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Monday, June 1, 2009

Phish and fans come back together for a pledge of mutual allegiance - Fenway Park Rules!!

Phish At Fenway Park, last night

i went to Phish last night at Fenway Park. Amazing Show.

Amazing Setlist.

Set One: Sample In A Jar, Moma Dance, Chalk Dust Torture, Ocelot^, Stash, Bouncing Around The Room, Poor Heart, Limb By Limb, Wading In The Velvet Sea, Down With Disease, Destiny Unbound, Character Zero

Set Two: Tweezer > Light^, Bathtub Gin, David Bowie, Time Turns Elastic^, Free, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, You Enjoy Myself
Encore: Cavern, Good Times Bad Times, Tweezer Reprise

From the Boston Globe:

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / June 1, 2009

"The Star-Spangled Banner" felt like an appropriate opener for the Phish show at Fenway Park last night, as the members of the Vermont rock band reconvened with one another and their nation of fans to pledge allegiance to the jam.

If band members were seeking a good omen for this reunion, following a five-year hiatus, they had to look no farther than the sky. In the time it took them to get back from the rain-soaked infield - where they performed an intricate a cappella version of the anthem in Red Sox jerseys - to the stage for the start of the show proper, the sun had broken through and a rainbow appeared over the outfield.

The two-set performance, covering three hours and 20 minutes, revealed that little has changed during the break. None of the band members, who were all smiles, have lost an instrumental step, drummer Jon Fishman is still rocking his performance dress, the audience remains as interested in wriggling as watching, and the songs are sometimes taut and sharp or slack and hazy.

The first set featured shorter and snappier tunes. "Bouncing Around the Room" was a riot of spiraling guitar riffs and sweet high harmonies. They went south for the galloping, countrified "Poor Heart," which flew by on the fast and furious saloon piano licks of keyboardist Page McConnell and tensile bass lines of Mike Gordon. The slash and burn of "Down With Disease" built to an epic guitar solo crescendo as singer-guitarist Trey Anastasio entered a rarefied zone. The audience - a mix of the scruffy and well-heeled, youthful and grizzled - ecstatically got into the spirit supplying handclaps for "Stash."

The sun went down between sets and the songs stretched out into more layered and psychedelic corners, especially the new "Time Turns Elastic," which felt like several songs in one, some of them captivating. Even as they wandered through the rubbery grooves of "David Bowie" and "You Enjoy Myself" - which revived Gordon and Anastasio's synchronized mini-trampoline routine - they kept the horizon in sight, only occasionally dipping into the no-man's land of mid-tempo aimlessness.

The lively encore that capped the night included a loud, raucous, and note-perfect rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Good Times Bad Times."

Last Titanic survivor dies at age 97

Millvina Dean was just over 2 months old when the Titanic sank less than three horus after hitting an iceberg off Newfoundland April 14, 1912.
2002 AFP/Getty Images photo
Millvina Dean was just over 2 months old when the Titanic sank less than three horus after hitting an iceberg off Newfoundland April 14, 1912.
LONDON (AP) — Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the sinking of RMS Titanic, has died, her friend Gunter Babler said Sunday.

She was 97 years old, and she died where she had lived — in Southampton, England, the city her family had tried to leave behind when it took the ship's ill-fated maiden voyage, bound for America.

She died in her sleep early Sunday, her friend Gunter Babler told the Associated Press. It was the 98th anniversary of the launch of the ship that was billed as "practically unsinkable."

Babler said Dean's longtime companion, Bruno Nordmanis, called him in Switzerland to say staff at Woodlands Ridge Nursing Home in Southampton discovered Dean in her room Sunday morning. He said she had been hospitalized with pneumonia last week but she had recovered and returned to the home.

A staff nurse at the nursing home said late Sunday that no one would comment until administrators came on duty Monday morning.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Titanic | Kate Winslet | Millvina Dean

Dean just over 2 months old when the Titanic hit an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912. The ship sank in less than three hours.

Dean was one of 706 people — mostly women and children — who survived. Her father was among the 1,517 who died.

Babler, who is head of the Switzerland Titanic Society, said Dean was a "very good friend of very many years."

"I met her through the Titanic society but she became a friend and I went to see very every month or so," he said.

The pride of the White Star line, the Titanic had a mahogany-paneled smoking room, a swimming pool and a squash court. But it did not have enough lifeboats for all of its 2,200 passengers and crew.

Dean's family were steerage passengers setting out from the English port of Southampton for a new life in the United States. Her father had sold his pub and hoped to open a tobacconists' shop in Kansas City, Missouri, where his wife had relatives.

Initially scheduled to travel on another ship, the family was transferred to the Titanic because of a coal strike. Four days out of port and about 380 miles southeast of Newfoundland, the ship hit an iceberg. The impact buckled the Titanic's hull and sent sea water pouring into six of its supposedly watertight compartments.

Dean said her father's quick actions saved his family. He felt the ship scrape the iceberg and hustled the family out of its third-class quarters and toward the lifeboat that would take them to safety. "That's partly what saved us — because he was so quick. Some people thought the ship was unsinkable," Dean told the British Broadcasting Corp. in 1998.

Wrapped in a sack against the Atlantic chill, Dean was lowered into a lifeboat. Her 2-year-old brother Bertram and her mother Georgette also survived.

"She said goodbye to my father and he said he'd be along later," Dean said in 2002. "I was put into lifeboat 13. It was a bitterly cold night and eventually we were picked up by the Carpathia."

The family was taken to New York, then returned to England with other survivors aboard the rescue ship Adriatic. Dean did not know she had been aboard the Titanic until she was 8 years old, when her mother, about to remarry, told her about her father's death. Her mother, always reticent about the tragedy, died in 1975 at age 95.

