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Monday, December 29, 2008

Complete Listing of World Wonders



The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World The Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind The Seven Natural Wonders of the World The Seven Underwater Wonders of the World The Seven Wonders of the Modern World The Seven Forgotten Natural Wonders of the World The Seven Forgotten Modern Wonders of the World The Seven Forgotten Wonders of the Medeival Mind The Forgotten Wonders

Read our World Wonder FAQ by clicking here

Maps of the World Wonders



CAN'T FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR? CLI

Hertz Connect Car-On-Demand Service Taking Aim At Zipcar

Connect by Hertz, the company's new car-sharing service, lets consumers snag an iPod-enabled, GPS-equipped car for a few hours at a price not increased by typical rental fees. Sound familiar?

The Hertz Connect service, just launched in New York, London and Paris, is strikingly similar to the service offered by Zipcar in those urban areas. Not only does the service offer a variety of cars rented by the day or hour for a small monthly and usage fee, they both use RFID passes to access the cars and neither services charges for gas. Additionally, the Hertz service offers two cars intimately associated with the Zipcar service: the Mini Cooper and the Toyota Prius. The other offering is a Toyota Camry.

Where Hertz differs from the Zipcar service is in the features. Not only are all cars equipped with iPod-ready sound systems, each has the "NeverLost" in-car nav system found on regular Hertz vehicles. Additionally, Hertz representatives can locate, unlock and engage rented vehicles wirelessly. Once a consumer pays the $50 monthly fee they can book a Prius for just $8.50 an hour or $59.50 a day, a Camry for $10.20 an hour/$71.40 a day or a Mini Cooper $11.90 an hour/$83.30 a day. Those are all prices lower than the non-monthly-fee-enabled Zipcar service.

In a pinch you could rent a Prius and power your house. Of course, we're still waiting for the Corvette ZHZ to find its place in the fleet.



Press release with full details below. We'll let you know what we think once we've had a chance to use the service, but for the moment, let's just say we're intrigued enough to want to give Hertz a call to try it out.

"Connect by Hertz" Launches Global Car Sharing Initiative

PARK RIDGE, NJ — (MARKET WIRE) — 12/19/2008 — Hertz, the world's largest general use car rental company, has launched Connect by Hertz car sharing club, the only global car share club offered by an international car rental company, with neighborhood parking in London, New York City and Paris. Dedicated to providing the flexibility of car sharing with a superior customer experience, further cities, as well as universities, for Connect by Hertz are planned for 2009 and beyond, and members will benefit from reciprocal membership at any Connect by Hertz city in the world in early 2009.

Connect by Hertz (www.connectbyhertz.com) offers consumers an economical, convenient and socially conscious alternative to car ownership. Upon enrolling, the self-service, pay-as-you-go system provides members with 24/7 access to a centrally located fleet of environmentally friendly vehicles strategically distributed over a neighborhood or city, transferring the fixed costs of car ownership to per-trip costs. Membership in Connect by Hertz includes insurance, fuel, roadside assistance, maintenance and cleaning. Connect by Hertz members enjoy a paperless program where they can reserve, drive and return vehicles all on their own, via the internet or phone.

Connect by Hertz car sharing allows urban dwellers to escape the city. Pictured is one of Connect by Hertz's feature cars, the Toyota Prius at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

"Hertz's vision is to offer total mobility solutions and car sharing is a logical step for the Company. In line with Hertz's long term growth plans, Connect by Hertz supports Hertz's diversified business model by providing best-in-class transportation solutions across the spectrum of customer needs," commented Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Hertz Corporation. "In addition to being environmentally friendly, Connect by Hertz cars can save members thousands of dollars a year in vehicle ownership costs and, by leveraging Hertz's established infrastructure, we're the first major car rental company to be able to offer members the first global car sharing program. With aggressive plans for expansion, Connect by Hertz has all the elements to become a successful and profitable part of Hertz."

Connect by Hertz cars are chosen based on a set of aggressive standards established in the categories of manufacturing/maintenance quality, environmental sustainability, safety and a blend of fun and functionality. Environmentally friendly, each car sharing vehicle eliminates up to 14 traditional passenger cars from the road*. The showcase car of the Connect by Hertz fleet in the US is the Toyota Prius. Known for its high fuel-efficiency and low greenhouse gas emissions, the reduced environmental impact of the Prius versus ordinary vehicles is most dramatic in stop-and-go city driving where the hybrid often operates on its electric motor. Additionally, all Connect by Hertz cars in the US are EPA SmartWay certified, indicating high quality environmental performance. The fuel emissions of the London and Paris cars are significantly less than the voluntary target of a maximum 140 g/km CO2 output set by the EU for the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

"We're living in an increasingly mobile society with today's consumers demonstrating an intense willingness to look at alternate modes of transportation, whether it be for economical or environmental reasons," continued Frissora. "An easy-to-use, paperless program that harnesses the latest in technology, Connect by Hertz unites people to places while meeting the ever changing transportation needs of society."

