel needs.

"Thanks to tonight's vote, a state-of-the-art, new transportation choice will link every major city in the state and move people and products like never before.

The authority says the system will transport 117 million passengers a year by 2030, create 160,000 jobs, in a state with three of five of the largest US metropolitan areas in terms of traffic.

"A reliable 220-mile-per-hour electric high-speed train system will reduce our dependence on foreign oil by more than 12 million barrels per year and reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming by 12.7 billion pounds annually," Kopp added.

The proposition allows the state to issue bonds worth 9.95 billion dollars to bankroll the project. But issues such as technology appeared up in the air.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urged voters to back the plan even in tough economic times.

"Just because we had a problem with the budget does not mean that people should vote no on the rail system. We need a high-speed rail. Our rail system in America is so old," he said in late September.

We are driving the same speed as we did a hundred years ago with the same system as a hundred years ago," the governor said..

"We should do what other countries do. All over the world we see high-speed rails that go 200-300 hundred miles an hour. We should do the same thing in this country, especially in this State," he stressed.

California has about 37 million people, but no commercial wide-track high-speed rail system akin to bullet trains like those found in France and Spain. Nor does the state have a commercial wide-track "maglev" magnetic-levitation system such as China, although the state has ruled out this technology, according to the website.

The only "higher-speed" train that has been used in the United States is Amtrak's Acela, a model that can tilt on current narrow rails to allow for higher speeds on existing track, without the investment in other technologies that require wider track beds.

More info here:

Rick Astley Wins Best Act Ever!

mtv awards, emas, rick astley mtv, rick astley best act

The fans show they’re ‘Never Gonna Give (Him) Up’…

The ultimate power of the audience vote was underlined when Rick Astley scooped Best Act Ever.

Rick was not available to attend the Awards.

In his absence the Award was picked up by Katy Perry and Perez Hilton who charmed the audience with a quick dance routine to his famous track Never Going To Give You Up.

In a statement Astley said: "I am honoured that my fans worked so hard to help me win Best Act Ever at the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards.

This is the first time I have been nominated for the EMAs and I would like to thank everyone who voted for me."


Man's Best Friend

Casting Directors: Megan Fox as Wonder Woman — No, it's not true, but this fan-created poster shows how wonderful the possibilities could be! Make it so!

Man credited with 5 holes-in-one in week

EL PASO, Ill., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- A 22-year-old man from El Paso, Ill., made five holes-in-one at an area golf course in a six-day period, witnesses say.

Unidentified witnesses said Curt Hocker was able to place his first golf shot directly in the hole at the El Paso Golf Club on five occasions in less than a week's time, the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star said Thursday.

Hocker said he is still in shock from his successful six-day golfing span, which began on Oct. 29 and ended Tuesday.

"If somebody told me they made five holes-in-one in a week, even on a par-3 course, I'd say 'No way,'" the former Illinois State University student said. "It's unbelievable. I'm just stunned."

Francis Scheid, a retired Boston University math department chairman, said the chance a golfer with a low handicap would make a hole-in-one on a routine par-3 hole is 5,000-to-1.

Scheid said those odds increase dramatically when considering holes with a higher par count and greater length such as those Hocker apparently conquered, the newspaper reported.

The moment surfer takes on 41-foot monster wave... and lives to tell the tale

By Wil Longbottom

A daredevil surfer is pictured tackling a giant 41 foot wave in a bid to win himself a prestigious award.

Kerby Brown took on the monster during a session at a top secret reef, and nearly didn't live to tell the tale.

Moments after these pictures were taken, he suffered a devastating wipeout which nearly killed him.

Kerby Brown

The big one: Kerby Brown starts his run with his brother Courtney looking on from his jetski as the wave gathers momentum

He said: 'Usually the wave never steps out or goes evil like that one, but it just went dry - the hardest wave I've ever had to surf.

'I went straight over the lip and did about 10 backflips and then pulled a muscle in my shoulder.

Enlarge Kerby Brown

The daredevil surfer is dwarfed by the giant wave

'It felt like I ripped my arm out of its socket, my leggie snapped and then I felt like I was the deepest I'd ever been.'

The unbelievable pictures have been entered into the prestigious Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards, which rewards the riders of the biggest waves in Australasian waters.

Enlarge Kerby Brown
Wipeout: The massive wave begins to break and Kerby is seconds away from his biggest ever wipeout which left him with torn shoulder muscles

Radiohead's Thom Yorke releases Barack Obama celebration song

Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke

The track is available to download now

Radiohead's Thom Yorke has made a new remix of his solo song 'Harrowdown Hill' available as a free download, in celebration of Barack Obama's win in the US presidential election.