Born in London on Feb. 2, 1912, Elizabeth Gladys "Millvina" Dean spent most of her life in the English seaside town of Southampton, Titanic's home port. She never married, and worked as a secretary, retiring in 1972 from an engineering firm.

She moved into a nursing home after breaking her hip about three years ago. She had to sell several Titanic mementoes to raise funds, prompting her friends to set up a fund to subsidize her nursing home fees. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, the stars of the film Titanic, pledged their support to the fund last month.

For most of her life Dean had no contact with Titanic enthusiasts and rarely spoke about the disaster. Dean said she had seen the 1958 film A Night to Remember with other survivors, but found it so upsetting that she declined to watch any other attempts to put the disaster on celluloid, including the 1997 blockbuster Titanic.

She began to take part in Titanic-related activities in the 1980s, after the discovery of the ship's wreck in 1985 sparked renewed interest in the disaster. At a memorial service in England, Dean met a group of American Titanic enthusiasts who invited her to a meeting in the U.S.

She visited Belfast to see where the ship was built, attended Titanic conventions around the world — where she was mobbed by autograph seekers — and participated in radio and television documentaries about the sinking.

Charles Haas, president of the New-Jersey based Titanic International Society, said Dean was happy to talk to children about the Titanic. "She had a soft spot for children," he said. "I remember watching was little tiny children came over clutching pieces of paper for her to sign. She was very good with them, very warm."

In 1997, Dean crossed the Atlantic by boat for the first time, on the QEII luxury liner, and finally visited Kansas City, declaring it "so lovely I could stay here five years." She was active well into her 90s, but missed the commemoration of the 95th anniversary of the disaster in 2007 after breaking her hip.

Dean had no memories of the sinking and said she preferred it that way. "I wouldn't want to remember, really," she told The Associated Press in 1997. She opposed attempts to raise the wreck 13,000 feet from the sea bed.

"I don't want them to raise it, I think the other survivors would say exactly the same," she said in 1997. "That would be horrible."

The last survivor with memories of the sinking — and the last American survivor — was Lillian Asplund, who was 5 at the time. She died in May 2006 at the age of 99. The second-last survivor, Barbara Joyce West Dainton of Truro, England, died in October 2007 aged 96.

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

Giant feral pig 'was eating a cow'

Giant boar pic is no hoax, say Pilbara witnesses

Feral pig
Porky ... this massive feral pig was shot on a Pilbara cattle station by pastoralist John Anick
THIS giant feral pig was shot on a Pilbara cattle station after it was spotted eating a dead cow.

The picture has been circulating on the internet alongside claims the boar was killed at various locations across Australia.

It was written off as a hoax by many, including WA's Department of Environment and Conservation, and sparked much debate when published on website PerthNow.

But The Sunday Times has confirmed that the pig was shot on a Pilbara cattle station near Newman, 1200km northeast of Perth.

Sources close to the family of the man in the photo have confirmed he is Pilbara pastoralist John Anick and the picture was taken on his property three years ago.

The family refused to talk about the giant boar earlier, for fear that illegal pig hunters would flock to the area.

The source said the 220kg beast was eating a cow when it was first seen by workers mustering cattle in a helicopter.

Mr Anick saw it again on a trip to check windmills on the property and shot it.

"I can vouch 100 per cent. I don't even have to say 90 per cent, that it (the photo) was taken in the Pilbara and it is who I said it is,'' the source said.

This reader comment was left on the PerthNow report this week: "Information I have on this photo is that it was shot by John Anick ... During muster a helicopter spotted it and when told John drove out and shot it! Many sausages were made and eaten, so I'm told!''

DEC spokesman Nigel Higgs said the picture was a fake.

`"There are some pigs at De Grey River, east of Port Hedland, and some domestic pigs gone wild near Savory Creek, 200km east of Newman, but they are small and pink,'' he said.

Another source working in Perth claimed to have scanned the original photograph into a computer.
Read the full story at PerthNow

North Korea may launch long-range missile in weeks: report

A female North Korean soldier guards the banks of the Yalu River
Reuters – A female North Korean soldier guards the banks of the Yalu River near the Chongsong county of North Korea …

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea may this month test a missile designed to fly as far as U.S. territory and may also be gearing up for skirmishes with the South around their disputed sea border, South Korean news reports said on Monday.

Last week, North Korea conducted a nuclear test that put it closer to having a working atomic bomb, test-fired a barrage of short-range missiles and threatened to attack the South, raising tension to one of its highest levels since the 1950-53 Korean War.

In a move that could cause further diplomatic friction, North Korea will put on trial on Thursday two U.S. journalists it arrested on its border with China several months ago and charged with committing "hostile acts".

Analysts see Pyongyang's growing belligerence as an attempt to bolster the position of leader Kim Jong-il, whose suspected stroke last August raised questions about his grip on power.

The isolated and impoverished state's actions are also seen as bids to improve its weaponry and put pressure on regional powers to consider giving it money in exchange for disarmament.

North Korea is preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with an estimated range of 2,500-4,000 miles from a west coast base, the daily JoongAng Ilbo cited South Korean intelligence sources as saying.

"Preparations for the launch are likely to be completed in mid-June," one intelligence source said.

Government officials would not confirm the reports.

Train cars carrying a missile left about two weeks ago for a missile base on the North's west coast, the sources said.

Investors said recent developments have raised concern about the threat posed by the North, but they have not had a sustained impact on financial markets and indeed foreign investors have been net buyers of Seoul shares for 12 consecutive sessions.

Ratings Agency Moody' said a rocket launch in April and last month's nuclear test showed the risks posed to the region, but added: "We also consider that the stable outlook on South Korea's A2 sovereign ratings remains appropriate.

The main South Korean index has risen by about 9 percent since the rocket launch.


The prickly communist state has threatened to test-fire an ICBM if the U.N. Security Council does not apologize for tightening sanctions after the April rocket launch.

