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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Doctor Claims Cure for Alcoholism in a Pill

French Doctor Says He Cured Himself of Addiction by Taking a Muscle Relaxer


Dec. 9, 2008—

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A French cardiologist says he has discovered a cure for alcoholism and ended his own decades-long addiction to alcohol by dosing himself with a drug usually used for treating muscle spasms.

Dr. Olivier Ameisen, 55, a French physician who practiced for a time at New York's Weill-Cornell Medical Center claims in his new book "Le Dernier Verre" ("The Last Glass") that since he started taking the drug baclofen, he has lost his desire to consume alcohol.

The book, a best-seller in France slated for release in the United States next year under the title "The End of My Addiction," has caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic, with some doctors cautiously optimistic about the drug's results in lab tests and others warning that no single drug can cure alcoholism's many root causes.

Despite a lucrative cardiology practice he began in 1994, Amesein writes that he felt like "an impostor waiting to be unmasked." The doctor writes that he drank large quantities of whiskey and gin, though he hated the taste of alcohol.

"I detested the taste of alcohol, but I needed its effects to exist in society," he writes in the book.

Ameisen writes that he began using baclofen, a muscle relaxant typically used to treat muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis, after reading a 2000 New York Times article about how the drug cured a cocaine addict of his addiction after he was prescribed the drug for a muscle problem.

"We've been interested in baclofen to treat alcoholism for years and continue to study its effects," said Dr. James Garbutt, a researcher at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Garbutt said two different clinical tests of the drug to treat alcohol addiction in humans yielded different, inconclusive results, but that the drug was "not just snake oil.

"There is a fair amount of evidence that the drug does something. The basic science is sound, and it's been shown to work in animals," Garbutt said. "There is a good amount of good science that has shown good results, but there are still many, many questions. How effective is it really? What's the right dose? How safe is it? Will it work for everyone?"

Drug Suppressing Alcohol Addiction

In one of the human trials, the drug was shown to be no more effective than a placebo. Another double-blind study, conducted last year by scientists at the Institute of Internal Medicine in Rome, found 70 percent of alcohol-dependent patients who were treated with baclofen achieved sobriety, compared with 30 percent of those on a placebo.

Once off the drug, however, patients remained sober for just two months on average.

According to published reports about the book's contents, Ameisen spent nine months trying to shake his addiction, including entering a clinic and undergoing hypnosis and acupuncture.

In March 2002, he began taking 5 milligrams of baclofen.

"The first effects were a magical muscular relaxation and babylike sleep," he wrote, according to the British newspaper The Independent.

After increasing his daily dose to 270 milligrams, Ameisen declared himself "cured." He continues to take 50 milligrams a day.

"Mine is the first case in which a course of medicine has completely suppressed alcohol addiction," Ameisen said, according to The Independent. "Now I can have a glass, and it has no effect. Above all, I no longer have that irrepressible need to drink."

Ameisen's claim that he can continue to drink socially, flies in the face of what scientists know about treating alcoholism, said Dr. Nicholas Pace, an addiction expert and a clinical professor of medicine at New York University.

"I have studied alcoholism for the past 40 years, and there is no single magic bullet. This is a complex disease, and you can't just flip one switch," Pace said.

"The idea that an alcoholic can drink socially is simply a lot of bull," he said.

Pace said beyond just physical and psychological cravings, the very way an alcoholic's body, particularly his liver, responds is different from that of nonalcoholics. Furthermore, he said, the causes for the disease are complicated, and any effective treatment has to address them all.

"There are all kinds of factors that contribute to the disease of alcoholism. There is genetic predisposition, biology and social triggers," he said. "A pill can't change someone's genetics, his liver or the social settings [in which] he finds himself."

Alcoholic's Miracle Cure?

European researchers are also skeptical that baclofen is a miracle cure.

"To let people think that there is a miracle molecule is to misjudge the complexity of alcoholism, and this is irresponsible," Michel Reynaud, a researcher at Paris' Hopital Paul-Brousse, who has applied for a grant to study baclofen's efficacy, told Agence France Presse.

Since the release of "Le Derner Verre," French doctors have reported an increase in patients seeking the drug as treatment for their addiction.

Fabienne Bartoli, deputy director of the AFSSAPS, the French equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration, which tests and certifies drugs as safe, said doctors prescribing the drug in an off-label way do so at their own risk.

In high doses, she said, the drug can be dangerous and cause respiratory failure.

Gaming Helmet Lets You Feel Headshots

We're probably still a long way off from a realistic, full-immersion game-playing environment, but one vendor is trying to get us a little closer to the experience--although this company's approach appears to be more akin to using a Holodeck with the safeties turned off (alternatively, if you didn't get the Star Trek reference, it's like paying someone to kick you in the chest or head). The vendor is Redmond, Washington-based TN Games, and it makes force-feedback gaming products that you wear--designed to help you actually feel what is happening inside the game world.

TN Games refers to its force feedback technology as "3rd Space," and its products as "impact generating gear." The company currently sells a Gaming Vest that comes in black, camouflage, or pink (which all sell for $139). The vest uses compressed air to deliver blows to the wearer that are meant to simulate "the impact of punches, kicks, bullets and blasts that happen to your character in the game." There are a total of eight air actuators on the vest (four on the front and four on the back) that each delivers five pounds of impact force.

What does five pounds of impact force feel like? The TN Games Website states that you can simulate what it would feel like by doing the following:

"Take a single roll of 50 pennies. Lay on the ground face up. Hold the role of pennies end on (up and down) 6 inches above your stomach, then release the roll and let the roll strike your stomach. That is what 5lb of force feels like."

The vest attaches to a Windows PC via a USB connection and it currently works with almost 30 games, such as Call of Duty 4, Crysis, and World of Warcraft, using the 3rd Space Game Driver Software and in some cases, game mods.

Not content to let your torso have all the fun, TN Games now has an impact-generating helmet in the works that will use the same 3rd Space technology as its vest to deliver blows to your head. There is not a lot know about the product yet, other that this tidbit of info TN Games has posted on its site:

"The HTX Helmet is the next product in development for TN Games using its 3rd Space™ technology.

