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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Time Warp - Drums


Mike Mangini (born April 18, 1963 in Newton, Massachusetts) is a drummer who is best known for his work as a session artist who has played for Extreme and Steve Vai. He is a teacher at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and held the record for 3 out of 4 World's Fastest Drum player records.

Nine Inch Nails New Album 'Strobe Light' Produced by Timbaland

by Jarrett Martineau | April 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

Leave it Trent Reznor to push his evolving musical aesthetic in ever-more daring and innovative directions.

Reznor announced the release of a brand new Nine Inch Nails album, Strobe Light, on Wednesday — unexpectedly, produced by mega-pop hit maker Timbaland.

The album is a download-only exclusive on the NIN website featuring a strikingly beautiful portrait of Reznor clad in this season's most stylish sunglasses as its cover art.

For this special release, which Reznor is offering at the low, low price of only $18.98 for a digital download — plus a well-worth-it $10 "convenience fee" — NIN enlisted a who's who of experimental and underground artistic collaborators including: Bono, Fergie, Sheryl Crow, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z to join the proceedings, in addition to contributions from noted musical new-comers like Al Jourgensen and Maynard James Keenan.

With Timbaland on board, and with tracks such as the triumphant "clap trap crack slap" and the soaring harmonies of "laid, paid and played" this could well be Reznor's Kid A — a singularly revolutionary and eerily melancholic vision of the future of contemporary music, filtered through the mind's eye of two modern day Mozarts.

Here's the full Strobe Light tracklisting:

  1. intro skit
  2. everybody's doing it (featuring chris martin, jay-z AND bono)
  3. black t-shirt
  4. pussygrinder (featuring sheryl crow)
  5. coffin on the dancefloor
  6. this rhythm is infected
  7. slide to the dark side
  8. even closer (featuring justin timberlake and maynard james keenan)
  9. on the list (she's not)
  10. clap trap crack slap
  11. laid, paid and played (featuring fergie of the black eyed peas and al jourgensen)
  12. feel like being dead again
  13. still hurts (featuring alicia keys)
  14. outro skit
Tour dates to follow? We can only hope so.

It's official: 'Friday Night Lights' renewed for two more seasons

by Michael Ausiello

Fridaynightlights_lTouch-freaking-down!

Sources at NBC are now confirming what I first reported earlier this month: DirecTV and NBC have come to terms on a deal that ensures Friday Night Lights will stick around for not one but two more seasons!

And I repeat: Touch-freaking-down!

Although NBC declined to comment, my Peacock insider says the pact guarantees that FNL will see a fourth and fifth season of 13 episodes each. Similar to this season's shared-window experiment, DirecTV will get first crack at the episodes followed by an encore run on NBC.

Let's get a chant going in the comments section! And while you're at it, pray that the show's creative mastermind, Jason Katims, finds a way to juggle both FNL and that prospective Parenthood series he's producing for NBC. Ditto director Jeffrey Reiner, who's attached to NBC's Trauma pilot. Losing one would be devastating; losing both would be a catastrophe. So how about we lose neither? You with me?

Boston, Other Cities Debate Hybrid Taxis

hybridUli Seit for The New York Times It’s not easy — or cheap — being green, some cab drivers in New York and Boston have complained.

New York is not the only city to encounter stiff debate over how to deploy hybrid taxis.

In Boston, an association of taxi drivers and medallion owners filed a lawsuit last Friday to block a measure requiring that the city’s 1,825 cabs go hybrid by 2015, according to the Boston Globe.

“The owners are essentially saying, ‘Look, we’re not against going green, we’re against going broke,’” said Andrew Herbert, a manager at U.S.A. Taxi Garage, according to The Globe.

The owners complain that the requirement comes at a terrible economic time — particularly given that it requires the purchase of new hybrid vehicles. Taxi companies want the option of buying used hybrids, which are substantially cheaper.

(Hybrids already account for about 10 percent of Boston’s taxi fleet, according to The Globe article.)

In New York, owners filed a similar lawsuit last year following Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to hybridize the fleet by 2012. In October, a federal judge ruled against the mayor, and The Globe reports that Boston drivers are employing arguments similar to those used in the New York case.

Mr. Bloomberg has rebounded with another tack: tax incentives for hybrids (as well as financial penalties for owners of relative gas-guzzlers like Ford Crown Victorias).

Elsewhere, the introduction of hybrids has gone more smoothly.

The Los Angeles Times reports that in San Francisco, where 14 percent of the fleet is made up of hybrids, one hybrid-driving driver crowed that he had the “carbon footprint of an Ethiopian child.”

Denver also has at least one cab company whose fleet is comprised of 10 percent Toyota Priuses, according to the Denver Post.

The World's Greatest Destinations



This is a cool database of interesting places to visit round the world (drop down box, not click-through)

click here to see this very comprehensive database.. | digg story

The Final Meal Requests of Death Row Inmates

Some of these are really weird. Who the hell drinks six cokes in one meal?

read more | digg story

Project Sipster: 0-60 7 sec, 70mpg, $7000

project-sipster-sipster-indeed

Project Sipster: Sipster Indeed

By Dave Coleman|Photography by Jared Holstein & Christopher Gifford
Mar 27 `09|25 Comments

On Feb. 20, TopGear.com declared war on oil, poverty and slow cars, all at the same time. We naively proposed that we could build the car that no car company could manage to build themselves. Specifically, we proposed to marry timeless Italian style with thoroughly adequate performance (0-60 in 7 seconds), shocking fuel economy (70 mpg) and humble frugality (you can duplicate it for $7,000). And we decided to build it in 55 days. In retrospect, both symmetry and our own sanity would have been better served if we gave ourselves 77 days to pull this off, but no matter.

sipster-in-n-out

In a perfect world, we would have started with a 1974 Volkswagen Scirocco. This paragon of low-rent sex appeal could easily swallow the turbodiesel Volkswagen engine we planned to use, and it's far more aerodynamic than the brick we finally settled on. We rejected that plan because we feared the bureaucratic hurdles involved in registering a car that had been converted from gas to diesel. We have since been informed by countless readers who have easily registered diesel-converted cars that we're complete idiots. That would explain a lot of other things as well…

Having settled on a Volkswagen Rabbit, we really should have shopped for one that was cheaper (we paid $1,700, but should have paid closer to $0), that hadn't been crashed and didn't have a fuel tank full of rust and french-fry bits from its former life as a grease-powered hippy car. See idiot comment, above.