Connect by Hertz adapts the latest in end-to-end telematics to further provide superior customer service. Members enroll online where, beginning in January, they will be able to retrieve their invoice and access their driving history. Upon making a reservation, each member receives an email confirmation as well as a text message indicating the reserved car's license plate and location. To unlock and engage the vehicle, members simply need to swipe their membership card, the Connect card, over the car's radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader.

In car, a hands-free audio kit connects members to a Member Care Center representative should they have questions, need assistance or need to extend their rental. The in-car technology also enables Connect by Hertz to 'communicate' with the vehicle enabling representatives to unlock, engage and locate vehicles. The technologically savvy cars are also equipped with iPod connectivity and, in the US, NeverLost® in-car navigation systems and EZ Pass transponders.

Upon enrolling in Connect by Hertz, members receive a smart chip enabled Connect card, which gives them keyless entry to any car in the fleet that the member reserves. Connect by Hertz members pay an hourly charge, must be 18 years or older, 19 in France, must be licensed with a good driving record for at least one year prior to joining. For more information, visit www.connectbyhertz.com or call Member Care Services at 877-654-4400.

[Source: Connect by Hertz]

Israel kills scores in Gaza air strikes

Palestinians help a wounded man after Israeli air force attacked Gaza City
Reuters – Palestinians help a wounded man after Israeli air force attacked Gaza City December 27, 2008. (Suhaib …

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli warplanes pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 229 people in one of the bloodiest days for the Palestinians in 60 years of conflict with the Jewish state.

Hamas vowed revenge including suicide bomb attacks in the "cafes and streets" of Israel, as Israeli air strikes continued late into the night. Israel said the offensive would continue as long as necessary and that it may also involve land forces.

Israel said the strikes were in response to almost daily "intolerable" rocket and mortar fire by Gaza militants, which intensified after Hamas ended a six-month ceasefire a week ago.

The rockets caused few injuries, but Israeli leaders were under pressure to stop these attacks ahead of a February 10 election which opinion polls show the right-wing opposition Likud party may win. On Saturday, one Israeli man was killed by a rocket fired after the Israeli strikes began.

"There is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and now the time has come to fight," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a televised statement. He later ruled out any new truce with Hamas.

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned that "it may take time, and each and every one of us must be patient so we can complete the mission."

Israel Radio said Israeli infantry and armored forces had been reinforced along the border with Gaza after the attacks.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said "Palestine has never seen an uglier massacre" and in Damascus, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called for a new Palestinian peoples' uprising against Israel.

"We will not leave our land, we will not raise white flags and we will not kneel except before God," Haniyeh said.

Black smoke billowed over Gaza City, where the dead and wounded lay on the ground after Israel bombed more than 40 security compounds, including two where Hamas was hosting graduation ceremonies for new recruits.

MORE THAN 700 WOUNDED

At the main Gaza City graduation ceremony, uniformed bodies lay in a pile and the wounded writhed in pain. Some rescue workers beat their heads and shouted "God is greatest." One badly wounded man quietly recited verses from the Koran.

More than 700 Palestinians were wounded in all, medics said.

Israel said the operation, dubbed "Solid Lead," targeted "terrorist infrastructure" following days of rocket attacks on southern Israel that caused damage but few injuries. Israeli army officials said Hamas leaders could be targeted.

A series of air strikes were launched after darkness fell. Israel telephoned some Palestinians to warn them their homes were targeted and they should leave to avoid being killed. In at least one instance a home was bombed after the occupants left.

Two Palestinians were killed when a mosque was bombed in Gaza City, Hamas officials and medics said.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a leading candidate to become Israel's next prime minister, called for international support against "an extremist Islamist organization ... that is being supported by Iran," Israel's arch-foe.

Israel instructed hundreds of thousands of Israelis living up to 30 km (19 miles) from the Gaza border to remain in "safe areas" indoors in case of retaliatory rocket fire.

Backing Israel, the administration of President George W. Bush, in its final weeks in office, put the onus on Hamas to prevent a further escalation.

"The United States ... holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement. "The ceasefire should be restored immediately."

The United Nations and the European Union, in contrast, simply called for an immediate halt to all violence.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli air campaign was "criminal" and urged world powers to intervene.

Egypt said it would keep trying to restore the truce.

UPRISING CALL

Saturday's death toll was the highest for a single day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1948, when the Jewish state was established.

"I call upon you to carry out a third intifada (uprising)," Hamas leader Meshaal said on Al-Jazeera television. The first Palestinian intifada began in 1987 and the second in 2000 after peace talks failed.

Hamas estimated that at least 100 members of its security forces had been killed, including police chief Tawfiq Jabber and the head of Hamas's security and protection unit, along with at least 15 women and some children.

The Islamist group, which won a 2006 parliamentary election but was shunned by Western powers over its refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel, said all of its security compounds in the Gaza Strip were destroyed or seriously damaged.