The HTX Helmet is worn in conjuction
[sic] with the 3rd Space™ Gaming Vest and delivers blows to the head when you are fired upon.

Feel bullets whizzing by your helmet or the impact of getting shot in the head.

The helmet will communicates
[sic] with compatible games to give precise, 3 dimensionally accurate impacts where it happens, as it happens.

Release date 2009"

We're not sure what five pounds of force would feel like on our heads, as we were unwilling to try the experiment with the roll of pennies on our noggins. However, we suspect that the HTX Helmet probably won't use quite as much force as the vest does. The bigger question to ask, however, is that will anyone truly want to simulate the feeling of getting hit, kicked, or shot in the head? If there are any gamers out there who are seriously considering this product, we'd like to suggest to TN Games that it start working on a pair of impact-generating pants with air actuators positioned in the crotch cranked up to at least 10 pounds.

Steve Jobs key to selecting tunes for Apple ads

By AppleInsider Staff

Ever wonder how those catchy tunes find their way into Apple's iPod commercials? You'll have to look no further than the ear of chief executive Steve Jobs.

In a SongFacts interview with the Asteroids Galaxy Tour, beatmaker Lars Iversen explains how his band's hyperkinetic track "Around The Bend" was selected as the jingle for Apple's second-generation iPod touch television ad.

The Danish band is represented in the United States by a little-known company called Synch, which managed to get in touch with Apple and arrange for a sit down meeting with Jobs himself.

While listening to some of the songs suggested by Synch, the Apple co-founder reportedly slammed on the brakes during a sample of "Around The Bend," declaring, "This is it, this is the new track for the iPod Touch."

"Apparently he just loved that track, but we never saw it as one of our singles," Iversen said. "We have some other songs that we thought would be great singles, and that would work cool on for the radio, but he really loved that song."

Iversen noted that the selection was made ahead of the September introduction of the new iPod touch, and therefore everything was kept hush, hush. The band was even kept in the dark about some edits Apple made to the flow of its song, which it wasn't too thrilled with initially.

"They keep it under wraps up to the release of the new product, so we were just told: 'You guys are going to be in this ad, and you have to be happy and smile about that,'" he said. "I kind of like it now when I've seen it a few times, it sort of works well with the pictures - you see two hands playing with the iPod and all these silly computer games and so on."

Ghostbusters The Video Game Trailer

The bottom 10: Cheapest new cars

Recession-friendly new cars

Hyundai Accent
Even in these budget-squeezing times, sometimes you just need to buy a new car. If so, it's always nice to start from the bottom of the price list. With the help of the number crunchers at Kelley Blue Book, we have compiled a pictoral list of the 10 new cars priced to compete in one of the toughest times of car-selling history.

-- Los Angeles Times staff writers

No. 1: Hyundai Accent GS

Base MSRP: $10,665

2-door hatchback

4-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine

5-speed manual transmission

click here for the rest of the article

Cheech and Chong spark up a new tour

A felony and a divorce help bring the two together after decades working apart

Tommy Chong (left, backstage with Cheech Marin in October) says of getting back to-gether, ''I would ... look at Cheech and know that I looked just as bad. It cracked me up.''

Tommy Chong (left, backstage with Cheech Marin in October) says of getting back to-gether, ''I would ... look at Cheech and know that I looked just as bad. It cracked me up.'' (Cheryl Senter for the Boston Globe)

By Nick A. Zaino III Globe Correspondent / December 7, 2008

HAMPTON BEACH, N.H. - It was early October when Cheech and Chong's "Light Up America" tour rolled into the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, but it might as well have been 1980. The room was packed for the second night in a row, a healthy line forming to buy $40 "Dave's Not Here" T-shirts, fans carrying perfectly preserved copies of Cheech and Chong albums.

CHEECH AND CHONG'S LIGHT UP AMERICA TOUR At the Orpheum Theatre, 1 Hamilton Place, Dec. 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $39.50-$59.50 at 617-931-2000 or

Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong haven't been on the road together in 27 years, and there have been no new movies or albums, but it was clear that their appeal hasn't waned much. (The tour, which the duo says they will continue until they get tired of it, comes to the Orpheum Dec. 11 and 12.)

Most of the audience members in Hampton Beach weren't old enough to have seen 1978's "Up in Smoke" - about two guys trying to drive a van made of marijuana from Mexico to the United States - in theaters, or to have waited in line at a record store for "Big Bambu," the 1972 album that includes the classic "Sister Mary Elephant" bit. But they've become fans nonetheless.

Tony Ciampa, a 44-year-old father of six, has been hooked since seeing "Up in Smoke" on cable. Likewise, 19-year-old Matt Johnson found the duo through their movies. But some, like 51-year-old Nick "ZZ" Misso, wearing a tie-dyed headband and "Baked Fresh Daily" T-shirt, have been fans from the beginning. "I had a smile on my face this big knowing I'm coming here," he said.

Cheech and Chong's legacy, of course, is bringing pot to pop culture, but to dismiss Cheech and Chong as stoner humor misses the point.

"We were middle-of-the-road dopers, and that's the norm," said Marin. "We're the norm. We kind of embodied where the country had shifted to."

The 'felimony' tour

Backstage before the show, Marin and Chong relaxed with tour manager Jimmy Root and Chong's wife, Shelby, a comedian opening for the duo on the tour. Chong's 70-year-old face is wrinkled, his hair and beard have gone gray; Marin, 62, has lost some hair and put on a few pounds. But the energy is still there. When the pair first got together for rehearsals over the summer at Chong's house in Los Angeles, they felt the old connection - and the years. "I would look over and look at Cheech and know that I looked just as bad," said Chong. "It cracked me up."

They challenged each other to remember their old material and sometimes wound up going back to the movies and YouTube as a reference.

So why reunite now, after so long apart? "It's the 'felimony' tour," Marin said, referring to his divorce and Chong's 2003 arrest and nine-month jail term for selling bongs and marijuana pipes. "His felony, my alimony."

