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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Trent Reznor: The Biggest Wake-Up Call of My Career

Rocker TRENT REZNOR is urging all musicians to follow in his footsteps and ditch their record labels.
Reznor's band Nine Inch Nails broke away from their deal with Universal in 2007, after a tempestuous relationship with the music giant.
The singer describes the experience as "liberating" - insisting big labels make too much money from musicians and are completely out of touch with the industry.
Reznor says, "Anyone who's an executive at a record label does not understand what the internet is, how it works, how people use it, how fans and consumers interact - no idea. I'm surprised they know how to use email. They have built a business around selling plastic discs, and nobody wants plastic discs any more. They're in such a state of denial it's impossible for them to understand what's happening.
"One of the biggest wake-up calls of my career was when I saw a record contract. I said, 'Wait - you sell it for $18.98 and I make 80 cents? And I have to pay you back the money you lent me to make it and then you own it? Who the f**k made that rule? Oh! The record labels made it because artists are dumb and they'll sign anything' - like I did. When we found out we'd been released (from their recording contract) it was like, 'Thank God!'. But 20 minutes later it was, 'Uh-oh, now what are we going to do?' It was incredibly liberating, and it was terrifying."
And Reznor adds that musicians should be exploring other ways to sell their own music, rather than relying on labels: "As an artist, you are now the marketer."

07/04/2009 19:01


New Way To Split Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen Developed

ScienceDaily (Apr. 8, 2009) — The design of efficient systems for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, driven by sunlight is among the most important challenges facing science today, underpinning the long term potential of hydrogen as a clean, sustainable fuel. But man-made systems that exist today are very inefficient and often require additional use of sacrificial chemical agents. In this context, it is important to establish new mechanisms by which water splitting can take place.

Now, a unique approach developed by Prof. David Milstein and colleagues of the Weizmann Institute’s Organic Chemistry Department, provides important steps in overcoming this challenge. During this work, the team demonstrated a new mode of bond generation between oxygen atoms and even defined the mechanism by which it takes place. In fact, it is the generation of oxygen gas by the formation of a bond between two oxygen atoms originating from water molecules that proves to be the bottleneck in the water splitting process. Their results have recently been published in Science.

Nature, by taking a different path, has evolved a very efficient process: photosynthesis – carried out by plants – the source of all oxygen on Earth. Although there has been significant progress towards the understanding of photosynthesis, just how this system functions remains unclear; vast worldwide efforts have been devoted to the development of artificial photosynthetic systems based on metal complexes that serve as catalysts, with little success. (A catalyst is a substance that is able to increase the rate of a chemical reaction without getting used up.)

The new approach that the Weizmann team has recently devised is divided into a sequence of reactions, which leads to the liberation of hydrogen and oxygen in consecutive thermal- and light-driven steps, mediated by a unique ingredient – a special metal complex that Milstein’s team designed in previous studies. Moreover, the one that they designed – a metal complex of the element ruthenium – is a ‘smart’ complex in which the metal center and the organic part attached to it cooperate in the cleavage of the water molecule.

The team found that upon mixing this complex with water the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms break, with one hydrogen atom ending up binding to its organic part, while the remaining hydrogen and oxygen atoms (OH group) bind to its metal center.

This modified version of the complex provides the basis for the next stage of the process: the ‘heat stage.’ When the water solution is heated to 100 degrees C, hydrogen gas is released from the complex – a potential source of clean fuel – and another OH group is added to the metal center.

‘But the most interesting part is the third ‘light stage,’’ says Milstein. ‘When we exposed this third complex to light at room temperature, not only was oxygen gas produced, but the metal complex also reverted back to its original state, which could be recycled for use in further reactions.’

These results are even more remarkable considering that the generation of a bond between two oxygen atoms promoted by a man-made metal complex is a very rare event, and it has been unclear how it can take place. Yet Milstein and his team have also succeeded in identifying an unprecedented mechanism for such a process. Additional experiments have indicated that during the third stage, light provides the energy required to cause the two OH groups to get together to form hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which quickly breaks up into oxygen and water. ‘Because hydrogen peroxide is considered a relatively unstable molecule, scientists have always disregarded this step, deeming it implausible; but we have shown otherwise,’ says Milstein. Moreover, the team has provided evidence showing that the bond between the two oxygen atoms is generated within a single molecule – not between oxygen atoms residing on separate molecules, as commonly believed – and it comes from a single metal center.

Discovery of an efficient artificial catalyst for the sunlight-driven splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen is a major goal of renewable clean energy research. So far, Milstein’s team has demonstrated a mechanism for the formation of hydrogen and oxygen from water, without the need for sacrificial chemical agents, through individual steps, using light. For their next study, they plan to combine these stages to create an efficient catalytic system, bringing those in the field of alternative energy an important step closer to realizing this goal.

Participating in the research were former postdoctoral student Stephan Kohl, Ph.D. student Leonid Schwartsburd and technician Yehoshoa Ben-David all of the Organic Chemistry Department, together with staff scientists Lev Weiner, Leonid Konstantinovski, Linda Shimon and Mark Iron of the Chemical Research Support Department.

Prof. David Milstein’s research is supported by the Mary and Tom Beck-Canadian Center for Alternative Energy Research; and the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Molecular Design. Prof. Milstein is the incumbent of the Israel Matz Professorial Chair of Organic Chemistry.

Journal reference:

  1. Stephan W. Kohl, Lev Weiner, Leonid Schwartsburd, Leonid Konstantinovski, Linda J. W. Shimon, Yehoshoa Ben-David, Mark A. Iron, and David Milstein. Consecutive Thermal H2 and Light-Induced O2 Evolution from Water Promoted by a Metal Complex. Science, 2009; 324 (5923): 74 DOI: 10.1126/science.1168600
Adapted from materials provided by Weizmann Institute of Science.