The United States and Japan agreed on Monday they cannot accept a nuclear-armed North Korea, saying they were deeply concerned about recent "destabilizing" actions by the state.

"We absolutely cannot accept that North Korea will have nuclear weapons," Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka, said after meeting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg.

However, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a visit to Manila that Washington was not in a hurry to look for options other than the now-stalled six-party talks on North Korea to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

Last week, U.S. officials said Gates had told his South Korea and Japan counterparts that while diplomacy was preferred in dealing with North Korea, other steps may be considered.

Western diplomats said Russia and China have agreed in principle that North Korea should be sanctioned for its nuclear test, but it is not clear what penalties they would back at the United Nations. Both are generally reluctant to back sanctions.

China, the closest that North Korea can claim as a major ally, appears to have temporarily suspended sending delegations to the North in a sign of displeasure over its recent saber rattling, the South's Yonhap news agency quoted unnamed diplomatic sources in Beijing as saying.

April's rocket launch was widely seen as a disguised test of North Korea's long-range Taepodong-2 missile, violating U.N. resolutions banning the country from ballistic missile launches.

That rocket splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after flying some 3,000 km, experts said, indicating the North needed further testing to perfect its ICBM technology. The Alaskan coast is about 4,800 km from North Korea while the U.S. West Coast is at least 8,000 km away.

"The launch of what North Korea called a satellite in April failed to show intercontinental capabilities, so they want to show it this time around," said Kim Tae-woo, a weapons expert at the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis.

North Korea has not mastered the technology of miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to mount on a missile, weapons experts say.

In what could set the stage for further provocations, North Korea has declared a wide area of Yellow Sea waters off its west coast off limits until the end of July because it may be preparing for a clash with the South, a report in South Korea's biggest newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, said.

The two Koreas fought deadly battles in 1999 and 2002 near a Yellow Sea border called the Northern Limit Line, set by U.S.-led U.N. forces at the end of the Korean War.

The North has said the border is invalid and last week warned ships from the South it could not guarantee their safety if they sailed in that area.

(Additional reporting by Kim Junghyun and Jungyoun Park; editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

Iraq-born teen cracks maths puzzle

In just four months, Mohamed Altoumaimi has found a formula to explain and simplify the so-called Bernoulli numbers, a sequence of calculations named after the 17th century Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli, the Dagens Nyheter daily said.

Altoumaimi, who came to Sweden six years ago, said teachers at his high school in Falun, central Sweden were not convinced about his work at first.

"When I first showed it to my teachers, none of them thought the formula I had written down really worked," Altoumaimi told the Falu Kuriren newspaper.

He then got in touch with professors at Uppsala University, one of Sweden's top institutions, to ask them to check his work.

After going through his notebooks, the professors found his work was indeed correct and offered him a place in Uppsala.

But for now, Altoumaimi is focusing on his school studies and plans to take summer classes in advanced mathematics and physics this year.

"I wanted to be a researcher in physics or mathematics; I really like those subjects. But I have to improve in English and social sciences," he told the Falu Kuriren.

HDMI 1.4 Brings Ethernet, 3D, 4K Support To A/V

Remember the days when we weren't even sure if Sony's PlayStation 3 would rely on HDMI to output its high-definition content? Seems like an eternity ago, right? Today, HDMI is a home theater mainstay, and a practical guarantee on any piece of new A/V equipment. We're even seeing it pop up on lower-end notebooks these days, which certainly goes to show just how pervasive the format has become.

This week, the HDMI Licensing group announced the next logical step in the protocol, with HDMI 1.4 being revealed. Obviously, this takes over where HDMI 1.3 (the existing specification) left off, and we definitely have mixed feeling on the whole thing. For starters, we're thrilled to see such advancements delivered to HDMI. This new spec promises networking capabilities with Ethernet connectivity, not to mention an Audio Return Channel to enable upstream audio connections via the HDMI cable. Furthermore, it will support 3D over HDMI and 4K x 2K resolution. Finally, it'll support an array of expanded colors and even a microHDMI connector that is approximately 50% smaller than the size of the existing HDMI Mini Connector.

HDMI 1.4 is even tailored to automobiles...if you buy the right cable. You see, for as many things as HDMI 1.4 does right, it gets one thing very wrong. Consumers don't need any more confusion in their lives, especially when it comes to A/V. Instead of having just one cable that does it all (like HDMI 1.3), HDMI 1.4 will arrive in five different versions for varying needs. We appreciate the chance to choose, but in this industry, we can't see this going over well with unseasoned cable buyers.

The specification should be fully available to cable makers and equipment designers by the end of June, and while there's no time line given as to when we'll see HDMI 1.4 certified cords, we'd guess they'll be infiltrating Best Buy within the year. More details on the new features and five cable options are below.

The HDMI 1.4 specification will offer the following enhanced functionalities:

  • HDMI Ethernet Channel

The HDMI 1.4 specification will add a data channel to the HDMI cable and will enable high-speed bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature will be able to send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, making them instantly ready for any IP-based application.

The HDMI Ethernet Channel will allow an Internet-enabled HDMI device to share its Internet connection with other HDMI devices without the need for a separate Ethernet cable. The new feature will also provide the connection platform to allow HDMI-enabled devices to share content between devices.

  • Audio Return Channel

The new specification will add an Audio Return Channel that will reduce the number of cables required to deliver audio upstream for processing and playback. In cases where HDTVs are directly receiving audio and video content, this new Audio Return Channel allows the HDTV to send the audio stream to the A/V receiver over the HDMI cable, eliminating the need for an extra cable.

  • 3D Over HDMI

The 1.4 version of the specification will define common 3D formats and resolutions for HDMI-enabled devices. The specification will standardize the input/output portion of the home 3D system and will specify up to dual-stream 1080p resolution.