Marin, who also lives in LA, has carved out a living as an actor on TV shows like "Nash Bridges" and in movies like "Planet Terror," while Chong has written two books and worked on his stand-up. Chong's new book, "Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography," tells his side of how the pair met in Vancouver in '68, where Marin had fled to avoid the draft and study pottery making. They first performed together in a strip club there, doing what Marin calls "hippie burlesque" with the dancers. Their act can be traced back to vaudeville comedy teams and early improv theater - two guys willing to do whatever it took to get a laugh, whether singing a song or wearing a silly costume. Fifteen years later, after many gold records and much box office success, they got sick of each other and called it quits.

Neither of them is surprised by their popularity today, but things did get a bit strange in their absence. "All of a sudden there were starting to be Cheech and Chong impersonators in Vegas," Marin said.

"Here's two right here," said Chong, and they both laughed.

Still smokin'

Onstage at Hampton Beach, the duo performed their greatest hits, with Chong doing stand-up in between. Fans cheered Cheech's familiar get-up - red knit cap, khakis, suspenders, and white sleeveless undershirt. Two chairs became a low rider as Cheech and Chong rode again, sharing an imaginary blunt. As old couple Harry and Margaret, they snuck into a pornographic movie, just like old times. Cheech donned his tutu and Mickey Mouse ears to sing "Earache My Eye"; Chong's Blind Melon Chitlin' played the blues.

After the show, Marin and Chong were greeted by a line of fans. "It was a rowdy crowd," said Marin. "They wanted to participate. It was going back to our roots, a really big beer hall."

The afternoon before the show, Root, the manager, sat in his hotel room with a pile of laundry, including Cheech's tutu and his wrinkled Margaret dress. Root, who worked with the duo back in their heyday in the mid-'70s, sees Cheech and Chong as "path-makers." "In an oddball way, the 25-year separation has actually probably been a good thing," he said. "I think that it just goes to validate how enormously talented they are, that it could survive."

Indeed, Cheech and Chong's influence can be seen in the recent popularity of stoner comedies, such as "Pineapple Express" and the "Harold & Kumar" series. But there's more to the genre of "doper movies," Marin says, than dope. " 'Napoleon Dynamite' is a doper movie," he says. "It has that doper mentality - a little hazy, a little off."

Clearly, the duo's hazy charm continues to resonate, and this tour may not be the end of the reunion. Marin mentioned a "Spamalot"-type theater project that would tell the history of how the pair became a team. Chong sees them picking up right where they left off. "The 'Up in Smoke' movie came from our live show," he said. "So what I see us doing is touring until we get tired, and then we say, 'Let's take this bit and make a movie out of it.' "

Check Out Our Exclusive DVD Extra Sneak Peek From ‘The Dark Knight’

For true fans of “The Dark Knight,” tomorrow has been the day we’ve all been waiting for — when, at long last, the film is released on DVD and Blu-ray, complete with TONS of special features, extras, and in some cases, limited edition statuettes and masks. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. have been giving the 11th hour push with getting the word out, offering up exclusive sneak-peeks at some of the special features contained on the disk to various websites — and now it’s our turn!

In our exclusive clip below, we check in with GCN’s resident news host, Mike Engel (Anthony Michael Hall) during an interview with Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) as a breaking news report comes in, but you’ll have to watch the clip to find out what’s going down on the mean streets of Gotham…

As mentioned, “The Dark Knight” hits stores tomorrow on DVD and Blu-ray, and for the hardcore Bat-fans out there, various stores will be offering limited edition collector sets of the movie complete with statuettes featuring Heath Ledger’s The Joker, Christian Bale’s Batman and masks of the Dark Knight as well as the ones the Joker’s gang wore during the bank robbery scene.

Are you gonna be picking up “The Dark Knight” on DVD or Blu-ray tomorrow, or are you hoping Santa will leave it under the tree? We wanna know in the comments.

Felon Teamsters behind the scenes of Boston films

Criminals on the set

By Dave Wedge | Tuesday, December 9, 2008 |

CRIME DRAMA: A Herald probe shows...
Photo by Herald file

CRIME DRAMA: A Herald probe shows nearly a dozen felon Teamsters worked on the set of ’The Surrogates,’ starring Bruce Willis, above.

Teamsters Local 25 has sought to shed its shady film industry past, but the union still allows career felons - including a killer, bank robbers and repeat drunken drivers - to rake in up to $3,000 a week on taxpayer-subsidized movie sets without going through basic criminal background checks.

A Herald probe matched criminal records to the names of nearly a dozen Teamsters who drove stars and crew on the set-in-Boston Bruce Willis flick “The Surrogates” this summer, among them an armored car thief, a murderer-turned-accused rapist and various thugs, including a Hells Angel identified by law enforcement sources.

The cop drama, like other movies shot in the Bay State since 2007, received generous film industry tax breaks championed by Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray.

CRIME DRAMA: Gov. Deval Patrick has...
Photo by Herald file

CRIME DRAMA: Gov. Deval Patrick has lured high-profile stars such as Mel Gibson, above, to Boston with tax breaks, but a Herald probe shows nearly a dozen felon Teamsters worked on the set of ‘The Surrogates.’

Local 25 president Sean O’Brien acknowledged several felons are active Teamsters working in the Hub film industry, but said there have been “no incidents” or complaints since he took over the troubled union in August 2006.

“I can’t change the sins of the past,” O’Brien said. “All I can control is what goes on on these movie sets.”

But Sen. Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield) called $100 million in film industry tax breaks “giveaways” and said news that felons are still landing on movie sets is “disheartening.”

“That is serious cause for concern,” Tisei said. “I was under the understanding that Massachusetts was making a fresh start.”

O’Brien said the union does not do criminal background checks on members because removing a felon could be construed as an unfair labor practice. “We don’t discriminate against anyone,” he said.

Among the felons who worked on “The Surrogates” according to criminal records and a Teamster source:

Charles Doucette, 49, of Beverly: A killer and armed home invader paroled in 2006, he was fired from “The Surrogates” after crashing a truck, and is now in prison awaiting trial on rape charges.