Maybe you have to own wrenches to grasp just how ridiculous is the idea of putting a modern (2002) engine in an old (1981) car. Putting a Jetta TDI engine in a Rabbit is an egregious abuse of the word "put." You can put your hat on a rack, and you can put a head of lettuce in your grocery bag, but try putting an elephant in your trunk. Easy to say, far more complicated to do, and odds are good something will go wrong when you try.

sipster-interior-driving

Unconstrained by realism, we drove the car to Canada, where Cam Waugh, owner of CWS Tuning, skillfully coaxed the engine under the hood, along with its turbocharger, computer and hundreds of wires. Surprisingly, things didn't really go wrong at first.

sipster-engine-pull

It ran, in fact, for a full 60 miles before we figured out the old fuel tank and new fuel gauge couldn't agree on what was in the tank. The gauge said half full, but the dead Sipster on the side of the road clearly said empty. As soon as we made it to California, the car died again when our new fuel filter filled again with rusty old french fries. Two weeks later, black smoke started belching out the tailpipe, accompanied by a distinct lack of quickness. Another fuel filter — this time a German one — and a new Diesel injection pump fixed it for a while, until, a few days later, it simply refused to turn over. Finally, we figured out that by reaching under the steering column and giving a certain bunch of wires a proper squeeze, the car would start right up. That worked for about a day; eventually we moved on to jumping the starter with an abandoned piece of speaker wire.

Each of these problems took hours — sometimes days — to figure out, and by the time we nailed our 0-60 in 7 seconds goal (that's faster than some 1980s Corvettes) and were ready to tackle the 70 mpg part, we had less than a week left and a lot fewer brain cells to work with.

There are two sides to improving fuel economy. You make the engine more efficient, so it takes less fuel to make power, and you make the car itself more efficient, so it takes less horsepower to move it in the first place. We've already done everything we can to make our horses more efficient — our new TDI engine is incredibly frugal, with tuning modifications that made it more so — now it's time to tune the car.

Which is what brings us to the El Mirage dry lake, Middle Of Nowhere, Calif. Over the past week we've been semi-blindly improving our Rabbit's aerodynamics, hoping to make the barn-shaped car slip through the air. We've smoothed out the nose with a front bumper from a mid-'90s Golf, slapped on the side skirts and fender flares from a late-'80s Volkswagen Cabriolet, installed smooth, flat wheels from an old Honda CR-X, built covers to completely hide the rear wheels from the air, covered the grille with aerodynamic cardboard (we were getting desperate) and made the entire underside of the car perfectly smooth with an under-tray built from quarter-inch plywood, sheet aluminum and rubber floor mats.

sipster-aero-front

We recruited the help of John McNulty, a friendly local aerodynamicist, to help with the modifications, but even to an aerodynamicist, air is a tricky thing. When we made the smooth underbelly, for example, John could tell us that the bottom of the car is the single biggest opportunity for reduced drag, and that for optimum affect our smooth belly should be between 5 and 6 inches off the ground, and the back should angle upward precisely 5 degrees. What he couldn't tell us was if all that work was worth 1 mpg or 10.

sipster-aero-under

The dry lake will tell us that. Miles of uninterrupted flatness in every direction is the best aerodynamic laboratory this side of a wind tunnel. On a calm day, we should be able to run back and forth across the lakebed measuring fuel economy without worrying about traffic, hills or gusty winds. We can install our new aero bits one-by-one, test them all and know exactly what we need to reach 70 mpg.

Unless, of course, it isn't a calm day. Wind makes it impossible to gather aerodynamic data, and as our frantic week of fabrication dragged on, the storm forecast to hit the desert Saturday afternoon loomed larger and larger with each setback. By the time we had our aero bits finished, it was Friday night, and the storm was set to hit Saturday afternoon.

sipster-desert-fire

Undaunted, we headed to the lakebed at midnight, slept on the ground, and here we are at dawn, ready for science. Crisscrossing the lake to check for any unexpected bumps or hazards, the Sipster's massive torque and nimble handling prove irresistible. Just a squeeze of the right pedal and a flick of the steering wheel and the little blue box is sliding sideways across the desert at 80 mph. Fuel economy be damned, this is living! Those H&R coil-overs we installed a few weeks ago let us put our undertray exactly 5.5 inches off the ground — but really they make our ex-hippy-hauler turn like a race car (and we're pretending fabulous handling makes up for its lack of airbags). And that efficient turbodiesel? Just feel the torque!

sipster-cornering

Uh, feel the torque? As quickly as the fun began, it's over. Squeezing the go pedal isn't making any more go. Rolling to a stop, the engine dies, again, and a strange hissing noise is coming from the engine bay. All ears under the hood and the hissing is tracked to the brake master cylinder. Whaaa?

sipster-desert-night

A phone call to Cam explains everything: The hissing is either a leaky brake booster or a bad seal on the master cylinder, which won't kill the car. Making it just die mid-powerslide? That would be g-forces stirring up the old french fries again.

Stupid hippies.

What's that, wind? Just a breeze at first, but within minutes it's gusting to 25 mph. Our science just blew away, the Sipster is dead and we need this baby running for tomorrow's mileage test. Then the driver-side door blows open and slams into the front fender, bending the hinges so much the door won't close anymore. Is this the part where the car catches fire and we get to go home?

Sadly, no. Abandoning the Sipster on the lakebed, we drive into Adelanto, the nearest town-shaped armpit, to get another cheap Chinese fuel filter and swing by the junkyard in search of a less-broken brake booster. Cam tells us we want one from a 1980-1984 VW Rabbit or Rabbit Pickup. When was the last time you saw a VW Pickup? Well, if you're looking for one, there are FOUR in Ecology Auto Wrecking in Adelanto.