The song, the original of which appeared on Yorke's 2006 solo album 'The Eraser', is available to download now from

wrote on the website: "In celebration of November 5, Jonny's [Greenwood, guitarist] birthday amid bonfire and fireworks in the UK and the dawn of a new era in politics in the USA, I humbly donate a remix of 'Harrowdown Hill' that was finished ages ago during the band webcasts, a small reminder of the dark days of Bush's."


Radiohead completed their world tour last month after playing a series of dates in Japan.

11 Great Tools for Making VoIP Calls on the iPhone

No one likes using up their cell phone minutes, and that is where VoIP services come in handy. VoIP offers up an inexpensive alternative to traditional phone calls, making VoIP for the iPhone a great deal.

While the iPhone has not officially supported VoIP service, Apple isn’t saying it’s not allowed either. With all of that in mind, there are two camps of VoIP services popping up for the popular Apple device: official applications and Web based solutions. Each style has their pros and cons, but there is sure to be something in these eleven options to help you meet your needs.

Which service is your favorite?


Fring - Fring gives you the ability to instant message your contacts on AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Skype, Twitter and Yahoo via EDGE, GSM, 3G and Wi-Fi on both the iPhone and iPod Touch. If you are on an iPhone, you can also use it to connect with Skype, Skype Out and other SIP services. You can read more about it in our review of Fring.

iCall - This app will allow you to switch an already in progress call over to Wi-Fi, or you can answer the call initially in that manner if you are near a connection. iCall has not been officially released yet as an iPhone application, but it certainly looks promising.

Papaya - Papaya is a little bit of everything rolled into one handy application. It’s part social network with chat rooms and games, an instant messenger, backs up your contacts and can act as a VoIP system.

PennyTel - PennyTel allows you to call other users of the service over Wi-Fi for free, or you can add credits to your account and you can call any number you want.

Truphone - Voted the best VoIP application by The Times, the New York Times, and Stuff magazine, Truphone is a free application that gives you £1 or $1 credit to get started with. Works via Wi-Fi wherever you happen to be and supports calls to numerous countries.

WalkieTalkie VoIP - WalkieTalkie VoIP allows people to talk between PCs, Macs and iPhones without using a centralized server. The reviews for this one range from “Great!” to “Horrific!”, so proceed with caution.

Web Based

Jajah - Log into Jajah, dial the person you are calling, and the phone number of a phone you can use, and Jajah will connect both those phones via VoIP.

PhoneGnome - PhoneGnome will allow you to call any of your contacts who also use their service, people using messengers like GTalk and MSN, or other SIP-based services.

Raketu - Raketu allows you to instant message, text and make low cost VoIP calls all from their Web interface.

RingFree - RingFree can work anywhere you get a cell signal and will allow you to make VoIP calls with all of your contacts from Skype, GTalk, Yahoo, AIM, MSN and also integrate with your company’s PBX phone system.

Talkety - Another Web app service that will allow you to enter the number you are calling, the one you can be reached at, and it will connect the two numbers together.

Annoying Body Glitches: Can We Prevent Them?

By: Vicki Santillano

Last night, I was ripped from a peaceful slumber gasping and writhing in pain, clutching my calf in shocked agony as the muscle throbbed and burned mercilessly. Yes, it was the dreadful charley horse invading my night once again. I’ve been getting these terrible muscle spasms routinely since I was little, yet it’s only recently that I’ve begun to wonder why they even happen in the first place.

Our bodies are organized jumbles of parts and functions with specific purposes, but like any fine-tuned machine, there is room for internal error every now and then. We’ve all experienced some variation of these “issues”—hiccups, spasms, odd stomach noises, and so forth. Many are embarrassing or annoying, but so common that we don’t think much about their causes or potential solutions. However, there are reasons behind things as seemingly insignificant as hiccupping, and sometimes, there are ways to avoid them.

Charley Horses
Charley horses, which usually occur in the legs or feet, are very common and strike people of all ages and activity levels. What happens during these nighttime episodes is a muscle begins contracting and is unable to pick up cues to stop, causing discomfort and muscle fatigue. A variety of factors, including sore muscles, hormonal or mineral imbalances, and dehydration, can contribute to the onset of charley horses. Pregnancy, a lack of calcium or potassium, and improper stretching are frequently listed as catalysts.

Can they be avoided? There’s not a sure-fire method for permanently getting rid of charley horses, but by staying hydrated, stretching before and after exercise, and incorporating good sources of calcium and potassium into our diets, we can reduce the likelihood of getting them. To minimize the pain and length of a cramping episode, rub the muscle and lift the leg so that blood can flow beyond the affected area.