Jon M. Campagna, 50, of Winthrop: A Teamster driver, he’s got seven drunken driving convictions on his 30-year record, most recently in 2001.

Gilbert J. “Gigi” Eatherton, 61, of Charlestown: A Teamster “captain,” or job site manager, he served 10 years in federal prison for a 1975 Boston bank heist and has two DUIs, the latest in 1995.

Joseph Abruzzese, 57, of Lynn: A 33-year Teamster, he served six years in the 1980s for assault.

Diulio “Lilo” Fabbo, 38, of Medford: He served a year for a 1995 gun rap, and was convicted of assault and battery in 1991.

Keith A. Leahy, 38, of Charlestown: Shot in a wild shootout with armored car guards in Harvard Square in 1996, he was released in 2003 after serving seven years.

Another Teamster working on local movie sets is convicted cocaine trafficker Michael Indelicato, who was released from federal prison in 2006 after serving 15 years.

Campagna, who isn’t currently working with the film crew, said, “Believe me, I made mistakes and I regret them. I haven’t had a drink in nine years. I turned my life around.”

Fabbo, who also is not actively working on films, acknowledged his criminal past, but said, “Everybody deserves a second chance.” Abruzzese and Leahy declined to comment; Eatherton and Indelicato did not return messages.

O’Brien confirmed he was generally aware of the criminal pasts of Eatherton, Leahy and Indelicato, among others, and said felons have landed on recent films because of high demand for drivers.

“A lot of these members have paid their debts to society,” O’Brien said. “They’re trying to straighten out their lives.”

Massachusetts Film Office executive director Nick Paleologos praised O’Brien’s stewardship. “I have not had a single Teamsters-related complaint from any producer or studio,” he said. “I can’t tell you what he’s doing over there, but whatever he’s doing, it’s working.”

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10 Modern Chairs that Revolutionized Furniture Forever

From the mid 1920s to the late 1950s, a revolution in furniture design was happening from the US to Europe. Considered art in their own right, these 10 modern chairs revolutionized the way we sit– and turned the act of rest into a thing of beauty.

The Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair

Starting out strong, the Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe is one of the most iconic chairs of the modern movement, a Bauhaus-era classic that is cherished the world over. The Barcelona Chair was designed in 1929 by Mies van der Rohe for display at the German Pavilion in Barcelona, then part of the International Exposition. Today, nearly 80 years later, an official Barcelona Chair produced by Knoll will run you around $6,300 at retail, making it a pricey piece of art for your living room or office.

The Eames Molded Plywood Chair

The duo of Charles and Ray Eames is among the most revered names in the world of modern furniture, having perfected a Dutch-inspired signature of fine, molded wood furniture. Their Molded Plywood Lounge Chair is arguably the greatest pure wood piece of the modern movement, having maintained popularity to this day since its creation in 1946. Charles and Ray-Bernice Eames married in 1941, spending the better part of their partnership creating a body of work respected as legendary in the world of furniture.

The Marcel Breuer Wassily Chair

Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chair was the first ever to be built from bent metal tubing. The curving chrome frame on the Wassily is strapped with sleek leather seat, back and arm rests, giving it a near-illusory appearance of hard, angular lines. Breuer designed the Wassily chair in 1925, then the head of the cabinet-making workshop at the famed Bauhaus design studio in Germany. When Breuer completed the chair in 1926, Bauhaus colleague and painter Wassily Kandinsky admired the chair greatly, prompting Breuer to build a pair of duplicates for the artist. Decades later, Marcel Breuer’s bent-metal chair would be known as the “Wassily Chair” in honor of that Bauhaus connection.

The Adelta Ball Chair

The Adelta Ball Chair, as designed in 1966 by Eero Aarnio, is a fiberglass sphere with a comfortable lounge seat in its center. Strikingly contemporary, the Ball Chair is among the more rare pieces on this list. While still produced today by Finnish manufacturer Adelta, the fiberglass has not always stood the test of time. When treated like the work of modern art that it is, this chair certainly justifies its price in contemporary homes– running for $6,500 on the market today.

The Le Corbusier LC2 Petit Modele Armchair

A common (although mis-guided) knock on much modern furniture is that it focuses far too much on form and too little on function– specifically comfort. The Le Corbusier LC2 Petit Modele Armchair is what Le Corbusier called a “cushion basket”, and comfortable is probably the best word to describe it. The leather-lined cushions sink under your weight, molding around you while providing plenty of support. Designed in 1928, the LC2 has earned itself a spot around the table of the most iconic modern chairs in the last century. You can get one today, reproduced by Cassina Italy for around $3,500.

The Bertoia Diamond Chair

Italian sculptor and furniture designer Harry Bertoia created a collection of welded metal chairs that made him an icon in the world of contemporary furniture. In 1955, Bertoia delivered the Diamond Chair to Knoll, a woven metal-framed chair with soft, knit cushioning. The Diamond Chair was released in many colors, shapes and iterations, including a full chaise lounge and other pieces. Still popular today, this indoor-outdoor chair starts at around $1,100 without the full, removeable cover.

The Eames Lounge and Ottoman

52 years ago, the Eames duo struck again with their Eames Lounge and Ottoman. This striking wood and leather lounge brings a sense of natural warmth to modern furniture, a common characteristic of Eames designs. The Eames Lounge features black, white or brown leather and a dark wood veneer on its base, back and headrest. Together with a matching ottoman, the Eames Lounge is among the more accessible pieces on this list- running for around $3,500 on the market today.

The Arne Jacobsen Swan Chair

50 years ago, Arne Jacobsen designed the famous Swan Chair, a piece that was technically innovative for its time. Its seat was built without straight lines, only curves. While that may not seem progressive today, Jacobsen’s accomplishment was well-respected in the world of contemporary furniture. Jacobsen’s Swan Chair has been re-released and is available in stores for around $3,400.

The Le Corbusier Chaise Longue

Following the bent-metal work of Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier developed its famous Chaise Longue in 1928. Now a part of Cassina Italy’s masters collection, the Le Corbusier Chaise is the centerpiece, the staple of modern homes and businesses throughout the world. Its back is available in basic leather, black or brown, and also the cowhide version above. Like the others listed here, this Chaise Longue is still produced today, 80 years later.