One sleepless night later and the Sipster is purring like a kitten with tuberculosis. The website needs its editor back, and there are three hours from the time the car is fixed until he needs to be on a runway.

Our mileage test, then, becomes pass/fail. We'll fill the tank, drive 70 miles and fill it again. If it takes less than one gallon, we've broken the 70 mpg barrier.

sipster-gas-prices

Starting at our favorite gas station in Seal Beach, Calif. (which sells diesel cheaper than regular unleaded), our plan is to drive down the freeway to Dana Point, Calif. — exactly 35 miles away — turn around and come back. Getting good mileage will mean driving slowly, between 55 and 65 mph, which is tough to do on a Southern California freeway where the average is closer to 80. Trucks here still have to go 55, though, so we can duck in behind one and let them both push the air out of our way and take the blame for screwing with traffic.

About five miles into the drive we remember an important detail about truck drivers. They apparently don't work on Sundays.

It's ironic how squeezing the most out of every last drop of fuel — a selfless bit of environmentalism, if there ever was one — means driving like an erratic, self-important douchebag: Accelerating like a grandma, coasting up hills, etc. Our apologies to anyone within a mile of the Sipster who actually has somewhere to be. This said, we're complete novices at this hypermiling thing, so we're sure an actual hypermiler nerd could have infuriated drivers with better results.

Exactly 70 miles after we started, we clatter back to the same diesel pump, swipe the card and, with held breath, start pumping. The pump shuts off almost immediately. 0.14 gallons! No, that's not right. That would be 500 mpg.

Diesel is like beer; pour it hastily and it's all foamy head, which shuts off the pump. Slowly, then. It's a painful process, but finally the fuel reaches the top. One more drop and it will start dribbling down the fender.

sipster-gas-fillup

This is it. If the number is bigger than 1, all the bloody knuckles, all the sleepless nights, all the stress and favors and promises would be for nothing. We turn around and there it is: 0.833 gallons. Covering 70 miles with that little fuel works out to 84 mpg. We didn't just meet our spectacularly arbitrary goal, we crushed it! Eighty-four mpg is nearly double the highway rating of a Toyota Prius. OK, yes, a Prius would probably do pretty well if you employed the half-assed hypermiling tricks we just tried over the last 70 miles, but it wouldn't touch our number. Besides, the Prius is all Dr. Jekyll; at least the Sipster has its Mr. Hyde side.

Sometime next week we'll explain the financial realities of building a clattery, unreliable, silly-looking, fast, nimble and incredibly fuel-efficient Sipster of your own for only $7,000. And after that? You decide. Aside from replacing the fuel tank, what should the Sipster do next? Should we try to set a land speed record? Do the 12 Hours of Sebring without refueling? Hit the forums at TopGear.com and let us know.

sipster-clouds-finale

Relive every twist, trip up and triumph.
All Project Sipster content can be found here.

Chewbacca recreated on guitar

April Fools' Day On The Web : 2009

Dont get stung - here's a list of the current known online pranks for April Fools Day.

read more | digg story

A man, a vision, and the swimming pool he built in his garage

By: Jonathon Scott Fuqua



Taking the plunge: Installing a swimming pool in a one-car Baltimore City garage took one year of work and some inspired dedication. | photo by Anne Gummerson


A few years ago, I heard about my neighbor’s scheme to put a pool in his garage. At the time, I blew it off: It seemed more rumor than real.

Then Paul, the neighbor, started working. (Leery of unwanted official attention, Paul prefers not to use his last name for this story.)

In the early summer of 2006, in a fit resembling madness, Paul tore off three-quarters off his garage roof, stripping it down to the joists.

Right away, I called a contractor friend named David Foley, the owner of Foley Construction and Residential Services. I invited him over to provide insight and possible instruction. “What could I say?” he says now. “I looked at the job and hoped he considered important things, like load issues, electrical, and even plumbing.”

As the summer grew late, Paul began building a Plexiglas-paneled, A-framed roof on wheels directly atop a series of narrow tracks he’d installed on the crusty bricks of his garage walls. When he was done, he gently rolled it back and forth. Voilá: a retractable roof.

That fall, Paul pointed at the cement floor. “The pool’s going there,” he said. “It’ll help me survive Baltimore. When I hate it, I’ll do laps.”

I asked, “You’re building this to survive Baltimore?”

“It was either going to be a pool or a secret grotto. I’m maximizing my backyard space.”

Paul was a man of moderate means who aspired to own a tiny gilded spot of earth amidst a city of perceived insanity. And he planned to do it by creating for himself and his family a lap pool under blue skies, hidden by a fortress of brick walls and a recently replaced garage door.

The following spring, he took a hammer and a chisel and let loose on the rear wall of his garage, on the area above the back window. If a violent, inexpert demolition job can be described as meticulous, this one was. Two coursings of bricks were turned to rubble as he enlarged the back window all the way to the top of the wall. Because of the hill the structure was built into, the bottom of the windowsill was just above the ground. Therefore, he’d cleverly created a door for himself.



Pool in progress: “I’m maximizing my backyard space,” Paul said of his decision to install the pool inside his garage. His




daughters—Halle, Amelia, Ella, and Dina (left to right)—are big fans. | courtesy of Paul the pool owner



David asked, “How about plumbing and electrical?”

“Got it,” Paul assured us, just before he built a wooden platform inside the garage and below the new doorway. It resembled a pier without water. When the convertible roof was pushed back, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming would have been able to stand up on the deck without ducking.

“Found a pool supplier online,” Paul told David one day. “DIY—Do It Yourself—Pools.”

“Know anything about them?” David asked.

“No. But they got a pool that’ll fit.”

“Great. Hope it’s going to be placed with concrete?”

Paul gave him a quizzical look. “If I poured concrete, I’d ruin the garage.”

Paul apparently considered everything he’d done up to this point reversible.