  • 4K x 2K Resolution Support

The new specification will enable HDMI devices to support high-definition (HD) resolutions four times beyond the resolution of 1080p. Support for 4K x 2K will allow the HDMI interface to transmit content at the same resolution as many digital theaters. Formats supported include:

  • 3840x2160 24Hz/25Hz/30Hz
  • 4096x2160 24Hz
  • Expanded Support For Color Spaces

HDMI technology now supports color spaces designed specifically for digital still cameras. By supporting sYCC601, Adobe RGB and AdobeYCC601, HDMI-enabled display devices will be capable of reproducing more accurate life-like colors when connected to a digital still camera.

  • Micro HDMI Connector

The Micro HDMI Connector is a significantly smaller 19-pin connector that supports up to 1080p resolutions for portable devices. This new connector is approximately 50% smaller than the size of the existing HDMI Mini Connector.

  • Automotive Connection System

The Automotive Connection System is a cabling specification designed to be used as the basis for in-vehicle HD content distribution. The HDMI 1.4 specification will provide a solution designed to meet the rigors and environmental issues commonly found in automobiles, such as heat, vibration and noise. Using the Automotive Connection System, automobile manufactures will now have a viable solution for distributing HD content within the car.

Consumers will have a choice of the following HDMI cables:

  • Standard HDMI Cable – supports data rates up to 1080i/60;
  • High Speed HDMI Cable – supports data rates beyond 1080p, including Deep Color and all 3D formats of the new 1.4 specification;
  • Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet – includes Ethernet connectivity;
  • High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet – includes Ethernet connectivity;
  • Automotive HDMI Cable – allows the connection of external HDMI-enabled devices to an in-vehicle HDMI device.

Beavers return to Scotland after absence of 400 years

More than 400 years of Scottish history were rolled back last night when two families of European beavers were released into the wild beside a loch in Knapdale, Argyllshire.

For many environmentalists, this was a joyful moment, another small step in a long battle to recreate the biodiversity of wilderness Scotland, lost in large part to centuries of change. For their opponents — often drawn from commercial fishing interests — it was a disaster, a furry threat to a £100 million fishing business.

To illustrate their concerns, British fishing associations distributed photographs yesterday of a beaver dam already in Scotland. The man-sized dam was built by a colony of beavers kept by the wildlife enthusiast Paul Ramsay at his 1,300-acre Bamff Castle estate near Alyth, Perthshire.

According to Nick Young, director of the Tweed Foundation, a charitable trust that promotes the sustainable development of fish stocks in the River Tweed, it shows the problem that salmon will face when migrating upstream.

Mr Young said that the romantic dreams of environmentalists threatened all of Scotland’s migratory fish, trout as well as salmon. “Salmon need a depth of water to leap — you don’t find that below a beaver dam, especially one that big. I am sure the people who are reintroducing them know a lot about beavers, but nothing about salmon.”

Mr Ramsay said that the likely impact of the reintroduction on fish stocks had been exaggerated. The main spawning areas in salmon rivers such as the Tay were in the river itself, or in its larger tributaries such as the Tummel and the Ericht — waters so broad that beavers could hardly dam them. Instead, beavers would build in the upper reaches of a river system, areas where relatively few fish spawned, he said. Even where headwaters were spawning grounds, it was possible for conservationists to manage dams to allow fish to swim upstream.

Mr Ramsay, president of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society, added: “This problem is not insoluble, and there is evidence that dams result in good conditions for young fish.”

A beaver-damaged tree

Paul Ramsay examines the damage to a tree caused by beavers on his estate in Perthshire, Scotland

Fishing interests remain convinced that the evidence damns the beaver. American beavers — slightly smaller than their European cousins — were reintroduced to Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1949, and opponents of that scheme say that the difficulties associated with their inexorable spread will soon be mirrored in Scotland.

According to a report commissioned by the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Canada witnessed a slow decrease in salmon numbers and then, in 2002, a collapse, with the loss or huge decline of the fish in 18 rivers on the island. The report concluded that “beaver blockages appear to be the main reason”, said Paul Knight, executive director of the Salmon and Trout Association. “Six decades on it is clear that their impact on salmon numbers has been catastrophic. Surely this must cause alarm bells to ring within Scottish government.”

His view is opposed by the scientist behind the Scottish Beaver Trial, whose members are from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Forestry Commission Scotland. They argue that beavers co-existed with salmon in Scotland for millennia before Man wiped them out in the 16th century.

The animals being used in the £750,000 Scottish trial were captured in Telemark, Norway, and have been held in quarantine for six months before their release in Knapdale. Simon Jones, project manager for the five-year trial, said that both the positive and negative effects of the reintroduction were being examined.

“We believe this site is large enough to sustain the natural expansion of the [Atlantic salmon] population over the next five years. There are no plans to reintroduce beavers in other sites across Scotland at present. The future of beavers is a decision that will be made by the Scottish government once the findings of the trial have been evaluated,” he said.

Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Environment Minister, will release a third family of beavers at a ceremony this morning.

Behind the story

The beavers being released in Scotland are but tiddlers compared with the behemoth that has been on the loose in Devon for the past six months (Simon de Bruxelles writes).

The 40kg (6st) male, which escaped from a farm at the end of last year, has so far evaded all attempts to trap him, ignoring the scent of female pheromones and offerings of food.

From the furore that preceded the release in Scotland, you might be forgiven for fearing imminent environmental catastrophe, comparable to the reintroduction of the woolly mammoth to suburban Surrey or the release of wolves in Hyde Park. But the Devon beaver has shown that the species can turn out model citizens and perform a useful function.

Using his large chisel-like teeth, the beaver has felled a few trees to get at their leafy tops, in the process opening up scrubby woodland alongside the River Tamar on the border with Cornwall. The evidence of his activities is plainly visible in the shape of tree trunks gnawed into perfect pencil points. The benefit is new growth where the light has been allowed to reach the woodland floor, and clearings that are buzzing with new life as insects and amphibians move into a welcoming home.