Graft Architects’ Living Hill Skyscraper

by Bridgette Steffen

sustainable architecture, green building, green design, graft architects, ao project, sustainable condominium, green roof, energy efficient architecture

Graft Architects has wowed us again with this spectacular living hill high rise complete with a giant green roof that drapes over the top and down the sides. Designed for a Japanese client who had tight restrictions on size, height, and setbacks, the AO Project expands from its confines and improves the space with lots of lush vegetation.

sustainable architecture, green building, green design, graft architects, ao project, sustainable condominium, green roof, energy efficient architecture

Set to be completed in 2012 in an undisclosed location, this large condo and light retail project adds a fresh expanse of green space to the existing urban landscape. The setbacks and height restrictions actually defined the dimensions of the building, but Graft Architects, who are well known for their organic architecture, gave form to the exterior shell and infused it with life. Balconies are cut into the sloping living roof, providing a residents a view out into the city over a sea of vegetation.

+ Graft Architects

Via Design Boom

sustainable architecture, green building, green design, graft architects, ao project, sustainable condominium, green roof, energy efficient architecture

sustainable architecture, green building, green design, graft architects, ao project, sustainable condominium, green roof, energy efficient architecture

sustainable architecture, green building, green design, graft architects, ao project, sustainable condominium, green roof, energy efficient architecture

sustainable architecture, green building, green design, graft architects, ao project, sustainable condominium, green roof, energy efficient architecture

See the original image at — Sexy Megan Fox Wants to Be Known For Her Acting

Megan Fox DT Spain

I have no idea what this magazine is or even what it says, but it has super sexy Megan Fox on it so that’s all that matters.

She was just saying that she wants to be known for her acting rather than her sexiness, but I just don’t see that happening…EVER!

Megan Fox DT Spain Pic Megan Fox DT Spain 1 Megan Fox DT Spain 2 Megan Fox DT Spain 3 Megan Fox DT Spain 4

10 Creative Alcohol Advertisements

10 Creative Alcohol Advertisements

For any product to sustain in the market there needs to be a good marketing strategy. Marketing is the key to generating curiosity and notifying potential customers of a product. Alcohol is no different. There are hundreds and thousands of alcohol brands out there. Lately we have been featuring articles that relate to alcohol in general and not just cognac itself. Although our preferred drink is cognac, we like to cover other drinks and alcohol related facts every once in a while. Today we bring you ten alcohol ads that are creative and some extremely funny.


Please click on the image to enlarge. All images are linked to the source.

Goldstar Beer


MGD 64




Bishops Finger


Brahma Beer


Bard’s Beer






Hiney Wine

Well, those are some of the ads that we enjoyed looking at. If you know of any alcohol ads that are funny and or creative, feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

Portugal's drug decriminalization 'bizarrely underappreciated': Greenwald

Rachel Oswald
Published: Monday April 6, 2009

Champions of harsh drug criminalization laws as the best solution to curbing drug use will be chagrined to find that Portugal’s eight year history of decriminalization has led to lower drug usage rates.

According to a new report entitled, “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies,” while drug use across the European Union has risen steadily since 2000, Portugal, which has the most liberal drug laws of any country, has actually seen its prevalence rates decrease in various age groups since it decriminalized all drugs in 2001. Prevalence rates measure how many people have consumed drugs over the course of their lifetime.

“I think it’s bizarrely underappreciated what’s been done in Portugal,” said Salon writer Glenn Greenwald, who authored the report. Greenwald, who speaks fluent Portuguese, traveled to Portugal in 2008 to study the affects of drug decriminalization in the country.

Because drugs were not legalized outright in Portugal, violations of laws prohibiting drug possession for personal usage are now merely treated as administrative offenses and carry with them no criminal charges. Drug trafficking, however, continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense in the country.

Compared to the low to moderate levels of drug use in Portugal since decriminalization went into effect, the majority of EU states have drug use rates that are double and triple that of Portugal today, according to the report.

Greenwald, who presented his findings at a Friday event at the Cato Institute, which sponsored the writing of the report, noted that the United Kingdom and Estonia, EU nations with some of the harshest criminalization laws, also have the highest cocaine usage rates in the EU.

“None of the fears promulgated by opponents of Portuguese decriminalization has come to fruition, whereas many of the benefits predicted by drug policymakers from instituting a decriminalization regime have been realized," writes Greenwald in the report. "While drug addiction, usage, and associated pathologies continue to skyrocket in many EU states, those problems—in virtually every relevant category—have been either contained or measurably improved within Portugal since 2001.”

Greenwald said the strongest evidence in Portugal that supports drug decriminalization is the declining usage of drugs in the crucial 15-19 age group.

In every single drug category, with the exception of the new drugs that have come into popular usage since 2001, like ketamine and GHB, teen drug use has declined. The biggest drug category declines were seen in marijuana, which saw teen drug use slip from just over 10 percent in 2001 to 6 percent in 2006.

“Drug policymakers are ecstatic about this,” Greenwald said.

Since decriminalization took effect in Portugal, deaths as a result of drug usage have declined significantly. Opiate-related deaths experienced the biggest drop, falling from about 275 deaths in 2000 to about 125 in 2006, according to information provided in the report from the Portugal National Institute of Legal Medicine.

The Portugal report, which also tracked drug usage rates outside of the European Union (the region of the world that has gone the farthest in decriminalizing drug usage), found that “by and large usage rates for each category of drugs continue to be lower in the EU than in non-EU states with a far more criminalized approach to drug usage.”

Tim Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, said, “For a very long time all of the academics, who studied drug policy, had to acknowledge one reality -- that the drug policy of the United States is the drug policy of the world.”