What concerned David was whether the building’s walls could bear the load. Three thousand gallons of water, the size of Paul’s pool, weighs 25,020 pounds, or seven and three-quarter Honda Accords, pressing down and outwards on elderly concrete and brick with questionable horizontal strength. No matter; Paul remained unfazed. He didn’t calculate the weight.
In the summer of 2007, DIY Pools dispatched a flatbed truck to the end of the alley. Using a hydraulic lift, the delivery guys pushed a huge pallet up the hill to the garage and deposited stacks of thermoplastic panels, a vinyl liner, and boxes of mechanical parts in the garage. There were hardly any directions. Paul’s wife and kids came out to watch.

Through the summer and fall, he bolted 48-inch-high panels (they varied in width) together at the edges. When he’d completed a rectangle, he called an electrician and a plumber. The plumber, somewhat amused, put in a pipe for the gas. The electrician ran wiring. Neither hesitated to warn Paul against what he was doing, which only drove him harder.

Over the winter, Paul put his journey on hold, but, come spring, he attacked it with the passion of an artist manic on creation. One day, he cut a dozen two-by-fours into various lengths and carried them behind the pool’s newly constructed walls to brace them against the garage and floor in seemingly random places. The pool, see, was designed to be built underground, which would bear the pressures created by the vast quantity of water. But Paul was going to leave it above ground, backfilling behind it with a thicket of planks.

David explained to me that two-by-fours used this way would face multiple load problems, such as sheer pressures (breaking) and bending issues, especially with a continually shifting load such as water rocking in a pool. Further, who could tell whether the polystyrene itself could handle so much outward stress?

Despite these concerns, Paul persevered, closing in the gap between the garage and the edge of the pool with more wood decking.

In April, on opening day of baseball season, he, his wife, and two friends put the liner in place. It wasn’t easy. Nothing seemed to fit properly. Finally, he got the liner situated and turned on the hose. It took hours. After half a day with the hose blasting, Paul gingerly climbed into his pool with the kids. A polystyrene panel collapsed outward. He drained the pool and discovered that he’d forgotten to fasten a panel to its neighbor. He got a wrench and bolts and fixed it, then began refilling the pool.

Shortly, water began to trickle into the alley. Paul found the problem at the steps. He said, “It leaked where the hard plastic met the slightly stretchy liner.”

Again, the pool was drained. People say that Paul, an emotional man, appeared totally at peace. “I expected issues,” he told David.

He reattached the vinyl liner, and, a day later, began the task of refilling the pool once more. This time, the pool held.

Almost a year has now passed. The pool hasn’t leaked since, and it has even begun to look natural in Paul’s garage. Let something stay long enough, and the mind adjusts.

At this point, no one can say, not even Paul, if the pool has provided its creator with the personal renewal he sought. Quests, once complete, hardly ever do. But his kids love it. And the garage walls haven’t blown apart yet, despite the bone-crushing weight they bear. Of course, Paul always suspected as much.

—Baltimore writer Jonathon Scott Fuqua is the author of several novels for young adults. This is his first story for Urbanite.

Worst beach ever!!

It is said that these pictures were taken in Goa, India. Because cows are sacred animals, it is difficult to banish them from this beach, which they like for some reason. Tourists, on the other hand, are in the worst position because they cannot swim and sunbathe comfortably and cannot upset the feelings of the locals.

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Click here for the rest of these crazy pcitures

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Workprint Leaked Online

wolverine

[Update: According to Carlyle (AKA Massawyrm) at Spill.com, the version of the film that's leaked online is most likely an older version that hasn't yet integrated the new material from Hood's recent reshoots.]

Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine is currently slated for a May 1, 2009 release date in the U.S., but unfortunately, it looks like a few people might be getting their hands on the film a bit earlier than intended. Reports are pouring in that a full-length, DVD-quality workprint of the film has been leaked onto the internet and is quietly making its way across various bittorrent sites and other unsavory online venues. According to Drew McWeeny at HitFix, who has evidently seen parts of the video file, the copy is “near-finished…marred only by a few unfinished FX shots.” In addition, “there’s no timecode, no watermark…nothing. It’s a clean, perfect copy.”

This is perhaps the biggest leak for a major tentpole release in recent memory. Leaving aside the well-known phenomenon of Oscar screener leaks, workprint leaks have certainly happened in the past. For example, Eli Roth’s Hostel 2 leaked onto the internet several weeks before its release (in that situation, Roth was furious and blamed the leak for the film’s weak box office performance). Other films such as Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Michael Moore’s Sicko also experienced similar issue. However, those films were all relatively small compared to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film which 20th Century Fox was probably betting on to help revive its recent lackluster box office performance.

The film’s production has already been plagued by bad buzz, and with a fairly pristine copy of the film floating around for consumption by the very audience the film is targeted at, it will all probably combine to have a dramatic and negative impact on this film’s opening and overall box office performance.

Man's Best Friends



The world's tallest dog Gibson meeting Boo Boo the world"s smallest dog in Sacramento, California for Guinness World Records Day 2007. Photo: Richard Bradbury/Guinness World Records/PA Wire

Rare Nintendo Test Cartridge on eBay


Auction is already over $1,000 for a completely useless NES cart.

By Bryn Williams | March 30, 2009

Collectors. I'll never understand 'em. TechEBlog pointed out an eBay auction a few days ago concerning an NES Joystick Test Cartridge. With a little over two days still to go on the auction, 14 people have bid on the item, pushing the current bid over $1,000. Obviously, the appeal is that this item was never released to the public or intended to be sold.
This is a Joystick Test Cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System. These carts were given to game stores to test their Nintendo Entertainment Systems and were suppose to be returned to the company that provided the carts. These are very hard to find since they were never sold on the market. Any NES Collector could appreciate the value of such an item. There is wear on the label as can be seen in the picture.
That's a large amount of money for something which is essentially useless, and more to the point, there's more likely a few of them hanging around in the back rooms of WallMarts all over the country.

Can I please refer you to the case of "people with too much money?"