So far he has conspicuously failed to dam the Tamar, as some feared.

Derek Gow, who imported the European beavers released in Scotland, is the owner of the Devon runaway. His attempts to recapture his prize specimen have so far been unsuccessful.

He said: “Baiting the trap with the scent of a female didn’t work, and there’s so much fresh growth around that there’s no shortage of food.

“We are probably going to have to wait until he establishes some paths so we can place the traps where we know he’s going to be.” Mr Gow is in no rush to recapture the giant rodent, however. Every day that the beaver spends on the river bank failing to live up to the doomsayers’ expectations is one day closer to Mr Gow’s dream of re-establishing beavers in England, as well as in Scotland.

5 Of The Most Alcoholic Drinks Ever To Scorch Your Throat

Have you ever walked into your local liquor store and wondered, without reading the labels of each and every bottle there, which is the strongest alcohol they sell? Which would let you get the most bang for your buck? Which to slip into your dates drink to ‘loosen her up?’ (By the way, don’t do that.)

Everclear - As anyone who has ever imbibed Everclear will tell you, there is no wonder it made the top of the list. Available in potency up to 95% alcohol by volume (190 proof), this stuff is banned from sale in 13 states in the U.S. However, in those states you can buy the weaker, 151 proof variety. Short of home-distilled sour-mash moonshine, you don’t legally get much stronger than Everclear. The best part? Everclear is flavorless, like good vodka is supposed to be. It is odorless as well, so it can basically be added to any drink or cocktail to give it one hell of a kick in the ass.


Devil Springs Vodka - Typical vodkas, in keeping with the Russian, Lithuanian, and Polish vodka traditions, is typically proofed somewhere between 76 (38% alcohol by volume) and 100 (50% by volume). New Jersey decided to say ‘Fuck you, tradition’ and came out with a rather rebellious 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume) vodka, Devil’s Springs Vodka. According to their sources, they claim it is a great proof for flavoring with your own preference, then diluting it with 50% water, bringing it back down to vodka standards. We at Regretful Morning say: Bite Me. (Please note, that ‘Me’ is collective). We’d rather flavor it, then drink the 160 proof delight ourselves, nice and strong, you know, to show those Russians just what kind of pussies they are.


Absinthe - Absinthe, aka the Green Fairy, comes in at number three on our list. Banned from sale in the United States since 1913, it took a Frenchman with a desire to succeed and affinity for being uncharacteristically unFrench by not giving up to get this ban overturned in 2007. Made from the Wormwood herb, alleged to possess psychedelic properties, this green liquor had gained a cult following, thanks primarily to its banning and the nickname. Ranking at 144 proof, this potent potable is typically consumed mixed with water. The water is generally poured over an Absinthe spoon with a sugar cube on it to take away the bite. The reason this drink beats out some of the 150 proof spirits is because, due to its cult following, and the hallucinogenic properties attributed to it, it will both kick your ass, take your name, and proceed to kick your name’s ass.


Bacardi 151 - This 151 proof rum is used for making rum-based cocktails stronger, and lighting your shots on fire before downing them. Not coincidentally, Bacardi is the only manufacturer of strong rums to employ a flame arresting cap on every bottle. If, however, you appreciate a strong, healthy tradition of rich, strong drinks, than you’d enjoy something more along the lines of STROH Rum, a 160 proof Austrian rum, who totes the ability to spread the Austrian rum traditions.


Sierra Silver Tequila - Beaten out by the Bacardi 151 by exactly ½% alcohol by volume, here’s the final entry on our list. Sierra Silver, aka “The Rock That bites” claims to be the heart of Mexico. While the bottle DOES have some crazy, kick-ass looking sombrero for a lid, anything that’s 150 proof can’t claim to be the heart of anything, nor the stomach. That much high octane juice inside you, anywhere, is likely to cause spontaneous awesome, bouts of a mysteriously sexy Mexican accent, and chronic sexy parties. That’s right, we’re officially nominating the Sierra Silver as the sexiest high-proof drink out there because, in addition to being a tequila that actually will lay you out the next morning, it’s got a fancy hat.


How to Download Embedded Flash Files using your Browser

By Saikat Basu

thumbnail1Today, Flash is everywhere. Animations, music, games, advertisements or even streaming presentations. Speaking of games, here’s a list of site with the best flash games.

The use of Flash plug-ins in browsers is now almost obligatory. Yes, it’s easy to view and enjoy the rich media content delivered by interactive Flash embedded pages. But what if I want to download some of these files as keepsakes? The greatest benefit – I can watch them offline in my own jolly time. Convert them to a format of my choice. Or embed them again in a PowerPoint presentation. Or even transfer them to my mobile phone.

Flash animation files are embedded as SWF (Small Web Format) files in webpages. Rather than depending on any software or a third-party website, downloading Flash content is dead simple. The only tool required is a browser and a bit of patience to do the rummaging around.

Just one note: As we will be heading into the internet cache folders of the respective browsers, it pays to clear it of all old files before navigating to the desired page. It makes the Flash file search a lot easier.

So, here’s how to do it in three of our popular browsers.

Download SWF files using Firefox

  1. Fire up Firefox and browse to the page which contains the embedded SWF Flash file that you are eyeing to download. Let the SWF file stream through once completely.
  2. On any empty part of the page, right-click and select the Page Info context menu option. Or alternatively, go to Tools – Page Info.


  3. Select the Media tab. The Media tab lists all image formats, icons, style sheets and flash files that were rendered by the webpage.


  4. Look amongst the items to find the particular file with the SWF extension. The type column will show up with an Embed filetype. Highlight the file and click Save as to save the file on your hard drive.

Download SWF files using Internet Explorer

In IE8, we have to head to the Temporary Internet Files folder which stores all rendered files during a browsing session. (It can be directly accessed from here in Windows XP - C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files.)