Pre-Sleep Body Jerks
Yet another thief of precious sleep time, body jerks—also called hypnic jerks—refer to the way our bodies sometimes “jerk” awake right before we’re about to fall asleep, usually accompanied by a panicked feeling of falling. There are different explanations given for why this happens, but the blame finger is usually directed at our brains, which sometimes get confused by our muscles easing into sleep and causes them to tense up, thinking that we’re falling. The misinterpretation could be a reaction to our brains not being ready for sleep, either due to stress, fatigue, or too much stimulation (exercise, caffeine consumption) before bed.

Can they be avoided? Since hypnic jerks have been linked to the sleep troublemakers listed above, avoiding them could lessen the prevalence of body jerks in our lives, but chances are we will experience them again at some point.

Eye Twitches
Eye twitches are very common and are usually caused by temporary faulty functioning of the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. They usually occur randomly and can be quite alarming—after all, are our eyes supposed to twitch like that? Most of the time, twitching eyes, though bothersome, are nothing to worry about, even though their technical name—blepharospasm—sounds kind of scary. With some people, it occurs after or during a bout of dry eye, and it can also be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, and eye strain.

Can they be avoided? To decrease twitching incidences, be mindful of sleep, stay calm, and regularly move your eyes away from the computer screen. However, we can sometimes inherit a higher likelihood of twitching, so they can’t always be avoided.

It seems like hiccups come at the worst possible times, like when I’m in a library or in the middle of a quiet office. Why do hiccups happen? Again, the culprit is routine body functions randomly misbehaving. The diaphragm helps the lungs get more air by contracting, but if something affects the diaphragm negatively (e.g. eating quickly), it contracts violently, causing us to breathe in quickly and make an annoying, loud sound.

Can they be avoided? By eliminating the actions that affect the diaphragm in this manner, such as eating or drinking too fast or too much, or eating something very hot, we can reduce our hiccup maladies. Everybody has a supposed foolproof method for getting rid of them (a spoonful of sugar, being scared, etc.), but the success of treatment depends on the person. Most suggested cures involve distracting the person from the hiccups or, in the case of sugar, hoping the sweet spoonful on the tongue will send a message to the diaphragm to halt contraction.

Stomach Growls
Loud, embarrassing stomach noises are another of those bodily functions that only occur when we really don’t want them to—and they’re not even limited to when we’re hungry! Borborygmi (its technical name) happens when our digestive system tries to digest food when there isn’t any food there. The sounds we hear are produced by stomach and intestinal juices mixing around without anything to work with. It can happen when we’re not even hungry because when the stomach is empty, messages are sent to your brain to signal the desire for food and restart the digestive process. Even if we ate just a couple of hours ago, our bodies want to make sure we know to replenish ourselves in the future.

Can they be avoided?
Other than constantly eating (which would probably cause a host of other digestion issues), the occasional stomach gurgles might just be a fact of life. Anything happening more frequently than that or any growls causing stomach pain should be checked out by a doctor.

Noisy Joints
Some of us purposefully pop our joints, and others can’t help but do it when we bend down or stretch. Either way, the odd sound can be caused by different things: air pockets being created and released by movement, arthritis, and tightened ligaments. Though the popping or cracking noises are a bit unnerving—and tend to make us feel older than we are—they usually aren’t cause for serious alarm.

Can they be avoided? There is no real way to avoid random gas bubbles between our joints popping every now and then, but one potential cause of them—too much strain on the joints—can be reduced by properly stretching and easing into exercise. Basically, don’t jump from walking to training for a marathon—let your body gradually make the transition to higher-intensity movements.

Ticklish Spots
Being ticklish can be annoying, especially when I’m getting a pedicure. I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing when they scrub the dead skin from my feet, yet the other patrons sit there calmly and actually enjoy the experience. Most people have certain sensitive spots, and their locations vary from person to person. Scientists postulate that this sensitivity is a defense mechanism to protect us from potentially harmful creatures like spiders crawling on us. Charles Darwin believed that there is a social link between giggling and tickling, that we laugh because we anticipate the sensitivity, but also because we trust the source of the tickles. In any event, it’s almost always a sure source of belly laughter.

Can they be avoided? Being ticklish can also be associated with anxiety—people who are more anxious or on-edge can have more extreme reactions to surprise tickle attacks because that’s how their bodies respond to potential threats. For example, if it was an actual bug crawling on the person, the uncontrollable laughs might be replaced with shrieks. Others remain unphased by tickling because they are better at keeping calm. If you want to avoid being ticklish, focus on staying cool.

Even with the suggested ways to avoid or decrease body oddities, sometimes there’s just no way around them. Stomachs will growl, joints will pop, and I’m sure there’s another charley horse in my future. As long as our bodies keep running smoothly the rest of the time, we can live through a few embarrassing or annoying kinks in the system here and there. And if your stomach talks really loudly like mine does, just feign ignorance … or blame the person next to you.

Image source: Laura Bell (cc)