Meet NASA's Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle


Making its first flights to the International Space Station early in the next decade, Orion is part of the Constellation Program to send human explorers back to the moon, and then onward to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

Click here for the picture set | digg story

The Five Best Pranks Ever Filmed and Posted to YouTube

April Fools' Day isn't just about the assclown in your office. Here's video proof that real trickery can be pulled off.

PLUS: Our all-new interview with the greatest prankster of all time

By Daniel Murphy

Devised by the Irish as retaliation against English imperial rule, the first April Fool's Day prank on record occurred in 1770 when an Irish peasant persuaded his entire village to tithe the English in pence, making it impossible for the tax collectors to carry the load.* Since then, April Fool's Day has celebrated society's troublemakers -- the Alan Abels, the Harold T. Stones, and now the thousands of people who have uploaded their own pranks to YouTube for the world to enjoy. Luckily, you don't have to comb through them for inspiration -- we already did.

#5. The Maze Game Prank

It's happened to everyone -- you're in your office, minding your own business, when a co-worker approaches holding a video camera promising you that they've just forwarded you the best game. And now? You have to play it, while they videotape you. The next thing you know you're bleeding from the head. Foolish, indeed.



#4. Best Buy Improv

Remember the last time you were in Best Buy, overpaying for not exactly what you wanted because you were too impatient to buy it online? And then you got home and realized that that sales guy "Chad," who was positive you needed an SD card and not a flash card, sold you the wrong fucking card? And you spent the rest of the night thinking of some way to exact unholy, perfectly legal revenge? These guys did exactly that, dressing up as Best Buy employees, flooding the store, and causing complete chaos.



#3. The Fake Car Accident

Sometimes pranks play on people's innate phobias, such as crashing, burning and dying in a heap of twisted metal. This, combined with the element of surprise, creates the authenticity one looks for in a playful gag. Speaking of authenticity, nothing is more real than urinating one's pants after bachelor party. So much for dry humor.



#2. The Mailbox Gag

Seeing this, you could argue the entire Cold War was a well-executed practical joke that went right over America's head. But what else do you expect in a land where vodka costs less than water? This clip is Benny Hill meets Pulp Fiction. It's Mr. Bean starring in a snuff film. Wait for the ending and you'll see the kind of prank Nietzsche would pull if he wasn't so goddamned self-involved.



#1. The Mutated Rat Man

If the success of the prank is gauged by the reaction of the victim, then this hoax should be canonized in the annals of history. It should have its own Wikipedia page, and the searches "ratman," "perfect joke" and "frailty of the human soul" should all point to it. It should be dubbed in languages far and wide. For generations to come, when children reach the age of reason and ask their parents, "Why are we here?" moms and dads everywhere should sit their child down and show them this.



* -- This is exactly the type of lie one encounters on April Fool's Day.

Coming Soon: The Hulufication of YouTube?

youtube logoYouTube has been moving to bring in legitimate, licensed content from TV networks and movie studios for some time, inking deals with the likes of CBS and MGM, among others. Now, that professionally produced content is going to become the focal point of the site, as GoogleGoogle reviewsGoogle reviews plans to launch a major redesign within the next month.

According to ClickZ, YouTube’s main navigation will soon be switched to “Movies, Music, Shows, and Videos. The first three tabs will display premium shows, clips, and movies from Google’s network and studio partners, all of which will be monetized with in-stream advertising.”

Meanwhile, the user-generated content that was the original premise for the site will be relegated to the “Videos” tab. This new navigation makes YouTube considerably more like HuluHulu reviewsHulu reviews, who offers two main options in its navigation – TV and Movies – from the video site’s parent companies: NBC and News Corp.

Why would YouTubeYouTube reviewsYouTube reviews want to emulate Hulu, which, though relatively popular, is still just a fraction of the size of YouTube? The main reason is that YouTube has been somewhat infamously unable to generate much money considering the size of its audience, whereas Hulu is able to attract high-end advertisers both because of its agency ties and its lack of more difficult to monetize user-generated content.

While I understand why Google might want to effectively “hide” user-generated videos from a business perspective, at the moment, it’s going to make the site a lot less engaging for users, simply because of the lack of quality pro content hosted on YouTube. Other than music videos, YouTube’s content catalog lags well behind that of its peers (I recently called it the TBS of online video). Unless deals are reached to bring its content catalog up to par – and these too are rumored – launching the said redesign would seem to be a mistake by YouTube.


America's 10 Best Fast-Food Restaurants




Eating out invariably raises a number of tricky questions: sit down or drive through? Burgers or pizza? Thin or stuffed crust? Choosing one over the other could mean saving hundreds of calories in a single meal, up to 50 pounds of flab in the course of a year, and countless health woes over the course of a lifetime. That's why Eat This, Not That! launched an investigation and put 66 major chain restaurants under the nutritional microscope—so that you and your family can continue to eat out, but do so knowing the types of insider tips and savvy strategies that can help melt fat all year long. And the good news is that many fan favorites scored top marks!

To separate the commendable from the deplorable, we calculated the total number of calories per entrée. This gave us a snapshot of how each restaurant compared in average serving size—a key indicator of unhealthy portion distortion. Then we rewarded establishments with fruit and vegetable side-dish choices, as well as for providing whole-grain options. Finally, we penalized places for excessive amounts of trans fats and menus laden with gut-busting desserts. What we ended up with is the Eat This, Not That! Restaurant Report Card, which will show you how all of the nation's largest eating establishments stack up nutritionally.

Check out those restaurants that scored a B+ or higher:

Chick-fil-A: A-

Between the breakfast and lunch menus, there are only two entrées at Chick-fil-A that break 500 calories, a rare feat in the fast-food world. What this means is that you can't possibly do too much harm—especially if you stick to the chicken. And unlike the typical fast-food chain, Chick-fil-A offers a list of sides that goes beyond breaded and fried potatoes and onions. (Just beware the large cole slaw, which adds an extra 600 calories to your daily intake!) That's why we dub the Atlanta-based chicken shack one of our all-time favorite fast-food restaurants.

Also, be sure to check out our exclusive list of the best and worst restaurants for kids to see why Chick-fil-A receives an even higher grade when it comes to kids' meals.