Aid groups said they feared the Israeli operation could fuel a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished coastal enclave, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, half of them dependent on food aid.

Gaza hospitals said they were running out of medical supplies because of the Israeli-led blockade. Israel said it would let 10 trucks into Gaza with vital medical supplies and flour on Sunday, a Palestinian official said.

Israeli analyst Ron Ben-Yishai said the strike was "shock treatment ... aimed at securing a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on terms that are favorable to Israel."

(Additional reporting by Dan Williams, Allyn Fisher-Ilan, Douglas Hamilton and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Ari Rabinovitch in Tel Aviv and Wafa Amr in Ramallah, Peter Millership in London, Tabassum Zakaria in Washington; Writing by Adam Entous; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

Man Shot For Talking During Benjamin Button Movie Screening

It has happened to all of us. You’re watching a movie at your local multiplex when a couple of people near you start talking, texting, or even begin yelling at the screen. We read quite a few movie-going horror stories in our Question of the Week. You know that feeling — The feeling that something must be done. The feeling that the offender must be stopped. You might have even have had a split-second flash of the offending persons being shut up by brute force. But for most people, or at least any reasonable person, it ends there. You might make a loud “shhhhhhh!” sound, a polite way of saying “Shut the fuck up” without having to reveal your face in the dark movie theater. Heck, I usually don’t even do that.

Well, 29-year-old James Joseph Cialella Jr went to see David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at the UA Riverview Stadium 17 movie theater in South Philadelphia on Christmas. Seems like the Riverview isn’t the best theater to see a movie in, read some of the hilarious reviews of the “ghetto theater” on Google or Yelp. A family seated in front of Cialella began to talk during the film, so he told them to be quiet. But that didn’t stop the younger son from making comments. He even threw popcorn angrily at the talkative son, but the talk did not stop. Cialella became so enraged that he pulled out a Kel-Tec .380-caliber handgun and shot the father in the left arm.

Then what? Did Cialella run for it? Nope. He sat back down in his seat and watched the movie as others ran from theater. The police were called and arrived shortly after, less than an hour into the film screening. It is too bad that the shooter didn’t at least get to finish the movie before being hauled off to jail. The police confiscated the weapon and arrested the shooter.

James Joseph Cialella Jr is being charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and weapons violations. The unnamed victim was treated at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and is said to be okay.

additional sources: Philly.com, Fox News

Top Technology Breakthroughs of 2008

By Priya Ganapati Email

The economy may be tanking, but innovation is alive and well.

When it came to products, incremental improvements were the name of the game this year. Phones got faster (iPhone 3G anyone?), notebooks turned into netbooks and pocket cameras went from recording standard-definition video to HD.

But the world's corporate and academic R&D labs were busy laying the foundations of some amazing future technologies in 2008. They produced concepts such as silicon chips you can swallow for personalized medicine from the inside out and a fourth fundamental element in electronic circuitry. And engineers cranked out a few less groundbreaking — but no less important — inventions, like a space-age swimsuit to help Michael Phelps slice through the water faster than a river otter on a jet ski.

Here's our countdown of what rocked our world in 2008 — and what will change yours in 2009 and beyond.

10. Flexible Displays


Flexible displays are likely to be a reality by 2010 or 2011.
Courtesy Phillip Spears

A sliver of the future can soon be tucked into your back pocket. For years, researchers have worked on thin, paperlike displays that can be folded, rolled or sewn into the sleeve of your hoodie. Flexible displays could change the way we interact with the info-universe, creating new kinds of cellphones, portable computers, e-newspapers and electronic books.

This year, the research moved from the realm of science fiction to plausible reality. With help from the U.S. Army, Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center has created a prototype for soldiers, and hopes to have the devices in field trials in the next three years. Startups like Plastic Logic and E-Ink have been developing similar technologies.

Meanwhile, Hewlett Packard announced a manufacturing breakthrough that allows the thin-film transistor arrays to be fabricated on flexible plastic materials, enabling manufacturers to "print" displays on big, newsprintlike rolls. Samsung showed off a mobile phone prototype with a flexible display that folds like a book.

Outlook: A Minority Report-style digital newspaper that you can roll up in your pocket isn't happening before 2010 at the earliest. But to quote science fiction novelist William Gibson: "The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet."

9. Edible Chips


Grandma's pillbox with the days of the week neatly marked is set to go high tech. Tiny edible chips will replace the organizer, tracking when patients take their pills (or don't) and monitoring the effects of the drugs they're taking. Proteus, a Redwood City, California, company, has created tiny chips out of silicon grains that, once swallowed, activate in the stomach. The chips send a signal to an external patch that monitors vital parameters such as heart rate, temperature, state of wakefulness or body angle.

The data is then sent to an online repository or a cellphone for the physician and the patient to track. Proteus says its chips can keep score of how patients are responding to the medication. That may be just the beginning, as the chips could improve drug delivery and even insert other kinds of health monitors inside the body. Now doctors may have a better answer to a common patient complaint — they will know exactly how it feels.