  1. Go to the IE Menu bar. Click on Tools – Internet Options.
  2. On the General tab, click on Settings under Browsing History.
  3. The Temporary Internet Files and Browsing History box opens up.


  4. Click on View Files. You will get all the rendered webpage elements in this folder.
  5. To rummage about effectively amidst the mass of files, choose View – Arrange by Type from the menu. Also go to Tools – Folder Options, and uncheck the Hide extensions for known file types option.
  6. Seek out your SWF files, copy and then paste it to your preferred location.


Download SWF files using Opera

In Opera, downloaded SWF files can be accessed in two simple ways –

  • Type opera:cache in the address bar.
  • Go to Tools – Advanced – Cache from the toolbar.


Either way, a huge list of downloaded page elements opens up with their URLs. Search for a file with the .swf extension. Alternatively, you could search (Ctrl+F ) and hunt it down, with swf as the search query.

Right-click on the particular file and choose either Saved Linked Content As or Save to Download Folder to save the SWF file on the hard disk.


After downloading the SWF file, one can use the Adobe Flash Player to view the Flash file or a supported media player like Media Player Classic. Or, an easier way would be to just open it in a browser by right-clicking it and selecting the browser of choice.

These are the ways we can use to single out the Flash files from a webpage. In my experience, I personally have been more comfortable with Firefox than the other two. I am still searching a way perform this in Chrome but it is proving impossible without third-party support. Numerous third-party tools can do the same job better by converting it to a format of your choice. But it always pays to know that you can fall back on a browser alone.

Aibek had the same idea about offline Flash files when he covered How To Download and Play Flash Games Offline in a previous post. That post extends the possibilities of the fun we can have with Flash files.

What about you? Do you let it play on the webpage or do you dig under and take a Flash file offline?

Stealth Beer Can

For those public situations when an open beer can is "frowned upon". It's camouflage for your beers!

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan

Japan is famous for their beautiful manhole covers. They come in a variety of designs and attract many tourists.

This post features a collection of creative Japanese manhole covers.

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 2

[original image source: unknown]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 3

[image credit: Manhole Blog]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 4

[image credit: Manhole Box]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 5

[image credit: Manhole Box]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 6

[original image source: unknown]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 7

[image credit: MRSY]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 8

[original image source: unknown]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 9

[image credit: MRSY]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 10

[original image source: unknown]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 11

[image credit: MRSY]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 12

[image credit: jpellgen]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 13

[image credit: jpellgen]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan 14

[image credit: Stephanie]

Painted Manhole Covers from Japan

[image credit: Snowlet]

Florida Epidemic: Teachers Sleeping with Students

Maria Guzman Hernandez
Maria Guzman Hernandez

If you're the parent of a teenage boy in Florida, you probably muttered "Not again" while reading your morning newspaper this week. There on the front page was yet another case of an adult female teacher being arrested for admitting to having had sex with an underage male student. This time the alleged perp was Maria Guzman Hernandez, a 32-year-old instructor at the private Our Lady of Charity school in Hialeah; her victim was 15. But she just as well could have been the 34-year-old Jacksonville public-school science teacher arrested last month for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old student, once in her SUV; the 32-year-old St. Petersburg teacher collared in March for allegedly "sexting" nude pictures of herself to an eighth-grade boy; or the 45-year-old teacher at a private Christian academy in South Daytona who was arrested days before for allegedly having sex with a boy from her class in various Daytona Beach hotels.

Other female teachers in Florida have been booked for the same crime this year — and scores of others have been arrested or disciplined in the past few years for sexual misconduct with students, according to a recent investigation by the Orlando Sentinel, which noted the problem is rising in the state "among female educators in particular." Florida, of course, is hardly the only state where female teachers have been nabbed for preying on boys. And nationwide, male teachers still commit far more acts of sexual misconduct than females. A 2004 Education Department study found that about 10% of the nation's 50 million public-school students had experienced some kind of improper sexual attention from teachers and other school employees, and a 2007 Associated Press report indicated that men were involved almost 90% of the time. What's more, even in Florida, those offenders are a small fraction of the state's more than 200,000 public- and private-school teachers. (See the top 10 crime stories of 2008.)

But parents and prosecutors alike are nonetheless asking why the female version of pedagogue perversion seems more common on their peninsula compared with other places. "It certainly seems more prevalent, although we can't say for sure if it's worse than other large states," says Michael Sinacore, the Hillsborough County assistant state attorney who in 2005 prosecuted one of Florida's most high-profile cases, that of Tampa middle-school teacher Debra Lafave, a blond siren who pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious behavior after being charged with having sex with a 14-year-old boy. (In a controversial decision, a judge did not make her serve prison time.) "None of us can really say why at this point."

Whatever the reason, the crime appears to be getting more cavalier in the Sunshine State. According to police in Hialeah, a mostly Cuban-American enclave adjoining Miami, Hernandez had been having sex with the 15-year-old boy since March, often in the apartment he shared with his mother (who herself is now under investigation for allowing the abuse to occur).

After the principal at Our Lady of Charity (a private Catholic school that is not formally affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church) heard of the illicit relationship last week, she reported it to the state's Department of Children and Family Services. Police questioned Hernandez last weekend — after she returned from a trip to Disney World with the boy — and she made a taped confession, they say. She was charged with sexual battery on a minor, akin to statutory rape, but has not yet been arraigned.

One theory for the growing number of cases like these, says Sinacore, is what he calls "the more relaxed if not blurred boundary lines between teachers and students as teachers try to communicate with kids in this day and age." Today's kids, as the media have reported recently, are far less shy about innocent physical contact like hugging than their parents were as teens. That can be exploited by any male pervert overseeing a classroom. But it can also embolden predatory female teachers, whom experts say are often in emotionally needy states. "The trend with female offenders, more than males, is that they have emotional turmoil going on in their lives," says Sinacore.