Survival strategy: The worst thing you can do is supplement your meal with a milkshake—not a single cup has fewer than 600 calories. And instead of nuggets or strips, look to the Chargrilled Chicken Sandwiches, which average only 320 calories apiece.

Subway: A-

A menu based on lean protein and vegetables is always going to score well in our book. With more than half a dozen sandwiches under 300 calories, plus a slew of soups and healthy sides to boot, Subway can satisfy even the pickiest eater without breaking the caloric bank. But, despite what Jared may want you to believe, Subway is not nutritionally infallible: Those rosy calorie counts posted on the menu boards include neither cheese nor mayo (add 160 calories per 6-inch sub), and some of the toasted subs, like the Meatball Marinara, contain hefty doses of calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

Survival strategy: Cornell researchers have discovered a "health halo" at Subway, which refers to the tendency to reward yourself or your kid with chips, cookies, and large soft drinks because the entrée is healthy. Avoid the halo, and all will be well.

Jamba Juice: A-

Jamba offers a viable and tasty solution to the dearth of fresh fruits and vegetables in the American diet: Stick it all in a blender and let us slurp it up. But make this your rule: If it includes syrup or added sugar, it ceases to be a smoothie. Jamba Juice makes plenty of real-deal smoothies, but their menu is sullied with more than a few faux-fruit blends. Just make sure you choose the right one.

Survival strategy: For a perfectly guilt-free treat, opt for a Jamba Light or All Fruit Smoothie in a 16-ounce cup. And unless you're looking to put on weight for your new acting career, don't touch the Peanut Butter Moo'd, which has more sugar than an entire bag of chocolate chips!

Au Bon Pain: A-

Sure the menu has its pitfalls, but what menu doesn't? The bottom line is that Au Bon Pain combines an extensive inventory of healthy items with an unrivaled standard of nutritional transparency. Each store has an on-site nutritional kiosk to help customers find a meal to meet their expectations, and the variety of ordering options provides dozens of paths to a sensible meal.

Survival strategy: Most of the café sandwiches are in the 650-calorie range, so make a lean meal instead by combining a hot soup with one of the many low-calorie options on the Portions menu. And if you must indulge, eschew the baked goods in favor of a cup of fruit and yogurt, or serving of chocolate-covered almonds.

Boston Market: B+

With more than a dozen healthy vegetable sides and lean meats like turkey and roast sirloin on the menu, the low-cal, high-nutrient possibilities at Boston Market are endless. But with nearly a dozen calorie-packed sides and fatty meats like dark meat chicken and meat loaf, it's almost as easy to construct a lousy meal.

Survival strategy: There are three simple steps to nutritional salvation: 1) Start with turkey, sirloin, or rotisserie chicken. 2) Add two non-creamy, non-starchy vegetable sides. 3) Ignore all special items, such as pot pie and nearly all of the sandwiches.

Cici's Pizza Buffet: B+

Cici's began in Texas in 1985 and now boasts more than 600 locations, proving definitively that Americans love a good buffet. The good news for our waistlines is that the crust is moderately sized, and the pizza comes in varieties beyond simple sausage and pepperoni. But if you check your willpower at the door, you're probably better off skipping the pizza buffet entirely.

Survival strategy: It takes 20 minutes for your brain to tell your body it's full, so start with a salad and then proceed slowly to the pizza. Limit yourself to the healthier slices like the Zesty Vegetable, Alfredo, and the Olé, which is a Mexican-inspired pie with only 108 calories per slice.

McDonald's: B+

The world-famous burger baron has come a long way since the days of Fast Food Nation—at least, nutritionally speaking. The trans fats are mostly gone, the number of gut-wrecking calorie bombs are now fewer than ever, and the menu holds plenty of healthy options such as salads and yogurt parfaits. Don't cut loose at the counter just yet, though. Too many of the breakfast and lunch sandwiches still top the 500-calorie mark, and the dessert menu is fodder for some major belly-building.

Survival strategy: The Egg McMuffin remains one of the best ways to start your day in the fast-food world. As for the later hours, you can splurge on a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder, but only if you skip the fries and soda, which add an average of 590 calories onto any meal.

Taco Bell: B+

Taco Bell combines two things with bad nutritional reputations: Mexican food and fast food. The result should be horrendous, yet somehow it works out so that a little prudence at the ordering window can bag you a meal with fewer than 500 calories. The potential for belly-building is still there, but the calorie bombs are generally easy to spot. And to limit the chances of a mistake, Taco Bell reengineered some of its classic items and listed them under the Fresco Menu for a savings of up to 10 grams of fat per item.

Survival strategy: Grilled Stuft Burritos, anything served in a bowl, and anything prepared with multiple "layers" are your worst options. Instead, order any combination of two of the following: crunchy tacos, bean burritos, or anything on the Fresco menu.

Wendy's: B+

Scoring a decent meal at Wendy's is just about as easy as scoring a bad one, and that's a big compliment for a burger joint. Options such as chili and baked potatoes offer the side-order variety that's missing from less-evolved fast-food chains like Dairy Queen and Carl's Jr. Plus they offer a handful of Jr. Burgers that don't stray far over 300 calories. And for our money, the 1/4-pound single is one of the best substantial burgers in the industry. Where they err is in their recently expanded line of desserts and a lackluster selection of beverages. But you're happy just drinking water, right?

Survival strategy: The grilled chicken sandwiches and wraps don't have more than 320 calories, which is less than even a small order of french fries. Choose the chicken or a small burger and pair it with a healthy side, and then hit the door before you receive the 500-calorie penalty for giving in to your Frosty hankering.

You can check out the complete Eat This, Not That! Restaurant Report Card here. Finally, sign up for your FREE Eat This, Not That! weekly newsletter or subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! premium Web site. You'll get thousands of useful tips, tricks, and secret insights into everything going on in the world of food and nutrition, so you can stay lean for life while still enjoying all of your favorite foods. It's like having a personal nutritionist on call 24 hours a day!