That premise, however, is now changing.

As evidence of this, Lynch pointed to a number of news bulletins calling for drug reform in recent months: “Canadian government tries anew to decriminalize marijuana”, “Argentine president calls for decriminalization of drug use”, “Mass. voters OK decriminalization of marijuana”, ” Obama administration to stop raids on medical marijuana dispensers” and most recently, ” Webb, Specter introduce bill to overhaul America’s criminal justice system.”

Advocates of drug decriminalization in the United States, should focus not on ideological or moral arguments in making their case, but rather, empirical evidence that shows decriminalization reduces drug usage, said Greenwald.

Greenwald said supporters of decriminalization in the U.S. have an “ideal moment” to talk about it as the political mood regarding decriminalization is now shifting in favor of reform.

According to Greenwald, much of the discussion on why drugs should not be decriminalized (the primary argument being that it will lead to higher drug usage and higher assorted drug-related problems) has been speculative. He said it was up to drug reformers to refocus the drug debate away from moral and civil liberties arguments “so that it ends up being an entirely empirical and pragmatic issue.”

Because there has been little debate on empirical grounds, which are verifiable and provable, on why drugs should stay criminalized, the “extremely unexamined” assumption that decriminalization would result in a massive increase of drug usage has become widespread and generally accepted, Greenwald said.

But with the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal, drug reformers can now point to empirical evidence that demonstrates that decriminalization has positive affects.

As Greenwald writes in the report, “By freeing its citizens from the fear of prosecution and imprisonment for drug usage, Portugal has dramatically improved its ability to encourage drug addicts to avail themselves of treatment. The resources that were previously devoted to prosecuting and imprisoning drug addicts are now available to provide treatment programs to addicts.”

“Those developments, along with Portugal’s shift to a harm-reduction approach, have dramatically improved drug-related social ills, including drug-caused mortalities and drug-related disease transmission,” the report continues. “Ideally, treatment programs would be strictly voluntary, but Portugal’s program is certainly preferable to criminalization.”

Peter Reuter, a professor of criminology at the University of Maryland, who supports the continued criminalization of drugs, provided a skeptical critique of Greenwald’s report at Friday’s event, though he did admit that “I think it is fair to say that decriminalization in Portugal…has indeed achieved its central goals.”

While non-violent drug users are no longer dealt with as criminals in Portugal, Reuter speculated that because Portuguese police no longer have to put as much effort into making a criminal arrest against drug users, they are now more likely to issue many more administrative citations for drug use, which he said served to increase, rather than decrease, the intrusion of government into the lives of private citizens.

He added, that the higher rates of drug users seeking government treatment was more likely due to the aging of Western Europe’s heroin-using population. According to Reuter, the large bulk of the population of heroin dependents first began using in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s and so would be much older today and more likely to seek out medical help.

“Much of what is recorded here, I think, is consistent with what I see happening in many other Western countries,” said Reuter of the number of drug users in Portugal seeking treatment.

Lightsaber Underwear Chick Fight [HD]

Barack & Kumar Go To White House

Actor Kal Penn joins White House team

White House spokesman Shin Inouye said Tuesday that the actor who has a recurring role on Fox's TV show "House" and has starred in several movies would join the staff as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison. His role will be to connect Obama with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as arts and entertainment groups.

Penn starred as Kumar in the movie, "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay."

Penn was an Obama supporter during the campaign. The White House says a start date for Penn hasn't been set.

The hire was first reported by Entertainment Weekly.

Peacekeeper missile system being tested

The LGM-118A Peacekeeper, initially known as the "MX missile" (for Missile-eXperimental), was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. A total of 50 missiles were deployed. Under the START II treaty, which never entered into force, the missiles were to be removed from the U.S. nuclear arsenal in 2005, leaving the LGM-30 Minuteman as the only type of land-based ICBM in the U.S. arsenal. Despite the demise of START II, the last of the LGM-118A "Peacekeeper" ICBMs (but not their warheads) were decommissioned on September 19, 2005. Current plans are to switch 500 decommissioned Peacekeepers' W87/Mk-21 warheads to the Minuteman III. [1] Among the reasons cited for decommissioning of the Peacekeeper ICBM was its failure to achieve the program's range objectives. [2]

The Peacekeeper was a MIRVed missile; the MX could carry up to 10 re-entry vehicles, each armed with a 300-kiloton W87 warhead/MK-21 RVs (twenty times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II[3]).

Test launch of a Peacekeeper ICBM by the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division (1 STRAD), Vandenberg AFB, CA (USAF)
Type Intercontinental ballistic missile

Click here for the entire WIKI

Report Lists America's 10 Most Endangered Rivers

By Azadeh Ansari

(CNN) -- Rivers are the arteries of our infrastructure. Flowing from highlands to the sea, they breathe life into ecosystems and communities.

A levee breach in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River System could have dire effects, a new report says.

A levee breach in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River System could have dire effects, a new report says.

But many rivers in the United States are in trouble.

Rivers in Alaska, California and the South are among the 10 most endangered, according to a report released Tuesday by American Rivers, a leading river conservation group.

The annual report uses data from thousands of rivers groups, local governments, environmental organizations and citizen watchdogs to identify waterways under imminent threat by dams, industry or development.

"Our nation is at a transformational moment when it comes to rivers and clean water," said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. "Water is life, yet our nation's water infrastructure is so outdated that our clean drinking water, flood protection and river health face unprecedented threats."

American Rivers has released its annual endangered rivers report since 1986. The report is not a list of the nation's most polluted waterways, but highlights 10 rivers facing decisions in the coming year that could determine their future.