Outlook: If proven in clinical trials, edible chips could let physicians look into a patient's system in a way that could change how medicine is prescribed and how we take the drugs.

8. Speedo LZR


Michael Phelps. 2008 Olympics. Enough said. Phelps and others were able to log faster times because of Speedo's LZR swimsuit. It blends new materials and a dose of NASA rocket science to boost the speeds of elite swimmers — legally.

Viscous drag on a swimmer can be as much as 25 percent of the total retarding force. But Speedo's suit, with its ultrasonically bonded seams instead of stitches, low-drag panels and a mix of polyurethane layers, can cut resistance and help swimmers move through the water faster. It also has a rigid, girdle-style structure that helps position the swimmer's body in an optimal position. Did it have anything to do with Michael Phelps' amazing eight Olympic gold medals? Probably not, as nearly every swimmer at the Games was wearing a Speedo suit.

Outlook: We're hoping at least some of the technologies in the LZR will trickle down to the consumer level so we can slice through the water at the Y.

7. Flash Memory


When Apple blessed the iPod with flash memory, it gave new life to a technology that had long played second fiddle to hard disk drives. Now flash memory is a mainstay of most consumer electronics products, from ultralight notebooks to digital cameras and media players.

Next, the who's who of the tech industry — EMC, Sun Microsystems, Intel and Hitachi — are championing flash drives for larger business users.

The advantage? Solid-state flash drives offer faster response times than hard disk drives and they require much less power. The hitch is that they are almost eight times more expensive than hard disk drives. But with the star power behind flash storage, the prices have nowhere to go but down.

Outlook: More data centers are likely to move to flash storage in 2009, which is likely to drive prices down further. If this trend takes off, say goodbye to the hard disk drives in your house. It will be time to flash your drive.

6. GPS


The Global Positioning System is old, old, older than you think. The system has been operational since 1978 and available for commercial use since 1993, but for years its use was relegated to expensive personal navigation devices and the dashboards of high-end cars.

This year, suddenly GPS popped up everywhere else, from the iPhone 3G and the T-Mobile G1 to notebooks such as Fujitsu's LifeBook series.

And devices that couldn't or didn't include true GPS made do with cell-tower triangulation or geolocation based on Wi-Fi hotspots. Now getting lost is no longer an option.

Outlook: With widespread GPS capabilities throughout the gadget world, services that make use of geographic data, like Loopt and Yahoo's Firebird, will be able to build critical mass.

5. The Memristor


It's not often that a fundamental tech breakthrough has the potential to change how we compute. Nearly 37 years after it was first described in a series of mathematical equations, researchers at HP Labs proved that the fourth fundamental element of electronic circuitry is for real. The "memristor," or memory transistor, now joins the three other widely known elements: the capacitor, the resistor and the inductor.

The discovery will make it possible to develop computer systems that remember what's stored in memory when they are turned off. That means computers that don't need to be booted up and systems that are far more energy efficient than the current crop. Researchers also hope the memristor can help develop a new kind of computer memory that can supplement or ultimately replace dynamic random access memory, or DRAM — the type of memory used in personal computers.

Outlook: Memristors are still primarily confined to the lab, so don't expect commercial products based on this kind of circuitry for at least five years.

4. Video-Capable SLRs


Video-capable SLRs will meld high-def moving and still images.
Courtesy of Nikon

For years, high-end single-lens reflex cameras have been unable to do what even $100 pocket cams can do: Shoot video. That's because of the type of imaging chip used by SLRs.

This year, the camera industry overcame that limitation. Two new cameras, the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5D Mark II capture top-notch still images, but let the photographer to shoot high-definition video. No longer do SLR users have to stand by, while friends mock them for their expensive camera's inability to shoot video.

Outlook: Shooting high-def videos with an SLR is cheap compared to using professional video equipment — and it gives photographers access to a wide range of lenses. In 2009, we predict this will lead to an explosion in arty, high-def videos shot by professional still photographers.

3. USB 3.0


Fasten your seatbelts. The data-transfer freeway is set to turn into an autobahn. The Universal Serial Bus, or USB, a popular standard for transferring files to your PC or charging your iPhone, got its first major update in eight years. USB 3.0 will be 10 times faster than the current USB 2.0 standard, and will increase the amount of electrical current that can be delivered through a USB cable.

Users need the increased speed — 4.8 gigabits per second, to be precise. Digital cameras and pocket-size HD video recorders generate a torrent of bits, all of which need to be transferred quickly to computers, so they can be uploaded to YouTube, adding to the internet video that only a handful of people will ever watch.

And as consumers carry around more devices, charging them off a PC using a USB cable will be much easier than carrying multiple chargers. With the USB 3.0 specifications nailed down this year, the standard will bump up the power output to 900 milliamps from 100 milliamps, allowing more devices to be charged faster.

Outlook: We expect the earliest USB 3.0 products in mid-2009.