The Risom Lounge Chair

Designer Jens Risom’s work was far ahead of its time, including his 1941 work the Risom Lounge Chair. Distributed by Knoll, the Risom Lounge features a woven cotton webbing around a dark maple frame. An instant classic, the Risom was later spun into several other versions, some of different sizes, others with arms, all with the stylish web-on-wood design. Jens Risom’s lounge is still produced by Knoll today, running for around $770 in stores.

Fox to adapt 9-year-old's book

'How to Talk to Girls' written by a fourth grader

By Borys Kit

Dec 8, 2008, 08:58 PM ET

Fox is ready to take advice from a 9-year-old.

The studio has acquired the film rights to "How to Talk to Girls," a cute 46-page self-help tome written by Alex Greven, a 9-year-old in the fourth grade.

Greven, who attends school in Castle Rock, Colorado, wrote "Girls" as a handwritten, $3 pamphlet sold at his school book fair; he wrote it after he noticed his peers were having some trouble talking to the ladies, though the book is geared for all ages. Among this advice: Comb your hair and don't wear sweats; control your hyperness and cut down on sugar if necessary; a crush is like a love disease that can drive you mad; it is easy to spot pretty girls because they have big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewelry but are like cars that need a lot of oil.

Soon enough Harper Collins picked up the book, which came out in November and quickly became a hit. But initially, Fox, which is like Harper Collins is owned by News Corp., and its book scouts passed on the title. But when the book hit the town last week, garnering heavy interest from multiple parties, Fox stepped back in and took the book off the table. The deal was in the low-to-mid six figures.

Alex Young brought in the project, which has no writers or producers attached.

Gotham Group repped Greven in the deal.

Fox to adapt 9-year-old's book

'How to Talk to Girls' written by a fourth grader

By Borys Kit

Dec 8, 2008, 08:58 PM ET

Fox is ready to take advice from a 9-year-old.

The studio has acquired the film rights to "How to Talk to Girls," a cute 46-page self-help tome written by Alex Greven, a 9-year-old in the fourth grade.

Greven, who attends school in Castle Rock, Colorado, wrote "Girls" as a handwritten, $3 pamphlet sold at his school book fair; he wrote it after he noticed his peers were having some trouble talking to the ladies, though the book is geared for all ages. Among this advice: Comb your hair and don't wear sweats; control your hyperness and cut down on sugar if necessary; a crush is like a love disease that can drive you mad; it is easy to spot pretty girls because they have big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewelry but are like cars that need a lot of oil.

Soon enough Harper Collins picked up the book, which came out in November and quickly became a hit. But initially, Fox, which is like Harper Collins is owned by News Corp., and its book scouts passed on the title. But when the book hit the town last week, garnering heavy interest from multiple parties, Fox stepped back in and took the book off the table. The deal was in the low-to-mid six figures.

Alex Young brought in the project, which has no writers or producers attached.

Gotham Group repped Greven in the deal.

“Inside the New Jets Training Facility” Slideshow | Fast Company

“Inside the New Jets Training Facility” Slideshow | Fast Company

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Good girl, Keri Russell, has come a long way since Felicity


click here for the slideshow

It’s a Monday morning at choice, an upscale café in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, and Keri Russell is making the counter woman’s day. Wearing a blue T-shirt, white pants, and a floppy-brimmed, “Hey, there’s a famous person under here” straw hat, she asks for a bacon-and-egg croissant and gets a fawning, borderline-creepy smile.

“She offered me turkey bacon,” Russell says between bites. “I’ve never had turkey bacon. The real deal is better.” Bland pork substitutes or not, the 32-year-old beauty clearly likes stopping by Choice for breakfast. A Brooklyn fixture, often spotted pushing a stroller or picking up Asian takeout, she and her carpenter husband, Shane Deary, recently finished restoring the nearby brownstone they share with their 18-month-old son, River. Having a master craftsman around the house is useful but not without its dangers. “When Shane was growing up, he lived in this A-frame house with a rope swing hanging from a rafter,” she explains. “The other day he said, ‘I really want a rope swing for River. Let’s put it right here!’ And I said, ‘Buuut the staircase is right here. He would fall down three flights of stairs.’”

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Daughter of Hugh to inquish role after 20 years.

UPDATE: Hefner to Step Down as Playboy CEO

By Jason Fell

SEE ALSO: Who Will Replace Hefner?

Christie Hefner announced today her plans to step down as chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises.

Hefner will stay on as CEO through January 31, 2009, the company said in a statement. Jerome Kern, a member of its board of directors, will serve as interim chairperson while the company searches for a replacement.

Playboy Enterprises Inc. has literally and figuratively been my life and career for more than 30 years,” Hefner said in a statement. “Last month marked my 20th anniversary as CEO; just as this country is embracing change in the form of new leadership, I have decided that now is the time to make changes in my own life as well.”

Hefner steps down from the top executive post during a challenging time for Playboy. The company—which eliminated 80 staffers company-wide in October in a cost-cutting effort—reported a net loss of $10.4 million through the first nine months, compared to a $6 million net income during the same period last year. For the third quarter, the company reported a $5.2 million net loss, down from a gain of $2.6 million during the same period last year.

Year-to-date, revenue was down more than 12 percent to $222.3 million. Playboy attributed the overall losses, in part, to a $6.3 million restructuring charge. Excluding the charges, the company reported a net income of $1.1 million.

The company said it expects ad revenue in the publishing division to be down 17 percent in the fourth quarter.

Radical design proposed for London bus

Hugh Frost, an industrial designer, reckons he has an answer to London's (and other cities) pollution and congestion problems in one: a new vehicle that consolidates passenger and freight transportation.

At the heart of the "On-Route" concept is the Freight*BUS, a radical new design for the London bus, which Frost has already submitted to Transport for London's "A New Bus for London" competition.