Here is American Rivers' Most Endangered Rivers list for 2009:

1) Sacramento-San Joaquin River System

Location: California

Outdated water and flood management puts California's largest watershed at the top of America's most endangered rivers list for 2009. A recent breach in the delta's 1,100-mile levee system could have dire effects on surrounding ecosystems, farming and agriculture, commercial fishing and California's civil infrastructure. State and federal authorities are looking at alternative water-management strategies for the river system, which serves 25 million Californians and more than 5 million acres of farmland.

2) Flint River

Location: Georgia

The Flint is one of 40 rivers nationwide that still flow undammed for more than 200 miles. Conservationists say that dams proposed by Georgia lawmakers would bury more than 50 river miles, destroy fishing and boating opportunities and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. The American Rivers group believes that fixing the state's leaky pipes, using water meters and minimizing water waste would be a cheaper and more cost-effective alternative.

3) Lower Snake River

Location: Idaho, Washington, Oregon

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has built four dams to irrigate and generate energy for the Northwest, but these dams also prevent salmon and steelhead trout from reaching their spawning areas. Every year, those dams kill as many as 90 percent of juvenile salmon and steelhead trout that migrate downstream to the ocean. Conservationists say that removing the dams would eliminate a growing flood threat in Lewiston, Idaho, and create an opportunity to modernize the region's transportation and energy systems.

4) Mattawoman Creek

Location: Maryland

A highway development project here jeopardizes one of the Chesapeake Bay's few remaining healthy streams. The project threatens clean water sources, thousands of acres of forests and wetlands, and an internationally-renowned, multimillion-dollar largemouth bass fishery.

5) North Fork of the Flathead River

Location: Montana

A proposed coal-mining project across the Canadian border puts Montana's North Fork of the Flathead River in jeopardy. An estimated 50,000 acres of the Flathead headwaters could be transformed into an industrial gas field. The projects threaten the river's clean water, local agriculture, fish and wildlife and recreational industries such as rafting, camping, fishing and boating. American Rivers and its partners have called on local Canadian governments and the U.S. State Department to work together to halt these projects.

6) Saluda River

Location: South Carolina

Excess levels of sewage waste threaten the drinking water of more than 500,000 South Carolina residents, conservationists say. Sewage in the river increases phosphorous and algae levels, depletes oxygen, and kills fish and other aquatic life. American Rivers is asking the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to improve sewage-treatment standards and ensure the river reduces its phosphorous levels by 25 to 50 percent.

7) Laurel Hill Creek

Location: Pennsylvania

Known for its fishing, swimming and kayaking, this popular vacation spot faces threats from a bottling plant and tourism-related development. Without adequate planning and safeguards, withdrawals will continue to exceed the creek's reasonable capacity, putting recreation, the local water supply, and fish and wildlife in jeopardy.

8) Beaver Creek

Location: Alaska

One of the nation's last wild rivers faces extinction if an oil- and gas-development project constructs 600 miles of roads and pipelines, airstrips, drilling pads, and gravel mines along the creek. Alaska native communities depend on the area for subsistence hunting and fishing. It's also a popular destination for anglers, boaters, skiers and hunters.

9) Pascagoula River

Location: Mississippi

The U.S. Department of Energy wants to hollow out natural salt domes 30 miles northwest of the Pascagoula to create a storage area for up to 160 million barrels of oil. A pipeline 330 miles in length would be constructed to withdraw water from the Pascagoula to dissolve the salt domes and distribute oil to and from the site. The DOE predicts 18 oil spills and 75 spills of salty, polluted water during the construction and initial fill of the hollowed domes, damaging rivers, streams, and wetlands in the basin, conservationists say.

10) Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

Location: Minnesota, Wisconsin

Rezoning of a 26-mile stretch of the river's state-protected section would allow for the construction of a major development on the riverfront. American Rivers believes the development could lead to land erosion along the river and more storm run-off while harming the region's biodiversity.

"Being named as one of America's most endangered rivers is not an end for the river, but rather a beginning," said Wodder.

Through the collaborative efforts of citizens and local, state and national governments, a number of waterways from past American Rivers' endangered lists have been preserved.

"With the listing comes a national spotlight and action from thousands of citizens across the country," Wodder said. "These 10 rivers have a chance to be reborn and to serve as models for other rivers all across America."

Taxes trip Al Capone again - in Boston

Financial district restaurant owes state $45,385.90

By Tom Moroney
Bloomberg News / April 8, 2009

Stop me if you've heard this one: Al Capone is in hot water over taxes.

It is not the late Chicago gangster convicted of income-tax evasion in 1931, but a popular Italian restaurant of the same name in Boston's financial district.

State Police arrived shortly before noon yesterday at the Al Capone restaurant on Summer Street, secured the front door, and affixed two fluorescent orange signs: "Seized, nonpayment of taxes."

The restaurant owes Massachusetts $45,385.90, mostly in meals taxes dating back to December 2004, said Robert R. Bliss, a spokesman for the state Revenue Department. The sum includes $1,850.90 in corporate taxes, he said.

Al Capone is a lunchtime stroll from Fidelity Investments, the world's largest mutual-fund company, along with Wellington Management Company LLP, State Street Corp., Putnam Investments, and Loomis Sayles & Co. The bolted door disappointed anyone who showed up for sandwiches and pizza slices yesterday.

John Verban, 51, a chemist whose favorite Al Capone fare is the thick-crust pizza, saw the irony in the police action.

"I'm up on my history," he said. "The way they bagged that other Capone was via taxes, too."

Revenue agents did not point out the Chicago parallel when pursuing the restaurant for payment, Bliss said.

"A different set of circumstances, but an interesting name nonetheless," he said.

Massachusetts closes about 80 restaurants a year after attempts to negotiate a payment schedule fail, Bliss said. The rate has remained steady during the recession, he said.