Lafave's pregnant sister, for example, had been killed by a drunk driver before Lafave began hitting on a student; Hernandez is estranged from her husband. Such problems certainly aren't excuses for pedophilia, but they can compel women like Lafave to seek out emotional comfort — or a feeling of control that they might not experience in relationships with adult men. (Read about the notorious Mary K. Letourneau teacher-student affair.)

It doesn't help that society already brings a double standard to these cases, the notion that somehow it isn't as harmful for a boy to be seduced by a woman as it is for a girl to have sex with a man. In fact, it's not uncommon in the wake of news like Hernandez's arrest to hear morning-radio jocks in Florida declare congratulatory high-fives for the boys.

"This isn't an 'affair'; it's abuse, and we have to shift that paradigm," says Terri Miller, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation (SESAME) in Nevada. "We say, 'Bully for the boy and his conquest of the geometry teacher,' but that makes it harder for boys to vocalize their victimization." Indeed, studies by psychologists like Julie Hislop, author of the 2001 book Female Sex Offenders: What Therapists, Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services Need to Know, note that boys who are sexually abused by women often develop alcoholism, depression and their own sexual dysfunctions, including rape, as men.

But why should Florida seem to be experiencing an especially high number of such cases? Are those women, and for that matter, the hormonally charged boys they target, somehow egged on by the state's more sexually relaxed atmosphere, with its sultry climate and scantily clad beach culture? (California also has a high rate of teacher sexual misconduct.) Or are Floridians simply reporting more cases like Hernandez's? It is a crime in Florida, as in most states, not to report such cases, but perhaps the tabloid publicity of the Lafave case has prodded Sunshine State denizens to be more vigilant, to no longer be in denial about cases like these or take them so lightly.

And yet paradoxically, says Sinacore, it might also be engendering more cases. As potential female predators see more and more headlines about teachers like themselves bedding boys, it can seem like more acceptable behavior in their eyes — especially when they see that offenders like Lafave get relatively light sentences. (That might be changing, however: a Florida judge recently slapped a two-year prison term on a 28-year-old female teacher in Pensacola convicted of unlawful sexual activity with a 15-year-old male student.)

Activists like Miller are calling for stricter hiring processes for teachers — the kind of psychological and polygraph testing, for example, that police are subject to — and they have complained that school boards and teachers' unions have blocked legislative efforts to more effectively ferret out potential or actual abusers. But Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Teachers Association, the state's major teachers' union, insists the group is doing its part to attack the problem and raise teacher awareness. At the same time, he points out, unions have an obligation to help teachers who are themselves victims of bogus accusations, which is also a problem. "There needs to be an understanding," says Pudlow, "that even when a false accusation hits the newspapers, it can ruin a teaching career."

True enough. But for the moment, Florida seems more concerned with the growing number of valid complaints. (Jacksonville alone saw two female teachers arrested last month.) So it's no surprise that a Florida Congressman, U.S. Representative Adam Putnam, recently co-introduced a bill, the Student Protection Act, to set up a scholastic version of the national sex-offender database and prevent teachers like Lafave from getting classroom jobs in other districts or states. Whether or not the legislation passes, it's a sign of the emotional turmoil that women like her have wrought in their communities.

See TIME's Pictures of the Week.

Regular Light Bulbs Made Super-Efficient with Ultra-Fast Laser

May 29th, 2009 Regular light bulbs made super-efficient with ultra-fast laser


Chunlei Guo stands in front of his femtosecond laser, which can double the efficiency of a regular incandescent light bulb. Credit: University of Rochester

( -- An ultra-powerful laser can turn regular incandescent light bulbs into power-sippers, say optics researchers at the University of Rochester. The process could make a light as bright as a 100-watt bulb consume less electricity than a 60-watt bulb while remaining far cheaper and radiating a more pleasant light than a fluorescent bulb can.

The laser process creates a unique array of nano- and micro-scale structures on the surface of a regular tungsten filament—the tiny wire inside a light bulb—and theses structures make the tungsten become far more effective at radiating light.

The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal .

"We've been experimenting with the way ultra-fast lasers change metals, and we wondered what would happen if we trained the laser on a filament," says Chunlei Guo, associate professor of optics at the University of Rochester. "We fired the right through the glass of the bulb and altered a small area on the filament. When we lit the bulb, we could actually see this one patch was clearly brighter than the rest of the filament, but there was no change in the bulb's energy usage."

The key to creating the super-filament is an ultra-brief, ultra-intense beam of light called a femtosecond laser pulse. The laser burst lasts only a few quadrillionths of a second. To get a grasp of that kind of speed, consider that a femtosecond is to a second what a second is to about 32 million years. During its brief burst, Guo's laser unleashes as much power as the entire grid of North America onto a spot the size of a needle point. That intense blast forces the surface of the metal to form nanostructures and microstructures that dramatically alter how efficiently can radiate from the filament.

In 2006, Guo and his assistant, Anatoliy Vorobeyv, used a similar laser process to turn any metal pitch black. The surface structures created on the metal were incredibly effective at capturing incoming radiation, such as light.

"There is a very interesting 'take more, give more' law in nature governing the amount of light going in and coming out of a material," says Guo. Since the black metal was extremely good at absorbing light, he and Vorobyev set out to study the reverse process—that the blackened filament would radiate light more effectively as well.

"We knew it should work in theory," says Guo, "but we were still surprised when we turned up the power on this bulb and saw just how much brighter the processed spot was."

In addition to increasing the brightness of a bulb, Guo's process can be used to tune the color of the light as well. In 2008, his team used a similar process to change the color of nearly any metal to blue, golden, and gray, in addition to the black he'd already accomplished. Guo and Vorobeyv used that knowledge of how to control the size and shape of the nanostructures—and thus what colors of light those structures absorb and radiate—to change the amount of each wavelength of light the tungsten filament radiates. Though Guo cannot yet make a simple bulb shine pure blue, for instance, he can change the overall radiated spectrum so that the tungsten, which normally radiates a yellowish light, could radiate a more purely white light.