The Freight*BUS is a massive new vehicle featuring advanced technology and the ability to adapt to varying numbers of passengers and freight.

This flexibility is in part due to ceiling-suspended pairs of seats, which can be completely folded out of the way.

At night, or during off-peak times of day, Frost envisages his Freight*BUS being utilised to carry goods around the city, with a capacity of the equivalent to 35 standard 'europallets'. To aid loading and unloading, Frost has designed a palletless system.

The Freight*BUS is designed for several possible propulsion systems, including batteries that are automatically recharged when the bus stops and the potential for fuel cell operation in the future.

Thanks to in-wheel electric motors, the bus can manoeuvre into tight bus stops in a 'crab' like movement.

Although the Freight*BUS did not win Boris Johnson's competition, Frost is looking for partners to fund development of his concept further. More information can be found at

Shane O' Donoghue

TIME Magazine Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2008

Jean-Pierre Clatot / AFP / Getty — The Large Hadron Collider and nine other big scientific discoveries of the year.

Click here for the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2008

NBC Expected to Give 10 P.M. Show to Leno

Published: December 8, 2008

NBC will keep Jay Leno five nights a week, but in prime time, competing not with David Letterman, but with shows like “CSI: Miami.”

Paul Drinkwater/NBC, via Associated Press

Tonight show host Jay Leno gave his monologue in January.

The network will announce Tuesday that Mr. Leno’s new show will appear at 10 o’clock each weeknight in a format similar to “The Tonight Show,” which he has hosted since 1993.

Five years ago NBC announced that it would hand the job of host of that franchise show to Conan O’Brien in May 2009. Since then the network has maneuvered to try to keep Mr. Leno, who continues to be the late-night ratings leader, fearing that he could leave and start a new late-night show on a competitor’s network. “The Tonight Show” is seen at 11:35 weeknights.

Mr. Leno, 58, was known to have suitors, including ABC, the Fox network and the Sony television studio. But he was apparently persuaded to stay at NBC after aggressive personal wooing by Jeff Zucker, the chief executive of NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric.

Retaining Mr. Leno will undoubtedly be seen as a coup for Mr. Zucker, who has faced some serious questions about the wisdom of guaranteeing “The Tonight Show” to Mr. O’Brien and possibly losing Mr. Leno to another network.

Details of Mr. Leno’s agreement and the new show were provided by NBC executives who were briefed on the matter and who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the project until the network made its announcement.

The new show, which will begin next fall, is expected to be set in Mr. Leno’s longtime studio in Burbank, Calif. Mr. Leno is expected to retain many of the most popular elements of his “Tonight Show,” including his monologue and bits like “Headlines” and “Jay Walking.” One “Tonight Show” staff member said the new program would not be a variety show.

Mr. O’Brien, currently the host of NBC’s “Late Night,” will move “The Tonight Show” to a new studio on the NBC Universal lot in Universal City, Calif., in May. Mr. Leno, who is known to want to work as much as possible, would then miss only three months on the air, and would use that time to prepare his new show.

An executive involved in the discussions with Mr. Leno said that Mr. Leno finally came around to the idea that the television business had changed and a show like his could be a success in prime time.

Running the same show in prime time five nights a week would be a novelty for a broadcast network. Such so-called stripped shows have been a staple of daytime broadcasting.

The offer of a weeknight prime-time show is one that Mr. Zucker has favored for some time. In 2002, when David Letterman, Mr. Leno’s competitor at CBS, was contemplating whether to renew his contract, Mr. Zucker offered him a show at 8 o’clock weeknights. He turned it down.

Executives involved in the decision said Monday that because ratings have decreased and costs are becoming more critical, NBC could reap an enormous financial benefit from this move.

Though Mr. Leno will command an enormous salary, probably more than $30 million a year, the cost of his show will be a fraction of what a network pays for dramas at 10 p.m. Those average about $3 million an episode. That adds up to $15 million a week to fill the 10 p.m. hour. Mr. Leno’s show is expected to cost less than $2 million a week.

In addition, NBC will get more weeks of original programming. Network dramas typically make 22 to 24 episodes a year. Under this deal, the executives involved in the discussions said, Mr. Leno will perform 46 weeks a year.

That cost differential will probably be enough for NBC to absorb any fall in ratings from its current slate of dramas. Mr. Leno has averaged 4.8 million viewers for his show this year, with a rating of 1.3, or 1.7 million people, in the category of viewers ages 18 to 49, which most advertisers favor.

Few shows now at 10 p.m. could be considered hits. They include “CSI: Miami,” and “CSI: New York” on CBS and “Law & Order SVU” and “E.R.” on NBC. “E.R.” is about the leave the air. “SVU” will probably move to 9 p.m. next fall.

There have been no new hits at 10 p.m. on any network in almost four years; ratings for shows in that time slot continue to fall.

That does not mean that either the network or Mr. Leno has no risk in the move. Mr. Leno’s shows tend to fare best in their first half hour; if they were to decline too much in the second half hour, NBC’s affiliated stations would see their news shows adversely affected. And there may be some question about whether Mr. Leno’s show at 10 might diminish the stature of Mr. O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” at 11:35.

But Peter Lassally, the longtime late-night producer of shows starring Johnny Carson, Mr. Letterman and now Craig Ferguson, said that NBC came to Mr. Carson in the late 1980s with a similar idea, but that Mr. Carson turned it down.

“It’s all different now,” Mr. Lassally said. “The economic factors have changed so much it makes complete sense for NBC to try this.”

On Monday Mr. Zucker suggested at a news conference in New York that in the future networks might have to cut back the hours of prime-time programming. The program with Mr. Leno would effectively cut the number of hours NBC needed to fill each week from 22 to 17.

Mr. Leno had no comment. NBC executives also declined to comment. The network is expected to announce the deal with Mr. Leno in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Dutchman aims to break record in freezing bath

A Dutchman who is able to withstand freezing temperatures that would kill most people will submerge himself in icy water for almost two hours in a world record bid.