2. Android


Handset makers from Motorola to Sony Ericsson are rushing to add Android to their lineup.
Jon Snyder/Wired.com

There were many reasons to dislike the T-Mobile HTC G1 phone: its color, poor battery life and a touchscreen that isn't super-responsive. And the numbers reflect that. Only about 1.5 million units of the G1 have been sold since its October 2008 launch. Compare that to the 3 million iPhones that sold when it debuted.

But the G1 scores with its operating system. It runs Android, the free mobile operating system from Google. It's the first mobile OS to make its debut in years and the G1 is just the first of what will be many phones that use it. With its open source base, growing developer community and dozens of cellphone manufacturers pledging to make Android phones, Android has the potential to reshape the wireless industry in significant ways.

Outlook: At least half a dozen manufacturers are likely to release Android phones in 2009, increasing the pressure on other smartphone operating systems. The iPhone is likely to remain the top-selling smartphone through the end of the year, however.

1. Apple's App Store


Until this year, mobile app developers lacked an easy way to get their software into the hands of consumers, forcing them to make deals with finicky and power-hungry carriers if they wanted to get any distribution at all. Apple's App Store changed all that. It made creating and distributing mobile applications for cellphone users easy — jumpstarting the mobile-app development market and creating clones such as the Android Market. It even forced Research in Motion to offer a BlackBerry Application Storefront. For thousands of programmers, the cellphone is the new PC.

Outlook: App stores have changed forever the way we use our phones, turning them into personalized devices filled with utilities, handy tools and copies of Tap Tap Revenge.

Jets Fire Coach Eric Mangini

Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum just announced that coach Eric Mangini will not be returning next year. Johnson said:

We met with the coach this morning...We thanked him for all the good things he had done for us, we thanked him for his dedication and his loyalty. But he understood... For the current New York Jets organization, we've made the decision to move on. It's a judgment call. This is not a decision that we reached yesterday or 10 minutes ago. We don't take this decision lightly. We want to build on the successful foundation that he's laid.
They said they would look for a new coach and that they wanted Brett Favre, who is undergoing an MRI today, to return. Also: Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer were fired as well.

Last week, WFAN host and long-suffering Jets fan Joe Benigno had said after the team's loss to the terrible Seattle Seahawks, "In a huge game, I don't know if I've ever seen a worse-coached football game than what Mangini gave you yesterday... The decisions he made yesterday, a Pop Warner coach would know more football and would be a smarter football guy than this absolute buffoon idiot that has no business stepping foot again on the sidelines coaching this team!" Just now, after the press conference, Benigno said, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

Meet the $30,000 Cell Phone

Recession? What recession? These luxury phones certainly aren't designed for tough economic times.

Amber Bouman, Infoworld

Since my last name isn't Hilton, Trump, or Rockefeller, I won't be treating myself to any of these upscale handsets. Yet, these luxury phones will certainly find a home. Let's break down the latest ridiculous offerings:

1) Samsung Ego GT-S9402 - Given the derivative design (Vertu's Ferrari Ascent Ti came first), the Ego should be docked some originality points. What will your $1,500+ get you? A 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, Bluetooth 2.0, a microSDHC expansion slot, tri-band GSM connectivity, dual SIM slots, and an FM radio module. The Ego lacks a 3G radio, which is almost as lame as the measly 1GB storage.

2) Bellperre Silver and Gold collection - Bellperre lets you choose from 100 exotic leathers such as crocodile, shark, lizard, and buffalo (um, does PETA know about this?) to customize this phone. In addition to precious gemstones affixed to the handset, you also get tri-band support, a 2-inch TFT display of sapphire crystal, Bluetooth (stereo), an MP3 player, Windows Mobile OS, IM, e-mail, and a camera with camcorder. I couldn't find any information on pricing, but believe me when I say I'd rather use a payphone than pull a pink crocodile rose gold handset out of my purse.

3) Mobiado Professional 105GMT Gold - I'm wondering what about this phone says "professional." This unfortunate handset looks like it belongs in a blinged-out music video, not a boardroom. Its CNC-machined frame is crafted from sapphire crystal and ebony wood and dipped in 24-carat gold, with two mechanical, self-winding Swiss watches below the keypad for God-only-knows why. And the specs? You get a 2-inch 320-by-240 res display, a 2-megapixel camera, a quad-band GSM radio, Bluetooth, a Discovery watch mechanism, optional diamonds, and again, 1GB of built-in memory. That hardly justifies whatever the made-to-order price is. And oh yeah, only 50 of them will be made.

4) Vertu Boucheron 150 - Yeah, I could have picked on the Ferrari Ascent Ti, but this phone desperately wants attention, and I'm going to oblige. This handset is so ugly, I cringed. The price includes the hideous wood packing box that this clunky, awkward handset arrives in. This "solid gold" catastrophe is meant to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Boucheron jewelry house, took a total of 2,200 man hours to create, and costs more than your kid's teacher probably made last year ($30,000).