State records show the restaurant owner as First Capone V Inc., and Rose Capone of Waltham as the sole corporate officer. Calls to the phone number listed for that name did not go through.

"I just hope all that food isn't going to waste," Verban said as he peered through a window.

iPhone 3.0 video recording interface, compass support spotted? (Update: voice dialing, too)

by Nilay Patel

iPhone OS 3.0 is riddled with hints that video recording is on the way, and the latest is is this supposed screenshot of a revised camera app with a video toggle. MacRumors says it comes up when certain config files are edited to make it seem like a video camera is present, but it's not clear exactly what steps have to be taken, so we're treating this one cautiously until we can confirm it. Other secret features buried in the plists are said to include "auto-focus camera," "voice control," and "magnetometer," which is assumed to be a compass. Yep, all stuff we'd expect from an iPhone revision around, say, June, but nothing earth-shattering -- and if the video features are as mediocre as the current iPhone camera, we don't think the Flips of this world have too much to worry about.

Update: Boy Genius Report has scored some other 3.0-culled goodies, including what appears to be voice dialing ("Voice Control" as they're calling it), a digital battery strength readout, and further evidence of video support. Beta 3, where are you?

Affleck in Lynn, Massachusetts

by Meredith Goldstein


Where in the world is Ben Affleck?

In Lynn.

Film crews rolled up to the Gannon Municipal Golf Course early this morning to shoot more scenes for “The Company Men,” the John Wells film that co-stars Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Costner. An employee at the golf course told us the crews were filming a “winter scene” today and that they’d be back June 2 for summer shots. That same employee told he had seen Affleck on site “but not the other two guys.”

The Lynn course was also used last year during filming of Mel Gibson’s “Edge of Darkness.”

We hear "The Company Men" crew will be in Roxbury next week.

For more on Ben's wife's new movie about butter, and yesterday's Opening Day festivities, click here.

Do You Poop at Work? In a Recession, You Should!

I have a very good friend who once confessed to me that he only poops at work. He told me that it is the American dream to get paid to take a dump. Lots of people are losing their jobs, he said, and he intended on taking advantage of one of the few remaining perks in life – sitting on the toilet at his office.

He said, "Why poop at home if someone is paying you to work? Might as well poop on the clock."

I thought this was crazy, until I started to hate my job in Human Resources and took this concept on a test run.

My #2 Work Goal

I only pooped at work, which required mad skills on my part because I traveled more than 50 percent of the time. I am an advocate of pooping when nature calls -- and I take Benefiber to keep my plumbing in good shape -- but I started holding my urge to poop until I was officially on the company's time.

Click here
to read how Laurie's experiment went -- and why you should try it.

When I was in my office, I coordinated my personal 'business' with my professional schedule. When I traveled, I waited until I arrived at the local office or off-site meeting to poop.

I will admit that my bowels weren't happy with this experiment; however, this small act of resistance made me feel like the playing field was slightly more level. I couldn't earn more money or make the CEO implement a more thoughtful company strategy, but I could take a crap at work and get five minutes of peace in my day.

Poo Against the Machine

I am making this confession because your company is spending an amazing amount of money with large communications firms who claim that they can improve employee morale in this sagging economic climate.

Instead of pouring money into improved health-care coverage or better day-care benefits, your company is hiring communications gurus who will ask you questions like, "Do you have a best friend at work?"

It is condescending and insulting to be asked questions about how you 'feel' at work. If you are like most Americans, you feel grateful to have a job, but you struggle with economic uncertainty. You wake up in the morning; get your kids off to school; and if you're lucky, you have time to take a crap.

Furthermore, you hate having your day interrupted with stupid employee surveys that never result in any long-term change. Why don't they let you get back to work so you can help make some money for your company?

Fight Back
If you are mad as hell about corporate irresponsibility and want to make yourself feel better, I suggest that you try my poop-at-work process.

Let me know how it works. Do you exclusively poop at work, right now? Do you ever go at work? Leave a comment and let me know if your daily time-out session makes life a little easier.

Laurie Ruettimann is a writer, speaker and HR exec with Fortune 500 experience. She blogs at Punk Rock Human Resources.

Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires

They’re just like you. But with lots of money.

Success Stories

When you think “millionaire,” what image comes to mind? For many of us, it’s a flashy Wall Street banker type who flies a private jet, collects cars and lives the kind of decadent lifestyle that would make Donald Trump proud.

But many modern millionaires live in middle-class neighborhoods, work full-time and shop in discount stores like the rest of us. What motivates them isn’t material possessions but the choices that money can bring: “For the rich, it’s not about getting more stuff. It’s about having the freedom to make almost any decision you want,” says T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. Wealth means you can send your child to any school or quit a job you don’t like.
According to the Spectrem Wealth Study, an annual survey of America’s wealthy, there are more people living the good life than ever before—the number of millionaires nearly doubled in the last decade. And the rich are getting richer. To make it onto the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans, a mere billionaire no longer makes the cut. This year you needed a net worth of at least $1.3 billion.

If more people are getting richer than ever, why shouldn’t you be one of them? Here, five people who have at least a million dollars in liquid assets share the secrets that helped them get there.
Successful Entrepreneurs
Photographed by Chip Simons
Rick Sikorski made his big bucks in personal fitness.

1. Set your sights on where you’re going
Twenty years ago, Jeff Harris hardly seemed on the road to wealth. He was a college dropout who struggled to support his wife, DeAnn, and three kids, working as a grocery store clerk and at a junkyard where he melted scrap metal alongside convicts. “At times we were so broke that we washed our clothes in the bathtub because we couldn’t afford the Laundromat.” Now he’s a 49-year-old investment advisor and multimillionaire in York, South Carolina.