Wim Hof sits on a block of ice for over an hour in a freezer in Utrecht, The Netherlands
Wim Hof sits on a block of ice for over an hour in a freezer in Utrecht, The Netherlands Photo: BARCROFT

Wim Hof, known as "The Ice Man", has spent the last 20 years testing his talent in the most extreme conditions from scaling mountain tops wearing nothing but a pair of shorts to swimming under sheets of ice in the north pole.

Now he is set to break his own world record by submerging himself in a Plexiglas container filled with ice at temperatures as low as -20 degrees for more than 1 hour 45 minutes.

Mr Hof discovered his unusual talent over 20 years ago during a stroll in the park in his native Holland.

"I had a stroll like this in the park with somebody and I saw the ice and I thought, what would happen if I go in there," reveals the 48-year-old Dutchman.

"I was really attracted to it. I went in, got rid of my clothes. Thirty seconds I was in and a tremendous good feeling when I came out and since then, I repeated it every day."

It was the moment that Mr Hof knew that his body was different somehow: he was able to withstand fatally freezing temperatures.

Mr Hof began a lifelong quest to see just how far his abilities would take him.

In 2000, dressed only in a swimsuit, he dove under the ice at the North Pole and earned a Guinness World Record for the longest amount of time swimming under the ice.

Braving temperatures of minus three degrees in the water the temperature dropped to as low as minus 30 degrees when he exited the water.

"The first big challenge was to swim a distance of 60 metres under an ice-deck of a metre thick beyond the Polar Circle," he recalls.

"My goggles froze and I lost the track and so I went off course a little. I probably did the best record ever - around 80 m.

"I missed the 60 metre hole and must have swam finally the double distance before a diver gripped my almost unconscious body, and drew me back to the 60 metre hole.

"I know I went further but I am happy with the 60 metre record."

In 2002 Mr Hof travelled 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle to run a half-marathon in his bare feet.

In the same year, Mr Hof completed four additional half marathons as he travelled across Europe.

"I completed five half marathons in 2002," he says.

"The first was a the base of Mount Everest at 5,000m, then two in Finland, the Alps at 3,500 m, and here in Holland.

"I can tell you it was cold the floor temperature was minus thirty degrees and the air temperature was as low as minus 15-20 degrees."

In April 2007, Mr Hof returned to mount Everest where he became the first man scale 7,400 metres wearing nothing but shorts.

"I stayed in the area for a few weeks to acclimatise," he said.

"But the walk its self was very quick - only a few hours."

Whilst many scientists around the world find Mr Hof's ability an anomaly, Mr Hof says it is merely a case of mind over matter.

Practising an ancient Himalayan meditation called "Tummo," or Inner Fire, Mr Hof says he can generate his own heat.

Mr Hof now travels the world teaching the technique through his record attempts, lectures and talks.

"As one can solve maths by concentrating do I focus on certain places in my body and generate heat because of it," he says.

"Every body has mind power, I have learned to direct it toward my body and thus influence the cold and heating-system of my metabolism.

"Mind power is like electricity, it is an potential (current) which I have learned to use toward different places in my body, that is the real yoga."

However during a recent world record attempt in New York, Dr. Ken Kamler, author of "Surviving the Extremes," attempted to explain Mr Hof's unusual ability.

Studying him as he sat in a container of ice for one hour 12 minutes Dr Kamler noted: "He's not moving, he's not generating heat, he's not dressed for it, and he's immersed in ice water."

And water will transmit heat 30 times faster than air. It literally sucks the life right out of you. And yet, despite all those negative factors, "Wim Hof was very calm, very comfortable the entire time that he was immersed in that water."

On December 20, Mr Hof will travel to Cologne, Germany, where he will attempt to break the world record he set in New York earlier this year by sitting in a container filled with ice for one hour and 45 minutes.

Parents Sue School Over Cheerleaders' Nude Photo Suspension

The parents of two Seattle-area high school cheerleaders are suing the district for suspending the girls from the squad after nude photographs of them circulated via text message.

The two teens were suspended from the squad — one for 30 days and one for the entire year — after school officials learned of the photos in August, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

The families suing Northshore School District weren't identified because the girls are minors.

The lawsuits, filed on Nov. 17, say the district violated the girls' due process rights, according to the paper. The families allege it was unnecessary for school officials to share the photos with other staff members, and claim they were negligent in failing to report the matter to police as a potential case of child pornography.

Matthew King, the attorney representing the families, told the Post-Intelligencer that it was unfair to punish the cheerleaders but not the other students who received or forwarded the photos.

"We're not technically challenging the sanctions as being too strict, we're saying they weren't evenly enforced across the school," said King. "There should have been some punishment meted out to those who were in possession of the photos. ... It seems like the girls are getting the brunt of it."

One of the pictures was taken three years ago and sent to the teen's then-boyfriend. The other was snapped in June. The lawsuits allege that the girls believed they had deleted the photos, but accidentally sent them to members of the football team.

King says he wants the disciplinary action expunged from the girls' school records, the suspensions waved and an apology issued by the school.

"This is frivolous," Northshore School District attorney Mike Patterson said. "It should never have gone to court and they (the families suing) should recognize that what happened here was created by their own doing."

Click here for more on this story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

50 Skills Every Real Geek Should Have

Back in our September 2008 issue, we published a list of 9 Skills Every Nerd Needs – a lighthearted examination of the essential abilities Maximum PC readers should have in their geek arsenal. We still stand by that list, but we were somewhat one-upped last month when we saw that Gizmodo had since run its own list of 50 key geek skills. Their list was very respectable, but we thought that we could do better by not only expanding and refining our original story, but actually teaching you these skills. The highest echelon of geeks will be able to do everything in this list, and this is by no means a full categorization of the complete geek skillset – only what we consider to be the most indispensable abilities. Have anything to add to our list? Post it in the comments!

Name These Connectors!

Finding hidden hardware gems in bins of archaic cards at computer shows and swap meets is an ever-so-crucial nerd skill. Frequently the only way to discern the difference is to do an on-the-spot ID of the edge connector. True nerds should be able to identify even the most esoteric connector in their sleep (if they sleep with their eyes open, that is). Can you separate the crap from the kick ass? No cheating!