5) Gresso's Avantgarde Skeleton - This collection is rather limited: Only fifteen of these will be made, and that's probably a wise choice. Again, you get crystal sapphire glass (for the transparent back panel and for the 240 x 320 display), Bluetooth 1.2, a titanium alloy case, a battery case of stainless steel, and a leather cover with magnet release. The back of this phone has the Gresso logo covered with 10 micron gold, and it runs Windows Mobile 6.0. And the price? Steep like Mount Everest: $5,000.

When computers read our minds: Is the singularity at hand?

fora.tv — Watch a live demo of a device that uses a person's subconscious thoughts to input computer commands. It's 20 minutes of pure awesome. Start at 14:00 on the video if you want to skip to the actual demonstration.



Welker fined $10,000 for 'snow angel' celebration

NEW YORK (AP) -- NFL receiving leader Wes Welker has been fined $10,000 for making a "snow angel" after scoring a touchdown for the New England Patriots last Sunday.

Welker, who leads the league with 109 receptions, fell to the ground on his back just behind the end zone and brushed both arms and legs back and forth in the snow after catching an 11-yard pass from Matt Cassel in the second quarter. That gave New England a 28-0 lead in its 47-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals.


The NFL imposed the penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, specifically for participating in an illegal demonstration by going to the ground after his touchdown, league spokesman Corry Rush said.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Ever buy an airline ticket and the price later fell? Get a refund

FARE DEALS WHEN TICKET PRICES DROP
Airlines' policies for refund requests when consumers buy non-refundable tickets and the fares drop before departure. Most refund the difference by issuing a travel voucher for a future flight, minus the airline's ticket change fee.
Airline Refund policy
AirTran No refund
Alaska Voucher with no change fee
American Voucher minus change fee
Continental Voucher minus change fee
Delta Voucher minus change fee
Frontier No refund
Hawaiian Voucher minus change fee
JetBlue Voucher with no change fee
Midwest Voucher with no change fee if consumer requests refund within 7 days of buying ticket; otherwise, a change fee applies
Northwest Voucher minus change fee
Southwest Cash refund with no change fee
Spirit No refund
United Voucher with no change fee
US Airways Voucher minus change fee
Virgin America No refund
Source: Airlines listed
As droves of holiday shoppers head to stores for refunds, many fliers are unaware they can get one when their non-refundable airline ticket drops in price.

Most airlines provide a refund if it is requested before a flier's scheduled flight. Depending on an airline's policy, the request can be made on the phone or at the carrier's website.

Only Southwest Airlines (LUV) allows fliers to rebook their flight at a lower fare and refunds the difference on a credit card.

Most other airlines make up the difference with a voucher for a future flight. A change fee — ranging from $75 to $150 for a domestic flight — may apply.

Southwest's refund policy is the most consumer friendly, a USA TODAY survey of airline policies shows. Besides giving fliers money back, the airline has no change fee.

United, (UAL) JetBlue (JBLU) and Alaska (ALK) also do not charge a change fee but reimburse with a voucher that can be used up to one year from the issue date. Continental, (CAL) Delta, (DAL) US Airways (LCC) and Northwest issue vouchers but charge a change fee.

Frequent flier Rich Szulewski, of Memphis, says the refund policy benefited him and his family last year, when, "on a whim," he checked the price of a Memphis-Orlando ticket on Northwest a week before departure. The price had dropped $175 below what he had paid for each of three non-refundable tickets.

Szulewski exchanged the tickets, minus a $50 change fee for each, on the reservations page of Northwest's website. He received three $125 vouchers, which he used for a later trip.

Southwest passengers can receive a refund at the airline's website or by calling the airline. The refund is processed immediately but can take up to two weeks to appear in a flier's credit card account, says Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz.

United, JetBlue and Alaska passengers must call the airline for a refund.

American Airlines (AMR) passengers booked on domestic flights can get a travel voucher for the fare difference, minus a $150 change fee, on the airline's website.

"Some people find this daunting, though," says American spokesman Tim Wagner, "and they choose to call our reservations to make changes."

AirTran, (AAI) Virgin America, Spirit and Frontier (FRNTQ) do not provide a refund or a travel voucher for the difference in price when a passenger buys a non-refundable ticket and it later drops in price.

Within 24 hours after buying a ticket, a Virgin America ticket holder can, however, cancel the ticket and rebook at a lower fare without a change fee.

Alaska has a price guarantee for fliers who buy a ticket on its website and notice — within 24 hours — on any website a fare for the same flight that's at least $5 cheaper. They can call the airline and get the difference refunded on a credit card and a $50 voucher for a future flight.

No federal regulation requires airlines to provide a refund within 24 hours of buying a ticket or when a fare drops, says Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Mosley.

Szulewski says he's undecided whether airlines should be required to make refunds if a fare drops before departure. "As a consumer, I believe the airlines should refund the difference," he says. "But the capitalist in me says they shouldn't. What a consumer pays should be what they pay."