Tour of Kink.com's Porn Studios (PHOTOSET)


Whether it's the giant bondage hamster wheel (huh?) or the padded cell/interrogation room, Kink.com knows how to put it's porn into perspective.

read more | digg story

4,000-year-old temple discovered in Cyprus

Structure predates any found on the Mediterranean island by a millennium

INTERACTIVE
Ancient rock art from around the world
Even 15,000 years ago, humans were compelled to decorate their abodes.
By Menelaos Hadjicostis

NICOSIA, Cyprus - An Italian archaeologist claimed Friday to have discovered Cyprus' oldest religious site, which she said echoes descriptions in the Bible of temples in ancient Palestine.

Maria Rosaria Belgiorno said the 4,000-year-old triangular temple predates any other found on the east Mediterranean island by a millennium.

"For sure it's the most ancient religious site on the island," she told The Associated Press from her home in Rome. "This confirms that religious worship in Cyprus began much earlier than previously believed."



But authorities on the island say they cannot confirm her claim before further study.

"That the site is dated to around 2,000 B.C. is certain, but the interpretation that it's a temple or a sacred site has yet to be confirmed," Cyprus Antiquities Department official Maria Hadjicosti told state radio.

The 200-sq.-meter (2,150-sq.-foot) building was discovered last year outside Pyrgos, a village near the south coast, where previous digs unearthed a settlement dating to 2,000 B.C. that included a perfumery, winery and a metal workshop.

Belgiorno, who heads an Italian archaeological mission in Cyprus, initially disclosed the find to English-language The Cyprus Weekly.

She said evidence points to a monotheistic temple with a sacrificial altar that resembles Canaanite places of worship described in the Bible.

"The temple has a very peculiar shape for a building, which is very rare."

Belgiorno said a key piece of evidence linking the site to Biblical accounts of temples in ancient Palestine is a pair of 6-meter (20-foot) stone "channels" extending from either side of the altar that allowed sacrificial animals' blood to flow out of the structure.

Other evidence includes a stone water basin, which she said might have been used in the ritual cleansing of the channels.

Belgiorno said the temple was situated across from the industrial area in the heart of the settlement, which she estimates covered 35 hectares (86 acres). Most of the settlement now lies under village homes and holiday villas.

The industrial area was built around a large mill producing olive oil that was used as fuel to fire up the metal workshop and as a perfume base.

Although it is difficult to say with certainty, she said the settlement was home to around 500 people. Their origins are unclear, but they had trade links with ancient Egypt and Palestine, she said.

A major earthquake destroyed the settlement in 1,850 B.C.

The earliest settlements excavated so far on the island date back to around 9000 B.C. Cyprus then saw successive waves of colonization, including Phoenicians, Mycenaean Greeks, Romans and — in the Middle Ages — Franks and Venetians. It was conquered by Ottoman Turks in 1571, and became part of the British Empire in 1878 before winning independence in 1960.

Violence between Cyprus' majority Greek community and the Turkish community broke out shortly after, and the island has been divided along ethnic lines since a Turkish invasion in 1974 — prompted by a failed coup aimed at union with Greece.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

SunRun teams with Virgance to finance solar for consumers Startup Scores $100 Million to Finance Solar Panels

Hard economic times mean fewer consumers will shell out for expensive solar panels. Also hard hit are startups that offer no-money-down programs to lease panels or buy their power but can’t find banks to partner with. So, teaming with SunRun — one of the few outfits that still has a healthy line of financing — is a minor coup for Virgance, a company that plans to sign up thousands of new solar users.

I’ve written about what Virgance does in the past, but the quick version is that they run word-of-mouth campaigns to get hundreds or thousands of people to sign up for solar evaluations of their homes. Those that are interested in installing panels are then formed into groups, allowing Virgance to use collective bargaining to cut the total price by up to 25 percent — often saving thousands of dollars.

But it still costs many thousands more to buy a solar system up front, even with government rebates. The recession isn’t the only thing that keeps regular people from adopting solar — it’s the consistently-high price. Outside of affluent neighborhoods in San Francisco, about 80 percent of prospective solar customers said they needed financing, according to Steve Newcomb, Virgance’s chief executive. “It’s that difference between paying about $10,000 and just a thousand up front,” he told me.

From Virgance’s anecdotal experiences, it sounds like there’s a huge market of middle class customers who haven’t yet found an attractive enough financing option to seriously consider solar. In hopes of testing that theory out, the company will have SunRun back up all of its financing with the $100 million credit line the latter has from US Bank — enough for over 2,000 full-size systems.

The plan is to use this year to expand the program, run by a Virgance division called One Block Off the Grid (1BOG), outside of California (the company’s multiple other divisions will be represented at its Equinox event in a week). The Bay Area and Los Angeles have had their own successful campaigns, signing up hundreds of customers in each area, and Newcomb claims grassroots demand for 1BOG in places like Denver and New Orleans has been strong.

But there’s still plenty of work to be done. Ed Fenster, SunRun’s chief executive, points to a number of factors that will determine whether rooftop solar can be successful in other states, including the strength of sunlight, power prices and rebate programs. Also problematic are some state regulations. Colorado, for example, will need to change laws that prevent a company like SunRun from owning small solar systems.

Unfortunately, that ownership is the basis for the company’s power purchase agreement model so that the consumer only pays for the power, not the panels. Fenster says new rules are under consideration in the state. But ultimately, spreading solar across the country will require the two companies to innovate in a more outlandish area: lobbying politicians. And that may be the best indication yet that solar has finally entered the mainstream.

How One Man Travelled to New Zealand Relying on Twitterers

By Daily Mail Reporter


A brave traveller has made it all the way to New Zealand without buying a single ticket along the way.

Paul Smith - dubbed the Twitchhiker - made the 11,000-mile trip using only donations from people who use the social networking site Twitter.

He gave himself 30 days to complete the trek, and was forbidden to spend a penny on so much as a taxi journey.

On completing his epic trek he wrote on his blog: 'The Twitchhiker project showed that kindness is universal, that the whole can be infinitely greater than the sum of its parts, and that social media may begin online but it will converge with the real world whenever and wherever you let it.'