There was one big reason Jeff pulled ahead of the pack: He always knew he’d be rich. The reality is that 80 percent of Americans worth at least $5 million grew up in middle-class or lesser households, just like Jeff.

Wanting to be wealthy is a crucial first step. Says Eker, “The biggest obstacle to wealth is fear. People are afraid to think big, but if you think small, you’ll only achieve small things.”

It all started for Jeff when he met a stockbroker at a Christmas party. “Talking to him, it felt like discovering fire,” he says. “I started reading books about investing during my breaks at the grocery store, and I began putting $25 a month in a mutual fund.” Next he taught a class at a local community college on investing. His students became his first clients, which led to his investment practice. “There were lots of struggles,” says Jeff, “but what got me through it was believing with all my heart that I would succeed.”

2. Educate yourself
When Steve Maxwell graduated from college, he had an engineering degree and a high-tech job—but he couldn’t balance his checkbook. “I took one finance class in college but dropped it to go on a ski trip,” says the 45-year-old father of three, who lives in Windsor, Colorado. “I actually had to go to my bank and ask them to teach me how to read my statement.”

One of the biggest obstacles to making money is not understanding it: Thousands of us avoid investing because we just don’t get it. But to make money, you must be financially literate. “It bothered me that I didn’t understand this stuff,” says Steve, “so I read books and magazines about money management and investing, and I asked every financial whiz I knew to explain things to me.”

He and his wife started applying the lessons: They made a point to live below their means. They never bought on impulse, always negotiated better deals (on their cars, cable bills, furniture) and stayed in their home long after they could afford a more expensive one. They also put 20 percent of their annual salary into investments.

Within ten years, they were millionaires, and people were coming to Steve for advice. “Someone would say, ‘I need to refinance my house—what should I do?’ A lot of times, I wouldn’t know the answer, but I’d go find it and learn something in the process,” he says.

In 2003, Steve quit his job to become part owner of a company that holds personal finance seminars for employees of corporations like Wal-Mart. He also started going to real estate investment seminars, and it’s paid off: He now owns $30 million worth of investment properties, including apartment complexes, a shopping mall and a quarry.

“I was an engineer who never thought this life was possible, but all it truly takes is a little self-education,” says Steve. “You can do anything once you understand the basics.”

3. Passion pays off
In 1995, Jill Blashack Strahan and her husband were barely making ends meet. Like so many of us, Jill was eager to discover her purpose, so she splurged on a session with a life coach. “When I told her my goal was to make $30,000 a year, she said I was setting the bar too low. I needed to focus on my passion, not on the paycheck.”

Jill, who lives with her son in Alexandria, Minnesota, owned a gift basket company and earned just $15,000 a year. She noticed when she let potential buyers taste the food items, the baskets sold like crazy. Jill thought, Why not sell the food directly to customers in a fun setting?
With $6,000 in savings, a bank loan and a friend’s investment, Jill started packaging gourmet foods in a backyard shed and selling them at taste-testing parties. It wasn’t easy. “I remember sitting outside one day, thinking we were three months behind on our house payment, I had two employees I couldn’t pay, and I ought to get a real job. But then I thought, No, this is your dream. Recommit and get to work.”

She stuck with it, even after her husband died three years later. “I live by the law of abundance, meaning that even when there are challenges in life, I look for the win-win,” she says.

The positive attitude worked: Jill’s backyard company, Tastefully Simple, is now a direct-sales business, with $120 million in sales last year. And Jill was named one of the top 25 female business owners in North America by Fast Company magazine.

According to research by Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Mind, over 80 percent of millionaires say they never would have been successful if their vocation wasn’t something they cared about.

More Ways to Grow Your Money

4. Grow your money
Most of us know the never-ending cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. “The fastest way to get out of that pattern is to make extra money for the specific purpose of reinvesting in yourself,” says Loral Langemeier, author of The Millionaire Maker. In other words, earmark some money for the sole purpose of investing it in a place where it will grow dramatically—like a business or real estate.

There are endless ways to make extra money for investing—you just have to be willing to do the work. “Everyone has a marketable skill,” says Langemeier. “When I started out, I had a tutoring business, seeing clients in the morning before work and on my lunch break.”

A little moonlighting cash really can grow into a million. Twenty-five years ago, Rick Sikorski dreamed of owning a personal training business. “I rented a tiny studio where I charged $15 an hour,” he says. When money started trickling in, he squirreled it away instead of spending it, putting it all back into the business. Rick’s 400-square-foot studio is now Fitness Together, a franchise based in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, with more than 360 locations worldwide. And he’s worth over $40 million.

When extra money rolls in, it’s easy to think, Now I can buy that new TV. But if you want to get rich, you need to pay yourself first, by putting money where it will work hard for you—whether that’s in your retirement fund, a side business or investments like real estate.

5. No guts, no glory
Last summer, Dave Lindahl footed the bill for 18 relatives at a fancy mansion in the Adirondacks. One night, his dad looked out at the scenery and joked, “I can’t believe we used to call you the black sheep!”

At 29, Dave was broke, living in a small apartment near Boston and wondering what to do after ten years in a local rock band. “I looked around and thought, If I don’t do something, I’ll be stuck here forever.”

He started a landscape company, buying his equipment on credit. When business literally froze over that winter, a banker friend asked if he’d like to renovate a foreclosed home. “I’m a terrible carpenter, but I needed the money, so I went to some free seminars at Home Depot and figured it out as I went,” he says.

After a few more renovations, it occurred to him: Why not buy the homes and sell them for profit? He took a risk and bought his first property. Using the proceeds, he bought another, and another. Twelve years later, he owns apartment buildings, worth $143 million, in eight states.