5 Classic Clips from the Movie Swingers

Published by Nattyb at 10:41 am under Movies

Swingers

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since Swingers came out in the theaters. And since that time the cast has done pretty well for itself, namely Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. Vaughn, as all of you know has become a comedic “icon” if you will. He’s clearly earned the title “Mr. Sarcastic Funny Guy” which you can originally see in Swingers.

Favreau has gone the directing route with his latest success being Ironman. But let’s not forget some other notables. Ron Livingston, Heather Graham, and Brooke Langton were all in this flick.

Though I don’t know whatever happened to Sue (Patrick Van Horn) or Charles (Alex Desert). But to honor this classic, here are 5 clips you’ll be sure to remember.

Ron Livingston’s Speech - We are Here!

Great scene here. If you’re in your late 20’s you can almost imagine being back in the real world when it first started. Man those were good times.

You’re so Money

I’m convinced the terms “Money” and “The Bomb” originated from this movie. You’re like a big bear!

I don’t know what to do here

The old woman is Favreau’s mom. But watch the Biker guy. It’s amazing. And then Mikey’s clap after. Love it.

Is he Brown?

Vintage Vaughn here.

The Painstaking Mikey Phone Call to Nikki

I think everyone in the theather was completely squirming when watching this scene. It was brutal. Hilarious, but brutal.

5 Famous Christmas Songs Written by Jewish Songwriters

David K. Israel

by David K. Israel - December 24, 2008 - 12:19 AM
bloghead_onmusic1.gif

[and while we’re stuck on number 5, here’s an oldie-but-goodie from last Christmas…]

1. “White Christmas” - While there are more than five Christmas carols written by Jewish songwriters, I thought I’d just cover my favorites, starting with not only the most famous Christmas song written in modern times, but according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the best-selling single of all-time.

irving_berlin.jpgWritten by: Irving Berlin in 1940

Actually written by: Israel Isidore Baline (Irving’s real name)

Written while: seated poolside at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona (talk about your White Christmas)

Made famous by: Bing Crosby in the movie Holiday Inn
Cool Irving Berlin fact: Refusing to make money off his deep-seated patriotism, Berlin donated all the royalties from “God Bless America” (just another little ditty he penned) to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls

jmarks.gif2. “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Written by: Johnny Marks in 1949

Based on: a poem/story penned by Marks’ brother-in-law, who invented Rudolph

Made famous by: Gene Autry, whose recording sold over 2 million copies in the first year alone

Famous Rudolph mondegreen: “Olive, the other reindeer” (see our post on mondegreens if you don’t know what they are)

Cool Johnny Marks fact: He is the great-uncle of economist Steven Levitt, co-author of one of my favorite books of all time, Freakonomics

styne_j_pic2.jpg3. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

Written by: composer Jule Styne in 1945 with lyrics by Sammy Cahn

Actually written by: Julius Kerwin Stein and Samuel Cohen (real names)

Made Famous by: Vaughn Monroe, hitting #1 on Billboard in ’46

Curious “Let it Snow” fact: the lyric never once mentions Christmas

Cool Jule Styne fact: he also wrote the music for the musicals Gypsy and Funny Girl

livingston_evans2.jpg4. “Silver Bells”

Written by: Jay Livingston and Ray Evans in 1951

Actually written by: Jacob Harold Levison and Raymond Bernard Evans (real names)

Introduced by: Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the movie The Lemon Drop Kid

Made Famous by: Bing Crosby and Carol Richards

Cool “Silver Bells” fact: the song was inspired by the silver bells of the Salvation Army bell ringers, thus making it one of the few Christmas carols about the city, as opposed to the usual rural countryside setting

ahague1.gif5. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

Written by: Albert Hague in 1966 (with words/lyrics by Dr. Seuss, of course)

Actually written by: Albert Marcuse, who was born in Berlin, but his family raised him Lutheran with the last name Hague in order to avoid the raging anti-Semitism in the 1920/30s (He got out of Europe just in time, landing in America in 1939)

Made Famous by: Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft, who made a name for himself singing and doing voice-overs for Disney

Curious Albert Hague fact:
He was also an actor! You can see him in both the movie and TV series,Fame, playing the role of Shorofsky

1 Guy, several beard styles

The Quest For Every Beard Type

I’ve been growing a beard every winter for some years now, and every spring, I try to see how many facial hair variations as I can check off from the chart of facial hair types. Listed below are descriptions of the 35 facial hair types from the chart, including examples of the 24 25 variations that I’ve been able to attain so far.

Enjoy!

A La Souvarov

A sideburn / mustache combo where the sideburn curves downward toward the corner of the mouth and then curves upward into the mustache. Similar to a curvy version of the Franz Josef.

Status: Complete (2008)
A La Souvarov (circa 2008)

The Anchor

A beard without sideburns that extends along jawline and is styled into a point. It is combined with a pencil style mustache to resemble an anchor.

Status: Complete (2007)
The Anchor (circa 2007)

Balbo

A wide version of the goatee accompanied by an unconnected mustache.