Guo's team has even been able to make a filament radiate partially polarized light, which until now has been impossible to do without special filters that reduce the bulb's efficiency. By creating nanostructures in tight, parallel rows, some light that emits from the filament becomes polarized.

The team is now working to discover what other aspects of a common light bulb they might be able to control. Fortunately, despite the incredible intensity involved, the femtosecond laser can be powered by a simple wall outlet, meaning that when the process is refined, implementing it to augment regular light bulbs should be relatively simple.

Guo is also announcing this month in Applied Physics Letters a technique using a similar femtosecond process to make a piece of metal automatically move liquid around its surface, even lifting a liquid up against gravity.

Source: University of Rochester (news : web)

Fifty-five whales stranded on S.African beach

Fifty-five whales stranded on S.African beach

Fifty-five whales stranded on S.African beach Members of the public and officials walk past one of dozens of pilot whales beached at Kommetjie near Cape Town, May 30, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

KOMMETJIE BEACH, South Africa (Reuters) - About 55 whales were stranded on a beach near Cape Town on Saturday and high waves were hampering efforts by rescue teams to get them back into the water.

Volunteers and marine scientists worked to save the whales shortly after the adults and calves first came ashore in bad weather at 1:30 a.m. EDT (0530 GMT), said Craig Lambinon, spokesman for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

Rescuers were trying to keep the whales wet and were using earth-moving equipment including front-end loaders to try to get some of them back into the sea, he told Reuters.

"It's an ongoing operation and the whales are also being pushed ashore by the high waves," he said.

Radio station 702 reported that three of the whales had been confirmed dead and that others were struggling to survive.

Lambinon said it was still unclear why the whales had come ashore, adding it was the first mass beaching of whales he knew of on the popular beach.

Whale-watching along the coast of South Africa is a popular attraction with tourists, who often line roads at strategic spots to catch a glimpse of the giants of the ocean.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf and Mike Hutchings, Writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Charles Dick)

Jimmy Hendrix 'was murdered' by his manager, claims roadie

By James Tapper

Rock legend Jimi Hendrix was murdered by his manager as part of an insurance scam, a new book by one of his former aides claims.

Hendrix choked to death on his own vomit when he was 27 – but the exact circumstances of his death have always been a mystery.

Now James ‘Tappy’ Wright, one of the rock star’s roadies, claims that Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffery, confessed to killing him. Jeffery is said to have made a drunken confession a year after the star’s death in September 1970.

Rock and roll: Jimi Hendrix's death was murder, claims former roadie

Rock and roll: Jimi Hendrix's death was murder, claims former roadie

An ambulance crew found Hendrix’s body in the Samarkand Hotel in West London, in the room of Monika Dannemann, a girl he had known for just a few days.

Wright claims Jeffery was worried that Hendrix was preparing to find a new manager when their deal was due to end in December 1970. According to Wright, Jeffery said he went to the hotel room and stuffed Hendrix full of pills and wine.

The book, called Rock Roadie, out next month, recalls Wright’s life with various rock stars during the Sixties, including Tina Turner and Elvis Presley.

In it, Wright claims Jeffery, who was married to actress Gillian French, made the confession at his apartment in 1971, two years before he died in a plane crash.

He writes: ‘I can still hear that conversation, see the man I’d known for so much of my life, his face pale, hand clutching at his glass in sudden rage.’

He says Jeffery told him: ‘I had to do it, Tappy. You understand, don’t you? I had to do it. You know damn well what I’m talking about.’

He quotes Jeffery as saying: ‘I was in London the night of Jimi’s death and together with some old friends ...we went round to Monika’s hotel room, got a handful of pills and stuffed them into his mouth ...then poured a few bottles of red wine deep into his windpipe.

‘I had to do it. Jimi was worth much more to me dead than alive. That son of a bitch was going to leave me. If I lost him, I’d lose everything.’

Suspect: Michael Jeffrey, pictured here at his wedding to actress Gillian French is accused of murder

Suspect: Michael Jeffrey, pictured here at his wedding to actress Gillian French, is accused of murder

Wright claims that Jeffery told him he had taken out a life insurance policy on Hendrix worth $2million (£1.2million) with Jeffery as beneficiary.

The official cause of death was ‘barbiturate intoxication and inhalation of vomit’, and the coroner recorded an open verdict.

This was vital for Jeffery.

Had the cause of death been suicide it would have given the insurers an escape clause.

The ambulancemen who found the body said he was discovered alone in the hotel room, lying in his clothes on his back, with a gas fire burning and the door wide open.

There is no record of who called 999.

John Bannister, the surgeon who tried to revive Hendrix at hospital, said he was convinced he had drowned in red wine. Yet Hendrix had very little alcohol in his bloodstream.

In 1992 he wrote: ‘I recall vividly the very large amounts of red wine that oozed from his stomach and his lungs, and in my opinion there was no question that Jimi Hendrix had drowned, if not at home then on the way to the hospital.

‘At the time I felt that he had either been on sedative tablets, to sleep or otherwise, and that he had imbibed copious amounts of red wine prior to going to sleep. I would suspect that he regurgitated the red wine and drowned.’

Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version

Ever wish songs just sang what was happening in the music video? Well now they do, in my sixth take on Dusto McNeato's "literal video" concept! Lyrics: DASjr / Singing: PersephoneMaewyn & DASjr 5/25/09

Featured on Entertainment Weekly site!!!!!:

Featured on the Wall Street Journal site!!!:

This is my first literal video to have a female vocal the whole way through. Also, all the best to everyone on Memorial Day. Respect your heroes.