The Biggest Secret? Stop spending.
Every millionaire we spoke to has one thing in common: Not a single one spends needlessly. Real estate investor Dave Lindahl drives a Ford Explorer and says his middle-class neighbors would be shocked to learn how much he’s worth. Fitness mogul Rick Sikorski can’t fathom why anyone would buy bottled water. Steve Maxwell, the finance teacher, looked at a $1.5 million home but decided to buy one for half the price because “a house with double the cost wouldn’t give me double the enjoyment.”

It’s not a fluke: According to the 2007 Annual Survey of Affluence & Wealth in America, some of the richest people “spend their money with a middle-class mind-set.” They clip coupons, wait for sales and buy luxury items at a discount.

No kidding! Talk show host Tyra Banks calls herself the Queen of Cheap and keeps perfume samples from magazine ads in her purse for quick touch-ups.

Sara Blakely, founder of the $100 million shapewear company Spanx, gets her hair trimmed at Supercuts.

And Warren Buffett, the third richest person in the world, according to Forbes, lives in the same Omaha, Nebraska, home he bought four decades ago for $31,500.

D-roll: Roll your laptop to be a backpack

Modern gadgets apart from being stylish are getting smaller day-by-day. And the latest creation to catch our eye is the ‘next gen laptop design’ by Hao Hua. Dubbed “D-roll” or “digital roll,” the new device works like a regular laptop, but rolls up to be a side bag or even a backpack for easy transportation. Designed like an artist’s tube, the D-roll Laptop features a roll up OLED screen and a slide out keyboard, together with a mouse and a detachable webcam that can be worn on your wrist when not attach to the system. The mouse and web camera can also be used as the end caps for the laptop case, while the straps double as ports to plug in your USB devices.

Battling Cervical Cancer: DNA Test More Effective Than Pap Smear

Dr. Marie Savard Explains Differences Between a Pap Smear and a DNA Test

A DNA test that detects the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer, is more effective than Pap smears at detecting and preventing the disease, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A new study finds DNA test to detect HPV is more effective than Pap smears.

"Good Morning America" medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard explains the difference between the two procedures and what it means for health.

How is this DNA test different from a Pap smear? And why is it more effective?

Pap smears check for cell changes caused by the cancer, but it is not foolproof. That's why it's done every year because it can miss some cell changes, which it might pick up the next year.

There are many reports of Pap smears not detecting abnormal cells until it's too late and the cancer is advanced. The DNA test, on the other hand, tests for the actual virus, which makes it much more effective as a test for cervical cancer because we now know that all cervical cancer is caused by this virus.

Ars cracks TV Fringe code

Ars go-to guy and cipher expert Julian Sanchez has cracked a code embedded into the TV series Fringe. Here are the details and what the codes mean.

Ars cracks TV Fringe code

Ars' own Julian Sanchez has deciphered a code embedded into the TV show Fringe. Bad Robot, the production company that created the Fox TV show, has been integrating puzzles and easter eggs into shows like Lost for years. Fringe, its freshman sci-fi/mystery which resumes Tuesday night on Fox, presented a particular challenge to viewers. It integrates a series of visual clues before commercial breaks. Sanchez determined that these images represented a simple cipher, building up to a single word per episode tying into the theme of that show.

Ars first wrote about the Fringe code last week. Building on that background, Sanchez was able to use a "dictionary attack" to create a correspondence between each unique image and a letter of the alphabet. Show clues translated to simple five, six, or eight-letter words like "Observer," "Child," "Bishop," and "Olivia."

On his personal blog, Sanchez writes that the actual solution ended up taking just a few minutes. "[I]t’s actually incredibly simple once you make one crucial assumption," Sanchez stated. That assumption was that the images from each show built up to that single word. "Alas, there’s no deep dark mysteries about the show’s arc concealed here," he added. "And the solution’s actually a bit anticlimactic..."

What Sanchez worked out was a simple monoalphabetic substitution cipher. Each picture shown was a combination of three things: one of eight images (including a butterfly, a seahorse, an apple, and so forth), its orientation (sometimes the image got flipped as if shown in a mirror) and the position of a small glowing yellow dot. Together these items defined one unique letter of the alphabet. Sanchez told Ars that the systematic organization of the reflections and dot positions simplified matters. "Once that's done, it solves itself when you get the wordbreaks right."

Sanchez relates that he had been personally challenged by a friend to see if he could work out the solution, being told that the cipher might not be crackable. "And I'm like, who are you talking to? I'll crack it before bed." Which he did. Referring to the previous Ars post on the subject, he thanked Ars for leaving a last step for him to tackle.

To date, Fringe has aired just 14 episodes. Sanchez's solution defines just 18 of the 26 letters of the alphabet. There's still some minor work to be done should the letters F, J, M, Q, W, X, Y or Z show up. Viewers will be able to continue working out the remaining secret phrases as each of the final six episodes of the season air.

And discovering those words may not be the end of the story. Sanchez suggests that the cipher may just be the first step of the solution. "Think, for instance, of those acrostic puzzles you sometimes see in the New York Times Magazine, where you fill in responses to a series of clues, then rearrange the letters into an adjacent grid to form a quotation," he writes. The words, when considered together, may offer a deeper game.

To aid amateur decoders who plan to watch the show's return to the air tonight, fan site FringeTelevision created a convenient key based on Sanchez's solution, included below.


2010 Nissan 370Z: First Official Picture

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Enlarge Photo

We all knew that Nissan would be dropping trou on its new NISMO Z and convertible 370Z Roadster at this week's New York Auto Show. What we didn't expect was an early shot of the 370Z in advance of the roadster's show debut.

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Enlarge Photo

In addition to these two early shots, we grabbed some live photos from Nissan's display over at New York's Morrell Wine Bar. We've also got plenty of video of the car from around the web. Nissan isn't doing an official press conference, but the Z roadster and NISMO-tuned coupe will be on the show floor tomorrow.