The Twitchhiker

The Twitchhiker: Paul Smith made the 11,000-mile trip, relying solely on his social networking contacts, in less than 30 days

paul

End of the road: Paul reaches Stewart Island on a cloudy day

Since leaving Gateshead on March 1, the Twitchhiker's journey has seen him cross to the Netherlands, Germany and France.

He then doubled back after being given flights from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, before crossing to New York.

Mr Smith then made his way through Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chicago and LA.

A final flight from LA saw the 33-year-old arrive in New Zealand with days to spare.

Paul, of Low Fell, Gateshead, told how a woman met him in Auckland before taking him home to meet her husband, who hails from Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.

Paul said: 'He recognised that my diet for the past three weeks had been lacking in bacon and egg sandwiches, and quickly righted that wrong.

'After breakfast, we disappeared into the bush on Auckland's west coast and were plunged into the richest, most spectacular landscapes of my trip so far.

New York

Midpoint: Paul enjoys the lights of New York

'For the people of Auckland, this is their back yard. For me, it was paradise.'

Paul also featured on New Zealand radio station Kiwi FM to talk about his adventure on a breakfast show.

Paul's journey, which has already raised more than £5,000 for charity, was governed by two key rules.

He set himself the task of moving on from each destination in no less than two days, and was forbidden to plan more than three days in advance.

His job as a freelance writer and new wife Jane are waiting for him in Gateshead.

His goal was Campbell Island, a remote outpost off the south coast of New Zealand, but the final hurdle was just too high. It would have relied on a ship's captain prepared to cross treacherous seas on a six day round trip for free.

Enlarge Twitchhiker's route

Round the world in 30 days: Paul's route from Gateshead to New Zealand

So instead he headed for Stewart Island, population of just 400.

'I wasn’t going to see Campbell Island, but it honestly didn’t matter anymore,' he said.

'The aim was to travel as far as I could from home as possible within 30 days, and by reaching Stewart Island I’d travelled to a place the majority of New Zealanders have never set foot on.'

Twitter is a social networking website which allows its users to post information about their day-to-day activities.

People can then read other users' updates, known as 'tweets', which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters.

Users can 'follow' other Twitter users if they wish to regularly view that users' updates.

In this way, senders can restrict delivery to those users in their circle of friends.

For more information on Paul's journey visit www.twitchhiker.com

Polyvore - A Revolution in Online Shopping

by Stephanie Gulley

Polyvore is an amazing website that’s revolutionizing the way we shop online. Their web-based application is user-friendly making it easy for you to import images from any online store and create a virtual ensemble in your browser. Each item used within a set will link back to the online store where it’s available for purchase. This makes it easy for you to track where you found the item or if you’re like me, discover new retailers from sets created by other Polyvore addicts.

One you publish a set, you can share it with your friends online to get their opinions. You can even print it out as a shopping guide or save your sets as a part of your fashion wish-list (that’s what I do).

Here’s a favorite of mine by Meg:

For an interesting post on how retailers can leverage Polyvore’s platform, read “Why should retailers pay more attention to social shopping on Polyvore?” by Sarah Simmons.


So instead of making you read, I’m going to share two videos that show you how to use Polyvore. I found these videos on Polyvore’s site here and here.

Watch how you can create sets composed of individual images using an easy to use, drag and drop editor. After you have created a set, you can publish and share it with your friends and the Polyvore community.

The Clipper easily lets you import items from other websites into Polyvore.



The Five Best Pranks Ever Filmed and Posted to YouTube

April Fools' Day isn't just about the assclown in your office. Here's video proof that real trickery can be pulled off.

PLUS: Our all-new interview with the greatest prankster of all time

By Daniel Murphy

Devised by the Irish as retaliation against English imperial rule, the first April Fool's Day prank on record occurred in 1770 when an Irish peasant persuaded his entire village to tithe the English in pence, making it impossible for the tax collectors to carry the load.* Since then, April Fool's Day has celebrated society's troublemakers -- the Alan Abels, the Harold T. Stones, and now the thousands of people who have uploaded their own pranks to YouTube for the world to enjoy. Luckily, you don't have to comb through them for inspiration -- we already did.

#5. The Maze Game Prank

It's happened to everyone -- you're in your office, minding your own business, when a co-worker approaches holding a video camera promising you that they've just forwarded you the best game. And now? You have to play it, while they videotape you. The next thing you know you're bleeding from the head. Foolish, indeed.



#4. Best Buy Improv

Remember the last time you were in Best Buy, overpaying for not exactly what you wanted because you were too impatient to buy it online? And then you got home and realized that that sales guy "Chad," who was positive you needed an SD card and not a flash card, sold you the wrong fucking card? And you spent the rest of the night thinking of some way to exact unholy, perfectly legal revenge? These guys did exactly that, dressing up as Best Buy employees, flooding the store, and causing complete chaos.



#3. The Fake Car Accident

Sometimes pranks play on people's innate phobias, such as crashing, burning and dying in a heap of twisted metal. This, combined with the element of surprise, creates the authenticity one looks for in a playful gag. Speaking of authenticity, nothing is more real than urinating one's pants after bachelor party. So much for dry humor.



#2. The Mailbox Gag

Seeing this, you could argue the entire Cold War was a well-executed practical joke that went right over America's head. But what else do you expect in a land where vodka costs less than water? This clip is Benny Hill meets Pulp Fiction. It's Mr. Bean starring in a snuff film. Wait for the ending and you'll see the kind of prank Nietzsche would pull if he wasn't so goddamned self-involved.



#1. The Mutated Rat Man

If the success of the prank is gauged by the reaction of the victim, then this hoax should be canonized in the annals of history. It should have its own Wikipedia page, and the searches "ratman," "perfect joke" and "frailty of the human soul" should all point to it. It should be dubbed in languages far and wide. For generations to come, when children reach the age of reason and ask their parents, "Why are we here?" moms and dads everywhere should sit their child down and show them this.



* -- This is exactly the type of lie one encounters on April Fool's Day.

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