Status: Complete (2007)
Balboa (circa 2007)

Chin Curtain

A beard that grows down from the sideburns and on the underside of the jawline.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

Chin Puff

A narrow version of the goatee that only covers the round part of the chin.

Status: Complete (2007)
Chin Puff (circa 2007)

Copstash Standard

A typical mustache as worn by police and military personnel. The mustache does not extend downward past the upper lip.

Status: Complete (2003)
Copstash Standard (circa 2003)

Dali

A mustache that curls nearly straight upward as worn by the artist Salvador Dali.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

Ducktail

A fuller beard that extends into a point.

Status: Complete (2008)
Ducktail (circa 2008)

El Insecto

Two small pieces of hair worn under the chin to resemble and insect’s mandibles.

Status: Complete (2004)
El Insecto (circa 2004)

Federation Standard

Sideburns that are cut from the top of the ear at a 45 degree angle towards the front to form a point. The style was worn in the original Star Trek series.

Status: Complete (2004)
Federation Standard (circa 2004)

Franz Josef

Similar to the Friendly chops, this is a mustache/sideburn combo. The sideburns come down and then angle up sharply toward the mustache.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

French Fork

A full beard that extends off the chin and is split down the middle into two segments.

Status: Complete (2008)
French Fork (circa 2008)

Friendly Mutton Chops

Sideburns that extend to the edge of the mouth and are connected to a mustache.

Status: Complete (2003)
Friendly Mutton Chops (circa 2003)

Fu Manchu

A mustache that extends downward on the sides, usually extending off of the chin.

Status: Complete (2003)
Fu Manchu (circa 2003)
Fu Manchu shown with sideburns and soul patch

Goatee

A beard worn on the chin like a billy goat. A proper goatee is not connected to a mustache.

Status: Complete (2004)
Goatee (circa 2004)
Goatee shown with sideburns

Handlebar

A mustache where the sides are twisted or curl upward or outward on the ends.

Status: Complete (2007)
Handlebar (circa 2007)
Handlebar shown with Hollywoodian style beard

Handlebar and Chin Puff

A mustache with pointy ends worn with a strip of hair down the center of the chin.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

Handlebar and Goatee

A handlebar mustache worn with a goatee. Neither are connected.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

Hollywoodian

A mustache connected to a beard in which the sideburns are removed.

Status: Complete (2007)
Hollywoodian (circa 2007)

Hulihee

Friendly chops that long and wavy.

Status: Complete (2008)
Hulihee (circa 2008)

The Klingon

A full beard where the upper lip is shaved clean, but the connectors from the beard to the mustache are left in tact. Popularized by Klingon characters from the Star Trek series.

Status: Complete (2004)
The Klingon (circa 2004)

Mutton Chops

Sideburns that extend all the way down to an imaginary lines drawn downward from the corners of the mouth.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

Napoleon III Imperial

This is identical to the Handlebar and Chin Puff, except that the chin puff extends much further off of the chin.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

Old Dutch

A Full beard without mustache as popularized by the Amish.

Status: Complete (2004)
Old Dutch (circa 2004)

The Pencil

A very thin mustache along the upper lip.

Status: Complete (2003)
The Pencil (circa 2003)

Petit Goatee

A small version of the goatee that is limited to the central part of the chin.

Status: Complete (2004)
Petit Goatee (circa 2004)

Rap Industry Standard

A very, very thin line of hair that extends from the sideburns and along the jawline and into a pencil mustache.

Status: Complete (2008)
The Rap Industry Standard (circa 2008)

Short Boxed Beard

A full beard of typical variety.

Status: Complete (2003)
Short Boxed Beard (circa 2007)

Soul Patch

A small patch of hair between the lower lip and chin. Popularized by beatniks of the 1960’s.

Status: Complete (2000 and 2008)
Soul Patch (2008)

Sparrow

A mustache that extends downward from the corners of the mouth combined with, but not connected to, a goatee that is separated into two braided strands. Popularized by the character, Jack Sparrow, in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

Super Mario

A mustache that grows from… Come on, man. You have too many bits. You can’t really grow this.

Status: Impossible

Toothbrush

A mustache with hair only in the center of the lip that generally extends no further than the width of the nose. Made famous by Charlie Chaplin and thrown out of favor by Adolf Hitler.

Status: Complete (2008)

Go ahead and mouse over the image.

Van Dyke

A goatee that is connected to a mustache.

Status: Complete (1998)
Van Dyke (circa 1998)

The Winnfield

Wide sideburns that extend below the ear combined, but not connected to, a mustache that extends downward from the corners of the mouth to the jaw line. Popularized by the character Jules Winnfield in the movie, Pulp Fiction.

Status: Not Achieved… Yet.

The Zappa

A full mustache that extends slightly downward past the corners of the mouth, combined with a soul patch. Popularized by musician, Frank Zappa.

Status: Complete (2003)
The Zappa (circa 2003)

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