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Enlarge Photo

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Enlarge Photo

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

Enlarge Photo

The important info: the new Z roadster has a fabric folding top, and shares nothing with the Infiniti G37 hardtop convertible. Like the new 2009 Nissan 370Z, it rides on a short-ish 100.4-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 167.2 inches. The drivetrain's shared with the 2009 370Z coupe--a 332-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 teams up with a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters or a six-speed manual gearbox that matches engine revs for better shifting. The rear-drive Roadster sports a one-step mechanism that lowers the top at the push of a button. A glass rear window is standard, as are high-intensity discharge headlamps and a wind deflector. Sport brakes are an option, along with Bluetooth, navigation system, XM satellite radio, aluminum pedals and a Bose audio system.

Nissan also showed off its in-house NISMO tuner version of the new 370Z coupe. The NISMO edition sees its power bumped to 350 horsepower, with a six-speed manual the sole transmission. The doors, hood and hatch are made from aluminum to cut weight, and the body wears aero add-ons to distinguish it from the base coupe. A tuned exhaust and a standard limited-slip differential team up with a NISMO-tweaked suspension and 19-inch wheels. Special gauges and red-stitched interior trim are the finishing touches inside the NISMO.

We'll have more from the 2009 New York auto show tomorrow. For more photos, click over to our 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster page and to the 2009 Nissan 370Z NISMO page.


It’s On! Portland and San Francisco Battle For Electric Car Domination

Author photo Written by Nick Chambers

Just a few weeks ago San Francisco’s visionary Mayor, Gavin Newsom, wrote a post for us describing his plan to make the Bay Area the electric car capital of the world by aggressively developing the charging infrastructure to support full-scale EV deployment. At the time he proclaimed:

“Electric vehicles have the possibility to transform our economy, revive our car industry, and improve our environment. To make sure electric vehicles succeed this time around we need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in battery technology and [charging] infrastructure.”

Well, San Francisco, you have a challenger.

While I was at a press event yesterday hearing more about the major collaboration between Oregon, Portland General Electric and Nissan to develop a widespread EV charging network throughout Oregon, Portland’s Mayor, Sam Adams, threw down the gauntlet:

“We’re often ranked the most sustainable city in the nation. Our goal is to become the most sustainable city in the world. Today is a very important initiative that builds on where we have been but also puts us on the road, pardon the pun, to being an even greener city.”

“Working with the Governors office, Portland General Electric, and others, we will be announcing the most aggressive in-garage and on-street wired up charging station strategy that I think any city in the United States has sought to achieve. And that even means you Gavin Newsom, who’s trying hard to make the Bay Area the EV capital of the world. Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh… That’s gonna be Portland.”

I knew I had to go all the way to the top to get some answers, so I asked Mayor Newsom’s office for a response to this brewing West Coast EV turf war. Having just gotten off the phone with Mayor Newsom himself, he defended the Bay Area’s fight for the title of “EV king” saying:

“It gets me that Portland is always edging us out to win this or that sustainability competition and I thought I’d finally gotten a leg up on them with our aggressive EV development plan. Portland is a worthy competitor and it’s a fair game. It’s an enlightened competition. I don’t know the details of Portland’s plan yet, but mark my words, once we hear the details you can be sure we’ll be on top of it.”

Mayor Newsom’s Communication Director, Nathan Ballard, also added, “We welcome the healthy competiton. The more the merrier.”

Being the self-styled gushing Oregonian that I am, Mayor Adams elicited no small amount of pride from me, but I gotta give San Fran props for their wholehearted rallying cry.

All mock warring aside, I’m just happy to see the change coming so fast and furious right now. I want an electric car that can take me 100 miles a day on the freeway so bad it hurts

Now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps other cities want to get in on the EV war too? It sure beats the hell out of unwinnable wars like the war on terror or the war on drugs. Any takers?

Johan Santana Masters 78 Different Handshakes

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets, Head for the park and greet the Mets. Hot dogs, green grass all out at Shea, Guaranteed to have a heck of a day.

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

Spectacular HD Short film on Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor - Philip Bloom Comp
by James Watson
Dartmoor is a national park about 30 miles from where I live. I've never really visited the moorland before so for a couple of days in September I took my camera and explored.

Shot on the Sony EX1, no adaptors.

Do You Want Google To Have Access to Your Prescription Records?

Google Health Logo

Google just got access to millions of prescription records, and most likely, so did you.

GoogleGoogle reviewsGoogle reviews announced today that CVS/pharmacy, one of the largest pharmacy chains in the U.S., has partnered with Google Health to provide patients online access to their prescription drug history through Google Health accounts. This is in addition to Walgreens Pharmacy, Meijer, Medco, and other national pharmacies.

If you purchased prescription drugs from any of these chains, Google can access that information in its never ending goal to organize the world’s information and make it accessible and useful. But is Google having access to private prescription drug information a step too far?

For those who have not used Google Health, it currently allows you to import your medical records from over a dozen pharmacies, medical centers, and health insurance providers. Once imported, you can review those records and keep them updated, with the help of Google and its partners.

Google Health CVS Image

With the CVS announcement, Google now has access to the detailed prescription history information of more than 100 million patients. In addition to allowing users to access their medical history, Google also says that it will use this information and partnerships for patient safety and increasing the efficiency of health care.

This same data is also very sensitive and personal. People with a history of mental conditions and embarrassing deficiencies may now have to worry about Google using that information in statistical analysis or more (prescription drug ads anyone?). And all of this is in addition to the information Google can import from medical devices like heart rate monitors.

Can Google do more good than harm with sensitive medical information, or is this infringing on the privacy of individuals? How Google uses this information is something everyone should watch. Let us know what you think in the comments.