A. PCI-Express connector
B. DDR memory
C. Dual-channel RIMM

Run All Your Essential Apps on a USB Stick

Any real nerd is almost sure to have a USB thumbdrive in his pocket at all times. After all, USB flash storage is pretty much the best way to keep data conveniently at hand. What the average nerd might not know, however, is that it’s possible to install all sorts of apps on a thumb drive, meaning that you can use your USB stick as a mobile platform for your browser, email and instant message client, office suite and more. That means you can access these programs, settings intact, from any computer with a spare USB slot.

It’s all made possible by, an open source platform for portable software. To get started with PortableApps, go to this page and download whichever version of the portable suite suits your needs. Then run the installer, and choose to install to the root of your USB drive. In the future, if you want to add additional portable applications just download the app, then select “add a new app” from PortableApps’ options menu and browse to the .paf.exe file you downloaded.

Right now, there are portable versions of heavyweights like Firefox, Thunderbird, and OpenOffice, as well as a whole ton of other, awesome programs.

Straighten the Pins on an Older CPU

There are two quick ways to realign bent pins on older CPUs.

The first, quickest way is to take a credit card and run it through the rows of pins in each direction, which will realign lightly-bent pins.

If a pin is bent too far for the credit card trick, use the barrel of a mechanical pencil to sheath the pin and gently bend it back up straight.

To Many to post here click here for the rest....

Laurel and Hardy

I was talking with someone who had never heard of the classic comedy team of Laurel and Hardy and realized that many of you our there may have never of heard of them as well. They are a comedy duo from the 1930's and pioneered some of the classic comedy shtick that we see today. They came before the Three Stooges, Abbott & Costello, and Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis.


Amazing Basketball Trick Shots Video

Channel Icon
It's the basketball trick shot video that brings people together.

My Phillers, my Devilbats, Handle Magazine, k1x Australia, Herald & Weekly Times readers, the Melbourne Tigers, Dave's Dragon's, my Fantasy League... the fam... the extended fam... my Sherbrooke crew... the SHERBROOKE SUNS... the Knox refs... the facebook networks... Wayne, Andrew and the Sth Melbourne guys... The MSAC team... HoopStars... the trick shot groupies, I haven't met you yet but I know you're out there, introduce yourselves!!... the Haters, keep posting I love your comments most of all... the people who saw it because someone showed someone who showed them, the response has been amazing.

To anybody who saw it liked it and passed it on, good things will be coming your way.

And anyone who says they could do better, why not try? I made this tape because I said I could do better.

The song is Tommy Lee: "Good Times"


Thanks to all.

Super Bowl XLIII To Have Interactive/Hyperlink Commercials

While sales may be hurting for many these days, some super opportunities are on the horizon. On Feb. 1, for the first time in its 43-year history, the Superbowl will be enabled with hyperlinking technology, giving advertisers the opportunity to engage the largest TV audience of the year with interactivity on a pay-per-view basis - and viewers the ability to link directly from a 30-second network commercial to long-form content on demand.

Quebec specialty sportscaster Le Réseau des Sports (RDS) recently confirmed that commercial inventory on both standard and high-def channels for the Super Bowl XLIII live telecast from Tampa Bay, will be enabled with interactive functionality permitting viewers to opt-in and hyperlink directly from the RDS network to long-form video content. Viewers can also bookmark the content for future viewing., the Montreal-based pioneer of the on-demand ad serving system, provides real-time tracking of campaign performance to its ad clients. "The confluence of these factors - the audience, the event, the focus on highly anticipated advertising - provide advertisers with a unique opportunity to connect with 'hand-raisers' in an extended conversation," Ian MacLean, VP and GM,, tells MiC, adding that he has seen "historically high" engagement rates with viewers since launching the solution on RDS and RDS HD. "The RDS audience responds to the 'Press Select' icon at a much higher rate than other TV nets on which we are operating."

Currently, the ad management system's hyperlinking solution provisions more than 850,000 households in Quebec, reaching over 2 million consumers.

Michel Gagnon, VP sales and marketing, RDS, says that other major telecasts including the World Series of baseball, Montreal Canadiens hockey, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NHL All-Star Game will also offer the same interactive technology in coming months.

"Because so many national advertisers choose to take advantage of that massive audience to showcase compelling new advertising, this presents an historical opportunity for brands to invite interested consumers to link from their 30 second ad to learn more," says MacLean.

Television advertisers currently using's platform span automotive, packaged goods, tourism, entertainment and financial service industries. plans to expand its service throughout Canada and in the US through 2009.

New Eminem and Dr Dre song leaks online



Listen to 'Number One' online now

A new song by Eminem and Dr. Dre has leaked onto the internet.

'Number One', which features Eminem rapping, is rumoured to have been produced by Dr Dre, although Dre's vocals do not feature on this version of the song.

You can listen to 'Number One' below.

The song was included in a mixtape by DJs Big Mike and Neptune called '4th Quarter Pressure, Part 2'.

After introducing himself as Slim Shady, Eminem raps the following chorus: "So crack a bottle / Let your body waddle / Don't act just like a sloppy model / You just hit the lotto".

'Number One' is rumoured to be set for inclusion on Dr Dre's forthcoming album 'Detox', rather than Eminem's comeback album 'Relapse' which, as NME.COM previously reported, is scheduled to be released in 2009.

Grand Opening: Apple Store Munich, Images and Video

A huge crowd celebrated the opening of Apple’s new retail store in Germany today. The “Apple Store, Rosenstraße,” is Apple’s first retail store in the country.

Prior to the store’s official opening, Apple had a pattern splattered across the facade of the building resembling the Bavarian flag, only with blue iPod nanos. As previously explained, T-Mobile carries the iPhone in these parts of the world, so Apple’s physical presence was already fairly strong. The addition of a new flagship store in the area will only increase brand recognition and awareness of Apple as a whole.

germany store

germany store

germany store

germany store

germany store

MacDailyNews points us to a 360 degree panorama VR of the opening crowd. Additionally, the video below is from Martin in Munich (via Youtube). Many more images via flickr